Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Writing: My script: What I have so far

Here is my script in its entirety. It's rough, it's not finished. It's barely into the second act of what will likely be 8 acts. Comments, as always, are welcome.

The Timmons Chronicles
Pilot
By Michael Harrison Fox
Act I
INT : TIMMONS LIVING ROOM - AFTERNOON
It is January 1, 1972. A birthday party is in progress for BOBBY TIMMONS, age 6. His friends, boys and girls, are celebrating with a game of pin the tail on the donkey, and the birthday boy has been blindfolded. His mother, LORIE TIMMONS, watches over the party.
After the party is over and Bobby has said goodbye to his friends, Lorie takes him by the hand and leads him to a door in the hallway.
LORIE
We have one more present for you, Bobby.
BOBBY
Oh great! What is it? That fire engine I wanted?
LORIE
Not exactly.
She opens the door and they see Bobby’s father, BRAD TIMMONS, and his grandfather, THE OLD MAN next to a strange-looking chair.
BOBBY
Hey, I already had my teeth checked. What gives?
Bobby pulls back slightly.
THE OLD MAN
Sedate him.
LORIE
I don’t like this. Bobby we’re going to give you the gift of knowledge.
BOBBY
(Hesitantly)
What does that mean? And that chair looks like the same one you use when you check my teeth.
LORIE
It is, sweetie, but I promise you’ll be okay. We’d never hurt you.
The Old Man glares at her. She sighs and takes a needle out of one pocket.
BOBBY
Ahh! You are going to hurt me!
Brad suddenly appears behind Bobby and sticks a needle into his butt. Bobby cries out then passes out.
LORIE
That wasn’t necessary.
They lift Bobby and take him into the room.
INT: CHAIR ROOM – AFTERNOON
They quickly lift Bobby into the chair and strap him in.
THE OLD MAN
This is for the better. He won’t move and be tense during the procedure.
LORIE
I still think this is the wrong time to do this, the wrong way. If something were to go wrong…
THE OLD MAN
We’ll cross that bridge, doctor. He needs to broaden his mind. He’s been too slack with his education as it is.
LORIE
He’s only just six!
THE OLD MAN
I had this done when I was his age. He’ll be fine.
LORIE
You were better prepared. You knew what was happening. He doesn’t!
THE OLD MAN
Enough. (Looks at Brad) Do the honors, please?
Brad moves to a console on the far side of the room. Lorie and The Old Man join him. A device drops from the ceiling, and lowers onto Bobby’s head. It looks like a colander but with spikes on the inside and out. When it reaches Bobby’s head, electricity begins to arc.
THE OLD MAN
Are you monitoring him, doctor?
LORIE
Of course. Pulse is up, EKG spiking, but not beyond tolerances. His brain waves are shooting off the scale.
THE OLD MAN
Within tolerances. Start knowledge feed.
The unit begins to hum and the arcing increases. Bobby tenses.
LORIE
That’s too fast. (Hears a beep) Wait, shut it down. Something’s wrong.
The arcing begins to subside and Lorie rushed to Bobby’s side. She pulls out a box and waves it in front of Bobby, whose eyes have glazed over.
LORIE
(Shakes her head)
Too late. There’s brain damage.
THE OLD MAN
He’s not brain dead is he?
LORIE
No, but he’s lost higher learning functions. I told you this was too dangerous.
BRAD
We could try it again, with less power.
THE OLD MAN
No. We’ll have to do this the slow and sure way. (He calls out) Rejuvenate him, to just before this started.
The device lifts up and Bobby is surrounded by a glow. After a few moments, the glow fades away. Lorie examines him and nods.
LORIE
Back to normal.
THE OLD MAN
Take him to bed. I’ll prepare his gift.
INT: BOBBY’S ROOM – MORNING
Bobby is sleeping soundly. On his bed appears a small glowing ball. Bobby stirs, then jumps to a sitting position.
BOBBY
W-what are you?
The ball beeps.
GUIDE
A question has been asked. I am your guide to knowledge. Please ask anything you like and I will answer.
Bobby rubs his eyes.
BOBBY
Am I dreaming?
GUIDE
Negative. (It beeps again) Do you wish to learn more about me?
Bobby nods.
GUIDE
Very well. Please place one of your hands on me.
BOBBY
(Hesitantly)
It’s not going to hurt is it.
GUIDE
Negative.
Bobby reaches a hand tentatively at the ball. As he begins to make contact blue spikes of electricity come out. Bobby jerks his hand back.
BOBBY
That didn’t hurt, but my head tingles.
GUIDE
That is knowledge passing through your hand to your brain. This is a low-level form of brain training.
Bobby reaches out again. Soon his head is surrounded by a blue field. His hair flies up. Bobby laughs.
BOBBY
This is fun!
INT: TIMMONS LIVING ROOM – MORNING
The Old Man, Lorie and Brad sit in a circle, concentrating intently.
LORIE
I can see no damage this time. I don’t see why you couldn’t do it this way the first time.
THE OLD MAN
Because it’s slow and it will take longer to tell him what he needs to know. I swear, I’d never thought of myself as being this slow.
Lorie covers her face with her palm.
BRAD
We couldn’t use the techniques you were trained under, It would draw too much suspicion. His mind and body weren’t ready for the shock, and you know it. He’s not slow.
THE OLD MAN
No, but he has been terribly average thus far. We’ll change that.
LORIE
He’ll have trouble coping. He’ll have changed but his friends, his teachers won’t.
THE OLD MAN
Well then we’ll have to guide him through it, won’t we?
Bobby comes running into the room, carrying his guide.
BOBBY
Mom! Dad! You’ll never guess what I got!
BRAD
Do you like your gift?
BOBBY
Oh yeah. It’s great!
BRAD
It’s from your grandfather.
Bobby runs to The Old Man and hugs him.
BOBBY
Thanks grandpa!
Bobby sees a pigeon on the balcony and runs to the door. He opens it, touches the ball.
BOBBY
Columba livia , they eat seeds, bread, (pauses) oh wait, they spread disease. Shoo!
Bobby flails until the pigeon flies away.
LORIE
That’s enough of that, young man. Leave the birds alone. I won’t let you get sick from a pigeon and they have as much right to be here as we do. I will not have you be cruel to animals.
BOBBY
But don’t we own this building? We can tell them to leave!
BRAD
The building has been here long before we bought it. Leave them alone son.
Bobby sighs.
BOBBY
Okay.
THE OLD MAN
I’m glad you like my gift, Bobby. But you must promise me something.
BOBBY
Anything!
THE OLD MAN
Promise me you’ll never tell anyone about it.
BOBBY
But why? This is a great thing!
THE OLD MAN
There’s only one like it in the whole world. And it’s yours. If you go around telling people about it, they may try to take it away from you.
Bobby clutches the ball closer.
LORIE
Don’t frighten him. (To Bobby) Just make sure you keep it hidden. (Turns to The Old Man) In more ways than one.
FADE OUT
INT: BOBBY’s ROOM – NIGHT
Bobby lies in bed, clutching his ball. The ball glows softly.
BOBBY
Why do they want me to hide you?
GUIDE
Because you and I are unique. There is no one quite like us in the whole world. People will be jealous, they’ll want one too. Or if you tell them about me, they may laugh at you, think you’re crazy.
BOBBY
But I’m not crazy. (Pause) Am I?
GUIDE
No, you’re not. But think about it. If before today someone told you they talked to a ball, what would you think?
BOBBY
(Nods) I’d think they were crazy. But couldn’t you talk to them? Let them know you’re real?
GUIDE
I can only talk to you. Go to sleep now, and I’ll try to explain it while you’re sleeping.
Bobby strokes the ball, closes his eyes, and falls asleep.
INT: BOBBY’S CLASSROOM – DAY
Bobby enters his classroom, which is typical for a kindergarten classroom of the era. He wears a backpack, which he places on his desk. Several of his friends come up to him.
JEREMY
Hey Bobby! What did you get for Christmas and your birthday?
BOBBY
Oh, lots of stuff: A fire truck, a baseball glove, and uh- a new ball.
JEREMY
Did you bring the glove and ball? We can play catch!
Bobby clutches his backpack.
BOBBY
Uh, no. It’s not a baseball, it’s like one of those magic eight balls, only it talks.
JEREMY
This I gotta see.
Bobby pulls the ball from his backpack and the growing crowd ‘oohs.’
JEREMY
It glows. And you say it talks?
BOBBY
That’s right. Ask it a question.
JEREMY
Okay, are the Cubs ever going to win the World Series?
BOBBY
Well, answer the question.
GUIDE
I can only answer questions you pose.
BOBBY
All right. Will the Cubs ever win the World Series?
GUIDE
Not within the next 80 years.
BOBBY
Ha! They are pretty bad.
JEREMY
Who’s pretty bad? And when is that thing going to answer?
BOBBY
It just did. It said not within the next 80 years.
JEREMY
I didn’t hear it. Did anyone else?
Everybody shakes his or her head.
GUIDE
Only you can hear me, Bobby.
BOBBY
Oh, only I can hear it.
JEREMY
Bobby, you’re the last person I’d ever expect to do crazy things. But you are officially Crazy Boy now!
The rooms chants ‘Crazy Boy.’ Bobby sits at his desk, puts the Guide into his pocket and covers his ears. The teacher, MISS EVEREST, comes into the room.
MISS EVEREST
Hey! What’s all the shouting? Everyone in their seats!
The class scatters and sits down.
MISS EVEREST
We have a very special guest this morning! An Astronaut, who flew on one of the moon missions! Class, please welcome Michael Collins!
The class claps as MICHAEL COLLINS comes in. Bobby uncovers his ears.
BOBBY
A real astronaut!
MICHAEL COLLINS
Hi kids! Hey, who here remembers Apollo 11?
A few kids tentatively raise their hand, including Bobby.
MICHAEL COLLINS
I thought so, you were pretty young when we went out. Do you remember Apollo 15? About six months ago?
Everybody raises their hand.
MICHAEL COLLINS
Great! What did you like most about that mission?
Bobby and others raise their hand. Collins points at Bobby.
BOBBY
The lunar rover!
MICHAEL COLLINS
That’s right, we were able to drive on the moon for the first time! Hey, who here wants to be an astronaut?
Half the class raises their hands, including an enthusiastic Bobby.
MICHAEL COLLINS
Great! We need people like you if we’re going to make it to Mars in the next 30 years!
Bobby raises an eyebrow, puts his hand in his pocket and speaks furtively.
BOBBY
Is that true? Will we go to Mars?
GUIDE
Yes, but the first Mars landing won’t be until 2045.
BOBBY
(Raises hand)
I’m sorry, Mr. Collins, but you’re wrong. We won’t go to Mars in the next 30 years. It will be (does the math in his head) 73 years.
MICHAEL COLLINS
(Laughs)
Well, granted we may have some cost overruns, but we’re on track to land by 2010, not that far into the future. (Hesitates) Any other questions?
The kids laugh, and Bobby hears several kids say ‘Crazy Boy.’ He puts his head on his desk again.
EXT: PLAYGROUND – DAY
Bobby sits alone, away from the other kids. One occasionally passes him, yelling ‘Crazy Boy.’ Bobby gets up and wanders further away. He feels something hit him in the back and turns to find a baseball on the ground near him.
BOBBY
Okay, what joker threw the ball?
He picks it up and notices something written on it.
BOBBY
Take it easy? What does that mean?
He sighs and put the ball in his pocket.
INT: PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE – DAY
Lorie and Brad sit in the office. PRINCIPAL OWENS sits at his desk.
PRINCIPAL OWENS
I’m so glad you could make it here on such short notice. Bobby’s having some problems in school today and I wanted to bring it to your attention. He’s been in several fights already, including an argument with his teacher over how best to teach the class. He says a ball told him the answers. It has me worried. Has something happened over the holidays?
LORIE
Bobby has an overactive imagination. He received a lot of science fiction comics for Christmas and he was reading them non-stop.
PRINCIPAL OWENS
While I would normally applaud his ability to read, and have in the past, I think he needs to lay off the comics and keep his imagination in check. I’m sending him home for the rest of the day. And Doctor, you might want to take a look at his eye. It’s a bit swollen.
Brad and Lorie get up, and open the door to the reception room. Bobby sits there with a black eye and a pained look in his eyes.
INT: TIMMONS LIVING ROOM – DAY
Bobby, Brad and Lorie come into the apartment.
LORIE
Sit on the couch. I’ll take a closer look at that eye.
She goes into the kitchen.
Bobby sits, throws his backpack down.
The old man comes in.
THE OLD MAN
A little worse for wear?
BRAD
Perhaps we should take Bobby out of school until he (pause) adjusts.
BOBBY
They’re my friends, or they should be. I don’t want to be stuck here.
The old man touches Bobby’s eye and Bobby winces.
THE OLD MAN
Bobby’s right. He’ll adjust faster if confronts their laughter, their punches. Who started the fight anyway?
BOBBY
They did. One of them threw a baseball at me and no one admitted it. So I punched that creep Jeremy. He’s been the worst. Then they all started hitting me.
BRAD
Someone threw a baseball?
Bobby reaches into his backpack and pulls out the ball.
BOBBY
He even wrote something on it.
Bobby tosses the ball to Brad, who looks at the writing on the ball, and stares at the Old Man.
BRAD
This looks familiar. You don’t think…
THE OLD MAN
What I think is that Bobby needs to learn how to protect himself. He needs to know when to fight and when to walk away. There’s an old saying I’ve heard: ‘It is better to hear there he goes, than there he lies.’ Today, you were the one lying. Maybe you can teach him some martial arts.
(He stares at Bobby.)
For purely defensive capabilities.
BRAD
Maybe he can work on some Jujitsu, and some Eastern philosophies.
Lorie comes into the room carrying a bag filled with ice. She sits next to Bobby and looks at his eye.
LORIE
Nothing too serious. Put this ice pack on for the rest of the day, and get some rest.
THE OLD MAN
He needs a punishment, since he started all this by doing exactly what we told him not to do: telling people about the ball. Hand it over.
Bobby looks at Brad and then to Lorie.
BOBBY
You’re going to listen to him? It’s my ball, you said so yourself. It can only hear me, only talk to me!
BRAD
Just for the rest of the day.
Bobby stares at Brad for a moment. He reaches into the backpack and pulls out the ball. He hands it to the Old Man, bursts into tears and runs to his room.
BRAD
That was harsh. He was already beaten up. You had to take away his only friend.
THE OLD MAN
He’ll get over it. Lay out a plan to teach him Jujitsu, Sensei, and I’ll reprogram his ball to keep him on track.
FADE OUT
ACT II
FADE IN
EXT: WOODS – DAY
These woods are in a rural area of Nebraska, close to a small, as yet unnamed town. DOTTIE BROWN and PENNY THOMAS walk outside the woods. It is about a month after the events of Act I. Dottie is 6, has blazing red hair, and is tall for her age. Penny is 5 1/2, blonde, and is average height. Snow is on the ground and they are dressed in coats. Dottie’s seems a bit threadbare, Penny’s is all fluffy. They hold hands and they approach a path into the woods.
PENNY
Are you sure it’s safe? Seems a bit spooky to me.
Dottie lets go of Penny’s hand.
DOTTIE
You’re kidding me, right? You travel all over the place with your parents but you won’t go into the woods with me?
PENNY
I’ve heard that bears come here.
DOTTIE
Silly. The bears are hibernating now. Come on!
Penny reluctantly follows Dottie into the woods. After a time they come upon a spring flowing into a creek. They stop to enjoy the wildlife they see: a majestic stag taking a drink.
PENNY
(softly)
Ooh, how pretty!
DOTTIE
Good thing my dad’s not here, he’d shoot him.
PENNY
Oh no. (looks at stag) Not him. He looks too proud to be shot.
Dottie points her fingers like a gun.
DOTTIE
Pow!
The Stag looks at them and then runs away.
PENNY
See what you did! He’s too smart to get shot.
Dottie shakes her head and sighs. They continue down the stream until they come across a man fishing. He sits on a red-stained duffel bag. Dottie stops, looks at the man, and shivers, eyes wide. Penny smiles at the man and waves.
PENNY
I know him. He works at my dad’s plant. Hi Mr. Brady!
MR. BRADY smiles back at the girls and waves. Penny starts to wind her way to him. Dottie pulls her back. Dottie is agitated.
DOTTIE
(gasping for breath) Something isn’t right, Penny. Lets – lets get out of here.
PENNY
(stares at Dottie) What’s wrong with you? You sick?
DOTTIE
Uh, that must be it. I’m sick.
PENNY
(Turns to Mr. Brady) See you later!
The man stares after them as they walk away. He quickly stands and puts his fishing gear into the bag. A small, pale hand pokes out of the bag.
Penny is skipping as she and Dottie move away. Dottie freezes for a moment.
DOTTIE
Run!
She bolts toward the entrance of the woods. Penny stops, her hands on her hips.
PENNY
(yelling) What are you doing?
DOTTIE
(stops) Race you home!
PENNY
Well if you wanted to race you gotta give me more warning!
Penny starts to run after Dottie. When they get side by side, they both run together. They reach the entrance and Penny falls backward onto some soft, snow-covered grass, gasping for breath. They are in a business area now, a road lies before them and cars pass by.
PENNY
You win! You always win when it comes to running. Must be those long legs.
Dottie looks behind them and sees Mr. Brady standing about a hundred yards away, carrying the duffel bag. Something red drips from it. She shivers.
PENNY
(stands) Hey, I wonder if Dad and Uncle are busy? Let’s go see!
DOTTIE
(looks back again)
Good idea, I kinda wanna talk to them.
They head to a large complex, wave to the guard at the gate and walk inside.
INT: THOMAS CHEMICALS PRESIDENT’S OFFICE – DAY