Ding-Dang-Dong

Once again, it’s morning in Blogland…and here is my Vance Astro TV special.

Hot on the heels of his guest-appearance on the Six Million Dollar Man (in which his capsule gets accidentally shunted through time by the emergence of his psychic powers, to land in the milieu of Steve Austin…paste in appropriate old Defenders plotline here), and his return to his original course in the dystopian future we call the 1980s…comes the ill-fated pilot that was called, unfortunately, “Galaxy Guardians”.

[NOTE: but just because I’m playing games with time and TV here, doesn’t mean the rest of you have to. I’m just once again on the track of the joy of cheese and stars…in fact I imagine this as a show made today, that’s set in the 1980s imagined by the 1970s, that references a phony episode of SMDM from the 1970s to set itself up with. So, shall we see how deep this rabbit-hole goes…?]

ACT ONE: Vance Astrovik, bad boy of the U.S. Air Force, has been grounded, probably for good, under a cloud of mistrust. Living a life of debauchery among the ozone amputees in New York City, he is approached by a mysterious officer of a top-secret project that aims to “put a man on Alpha Centauri”, and tricked/coerced/tempted into joining it. Everybody who works for the project (based in California, natch) has some sort of bionic augmentation, which freaks him out a little — he’s anti-bionics. But that’s why they’re so committed to getting Man off Earth — Earth’s ruined as a human habitation, and they’re all living proof. Boy, it sure is fortunate that folks came up with the bionics just in the nick of time, though, isn’t it? Not at all, Vance…the U.S. government has secretly been working on bionic-replacement technology for a very long time, in fact the founder of the bionics program envisioned it as an answer to environmental degradation from the first…and you would not believe the deals he made, to keep the program funded. This research goes back to the Second World War, and was kept alive by the informal affiliations forged back then, of which frankly we don’t even have any records. Something to do with an “O.S.I.”, whatever that was…splinter group of the O.S.S.? Pre-C.I.A.? During the War? Possibly Top Secret and Eyes Only? Well, we don’t know, there was a fire that burnt up a critical archive in Eisenhower’s day…but anyway eventually the bionic program was “daylighted”, when the hole in the ozone became too threatening…and the star-shot program is seen by the people working on it as a furtherence of Dr. Rudy Wells’ lofty, farsighted, altruistic goals…and it’s run by some heavy people, too.

Colonel Steve Austin, for one…representative of the mysterious never-seen man called “Oscar” who runs the whole project. Steve is known only by the codename “Bert”, and apparently “Ernie” died some time ago. Anyway it’s “Bert” who agitated for Vance’s recruitment, but he’s not prepared for this sullen Vance who hates the bionic technology because he considers it demeaning…he thinks trying to put bionic band-aids on the human race’s problems is a hypocritical solution, just a way of trying to keep us all in some happy 1950s techno-dream, when our problem is that our own technology’s turned against us, and stabbed us in the back. Still, that’s how they get him for the program, by promising a way out of that very situation, and good ol’ Steve knows it has to be Vance, so everything’s gonna work out fine somehow anyway…even if there’s some question among the higher-ups that Vance may be some sort of radical Green.

Welcome to the Eighties that never happened!

So there’s some mushy stuff with a girl — Dawn Sommers, Steve’s daughter as it turns out — or “Big Bird” — who’s the project’s chief medical officer. Eventually Vance learns he’s to have a very sophisticated form of bionics implanted in his brain — a chip, that’ll keep his brain alive while his body is frozen for the 1,000 year journey to Centauri space. Anger! Accusations of betrayal! Pleading to do what’s good for all humanity, met with a stony, unyielding prejudice! And…a secret?

ACT TWO: It turns out Vance is a radical Green (though they don’t call them that, in this Eighties), with ties to his own secret cell of the American military-industrial complex…and they try to break him out. During the course of the breakout, three things happen: Vance learns his compatriots aren’t what they seem, not only are they working for “a foreign government” that (wrongly; ideologically; hypocritically) blames the U.S. for the ozone holes, but also they themselves have extensive bionic augmentations of a sort of superhuman kind — Vance has never seen or heard of this before…

But also they all get mysteriously dispatched by some “enemy” Vance never gets a good look at…

…And (of course!) Dawn Sommers dies.

In the end, Vance switches stances and turns the tide, and the bad guys are routed. He tells Steve: “put in the chip”…he goes into the capsule…the mission to Alpha Centauri is launched. Vance is frozen. But as his rocket leaves Earth…

The chip, the chip. Nightmare-memories of Dawn’s death coming to him as the thunderous roar of flame pushes him to escape velocity, Vance prays that he won’t live a thousand years dreaming of her death over and over again…prays to wake up, please let me wake up from this horrible dream…and something glitches out just as the engines stop roaring, and he does wake up. Looks at the clock. It is not a thousand years later, and he isn’t unfrozen. Mentally, Vance screams in horror. And something very weird happens.

INTERSTITIAL: Compressed flashback of the SMDM episode where Vance falls to Earth, thaws out, learns about his powers and how to use them, helps Steve, sets up his own story…somehow returns to space? Man, I don’t know what happened in that story…maybe some guy Steve was fighting in the 70s was using some kind of dangerous high-octane psychic SETI technology, and it tripped Vance’s chip, and awakened bionic psychic powers in him? Vance comes to Earth in the year of his own birth, causing massive earthquakes, tidal waves, because the same person can’t be in two places at once…and then it all gets reversed, using that same technology, and Steve wins the day. Sure, why not. Anyway the compressed flashback ends, just in time to deposit us in the…

ACT THREE: A muffled roar, and then Vance’s high-tech 80s computer says: “Touchdown achieved. Commencing thawing process. Warning. Warning. Suit seal must be maintained. Suit seal must be maintained…” And we get Vance’s voiceover, telling us what the computer’s talking about, in fact expositing all sorts of things for us. How weary he is. How he hopes it’ll all be worth it, that there will even be a human race to go back to, to bring out here to Centauri space…but maybe there isn’t. Maybe he’s the last man left alive. Maybe it was all for nothing…a thousand years of lonely consciousness…it was only the chip that kept him sane, and the memory of Dawn’s idealism…still if he’s the last man he’ll make a good show of himself, meet the natives of Alpha Centauri, try to help them the way Earth needed to be helped way back when…continue Steve’s heroic tradition, the first of the bionic men, he didn’t let it get him down…so Vance is the last of the bionic men, he won’t let it get him down either…he’ll do right by this brave new world, unspoiled by humankind.

And then he steps out…and right in front of a huge crowd of cheering Centaurians is a loose knot of human beings in fancy dress, smiling and applauding. Regular humans, Jovians, Pluvians…though most of them are regular humans. They explain the facts of life to him: that a thousand years is a long time, and Man didn’t die, but got invaded by the reptilian Badoon, who subjugated them for a couple of centuries and then mysteriously left just as the ozone holes got better…and then there were the Dark Ages, but then there was a new Renaissance, and human beings learned to travel to the stars at faster-than-light speeds, and now here they are, waiting to welcome their biggest hero! Some of the subspecies humans are introduced — bionics was replaced with genetic engineering! — among them Martinex and Charlie-27…Charlie gives Vance a mighty wallop on the back…and it is explained that the Badoon came back once, but only attacked Mercury, the Solar System’s communications hub…sadly the Mercurians were all wiped out, and since then things have been so tumultuous Mercury has “not been reestablished”, Martinex explains (since Vance has made his way past the dignitaries and in among the other representatives…chosen by their accomplishments to attend this grand celebration). “That sounds awfully cold,” Vance says. Martinex looks sorrowful. “It’s not meant to sound that way,” he apologizes. Charlie chimes in, saying that Jupiter now routes communications traffic through the Solar System…makes more sense than Mercury anyway, but at the time the Jovian colony was considered a genetic longshot. Charlie laughs: we sure showed the naysayers! Now the Jovians run the Terran Confederation’s Navy, by virtue of their ability to withstand ultra-high G-forces. Funny how that worked out, don’t you think, Vance? And look, here we all are, all the major delegations of the Confederacy worlds, the top political leaders from all planets, here to welcome “original” humanity back!

But Vance is looking around for the disaffected: this era’s “ozone amputees”. Are there no disaffected people here? When he left Earth, they were everywhere…

Meanwhile a shifty-looking person speaks into a wrist-communicator. “Alert Badoon strike force…coordinate Plan Mercury…”

Vance finds Yondu, and speaks to him about what he thinks of all this. Yondu unloads some primitivist Zen on him…not all Centaurians agree with the Confederacy, but they all welcome friends…he gives a very stirring speech about how all people are “aliens” when they are disconnected from harmony, and how they always have to reach out to one another…then demonstrates the properties of the yaka arrow. Vance says Yondu makes a pretty convincing case, but he’s not sure this is all real harmony at all. Yondu (alone of all the people at the big party) understands he’s bitter, but maybe he’s wise as well: maybe his voice is needed. Maybe he’s been sent here, across time, to ensure that utopia has room for the non-utopian as well. The Centaurians are a race small in number, nothing like the human race…maybe ten million? They are all gathered here today to welcome Vance. He looks out over the temporary city of the ten million Centaurians…maybe Vance has not just been sent here for humanity, but for them too? His words echo something Dawn said, so long ago, when she was trying to get Vance to accept the chip.

And by the way…Yondu can’t pronounce “Astrovik”. He struggles with Vance’s name for a small comical bit, eventually producing “Astro”.

Vance laughs.

And then the Badoon attack. All the Terran and Jovian and Pluvian delegates fall to the ground — chips in their head, of a biological nature! Planted there by the Badoon centuries ago, and passed on from generation to generation! A couple of warships swoop down…announce some shit like how this was all their plan, the Badoon don’t conquer by war, they conquer by stealth…they infect growing civilizations with their control mechanisms, and then harvest them when the time is ripe! That sort of thing. Yondu cries (and the cry is taken up by his people)…”Run, Vance Astro!” They cover for him, millions of yaka arrows…but in vain, because they’re all wiped out. Only Yondu, who helps Vance to flee, survives…

The fleets of Earth, peopled by the Jovians, are wiped out. Paralyzed Jovians in their sky-cities sink into Jupiter’s nasty-as-anything atmosphere, never to be seen again. Pluto, having been a potential early-warning station, is utterly destroyed, just like the Mercurian colony was a century ago. Only Earth remains, and the bulk of the Badoon fleet is going there to wreak their havoc. The dignitaries on Centauri are all scooped up as hostages. Eventually Vance ignores Yondu’s advice, turns and fights back with his psychokinetic power — the one human the Badoon can’t control! It’s dramatic; but then eventually, he and Yondu are both captured too.

EPILOGUE: Vance and Yondu are confined in a Badoon ship, where the Badoon chief scientist is caught saying something like, they can’t even introduce the compliance biochip into Vance, because something — something — is blocking it. It’s as though he already has a bio-chip in his head. So they’re going to experiment on him. Also, why was Yondu the only Centaurian designated to run with him? There must be something special about him…the others all acted as one, but he acted differently, and around him there erupted a strange storm of psychokinetic energies. Maybe Badoon bio-control science could learn a lot from the study of this one. And that’s the Badoon perspective: science is for control above all. “Humanity”…there never was any such thing, it was just a carrier for the grim, impersonal objectives of science. Humanity left to their own devices split themselves into scientific, technological forms. Just meat-machines, making bigger meat-machines to operate ships, or crystal machines to bring better data. All is Machine…Man was only ever an illusion that Machinery used to further itself. But the Badoon are the masters of Machinery: the universe would be cold and empty if it weren’t for the Badoon, the only spark of true independent intelligence there ever was. And thanks to so-called “humanity”, they’re about to become even more intelligent.

Vance yells something typically Seventies back at the Badoon scientist, who laughs heartlessly at the mechanical construct’s reflex simulation of “real” emotion. Then the bio-probes move in. SCREEEEEAAAAAAM! Only this time it isn’t mental; it’s physical.

Because the suit seal must be maintained…!

And there the show ENDS. Only to cue, with certain adjustments, Marvel Super-Heroes #18. And then an adjusted Defenders/Guardians team-up story, only perhaps without the Defenders themselves, just Starhawk. And then we’re right on into pure Marvel Presents.

But of course those shows never get made, in this scenario.

Hey, it isn’t my Vance Astro — mine’s in the comics, and he spoke with the voice of Steve Gerber.

But it’s a Vance Astro; and, I think, not any worse a Vance Astro than the one we’ve seen since Marvel Presents was cancelled.

So okay, Mike…

Over to you!

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11 responses to “Ding-Dang-Dong

  1. Cool pilot! “This summer, the long-rumored but never published Marvel Super-Heroes #0 comes to the small screen. From the producers of Iron Man…” Your Vance sounds like the Vance I know, which is Gerber’s Vance, so it works. I could see the actual comics springing from Vance’s tale.

    Alright, keeping in mind that it’s a one-hour t.v. pilot, here’s my idea for Concrete on the small screen, even though it’s just a *little* cliched:

    It starts with a montage of Concrete media appearances: Concrete on Letterman, Concrete on some insipid sitcom like “Just Shoot Me,” Concrete’s Chevy commercial (“Like a rock!), some “Entertainment Tonight”- type fluff. The camera pans from the t.v. to Concrete, in the, er, flesh. He’s talking on the phone about some merchandising deal or another, looking kind of bored. He passes by framed articles about the government’s cyborg breakthrough, and a desk with one of his books and a picture of pre-Concrete Ron Lithgow with Senator Douglas. He breaks something accidentally, maybe a lamp, and stares at the wreckage just long enough to make us viewers uncomfortable. In walk Dr. Maureen Vonnegut and Larry Munro, chatting idly. They barely acknowledge Concrete as they head to the next room to put their bags down. Concrete’s gaze follows Maureen. She comes back a moment later to check Concrete’s fluids. Concrete gets off the phone (and we hear from the voice on the other line that they’re not ready to hang up, but it’s Maureen Time, so nothing else matters), and tries to make with the witty remarks. Maureen is nice but uninvolved, and does not respond to Concrete’s attempts at humor. Larry watches from the other room, and shakes his head.

    Character set-up out of the way, we get on with the plot. Concrete reads his mail (a fan letter, a threat and/ or complaint, a crank letter about a fanciful alien conspiracy that makes Concrete uncomfortable, and a picture & message from Ms. Strangehands asking Concrete to model for her), when there’s aknock on the door. It’s a representative for a Big Oil Company. He talks about how the company is trying to “go green,” and wants Concrete to act as a spokesperson. He says that the gig involves spearheading the clean-up of a polluted lake, something Concrete could do (theoretically) more safely and efficiently than a team of volunteers. Concrete wonders aloud whether recent legislation has something to do with it. The representative says, (cough, grumble) yeah, yeah. Switching gears, he mentions how much the gig pays. Concrete goes from a smug smirk to a dropped jaw. The rep leaves, and concrete discusses the proposal with his associates.

    Maureen gives Concrete the company’s environmental rap sheet, and talks about the long term effects of their environmental damage. Larry says that they really need the money. Concrete says, yes, they’ve done wrong in the past, and yes, they’re only doing this to comply with new regulations and get some good publicity. He then says that the reasons don’t matter as long as the results are positive, and that he wants to do it. Besides, they really need the money. Maureen sighs, but sticks with Concrete.

    Concrete arrives at the site of the lake clean-up. Cameras are watching. He says something witty and confident to the cameras, gets set up for the job… and breaks the first piece of equipment he’s given, delaying the start of the clean-up by hours. Meanwhile, Larry gets close to a woman there to make sure no one harms the local kettle frog population. Maureen talks to a male scientist-type who is enthusiastic about the project, much to Concrete’s chagrin. As the days pass, Maureen gets closer to the man, Concrete gets jealous (but is effective at the clean-up, mostly), and Larry tries to get the Frog Lady to pay more attention to him than to algae levels.

    Something fishy is going on, however. Maureen finds out that the Big Oil Company is using Concrete’s efforts to distract the public from its plans to buy up the land under a dummy corporation, and continue its shoddy practices. She can’t prove it, however. Larry catches wind of this, and accidentally tells the Frog Lady (maybe after getting her into bed with him). While Maureen confronts an uncertain Concrete (and gets annoyed that he’s still considering working for the company, arguing that there isn’t enough proof), the Frog Lady gets her hippie friends to protest. Security gets antsy, cameras everywhere make everyone nervous. Tensions mount, it looks like violence is going to happen… and then Concrete dumps sludge from the lake in front of the cameras. He gives a good speech about how he doesn’t want to see this kind of damage happen again… when the Big Oil Company pulls its planned shennanigans. Cut to a happy Maureen, who has dumped the scientist-type who was really working for the Big Oil Company. In the deoument, we are aware that the Big Oil Company won’t be purchasing the land after all, as it becomes a wild life sanctuary for kettle frogs. Concrete ends up with apossible lawsuit, but a moral victory.

    So, I’m no writer (duh), but I think I got the essential Concrete ingredients in there (Ron’s relationship with Maureen, Larry hitting on anything with breasts, the environment, the media, breaking things, Concrete solving a problem without violence despite his form). I’m looking forward to everyone else’s pilots.

  2. So … a one-hour, Wally West Flash TV pilot, eh …?

    First, some basic parameters. One, this is a children’s show, but in the same way that Doctor Who is understood as a children’s show. Also, it is mildly educational, but I’ll explain that later.

    I’d like for this to be animated. The Flash demands a hyperkinetic visual style, and CG running always looks stiff and awkward; I require fluidity! I’m not much of an anime guy, but I loved Fooly Cooly; the animators were able to do sensory overload SPEEDSPEEDSPEED and quiet character scenes equally well, so let’s get them to do this one.

    This will be broken up into two half-hour (22 minutes) segments:

    PART 1

    Open up in the middle of a huge, Crisis on Infinite Earths-style cosmic battle involving a ton of DC heroes. We could even use the Anti-Monitor as the villain, but with simplified motives — big cosmic bad guy wants to destroy the universe, and leave out the alternate earths. This is seen through 18-year-old Wally West’s eyes as Kid Flash, and he narrates the whole setup, bringing us up to speed (har). Just like in the comics, Barry saves the day, breaking all sorts of speed barriers in destroying the Anti-Monitor’s antimatter cannon, but Barry doesn’t deteriorate as he does in CoIE. Instead, Barry, the Anti-Monitor, and the cannon vanish in a burst of lightning, and Wally finds Barry’s empty Flash suit.

    Cue opening credits.

    When we return, Wally says “Let’s start at the beginning” and lays out via flashbacks (har again) the history of the Flash. CSI Barry Allen was struck with electrified chemicals, gained superspeed, and named himself after his childhood hero, the first Flash. (Jay Garrick is not named yet, because Wally’s never met him; he retired years ago. Also, Jay is not connected to WWII; he was just the Flash from “decades ago”.) Then about a year ago, Wally West, a teenage Flash fan, moves in with his Aunt Iris and Uncle Barry in Central City after his parents’ divorce. Wally’s having a rough time of it, so Uncle Barry decides to cheer him up by “introducing him” to the Flash at Barry’s lab, where the accident repeats itself and Wally becomes Kid Flash (starting out right away in that red yellow suit).

    They work together, although Central City is largely quiet since the Flash finally captured that notorious gang of science pirates, the Rogues, years before. Mostly they stop random “ordinary” crimes and save people. Barry is ever the scientist, and tries to pass along knowledge to Wally in the form of what he somewhat jokingly calls “Flash Facts.” Wally, however, has no interest in science, relying mostly on instinct. Besides, Wally says, Barry’s science has never been able to explain where their speed comes from, how it works, and why Wally and Barry share the same origin. Wally says it might as well be magic, which prompts Barry to mention an old speedster he met once called Max Mercury, who talked about something called the Speed Force, which Barry doesn’t believe in; “Just because we can’t explain it *now* doesn’t mean we won’t be able to one day,” he tells Wally.

    Then the Anti-Monitor attacks, and end of flashback. This sequence takes up most of the first part.

    Now we’re three weeks after the events of the pre-title sequence, Wally West is still living with Iris. Wally works odd jobs that he keeps getting fired from because he’s busy picking up Barry’s slack as Kid Flash, waiting for Barry to return from wherever he vanished to. The people he saves keep asking him where the Flash has been lately, and wonders how long the world is going to have to go on without the Flash. Iris, meanwhile, doesn’t believe Barry *is* coming home, though, and has made peace with the idea that her husband died saving the universe.

    Meanwhile, at Iron Heights prison, a mysterious figure visits each of the Rogues and tells them the Flash is “no more.” He then releases them all and takes off … in a burst of super speed. End of Part 1.

    PART 2

    Captain Cold goes on a crime spree. Kid Flash tries to stop him, but fails spectacularly. What specifically baffles him is that he always assumed Captain Cold just shot ice, but there’s more to it than that, and Wally doesn’t know how to unthaw the victims of Cold’s freeze-gun.

    Wally tosses his Kid Flash costume and wanders the streets. Self-doubt, angst, etc. etc., and then suddenly he finds himself at the Flash Museum. The Flash Museum will be a key component of the formula in future episodes. It gives him background info on the Rogues while also serving as inspiration. He reads up on Captain Cold’s weapon and how it actually halts molecular motion. This triggers some latent Flash Facts about how molecules behave that Wally finds out he remembers after all. (This show will need a science consultant; maybe that Physics of Superheroes guy?) Then Max Mercury shows up, acts all mysterious, and tells him science alone won’t help the freeze gun victims; through the Speed Force, he can lend speed, which will get their molecules moving again and unfreeze them. Then he vanishes. Ooooo!

    Wally goes home, grabs Barry’s Flash costume, makes some adjustments at super speed, and goes out as the Flash. He uses some more Flash Facts as he recalls them to beat Captain Cold, unthaws the freeze-gun victims, and saves the day.

    The show’s premise is thus set up. Wally tries to come into his own as the Flash, using a synthesis of Barry’s science and Max’s mysticism to defeat the Rogues and pass along some Flash Facts along the way. Science is fun! But it’s not the solution to everything…

    And at the end of the first episode, an old man named Jay Garrick travels to Central City to investigate what happened to the missing Flash.

    END OF EPISODE

    Not the most daring idea for a Flash show, and not all that well thought-out, but I don’t think it’s so bad for under 24 hours. I imagine the network orders scripts for the pilot and the first four episodes, some animation tests of the Flash running are done, but the network pulls the plug when the animators prove too expensive (the pre-credit sequence alone projected to cost as much as a complete episode of a comparable cartoon). But the animation tests are leaked to YouTube, and it becomes one of those great “lost” geek TV shows.

  3. Well I was trying to take my GLOM from two posts back and wrench it into an attention-getting TV pilot. But I realized it was the same thing I did the last time you were soliciting TV pilots — what is this thing I have with empowering the vegetable kingdom to fight back? So instead I’ll just do the same thing I did the last time you were soliciting TV pilots — take everybody’s ideas and slide the pieces around entertainingly.

    (1). Slow Time. (Slang for the crisis moment when adrenaline and inspiration are all you have.) Hard-edged action, every detail logically consistent.

    Christopher Cross and Flash Thompson together — we’ve already got a team! Plus Vance Astro, doing double duty as Ted Kord.

    Flash is in the everyman role, he’s a capable guy. But now he’s rolling with a master of disguise who improvises his way through condition-red scenarios as a kind of shamanic discipline — and a bona fide space cadet who geeks around with experimental aircraft, and insists on everything being done within the letter of the law. He can’t believe he’s doing it, but the money can be good, and the places he gets to see!

    (2). Storytown. Creepy suspense with dark comedy.

    You do know better than to get involved with a girl half your age who researches urban legends, honestly. But she’s in actual trouble. And so somehow, Sophie Bangs, Chester Williams and Fat Boab are tooling around in this van, trying to cope with the organ thieves, the Black Helicopters and the Sumatran Rat Monkey all being real. Or at least (since I was recently impressed by Eyes Wide Shut) that money buys some disturbing shit these days. And they’re all scared out of their wits, but they’ve got nae choice. Scooby Doo – where are you?

    (3). Mister Miracle. Gonzo fantasy, ostensibly for children.

    Put together Scott Free, Concrete and Ambush Bug — what’s wild enough for them, except Apokalips? Granny Goodness, and Doctor Desaad’s Circus of Happiness?

    Produced by a small army of nutters, in a combination of stop-motion claymation (Wallace and Gromit. Meets Gumby), mechanima CG (Red versus Blue) and puppetry, all in intense colours, and video-edited into a semblance of depth and order. Nightmare fuel. From time to time, Herbie Popnecker walks on, says, “Good show.” or “Calm down.” and walks off.

    This leaves Ice Cube on the sidelines, but I don’t know how to use him. Commission him to produce the theme songs maybe. But I bet his kids love Mister Miracle.

  4. Ha! Oh man, these are really good…and unlike mine, really something you could do in an hour. Concrete I flat-out love, I don’t see how there could be anything at all unexciting about using a Flash show to teach kids about science…and as for you, Jonathan, you’ve done lost your mind, but I like it.

    And I definitely still owe you a comment or two on the old post!

  5. Oh, you could do yours in an hour … it would just be one *crazy* hour. But there are perhaps not enough crazy hours on television.

  6. Since I picked a character aesthetic rather than a character, my pitch is going to be primarily about production concerns that result in its aesthetic, rather than a plot. For plot, my show is spy-fi. Think VR5, La Femme Nikita, Alias, Dollhouse, etc. I’m sure you get the idea. It’s something to maximise the exercise of the aesthetic.

    Opening titles are footage of Quitely drawing our main characters. I like episodic-variations of titles, so each episode would use a different inker to ink the drawing for the episode title card. This technique would be used in the pilot for chapter titles.

    Tonino Delli Colli (director of photography for Salo) would be snatched by TARDIS and employed to go wild with HD. Where other shows employ more filters and make-up to hide human frailty, Colli would be asked to expose as much detail as possible. Action scenes would be choreographed by Philip Kwok (Hard Boiled) to get that perfect positioning of objects in space that everyone from The Matrix onwards only dreams of. Whenever there is the choice between using CG and other techniques that reduce detail or showing the wires (etc) on screen, we’ll show the wires.

    Casting by Pat Moran and coaching by Robert F Chew (The Wire). We want people to forget that they’re watching actors. Costume design by Jean-Paul Gaultier for sexy Euro-trash.

    Locations are Glasgow, Baltimore, and Bangalore. The first is obviously the home of Quitely, and all three are famously home to thickly-accented english. The main characters would be at the hard end of the intelligibility spectrum. The point here is to make them alike (e.g. all Glaswegians sound the same/all foreigners are hard to understand) so that the viewer has to work harder to understand them… so that they end up understanding their differences and individuality better, and perhaps also reflect on the status of their own “accentless” english. The initial vocal noise would also encourage the viewer to focus on the visuals.

    Specific locations would focus on the unusual and uncomfortable for television: bondage clubs, adult cinemas, public toilets, bathhouses, cemeteries, SOPV’s…

    The engine driving this thing is always going to be the opposition of high realism and super sophistication. Garbage and glitter. The goal is to make us all more empathic.

    Perhaps HBO would pick it up, but even they would probably can it after ten episodes.

  7. By God, that’s a wonderful idea, David! “We want people to forget they’re watching actors” is something you hear a lot, but not with this connotation, I think…you would not be able to watch it the way you conventionally watch a TV show at all, would you?

    Very neat idea, very charged-up. I think I love it!

  8. The more I think about it, the more that the “we’ll show the wires if we have to” notion seems like a really good way of suggesting the organic earthiness of Frank Quitely’s linework. Like, he’ll draw a meticulously designed building, but he will under no circumstances use a straightedge; *let* the lines be a little wavy, let the wires show, let them go on camera without any makeup.

  9. Ah, hell with it. I’ll never finish the longer version…

    It begins with a Punisher-esque vigilante starts off narrating about vengeance and scum and so forth. We see he’s also a dickhead, blinded by rage. He gets cacked in a shootout, and the executioner’s hood he wears ends up in the hands of a teenage boy who happened to be watching. The boy’s friend is captured by the crooks, who debate shooting the kid. The boy puts on the hood for camouflage (it’s night, the hood is dark, the kid is a pale blond), and suddenly…the boy feels the urge to…Do the Right Thing. He attacks the mobsters himself, unarmed.

    Title: THE BLACK HOOD

    Short form: the Hood is cursed. It gives the user low-level superhuman abilities of the physical sort: strength, speed, instincts. It also forces the wearer to do what the wearer thinks is good. The guy who wore it before the credits was a violent man by nature, and the Hood drove him insane. The kid, Nate Cray, is a good kid. But the Hood exposes him to violence, and he finds, to his horror, that he likes it.

    Nate Cray’s family just moved to a corrupt, crime-riddled city, and the boy, driven by the impulses the Hood awakens in him, becomes its unusual protector.

    Later in the series, Nate throws away the hood in disgust after killing someone. A mobster picks it up and becomes a different Black Hood.

    Things get crazier from there.

    (The all-too-short Impact Comics series The Black Hood was great stuff, dammit.

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