Meanwhile, the next movie up in our story is Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things. After the letdown from Plan 9, we're just crankin' them out. Many years later, I come to realize that there are three rules of creativity and the Children show illustrates these rules quite handily. The rules are:
- Just sit down and crank it out every day. Keeps the craftsmanship in shape.
- Don't assume beforehand it will be a masterpiece, a signficant event, or anything out of the ordinary. The work won't conform to your expectations.
- If it wants to go in a different direction than you intended, take that road. You can always backtrack if you have to; but if you force your original intention, you'll always wind up in a cul-de-sac.
We knew from our up-front research that this was a Bob Clark laff riot, and were quite prepared to lade the show up with Porky's references. We did not expect to find that this was quite an effective little retelling of Sake's The Monkey's Paw. Barb was off auditioning that week, both in and out of town, so the first time she would see the script would be after it went into production (this being in the Dark Dark Ages before email and whiteboard wikis, however in the world could we do our work I wonder? The kinder remain amazed when we describe these legendary days. No, revise that last to read: The kinder remain bored when we describe these legendary days). Two center-of-show gags wrote themselves:
- Since the conceit of the movie is that the Beloved Son returns from the dead, it seemed logical to resurrect Dougie from the dead. Actually he was not dead, but merrily toiling away in Master Control; he had not been on the floor during show for months, which limited Millie's opportunities to act with him. So we pulled the Dead Guy mask from the trunk, put it on Dougie, and had him interrupt Millie's learned discourse on the movie with the immortal entrance line "Here I am, Millie, back from the dead!" Keith put Little Jeff on audio (an amusing choice, since the two of them tended to spontaneously combust when in close proximity) so that Dougie could step away from the board. Once I had written "Here I am, Millie, back from the dead!", the follow-up line flowed automatically: "P-U, Dougie, you stink!" and the topper just fell right on top of it, right on cue: "That's because I'm dead." I don't remember any other writing session where the lines just flowed like that.
- As has been noted by the Teeming Masses, Dougie was armed with one or two Dr. Demento albums for audio cuts, which albums included the equally immortal Ogden Edsel tone pome, "Dead Puppies Aren't Much Fun". Well, why not? The script called for this to to be staged like the Beatles' Hey Jude video, where the camera pulls back to show the population of a small city gradually filling the stage for the interminable Na na na nas. (This being the Dark Dark Ages as noted, I was rewarded with blank stares with the reference to the Beatles and their Hey Jude video. So much for shared cultural heritage.)
We didn't have the population of a small city available to rush the MT set on cue, as our pathetic little band of studio groupies had long since found other ways to amuse themselves at 2AM Sunday morning, but there were a few night owls in the newsroom who came down to feel the love. This represented the last appearance of Wags (the Obnoxious Battery Powered Puppy), with Millie pulling out the Infamous Cast-Iron Skillet to dispatch Wags to the Doggie Hereafter in spite of management's directives to administer no further on-air whackings to small adorable creatures. Keith interrupts Millie to stay her hand in administering corporal punishment to Wags because (cue music).
Somewhere someone's going to find that cut and post it. Dougie had put a hot mic into Master Control, and you can hear Dougie and Keith singing along with the track.