Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The End of the Road I

(ROLL OPENING CREDITS)

1. MODEL SHOT

Fade up on a shot from WARHEAD OF THE DALEKS. The mercenary battle cruiser is docked next to the prison station. A pause to establish. Silence. Then, the station explodes outwards in a massive fireball. The noise is only slightly softer than the secondary explosion when the damaged cruiser explodes as well.

For a long time the explosion rolls out in all directions, a few debris spinning through the flames. Then something hurtles straight at us, over us and beyond. We turn and follow a burning object as it shoots off into space.

Fade the explosion in the distance as we dissolve to the object, still burning slightly, tumbling end-over-end through space. We see panels have come off the side to reveal blackened workings. Dissolve to:

The object is tumbling towards a grey-white planet. Other worlds are in the distance. The object is now being dragged towards the planet with gathering speed. It tumbles faster and we flare red, then turn to a red glare.



2. EXT. HILLSIDE (DAY)

Cold and white. Dusk is gathering. There are lots of trees and bushes about, but only a few have any foliage. These have distinctive purple flowers. Two men are present – JOBEL and TAKIS. They both wear blue, fur-lined coats, practical in this weather. Jobel is short, plump and squinting. His thinning hair is dark grey. Takis is larger, a bear of a man, clean-shaven and intelligent. They look up as a red shape shoots through the sky.

JOBEL
I knew it! I knew it! We’re going to die!

TAKIS
Get down!

Takis dives for cover. Jobel is too busy staring in horror as the red shape gets larger and larger above them.

JOBEL
They said it might hit this region, I said so, didn’t I? I...

Takis rises.

TAKIS
I said... GET DOWN!

He grabs Jobel and dives for cover. The red glow illuminates them for a moment and then there is another shattering explosion.


3. MODEL SHOT

The burning wreck strikes the lake nearby. The water explodes everywhere, with a hissing of steam and a warping sound of metal.


4. EXT. HILLSIDE (DAY)

Debris rains down on the duo for a moment. They are now lit by a dimmer orange glow. There is a loud bubbling noise. Takis and Jobel lift their heads. Jobel is dazed.

JOBEL
W... It missed us... W-what was it?

TAKIS
No idea.

Takis rises, brushing water from his suit.

JOBEL
You’re not going to go down there are you? It’s melting the ice!

TAKIS
The ice is re-freezing! Besides... It’s an escape pod. Let’s see if there are any survivors. Come on.

Takis cautiously approaches the hillside. Jobel is too scared to move.

JOBEL
No good will come from this. None at all. I said so, didn’t I. I said there was no point hunting voltroxes today when a meteorite’s due. I said so, I did...


5. MODEL SHOT

Establishing the wreck is on the shore, very close to the others. Matt shot.


6. INT. ESCAPE CAPSULE (DAY)

Blackness. There are a few minor explosions of sparks to reveal a corrugated metal hatch. Distant crackling of fire and the sound of water lapping on the hull. A modulated voice whimpers in pain. A loud clang.

TAKIS (VO)
The hatch... just got to... move... Help me!

The hatch slides horizontally back enough to let light through. The whimpers fade.

TAKIS (VO)
You’re useless, Jobel! Utterly useless!

Using his frustration as strength, Takis reaches around the hatch and throws his considerable weight against the door. The hatch slides back enough for Takis to peer inside. After a moment, his eyes adjust and his expression becomes one of horror.

JOBEL (VO)
What is it? What’s inside?

Takis can’t work out a reply. He covers his mouth and looks queasy. He then turns to speak when the voice of the occupant lets out a long, loud, horrible scream...

(FINISH OPENING CREDITS)
(THE END OF THE ROAD)
(EPISODE ONE: TRANQUIL REPOSE)


1. EXT. THE GARDEN OF FOND MEMORIES (DAY)

It is dawn. It is a cluster of futuristic buildings surrounding two glass pyramids. There is an entrance like a runway leading under the buildings into the complex proper. This area is full of square ivory pillars, each one featuring the carving of a face. Above the runway entrance is a black marble sign with a golden logo “TR”. Beneath it are the words “TRANQUIL REPOSE.”

We see this from various high and low angles, mixing from one shot to another. There are small, circular devices – security cameras – placed everywhere we can. On walls, beside statues, along the walls of the runway entrance and pretty much everywhere to do with Tranquil Repose. Everywhere can be watched.

We finally focus on the man standing before the runway, looking out at the garden. It is Takis. He is older – his hair is greying and he no longer has a wispy beard. He is dressed in a simple blue-lilac outfit. He has a thoughtful look on his face.


2. INT. CHAPEL (DAY)

A chapel in a network of catacombs. The stonework clashes with several complex computer banks lined under the walls. High, barred windows are level with the snow-covered ground outside. There are two entrances – one at the top of a flight of stairs on the far side of the room and a doorway leading into darkened catacombs. There are several ancient tapestries and several statues – all of them have their heads in their laps, decapitated. All the time there is the steady electronic heartbeat.

A circular green hologram screen is up against one wall. On it we see Takis in the Garden. He turns his head so he is staring straight out of the screen. He knows he is being watched. He smiles cheekily and waves.


3. EXT. THE GARDEN OF FOND MEMORIES (DAY)

Takis is waving at the camera mounted to a nearby statue. He stops waving, the smile and false humor fading to a look of contempt. Finally, he turns and strides down the runway and out of sight. We linger on the Tranquil Repose sign. We VERY faintly hear the scream again, fading into silence.


4. INT. TARDIS CONTROL ROOM

The DOCTOR stands in front of the console, head in his hands, as if exhausted. He is not wearing his coat. He takes his hands away from his eyes. He looks very tired. Suddenly a thought strikes him and he takes a coin from his pocket. He flips the coin, catches it on the back of his hand and looks at it. The answer displeases him and, checking no one is looking, he flips the coin over. He blinks, realizing how childish and unhelpful this is. He scowls and crosses to the console. He sets controls with a purpose.

DOCTOR
You’re just prolonging the agony. Best get it over with.

He is focussed on the console. The internal door open and PERI peers through. She is timid, hopeful. She smiles dazzling.

PERI
Mind if I come in?

The Doctor shrugs and waves a hand, busy. Peri’s enthusiasm falters slightly.

PERI
Just, you know, if you’re not busy.

No reply. The Doctor moves to another panel, operating those controls.

PERI
I mean, if you still want me to get out the control room and stay out of it or face a horrible fate known only to those who are damned for all eternity like last time, you don’t HAVE to shout. I’ll go.

The Doctor stands back. The time rotor begins moving. He sighs and puts his hands in his pockets, watching the time rotor. He’s not happy.

PERI
Doctor?

The Doctor glances at her.

DOCTOR
What?

PERI
Have you been listening to me?

DOCTOR
My dear child, of course I have.

He smiles at her and turns his attention back to the console. Then he frowns.

DOCTOR
Shout?

He looks back at her, scandalized.

DOCTOR
Shout? SHOUT? When did I ever shout at you?

PERI
Yesterday.

DOCTOR
Oh. Did I? Yes. I did. Sorry about that Peri.

PERI
And the day before that.

DOCTOR
Ah. Sorry about that as well.

Peri shrugs and goes over to him.

PERI
I forgive you... on one condition.

The Doctor rolls his eyes.

DOCTOR
Look, I like this coat. This outfit, I think it can work. It’s grown on me, it honestly has!

PERI
Not that! Just tell me something.

DOCTOR
What?

PERI
Why are you so upset?

DOCTOR
I looked in the mirror.

Peri chuckles.

PERI
You recovered yet?

The Doctor looks at her. He is utterly serious.


5. INT. THE DJ’S RECORDING SUITE (DAY)

Bright white and warm. Andy Warhol prints, sixties objet d’art, CD racks and shelves of LPs mingle with white statuettes and modern art jobs. A few untidy outfits are thrown around the place. We see a complicated swivel throne facing a large screen divided into nine views – forests, star charts, catacomb tunnels, entrance halls, the gardens, pretty much every where in TR except for the Chapel. Procul Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale plays gently in the background.

DJ
Are you feeling glum? Existential angst getting you down? The sheer absurdity of the cosmos sinking into as you realize how utterly pointless and pathetic your so-called life has been? Realized that the icy hand of death will be at your throat long before you finish the great Pherran novel? Welcome to reality. Population: you and me.

The DJ turns around. A large, bald man with a friendly face, he is at present dressed as a 1960s hippie with beads, a long wig and tinted spectacles. He wears a complicated futuristic headset combining headphones and microphones. He always wears this unless indicated. He speaks in a mellow Texan accent.

DJ
On second thoughts... make that just you.


6. INT. CHAPEL (DAY)

The DJ’s face fills the screen.

DJ
There’s never enough time but you can alter your share of it. It isn’t just the dead, dying and wounded that come to Planet of the Deceased, you know! There are plenty of reasons to want to outsit this particular piece of eternity and there’s only one place to do it: Tranquil Repose and I am your DJ of the Dead!

He bursts in a sinister cackling laugh that fades into a look of depression. He sighs and opens his mouth to speak again. Before he can, the image changes to a shot of Takis entering the main hall.


7. INT. RECEPTION AREA (DAY)

A large, dark-coloured but well-lit chamber. A vaulted ceiling and with lots of soft light, gold and black marble panels and the TR logo prominently. There is a special area at the top of the stage where a sarcophagus-like unit is on display. There are numerous ATTENDANTS present – men and women dressed in blue uniforms like Takis but with skull caps. Some have blue make-up on their faces, merging their caps with their faces.

The overall air is that of a stage production before the big night. Attendants run back and forth with bits of scenery, adjusting those already present, talking hurriedly and breaking up only to rejoin. Takis enters looking glum as a group of attendants enter with a trolley containing various things including several bundles of purple flowers.

A gloved hand delves onto the trolley and collects a fancy Egyptian Pharaoh-style mask and examines it lovingly while another gloved hand dusts it with a brush.

JOBEL
Lovely, lovely, lovely! Absolutely lovely!

The owner of the hands is visible. It is Jobel. He too has changed – he is fatter (or rather, wearing clothes for a smaller man) and has grown a walrus-like moustache and now wears spectacles, but still squints. A toupee of completely different colour sits slightly askew on his head.

JOBEL
You’ve excelled yourself, Mr. Takis, you really have!

Takis looks at him for a moment with naked contempt, then suddenly smiles broadly, full of jolly cheer.

TAKIS
Thank you, Mr. Jobel.

JOBEL
This is finest death mask I’ve seen on Nekros and so it should be – what else would do for the finest Perpetual Instatement we have ever made! Tranquil Repose is about to go down in funerary history, mark my words.

TAKIS
Oh I shall.

Jobel heads up the stairs to the sarcophagus and lays the mask tenderly near the top and stands back to look at it. He is full of pride – a far cry from the terrified man we saw earlier. He leers happily.

JOBEL
After this, EVERYONE will want our services!


8. INT. TARDIS CONTROL ROOM (DAY)

The Doctor is rummaging through an old hat box in the corner of the room. Peri stands by the console, frowning and anxious.

PERI
This isn’t like you. Why are you so upset?

DOCTOR
It’s private, Peri. Private, personal and above all none of your business. It’s my problem and my problem alone.

PERI
Like the Master?

DOCTOR
No. It's completely different, and that's all you need to know.

PERI
Oh, so you’re going to ditch me and not even tell me why!

DOCTOR
Three months is up, Peri. Time to go back to college, Earth, America, your family. If I didn’t take you back I’d just be another alien abductor, snatching innocents from Earth and leaving you millions of miles from home.

PERI
But I’m having fun! So are you! Well, you were!

DOCTOR
Oh, I’ve loved every minute of it Peri. But the one way to tell a good thing is to see if it has an end. And our end is approaching Peri. Had to happen some time. Don’t worry. I’ll pop in, say hello. Maybe pick you up again for your next vacation. I’ll even help get all that foliage out of your bedroom, can’t say fairer than that.

PERI
So we’re going back to Earth?

DOCTOR
Very soon.

PERI
But are we heading there now?

The Doctor narrows his eyes. He mutters to himself.

DOCTOR
She’s getting too clever.

PERI
So if we’re not heading back for Lanzarote, where are we going?

The Doctor rises.

DOCTOR
Peri, please, this is difficult enough as it is, just accept that...

Peri touches a control. Data types out on the monitor.

PERI
Destinations settings... “Nekros, Planet 7 of Pherran System, 47th century”. And so why are we going there?

The Doctor hurries to the console and cancels the screen.

DOCTOR
When you get your own time and relative dimension in space machine, you can press all the buttons you like – but this is my TARDIS, my ship, my rules. Me captain, you passenger!

PERI
This ship isn’t yours! You stole it!

DOCTOR
All right, when YOU steal a time and relative dimension in space...

The time rotor stops with a chime. Peri grins, snaps her fingers and points.

PERI
Gotcha!

The Doctor laughs, even so.

DOCTOR
Yes. You’re getting good at this.

Peri opens the scanner. It shows the snow-shrouded woods outside.

PERI
So... why are we here?

DOCTOR
Profound philosophical questions aren’t my strong point Peri. Some say in cosmic terms we are but grains of salt upon God’s cooling fish and chips. Others...

PERI
Will you stop being evasive? Why did you set the TARDIS to come here?

DOCTOR
My business Peri. Now, go and find something warm to put on. Preferably blue. This will be a short visit... either way.

PERI
Either? What? What are you expecting to happen?

DOCTOR
Peri, for once, just do as I say? Please?

Peri pouts, but leaves anyway. The Doctor gives her a genuine smile. Once she’s gone it slides from his face and he closes his eyes. He looks tired again.


9. EXT. HILLSIDE (DAY)

The TARDIS stands atop the hill. Zoom out to show one of the camera devices is fitted to the side of a tree nearby.


10. INT. CHAPEL (DAY)

The screen shows the TARDIS. A voice speaks, a calm, clear voice whose syllables are punctuated by a gentle flash of white light.

GREAT HEALER
Replay.

The screen shows the TARDIS slowly materializing. Then it zooms on the sign above the windows.

GREAT HEALER
Excellent. But which one stands inside?


11. INT. RECEPTION AREA (DAY)

Takis and Jobel are talking. Also present is LILT, a short, slender man – Laurel to Takis’ Hardy. Behind them, ignored is TASEMBEKER – a short, plump, unattractive woman who is made ugly by ill-filling uniform and badly-applied make up. She’s also utterly miserable and lonely, and looks longingly at Jobel.

JOBEL
I have a feeling right at the core of my soul, Mr. Takis. The very same one I got all those years ago, remember how excited I was? I could see the possibilities and I was rewarded ten fold. The Great Healer may be the core of Tranquil Repose, but I am the one the public knows!

TAKIS
Of course, Mr. Jobel. How could you not be?

LILT
Yeah. No one knows what the Great Healer looks like.

JOBEL
Maybe no one in your particular social circles, Mr. Lilt. Mr. Takis and I have both met him, haven’t we?

Takis frowns. His fa├žade slips slightly.

TAKIS
Yes, Mr. Jobel. We were the ones who found him before he was awarded his title.

JOBEL
So we were.

LILT
I’m just saying most the Galaxy have no idea who he is. He hardly ever talks. Course you’re going to be one everyone thinks of.

Jobel shrugs.

JOBEL
The Great Healer values privacy and I can say he’s earned it. But with a grasp of public relations like mine, a figure at the height of fashion, and a charm that could stop a speelsnape in its tracks... what better face for Tranquil Repose could there be?

TASAMBEKER
No one, Mr. Jobel. You’re perfect.

Jobel blinks, confused, then realizes who spoke. He glares at her.

JOBEL
Yes. No doubt.

He turns to the others, more cheerful.

JOBEL
President Vargos will the turning point, Mr. Lilt. When the galaxy sees its ruler and me together, it will be burned in the public consciousness. I shall become Tranquil Repose, and once that happens all our problems will end! Today is when it happens!

TAKIS
Then it’s best we keep getting ready, Mr. Jobel.

JOBEL
Ah yes, Mr. Takis. Absolutely right as ever! Time is of the essence, and you should start your galaxy-famous craft with the weed plants. More of them have sprouted up over the last two weeks – we can at least do something about this.

LILT
The Long Cold starts tomorrow, that should get rid of them.

TAKIS
I doubt it, these things survive anything. We just won’t be able to see it in the blizzards. When’s the Great Healer going to take an interest in horticulture?

JOBEL
The Great Healer has more important tasks to perform.

TASAMBEKER
Of course he does, Mr. Jobel.

Jobel ignores her.

JOBEL
And today so have you, Mr. Takis. I’m sure security is as good as it will ever be so you can focus more on your flower arranging. We should all focus on our funerary skills rather than such crude things like security and circuit maintenance.

TASAMBEKER
Well said, Mr. Jobel.

Jobel glares at her.

JOBEL
And you should focus on what little skills you have. Go and talk to the DJ and get him to tone down the performance during the President’s visit. He is to perform fully-clothed for the whole day, there are to be no games of Infidelity Roulette and on no account is anything by Leonard Cohen to be played for his own private amusement.

Tasambeker cringes.

TASAMBEKER
Yes, Mr. Jobel.

JOBEL
And get out of my sight while you fix your makeup. You’re unattractive at the best of time but at the moment some of the corpses look more aesthetically pleasant! Get out!

Tasambeker humbles away. Jobel turns back to Takis and Lilt.

JOBEL
Where was I? Yes, with my interpersonal skills I have full confidence I can get the President’s entire family to be interested in Tranquil Repose’s services. It’s a gift I have, I am a true people person. Get to work you two.

Takis and Lilt shake their heads and turn away. Jobel immediately sidles up to an attractive FEMALE ATTENDANT.

JOBEL
Yes, my pretty one, Tranquil Repose is Jobel and Jobel knows the way people think. How they feel. I’m aware of so many things lesser people never once even consider.


12. INT. CHAPEL (DAY)

The hall is shown on the scanner. It zooms in on Jobel’s oblivious face.

JOBEL
My skills with both embalming and interpersonal exchanges are legendary. It’s heart warming for me that I am a success story of this new golden age. When people think of the Pherran System, they think of me. I’m incomparable.

GREAT HEALER
You also talk too much.

The image changes to the TARDIS in the woods.


13. EXT. HILLSIDE (DAY)

Peri emerges from the TARDIS wearing a blue tunic and beret.

PERI
Nekros? As in, death?

The Doctor emerges from the TARDIS, wearing a blue cloak that covers his outfit.

DOCTOR
Yes. The Planet of the Deceased. Its at the zenith of its summer at the moment, and for long periods no life can survive on the surface. When the explorers first came here, they thought the planet dead, only to find all these trees and bushes. The Planet of the Dead became the Planet of the Deceased.

He closes the door and locks it.

PERI
Why? Cause Deceased implies the planet only just died, right?

DOCTOR
Yes. Come on.

PERI
You think they would have made it sound more friendly.

DOCTOR
Few people die on Nekros. Most who come here are already dead.

Peri is worried.

PERI
Not... zombies?

DOCTOR
No. Not zombies, not this time. It’s entirely different. Come on, we don’t need to hang around here freezing ourselves to the bones.

The Doctor heads down the hill and across the paddock. Peri follows.

PERI
Are you going to tell me why we’re here?

DOCTOR
No.

There is a loud whooshing sound of displaced air. A shadow passes over them as they look up at the source of the mysterious noise.


14. MODEL SHOT

A small, compact space shuttle is shooting across the overcast sky. It is heading for a cluster of industrial buildings gleaming purple in the weak sunshine.


15. EXT. HILLSIDE. DAY

The Doctor and Peri look up.

PERI
Another dead on arrival?

DOCTOR
I don’t know.

PERI
Really?

DOCTOR
Really. Now let’s hurry. Those look uncomfortably like storm clouds on the horizon. If you think it’s cold now, you’ll redefine the term once the solstice ends...

The Doctor hurries off into the woods.

- to be continued...

No comments: