Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Scriptics: A.K.A. in The Children of the Fields

I know what you're thinking. It's been a couple of weeks, the Pouch has gone quiet, maybe all that made-up TV script nonsense has burnt itself out. A fair and reasonable assumption, but you would be wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong. Which brings me to today's 7TV series A.K.A.or Adam Kismet Associates.

You have no idea how long it took me to come up with a programme name with a decent acronym. The problem was, I'd already settled on the hero being called Adam Kismet and was within a hair's breadth of calling it either It's Adam Kismet! or AK-74, but they would both have been rubbish.

This series ever so slightly different from 7TV series like Department X or The Man from 2000 in that it's a bit harder to pin down any well-known 60s/70s real-TV forebears. Yes, we have a mysterious alpha male lead and a female co-star who is there for audience identification, plot exposition and of course, regular peril. But a mod mage who lives on an invisible bridge over the Thames, doing battle with witches, devils and undead spooks? That's a little more out there.

OK, I admit that I've heard of the children's series Ace of Wands featuring the magician Tarot, but I've never seen it. If anything, the none-more 1968 Adam Kismet - with his Lennon specs, Nehru jackets and chunky medallion - owes more to comic book master of the mystic arts Dr Strange, and even more specifically, to beatnik Strange-spoof Johnny Beyond, created by Alan Moore.

Enough banging on about my struggle to walk the tightrope between respectful pastiche and blatant rip-off. In the script extracts below, we meet the trendy mystic Adam and his government liaison Eloise Pargeter, some doomed policemen, some not so simple country folk, the bewitching Lady Winterly, and a bunch of living freaking scarecrows. I wrote this episode - the Children of the Fields - to upset fictional kiddies watching the show from behind their fictional sofas.

6.0 Colour
starring Simon Lee
The Children Of The Fields
A top government official is found dead in a country lane, his lungs full of grain. The local police seem baffled, but a vacationing Adam Kismet senses that all is not well down on the farm…
Adam Kismet .......................... ..... SIMON LEE
Ms Pargeter ....................... PAULA WILCOCKS
Lady Sylvia Winterly .......... INGRID PETROV
Mr Mangel ............................. DAVE PROUSE
Corn Dolly ......................... BRITT ELKLAND

Early on in the episode, a couple of plods demonstrate why you shouldn't follow pretty girls into wheatfields, unless it's a Flake advert. Oh, you'll see that I've given up putting the scripts in grey text, as it plays merry hell with the line breaks. Hopefully you'll be able to cope.

An attractive young lady wearing a simple white dress opens a large gate leading into a field. She glances over her shoulder at an approaching police patrol car, before disappearing into the tall rows of swaying wheat. The car comes to an abrupt halt by the gate. Sergeant PEVENSEY and Constable LAYTON climb out, peering into the field.

I’d swear that was her, Sarge. The girl from Winterly Grange!

That were three miles back down the road, lad. No chance she got here ahead of us, ‘less she ran like a March hare. You’ve got lasses on the brain.

LAYTON walks past the gate to the field’s edge, still peering intently through the wheat stalks.

LAYTON (to himself)
But it looked just like her…

PEVENSEY (coming up to stand by LAYTON)
Nothing in there but wheat and that old scarecrow.

PEVENSEY nods in the direction of a crude figure in a distant part of the field. Only its sack head and shoulders are visible above the crops. The wind briefly parts the wheat before the policemen to reveal a glimpse of the young lady once more, smiling enigmatically. LAYTON turns to PEVENSEY for confirmation.

Right enough lad. Come on!

They move as quickly as they can into the field, PEVENSEY walking straight ahead while he signals for LAYTON to circle round.

Out you come now, miss. We’ve some questions for you down the station.

But she disappears once more. The policemen have now moved out of sight of one another. The wind stirs the wheat around their faces. PEVENSEY pauses to take his bearings only to find that his feet have become entangled in the crops somehow. Muttering, he bends down to free himself, as a misshapen shadow falls over him. Some distance away, LAYTON starts with fright as he hears an eerie sound.

EFFECT: A woman’s laughter, rich and mature, echoes all around LAYTON.

Later on, Adam and Ms Kismet stumble onto a scene from Straw Dogs if it was written by Dennis Wheatley...

Sunset. A muddy farmyard full of rusty agricultural implements, hay bales and old sacks. ADAM Kismet and Ms PARGETER back awkwardly out of a farmhouse doorway, followed by a surly-faced local with a shotgun trained on them. An odd child leans out of an upper floor window and begins a chanting a rustic rhyme. Once ADAM and PARGETER have reached the centre of the yard, the farmer chuckles evilly and disappears back inside.

EFFECT: Door bolts being thrown.

Well, I’ll put him down as a Don’t Know, then.

ADAM seizes her arm as the lengthening rays of the setting sun come to rest on an innocuous heap of sacks and rags.

ADAM (squinting in concentration)
I think he’s the least of our worries. Look!

The heap begins to shift and unfold, as if by invisible strings. As ADAM and PARGETER stare in fascination and unease, it stretches and rises in jerky motions until a straw-filled CORN DOLL stands not ten feet from them. Its crudely slashed hemp mouth opens in a mockery of a grin. Ms PARGETER lets out an involuntary scream.

Come on!

He wrenches PARGETER after him and away from the CORN DOLL which begins spastically shuffling toward them, one tattered arm outstretched. The little girl’s rhyme continues above their heads. They flee to the open door of a barn seconds ahead of the CORN DOLL, and struggle to heave the door closed as the straw-filled horror collides against it. Muttering a mystic invocation under his breath, ADAM summons a deep reserve of strength and the door slams shut, propelling the CORN DOLL outside into the evening shadows.

That… was a scarecrow! A living scarecrow!

ADAM closes his eyes and holding his palm out as if sensing the air.

Yes, and it wasn’t alone.

EFFECT: Shuffling, dragging sounds from all around them.

Later still, Adam has fallen into the clutches of Lord Summerisle's female counterpart Lady Winterly, who manages to combine the age-old tradition of villain-gloating with a dollop of saucy lady seduction. Oh yes, and we meet Mr Mangel, a cross between Worzel Gummidge and that giant killing thingie from Creeping Flesh...

Night. The great feasting hall of Winterly Grange, lit only by candles and a fierce blaze crackling in the impressive fireplace. Landscapes, hunting scenes and portraits of the Winterly line cover the oak-panelled walls. A large sturdy dining table dominates the hall. It has been set for two – Lady Sylvia WINTERLY at one end and ADAM Kismet at the other. She is a striking woman with fine features, wearing a figure-hugging evening gown. ADAM has left his seat and stares out of a large leaded window at the ornamental gardens below, an expression of furious concentration on his face. Behind Lady WINTERLY’s seat, in the shadows, the gigantic inhuman form of her servitor Mr MANGEL looms.

WINTERLY (smiling)
You really should try the food before it goes cold. Cook has prepared an excellent game pie for the occasion.

ADAM (still looking out of the window)
You’re too kind, your ladyship. But “That which is not freely given-”

WINTERLY (finishing the proverb)
“- may ensnare the unwary.” Very good. You know the old laws.

Lady WINTERLY swivels out of her seat and rises to her feet, a flute of champagne in one hand. She moves toward ADAM. Mr MANGEL jerks to life as she does so, his razor sharp scythe catching the candle light.

Be at peace, my loyal one. Mr Kismet means me harm, isn’t that right Adam?

ADAM looks over his shoulder at her as she sways closer to him, a predatory look on her face. He grips his jade pendant tightly in one hand.

ADAM (sardonically)
A pity you haven’t seen fit to extend the same courtesy to my companion out there in your maze!

WINTERLY (dismissively)
The office girl? Put her out of your mind. She reeks of the city. Besides, my mummermen shall have her soon and she’ll be beyond all concern, returned to the good earth.

ADAM’s eyes flash green as he holds the jade pendant forth, flooding the great hall with a pure light. Lady WINTERLY hisses as if scalded.

So there y'go. Stop me before I script again.


Jack said...

I liked it. Lots of promise. Reads like a very British version of the Dresden files. Although he's a badly dressed American. This smacks of leather catsuits and pin stripe.

Anonymous said...

Obscurely reminiscent of Sapphire & Steel. I'm sure the corn dolly would give me nightmares.

The Chocolate Ocelot said...

If not leather and catsuits, then certainly Carnaby Street suits and bell bottoms. If Adam Kismet was American, I wanted him to be played by Peter Tork from the Monkees.

If this was like Sapphire and Steel, you'd properly only see one Corn Dolly at a time, due to budget restrictions. And there's be three entire episodes where they just go up and down stairs :)