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The Director: Early 40s, good at his job. Paunchy but he can still move fast.
The PA: Late twenties. Efficient, unflappable.
McMahon: The host. Nice teeth but obnoxious.
Molesworth: Cameraman. The union rep. A good cameraman but an unhappy person (have you ever known a happy cameraman?)
Martin: Cameraman. Very like Molesworth but not quite so good at his job.
The Contestants: I dare you to give a character breakdown of any gameshow contestant.
‘Game Show’, the most audacious game show ever, goes terribly wrong live to air – or does it?
The following is one episode in the life of an anarchic, rigged, cynical, self-obsessed game show. I mean, what do you do when everything’s been done before? How can you possibly shock an audience that's become unshockable? Perhaps there is a way…
1. TV Studio Control Room Night
Movement of the crew in subdued lighting. Murmur of their conversation under, undecipherable. Monitors show technicians and others on the Game Show set.
SUPER on MONITOR:
The only game in town.
The theme music comes up and then down again.
2. Corridor. TV Studio
The DIRECTOR walks down corridor with the PA at his elbow. She reads from clipboard
Strammer, 42, married with two, 4 bedroom in Bellevue Hills, late model Land Cruiser.
In Bellevue Hills! Roads must be hell out there. Right. Good mix. Madeline finished the panellists’ brief?
Says we might have trouble with – uh – Doblin.
Doblin, the town house and Mazda. Says the non-revoke clause is untenable.
Non-revoke clause is untenable! Well, why didn’t he say that a month ago? Has Marshall been up?
Marshall’s on holiday – we got a corporate lawyer down. With him as we speak.
Who’s the understudy?
Uh – Arnie - oh shit – Zchich – Zisk – Schizz.
Forget the name.
Hobby farm and late model Honda.
Good. How’s McMahon tonight?
I think he should change to boxer shorts.
Talk to wardrobe.
They disappear into the control room.
3. The Game Show Set
The FLOOR MANAGER speaks softly to McMAHON, bent close to him. McMAHON does look rather pinched in the face. And he’s not happy.
I’ve tripped over them twice this week! Move them!
The FLOOR MANAGER turns away with a resigned look, signals to a GAFFER who rolls his eyes and starts to pull up leads that have been taped to the floor.
Back on McMAHON, our POV has changed, it is now hand held and not very well hand held at that. Zoom into CU of McMAHON and out again, his sleeve, the floor, back to his face. McMAHON frowns.
Back to normal POV, we see a MARTIN with a handycam facing McMAHON. MARTIN shrugs and nods to a second cameraman who follows him off the floor. We follow them a ways up towards the control room.
4. TV Studio Control Room Night
The DIRECTOR and the CCU operator have their heads close together, discussing something. The PA interrupts them unhappily.
The PA nods towards the door.
Martin and Molesworth.
This is a joke, right?
We follow the DIRECTOR as he moves to the door and into the
5. CORRIDOR OF STUDIO. NIGHT
MARTIN and MOLESWORTH wait, MARTIN keeps the handycam to his eye.
Our 2pm meeting.
You didn’t show. Miles didn’t show.
It was 2pm tomorrow.
MARTIN lowers the camera to give the DIRECTOR a sceptical look.
We’ve been dicked around for 3 months now.
Hey! Look, I sympathise but this is not really a great time to be…
I have to report to my members tomorrow on the outcome of the meeting. What do you suggest I tell them?
Oh jesus, look. See me after the show, huh?
This is out of hand.
I agree, one thousand percent with you. I’ll talk to him as soon as he gets here, we’ll all meet, right? After the show. Right?
MARTIN lowers the camera and walks away. After a beat, MOLESWORTH follows. The DIRECTOR raises his eyes to the heavens and returns to the control room.
6. GAME SHOW SET/CONTROL ROOM/ON AIR PICTURE
Crew hustle off the set as cameras pull into their positions. We see MOLESWORTH at his camera and MARTIN with his handycam move into the audience. The warmer works in the background but we hardly see him.
The DIRECTOR swivels in his seat nervously and scans the monitors. Clipped ad-libs from the crew.
The TITLES of the show come up, theme music up.
‘Game Show’- do you dare??
The set is empty but lights blink with the tinny theme music.
The DIRECTOR leans forward intensely.
Tight camera one, ready camera two, handycam – further up.
The audience applauds wildly, almost savagely, as McMAHON runs on to the set and behind his podium.
Do – you – dare???
The darkened contestant’s area is lit with one spot after another as the contestants run onto the set.
Our reigning champion Alistair dares! And he’s got two new houses, three cars and $40,000 to prove it!!
The DIRECTOR keeps his eyes on the monitor. McMAHON’s introductions continue under.
McMAHON (OS) DIRECTOR
And tonight Ruth from West Watch that audience
Lake is here to knock him level, Max! Handycam, out! If she can. get the lady with the Kill T-shirt.
The handycam swivels past the excited audience to a middle aged lady with ‘Kill him, Ruth!’ T-shirt. The lady is jumping up and down on her seat.
On air monitor:
The spotlights come up as the last two contestants run on.
Lex Strammer from Mortlake dares – he’s an Army reservist and he takes no prisoners! And finally, Arnie Zichiski of Gundah is here with questions loaded and a mean frame of mind!
Back to McMAHON, who shuffles the obligatory cards.
All right contestants, rules of engagement – you will each be given a $1000 kitty to kick off. Alistair, being the reigning bad-ass, will start the questions to me. If I can answer, I get $200, if I can’t, he gets $200 and is allowed to pass the question onto the contestant of his choice. Let’s go!
What is the active ingredient of aspirin?
Massive gong sounds, lights flash and ALISTAIR’s total goes down by $200.
Ruth, your shot.
Where would you have found the Peacock Throne?
Happy SFX and RUTH’s total goes up by $200.
Uh – Lex.
LEX looks pissed. He shakes his head.
Uh – Texas?
Gong again and his total goes down by $200 while RUTH’s goes up another $200.
Gong again and as above. RUTH looks ruthlessly at ALISTAIR.
Alistair, it’s down to you.
ALISTAIR looks suitably thoughtful.
In the control room, the DIRECTOR takes a sip of his coffee.
No. What is Iran today was known as Persia at was known as Persia at the time of the Peacock Throne.
Camera three, tighter on Mac, handycam get that kill lady again, she’s gone ballistic.
Ruth, everything they said about you is true. Absolutely Ruthless! Hit me with your best!
What was the year of the siege at Waco?
Combination of happy SFX and gong. RUTH’s total goes down by $200.
Tonight, viewers, I am HOT! Here’s a good word.
The DIRECTOR punches a button and leans back to stretch his neck. Commercial comes on. He leans forward.
Handycam, could you take the lead out of your pants?
On the floor, MARTIN and MOLESWORTH exchange a knowing look.
SEQUE to – Totals on contestants’ boards tripping over rapidly, RUTH’s goes up, ALISTAIR’s goes down. ALISTAIR hits zero.
7. GAME SHOW SET/CONTROL ROOM
McMAHON smiles like a snake.
All right, here’s what we’ve waited for. Alistair, it’s almost unbelievable but you’ve bottomed. Now – you have a choice. You can walk – or you can balls it out.
Brief ‘I’m thinking’ music interlude. ALISTAIR thinks hard.
Music goes ballistic. Audience goes wild. McMAHON’s smile gets snakier.
Make it good, Alistair.
ALISTAIR looks a little smug.
What was the only ABC drama to have a number in its title and what year did it air?
McMAHON gives him a ‘you must be kidding’ look. The audience boos. McMAHON thinks.
ALISTAIR turns to RUTH with a nasty smile.
‘Twenty Good Years’. 1976.
Bells and whistles scream out. ALISTAIR looks stunned. Now RUTH looks predatory.
People – we have a to-the-death on our hands. Ruth - Alistair has a bayside mansion and a late model BMW to wager. His own house and his own car. Which do you choose?
Alistair – you have a choice – do you walk?
ALISTAIR really thinks about this. He’s sweating but ballsy.
McMAHON very dramatically opens a brief-case to show neat piles of hundred dollar bills.
Remember Alistair, win this round and you not only get to keep your mansion, but you get a sweet little $10,000 in kitty.
Wild reaction from audience.
It’s the best of three then, Alistair, your call.
What Australian wrote ‘Animal Liberation’ and where does he work now?
Peter Springer, Princeton University.
RUTH isn’t slow.
Peter Springer, Princeton University.
In the control room, the DIRECTOR stands up.
Pandemonium on the floor. McMAHON looks confused – a quick look up to the control room, but that isn’t going to help him.
Handycam, catch it!
From the Handycam’s POV we see MOLESWORTH at his camera, a smug smile.
On air monitor
Uh – no clues from the cameramen, please! Ruth –I can’t let you..
but now the audience is taking up a chant, ‘Give it to her, give it to her!’
I decide! And I say no!
RUTH’s score stays as it is.
OK – Ruth for the mansion and Alistair for $10,000…
In what states would you find the town Wilga?
NSW and WA.
Greater pandemonium from the audience.
McMAHON (to MOLESWORTH)
DON’T DO THAT!
MOLESWORTH makes a face.
The DIRECTOR is on his feet, frantic.
Handycam, catch it! Catch it! Camera two, stop answering the questions and frame up! Tight on McMahon, now!
MOLESWORTH looks up at the control room, shakes his head.
NSW and WA – it’s mine!!!
Great clanging SFX
Void! I void the round! Void void void!!!
In the audience, the Kill T-shirt lady is clambering over people to get to the floor.
Handycam!! Cer-rist! Catch her!!!
Brief hand-held shot as T-shirt lady clambers over people – then knocks MARTIN over in her rush to the floor.
MOLESWORTH dollies his camera right up to McMahon and frames tight on him.
Mine. Two out of three. Mine.
McMAHON looks horrified.
Mine! She’s my daughter!
It’s bloody mine!
Wobbly hand held from the Handycam as MARTIN climbs to his feet – just in time to catch people in the audience rising and pushing past each other to get to the floor. He’s knocked over again.
Stay with it Handycam!! Stay with it! Camera three, take camera two position!
McMAHON tries to move but MOLESWORTH blocks him with a neat dolly of his camera.
Close on McMAHON’s face.
We see McMahon’s face as before.
The T-shirt lady is now on the floor. Security men have stormed the set but this is one determined lady – she elbows the first and keeps going – towards the briefcase.
McMAHON clasps the briefcase to his chest.
A second security guard moves towards T-shirt but MOLESWORTH snap pans his camera and knocks him off his feet. There is cheering now from the audience which is clambering over itself.
Brief hand held ankle shot from MARTIN, who is being trampled.
McMAHON holds onto the briefcase for dear life but now RUTH is rushing for it. McMAHON tries to punch her away. MOLESWORTH steps out from behind his camera and lands one good right to McMAHON’s chin. McMAHON falls like a bag of potatoes. A security guard heads for MOLESWORTH but trips over the leads that have been moved. There seems to be a pile of people on top of McMAHON and the briefcase but ALISTAIR has crawled in, grabbed the briefcase and crawled back out into the audience area. MARTIN’s handycam, not quite level, has him in frame as his hands move to caress the bills – then stop as the bills fall out – one colour photocopy on top and blank paper beneath. Very loud clang gong and SFX. Even over the tumult, we can hear ALISTAIR’s bellow. His face is murderous.
Handycam stay with him!!!!!
MARTIN crawls after ALISTAIR, who has turned back to the stage.
A security guard lands one on MOLESWORTH and the cameraman next to him steps in to join the fray.
Matthews! Get onto Camera Two!!!
The FLOOR MANAGER steps over people to get to the camera.
ALISTAIR is trying to make his way to McMAHON but he has to get past T-shirt lady, who hits him none too gently with her handbag. He shoves her viciously and she falls back into a backdrop, collapsing it.
MARTIN is now standing, his camera roaming around rather aimlessly. We see the FLOOR MANAGER on Camera Two, pulling it back out of the worst of the fray to get a decent shot.
The monitors in the control room show the extent of the chaos. Backdrops are being demolished, people are grabbing whatever they can from the set and punches are being thrown. Only ARNIE stays behind his podium through all this, looking rather confused.
The DIRECTOR is jumping.
Good! Wider! Handycam, find McMAHON!!!
MARTIN is groggy – but clear-headed enough to give the DIRECTOR the finger.
The sound man doesn’t seem to know what to do. A cacophony of SFX scream at us and makes the floor a surreal scene of violence and ecstasy.
The DIRECTOR collapses, exhausted.
Bring in a break, now! Now!
On the on-air monitor, we lose the pandemonium of the set for a commercial. The DIRECTOR breathes heavily.
The fighting and destruction has wound down. People lie dazed or unconscious everywhere. Security guards frog march people from the set. McMAHON cowers behind his podium.
MARTIN wanders through the destruction. It seems nothing has been left undamaged, not even the audience seats. His focus isn’t the best.
For christ’s sake, Handycam, on McMahon. On McMahon!
The wobbly shot moves to the podium, where McMahon is standing once again. A women works on his face – is it first aid or make-up? As she straightens, we see that she holds a make-up brush in her hand.
The DIRECTOR turns to the PA.
Good one. Best ever. What have we got lined up for next week?
The PA checks her clip board.
Uh – disgruntled loser takes McMahon hostage.
GAME SHOW credits up.