Hi guys- just finished the first draft of my opening to The Dead That Never Lived. I'm keen to hear peoples thoughts. So, you have to imagine everyone in black tie, me at a lectern in full evangelical swing:
Brothers and sisters, we are gathered here today to give thanks. To pay our respects. To make tribute. To give hope and comfort to those left behind. And by “those left behind” I mean of course, “those brutally cheated out of any sense of reconciliation or justice.”
Yes, surprise, [pic of death] Death is unfair, no matter how much we pretend otherwise. If Death was a charming Edwardian jester that arrived at a predetermined date and vanished you away with a playful nod, he wouldn’t be called Death, he would be called Mr Claypole from Rentaghost. [Picture of Mr Claypole.] And we would have great fun watching him nonny about on a haunted pantomine horse, saying words like ‘gadzooks’ and ‘methinks’. But meanwhile, [pic of death] Death would still be out there, being Death, going about his business of indiscriminately killing people.
If only Mr Claypole was the fourth horseman, what a cripplingly wonderful world that would be. But it is a fiction, friends.
We have always looked to Fiction for a painless death. And verily, it gives it to us: hour after hour, night after night, beamed right into the comfort of our living rooms. A massacre in our own homes. Fiction, our great educator.
And so, we supplement the real with the virtual. We give death its soundtrack. We exchange rotting flesh for Michael Douglas. We hack open the skull and call it “Horror”. Horror! Who now knows what that means… ?
What is this New Death we have created? Brothers and sisters, we are trapped in the reflection of the silver screen, endlessly rehearsing our own demise. Displaced, anesthetised... Death: the end-of-series special.
No. No longer.
[Congregation: No longer!]
Let us not trivialize these deaths. Let us not reduce them to vapid allegory, plot devices and cancelled contracts. Let the dead be counted. Let us mourn! Let us reach out and touch them, as we have been touched by so many: [pictures for each] Catherine Earnshaw, Dr Zhivago, Arthur Fowler, Bonnie and Clyde, Bambi, Spock.
In death, each of these names has become more. Amongst the thousands of characters we have met throughout a lifetime of fiction. Of all the souls we have encountered on our travels, theirs are the most... [cf. Shatner at start of Search for Spock]….human.
If the cancellation of a programme is tantamount to its death, then the re-run is its resurrection. Death becomes a constant cycle, an unbroken circle…
[Ring of light appears around the lectern.]
…a never-ending circus of death and rebirth.
But tonight we break the chain. For one hour only: long enough to bury our past, once and for all. The television set, like the sun, has bathed us since birth in its lethal glow. And now that the sun has set and the cool of the evening has come, some of the warmth that we have absorbed is flowing back in the other direction.
Just long enough to give thanks. To pay respects. To make tribute. To give hope and comfort to those left behind. And by “those left behind” I mean of course, Us: The audience, the lost protagonists. Those of us who must go on beyond the end. Once the credits have rolled and the lights go up, we must leave the auditorium and face the horrors that lurk beyond the plot arc, our fates uncertain.
The reels of tape are boxed and stacked. The doors are locked. And the rest, as they say, is silence.