Ecclecticon 97

Ecclecticon - Carol McCoy

I thought I'd get started on this. Here goes Friday. As I've mentioned, Sarah and I hit the road early and had a smooth trip. We pulled into the hotel at about 11:30 a.m., shocking my two roommates who had arrived on Thursday. They were still putting themselves together.

Sarah couldn't get into her room yet, so we unloaded everything into my room. As we returned the luggage dolly to the lobby, I mumbled, "I wonder when Brooke will get here?" This seems to be a magic phrase. Whenever I wonder about Brooke's arrival, she appears. As happened this time. She and Michelle were about six feet from me, coming through the main entrance.

Does this mean that Brooke is really a figment of my imagination that I can conjure up on demand? I'm thinking of trying that sometime here at home. ;-)

Registration had just opened, so the four of us picked up our packets (with Sarah attempting to pay twice), and I also picked up my roommies' envelopes (kind person that I am <cough, cough>). Then we all retired to Tarrant Nostra Headquarters and added Brooke's and Michelle's luggage to the clutter.

Brooke presented the TN with a Wisconsin-style pressie: a huge hunk of sausage in the shape of a football. (It was almost too artistic to later chop up into bite size pieces for various parties.) Brooke had also brought along tons (literally) of fine Wisconsin Cheese and a couple of platters of her infamous Scotch Toffee (the TN was happy to assume custody of one of those <g>). I loaned her my cooler as a cheese larder, heroically sparing B7 fans the danger of food poisoning, as the cheese took all weekend (and longer) to consume. Michelle was drafted to craft the "Avon Ball Memorial Plate" and a fine job she did.

We proceeded to study the programming information and gleefully noted several B7 panels on the schedule. There was also the strange case of the LARGE Michelle. The Due South Slash Panel had only one person listed as moderator, Michelle, and her name was in bloody huge type. We never did discover the significance of that.

At 1 p.m. it was off to the Dealer's Room. <pant, pant> Not many of the dealers had arrived, but we managed to do some early shopping. Several of us grabbed up copies of Diverse Doings 1. As I was passing a t-shirt dealer, someone gave me a big smile and said "hi." It only took me five or ten minutes (remember, I was operating on only three hours of sleep!) to realize the significance of the friendly hi. This person had read my name badge (imagine that) and recognized my name. I shrewdly decided to read her name badge in turn. It was Space City's own Deborah Rose. I'm proud to report that Deborah was already in full shopping mode and had just purchased a B7 shirt (with a lovely Tarrant on it, I might add <g>). There's nothing like newbie enthusiasm. It was a pleasure to watch Deborah acquire treasures all weekend long. And to the dedicated newbie goes the spoils; she found one picture that I'd have grabbed up if she hadn't gotten to it first.

Back to the lobby where hotel rooms were finally available. Vickie and others began showing up. We got everyone to their own rooms and headed back to hit the second dealer's room and the con suite. It was then we discovered a bit of a mystery. There is a glass-enclosed lounge near the con suite that is designated as a place for smokers to puff away. Lorna traditionally decorates the door with a small card of The Cigarette Smoking Man from XF. Which she had done earlier. Then it had gone missing. We thought some CSM fan had appropriated it. But now--surprise, surprise--it had reappeared and was even slightly crooked (as she had placed it). We never did figure out where it went during the hour or so it was missing.

At this point time sort of blurs. Lorna and I covered our door with appropriately decorative objects: Tarrant, Vila, Avon, Methos, Krycek, Mulder, and Cigarette Smoking Man. Robin arrived--and I was glad to see she made it before dark. We gobbled up delicious eggplant parmigano and zucchini squares in the Con Suite. We opened our room up for shopping (we were selling some used zines and some pics--got a good business all weekend long). We watched some new XF vids. Tried to go to the B7 party at one point, but no one appeared to be there. We went back to our room--lucky thing, as the owner of the Mary Ridge script had just put in an appearance. She handed over a PAL tape with some Pacey goodies (that I hope to get converted next weekend). Yum! And she showed us the XF script (purported to be the script of the upcoming movie). We howled over Chris Carter's notations, especially when he described the one Mulder-Scully bit as a moment of "awkward physical intimacy." That became a catch phrase for the con. "Now in your A/T story, would you say that is a moment of 'awkward physical intimacy'?"

At about this point, we had our first visit from "The Cookie Monster." We never found out who he was, but he visited our room with regularity as if he shared it with us. He wouldn't take just one cookie from the welcoming yummies we had set out, he'd grab up handfuls and stuff them in a plastic bag he carried. (Don't know why--it wasn't as if the con suite wasn't sagging under the weight of the food Agel provides.) He also wandered into the depths of our room (rather than staying in the public area--with zines and food--near the door), studiously inspecting our jumble of luggage, boxes, etc. Was he looking for booze? (If so, he was in the wrong room.) Women's underwear? (Well, we do wear underwear, but it was kept modestly out of sight.) Something else? It was a bit spooky and unnerving. We weren't sorry when he left.

The Script...

To set the scene: This was Friday evening in our hotel room. I can't remember a specific time. A bunch of us (including all of my roommates) were gathered in our room. Robin and I were sitting on the bed chuckling over items from the purported X-Files movie script (which was also in the room). Then we browsed through the orginal script for "The Way Back" (called "Cygnus Alpha" at the time). Horizon has made this available, so many of you have probably seen it. "Cral" Travis appears in this script, largely in the part that is later switched to Dev Tarrant. As does Avon. Avon has the line to Blake near the end (given to a Guard in the episode), telling Blake that it is the last he'll see of Earth. In at least two places in the script Travis (once only described as a "watcher") is reported to be wearing "distinctive footwear." Already half hysterical over the XF script, Robin and I had quite a giggle over this, trying to imagine what this "distinctive footwear" looked like. Someone--we can't remember who--suggested he was wearing red spike heels.

But we both turned serious when Mary Ridge's script plopped before us. There was definitely a sense of burning bushes, and a choking gasp as if all the air had been sucked out of the room.

Now, on to the wonderment we were to view, with the disclaimer that what I'm quoting is from memory and not exact quotes.

The script didn't have much white space left. It was covered with Mary's notes and drawings, which filled in the margins and took up most of the formerly blank backs of script pages. There was every indication that she had the episode planned to the last eyeblink. And it was also clear that she was aware of what happened in earlier episodes and was taking that into account. One can only admire her thorough approach.

Robin: Mary Ridge's copy of "Blake": highly annotated/doodled--could hardly pick out typed dialogue on some pages, much attention to detail and character insight; also much technical detail and and a few personal reminders like "get birthday card," "Champagne for 400."

There were also detailed blocking sketches about where people should stand, where they should move, etc. She even wanted a couple of the "rooms" on the set switched around. And there was a note that the corridor had to be longer--the one that ran from Deva's office to the tracking gallery.

There were several photos taped to the back of script pages, such as Avon holding Orac at the point he arrives on GP and the Soolin-Vila-Dayna clutch when they arrived on GP. Not sure why the photos were there. Maybe from rehearsals and they were to remind her of things for the final shoot? Or as Vickie later suggested the photos were from the location shoot and were a reminder about positions and costumes for the studio work.

The doodles included some that weren't related to the episode: a cat, some birds.

There were at least two sketches of Slave, quite detailed and distinctive but not necessarily accurate. Based on her "affectionate" renditions, we theorized that Mary appeared to be quite fond of Slave.

Many of the notes were to various technicians whose names we didn't recognize. Some were to Chris Boucher. And many were to the cast. The notes were presented as if they were "letters" to whomever she was "speaking." Or as if we were "hearing" her half of a spoken conversation -- she must have written *everything* down. One poorly remembered note to a technician went something like:

Dave, The ships are going in the wrong direction (I think she was referring to the ships chasing Scorpio). We have to be sure to reverse that.

Another read: "Damn! There are scratches on the stock footage" (my paraphrase)

To the best of our collective memories (Lorna helped with this), these are the "pet" names she used when addressing the cast. Paul was "Blint" [cross between Clint Eastwood and Burt Lancaster, according to p. 100 of B7: Inside Story]. The first half of the script had her calling Pacey "Steve." That switched to "Stevie" for the second half. We think we recall notes to Keating as being "Michael" some places and "Mike" other places. Peter was "Tud" and also "Tudders." Josette--"Josie." Gareth, Glynis, Janet, and David weren't abbreviated/changed that we can recall.

The only place we noted an addition to the scripted words was near the beginning (we could have quite easily missed other places). Mary had a note to "Chris" (Boucher): "we really need the extra line for Tarrant here." And she had a line jotted down as if it was something she wrote. We noted that her change was then pencilled into the script.

The original read:

TARRANT: Why not? He betrayed everything else.

The change:

TARRANT: Why not? Wouldn't you expect someone who'd betray his own daughter to betray everything else?

I really like that change. It makes Tarrant's bittnerness much more personal, and I think shows a crack in his normal ability to repress personal tragedy (such as the way he repressed grief over Deeta's death).

Moving along, and trying to stay in chronological order, the next item we later recalled well enough to jot down was where Mary had a couple of notes to "Mike," telling him to watch Avon closely because he was the only one who realized Avon was talking about Blake (when Avon was talking about finding a figurehead for the rebellion). That was reinforced on two consecutive pages (backs of script pages) if my memory can be trusted.

There were also notes to Glynis to be very resolute when she talked about Gauda Prime. "If there's one thing Soolin knows, it's GP, and that should come across."

There was a note to "Blint" that was also from when they were still on Scorpio It went something like: "Avon is brooding internally but casual on the outside. You can do it. You're the actor."

Robin: My recollection is that it was something like, "Well, you're the actor." As if he wasn't quite sure how he should tackle that particular expression.

Carol: I thought she expected "Blint" to give her a hard time about what she expected him to do (be both brooding and casual...) and she'd prepared her response to his "objection" in advance. And a very clever response it is, if that is what it was. It would play to an actor's ego and encourage him to attempt such a complicated mix of emotions.

Starting as early as on board Scorpio, there were spots where Mary indicated that Avon was not part of the group (whichever members of the crew he was with at the time) or that he was part of the group. Such notations were found at several places in the script; the final was in the tracking gallery and will be included later in the report.

I should mention at this time that Mary's handwriting was chickenscratch, and she used her own special brand of shorthand that often left off the ends of words. Thankfully, Robin and others were better at deciphering her scribble than I was! Or I would have a lot less to report. At times, we had three or four people leaning over trying to decipher a single word.

But I was able to read one thing clearly. A note to "Steve" began: "Move or die!" When I read that out loud Robin and Leigh almost flinched. Robin adds, "Then we burst out laughing. A shared vision of Steven acting woodenly, I guess, and a director at the end of her rope who felt the need to vent on paper." Actually Mary was telling "Tarrant" that he needed to "move or die." This was when he was sprawled in Scorpio and the bounty hunters began strafing the ship from above. Mary went on to say that Tarrant was in so much pain that if he had stopped to think at that point, he wouldn't have been able to move his little finger. (Aaahhhh, poor baybee...) There were many references to the degree of Tarrant's pain and the severity of his injuries throughout the script.

MR was definitely concerned with continuity. There was a note at one point to remind someone (make-up? costume?) that Tarrant was fresh from a spaceship crash. As if she wanted to be sure his make-up and/or costume would reflect that.

For the scene in the hut with the bounty hunters, there were specific notes about how Mary wanted the lighting and shadows. This was another place (I think) where she mentioned that Avon wasn't part of the group (at that point), but rather distanced. I looked for a note about Vila's asking "Where's Tarrant?," (and his attitude to Avon in general) but if it was there, the scribble eluded me.

I forgot to mention how much (all!) of the "action" was carefully choreographed. Mary both noted and had a drawing about how she wanted Avon to lurch across the flight deck to reach the teleport (just before he left Scorpio). And she had many notes on the Scorpio crash, both the internal shots of Tarrant and the external shots of the ship. Such as how Scorpio was to brush the tops of trees.

There's a note to Gareth about Scorpio's teleport bracelets and about how rare teleport is, so he's to look suscipious (as if he is putting together that this is Avon's ship) when he's handling the bracelet. Then, later, she has a note that Tarrant is beginning to suspect the bounty hunter is Blake, when they are in the flyer and Jenna is mentioned.

The next particular item that comes to mind was a note to Gareth about how he was to help Tarrant to his feet (at the end of the scene in the crashed remains of Scorpio). Mary tells Gareth that he can be "brutal" when he pulls Tarrant up. (No wonder poor Tarrant had that rare look of fright in his eyes!). We speculated that perhaps Mary was trying to make Blake less sympathetic, to diminish upset over his death and the fact that Avon is the one who kills him. So she wanted Blake to be rough and even a tad cruel.

Moving on to the scene in Deva's office, Mary tells "Stevie" that every bone in his body is ""bruised and battered" (those are the exact words she used), and that when Gareth is delivering his one line (looking at Deva at the time is how I interpreted it), Steven can give a hint about how much he is hurting as he sits down (as if Tarrant is supposed to be trying to conceal his injuries from Blake for the most part--a very Tarrant thing to do, I might add).

When Tarrant breaks free, Mary reminds "Stevie" that once again Tarrant has to put his injuries aside ("forget his broken bones") because it is again a life and death situation.

I took another quick gander for notes at the point where the others find Tarrant, curious as to whether it was scripted that Soolin touch Tarrant's bare leg. I didn't see mention of that, but there was a note to "Blint" telling him that Avon is part of the gestalt hovering around Tarrant, but then he backs away and he is never part of the gestalt again. <sniff>

Just below that (these were both on the back of the blank page opposite where the scene takes place) Mary notes that Avon was prepared to believe Blake had betrayed him before Blake walked into the tracking gallery. Wowser! That suggests (to me--I think Robin was in agreement) that the combination of Tarrant's telling Avon that he thinks Blake is there and Avon's having arrived to see Tarrant being beaten up has Avon putting the two together: Blake is responsible for someone beating up on his already battered pilot. And Avon interprets that as personal betrayal. And maybe nothing Blake said at that point would have convinced him otherwise???

I think it was about here that we saw a note to the effect that Mary Ridge wanted to engage the audience's emotions: "I want them to weep."

There were a couple of blocking notes to Gareth next. Each reminded him that he was standing too close and forgetting how long Avon's gun was.

Avon's last lines to Blake were to be delivered with special emphasis--he's said these things (that people have betrayed him) to people before, but this is different. He's never said it to anyone "this way" before.

There was a deletion in the script here. The script originally read:

Blake: Oh, Avon. I didn't take any of them on trust...except you... You are my...only friend.

Everything after "Oh, Avon" was crossed out in pencil. Robin notes that it wasn't crossed out very emphatically--she wondered if they tested the lines in rehearsal and decided they didn't work. We didn't think they worked and were glad they were removed.

We spotted a stick figure drawing of Avon straddling Blake's body, gun pointed down. And the "stick" gun might be misinterpreted as something else when one considers where it was in relation to the stick figure's "groin." <eg>

Last note: Mary tells us what the guns firing over the credits were:

First shot: Avon
Next three: Federation troopers
Last shot: Avon

The above report only touches on a small fraction of Mary's notes. They were thorough, to say the least. At some point or other, Robin and I agreed that what Mary had in mind for the episode is exactly what we saw. We were more than a little impressed with her directorial abilities and her insight. And with the actors' abilities to show the subtleties she demanded. Robin adds, "Amen to that. What continues to amaze me is her grasp of the characters--how they would react, what they would think, what their history was, who they *were*--she clearly had a depth of knowledge and appreciation for the show that I didn't realize. I guess I always assumed that with the number of directors B7 had, each one would only really be interested in his or her own episode(s). Mary Ridge's insight into the characters (and her audience, I think) indicated a much greater appreciation for the series as a whole. And, as Carol noted, it really shows in "Blake." Just the fact that she took out that "friend" line demonstrates (to me) that she knew what belonged in B7, what didn't, and when. She knew what "Blake" would look like long before it was finished, and we can all thank her for it, wherever she is."

After the script

and its owner left, Leigh--know it all that she is <g>--suggested that the B7 Party was in full swing behind closed doors. She called the room and sure enough they were in it, partying away with so much enthusiasm that they hadn't heard us knocking. (They needed a Gan to hold their door open--which is what we have, a Gan doorstop. The man is a hero.) We invaded the premises, bearing food and drink. And found both in abundance already. I began to eat Wisconsin cheese and yummy hummus (that Kathy Moran brought). I peeked at various fanfic offerings from Brooke (wonderful stuff!). Nagged her to write more. Ate some more. Talked. (Does anyone remember what we talked about?) There were noises about cutting into the ham that Deborah had brought, but we felt that would be impolite since the ham cooker wasn't there. I made several expeditions in search of her (really, it was an attempt to stay awake and work off calories). She wasn't anywhere! I was beginning to worry that the person who had earlier abducted the CSM card had stolen Deborah, then she showed up. And we were all able to rave about the ham. It was perfect: tasty and tender.

Probably not too late (if I'm to believe my roommates--I was incapable of reading a clock by then)--though it felt very late--I decided I better head for bed before I fell asleep on Vickie's floor.

So ended Day 1.

I don't know if/when I'll get back to my E-con Report. My mind remains frustratingly blank when I try to recall the many wonderful B7 discussions we had at panels, parties, and private gatherings. And I had hoped to share some of that with you. Maybe Vickie, Robin or someone will post something that will jog my failing memory.

In the meantime, I do clearly remember one B7 perplexity that Robin and I discussed, aided by several photo references, on Saturday. It's Tarrant's ULTRAWORLD costume. How does he get that top layer of tunic off? The top layer appears to be one piece: the majority of it is smooth, green leather, which is connected to a "bib" and short sleeves of a darker, horizontally ribbed material. There is a zipper down the front of the smooth part, but no other fasteners that we could find on front or back. Nothing that would allow him to get out of the upper portion of the costume. Unless he pulls it over his head. But we weren't sure there was enough space at the neckline to allow for that.

We thought we'd throw the dilemma out to Space-City, to see if any of you have any ideas on how that tunic was intended to be removed. (I've also darted off a post to someone who has possibly seen the costume in question.)

That top might have made things pretty difficult for the bonding ceremony if it had proceeded. The Core would have probably starved to death while waiting for Tarrant to be undressed (if nakedness had been required). Not only do we have the perplexing tunic top, Tarrant had at least two layers under it: a long sleeved vertically ribbed shirt and a long-sleeved jersey turtleneck. We verified the ribbed shirt as being separate from the short-sleeve part because Tarrant wears it again in DEATH-WATCH (along with the same matching ribbed pants--that cling with scenic snugness to his backside <g>). And pictures confirm that you can see bits of the jersey sleeve at his wrist while the turtleneck is clearly visible, so it is definitely an entire other layer.

Noting these layers (and similar layers in at least DEATH-WATCH) led us to conclude that Tarrant must be terribly cold-blooded (no layer of insulating fat, I guess) to need so many clothes.

The ULTRAWORLD tunic discussion started because of a certain smut story (which takes place after that episode) that one of my roommates is writing--and the complication of trying to get two reluctant characters together when one had to allow time to get Tarrant out of all of those clothes. Not only might the delay have been so long that desire would have fled before Tarrant was undressed, it might have left them too tired to do anything. ;-) Solution being to have Tarrant change into something simpler and with fewer layers before the situation heated up. But that didn't solve how he got out of that tunic!

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