Friday, November 27, 2009

Jared's Daggy, Shite Vision for Torchwood! (circa 2008)

For about three minutes' time in the aftermath of Torchwood's second season finale, I was very excited about the show. To the point where I actually started writing a script for it, in one of those warped "Ha, let's see if the professionals can do a better job than me!" efforts.

Because the enthusiasm did not last very long at all, there is pretty much no script to speak of. And it was all me trying to nut out how they would introduce two new cast members in the space of one episode and have a gripping story going... again, turned out to be a non-issue because shows generally aren't handled that way in the business.

Industry comprehension FAIL.

Anyway... what did I have in mind. Well, I actually wrote some of the cold open..


(The Torchwood SUV is, as always, speeding recklessly along the road, with Jack driving and Gwen by his side)


(Jack is concentrated on the road, a stern look on his face, while Gwen is loading two pistols in the passenger seat)

IANTO (VO): Yes, Coller Street. Number 16a - a woman says she has an alien in her house, that's all I got.

JACK: No name?

IANTO (VO): Jane Topp, 35 years old, 5'9, slight build, blond hair-

JACK: Cut it, Ianto, you're sounding like a sex-line now.

(Gwen rolls her eyes, and holsters the guns)

GWEN: When did the call come in?

IANTO (VO): Erm... well it was before ten so... more than twelve minutes ago..

JACK & GWEN: What?


(Ianto is holding his earpiece with one hand and holding a cup of coffee with his other. On the bench there are a dozen different coffee makers, with boxes of even more visible)

IANTO: I was busy! And you were fighting... I don't know, giant stingray, was it?

GWEN (VO) A very giant stingray!

IANTO: Yes and I couldn't get through. I'm only one man, you know.

JACK (VO) What the hell have you been doing?

(Beat. Ianto takes a sip of the coffee and makes a face)

IANTO: Erm. This and that. Filing, mostly.

JACK (VO) I'll check the files.

(Ianto grimaces, and empties his cup into the sink)

IANTO: Fine, then. I've been making some coffee.


(As before)

JACK: For Christ's sake, Ianto!

IANTO (VO) He stole it, Jack! John STOLE the coffee machine

(Gwen and Ianto's dialogue overlaps)

GWEN: We KNOW Ianto!

IANTO (continue) right in the middle of everything! The city was burning, you were meant to be dead, the Weavils had the city

GWEN: We were there remember? How many times are you going to keep telling us?

IANTO: and in the middle of all of that, oh look, here's a nice little kitchen appliance that NOBODY will ever miss. I might as well tuck it into my ridiculous tight leather trousers and swan off again!

(Jack is laughing now, Gwen is looking more irritated)

GWEN: I bet if you can't find your boxers you'll blame it on him too!

IANTO: That coffee machine was beyond good, you know. It fell through the rift! Twenty-seventh century, Jack told me!

(Jack shakes his head and mouths "No I didn't", while trying to stop himself laughing. Gwen rips her earpiece out in disgust, killing the link)

GWEN: You really find this funny?

(Jack shrugs)

JACK: It's so Ianto. Just his way of dealing with it. Focus on the one thing that nobody else will care about...

GWEN: We've got a LOT to focus on now, Jack. We can't go on like this...

JACK: We can go on like this for one more house call, come on!

(He brings the car to a stop.)


(Gwen and Jack get out of the SUV, which is parked in front of a very plain and dull looking suburban home - it looks like a kit home, utterly mundane in everyway. The two of them walk cautiously across the lawn. Then they see the screen door is hanging open, and bangs against the wooden frame with a dull, deathly noise. They both drawn their guns and hurry across to the front door)


(As before. Ianto is really worked up into a fever-pitch now)

IANTO: -but you clearly think that it's not important. You probably would just grab anything off the shelves. Chinese made I bet! You hear the stories about China? Oh, yes, I'm sure it'd be a good choice IF YOU WANT TO BE DRINKING FORMALDEHYDE FOR THE REST OF YOUR DAMNED LIFE!!

(He falls silent, moodily looking at the vast array of coffee machines, drumming his free hand on the bench. After a moment he notices the silence)

IANTO: Gwen? Any luck with that... alien?

Ianto sighs and walks out.


(Ianto walks down the stairs, muttering to himself)

IANTO: Communication to be maintained at all times but no, nevermind about that. Completely unprofessional but why should I-

(He has reached the bottom of the stairs, and looks up at something beyond the camera in shock)

IANTO: Erm.. excuse m-

(There is blue flash and Ianto screams)

The threat to Ianto remains completely mysterious at this point. Meanwhile Jack and Gwen bust into the flat with guns blazing and lots of shouting to find... a squid faced Jaggaroth-like dude sitting down having a fishfinger dinner with the aforementioned Ms Topp. The awkwardness carries on as she explains her boyfriend 'came out' as an alien recently and she understood you went to Torchwood for alien stuff, thinking he'd go onto a registry or something like that.

Very embarassed Gwen promises to start up a registry, or helpline and to pay for their door, etc while Jack storms out and gets on the phone to chew out Ianto for his shoddy message-taking. But Ianto doesn't pick up .. the camera returns to the hub and we see he's in a COCCOON OF BLUE GUNK!

DADADAUMDADUM-bettabettabetta-DADADADUMDADUM-bettabettabetta Torchwootorchwootorchwoodood!

not actually written by
because the bugger didn't finish (or even really start) it

Basically, I was thinking the series would need to continue the trend of Torchwood becoming more and more public knowledge and humanity more accepting of aliens - rather than the brutal redressing that COE gave these concepts. Naturally, their approach was smarter.

Anyway, they arrive at the Hub and find one of the typical God-like beings that always feels the need to appear in human form holding centre stage. He says he's 'just an Auditor'.

AUDITOR: Now, now... 'Jack' isn't it? No need to be alarmed. I just needed you all in one place.

(He clicks his fingers - the blue gunk melts off Ianto immediately, and he is left looking around himself in shock, barely able to stand.)

IANTO: What-?

AUDITOR: Inertia inducer. Strong. You'll be fine.

(Ianto falls over, and Gwen runs to help him)

AUDITOR: Well, should be fine I should say. Haven't really dealt with your species before. You seem quite weak.

JACK: Come a bit closer and say that.

AUDITOR: Who was it who said 'hosility will get you everywhere'?

JACK: Nobody.

AUDITOR: And it wasn't coincidence. I am The Auditor and I come on behalf of The Doctriumvirate of Holistic Integrity.

JACK: Never heard of you.

AUDITOR: Our work isn't public. More sort of.. omnipresent.

GWEN: What are you talking about?

AUDITOR: Holistic Integrity is 'Order'. A principle we pursue on a Universal scale.

Now... the idea was rather a bizarre one which I thought was fairly clever at the time - The Auditor breaks the fourth wall by representing an outward, higher power that dictates terms and has decreed that Torchwood needs five people at least. He does not give any details but explains that galactic events are in a volatile state, and Earth is gravely threatened by the immediate future. Balance is needed, the same balance that was ruined by the reckless interference from Gray and Captain John, and it needs to be provided in an equally sudden intervention.

The Auditor announces that there is a doomsday device in the city, planted by aliens, due to activate in three hours' time. They will need as much help as they can get to disable it, with the help of fresh recruits. To Jack's frustration he cannot even get through to Martha Jones, due to her recent promotions, and all his connections can get him is an insubordinate, recently dishonourably-discharged UNIT medic to replace Owen, causing him to reflect darkly on Torchwood's image.

Obviously in their desperation for more people they call on one of the established cast - I'm sure I was thinking Andy at the time of writing, although Rhys and Mickey were obviously candidates.

From there on - stuff happens. They win, obviously. But I was thinking a nice kick-off for a story arc would be Jack being incredibly hostile towards the Auditor, trying to challenge him on his points based largely off a suspicion that the Auditor planted the Doomsday device himself. He finds out his hunch was correct, but at some cost. When the true power of the Auditor and his masters is revealed the Auditor shifts him out of time and kills him, before bringing him back to life an hour later with just as little effort - "You owe a debt to us already, Captain Harkness. And it is one you can never pay off."

Looking at it now, I think it was exceptionally backward thinking on my part. Very eighties - especially considering the fact that the Auditor's role is basically the same as the White Guardian and quite similar to Q in Star Trek: TNG. Aside from my sporadic motivation and lulls in self-confidence, I'd say my inability to intertwine mundanity and fantasy in the remarkable way that RTD does is my biggest failing as writer and shown in the very trad sci-fi idea behind the story. Any semblence of reality would need to sown in small moments in the script.

It would be interesting to imagine what kind of series this story could have actually spawned, though..

1 comment:

Youth of Australia said...

Well, I liked the start. Once again, your grasp of the characters makes the idea of Spike nicking the coffee machine so utterly believable it's more canon than the audio plays.

It's clear that your version was a more comedy version of Torchwood (that is, intentional comedy that's actually FUNNY - oh, I couldn't even bear to watch Something Borrowed when the ABC repeated it...) thought Ianto's displacement anxiety seemed a bit anvilicious (though, first draft and that).

About the Auditor... well, that's the trouble with Godlike aliens. If they don't betray you, it's boring, if they do, it's predictable. And why does one killing Jack matter? He'd come back to life anyway.

I liked the dialogue but I kept seeing the auditor as Dirk Gently for some reason (Dirk Gently versus Torchwood, now THAT is a damn interesting idea...)

I think your hurdle about mundane/fantasy is down to the fact that NONE OF THE CHARACTERS ARE MUNDANE. Immortal immoral manwhore and pathological liar from the far future. Superbrain autistic closeted Alfred Pennyworth determined not to have a social life. And Gwen Cooper.

Let's be honest here, people, Myfannwy the Pterodactyl was a more stable and straightforward 21st century character.


[It’s the start of lunch. Nigel is standing on a bench, telling an anecdote to a few kids.]

Nigel: ...and so, right, his dad says, “Son, can you tell your mother I’ll be working late at the office again tonight?” and his mum goes, “Son, can you tell your father that he better not be expecting dinner tonight?” and his dad is like, “Son, can you tell your mother she can’t cook and I’d rather eat the contents of the ash tray in my car?” and his mum’s all, “Son, can you tell your father if he wants someone else to cook for him, he can go back to the Filipino stripper he pimps for!”

[Magnus approaches, curious to hear the rest of the anecdote.]

Nigel: So his dad is furious and he goes, “Son, remind your mother I only pimped for that stripper to pay for her plastic surgery addiction!!” and his mum goes, “Son, tell your father that’s an absolute lie and he knows it! He did it to pay for his drug habit!” and his dad is, “Son, tell your mother I only got addicted to heroine when I tortured in that German prisoner of war camp!” and mum goes, “Son, point out to your father he was only in that German prisoner of war camp because he was the commandant!” and dad’s like, “Son, will you refresh your mother’s memory that she was also in the prison camp because of what she did to the pot bellied pig?” and so, get this, his mum goes, “Tell your father I thought the pig was HIM!”

[Everyone laughs. Even Magnus.]

Nigel: And here he is!

[Nigel points to Magnus and everyone else points and laughs.]

Nigel: Sorry, I was just telling everyone about what your parents said to you this morning.

Magnus: You lying bastard!

Nigel: Oh look everyone! Magnus is so ashamed by his parents, he’s going to take out his frustrations with violence!

[The kids don’t look too pleased at that. They start to back off. Nigel undaunted, strides forward.]

Nigel: And you know why? Cause anything else would overload that festering piece of dog poo in his head he laughingly refers to as “a brain”!

[Magnus lumbers closer, looming over Nigel.]

Nigel: [waves] Hello, Mr. Anderson!

Magnus: [snorts] You think I’m going to fall for that?

Nigel: Fall for what?

Magnus: There’s no teacher here.

Nigel: Oh, very good, Maggie! I’m almost impressed! But if there’s no teacher then that means...

[Nigel suddenly and very violently kicks Magnus in the balls and he doubles over.]

Nigel: I can do this.