Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Blake's 7 Movie? A Clue: No

With the 4th of February approaching and, with it, almost insurmountable suicidal despair, I stumbled across on my various rounds a film entitled The Gauda Prime Conspiracy. A proper film. In the proper film section. No shitty little fan film subforum.

I mean, I had to check it out, didn't I?

Is it too much to want even a glimpse of a happy ending to Blake's 7? Just a smidgen of hope? It didn't have to be a 'they all lived happily ever after', it could have been the hideously cynical sort where all our heroes survive but each one believes the others are all dead and lose all faith in the rebellion - Vila becomes a bartender in a GP pub, Soolin becomes a combined hooker/showgirl to get off the planet, the amnesiac Dayna becomes a homeless beggar waiting for Servalan to turn up, Tarrant becomes a crippled mercenary, and Avon and Blake end up both disillusioned in the same intensive care unit.

Would it really spoil some vast eternal plan to merely hint it wasn't all an agonizing waste of time and energy?

And so, I start watching the film.

YOU... LYING... LIARS!!!

And it quickly becomes obvious that this is an American film, actually quite cheap, a sort of Starship Troopers deal seemingly being written and directed by people who were very stoned and seemingly trying to evoke the kind of narrative you'd expect in The Young Ones, or maybe Monty Python. But I'm stunned at the title - Recon 2025: The Gauda Prime Conspiracy. Why the hell name it that? I mean, if there was a Bruce Willis flick entitled Return to Gallifrey, would you honestly consider it unreasonable to expect some kind of Doctor Who connection? How did they not google "Gauda Prime" and find out it was already mildly famous? Did they do that and keep the name in the belief a hoard of B7 fans would tune in for the hope of some bitchy computers and wisecracking rebels?

It starts off promisingly with a starscape and a suitably B7 quote from Winston Churchill about how a handful of people can change the course of history.

And then suddenly it cuts to a Voyager-type probe getting smashed to pieces in the asteroid belt as a xylophone rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star echoes. Years later, the ruins of the probe fall to Earth and somehow manages to avoid being either shot down or burnt up in the atmosphere so it can trigger a deep impact like shockwaves. What does this have to do with anything? Beats me.

Onto a spaceship that looks disturbingly like a cross between Zukan's pimped-up planet hopper and GP flyer where a bunch of dog-tagged marines are trying not to crash into a planet in Orion's Belt. Are they deliberately going there? Have they wandered off course? No idea, as the Chinese pilot swears mighteously about what a piece of crap their ship is while the other marines off sub-Vila witticisms. Just when it looks like they're about to land safely in a CGI BBC quarry, a CGI floating robot appears, scans the ship in a viewfinder not a trillion miles away from the opening titles of B7 series four, and promplty nukes the damn thing.

The toughass bitch of the expedition wakes up in the ruins, skewered through her leg and being tormented by zombies of former soldiers who are in a bad mood because she survived all the battles they managed not to. But this turns out to be a dream of toughass bitch, as the resident medic... or gynaecologist... has removed the thing from her leg. Although he's clearly a Verkoffian sex-obsessed jerk, I don't think he deserves the abuse she gives him after he saved her life. I mean, from the way she's acting she might as well have woken up to being turkey-slapped while a web cam recorded it all. Together with Sharpe (the black guy who does most of the talking) and the Chinese pilot, they loiter around the edge of the set discussing whether or not they should hang around until the ship explodes and finally decide to leg it with a Double-the-Fist-style screenwipe of CGI flame.

Limping across the quarry, the team then do a patented Funky Squad "dive-to-avoid-massive-explosion-right-behind them" but slightly mistime it, hugging the earth long before the ship blows up.

WHERE'S THE GENE GENIE WHEN YOU NEED HIM?

And then it becomes a crackly 1970s porno which, incredibly disturbingly, seems to have the theme music from Doctor Who. The plot, such as it is, is seemingly an episode of USA Life on Mars that got entirely out of hand with Sam Tyler taking down Guy Sebastian in a car park and claiming as his prize the Swedish blonde. As an idea of the quality on offer, Tyler takes off his jacket and informs the blonde "That was the foreplay". Not to be outdone, the blonde strips to show the most ridiculous tits in human history. I think Stephen Fry in his Blackadder Boobs would be a more convincing picture of the female form than this girl. Maybe it's the seeming strap between the two static glands that gives that impression. I dunno.

After Tyler and Titanious-Tit-Monger make out in a bath of suds, Tyler wakes up in hospital. It turns out he was the gynaecologist marine earlier who has been rescued but, alas, has suffered some wierd space nightmare thing. Unlike normal people, however, he turned it into a wet dream and immediately starts strutting around butt naked pulling some crappy chat-up lines to the nurse. The nurse is not impressed, especially as she seems to be having a relationship with Sharpe (and oddly enough her claim to 'have all the time in the galaxy' sounds crapper than any of the porno dialogue, even 'You can make it up to be in 69 separate ways'.)

JOHN SAFRAN GOES CROSS-EYED TRYING TO WORK OUT WHAT THIS FILM HAS TO DO WITH BLAKE'S 7

Onto the mess, which is under armed guard as all the marines (wearing one-size-fits-all black T-shirts with Galactic Marine printed in yellow) are having dinner in the form of corn and chicken. We meet First Base - basically John Safran with a porn mag collection - trying to get friends with a badass Asian guy who can't act, while toughass bitch (I think) bitches at Tyler (I think). Meanwhile, a brunette girl with some bitching sci-fi scars on her face sits down next to a dude in sunglasses who resembles Deadpool (or any other freakishly-burnt bald-guy you care to name) whose expression is frozen in a contemptuous sarcastic "What the fuck do you think?" expression. The brunette tries to break the ice by noticing that, you know, they're both kinda scarred. So Deadpool takes off his shades to show freaky white eyes. Whereupon the Brunette snatches up a submachine gun and fires it all the eating soldiers in a ridiculous display (all the speaking cast hide under a table, while one guy seemingly tries to catch the fired bullets in his hands until some other marine rugby-tackles him to safety). Just when it looks like everyone's going to let her run out of ammo, Deadpool pops up behind her and slits her throat.

Toughass bitch is furious at the silent Deadpool for this uneccessary slaughter, but Tyler is seemingly desperate to placate Deadpool by explaining that toughass bitch is having her period today and thus should not be taken seriously when she gets upset over her friends being mindlessly slaughtered. Deadpool isn't impressed by this appropach either.

Meanwhile, a fat guy is trying to fix a Mutoid-like chick who is suffering nightmare dream things herself. The fat guy is pissed off in equal measure that this GM solider is suffering malfunctions, and also that she didn't at all react to his brilliantly-observed Phillip K Dick joke about the electronic sheep. I know, what a bitch. Who is she, again?

Well, ex-psycho-brunette gets shove into a suspiciously-B7-like space coffin as Sharpe has LSD visions of her when she was a little girl. And blonde. As I'm 80% sure the deceased girl was in no other part of the film, this is an incredible focus on a glorified extra. Sharpe then goes and visits his boss, who lives in a Hawaii-style bamboo hut with a plastic naked hula-girl on his desk and a hooker on his arm. This is the point where I begin to wonder if the film is taking the piss, and the boss's insistence he has customized this bit of spaceship to resemble "Old Earth" as a theraputic aide doesn't change my opinion. As both he and Sharpe (while on duty) start knocking back booze, some effort is made to explain the plot.

WE TAKE THINGS VERY SERIOUSLY HERE AT SPACE COMMAND HEAD QUARTERS...

Humanity is under siege by some freaky telepathic aliens who attack via dreams. OK. Anything else? No? Oh. Well, anyway, Sharpe and his "team" are to make an offensive assault on the alien scumbags and the boss offers his own concubine to help out with this amazingly important strategic maneuver. Presumably she'll be the Morale Officer and keeping Tyler's libido in line, since I'm not sure I trust the war effort with a woman who is unable to pronounce the word "legendary", do you? Apparently, I'm not too far of the mark as she won't be doing much but acting cryptic, need-to-know and stuff. There is also a quick-talking chirpy Indian dude who will be able to switch off the machinery that controls the nightmare inducing bollocks. The Chinese pilot lady (Loo Ann) turns up thirty seconds late and sober, which pisses the boss off a lot. After humiliating her, the boss uses the ancient Chatham chant of "anyway, moving on" and promptly ignores her, telling them that they also have a bunch of Mutoid Android things to act as shock troops for this assault.

Finally some justification for the title - the aliens are working on Gauda Prime (and they pronounce it correctly too), a CGI desert that seems a good bet for being the focus of an alien mind war. The moment the nightmare machine is trashed, humanity will take on a simultaneous assault on every alien planet and nuke the bastards in an instant. Sharpe is slightly pissed off that, despite knowing where the alien home planet is, no one has done a damn thing about it before now for reasons which the boss explains (between maitais) are "classified". Well, there's the Gauda Prime and Conspiracy revealed. Only half an hour into the narrative, too.

Pausing only to be given anti-nightmare injections, Sharpe gathers his team -

- the badass female pilot who has a crush on the leader (Lou Ann)
- the overcompensating tough girl (Toughass Bitch)
- the asshole genius (Indian Nerd)
- the likeable comic relief loser (John Safran)
- the big psycho who lost his whole family to the enemy (Psycho Asian)
- the irritating arrogant comic relief who everyone hates (Tyler)
- the cryptic know-it-all plot device (the concubine)

Sharpe's 7, if you will.

(Oh and there's Deadpool, but as he has no lines or any real point other than freaking out toughass bitch, he might as well be a recurring prop.)

YOU DEFILE MY MEMORIES, YOU BASTARDS!

After managing not to delay the mission to bonk his ex (the nurse), Sharpe and his misfits head for the Soolin System, which contains Gauda Prime. Yes, I am not making this up. But the fact this bollocks was somehow written and filmed makes me despair that some Blake's 7 sequel wasn't. I know of at least four scripts out there, not including my own, and not ONE was considered better than this?!?

Arriving in the desert under the twin suns, Tyler jumps up and down on a tiny CGI crab, muses he never noticed the crew also comprized of very obvious red shirts, and the a giant CGI crab scuttles unconvincingly into view, but Tyler's too damn stupid to notice until the last second, where the crab snips the head off the red shirt (whose severed head explodes, like them aliens in First Wave).

What follows is enough time for an ice age to come and go as the entire squad very, very slowly, walk towards this CGI crab, occasionally shooting at it with patently-harmless bullets that bounce off its unconvincing shell. In slow motion. More than enough time for you to ponder why, having cracked intergalactic travel, androids and such, they only have normal bullets. Or why they're wasting what little ammo they have on a slow-moving cartoon crab instead of simply running away. Things get surreal when Psycho Asian screams "DESTROY ALL MONSTERS!" in his native language, like the dude in American Dad no one quite understands (like that brilliant one where the gang all shake hands and say what a pleasure it is to have known each other, and he's actually saying "BASTARD! YOU HAVE KILLED US ALL!!!" to Steve Smith).

So Psycho Asian easily runs underneath the giant crab and shoots it. For some reason this is a huge victory that makes everyone marvel at the size of Psycho Asian's balls... even though the giant crab is still alive and unharmed. They then decide to shoot it with some missiles. And that doesn't kill it either. And then Lou Ann chucks a grenade at it, leading to a CGI blaze of blood and fire mostly off screen. Everyone then praises Psycho Asian, and only Sharpe even hints he noticed that it was Lou Ann who did a damn thing to stop the monster.

In orbit around Earth 2 in the Sanctuary System is the New Whitehouse... a space station that bizarrely resembles a hammer and sickle from the Russian flag. Inside, a goth girl looking disconcertingly like Eliza Dushku yet acting like Servalan at her sluttiest, flirts outrageously with Sharpe's nurse-shaped ex. Servie wants a wounded Mutoid "Cyberman" rebooted and the nurse happens to be the best cybernetics robot expert cum medic in the galaxy... who also oddly enough was not used by the powers that be to help build the bloody thing in the first place. Seemingly only wanting the Cyberman restored so Servie can shag it till her pelvis shatters, the nurse agrees while her new boss continues with the sexual harrassment. Seemingly it only needs two wires fixed to revive the Cyberman, who has a drill attachment on his forearm. For some reason. And this is technically referred to as "the Kill Drill".

Back on Gauda Prime, Lou Ann is piloting her flyer/shuttle thing and Tyler has decided that, even though his last encounter with alien flora was pretty nasty, he should pick up a giant egg and have it for lunch. How fucking retarded is this guy? How fucking retarded is everyone else in the team that, after noting this completely suicidal course of action, immediately forget all about it so they can all try and chat up tough bitch? Why haven't they noticed the tire tracks in the desert? But more important things are happening at "the shit end of Pisces" (according to the caption), on a rain-soaked Endor-like moon of jungles and military installations. Actually this is just a flashback to when Tyler was watching holo-porn in the rain with his usual professionalism. After about another hour of Sharpe and Tough Bitch wandering through the damp jungles while Tyler tries to jack off in the rain, he only serves to electrocute himself on the malfunctioning hologram-projector. All of this filmed with the gravitas of Citizen Kane. With Wagner in the background. The moral of this story is that Tyler now becomes incredibly aroused at the mere presence of water. Even the Mutoid-Android chick thinks this punchline is lame.

%I'M JUST SITTING WATCHING PORNOS IN THE RAIN...%

Sharpe's 7 arrive at the rendezvous - a rather empty patch of desert and it's clear they're lost. Or been betrayed. But then it turns out that the reinforcements, some more Mutoid-Android chicks (Lara, Sara, Tara and Mara), were just on the other side of the hill and there was no cause for alarm. Tyler starts lusting for some "Stepford Action" and even John Safran thinks this is just getting far too trouserial around here. Once Tyler has given a long speech justifying his sexual abnormalities, everyone decides to head out, totally missing the fact they're passing a half-buried dinosaur skeleton. For a loooooooooooooooooooooong time.

WORDS FAIL ME. FREQUENTLY.

Finally the movie makers realize we just have had as much 'wandering around in a quarry' as we can possibly take and so we cut to Servie and Deadpool having a three way with an Asian chick who has eschewed the option of the fake Swedish porn breasts, presumably to ensure we don't get confused and think she's an android. And then Deadpool cuts her throat open and leaves Servie with the dying girl which is, apparently, "hot". The romantic opera score makes this even more disturbing than it might appear. It seems the girl was going to betray Servie to the Chief Counsellor, hence this rather strange execution (seemingly for the pleasure of a CGI alien skeleton watching) and in probably the wittiest scene in the movie so far, Servie shoves the corpse out of bed, only to realize there's blood everywhere: "Fuck. I liked those sheets!"

While John Safran and Tyler discuss whether or not the mutoids are hitting on them, Sharpe does what any good space warfare commander does - taking time off the mission to ring up his ex and ask how her day's going. Unaware that the Cyberman is eavesdropping, the nurse fobs Sharpe off with some conversational pleasantries. Meanwhile, Psycho Asian is looking at a photo of his dog. The aliens killed his wife and his kids, but it was the dog that broke his heart. Meanwhile Indian Nerd is bitching how no one appreciates his genius. Tyler is trying to fry his egg with a laser pointer, and John Safran fails to order the Mutoids to have gay sex in front of him. But what's this, it turns out Servie is, in fact, that cryptic hooker from earlier! I think. I'm not sure...

THIS IS THE BEST BIT OF CHARACTERIZATION IN THE WHOLE DAMN FILM. BE AFRAID.

Only another 41 minutes to go...

Deadpool arrives on Gauda Prime and immediate serves the plot by... sitting on his ass in the desert and holding up his collection of severed human ears against his lobeless head to see if any matches. None do. That whole 'collecting women's ears in a bucket' gag from Coupling seems demeaned by mere association. And, OK, Deadpool is an ear-collecting psycho, but he can't get a proper mirror in 2025? Really?

Meanwhile, because it's quite clear this 100 minute film needs all the help it can get, Tyler begins his own cut-down origin flashback - it turns out his dad bribed the educational authorities to accept his son as a qualified doctor despite him being a functional moron and his gynaecological skills left a lot to be desired ("You got the wrong hole!" Oh, get me a corset, my sides have split!) but he signed on to the army because he followed a hot chick into the recruitment office. I suddenly know and understand the asshole, ahem, character, so much more all of a sudden.

Tyler tried to crack the hard boiled egg, and once again the mother of this native lifeform manages to creep up behind him with no one noticing, and then rip the head off the bloke next to him - in this case, poor John Safran - and we're left with Tyler running for his life chased by a giant CGI hen. Even Sharpe can only boggle at this near Terry Gilliam insanity on display as Tyler finally remembers he has a machine gun... and tries to shoot the cross betwixt chicken and velociraptor, who in turn begins trying Matrix-style kung-fu moves. Yes, a knung fu giant chicken in a quarry. You're suddenly feeling a lot more forgiving to the Myrka aren't you?

YOU THOUGHT I WAS JOKING, DIDN'T YOU?

Tyler finally manages to trick this giant chicken into falling off a cliff... whereupon we next see him eating a normal-sized KFC drumstick and getting evil looks for eating the CGI poultry. I would have thought the "repeatedly getting your own men killed and ignoring orders" would get a bit more of a complaint, but no. This guy is a bigger threat than any damn alien telepaths. "What's wrong with this damn planet!" Tyler wails - for a start, Roj freaking Blake isn't on it fighting the evil federation of starship troopers, damn you!

Deadpool meanwhile springs into action after Servie gives him an erotic phone call in her underwear. He uses a remote to switch off two of the Mutoids, rips out their green-goo-filled batteries, then stabs Indian Nerd in the back. Just then tough bitch arrives and wonders what Deadpool is doing, half a galaxy out of bounds, standing over a dead body and cutting its ears off. After a pause, Deadpool clearly twigs she STILL hasn't put two and two together and thus is too stupid to live, and thus a pissweak hand fight begins. Dayna and a Space Rat looks like Kill Bill compared to this.

Psycho Asian arrives, rolls his eyes and - using that unconventional genius that got him where he is today - opens fire on Deadpool, who runs for his pathetic life. Sharpe takes this opportunity to break out the big guns of stupid: first, he finally reveals what everyone's names are, and second, he gets everyone to split up. Tyler takes this opportunity to get a nice nap until another CGI rooster wakes him up the next day and he tries to chat up his mutoid pal by regaling her with how angsty and guilt-ridden he is by the sudden reduction of speaking parts. But he admits to having a "certain kinship" with Deadpool, as they both really like porn.

After circumnavigating a herd of migrating CGI things that look like a cross between HR Geiger's alien and a diplodocus, Deadpool tries to steal the spaceship Sharpe's now-less-than-7 arrived in, not realizing Lou Ann is on teleport duty and in a mean mood. After a slightly-less-pathetic fight, Deadpool stabs her and then, seemingly happy enough, runs off straight into tough bitch and psycho Asian. But Deadpool - unlike most of the universe, it appears - can actually shoot straight and kills psycho Asian with a single bullet while tough bitch lets off round after round of machine gun fire and completely fails to get anywhere near the dark bastard of evil. But don't despair, as Lou Ann is still alive and was able to cure her savage gut wound with some whipped cream and a tampon. That's the sort of first aid that's needed in the Galactic Marines, so... yeah.

While Sharpe, Tyler and three mutoids search for the dream machine, the nurse finally gets the Cyberman working, but he wakes up evil, beats up the nurse, then Servie, gloats his reboot means he serves no master but his own incredibly cliched whims and, with a stringle of lame-but-memorable-one-liners, goes on a driller-killer rampage until Servie negotiates - betraying Sharpe and his pals in return for NOT being drilled through the eye. The Cyberman blows up the whole New White House while he steals a pursuit ship with the nurse's corpse for company. Well, that plot thread really justified itself, didn't it, boys and girls?

WELL, WITH BOOBS LIKE THAT, YOU'D SMILE TOO I GUESS...

Surely Deadpool will get a better ending? Nope. Tough bitch challenges him to a bare-chest fight and then cunning doesn't take off her armor, so not only is his knife more or less useless, she then shoots him to death for "pissing her off" and blasts him off the clifftop.

Well. What's left. The now completely recovered Lou Ann pumps up Ride of the Valkyries and rides the ship towards the Pyramid of Alien Evil which is now surrounded by those sand people from Tattoonie, who are described as mummies from ancient Egypt. What they're doing here? No idea, but Sharpe's put up with this undead bullshit before and no more needs to be said. Lou Ann then shoots down the entire army, their cheap BBC "only up to five members of the army in any non CGI shot" tactics proving entirely ineffective.

This goes on for about nine minutes.

Some of it in 24-style four-screen views.

YOU COULDN'T MAKE IT UP, COULD YOU?

And, after finally evoking the trippy Olympic bits from Warlord, finally our heroes penetrate the pyramid whereupon two of the surviving Mutoids turn evil and the third bravely stays to beat the shit out of them while Sharpe and Tyler leg it to the dream machine. Meanwhile, tough bitch nearly gets eaten by a CGI water dragon but a single shot from Lou Ann saves her, while back at the front lines, the Hawaiian-loving Boss decides that (to prevent the "extinction" of mankind) they must attack early coz it appears they have a mole in their midst. "Aw, damn it!" the fleet colonel bitches with the emotion of finding he didn't get the jelly donut.

Sharpe and Tyler find the dream machine, which is basically a really cheap attempt to create the Core from Ultraworld. The girls arrive as Sharpe deems this "typical alien technology - doesn't make sense, looks fucking stupid and lights up like a Christmas". Then what looks like a Stargate opens, Cthulu lumbers out and uses telekenisis to juggle our... heroes... until someone shoots him dead and our... heroes... fall flat on their asses. The chamber then begins to fill with poison gas and only Tyler can save them all by sliding some card or other into a special slot. Unfortunately, Tyler wastes the last of the oxygen making confused double entendres before passing out. But tough bitch manages to bring him back to life by shouting an offer for sex and, um, the day is saved. Tyler swipes the card which somehow fixes the air and stops the dream machine.

Immediately, tanks start rolling in over the dunes of Gauda Prime (tanks?! How the hell did they get there?! Why not stick to aerial bombings? Why attack GP anyway?!?!), and all sorts of other planets get attacked, but none of them are interesting.

AND THIS IS WHY AMERICANS SHOULDN'T BE ALLOWED TO REMAKE B7.

Back on Gauda Prime... and, stop me if you've heard this before... our heroes are bushwhacked by the evil mutoids who have come back to life and start firing machine guns at point blank range and, in slow motion, leaving Tyler alone and apparently doomed... until the Mutoids lower their guns. Was Tyler a traitor all along? Do I care? "Wazzup, ladies?" he grins, with a freeze frame and a fade to black.

THE SURVIVORS OF THE GAUDA PRIME CONSPIRACY WILL BE BACK SOON IN:
THE RISE OF MERC

The one good Mutoid ends up getting fixed by that fat IT guy I mentioned earlier, who reveals that the pyramid was blown to smithereens, but no bodies have been found, so absolutely no one knows if any of Sharpe's 7 are still alive. He also finds a mysterious data chip in her brain and then throws it away, bored.

...I CAN'T THINK OF ANYTHING TO SAY THAT WILL DO THIS IMAGE JUSTICE.

Cut to the credits, which ironically are very badly superimposed, making all the CGI credits rather pointless, and then yet ANOTHER tag scene, as something drags off Deadpool's body into the desert, presumably to have sex with it.

Um...

I think I might give The Rise of Merc a miss.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Verkoff: A Terrible Ego (ix)

ACT NINE – ANNIHILATION

[Jadi approaches Magnus, who is sitting on a bench.]

Jadi: [nervously, to himself] Think Raphael. Big, butch future Raphael with the eyepatch and swords. Do not panic. What would Robbie Coltrane do in this situation?

[Magnus glares at him.]

Magnus: What?

Jadi: [in a high-pitched voice] Ahm. You, er, beat up Phoebe yesterday.

Magnus: And?

Jadi: And... I would... like to... thank you. I’d been meaning to do that for ages. Oh yes. I hate girls so much. [with gathering gusto] Stupid bitches with their hair and, er, eyes and things. I’d like to shake your hand for doing what we all wanted to do deep down. Perhaps you could, um, give me some tips.

[He rather camply mimes boxing.]

Jadi: You know, to keep the dumb bimbos in line and such? [sotto] Oh, I am going to hell. [louder] I was thinking, after school, maybe a couple of lessons in... physical education?

Magnus: After school.

Jadi: Yeah.

Magnus: By the caretaker sheds?

Jadi: Exactly that. [blinks] I didn’t mention the...

Magnus: No. Phoebe did. I know all about the trap.

Jadi: Phoebe told you? But... you beat her up for saving your life?

Magnus: Yeah. I did. So what do you think I’m going to do to YOU, who was trying to endanger it?

[Magnus rises. He’s a lot taller than Jadi. Jadi swallows.]

Magnus: I’m just waiting for an excuse for your little pal David to annoy me. Then I shall be able to... physically educate him. While you and redhair the slut watch on.

Jadi: [not as calm as he’d like] Leave him alone.

Magnus: Make me.

[Summoning up every ounce of courage and strength, he punches Magnus in the stomach. It doesn’t hurt Magnus at all. Jadi’s hand, however, is in agony.]

Jadi: [depressed] Did that even hurt AT ALL?

Magnus: [thinks] Not really.

Jadi: Oh.

[Suddenly, Magnus slams his hands down on Jadi’s shoulders and forces him to his knees. He starts to squeeze. Jadi screws up his face in pain. The bell rings.]

Magnus: Ah. Well, I’d continue this after school, but I have a choco-coloured nemesis to dispose of. I’ll try and deal with you before the week’s out.

[He releases Jadi and stalks off. Jadi remains where he is, frozen. Sonya passes him.]

Sonya: You OK, Jadi?

Jadi: It’s a coping mechanism. After near-death experiences I get a little paralysis.

[Sonya shrugs and walks off.]

Jadi: Don’t worry about me, Sonya. I’ll be moving in a minute or two. Any minute now.

[He doesn’t move at all.]

Jadi: Any minute now.

[The playground, near three o’clock. It’s deserted. Magnus emerges from a door and heads down to the caretaker sheds.]

Magnus: [amused] Let’s see how good his trap is when I’m here before he can finish setting it up?

[He tries the gate Dave shoved the parcel through. It’s unlocked. Magnus enters. It is a poky chamber mainly filled with gardening equipment and tanks of chemicals. The parcel sits on the floor. Magnus shakes his head at how lame it all is.]

Magnus: Is this supposed to be so pathetic I kill myself in shame?

[An inactive whipper-snipper is slammed down on his head with a metallic clang. Magnus blinks. It slams down another four times. Magnus collapses. His assailant is Jason, who looks terrified.]

[Playground. The school bell rings. The kids leave.]

[The school is now deserted. Nigel emerges from a classroom and approaches the caretaker shed.]

[Magnus groans as he comes to. He is now tied up with ockey straps and dumped in a corner. Jason reverently places a metal box on the floor, the sort of flip-top type one might keep file cards within. Nigel stands by the door.]

Nigel: [grandly] Welcome back from the abyss, Magnesium!

Magnus: You...

Nigel: Me.

Magnus: But... I got here first!

Nigel: No. Jason did. I was always going to be late, hence my arranged detention. Clever, huh?

Magnus: But... I knew about the trap!

Nigel: And how did you manage that, comrade?

Magnus: Phoebe...

Nigel: She told you we were setting you up? She must have neglected to mention the bit where you were kidnapped BEFORE hometime, so there’d be no witnesses. [frowns] I think. She might have genuinely betrayed us but you were so damn stupid you fell for it anyway.

Magnus: When I get out of here...

Nigel: WHEN you get out of here, Maggie, you will have much bigger things to worry about.

Magnus: It’ll be a breeze compared to what I’m going to do to you.

Nigel: Do to me? Maggie, you hurt my bestest friend and closest relation. You can’t DO anything worse than that. But I, however am prepared to give it the old college try.

[Nigel kneels down behind the box and prepares to lift the lid, which will allow only Magnus to see what is actually inside the box.]

Nigel: I just want you to know that, when the pain DOES descend on you, it will be devastating. It will permeate the cells in your body and kick nine colours of shit out of each and every one. There will be no other world but dreadful pain and misery as you street-luge into oblivion.

Magnus: What garbage are you on about now, you stupid Abbo?

Nigel: Tut-tut. OK, Maggie, here’s your fun fact for today. According to the statistics the public are ALLOWED to see, over 96 hundred kilos of plutonium have gone walkabout from the American bases where they should be tucked up safe and sound in their beds. Now, I have no idea where the other 9568 kilos have got to, but thirty-two of them are right here!

[He pats the box.]

Nigel: Spooky huh? And when I open this, you get to see what radiation REALLY looks like. And somehow I doubt you’re going to get super powers. [icy] Let the downpour of destruction begin.

[He flips open the box. A bright blue light spills out, washing over Magnus. He flinches.]

Magnus: Don’t feel anything!

Nigel: Hmmm. It’s blue, not green. Sci-fi lied to us, man! Jase, tell our friend what he’s won.

[Jason pulls out a pile of printed pages and starts reading.]

Jason: The Hitchhiker’s Guide has this to say about radiation poisoning: avoid it. Organ tissue damage caused by excessive exposure to ionizing radiation in a short period, poisoning triples the odds of developing cancer, tumors, or genetic damage.

Nigel: In short, it’s plain bad news.

Jason: The main symptoms are nausea, vomiting, headaches, fatigue...

Magnus: Whatever.

Nigel: You’re feeling them right now, aren’t you?

Magnus: [not entirely convincingly] I’ve felt worse.

Nigel: What happens next, Jase?

Jason: Uh... “mild fever, infections, poor wound healing, bloody vomit, bloody stools, hair loss...

Magnus: Hair loss?!?

Nigel: Oh yeah. Lots of what we in the know call “radio activities” for you to do – like judge how many pints of blood you’ve lost going to the toilet, or how long that paper cut will take to heal... if ever... [scary grin] Go on, Maggie. Let your hair fall out!

Magnus: But you’re getting exposed too!

Nigel: Ah. But not as much as you. Not nearly as much. And we have these.

[Nigel holds up a packet of panadols.]

Nigel: Anti-radiation drugs. Smart, huh? And I’m just popping by, YOU are for the duration.

Magnus: Duration?

Nigel: Yeah. The caretaker will let you out tomorrow morning, so that’s only, what, sixteen hours till you get out of the radiation beam. Which I think we all agree would count as “heavy exposure”. Hey, Jase, what happens once he gets the cancer?

Jason: [flipping through pages] Uh, um, wait, cancer, cancer... yeah. Um, “the speed of the condition increases exponentially with the degree of pain and every other feature of the disease is chronic.

Nigel: So it is going to sting like a BITCH!

[Nigel rises and moves away from the box.]

Nigel: Ooh, nice and cool over here.

Magnus: You can’t do this to me!

Nigel: And yet, somehow, I’ve managed it. It’s a puzzler, is it not?

[A beat. The blue light continues to shine over Magnus, who is starting to sweat.]

Magnus: This is murder.

Nigel: Oh no. Not legally.

Magnus: What do YOU know of legality?

Nigel: More than you, dickhead. You know, Jase here once stabbed me through the chest? Now, if I’d died, he’d have been up for murder. If I’d lived, but died the day after? Murder. Two days later? Murder? Three? Well, you get the picture. The point is, if I died within three hundred and sixty five days, it would have been murder. But three hundred and sixty seven? A year and a day later? Jase would have gone off scott free. And, seriously, I can see you lasting up to three years.

Jason: But, you know, three years of agony.

Nigel: With no hair.

Jason: And bleeding from your bum.

Nigel: But still not murder.

Magnus: I can still get you for this!

Nigel: Maggie, puh-lease. Radiation diseases take days to be detected. Days for which I can flee the country, with my brand new name and haircut. And who is going to believe that a kid brought in some gamma radiation to zap the school bully?

Magnus: But you ARE!

Nigel: And why did I do that, Maggie? What was my motivation? Huh? Got an answer for that?

[Magnus is silent.]

Nigel: Maybe cause of what you did to my sister. Wrap your brain around that. Because if I get arrested or jailed, YOU are still doomed. And that’s worth the price. And as I’ve got myself an alibi, changed my name and dyed my hair means I’m not going to be high on the list of suspects. And thanks to this funky neutron bomb here, the radiation will decay harmlessly. By morning, everything in this shed will be radiation free. Except you of course. So, with no suspect, no motive, no actus rea, menus rea or causation, it’s going to be PHENOMENALLY difficult to pin the wrap on me.

[Magnus is breathing very hard now.]

Magnus: I can have hitmen out on you in an instant!

Nigel: Yeah, that’s it, Maggie, waste your one chance of survival.

Magnus: What do you mean?

Nigel: I mean, you got a choice, Maggie. You can waste what little time there is fighting a doomed court case to try and prove that you drove your fellow students to bringing plutonium in for show and tell, or try and get assassins to hunt me down.... or...

Magnus: Or...?

Nigel: Get treatment, spastic! You go straight to hospital, get all your diplomatic pals to pump you full of antibiotics and bone-marrow stuff. A full-body blood transfusion could only do you good. You might even be able to stop going sterile if you’re quick – but, between you and me, I think you’d be a rubbish dad, so it’s better in the long run.

Magnus: You... you...

Nigel: Dude, I’d say you got about thirty days before you start looking like Davros’ passport photo. Maybe a few months while you can still move without a funky life support wheelchair. Do you really want to waste these last precious moments before your mouth starts bleeding trying to come up with insults? Do you?

Jason: And the kidneys. They start bleeding too.

Nigel: And all under the skin too, I think.

Jason: Yeah, it’s like you turn into one big bruise.

Nigel: Yeah, you don’t last more than two weeks after that though. [to Magnus] Don’t worry dude. With your money and contacts, you might be recovered in a few years. By which I mean you won’t be radioactive. You’ll still be a wizened little goblin unable to eat solids or face direct sunlight, but you’ll be alive. If you can call that living.

Jason: I call that living.

Nigel: Not now, Jase. Seriously though, Magnus, tell me, are you feeling a little bit sick right now? Cause, that could be a good sign.

Magnus: [hopeful] Could it?

Nigel: Oh yeah. If you’re feeling really tired and dizzy and sick, it means your brain is irradiated.

Magnus: How is that good?

Nigel: Well, it means that give or take a day you’ll be more-or-less back to normal.

Magnus: [very hopeful] Really?

Nigel: Sure. Isn’t that right, Jase?

Jason: [flipping through papers] Is it? I don’t remember that.

Nigel: [patiently] Yes you do. Look. [chooses page] See?

Jason: [reads] Oh. Oh yes. “There is a period of several days of comparative well-being called the latent phase of radiation poisoning.

Magnus: Thank god!

Jason: Also known as the Walking Ghost Phase.

[Magnus’ face falls.]

Jason: After that, cell death in the gastric and intestinal tissue, causing massive diarrhea, intestinal bleeding and loss of water, leads to water-electrolyte imbalance. Death sets in with delirium and coma due to breakdown of circulation. Death is currently inevitable; the only treatment that can be offered is pain management.

Nigel: But you won’t have an excuse to miss the rest of the school week.

Magnus: [sobs] That’s not real plutonium. You’re making all this up. It’s just a blue light.

Jason: Is that the delirium setting in?

Nigel: I think so. Better get out of here, Jase, I won’t be far behind you.

[Jason carefully creeps out, never going near the blue light. Magnus is panting.]

Nigel: Oh, you must be getting thirsty right about now. How’s your throat? I bet it’s all dry and parched. And your feet? Any fiery torment up your legs? Can you feel that, Maggie? Can you?

[He very obviously can.]

Magnus: Shut up! Shut up! There’s nothing there!

Nigel: Of course there isn’t! How long have you been exposed to this “nothing”, anyway? Apparently memory’s the first to go under that harsh, burning intensity. Then the eyes. My, they DO look red.

Magnus: You’re making this up!

Nigel: You’ll so hate me reminding you of those words when they switch off the life support. But if I’m making it up, why are your fingers tingling?

Magnus: They’re not!

Nigel: Really? Be honest here, Maggie, it could be you’re last chance. Keep your fingers still for a second.

[Magnus does so.]

Nigel: You SURE they’re not tingling? Cause when they stop tingling, that’s when they start to shrivel up. Ooh, I’m getting thirsty just thinking about it! I think my lips are starting to crack. I better go before my skin gets all raw and ravaged. You can take that can’t you?

Magnus: It’s not real!

Nigel: Maggie, baby, do you really think, seriously, that if I got my hands on raw plutonium, I WOULDN’T use it to destroy you utterly? Does that even sound remotely credible? No, I best go before all this hard radiation starts to cling to me. Oh, how horrible it would be, Maggie! Getting it under your eyelids, in your mouth, like scorching sands in your lungs. Oh well, see ya later, Magnus. When your hair’s fallen off and your guts have rotted from the inside out, you can look back on this and laugh.

[Nigel waves and leaves. He almost immediately returns.]

Nigel: Well, assuming you survive the night. But if your spirit separates from your body and there’s no escape except oblivion... then that’s a GOOD thing. Ciao.

[He leaves again.]

[Playground. Nigel and Jason walk away from the sheds. Magnus can be heard shouting.]

Magnus: No! Come back! Come back here at once! I DEMAND YOU COME BACK HERE! RIGHT NOW!

[Jason automatically starts to turn back to the sheds but, without looking, Nigel effortlessly steers him back.]

Magnus: NIGEL! PLEASE! PLEASE! I’M BEGGING YOU! I’M SORRY! PLEASE!

[They keep walking.]

Magnus: YOU CAN’T DO THIS! IT’S NOT FAIR! IT’S INHUMAN!

[Inside the shed, Magnus breaks down in tears.]

Magnus: This isn’t fair! This isn’t fair! I don’t want to die! I don’t deserve to die!

[Nigel and Jason leave the school and walk off into the sunset. They don’t look back.]

Magnus: [suddenly furious] I HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING WRONG! I HAVE DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY!!

[The blue glow continues to spray from the box onto him. It seems to get brighter, swallowing him up. Magnus lets out a chilling scream. Fade to black.]

[Behind the toilets, Nigel is present with most of his class, Danielle by his side. He cheerfully lets out a mockery of Magnus’ last scream. The others laugh, bar Phoebe. She has a bruised face.]


Nigel: And I swear the last thing he managed to squawk before it turned into incoherent sobbing was “I have diplomatic immunity!”

[Much laughter.]

Dave: And so he’s gone?

Nigel: Indeed he has.

Jadi: But...

Nigel: I shall let my beautiful better half continue the story. Danielle?

Danielle: Well, I was the runner today so I heard what happened. The caretaker came in today, opened up the shed and Magnus was there. He’d weed himself! And pooed his pants! When he woke up, he just screamed and ran off. At ten o’clock, the front office got a phone call about taking him out of the school. The family had to go to Johannesburg or something for an emergency.

[A plane roars overhead.]

Nigel: That could be him now. [waves] BYE-BYE, MAGNUS!

[Laughter from the kids.]

Phoebe: [icy] You made him think he had cancer.

Nigel: Red, please, was it MY fault he was dumb enough to believe me?

Phoebe: It’s disgusting. You’ve made him think he won’t live till Christmas!

[Some of the kids stop laughing as that concept hits home.]

Nigel: I prefer to think of it as making him never take his hair, skin or fingernails for granted ever again. And how is your bridgework, Phoebe, after poor little Magnus tried to cave your face inside out?

[Jadi (still on his knees) frowns.]

Jadi: But he’s rich and everything. He’ll go to all the best surgeons and stuff.

Danielle: If he has any sense.

Jadi: But won’t they tell him he’s clean right away?

Nigel: Funny thing that, Jadi. You see, the first symptoms of deadly radiation poisoning are EXACTLY the same as hysterical blind panic. It’ll be days before they know for sure he’s clean. And considering he simultaneously pissed AND shat himself in mortal terror, I don’t think he’ll quite be able to understand the fact he’s fine for... ooh. Months.

Dave: And then he comes back here to kill us?

Nigel: No, Dave. I don’t think he will. I don’t pretend to know what, if anything, occurs between him and his parents, but demanding the finest doctors medical science can provide when he is, in fact, in perfect health, is probably going to annoy them. And the idea their son was not only so stupid to fall for the old “blue LED of death” trick, but also as big an asshole to drive someone to do it? He’s not going to help their careers, is he? [snorts] Diplomatic immunity.

Jason: And if he does come back?

Nigel: By the time he’s convinced himself he’s healthy, we’ll have left the school.

Phoebe: And he’s only after you.

Dave: Phe...

Nigel: She’s right. But I have cunningly changed my name. Let’s see him find me. I beat him once. I can do it again.

Phoebe: You’re disgusting.

Nigel: Hey. I resemble that remark.

Phoebe: You tortured him. Mentally tortured him. He could kill himself!

[Some disturbed mumbles from the kids.]

Nigel: I know, Phoebe. I know. And it’s amazing, but if YOU hadn’t told him all about the trap, he wouldn’t have fallen for it and Jason and I would have just been piss-farting about with a blue light bulb in a shed. [leans forward] How does that make you feel?

[Phoebe turns and leaves. Nigel sighs.]

Nigel: I do love the view when she walks away like that. [louder] Just in case anyone else is feeling the arrogant know-it-all-it Jiminy Crickett bullshit, let me remind you that my sister is not out hospital. That Phoebe, despite her lovely diction, isn’t on solids for the next month. That Jadi still can’t bend his legs.

Jadi: [defensively] I’m getting better.

Nigel: Not now, dude, I’m talking. Now. I have got rid of Magnus. I didn’t see anyone else even TRY. You, your parents and your teachers, were letting to let that idiot maim you, kill you, bury you and piss on your graves. But I stopped that happening. For good. Now... is that a bad thing?

[A doubtful “No” from the crowd.]

Nigel: Is it bad you don’t have to worry about turning a corner and seeing that genetic throwback on the warpath? That you get to keep your bus fairs, train fairs, pocket money and food allowances your loving parents work oh so hard to give you?

[A more confident “No”.]

Nigel: Then I think I’m right in saying that what I have done is a GOOD thing!

[A very confident “Yes!”]

Nigel: I am Nigel. The biggest, meanest, toughest son of a seska in this school! I am the antimatter opposite of the school bully. I’m the school hero! Times a million! Lord of this Primary Hill School, Instigator of the Russian Kid Incident, and Stealer of Lusts. I’m your savior... SQUARED! I AM THE BIG N! ALL HAIL THE BIG N!

Crowd: ALL HAIL THE BIG N!

[A long pause. Phoebe can be heard in the distance.]

Phoebe: [vo] GIVE ME STRENGTH!

Danielle: Actually, on second thoughts, that does sound a bit gay.

Nigel: You’re right. Forget the hails bit. [to Danny] You doing anything tonight?

[Outside Nigel’s home. Nigel, Danny, Kenji, Akiro and Nigel’s mum are waiting outside the place as the car pulls up. Togi emerges and opens the passenger door, allowing Bernice to emerge – most of her bruises have faded, but her arm is in a sling.]

Nigel’s Mum: [almost crying] Welcome home, my beautiful Beriniko.

[She pulls her daughter into a hug.]

Bernice: Thanks mum.

[The others clap and let off party-poppers. Bernice gently embraces Akiro, kisses Kenji on the cheek, shakes Danny’s hand... and gives a sad, hurt look to Nigel, before entering the house. Nigel looks around, shocked and hurt. Nigel’s dad emerges from the limo, gives Nigel a cold look and then mutters something to Togi. He then follows his wife, Kenji and Akiro inside. Togi crosses over to Nigel.]

Togi: Mr. Yang wishes to see you in his office at your earliest convenience, Mr. Verkoff.

Nigel: ...excuse me?

Togi: Mr. Yang wishes to see you in his office at your earliest convenience, Mr. Verkoff.

Nigel: Who’s Verkoff? And Mr. Yang... You mean, my dad?

Togi: Indeed. He specifically asked I phrase his request that way.

Nigel: ...right. [to Danny] See you in my room. Don’t touch the Target Novelizations.

[Troubled, Nigel enters the house.]

[Nigel’s dad’s office. The man himself sits at a desk, glowering some paperwork. Nigel enters.]

Nigel: Afternoon, father.

[An awkward pause.]

Nigel: Togi said you wanted to see me.

Nigel’s Dad: I am not your father.

Nigel: ...well, yeah. I know.

[Nigel’s dad finally looks up at him.]

Nigel’s Dad: I am not your father, Mr. Verkoff, but I have tried to be in every way. What time I have at home I ensure am I at the disposal of all my children. Even adopted ones. Yet this has clearly not been enough for you.

Nigel: [hurt] I don’t know what you’re talking about, father. And why are you calling me Verkoff?

Nigel’s Dad: It is your name, apparently.

Nigel: My name? Father, my name...

[Nigel’s dad hands over the paperwork. Nigel takes it. It’s the deed poll form.]

Nigel: Oh.

Nigel’s Dad: Oh. You have chosen to change your name to Nigel Verkoff.

Nigel: What? [flips through the pages] Oh, no, I forgot about the carbon paper bit! It was supposed to be Nigel Deveraux, and now it’s... “Verk Off”. Oh well, I suppose it’s better than what Phoebe wrote originally. Verkoff? It sounds Russian! [sighs] There’s irony for you... Father, I...

Nigel’s Dad: I am not your father. Not any more. By your choice, it seems.

Nigel: Father, this isn’t what it seems to be.

Nigel’s Dad: It “seems” to be you deliberately and of your own free will changed your name. You don’t want to be part of the Yang dynasty any more is what it “seems” to be.

Nigel: That’s not what this is about.

Nigel’s Dad: [hurt] We took you in, Nigel, saved you from life on the streets. All we asked in return was love.

Nigel: [angry] Oh, don’t pull that! I’m nearly eleven years old and I am NOT stupid. I was a tax dodge, a photo opportunity and a novelty pet! Whenever there’s a family photograph, it’s always the black sheep of the family who ends up being photographer, isn’t it? What a coincidence! Yes, you gave me all I wanted, no, you’ve done nothing wrong, but you do not get to spin this as pure altruism on your part! Don’t treat me like I never noticed!

Nigel’s Dad: What did we do to earn such hatred?

Nigel: It is NOT hatred, OK?! [calmer] I changed my name. I disconnected myself from the family. It was not because the family did me wrong. It was not because I wanted some attention or thought I was unloved. It is not because I hate you all and never want to see you again.

Nigel’s Dad: Then why?

Nigel: Because... because I thought it would help.

Nigel’s Dad: Help!?

Nigel: I have done things... am responsible for things I don’t think anyone would be proud of. If it went wrong, if things... came undone, it would be me that took the blame. Not the family. Not Benny. Not you, or mum, or anyone else. Just me. I didn’t quit the team. I just took one for the team.

Nigel’s Dad: [slowly] So this... insult... is actually your attempt at altruism?

Nigel: I assume you can understand my logic if not my motives, father.

[Nigel’s father lets out a very deep sigh.]

Nigel’s Dad: Oh, Nigel. I do not know what disturbs me more. The fact that, after all these years, you do not trust your own family to stand by your side and forgive your sins? Or the fact you seem to be carrying out such sins you are convinced would be unforgivable?

[Nigel doesn’t know what to say.]

Nigel’s Dad: I can only apologize for my failure as a parent.

Nigel: [in a small voice] Dad... please...

Nigel’s Dad: If that is all, Mr. Verkoff? I have a celebration for my daughter to attend.

[Nigel’s dad leaves the office. Nigel deflates.]

Nigel: Oh, what I wouldn’t give for some lethal radiation poisoning right now.

[Nigel’s room. Nigel lies on his bed, staring up at the ceiling, one arm wrapped around Danielle who lies beside him, her head on his chest.]

Nigel: So. To summarize. Phoebe thinks I’m a psychopath. Akiro thinks I’m a ruthless maniac. Kenji thinks I’m a cowardly asshole. Benny thinks I’m a lying bastard. My dad thinks I’m an ungrateful little shit. My mother is none the wiser. And Togi doesn’t give a damn.

[A long pause.]

Nigel: I have had better days.

[He sighs.]

Danielle: Hey. At least nothing else can go wrong.

Nigel: Suppose not.

[The next day. Nigel’s house is rocked by a scream. In the bathroom, Nigel’s hair is soaked and sudded. He examines his reflection in the mirror while he shouts into the phone.]

Nigel: WHAT DO YOU MEAN, IT WON’T WASH OUT?!?

[In another house, the phone rings. A sleepy Jason in polka-dot pyjamas answers the phone.]

Jason: [rubs eyes] Hullo?

Nigel: [vo] JASON! YOU ARE A DEAD MAN!!!!!

Jason: Uh-oh.

NEXT TIME

NIGEL: Mary Walker! Mary Walker! MARY WALKER!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Verkoff: A Terrible Ego (viii)

ACT EIGHT – DEVASTATION

[The very hospital that Nigel was born in, but as no one is aware of this, for all intents and purposes, it could be any damn hospital, really. In one room, Benny lies on a bed, looking very much the worse for wear – black eye, bruised cheeks, neck in a brace, arm in a sling. Nigel, Kenji, Akiro and Togi are present. Togi is reading a magazine, bored.]

Togi: Apparently she’ll be fine in a month or so. Be able to walk inside a week.

Akiro: Well, at least she won’t moan as much as Nigel did after that silly knife incident.

[Nigel doesn’t respond.]

Bernice: Do you have to talk about me like I’m not here?

Kenji: Oh, come on, Beriniko! We all know you’re just doing this for attention! You like hospital food and the bedpans – any excuse to come here...

[Benny laughs painfully.]

Bernice: Don’t make me laugh.

Kenji: [calls] Oh, nurse! Can we get some mashed sweet potato and some thermometers here, stat?

Akiro: The other kind of thermometers!

Kenji: Better make that twenty of them, sister!

Nigel: It was Magnus, wasn’t it?

[That kills the mood. Kenji looks furious.]

Kenji: What?! Someone DID THIS to YOU?!

Bernice: Doesn’t matter.

Kenji: MATTER?!? Of course it matters!!

Bernice: Kenji.

Kenji: HE NEARLY KILLED HER!

Akiro: So how are you going to make it better, Kenji? Get yourself in trouble by beating him up?

Bernice: Akiro’s right, Kenji. We have to stop this whole cycle thing.

[Akiro and Kenji look at Nigel, who doesn’t respond.]

Bernice: An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind and all that crap. Just let him go.

Kenji: Benny...

Bernice: Promise.

Kenji: [sighs] I promise, Beriniko.

Bernice: I’m tired now. Sleep.

[She dozes off. Akiro crosses to a cleaner mopping the floor.]

Akiro: You! The girl in that bad – from now on, she gets everything she wants. If she wants ice cream, you get her ice cream. If she wants TV, you get the best from Retravision! If she wants a sponge bath, you do it with champagne! Are we clear?

Cleaner: Uh... yeah...

Akiro: Good.

[The three start to leave.]

Kenji: Benny likes being rubbed down with champagne?

Akiro: It’s a girl thing. You wouldn’t understand.

Kenji: Fair enough.

[Nigel follows, still not talking.]

[Nigel’s room. It’s very late. A CD player plays Toto’s “Africa”. Nigel thinks for a moment, then snatches up the phone beside the bed and dials. He waits for an answer.]

Nigel: Ah, yeah, sorry about the late hour but... Hello? Mr. Richards? Yeah, I’d like to talk to Phoebe, please. Phoebe. Feeeee-beeeee. Richards. Your daughter. She’s about a metre and a half tall, long red hair, easily an A cup if she wore a bra... No, your DAUGHTER. Not your wife. Dude, I want to talk to Phoebe. Not your wife. No, I’m not having an affair with your wife! That’s why I don’t want to talk to her! I don’t care IF you’re waiting for the adulterous bastard to ring up so you can catch him, this is serious! No wonder your wife’s playing around, you thick numbskull! [shouts] PHOEBE! IF YOU’RE THERE, GET THIS LOONY OFF THE PHONE! [beat] Yes, THAT Phoebe! Thank you! [sighs] Phe, girl, is he always like that? He is? Jeez, and I thought some of my older male relatives were weird. Look, sweetcheeks, I need you to do something for me... [slightly hysterical giggle] Oh you dirty little girl! No, not THAT! Oh? Why have you been doing that with a hot water bottle? Phe, when they say you’re hot, they don’t mean you’ve got some kind of fever temperature, it’s entirely different. Now stop doing that before you get burns which will be very awkward to explain. Now, listen, I need you to do something for me. I need...

[A dramatic pause.]

Nigel: ...a makeover.

[Akiro, in a dressing gown, pauses in the hall by the door as she hears Nigel’s voice.]

Nigel: ...yeah. And contact Jason and tell him what’s needed. I want this small and contained, comprehende? Yeah. And that thing I taught you to do with your hands? Yeah, good isn’t it? See ya tomorrow.

[Akiro peers round the door as Nigel hangs up.]

Akiro: Nigel.

Nigel: Huh? What? Were you listening, Akiro? You, an eavesdropper!? I’m shocked!

Akiro: Nigel, are you...

Nigel: It is not what you think!

Akiro: Isn’t it?

Nigel: Seriously, I know what it could sound like, but it’s just a little trick. If you sit on your hands long enough they go completely numb, right? So I suggested some of the girls at school do that, then they get to find out what it feels to be groped without having to get someone else to do it [not changing tone] and why the hell am I even explaining this to you? You think a libido is Mexican food!

Akiro: You’re going to go after Magnus, aren’t you?

Nigel: [avoids her gaze] It’s my fault, Akiro.

Akiro: She asked you not to.

Nigel: Yes.

Akiro: And you promised.

[Nigel looks up.]

Nigel: [completely serious] Oh, no. That’s the killer. Kenji promised. Me? I never promised Benny a thing.

[He smiles. Slightly disconcerted, Akiro leaves.]

[The school playground, the next day. Togi drops off Nigel, Akiro and Kenji, who split up as they enter the school. Akiro hurries off, casting a worried look at Nigel, who seems to act like nothing happened. He meets up with Danielle, who kisses him. He grins, and notices Magnus leaning against a tree not far away. Nigel smiles politely at him, as if they’ve not met before. Magnus smiles back and mimes slicing his throat. Nigel and Danielle wander off and meet up with Jason, who looks incredibly paranoid and shifty, and is hugging his bag. Jason hurries off after Nigel as well.]

[The classroom. Nigel gets a few odd looks as he enters, the kids whispering about the accident the previous day. Nigel sits down at the table with the others, seemingly normal. He meets Phoebe’s eye. She nods. He looks at Jason, who stares back and mouths “What?” Nigel sighs and holds his head in his hands.]

[Lunchtime. The kids leave their classes. Nigel, Jason and Phoebe head off in completely different directions, not looking at each other. Making sure no one is watching her, Phoebe ducks down through a side gate and out of the school. She hurries off into a side road and out of sight. Meanwhile, Jason heads towards the dumpster where he stabbed Nigel, and heads straight on through the gates. Nigel heads towards the tree Theo climbed over. He pauses as a cute girl about four years younger than him runs up and offers him an ice cream. He takes it with a smile and then signs her arm with a texta she provides. He heads off, munching the ice cream, unaware that Magnus is watching him. Nigel climbs the tree, drops into the alley and sprints off at top speed. Magnus watches him go.]

[Nigel runs down a suburban street, looking around. He reaches the end, only a main highway and then hurries down the street, past several shops and car yards. He finishes the ice cream and ducks into a pub. He heads out into the beer garden where Jason and Phoebe sit, drinking lemonade and water respectively, both looking rather nervous. Nigel enters with an orange juice.]

Nigel: Sorry I’m late. The fans, you know. More of them every day. [sips drink] And I’ve just discovered that mint-choc Cornettos and orange juice don’t mix.

[He spits in a plant pot and takes Phoebe’s water and gargles with it.]

Jason: You sure we’re not going to get in trouble, Nige?

Nigel: Course not. Students and teachers have been sneaking off here since time’s start. As long as we don’t drink booze, it’s all right. You got what I asked for.

Jason: Uh-huh.

[Jason puts some bottles of hair product on the table. Phoebe puts some paperwork forms on the table.]

Nigel: Perfect. What about the main object?

Jason: My uncle thinks it’s for a science project. It’ll be ready by tomorrow.

Nigel: Good. Then we just need to get him outside the caretaker sheds at hometime.

Jason: No one goes there at hometime, Nige! It’s about as far away from the way out as you can get!

Nigel: [sighs] Yes, exactly, Jason. That’s why we aren’t relying on him just being there by accident. We need to somehow trick him into going there of his own free will.

Phoebe: And then?

Nigel: And then what those in the know refer to by the technical expression “payback”.

Jason: You’re gonna stab in the leg with a spear like the Aborigines do?

Nigel: No, that’s how civilized people behave. Mister Magnus stopped being civilized a long time ago.

Phoebe: You can’t be serious about this, Nige?

Nigel: Phe, he pushed the one person in the world I care about off a seven-metre high slippery dip and gave her a compound fracture in her arm. And then he kicked her when she was down and wandered off until someone found her and helped her. I can only assume you’re complaining my plan ISN’T nasty enough to balance out that festering bag of liquid manure’s unspeakable crimes against humanity?

Phoebe: This is wrong. What you’re going to do...

Nigel: ...is not half as bad as what he did to my sister. For nothing. Because she shares my last name. That’s all she did wrong, Phoebe. Which is why I got you to get me these forms.

[He picks up the forms and flips through them.]

Jason: Why didn’t I have to get any forms?

Nigel: [kindly] Because I need someone who is literate enough to spell their own name correctly, Jase.

Jason: [shrugs] Fair enough. What do you need these forms for?

Nigel: Changing my name by Deed Poll. The only way that walking yowie could have found out about Benny is by looking up the school register and comparing last names. Nigel Yang, Bernice Yang, see? But if my name wasn’t Yang, he’d be clueless.

Phoebe: That’s not going to do her much good now, is it?

Nigel: [reading pages] It might help in the future, with what I’ve got planned...

Phoebe: No. This is sick, Nigel. You’re going to screw up his whole life!

Nigel: Phe, I don’t intend to harm a hair on his head.

Phoebe: Because you’re going to do something worse!

Nigel: Compared to what I WANT to do to him, red, he is getting off scott free.

Jason: Who’s Scott Free?

Phoebe: Nigel! This is wrong, OK? You can’t go round treating people like this!

Jason: Is he a boy?

Nigel: I know it sounds really childish and pathetic, but it’s still true: he started it. And I’m going to finish it.

Jason: Magnus is getting off with another boy?

Phoebe: And then what? You’re going to do that to anyone else that annoys you?

Nigel: Annoys me? Phe, I’m not doing this because he slurped his soup or sung “Black and White” off-key! He could have killed her – just to get at me! What if he did that to you, huh?

Phoebe: Or Danny?

Nigel: [after a beat] Oh, is that what this is all about?

Jason: OH MY GOD!

Nigel & Phoebe: What?

Jason: Magnus! Are you saying he’s gay?

Nigel & Phoebe: ...shut up, Jason.

Phoebe: Look, Nigel, I can’t be friends with someone who can be this cruel.

Nigel: Then don’t, Phe.

[Phoebe is hurt.]

Phoebe: Don’t you care?

Nigel: I care enough to stop a psychopath who beats innocent girls up because of his magical diplomatic immunity get-out card. If you want to leave everyone in the school to the whim of that madman, then which one of us is actually being cruel?

[Phoebe doesn’t reply.]

Nigel: Go off then, red. Back to school! I don’t need your help to finish this! And it’s not like you’re actually my girlfriend or anything – otherwise Dave would probably have slashed his wrists by now.

Phoebe: [confused] Dave?

Nigel: [annoyed] Phe, I’m trying to pick a new moniker for myself here, now either you can help out or rack off back to school! Danny could probably be a better help...

[Phoebe glares at him.]

Phoebe: You want a new name? Fine. Here’s a suggestion.

[She scribbles two words down on the form and storms out.]

Jason: Um... bye, Phe! [to Nigel] Shouldn’t we go after her?

Nigel: No. Let her go. In fact, I’m glad she’s gone. We didn’t need her anyway. And one day, she’s going to end up lying on the ground, in indescribable agony because of some boy she underestimated, and all because she didn’t stick with me. I just hope I’ll be there to see it, Jase. [looks at form] Whoa. Did she kiss me with that mouth? Get me a rubber.

[Jason hands him an eraser and he tries to rub out the offensive words.]

Jason: But how are we going to get Magnus to the caretaker sheds?

Nigel: Oh, I’ll think of something.

[A lonely pause.]

Jason: Maybe Phoebe’s right.

Nigel: [filling out form] She isn’t.

Jason: She sounded like she was right. Maybe we shouldn’t do this.

Nigel: As another Magnus once said... I’ve started so I’ll finish.

[The playground. The end of lunch bell rings and students start to return to their classes. Nigel and Jason run through a gate and manage to mingle with the other children.]

[Nigel’s class reenter the classroom. Nigel and the others sit down at their table. Phoebe blanks Nigel completely. Jason looks embarrassed, Nigel blanks her right back. Dave and Jadi exchange looks.]

[Playground. The end of school bell rings. The children head for the exits.]

Nigel: OK, Jase, you’re with me tonight.

Jason: Right, boss.

[Magnus watches them go, leaning against a tree. He turns and prepares to head off home himself when he realizes that Phoebe is waiting for him.]

Magnus: What do you want, freckle-freak?

Phoebe: I’m trying to save your life.

Magnus: [baby talk] Aw, do you fink I will give you an ickle kiss as a reward juz like the dumb Abbo did? [normal] Slut.

[He heads off. Phoebe calls after him.]

Phoebe: Nigel’s setting a trap for you.

Magnus: So?

Phoebe: It’ll work. And you’ll die.

Magnus: [smirks] I kinda doubt that.

[She grabs his arm.]

Phoebe: Then the last thought that you’ll ever have is “Oh, fuck, the redhead was right!” Understand?

Magnus: You’re touching me.

Phoebe: He’s setting up a trap in the caretaker’s shed, tomorrow afternoon, after hometime. Then he’s going to lure you there and make it look like an accident.

Magnus: Oh. Well, forewarned is forearmed.

Phoebe: So don’t go anywhere near the shed, OK?

Magnus: [smiles sweetly] Oh, I won’t, little girl, I won’t.

[Phoebe lets his arm go.]

Phoebe: I’m not living with your death on my conscience, Magnus. Not even you.

Magnus: I’m touched.

[He turns and starts to walk off, then turns back.]

Magnus: Oh, one more thing.

Phoebe: Yeah?

[He decks her right in the face. She falls without a sound and lies still.]

Magnus: I really don’t like people touching me.

[He turns and wanders off again. Dave and Jadi run over.]

Dave: PHOEBE!

[They roll her over. She’s bleeding from the nose and mouth.]

Dave: Aw, Phe... It’s OK, we got you!

Jadi: Why did he hit you?

Dave: That does it. I’m calling the cops.

Phoebe: [in a lot of pain] Don’t... bother...

[She spits some blood onto the grass.]

Phoebe: [icily] I just set him up for something a lot worse than the police. [winces] I think I need a dentist...

[Jadi and Dave help her up and fuss over her.]

[Nigel’s room. Nigel is in a dressing gown without his sunglasses. Jason holds some bottles.]

Nigel: Right, so the final piece is set up tomorrow. The deed poll stuff is sorted. Just need to finish this. Now, you read all the instructions on the bottles, Jase?

Jason: Yep.

Nigel: And you understood them when I read them out?

Jason: Oh yeah.

Nigel: Let’s do it then.

[They head out towards the bathroom. They enter just as Kenji is leaving.]

Jason: Hello, Kenji!

Kenji: ...who are you? And why are you and my brother going into the toilet together?

Nigel: Don’t bother answering, Jason, he won’t remember.

Jason: Oh. [to Kenji] See ya!

[Nigel slams the bathroom door shut leaving Kenji alone.]

Kenji: [shakes head] You’re getting as bad as Uncle Miko, Nige.

[Later, inside the bathroom, Nigel is toweling his head. Jason throws the empty bottles into a bin.]

Nigel: Right, Jason. Head straight home and when you come to school, bring in the you-know-what. Under no circumstances turn up without it. [grabs his face] I mean it, Jason. If you screw up any instruction I ever give you, make sure it ISN’T THIS ONE. This isn’t for me, Jason. It’s for mankind itself. Get it wrong, and it’s all over. And that includes the koala bears.

Jason: [aghast] Not the koalas!

Nigel: Yes! So you’re not going to get this wrong, are you?

Jason: NEVER, SAH!

Nigel: Good boy. I’ll see you tomorrow morning. And then...

Jason: ...then?

Nigel: ...and then everything changes. And the story of Magnus the school bully ends. Forever.

[Sobered, Jason nods and leaves.]

[The next morning. The school bell rings. Nigel strides towards the school. His hair is now acid blonde. He is the Nigel we know in everything except years. He gets some admiring glances, wolf-whistles and gestures from girls as he heads to class. Jason is standing outside.]

Nigel: You brought the stuff?

Jason: Huh? [startled] Who are you!?

Nigel: [sighs] Beechawowa. Jason! It’s me! Nigel!

Jason: Oh. Right. Didn’t recognize you. Did you get a tan?

[Even Nigel boggles at that.]

Nigel: Did you bring the you-know-what?

Jason: Yes! I did! Please tell me the koalas are safe now?

Nigel: I can’t. Not yet. But for the time being they are just the way they should be?

Jason: Half-way up a gum-tree, completely stoned out of their brains and waiting for the sunset?

Nigel: Exactly, Jase. Exactly.

[They enter the class.]

[Classroom. Nigel and Jason sit at the table with Jadi, Dave and Danielle.]

Danielle: What the hell did you do to your hair?

Nigel: Do you like it?

Danielle: [surprised] Actually yeah. You look even cooler.

Nigel: I thought so. [slightly awkward] It seems we’re one short today.

Jason: Where’s Phoebe?

[Dave snaps his pencil in half, not quite controlling his emotions.]

Jadi: She uh... she’s having her teeth straightened.

Danielle: She doesn’t need her teeth straightened. She had those braces all through Year Three.

Jadi: Well she...

Dave: [voice cracking] Magnus. Magnus... he hit her. In the face.

[A pause. Jadi snaps his own pencil, almost involuntarily. So does Jason. And Danielle. Nigel very deliberately puts his pencil on the table, as if to stop him snapping it as well.]

Nigel: Well now, Dave. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Maggie should get away with that. In fact, I’ve got a plan to get even with him. Maybe even MORE than even.

[Dave is disturbingly interested in the idea.]

Dave: Such as?

Jadi: [frowning] David, I don’t think...

Nigel: Jadi, I think I could use your help as well.

Jadi: Me?

Nigel: Phoebe IS your best friend, isn’t she?

[Jadi sighs and puts his head in his hands.]

Jadi: I am so going to regret this.

Nigel: [grins] But you’ll regret not doing it more.

Dave: What do we have to do?

Nigel: YOU, Dave, have a mission to the caretaker’s shed with a little something Jason will give you at recess. Get it inside there. Do not open it, Dave, unless you don’t want to live long enough to get back to class. Leave it shut and you will be fine, get it?

Dave: Got it.

Nigel: Good. As for you, Jadi, I need to have a chat with you about Magnus. Jason?

Jason: Yes?

Nigel: Get out my problem books and finish the stuff about pyramids, cylinders and spheres.

Jason: Right, boss.

Danielle: [eagerly] And what do I do?

Nigel: Sit on your hands until they go numb and then give those [points at her breasts] a good fondle under my strict supervision.

[Nigel realizes everyone is now staring at him. Or rather at the teacher who has been standing behind him. Nigel clears his throat and chuckles.]

Nigel: Algebra is bloody fantastic, isn’t it, everyone?

[Playground. A rather chastised-looking Nigel and Danielle emerge with the others from the classroom and sit down on the brick edge of the garden area outside.]

Danielle: I didn’t know you could get detention for that.

Nigel: He’s probably just annoyed his wife doesn’t do it for him any more. [frowns] Does he have a wife?

Danielle: I dunno. Is this going to stuff up your plan for Magnus?

Nigel: [arches eyebrow] Danny, please. This is part of the plan.

Danielle: [boggles] Really?

Nigel: You think after six years I haven’t learned how to hear a teacher creep up on me? Ye of little faith!

[Nigel sighs and lies down, resting his head in Danielle’s lap. She strokes his hair. Meanwhile, Jason hands a parcel to Dave who, holding the object as far from his body as possible, tries to subtly head down the hill to the caretaker sheds. As there are absolutely no kids around there, he sticks out like a sore thumb.]

Danielle: [vo] So everything’s going to plan?

Nigel: [vo] Oh yeah. That’s what’s terrifying me.

Danielle: [vo] Terrifying you? Why?

[Dave reaches the metal gate that covers the doorway and smuggles the parcel between the bars.]

Nigel: [vo] Phoebe thought it was a bad idea. My sisters thought it a bad idea. Just how many people have to think this is a terrible, terrible thing to do before they’re right?

Danielle: [vo] Why? What are you going to do to him?

[Dave straightens up, dusts his hands and, much relief, heads off. He is unaware Magnus has been standing only a few metres away and has watched the entire thing.]

Nigel: You remember that Superman movie? The last one with the black guy?

Danielle: Yeah.

Nigel: And you know there was that little fat lady with the dark hair?

Danielle: [grimaces] The one that got eaten by the computer, and turned into a robot with glowing eyes and wires and electricity and stuff?

Nigel: Yeah.

Danielle: What about her?

Nigel: What I’m going to do to Magnus is a million times worse.

Danielle: Hardcore.

Nigel: [quiet] Should I give up on it?

Danielle: Hell no. He beat up your sister, he beat up Phoebe, I could be next! And I don’t want that?

Nigel: [amused] Why, Danielle, what an overdeveloped and selfish survival instinct you have!

[He leans up and kisses her. A loud cough. They break to see the teacher standing beside them.]

Nigel: OK, I admit it, THAT time I never heard him coming.

NEXT TIME

MAGNUS: Please... don’t...

Friday, January 22, 2010

LMAO!!

AS WITH BUFFY AND XANDER, RTD AND TORCHWOOD...

In what can surely be the last ever needed evidence that RTD is as enamoured by Torchwood as experimental keyhole surgery being carried out on his lower intestine while he's trying to climb some stairs, it has been revealed that...

hahahahah...

Seriously, not making this up.

TORCHWOOD AMERICA!

Yes, FOX is going to remake Torchwood for American audiences.

Because even the Yanks have a quality threshold.

Now, there are very, very few shows in the entire history of mankind that have ever been improved by Americanization. The Office of course has become incredibly successful when it started making its own plots instead of relying on the English Cringe Humor, and Kath and Kim was - in my view - vastly superior to the original product as it forced a bucketload of karma and contempt into a series that portrayed suburban Australians as a race of selfish, barely-functioning retards with the moral absolutes of an annoyed stingray.

But can anyone living or dead say that an episode of Torchwood's first series could be remade by America and possibly turn out worse than it already was? I think coming out equally shithouse would be an achievement in itself. We're talking about the show that dubbed its OWN debut year non-canonical! A show that bigged up three episodes of its second year because of a CAMEO of Martha Jones rather than a main character getting murdered and turned into a zombie! A show whose main writer was so bored he actually crossed over with Buffy the Vampire Slayer because he found Spike more interesting than the main cast! TWICE?!

This is a show, ladies and gents, whose creator - when given a whole series to work with - completely destroys the utter format and writes out the entire cast, and then undermines even this by having Captain Jack (a man who has murdered his grandson, been abandoned by his daughter, lost his lover and betrayed his friends) instantly cured of any and all depression by being given Alonzo Frame to bonk.

Frankly, an American version of Torchwood will be interesting as there is a chance it will be written by people who DON'T actually hate the entire show. I mean, look at the crew of Bowie Base One and then the Torchwood Hub. Given roughly 1/33rd of the screen time and characterization, the Martian colonists nevertheless come across as far more likeable, sympathetic and watchable than when the same writer perpetrated Something Borrowed, aren't they? They even got new writers who boggled outright at the unprofessional idiocy on display. Joseph Lidster brought in Lucie Miller to emphasize what an asshole Owen was... AFTER Owen had died and achieved enlightenment! PJ Hammond, seemingly off his face while having Davros dress as a Ringmaster and cop off with a mermaid, still insisted on the gang's general inefficiency causing huge civilian casualties. The one character with some kind of moral baseline (that's Tosh) was redefined as a total bitch over three episodes and then shot dead once she was likeable - her last words explaining one of the many MANY continuity gaps between this and the parent series.

Now, I assume RTD gave the go ahead for this (he is, after all, its creator) when he roundly condemned Young Doctor Who On Gallifrey, Rose Tyler: Earth Defense and Malcolm & Magumbo Go Large! shows his deep desire to protect the brand of Doctor Who doesn't cover Torchwood. Or, at least, he's stopped caring now Moffat's taken over and is spiking the high octane nightmare fuel with even MORE nightmare fuel. He's writing the pilot script, meaning there's a Rose redux for 2010 and good thing too I was starting to miss them. I wonder if American TW will feature Cybermen and a recast Martha Jones?

What is there left to say?

Apart from uncontrollable giggling?

Not a lot.

BTW, SMH's The Guide blurs the line by saying that Torchwood America is actually just the fourth season of Torchwood. That happens to be set in America. And it will be ENTIRELY supervised by RTD. Out of those three statements, I don't know which is more doubtful.