Show Notes for Season 2, Episode 2 “Smoking Monkey”
If there ever was an episode which had to exist for narrative structure, this would be it. In development, I often wished I could have moved Allen and Scottie from Point A to Point B in one scene at the end of Season 2, Episode 1, but alas, it was not to be. Also, I had a lot of setup to do for the final episode in this one.
So, the intro scene in which Chris shows up again… the original Season 1 Episode 5 was called “Red Roses for a Blue Scottie” and was cut for various reasons (we weren’t sure we were going to make it that far and making the episodes was a lot of work and that one could be safely cut). However, it introduced two big point points that I had to shoehorn in other episodes. One plot point went into Season 1 Episode 2, and the other went into this intro scene. It was done much cooler in the original “Red Roses”, but hey, we work with what we have.
The scene with David Lewis reading Nicolette’s letter – I was originally going to have Nicolette doing work in Team Lioness in Iraq, but the rest of the cast pushed me to keep Nicolette on base. (That’s why we have all that “you know how many soldiers are killed from IEDs hurled over the walls” lines – originally I wanted Nicolette out and about, but they didn’t understand Lioness and I was tired of having to justify it.) Anyhow, I was originally going to have an actor playing Nicolette reading it, but then I realized that that would be too distracting from the emotional intensity of the scene. Plus Doug has a fantastic voice and who am I to deny our listeners from hearing it?
Next scene, Scottie: “Everything closes at nine. Nobody‘s supposed to have a life.” HI, POCASSET, VILLAGE IN WHICH I GREW UP. NO, NO, THIS ISN’T A COMMENTARY ON YOU IN ANY WAY. (During Thanksgiving, I commented to my sister, if any European folks had come to stay in Pocasset, they’d be all, “So, where’s the bus?”)
I loved “hearing” the scene in which Allen tests the Speed Bump’s teleporting techniques by trying to steal a boat when I wrote it. I know exactly which dock he’s going to in Pocasset to take it.
And the “Smoking Monkey” story. I generally put on Turner Classic Movies when I’m editing (with the sound off) for inspiration and they regularly play “Mutiny on the Bounty.” So I needed Allen to tell Scottie a story here and I didn’t quite have it until I heard someone on NPR talking about how they used to make chimps smoke cigarettes for films. (And if you were ever a part of this, screw you and I hope they relegate you to the special part of hell run by Jane Goodall.) So the story came naturally after those influences. Being a writer is less about what you can come up with out of the blue and more about how you can pick apart things to which you’ve been exposed and reform them in entertaining ways.
Allen vs. Lewis – this was the main crux of the episode and I wish I’d have been able to do more with that. Allen purposefully getting wasted (set up in Season 1 Episode 2) was a plan for a long time. Originally, instead of the Long Walk, Allen and company went on a camping trip (during which said enclosure was built around the lighthouse). It…. uh…. had to be re-written. It had some good moments but just moved the action away and felt more like “okay, let’s kill time until the next plot point.”
The “twist ending” isn’t really a twist – if you listen to the show again, you’ll hear that I put hints of it throughout the show.
Finally, the minisode itself was originally written to be performed live for PMRP’s New Year’s Eve performance in 2009. Neil decided that there wasn’t time to do an original piece so they did an episode from Rob Noyes’ Red Shift show. I don’t know – I was kinda proud that I’d thought up the concept of a Noir-esque show about Boston’s ice industry, with an “I’ll show them – I’ll show them all!” performed without irony at the show’s crux.
By the way, you should really check out Rob’s fantastic blog “Postcards from Skyrim“.