19 Nocturne Boulevard reissue of the week: IDIOT BOX

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By Julie Hoverson. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Sometimes "reality" TV takes it one step too far. Sometimes two steps. Sometimes a flying leap.

WARNING: IMPLIED VIOLENCE AND TORTURE

Written and Produced by Julie Hoverson

Cast List

Announcer - Frankenvox Alison - Beverly Poole Bart - Michael Faigenblum Carl - Mike Campbell Debbie - E. Vickery Ms. Sheldon - Sharon Delong Tanya - Tanja Milojevic Mom - Shayla Conrad-Simms Dad - Reynaud LeBoeuf Son - Eli Nilsson Fred - Joel Harvey Bob - Glen Hallstrom Helen - Helen Edwards June - Shelbi McIntyre Kathy - Kim Poole Additional Voices - Russell Gold; Julie Hoverson

Music by Brian Bochicchio (Seraphic Panoply) Show theme: Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech.com) Editing and Sound: Julie Hoverson Cover Design: Brett Coulstock

"What kind of a place is it? Why it's right here, right now, can't you tell?"

************************************************************************

IDIOT BOX

Cast:

[Opening credits - Olivia]

TV Announcer

Alison, chipper

Bart, sullen

Carl, upbeat, hearty

Debbie, nervous, angry underneath

Ms. Sheldon, executive producer

Tanya, in the sound booth

Family - mom, dad, teenage son

Bar - Fred, Bob, Helen

Dorm - June, Kathy

OLIVIA Did you have any trouble finding it? What do you mean, what kind of a place is it? Why, it's right here, right now, can't you tell?

MUSIC

SOUND THEME MUSIC

ANNOUNCER last week, in the record-breaking debut of The Box, we were introduced to our four contestants:

ALISON [chipper] I'm Alison, from Santa Monica. Hi, mom!

CARL [hearty] Carl, from Atlanta - home of the Cartoon Channel!!

DEBBIE [nervous] Debbie, from Salem. Uh, Oregon. [quickly] Salem Oregon.

BART [sullen] Bart, Minneapolis [disgusted sigh].

ANNOUNCER The rules are on the screen now for all you viewers out there, to cover the formalities. They are also available on our website at [spelled out superfast] w-w-w-dot-s-k-i-n-n-e-r-i-d-i-o-t-b-o-x-dot-com.

AMB FAMILY LIVING ROOM

SOUND CHIPS EATEN FROM BAG

ANNOUNCER [TV] And after this brief message, we'll show you the results of last week's voting.

SOUND CLICK OF REMOTE

SOUND POPCORN POPPING IN MICROWAVE

MOM [off] You better not have turned that off, hun!

SOUND MICROWAVE DINGS

DAD Just muted. Sick of all these ads for freaking erectile dysfunction. If anything's going to give a guy man-trouble, it's having to watch all those damn ads.

SOUND POURING POPCORN INTO BOWL

SON Ew, dad. T-M-I.

MOM [coming in, munching popcorn] The one I hate is that smiling guy. His wife just looks so scared all the time. Almost as creepy as the King.

SON Am I adopted? Please say yes.

DAD Ooops, back on!

ANNOUNCER [TV] Did everyone vote?

MOM I certainly did!

SON Mom? [disgusted noise] Why?

ANNOUNCER [TV] The voting is closed, the tabulations have been made, and the scores are coming up on the screen now.

MOM [over the announcer] Why not? I want that nice young girl - the blonde - to win. She's very wholesome.

ANNOUNCER [TV] And it looks like today Alison has been selected!

MOM [satisfied] There!

ANNOUNCER We have Alison in the studio now - let's see how she takes it.

SOUND LIGHT MUSIC, ON THE TV SEGUES INTO REALITY

ANNOUNCER Hello Alison! Say hi to everyone!

ALISON Hi! Hi mom! Dad!

ANNOUNCER How's the first week been treating you?

ALISON This place is great!

ANNOUNCER Throughout the show, we'll be showing some of the fun you four have been having. Now, why don't you tell me what you think of your new friends?

ALISON Oh, wow - everyone's really great.

ANNOUNCER Don't you find Bart a bit... isolated?

ALISON He's just self-contained. I'm sure he's a good guy, he just doesn't open up real easily.

ANNOUNCER And Debbie?

ALISON She's shy - a lot like my sister. Hi Vickie!!

ANNOUNCER [chuckles] That's great.

ALISON And Carl - well, he's a blast. He's always thinking up great stuff to do.

ANNOUNCER Yesterday you had sole access to the Dairy Dan Amusement park.

ALISON Oh, man - that was awesome! They closed the gates and we got to ride all the rides all day long - no lines, no crowds! Woo!

ANNOUNCER You've been chosen.

ALISON Woo! [stumbles] I - What? What?

SOUND CONTROL BOOTH

ANNOUNCER [TV] Please step into the box.

ALISON [TV - gasp, then steels herself] Right. [somewhat bitter] Thanks America.

  1. SHELDON That's the shot - tight in on 2, now 3 - yes! Keep her face centered until she shuts the door.

TANYA Got it.

  1. SHELDON Okay, keep the volume low on that. It's early yet - don't want to wear out the viewers...

SOUND [TV] ELECTRIC SHOCK NOISE, SOMEWHAT BRIEF

ALISON [TV - short scream]

ANNOUNCER [TV] We'll be right back after the break to find out what today's challenge will be.

AMB DORM ROOM

JUNE Omigod! Omigod! Did you see that?

KATHY [distracted] Hmm? No but I sure heard it - did they just do what I think they did?

JUNE They just shocked the crap out of the blonde chick!

KATHY Was there actually crap?

JUNE [duh] She was in the box. Shh. It's coming back on.

SOUND TV TURNS UP

ANNOUNCER [TV] We'll be right back with more of The Box after these messages.

SOUND SOUND DOWN AGAIN

JUNE I hate when they do that.

KATHY Shock someone?

JUNE No, have the logo come up and make you think the show is back on.

KATHY Yeah, that's much worse.

JUNE You know what I mean! It was totally mean that they shocked her - she's the one who got the most votes!

KATHY Isn't that what everyone was voting for?

JUNE No! At least, I don’t think so - I mean, I thought it was voting for who would win something cool. I ...voted for her.

KATHY You actually voted?

JUNE On the website, yeah.

KATHY Of course there's a website. Maybe you should read the fine print.

JUNE Oh, oh! It's back on! Jeez, look at her poor hair!

SOUND TV UP

ANNOUNCER [TV] Back to the interview room, to hear from Alison.

ANNOUNCER [real] Before we go on, I need to point out, this is the only time you can choose to leave the show. Are you prepared to stay?

ALISON [gulps, then quiet] Yes. [clears her throat, louder] Yes. [very shaky] That wasn't so bad.

ANNOUNCER Excellent. Now I believe you recently graduated from college, Alison. What did you get your degree in?

AMB BAR

ALISON [TV] I'm a liberal arts major, with a minor in art history.

FRED So she's unemployed, eh?

ANNOUNCER [TV] And you are engaged to be married?

BOB Too bad. All the cute ones are taken. Even with that weird hairdo.

SOUND TV SWITCHED TO SPORTS

FRED Hey, we were watching that!

HELEN Why? It's awful, letting them mess with people on TV like that!

FRED [scornful] It's not real.

BOB Course it is - it even has a website!

HELEN Puh-leez. Lots of things have websites that aren’t real.

BOB Name one.

HELEN Pamela Anderson's boobs.

FRED She got you there, pal.

BOB C'mon - just switch it back long enough to see what today's challenge is? Please?

HELEN Ya big softie, you.

SOUND TV CHANGES BACK

ANNOUNCER [TV] Carl, you got the second most votes this week - Do you have anything to say to the viewers at home? Obviously you're doing something right, to get so many votes.

CARL [TV] I think it's just my sunny personality, Bob. People like winners, and I am a winner.

AMB LIVING ROOM

SON Weiner.

MOM Language!

SON [dismissive noise] Doesn't that dipstick know that most votes gets zapped?

DAD Maybe he doesn't - they might not tell THEM everything, either. Makes sense. Why else would they be so excited?

SON But that sucks! That sucks big time! Here they are, trying to be all cool and get people to vote for them, and they're like masterminding their own torture or something.

DAD It's just a game, No one really gets hurt.

MOM Well, I was kind of upset that Alicia--

SON Alison.

MOM Yes, that she got shocked. I didn’t know that voting for her would do that. I kind of feel bad now.

SON Well, don't vote for her next time.

MOM I certainly won't!

ANNOUNCER [on TV] Well, we've spoken to two of our four contestants, and the voting is open for the halftime winner. Go on line now or text to--

SOUND TV MUTES, AMB/DORM

SOUND COMPUTER KEYS

KATHY What are you doing?

JUNE Voting.

KATHY Vicious much?

JUNE No! I - I just don’t want her to have to get shocked again. Damn! It only lets me choose one of those two - not the other guy.

KATHY So you want to see him get shocked?

JUNE Well, no, but I like him the least.

KATHY Just cause you don't think he's cute.

SOUND ONE LAST KEY

JUNE Um, there.

KATHY So who'd you vote for?

JUNE The guy - the nice one - of course. I like him, too, but I don't want her to get shocked again.

SOUND TV UP AGAIN

ANNOUNCER [TV] Regular text messaging fees apply. And now‑‑

SOUND OMINOUS MUSIC ROLLS IN

ANNOUNCER [TV, ominous] The moment in the spotlight. Will it be Alison or Carl? The voting closes in three minutes, so hurry up and make your vote count - if the lines are overloaded, make sure and try back - but be quick. [normal] While we wait, let's watch some clips from the preliminary interviews with the other two contestants.

MUSIC

ANNOUNCER [TV] And what are you studying?

DEBBIE [TV] I'm - um - a poli sci major.

FRED So she's gonna end up unemployed too.

BOB Whatever happened to good old trade schools?

FRED They're still around - just the trades aren't. You seen any cobblers in the U.S. of A recently? Nope. It's all farmed out to Pakistan and Koala Lumper.

HELEN Lumpur.

FRED Sez you.

HELEN I can turn it off, you know.

BOB Yeah - see now Helen here's got a job that can't be farmed out - long as there's guys like us, there's always gonna be bars, eh?

FRED Until they invent a mixology robot.

BOB Hey, the lights are flashing on the screen, must be something important.

SOUND TV TURNED UP.

SOUND OMINOUS MUSIC INTENSIFIES

ANNOUNCER [TV; evil "suspense" pacing] And the one who got the most halftime votes. Will it be Alison, our stoic liberal arts major?

JUNE Yes, yes - come on come on!!!

ANNOUNCER [TV] Or Carl, who tutors children with learning disabilities.

MOM Oh, that's awful!

SON Awful? That he works with retarded kids?

MOM [almost a whisper] That I voted for him.

ANNOUNCER [TV] And the one who got the most votes in the 8-minute half-time poll was--

SOUND HEAVY DRUMBEAT

ANNOUNCER [TV] Was--

SOUND HEAVY DRUMBEAT

KATHY Look at how much she's sweating!

JUNE You'd sweat too if you just got shocked!

ANNOUNCER [TV] is -Carl!

JUNE Whew!

KATHY Shh. Let's see what happens.

ANNOUNCER [TV] This means that at the end of tonight's show, Carl will be up against the second half winner in a showdown to see who gets a million dollars sent to the charity of their choice.

HELEN Waitaminute - she gets shocked and he gets a chance to win big bucks? That's so not fair!

FRED That's the way it is. Women always getting the short stick.

HELEN Especially when they’re dating you, eh?

BOB [laughs, tried to stop]

FRED Yeah, yeah - you can joke now, but I'll give you 70-30 odds that the other winner is that other guy.

BOB The grouch?

FRED Yup. Is it a bet?

BOB Fifty bucks?

FRED Whoah, whoah! Let's not get carried away here, now.

MUSIC - OPENING THEME, PLAYS FOR A MOMENT

ANNOUNCER Entering week five of The Box, you can see the ratings posted for our four contenders. [hushed] Last week, it looked as though Debbie had finally broken--

DEBBIE [TV] I hate it! I hate you all! You can all just go and--

SOUND LONG SERIES OF BLEEPED WORDS

SOUND ZAPPING AND SCREAMING UNDER NEXT LINE

ANNOUNCER But after her trip to the box, she refused to cry off.

DEBBIE [TV] [breathing heavily and gulping] No [gasp] way! [gasp] You don't [gasp] get rid of me [long shaky breath] that easily. [sob]

ANNOUNCER And now, a new week - and what was this week's challenge?

STUDIO AUDIENCE Fasting!

ANNOUNCER Yes, fasting. Whoever could go the longest without eating even a single bite of food got a free pass this week‑‑

ANNOUNCER [TV] --and we'll find out who managed that in just a moment - after a few words from our sponsors.

SOUND CLICK, SOUND OFF

JUNE [urging] C'mon Debbie!

KATHY Debbie? Hah. She's got no body fat to start with. Bart has a much better chance of surviving--

JUNE Don't say that! You just like him cause you know I don't!

KATHY I root for the underdog. It's a principal. And no one likes that poor bastard.

JUNE If no one likes him, how come Debbie's the one always getting shocked, huh? [almost a sob] Huh?

ANNOUNCER [TV] Let's bring our four contestants out on stage to hear who's going to be free and clear for another week. Alison--

SOUND MUSIC UP, DOOR OPENS, SHAKY FOOTSTEPS

ANNOUNCER [real] Alison, how are you feeling?

ALISON [trying to be perky] Not too bad. I made it almost three whole days on nothing but water.

ANNOUNCER But then you lost it?

ALISON [heavy sigh] Yeah, I had to give in and get something. [resigned] I figured fine - just put me in the box. At least that eventually ends.

ANNOUNCER Thank you, Alison. Now go over to the isolation booth while we talk with each of your friends.

ALISON [venomous] Friends? Hah!

ANNOUNCER [TV, confidential] She needs to learn to be careful about trading today's pain for tomorrow's - what she doesn't know is we've [ramping up] turned the voltage up another notch!

AUDIENCE [TV, CHEERS]

HELEN This just keeps getting worse. It has to be against the law.

BOB Oh, come on. They signed waivers, didn't they? Plus, it's all fake - like wrestling. Seriously. Even if they did do this stuff, they have to have doctors and all on staff - make sure no one really gets hurt.

SOUND UNWRAPPING AND OPENING A FORTUNE COOKIE

FRED Hey, listen to this - "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

BOB Figures the Chinese would think of that first.

FRED Nah. The Chinese didn't make that up.

HELEN Then who did say it?

FRED [immediate] Thomas Jefferson.

BOB I don't think so.

FRED Yeah? And who do you think it was?

BOB Some Greek philosopher or other. [idea] Julius Caesar!

HELEN You guys make your bet, I'll call Jonesy on the next commercial and he can google it.

SOUND TV TURNS UP

ANNOUNCER [TV] So Bart, you made it the longest without eating - you have any special tips for the viewers out there on how you did it?

BART [real] Huh?

ANNOUNCER Any tips? We'll give you a minute - these moments of uncertainty are just further proof that our show is live and unedited. While Bart ponders this, I'll recap - Alison gave into her craven need for food first, followed by Carl and Debbie - in a virtual photo finish, where Debbie held out for one millisecond longer than Carl. Good going Debbie!

BART I hate you.

ANNOUNCER Hmm? What's that?

BART I hate you and all you stand for.

ANNOUNCER Do I hear an opt-out coming? For those of you just tuning in, during this episode and this episode alone, any of our four contestants can opt out at any time - not just immediately following a trip into the Box. So Bart, are you--

SOUND A BEEP TRIES TO CUT HIM OFF ON THE FIRST WORD

BART Fuck you! You can't get rid of me that easily.

BART [TV] I don't care how many times you drug me and try to get me to bow down to the corporate machine! You and all you people at home - you are sadistic bastards, but I'm here for the long haul - And when I finish, whether I win or not, I will be traveling around the country demanding the pound of flesh each and every one of you bastards owe me!!!

KATHY For god's sake, turn it off.

JUNE No, he's making a valid point. We shouldn't be party to this.

KATHY The very act of watching it validates it.

JUNE No. I'm only doing this to bear witness.

KATHY The advertisers don't care. They just want to you to watch.

JUNE Well, I won't vote any more.

KATHY Then you can't complain when your favorite gets zapped.

JUNE [upset] Oh hell!

ANNOUNCER [TV] Well, that was very enlightening. Before you out there start emailing and phoning - please refer to clause 42 slash 8 slash F, subsection I-I-I, paragraph y, where it sets out the game's rules covering mental illness or defect. Thank you, and good night!

SOUND TV TURNED OFF

HELEN Anyone checked out the big pools?

FRED What do you mean?

HELEN There's huge bets all over the place - everyone guessing who's gonna last the longest.

BOB Well, no one's washed out yet.

FRED They're a tough bunch of kids, but I bet I could make it on that show. Age does bring wisdom.

BOB To who?

FRED You're too young to remember this, but I was a P-O-W in nam [rhymes with "ham"]. I been through it all. Torture, deprivation, brain washing.

HELEN They sure got yours squeaky clean.

SOUND DRINKS WHOLE BEER DOWN.

BOB Ahhh.

MUSIC

ANNOUNCER This week, week 9 of The Box, we might just lose a second contestant.

ANNOUNCER [TV] Alison, you've spent three days in this jacuzzi - brought to us courtesy of Big Joe's cut-rate pools and spas. Now, people might think this was fun, but of course, you can't fall asleep or you might drown!

ALISON [TV, parched, delirious] You suck, Bob.

FRED Friend of yours?

BOB You wish.

ALISON [TV] Get me out.

ANNOUNCER [TV] You do know that whomever leaves their jacuzzi first goes directly into the box?

ALISON [TV] No! I want out! OUT! I can't - you can't make me stay here!

JUNE They can't, can they?

KATHY How much you wanna bet she signed something that says they can?

JUNE That's illegal!

KATHY Being stupid and greedy? Nah. They'd run out of prisons. Unless you subscribe to the idea that our whole world is a prison.

JUNE [very upset] Don't talk like that - look at that poor girl! They're just dragging her across the stage!

KATHY Wow. I wouldn't'a thought it would take three guys to handle her, after all the crap she's been through.

ALISON [TV - screaming weakly and struggling]

ANNOUNCER [TV] It is understood, under the rules, that the clemency episode has run out and, once again, the only time you can opt out is right after a session in the box--

SON If she's all wet, wouldn't that make the shock worse?

DAD At least her hair doesn't end up all weird since they shaved her head after that challenge last week--

SON Three weeks ago.

DAD Really? Anyway, they probably compensate somehow.

MOM Are you sure?

DAD [unsure] Well... They can't really hurt her - that would be...

ANNOUNCER [TV] Oh, and - I've just got a word from the producer! We've got a three minute vote - so grab your phones!

ANNOUNCER [real] Now this will cost one dollar per vote, so make yours count! Dial the studio number and hit 1 if you want us to let Allison forfeit and leave now, push 2 if you think we should hold her to the rules. And voting opens [beat, then TV] Now!

  1. SHELDON Start the positive counter.

TANYA On it. Running.

NARRATOR [TV] The positive votes will tally right here on the corner of the screen, and if, after the vote closes, there are more positive than negative votes, Alison will immediately leave the studio - damper but wiser...

BOB Man, I wish I was in Vegas.

FRED Nah - you know what's going to happen. The odd's'll be crap.

HELEN Course. They'll let her go.

FRED You gotta lotta faith in people, babe. Nah. I'll give you 10 to 1 she's gonna ride the lightning.

BOB [incredulous] "Ride the lightning?"

FRED You know - old sparky. The electric chair? Man where have you been?

BOB Considering no one's been executed in an electric chair in this state for - um - help me out Helen--

HELEN 50 years.

BOB 50 years.

FRED Really?

HELEN How the hell'm I supposed to know?

BOB Well, whatever - a long time.

HELEN Actually, I think this state always hanged people.

FRED Hung.

BOB The countdown! 5 - 4 -

JUNE 3-2-

MOM [almost breathless] One.

ANNOUNCER [TV] All votes are in, and as you can see, we had a regular landslide of support for our dear friend Allison here. we have 4 million six hundred seventy two thousand, three hundred and forty-two votes for clemency. Good for you everyone! We'll show the other side, right after this--

SOUND TV OFF

DAD No way!

MOM You can't !

SON I won't watch any more of this. This is brutal.

MOM [angry] Don't you dare! How can we not ... find out?

SON No.

MOM Just until they announce it - we don't have to watch ...if she...

SON Gets it?

SOUND REMOTE THROWN ONTO TABLE

SON You do what you want. I'll be in the garage.

SOUND [after a moment] TV CLICKS ON

COMMERCIAL [something]

KATHY I bet the commercials for this cost top dollar. Like superbowl ads.

JUNE How can you just be so snarky - that girl could die!

KATHY Nah. They can't do that. It would be illegal.

JUNE Not normally, but remember when that guy had a stroke on "Danger Island" last year? The family sued, but the waiver made it perfectly legit.

KATHY And that wasn't even that exciting.

ANNOUNCER [on TV] For those just tuning in, we have perky little Allison in the Box, awaiting your verdict. [continues under] Does she take the next shock, or have you tipped toward clemency for this poor girl?

  1. SHELDON Give them the split picture.

TANYA Before and after?

  1. SHELDON Uh-huh. [grim] Show them what they did.

ANNOUNCER [on TV] The negative votes have been tallied.

SOUND DRUM ROLL, OMINOUS MUSIC

ANNOUNCER [ON TV] And we had 4 million six hundred seventy two thousand, three hundred and forty-two votes to let her go.

BOB I'm still saying they'll let her off.

FRED Nope. You already lost that twenty, pal.

HELEN Shh!

ANNOUNCER [TV] The negative count is seven million three hundred--

SOUND TV OFF

KATHY Did you vote?

JUNE Yes. [beat] Twenty times.

KATHY [shrug] You can't beat the bastards.

JUNE But if everyone just voted a few more times...

KATHY Three million more times.

JUNE How can people be so horrible?

SOUND [NEXT DOOR TV] SCREAMING

PEOPLE [laughing]

SOUND POUNDING ON WALL

JUNE [yelling at them] How can you be so horrible??

KATHY They're drunk. Didn't you see the sign?

JUNE [half a sob] Sign?

KATHY The one that said "come to gary's room, get drunk and watch The Box"?

JUNE [down] No.

KATHY Look, turn it on. You'll see she's not dead or anything, then you'll feel better.

JUNE But what if she's not? I mean, what if she is? I mean--

KATHY [sigh] Then you'll know.

SOUND [beat, then] TV TURNS ON

SOUND [on TV] AMBULANCE SIRENS

JUNE [sob]

MOM [sob] Her poor parents!

DAD Don't worry so much - she's not dead.

MOM She was for 43 seconds.

DAD That doesn't even count these days - happens all the time on House.

MOM [very upset] But this is real!

SOUND [on tv] MUSIC UP

ANNOUNCER [tv] And we'll be checking in with Allison as soon as she regains consciousness to confirm her wish to opt out. For now, the game comes down to Bart and Carl.

ANNOUNCER Don't forget - no matter what happens, the game's big final episode is in two weeks.

SOUND CAMERA OFF

  1. SHELDON Nicely done.

ANNOUNCER It's really wearing me thin.

  1. SHELDON Almost over. And after today's vote, there's no way the station can afford to cancel us.

ANNOUNCER [sigh, then grudging] Two more shows.

  1. SHELDON [with meaning] And then we announce the results.

MUSIC - OPENING THEME, PLAYS FOR A MOMENT

AMB NOISY BAR

BOB [ordering] Another one.

FRED Packed tonight.

SOUND DRINK SET DOWN

HELEN It's the finale.

FRED [tired] Oh, yeah. That.

BOB Bottom's up!

HELEN Slow down, or I'm gonna have to pour you into a cab.

SOUND CAR KEYS SLAPPED ONTO THE BAR, SCOOPED UP

SOUND GLASS SET DOWN HARD

BOB Ahhh.

CROWD ROAR OF EXCITEMENT

HELEN Hold on! I'll get it.

SOUND TV SOUND UP

MUSIC FANFARE

ANNOUNCER It's the night we've all been waiting for. The night the final results are announced. And we will have an ultimate winner. Let's recap what the winner will walk away with.

SOUND VOLUME DOWN

SOUND DOOR OPENS

KATHY Oh, you're not watching that, are you? [sneer] I thought you decided it wasn't worth it!

JUNE [shell shocked] I can't not watch! I have to know!

KATHY Look, let's go to the library or something.

JUNE No! I would die of suspense!

KATHY It's not--

SOUND TV VOLUME COMES UP

KATHY [sigh] I'm not staying.

SOUND DOOR CLOSES

ANNOUNCER And the contest comes down to our two finalists, Bart and Carl. They have endured amazing hardship to make it this far. Do you have anything you want to say to the people at home, Bart?

BART You still suck and you always will. Every single one of you! Every person who just sits by and supports this shit!

ANNOUNCER [still jovial] And yet, you have continued to play our sick little games - as you call them - despite being offered chance after chance to leave.

BART Hah! I don't plan to fucking let you win, you scumbags!

ANNOUNCER Well said. And you, Carl, do you have anything for the audience?

CARL [mumbles]

ANNOUNCER Speak up?

CARL [vague, reciting] We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams. Sitting by lone sea-- lone sea.... the sea. The sea. See see oh playmate, come out and play with me.... [fades out]

ANNOUNCER There you have it, folks. And now we go to our man in the street interviewer, Tanya. Take it away!

TANYA Thank you. I'm in a major metropolitan center here, asking people on the street what they think of the Box.

ANNOUNCER If they're outside right now, instead of glued to their sets, they must not think much of it.

BOTH [fake laugh]

SOUND TV OFF

SOUND EATING

MOM What? Don't you dare!

DAD Hey, we were watching that!

SON Are you enjoying this?

MOM Enjoying?

DAD What do you mean?

SON All this shit they've put those people through! You can barely tell them apart now, after they’ve been starved and had their heads shaved. They look like concentration camp victims!

MOM But - but this is the last show!

DAD What does it matter if we watch or don't watch?

SOUND THROWING DOWN A REMOTE

SON Do what you want. I'll just hope for a six-car pileup. Maybe you'll trade up.

SOUND DOOR OPENS AND SHUT

SOUND REMOTE TAKEN, TV ON

ANNOUNCER And for tonight, the big surprise is--

SOUND DRUM ROLL, OMINOUS MUSIC

ANNOUNCER Two boxes!

SOUND CANNED CHEERING

ANNOUNCER One for each of you. While we get them all set, here's a word from our sponsor!

AMB BAR

CROWD Buzzing "two boxes?"

BOB [slurry] Whaddaya think they've got up their shleeves?

FRED They're gonna kill one of those boys.

HELEN [confidential] I heard that girl Allison is in a private clinic, barely alive.

FRED Where'd you--?

HELEN Internet.

BOB [sarcastic] Yeah. Then it's probably true.

SOMEONE Turn it up!

HELEN Got it!

SOUND TV UP

ANNOUNCER And now. The moment of truth! All the votes have been tallied. As you can see, we have Bart over here in the red box--

SOUND CANNED APPLAUSE

ANNOUNCER [tv] --and Carl over there in the blue.

  1. SHELDON close up on Bart, camera 2. Yeah, baby, clench that jaw. Now cut to that trickle of sweat on Carl's face. Nice.

TANYA Back to the announcer?

  1. SHELDON One more second, and - yes!

ANNOUNCER [tv] And now, with the votes tallied, we will find out who you out there have selected as the big winner, and who has to take the big penalty.

ANNOUNCER [real] But first, we caught each of our contestants here on secret camera last night. Let's see what they were doing on the penultimate night.

SOUND QUICK JAB OF STATIC

VOICE [tv] ...need to get out now. You don't understand what they have planned for tomorrow. It's so much worse!

AMB BAR

BOB Who the hell izzat?

BART [TV] [scoff] Worse? Worse how?

HELEN Don't know.

FRED Look at that announcer fellow - he's surprised too.

HELEN [half a chuckle] Serves him right.

ANNOUNCER [tv] Sorry - we should have screened that clip before playing it. Let's go over to Carl's shot.

CARL [tv] Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall--[cuts out suddenly]

ANNOUNCER [tv] And that's all the time we have for that. And now the moment of truth. Carl or Bart? You held their fate in your hands.

SOUND COMMERCIAL COMES ON UNDER

MOM [coming in] Where's Kyle? Have you seen Kyle?

DAD [mesmerized] He'll be back. Just ... went out to a friend's house. Probably.

MOM You should turn that off and find him!

DAD We can look in ten minutes just as easily as we can look now!

MOM This is our son!

DAD It's almost over!

SOUND OMINOUS MUSIC ON TV

ANNOUNCER [tv] And now. The final countdown.

MOM Five minutes.

SOUND SHE SITS

ANNOUNCER [tv] This has been quite a journey for everyone - and we would like to thank you all for your support and participation.

BOB Support? I'd shoot that stupid bastard if I had a chance. And a gun.

HELEN You're not the only one, but a lot of people paid a lot of money into that damn show.

ANNOUNCER [tv] --making us the highest rated network series ever--

FRED yeah, and even WE count for ratings, since we happen to be watching it.

BOB [steaming into an alcoholic rage] Then let's not watch it!

SOUND SLAMS GLASS ON BAR, LIQUID SLOSHES

FRED Calm down, pal.

BOB No! Is this what our world has come to? This crap??

SOUND THROWS BEER GLASS AT TV, TV DIES, BUT OTHER SET PLAYS ON IN THE BACKGROUND

CROWD [Shocked silence]

FRED Great, one down, only seven hundred million TV sets to go.

HELEN I'll put it on your tab.

CROWD [chatter begins again]

ANNOUNCER [tv] --will definitely be returning for a second season, starting next fall--

SOUND DOOR OPENS

ANNOUNCER [tv] --and we're looking at celebrity contestants.

TANYA [tv] That will be a whole new ballgame.

KATHY Sorry, didn't know it was still on.

JUNE [distraught] Stay. Please.

KATHY Ugh. Why?

JUNE Because I don't think I'll make it otherwise.

KATHY Make what?

ANNOUNCER [tv] And now for the final outcome.

MOM Yes?

DAD About time.

ANNOUNCER [tv] the final results.

FRED Don't call the police. I'll get him home.

HELEN Yeah. This time.

ANNOUNCER [tv] What we've all been working toward.

JUNE [crying] Can't they just say it?

TV, MUSIC SWELLS, THEN CUTS OUT SUDDENLY

JUNE What?

HELEN Shit, must have blown the circuit.

DAD The electricity's still on!

KATHY Is there something wrong with your TV?

MOM No! It's practically new!

FRED Come on. Quitting time, pal.

SOUND TEST PATTERN NOISE, THEN MUSIC SUDDENLY CUTS BACK IN

ANNOUNCER Thank you all for participating in our experiment.

MOM [gasp]

ANNOUNCER As you can see, all of our actors are in perfect health.

JUNE [sob] How could they--?

KATHY Bastards.

ANNOUNCER We would love to hear your reactions to this show. Please feel free to leave us a message at www-dot-

SOUND TV SWITCHES OFF

HELEN [last call voice] Allright. That's it.

CLOSER

[NOTE: George Santayana, author of the quote.]

200 episodes