New Friday Adventure Project!
In order to keep the blazing infernos of our respective creativities stoked, Holland and I periodically engage in exercises in fiction. Usually, this consists of me (because I spend most of my time bored and without human contact) e-mailing him and saying, “Hey, why don’t we do THIS crazy idea!,” and Holland responding with, “Okay, but let’s actually do it this way!” And so forth.
As you know, a while ago we finished up Hand of Danger (a project which began in much the same way), and so I threw out a new idea for the two of us to chew on, which we’ll be relaying in pieces for the next couple Fridays:
It is called:
Can Chris and Jeff make a TV show?
We can collaborate, or alternate, coming up with pitches, story ideas, &c.
I don’t think we have to actually film anything.
Innnteresting. Start us off – what are you thinking?
Hm. ”Harry Potter for Grown-Ups,” mixed with “Young People Having Sex” and a kind of spooky-science-horror-Fringe vibe. I give you:
This is the famous university in Arkham, Massachusetts, where all of Lovecraft’s crazy happenings go on. I figure the pilot looks something like, “Jenny is despairing about going to college, when she gets an offer from a unique institution” and mash “quirky college students” directly up against “secret conspiracies and cosmic horror.”
Okay, well first things first – Lovecraft should be a character – I mean, the actual, weird-ass, lives-with-aunts and doesn’t like to be touched and the racism…okay, I guess Lovecraft really is a character (waka waka!).
I am not sure that Lovecraft should be a character. At least, not by name, anyway, and not at first. I am worried about the ramifications of introducing the author into the author’s own fictional setting–it’s a joke that only a handful of people are going to get that I’m worried in the best-case is still going to be a little too “on the nose.” I’d feel a little better if we took a regular Lovecraft character–Randolph Carter, for instance, or Henry Armitage–all of whom were Lovecraft analogues anyway, and applied those character traits to him.
Also, I was figuring that Jeffrey Combs would play Professor West.
I can accept that. Armitage is the better name, let’s go with him. My first thought was to use the dean as a peripheral character –
but then again, the president was supposed to be a minor character on “The West Wing,” and that changed fast.
Anyway, Dean Armitage lured Jenny (are we married to that name? Last name ideas?) from all reputable colleges with a full scholarship and other perks (is there a campus? Of COURSE there’s a campus. Creepy-ass New England campus is what). And Jenny recently had some kind of science-disgrace (because I am stupid and did not do well in any science class, I am simply aiming for ridiculous – dissected frogs bursting with tentacles and creepy beak-mouths when sliced open) that would limit her collegiate options to this crackpot college with suspect accreditation.
I’m not stuck on Jenny, that was just a random name. I think her time in the institution should be *math* based, instead of science-based. Like she was working out some new linear algebra calculus thing, and her brain was opened up to the illimitable abysms of cosmic blah blah blah.
That makes sense. Thinking she needs to be a grad student. So then the “guide” character (the one who gives the exposition for the pilot) would be her TA.
So, thinking opening credits, generally limited to five lead characters – Jenny, TA, Three others, “…And Peter Weller as Dean Armitage.”
Something else worth considering: if MKU is a smaller university, it might work more the way Oxford or Cambridge does: where you’ve got an advisor or tutor that guides your progress, and to whom you are accountable. That way, we can start Jenny off as a new college student with all the, “who am I, where am I going, what am I doing” stuff, and have the full seven years of education to look at.
And, so, speaking of the campus and its size: The campus is large (I’m actually imagining Mt. Holyoke, which, if you’ve never seen–I guess imagine Bryn Mawr, but perpetually shrouded in fog and surrounded by willows and gnarled apple trees), there are a fair number of people on it (small for a university, though; let’s say 400). That means that we can shift perspective when we like, and take advantage of the Heroes/Lost thing, where these two episodes introduce Jenny, but the fourth episode only has Jenny as a peripheral character, and is really about Other Guy going through a Dreams in the Witch House scenario, &c &c.
Okay. Now let’s talk sports. What would be the popular sport among socially-awkward and potentially dangerous mad scientists in training? What would the Lovecraft equivalent of Quiddich be – given Lovecraft’s anglophile leanings, it would crack me up if it were cricket, which baffles the American student body even as they dutifully attend every game, because, shit, that’s just what you do at college. The big question, obviously, is what their mascot would be. Could the team be called the Fightin’ Dagons? Whatever, background stuff.
I like cricket as the school sport. I wonder if there’s something even more obscure we could draw on. But I think we’d be remiss in not having MKU’s mascot be the Fighting Cephalopods.
We’re definitely gonna need to come up with a mascot costume for that one.
I actually was just thinking of a scene that involved Jenny (or whoever) talking to her friend about this freaky dream she had:
FRIEND: Well, how do you know anything? How do you know you’re not dreaming now, and just dreaming that you’d dreamed it?
JENNY: I think I’d know if I was dreaming.
(CHAD walks by the door, dressed in a huge foam-rubber, cartoony-looking Cthulhu costume.)
CHAD enters, still in costume, lifts the mask up.
CHAD: Oh, do you have brownies? Can I get one?
(Chad isn’t his real name either. I am no good with, and do not especially care for, names. He is a good-natured guy from a wealthy family. Not stupid, but not really interested in studying. He’s at Miskatonic on a legacy, and is part of the family tradition being the mascot for the school cricket team.)
So let’s think about a basic story-arc for the season. We need a rival character. Quentin Ludgate. QUINCY Ludgate. Hm…somewhere around there. Anyway, Ludgate is the actual favored-pupil (let’s turn the “Harry Potter” paradigm around, if Armitage is our Dumbledore, then maybe Jenny is actually our Hermione, and Quentin is our creepy reflection of Harry – this may just be because I always found Harry to be the least interesting character in the series). Ludgate is working a super-secret project – with tips from Armitage – that would form the season’s story-arc. Whatever he’s doing would reach fruition by the finale, and Jenny would be in the position to stop it, or maybe more interesting, appropriate it for her own goals.
I thought: what if the dean spends the whole time getting the main character to leave, and they finally get rid of the dean. But, in season two! After they get the Dean’s head and use chemicals to reanimate it, they find out that he was trying to get rid of her to protect her from these terrifying old Snake Men that the Trustees of the University are trying summon up and need the girl for. Ooooh, secrets!
The Trustees will be a good hook. Secret guys with secret agendas, running around the place. Are they good? Are they bad? One of them is always looking out for Jenny, so we think he’s good, BUT TO WHAT END, HOLLAND? TO WHAT END?
I think we should save extensive Old One (Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, Shub-niggurath) use for as long as possible, but still operate under the assumption that there is a coherent system that unites all these things. I think that the Snake Men–these are like the mythos Valusian Snake Men (actually invented by Robert E. Howard); in this case, they are a prehistoric (Jurassic-Era) civilization with the power to look into and send things into the future. They’ve put themselves in a kind of suspended animation, and have been sending agents into the future to try and prepare the way for them. I like the crazy time antics here, and I like the idea of having to have to fight an enemy that’s inaccessible by virtue of being 65 million years in the past.
END PART 1!
Is there more? Of course there is! We basically planned out the entire thing, on account of being geniuses.