RollBots PreCap: 110 "The Do Right Module"

MCMThursday, April 16, 2009

This week, I'm trying something different by giving you a PREVIEW of the upcoming episode, rather than recapping at the end. I won't be giving away spoilers, but it'll give you some fun things to watch as the episode airs. This Saturday's episode is one of mine called "The Do Right Module", which should have an acronymmy subtext that many of you will enjoy.

The episode's idea is this: Mayor Aria gets the Tensai to build chips that keep people from breaking the law. A very strict interpretation of the law, with a few extra tidbits thrown in (you can't talk back to power). The FCPD are going to be beta testing the chips, which puts Spin and Penny in the thick of things: they get powerful electrical shocks when they do things "unapproved" by the Mayor. It backfires badly when Botch and Macro start committing actual crimes, leaving Spin and Penny helpless to stop them.

Even before I wrote The Pig and the Box, I had this story idea in my head. It was actually supposed to be the season finale (when we had just 13 episodes for the season), and was going to deal with Spin being forced to cope with the chips. In the end, he decides to quit the FCPD rather than put up with it anymore. When I had that idea in my head, we were working with instructions to be light and fluffy (and without any series arc at all), so it quickly got watered down into what you see here. I really liked the idea of Spin quitting the Kei'zatsu tribe to take a stand, and loved the cliffhanger ending (although not as good as the season 2 ending, which is now our season 1 ending). Especially because he quits over this issue. But it was not to be.

That said, I think it's still my most subversive script of the season. The Do Right Module (DRM for short) prevents lawful people from doing lawful things, which causes more trouble than it's worth. Noble intentions, maybe, but it's still a bad idea. It's one of the core theories of any good childhood education, yes?

Some things of note in this script:

  • The two Tensai (geek bots) are named Zilla and Bug. They're in charge of QA for this project. Nobody got that joke but me.
  • When the Mayor says "proud beta testers" and Bug interrupts with a cough, he's saying "Alpha!", which may not be audible. It was hard to explain to the actors what I meant by it.
  • There's a moment where Spin is talking to Zilla and Bug and trying to diagnose his problems, and they act like a call centre... there was a very tense moment where an unnamed contributor suggested giving Zilla and Bug Indian accents, to complete the effect. Maybe funny in some ways, but morally iffy to me.
  • There was a rewrite in the leica/directing stage where the responsibility for the DRM was put on the Tensai, rather than the Mayor. You see it at the end where everyone glowers at Zilla and Bug. I just want to say that I did not approve of that. In my version, the Mayor makes a very calculated retreat and tries to blame the Tensai, and everyone glowers at HER. There was a concern that we were promoting a distrust of authority, so someone switched things around. I personally detest anti-tech messages in pop culture, so this still bothers me.

In short, if you only watch one episode of RollBots this season, make it this one. And the next one. And, well, the last six are really good too. But this one teaches your kids an important lesson, so make it the #1 episode for April. Yeah, that works. For April!

NOTE: Next week is my last episode until the final 2, in which we meet the Zurasho tribe, which was originally called the "SlashBots". THAT one is filled with in-jokes, let me tell you...

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