INT: DOME, FAR FUTURE WITH 1970’S SET BUILDERS
Reluctant Perm on head follows man and woman who may or not be main characters outside of a dome in that forest near Southampton .
‘I don’t know where we’re going,’ says Perm.
‘To a new set,’ says nameless female.
‘Will there be plot?’
Reluctant perm increases reluctance by a few per cent because they’re outside and the Federation – without Riker or Sisko or Picard, only those corrupt admirals who cropped up every now and then – do not tolerate perms wandering outside the dome, especially welsh perms playing fanatics based on Mexican revolutionaries that most people don’t know about.
Emilio Zapata, a Northern Mexican, shot rich people and never dropped poor people in the shit just so he could go and poke drunk college students in Cancun.
Cancun Census 1917: Population: a lot, many rich, but zero zapatas
‘I’ve been what?’
‘Brainwashed,’ said the old-ish man.
‘I don’t remember that.’
‘Welcome to brainwashing.’
‘I wish I had longer to explain,’ said the old-ish man who had hoped this role would stretch out for more than a single episode [stay longer in the dome, Terry, copy Reds, remember Reds? Yeah, they talked a lot, about socialism, revolution, people liked it, copy that, no, you’re sticking with the perm, fuck you then], ‘but we’re about to be massacred.’
‘But I’ve only just got here.’
‘Not you, you’ll just watch and…oh, here they are. Weird guns they’ve got. Maybe they’ll miss. See you, Blake.’
The old man holds up his arms and hopes he’s passive enough to make Middle England feel sorry for him.
The guards fire their weird guns and people start falling.
Welsh perm runs down a corridor with stone walls that might be some kind of refinery or power plant and he runs right to the end where there’s another guard waiting for him and the guard knows it’s his time, he’s invincible, Blake needs to be captured, or brainwashed, and they can’t do that if he keeps running, and…
Blake, who used to be described as the welsh perm but has now been reduced to a name which symbolises nothing…nothing except what the rest of this show will make of him, which will be quite a lot actually as the writing is quite good, and the characters are so cold and ruthless [ruthless for a good cause] that middle aged women will abandon their chains and rent a house and write fan fiction based on the coldest of all the characters and when they’re not writing and reading it out loud to each other, they’re cooking or fucking each other upstairs in the bathroom, which is really what Terry Nation was aiming for when he made this thing, and even if he wasn’t, it’s still a kind of validation, that anyone would go out on a limb that far, far enough to remould the universe as not England but Blake space based on the mindscape of Terry Nation and all the planets therein that are just different parts of Southern England filmed at slightly different angles and in different light and…
Blake ducks the guard’s swing and judo chops him in the artery that makes him sleep and then he takes the weird gun and keeps running, running and running and running…
‘We’re gonna put you on trial, radical perm.’
‘You can’t, I’m still running.’
‘We’re gonna put you in a cell with two other main characters and then build up a random lawyer as a possible ally…’
‘I’m still running, can’t you see?’
‘…then kill him and his girlfriend at the end to show what kind of thing we’re making here.’
‘But I’m still running…’
‘The trial begins. Warning, it will be slightly futuristic, but in a 1970’s way.’
‘I’m not running?’
Blake stops running and looks at the two glowing balls below what he assumes to be the judge deciding his fate.
The judge practises her line: ‘You are sentenced to exile with a capital X.’
The lawyer plans his emotional range because, far as he knows, he’s got an arc, and a girlfriend who doesn’t have a boyfriend or a girlfriend or any real idea how predatory male actors were in the 70’s. God, he thinks, hawk-like, got a bed scene with her too, not nude but…
‘Any words from the defence?’
‘Defence, young man,’ says the judge, annoyed.
He slaps himself mentally and says, ‘objection, your honour, this man’s not a peado…’ until his mask slips snugly back on.
His range is this: smug face, doubtful face, crusading face, dead face
Four scenes, four different statuses. Not since his high school nativity role had he had so much to work with. But, ah, the real trick was the blending…one status is not simply one emotion, he has to somehow merge the two.
He thinks back to the advice his coach hammered into him at RADA.
‘Say the lines, don’t blink.’
and the other piece:
‘Never do Doctor Who.’
The glowing balls deliver their verdict which is bad for Blake but great for the series in general as he’s pinballing inexorably towards episode two and the sadistic prison guard played by the guy from Grange Hill [not the teacher], and after that, it’s the Liberator, and Jacqueline Pierce and, okay, a lot of missteps, but overwhelmingly great character work and…
‘There will now be tension,’ says the judge, wondering if she can keep her robes after the camera’s been turned off.
‘Objection,’ says the lawyer.
‘Objection from main character.’
Blake puts down his hand, depowered, and remembers the scene earlier, when he was running through the power plant corridor and how good it was for his fitness levels. Maybe he’d have to take his t-shirt off in one of the later episodes, when he was re-powered? Maybe he’d get paired up with Jenna or Cally or Avon? Maybe he’d have to fuck that glass box from episode 11? Either way, he had to be ready and that meant manufacturing the 1980’s concept of gyms and making sure the first one was set up near Southampton, so he could go there and sit on the ab deck and watch other men, stronger men, lift heavy things to make their arms and tits bigger and, they’d probably sweat too, and if he stared at them long enough he might actually pluck up the courage to ask Paul Darrow to that new Nepalese restaurant just opened in Soho. That’s if they could get time off to go there. It was quite far. And he was too saggy at the moment, and so was Paul probably, so they’d both have to go to the gym and lift heavy things until they looked like Greek statues, ready to fuck on screen or in private, or in Soho, anywhere really. God, it was good to be working…being an actor was so casual sometimes…just like being a uni student again, all this spare time and nothing to…
Blake blinked and realised the judge and the glowing balls had gone and there was an internment cell with Vila and Jenna and they were establishing their characters and he was…what was he doing? Where was his perm?
He touched his head and felt that familiar sponge. It didn’t define him, no way, but it was the only distinguishable part of him at the current time and there were three reasons why:
1] The Zapata connection hadn’t been spread around by Terry yet, so people wouldn’t know this was an intelligent story, or based on real history, which seemed to convince most people that something was intelligent and not just ‘wank in a bucket.’
2] He’d been asking questions and acting confused for the whole episode
3] It was his best weapon against Avon
‘Are you stroking your head?’ asked Jenna.
‘It doesn’t matter, we’re leaving soon.’
‘By the way, I’m a smuggler. And Blonde. And good at operating teleporters. And in 2 of the episodes I don’t take shit from men.’
‘I’m a fanatical revolutionary based on Zapata.’
‘Oh, that’s cool. You’re based on a real historical figure. I wonder who I’m based on…’
‘I could be the female Han Solo.’
‘We’re all doomed,’ said Vila, talking more to the wall than anyone else.
‘Not yet…not me,’ said Blake.
‘I’m getting out of here, damnit.’
Blake sold it as best he could but even he knew it could never really convince as it was episode 1, and they couldn’t stay in this dome the whole 4 seasons, and the people from the future would know the general plot outline anyway so they wouldn’t be surprised and if you can’t surprise someone watching on an ORAC screen in 2015 then what was the point in anything?
A guard arrived and shoved them onto the spaceship.
‘Wait, where’s my lawyer?’ screamed Blake, loud enough to get himself restrained.
‘He’s been arrested.’
‘He sexually assaulted the actress who played his girlfriend.’
‘Krist, is she okay?’
‘She’s in the recovery room, surrounded by men.’
‘Oh, that’s good.’
‘Yes, she’ll be back on her knees in no time.’
The guard got a small electric shock in his ear from the director and moved back to the edge of the scene. Jenna watched him go and then closed her eyes, picturing another set, her near future, the seat next to a table of buttons pretending to dematerialise human tissue and put it back together again that would be her home for the next 26 episodes.
‘I want to get off,’ she muttered, too soft for any of the 17 other male actors to hear.
Another guard came in from the BBC canteen and told them to take a good look at the planet outside the window as it’d be the last time they ever saw it.
The art student heard the word ‘planet’, quickly scribbled on some blue then held the cardboard Earth up against the camera.
Blake twisted his head and blew the longer curls from his perm out of the way and said confidently to a bunch of extras who surely didn’t give a shit, ‘I’m coming back.’
‘No, you’re not,’ said the guard. ‘You’re gonna prance around the new forest for a year or two then ultimately fail.’
‘Actually…Season 2, episode 5.’
‘Is that one on Earth?’
‘Oh. Never mind, you’ll still fail.’
‘Fuck you, probotector.’
‘That’s the spirit.’
The camera blinked and died and some of the crew clapped and the director told everyone they’d be back for episode 2 the next morning so don’t spend all night trying to pick up the two actresses from the first episode, and the recovery room is locked anyway so there’s no point even going there.
‘Also, when you tell people what you’re working on, remember to talk about the Mexican Revolution and Zapata and how smart this thing is.’
‘Do not talk about the episode with the shit monster.’
They all nodded and left the prison ship, excited about how well things were going and how surprised they were that the perm hadn’t overwhelmed the whole episode.
‘Zapata had a perm, you know,’ said Blake, putting his arm around Jenna’s shoulder.
‘I’m not interested.’
‘Get your arm off me or I’ll pepper spray you.’
They reached a fork in the corridor, and Blake looked left then right. ‘You don’t happen to know the way to the recovery room, do you?’
‘Never mind. I’ll find it.’