So this is basically what happens when a song gets stuck in my head and I start to fiddle with the half-forgotten lyrics and suddenly arrive at a concept for a whole story series. As a pilot it’s a little rough but I thought I’d put it out there and see what people think, and if it’s got any legs. And apologies to the author of a Certain Show for dragging it into this mess.
It’s time for Wammermaniacs
And we’re messy to the max.
So pick up a pie and smash
Someone of a higher class
Come join the Wammer sisters
And the Wammer brother Snot
Just for fun we leave cottage cheese out until it clots
Then we stir in something gross, like gravy and shallots.
We ate too much sucrose,
This premise is grandiose…
I think the author’s lost the plot.
We’re bringing gunging back.
So tonight why not stay in
While Obama plays theremin?
Meet Sabrina and Aries
Twins you can barely tell apart
Their brother gets less screen time,
And all the crappy parts
But he still gets paid
Thirty-three cents more
Yes we get political
And sometimes quite satirical
Why are you heading for the door?
We wear durable contacts.
It feels so weird to dance
With baked beans in our pants.
Messy and brainy,
Here’s the shows namey:
Now get your snacks.
[We fade in to a studio, where two near-identical blond women sit at a broad, black desk, smiling at the rapturous applause prodded out of the studio audience. On camera left, her hair a pure golden that gleams in the studio lights, is Aries. Above the desk we can see she wears a crisp black blazer and frilly cream blouse; she is the picture of professional broadcast journalism. On camera right, her hair streaked with a broad band of purple, sits Sabrina, who wears a simple cotton dress of the same hue. As the applause and incidental music dies down, their murmuring is captured on the studio microphones.]
Aries: Are you sure that dress is appropriate for a news broadcast?
[Sabrina looks down at her attire, her mouth gaping in mock betrayal.]
Sabrina: I beg your pardon? What’s wrong with my outfit?
Aries: It’s just a little… little, really.
[Aries looks back at the camera and grins nervously, realising they are being overheard.]
Aries: Welcome to Wammermaniacs, I’m your host–
Sabrina: I’ll have you know this is completely appropriate to wear on television. Unless I’m doing the weather, obviously.
Aries: Goodnight everybody.
Sabrina: Anyway the last thing we need is to bicker. We have to stick together, now that we finally have some women on late night TV.
Aries: And speaking of late night TV, I’m your host Aries Wammer, and this is my counterpart, R2D2.
Sabrina: Cute. I’m Sabrina Wammer, the brains of this outfit.
Aries: So you’re saying I am the prettier sister?
Sabrina: Not if you’re going to dress like Madeline Albright every night. We’ll wind up cancelled by next week if you don’t take that coat off.
Aries: I happen to think that the content of our stories will be what draws viewers. Which brings me to tonight’s top story: Controversy abounds at the studios of a rival TV station, where the increasingly popular proletariat distraction of a certain television show has come a little unstuck–
Sabrina: What’s horse racing got to do with it?
[The question throws Aries, who opens and closes her mouth, stammering for a second.]
Aries: What… what?!
Sabrina: Wasn’t he a famous horse?
Aries: That was Secretariat, you fool. Proletariat means… look, have you read 1984?
Sabrina: Read it? I was born in it. You too, actually.
Aries: … Anyway, come to think of it, this certain show we are discussing reminds me of the Two Minute Hate. And hate certainly abounds as questions are raised by viewers and show organisers alike about the legitimacy of their latest ballot.
[A brief clip reel runs, showing the various victims of a Certain Show as they, shall we say, are dipped into something that could be described as mucky. Because audiences need clips to keep paying attention. Also, jump cuts.]
Aries: The punitive programme has come under fire after a recent update on voting suggested that the potential victim, an athletic gym teacher in tight tights, was running away with the vote over the other candidates, a school chef and a math teacher.
Sabrina: What were their names again? Miss Field? Mrs Pascal? Who does wood working class? Miss Teak?
Aries: Isn’t she in X-Men?
Sabrina: Hey, three minutes in and you finally cracked a joke.
Aries: After the programme’s host noted herself that this was an unprecedented lead at this stage of voting, show organisers swiftly added a footnote to ballots asking that voters keep in mind the spirit of the show, implying that the point was not to rank the attractiveness of the candidates. And, as always happens when you ask people to keep such things in mind, that quickly led to these chaotic scenes.
[A clip runs, showing a well dressed, middle-aged lady standing at a podium, banging her gavel against a chorus of boos.]
Definitely Not The Chair of the Nevada Democrats: Order! Order I say! And what I say goes, including ignoring your votes! I demand order.
[The boos continue, and to the bottom of the frame the hustle and bustle of an unruly crowd begins to show. Suddenly a voice cries out from the group.]
Voice: Here’s your order!
[Whumpf! Whoever that was, they have a good arm, as they manage to hurl a classic cream pie straight into the face of the lady at the podium. A roar erupts, of laughter and cheers, as the woman wipes at her eyes and rushes from the stage. Sure, she might have been trying to tell people how and why to vote, but a little schaudenfreude mollifies the disgruntled masses as they imagine the shock and shame takes their projected villain down a peg. A whole peg!]
Sabrina: Hey, this time the revolting peasants were the ones to cry “let them eat cake”.
Aries: I’m pretty sure that was a pie. And I strongly condemn throwing anything at anyone who–
Sabrina: Who does what? Tries to tell you how to vote? Ignores your voice and decides they know better and that your reasons for ticking a certain box weren’t legitimate? They’re lucky to get pies and cakes, if you ask me.
Aries: Nobody did. Nobody will. Anyway, we now go to our senior civil unrest correspondent, our little brother Snot. Snot, what do you have for us?
Sabrina: Take-out, I hope. They only have salads in the green room.
[We cut to a man in his late 20s, his dark suit and checkered shirt clashing wildly with his thick, red-brown beard. He has the same blue eyes as the sisters, sitting above a bulbous nose, and his mouth twitches into a smirk as soon as he realises the feed is focused on him. He grips his microphone all the tighter, eager to make a good impression.]
[Splotch! Another pie hits him square in the face. The tin slides off, its greasy squeak caught on the microphone, as dollops of cream flop and fleck across his blazer. A blur of spraying slop and slipping students fills the background – whatever assembly had taken place to try to deal with the unexpected vote has now descended into a literal food fight, with our correspondent caught in the middle of it. In swift fashion, we cut back to the studio, where Sabrina laughs at her brother’s misfortune.]
Sabrina: That’s all the time we have for you, Snot.
Aries: What?! We sent him out there for that? Can’t he at least ask someone a question?
Sabrina: Shh! Every second a pied guy is on screen we shed viewers like a Secretary deletes emails.
Aries: Oh for the love of– Fine, let’s move on to the interview. Tonight’s guest is a ballet star who has taken the stage by storm.
Sabrina: Literally, in a beautiful, artistic, balletified production of “Singin’ in the Rain”.
Aries: Balletified is not a word.
Sabrina: Neither is Wammermaniacs. But whatchya gonna do when Wammermania runs wild on you?
Aries: … I’m just going to start pretending you’re not here. Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for our guest, Keira Wallace!
[The audience applauds and cheers, as an instrumental version of the show’s jaunty theme blares above their heads. The studio lights whir around before settling on the edge of the soundstage, where Keira waves. Dressed in her finest pink tutu, she shuffles across the stage with the expected grace, and finally pirouettes before flopping lightly into the hastily rolled-out seat. The noise dies down, and Aries greets her with a professional smile.]
Aries: Keira, a pleasure.
Sabrina: And you said my outfit was a problem, sis.
[With a demure smile, Keira crosses her legs, ignoring Sabrina’s remark. She is on stage every night, and used to being looked at. She looks to the more friendly co-host, greeting her in return.]
Keira: A pleasure to be here, Aries. It’s always nice to do something a little different.
Aries: Well our show is certainly that. As is yours – we’ve seen many cinematic classics brought to the stage, but not in the form of ballet. And for this particular film, a lot of thought must have gone into the production, to even come close to showing the same story.
Keira: That’s right, it’s been a long time coming. I think I was still at university when I first read about a company looking to produce it, and I never dreamed I’d be on the stage, filling the great Gene Kelly’s rainboots.
Sabrina: Pfft, a woman taking a man’s role, like that gimmick will ever catch on.
Aries: … Ahem. Speaking of rainboots, you really do endure a downpour during the titular number, don’t you?
Sabrina: If that leotard were white then titular would be a good word for it.
[Keira, again ignoring the more abrasive sister, nods to Aries’ question.]
Keira: That’s right, we have a rain machine right over the stage. It’s a whole new way of dancing when you have to make sure you don’t slip on the puddles, but it’s actually quite refreshing after being under the spotlight for most of the show.
Aries: Well I’m afraid you’re going to be under the spotlight again now, as we’ve come to the final part of our show. Ladies and gentlemen, this is our Moment of Wam.
[The studio lights fade as melodramatic music drums along. All that remains illuminated, in three bright columns of light, are Keira and Sabrina, with Aries seated between them. Aries now holds in her hands a set of cards, turning them inward as she senses her sister trying to catch a peek at them.]
Aries: Stop that. Now, we don’t have a rain machine, but we do have a mysterious contraption high in the studio ceiling that is definietly not Gus with a bucket.
[A green dollop plops onto Aries’ shoulder, streaking her blazer. She sighs, casting her eyes upwards.]
Aries: Thanks, Gus. Now, the rules here are simple: I will ask each of you three questions about current events, and you will try to answer as many correctly as you can. The winner is whoever gets the most right, and they will become our first Wammermania Champion.
[Aries sighs again, and gestures across the studio.]
Aries: And because Sabrina likes tacky things, the Wammermania Champion will be awarded this gaudy, godawful trinket.
[Another spotlight flares on, showing a pillar with a pillow perched upon it. Seated in pride of place on the pillow is a white leather championship belt, gleaming with tiny diamonds and emeralds, picking out a large W against its gold base.]
Sabrina: That belt is coming home!
Aries: Now, that is the prize for the winner, and as you might have guessed, the loser will also go home wearing something absolutely appalling. And I do mean go home – this studio’s so new our plumbing hasn’t been finished yet. So, as you have both agreed to these terms, I shall begin with our guest. Keira, are you ready?
[Keira glances up, sitting back further in her seat.]
Keira: Let’s go.
Aries: Question one: Who is the prettier sister, Sabrina or… Sabrina! You replaced the questions!
Sabrina: Who, me? I would never!
[Aries scans the card, seeing nothing but ridiculous questions scrawled by her sister. In frustration she tosses it over her shoulder, shaking her head.]
Aries: Fine, apparently we can’t do a single segment properly tonight, and we’re running out of time, so I’ll come up with one question myself and the first to answer is the winner. Ready?
Sabrina: Hey, wait a sec–
Aries: Too bad. The question is… In which city did Muhammad Ali defeat Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight championship?
[Keira sucks on her lip, thinking hard. As her mind works in overdrive to glean any information about that fight, her body squirms in her seat, the smooth material of her outfit wrapping and wrippling over her lithe muscles. Sabrina, meanwhile, bounces excitedly in her own chair.]
Sabrina: It was Miami Beach, Florida!
[Aries sighs once more, and nods.]
Aries: I’m afraid so. Sabrina’s right, so you know what that means.
Sabrina: It means I’m the champion, that’s what it means!
[Sabrina hops off her seat, sliding right across the newsdesk. She runs across the stage as the studio lights return to full force, and grips the belt in her hand. Raising it high overhead, she points a finger at Keira, and cackles.]
Sabrina: Get her, Gus!
[Splat! Keira shrieks and hunches her shoulders, pinned to her chair by the torrent of cold, gloopy green… stuff. As thick as house paint and running like a waterfall from the ceiling, it laps back and forth over her, coating the dancer in its torrent like a chocolate bar in a factory. Stunned by the deluge, Keira’s mouth gapes, and slowly she peels herself from her seat. As the cascade slows, she slicks back her hair, sloshing and spraying greenness all over the desk, sending Aries and Sabrina scurrying back. The crowd applauds and, dripping and sodden, Keira gamely takes a bow. As she leans forward, a little river of slime slops out of the front of her leotard. Slowly getting upright, she knows that the walk backstage is going to feel interesting. At least it’s not far… They were joking about the plumbing, right?]
Aries: Geez, Gus, that was one hell of a bucket. I’d like to thank our guest for being such a great sport, even if I’m disappointed it wasn’t my obnoxious sister stuck under the slime. Make sure you check out Singin’ in the Rain when it comes to your city, and you might just see Keira still washing some green sludge off her. Goodnight everybody, and here it is again, your Moment of Wam!
[As the credits roll, replays fill the screen, showing in slow motion the moment Keira realised she had lost the quiz, her face as the slime first struck her head, and finally that last, brave bow before an appreciative audience.]