The Episode Game

Here on this page I hope to include a selection of excerpts and/or short stories on a semi-regular basis, but to kick off with I thought it might be fun to play a game. Watching TV, it’s often impossible to switch off the writer side of my brain and – especially when a story falls short of the mark and I find myself somewhat disengaged – I inevitably find myself playing a game of ‘how I would have done it differently’ or ‘what kind of story would I write?’ But even when I am thoroughly absorbed in a given show there is still the gap between episodes for a spot of idle speculation.

So here, just for fun, are a few of the ‘episodes I might have written given half a chance’ for a selection of TV series, either because of some potential I felt they had yet to realize or because of the degree to which they inspire(d) me.

Battlestar Galactica
Eye For An Eye

While government and command staff debate the implications of the discovery made on Earth and wrangle with their Cylon ‘allies’ over the next course of action, one man struggles with revelations that have had a profound and personal impact on him. Issues that, although pushed to the back of his mind in the period preceding the Fleet’s arrival in Earth orbit, can now find no peace in the light of the devastation and disappointment that lay in wait for them on the ground below. It’s a blow more than sufficient to break Gaeta. Every brush or passing encounter with Tigh or Tyrol or Anders is a red flag, reminding him of how they were ready to execute him as a collaborator. All of them Cylons – the enemy - themselves. Ultimately, his only recourse is to confront his demons head on and as the man – the Cylon – who cost him his leg, Anders is the one Gaeta determines will pay. Stowing himself on a Raptor assigned to one of the exploratory sweeps of the Earth’s surface, Gaeta brings the craft down, isolating himself and Anders and buying himself the time he needs – until a rescue mission finds them – to deal with his chief demon. Starbuck insists on leading the search, but she might be the worst person to find them. And even Gaeta doesn’t yet know whether the rescue mission will find only one man alive or both men dead.

Ella G

Prompted by the letter left to her by her father, Ella Greene persuades her mother to take her on a visit to the ER, in the hope of learning more about the kind of man Mark Greene was. Of course, it’s all changed since Elisabeth’s day, but not so much that it can prevent the flood of memories – and Elisabeth is able to recount a few of the events and incidents that, for her, best illustrate Mark’s role – as a father and as an ER doc. Viewed through the eyes of a young girl, the manic routine of the ER is a frightening experience – but despite the hectic atmosphere there is still time for Ella to make the occasional fleeting connection with staff and patients. But there are few at the ER now who knew Mark personally, and so Elisabeth endeavours to supplement the portrait by contacting some of the other staff who have left for other pastures, arranging visits so that Ella might learn what she can from them. Ultimately they can offer only sketches and they are all coloured according to their own views. In the end, perhaps the best way she will ever come to know her father will lie in her future. Maybe one day she will find herself considering a career in medicine. Maybe she won’t. But wherever life takes her, she will discover qualities that lie in her, many of which will surprise her – and many of which will have come from him.

Ghost Whisperer
I Know What You Did

Melinda is shaken when a man steps out in front of her car on a lonely stretch of road. It’s not the first time she’s hit someone with her car – but previously, they were ghosts already. Even when it later emerges that the man was drunk and suicidal, the incident weighs heavily on Melinda’s conscience – a burden of guilt and awful responsibility made all the more unbearable when the man’s ghost lingers as an all-too literally haunting reminder. As Melinda attempts to contact the man’s family in search of whatever closure might help him cross over, there is a question whether she is on a mission to help the man or help herself. The deeper she involves herself, the more the ghost seems to take pleasure in her suffering – as though, finally, he has made someone sit up and pay attention. Perhaps he is only intent on lingering long enough to just make someone pay – before he joins the ranks of the other ‘dark’ spirits ‘below’. But as he watches Melinda’s dedication, there is a chance he may yet learn something about his worth to others. Will it be enough, for his and Melinda’s sake, to allow him to find peace and cross over? Or will it be too little too late?

Tru Calling
Judgment Day Again

Another day, another pair of corpses wheeled into the morgue. Something about one of the deceased fills Tru with a sense of dread – even more so when she reads that this guy’s a real nasty piece of work. A killer, finally cornered and gunned down by the cops. The other is a cop killed in the shootout. Sure enough, when the time comes, it’s the killer who rolls over and asks her, “Help me!” Against her wishes, Tru is thrown back a day and confronted with tough questions of right and wrong and justice. Does she use her day to save the cop instead or does she obey the rules of her ‘calling’ and save the man irrespective of her own feelings about his bloody deeds? Does she have any right to play judge and jury even if ‘fate’ has already played executioner?

Farscape/Doctor Who
Too Many To Mention!

Ah, unfortunately, Farscape is too fertile a territory for singling out ‘the one episode I would have written’: as with the years in which I grew up watching Doctor Who, it fired the imagination with its universe, its creatures and characters, suggesting a wealth of sci-fi adventure stories, some of which might even be adapted to either series – and, in the case of Doctor Who, of course, a couple of which have already become published novels. But suffice to say, I would have loved to have written for the Farscape universe, as much as I loved – and still would! - the opportunity to write for Doctor Who.

Suffice to say, the ideas are there and those that don’t end up developed for my own sci-fi universe may always be held in reserve. But to those who have described Farscape as ‘Blakes 7 with Muppets’, I will say I’d love to write a Doctor Who Meets The Muppets. Gonzo would make a brilliant Time Lord!

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