Author: Alan Decker
by Alan Decker
Lisa Beck stopped nervously in front of the ornate, wooden door and tried to gather her courage. This was it: the moment of truth. She readied herself and knocked.
“Come right on in!” the familiar jovial, male voice called from inside. Lisa opened the door and entered. The office was just as she remembered it from this time last year. Two wood paneled walls lined with television screens and awards stood on either side while a huge oak desk dominated the area in front of the rear wall. This was wasn’t actually a wall though. It was instead a picture window with a spectacular view of the rest of the complex. At that desk seated in a huge leather chair that resembled a throne was the man himself: J. E. Baker, the head of ODBS programming. Seated at a much smaller chair in front of the desk was Angela Dean, the head of personnel for ODBS. “Have a seat, Lisa,” Baker said warmly. “This shouldn’t take too much of your time.” Lisa moved to the open chair in front of Baker’s desk at sat down. Dean picked up a paper from the desk.
“This is basically the same contract that you signed last year, Lisa, so there shouldn’t be any problems. Star Traks is doing fine…”
“And we absolutely love what you’re doing on the show,” Baker interrupted smiling. “You bring a real bright spot to the series.”
“Thank you,” Lisa replied. She was flattered by the compliment, but didn’t take it too seriously. Baker had a tendency to be a little insincere at times.
“As I was saying,” Dean continued very business-like, “the show is not in danger of cancellation, and your character will be continued next season. We have included a standard pay raise along with a small bonus in gratitude for the show’s success. Now, if you’ll just sign here, here, here, here, and initial here, and we’ll need a drop of blood here.” Dean pushed the contract along the desk over to her. It was time for Lisa to drop the bomb.
She just hoped that Baker and Dean didn’t notice how tightly she was gripping the armrests.
“I have a few things I want to discuss before I sign this,” she said. It had begun. She saw Baker and Dean exchange a look that she couldn’t quite decipher.
“And what would those be?” Baker asked. He still sounded friendly enough.
“Well… I just don’t feel like I’m being used to my full potential on Star Traks.”
“Miss Beck, your contract explicitly states that you are a supporting character,” Dean explained. “You are there to provide a hint of sanity, you are the straight man for some of the jokes, and you’re competent enough to bail the others out when they’re in trouble.” She sounded a bit more hostile than Baker. “In fact, you should be glad that you get as much to do as you do.
In spite of only being the Secondprize’s communications officer, you haven’t been relegated to just saying ‘hailing frequencies open.’ You are a vital member of that crew, and you do far more than previous actors who have held that position on other shows.”
“I know, and, don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for that, but I just don’t feel that I am being allowed to expand my dramatic horizons. I cannot be the dramatic actress that I want to be.”
“Of course you can’t,” Dean retorted barely concealing her anger. “The show’s a comedy for Christ’s sake!”
“Exactly!” Lisa replied. “That’s why I think I deserve my own show.”
“Wait just a damn minute!” Dean shouted. “Who do you think you are that you can just come in here and demand…”
“What did you have in mind?” Baker asked interrupting Dean’s tirade.
“What?” Beck asked in shock. She couldn’t believe that she’d gotten this far.
“I want to hear your idea,” Baker replied. “I’m always open to suggestions. Dean looked at him confused. She evidently wasn’t used to being over-ruled like this.
“Well… I think that my character could do a lot more on another ship.”
“You want your own ship?”
“No, no. I’m content with my position, but I think a more serious ship would be a better backdrop for more serious stories. Picture this: Lieutenant Beck gets transferred to another ship. This is a starship on a mission of exploration, so those adventure type stories would be available, but that wouldn’t be the main focus of the show.”
“It wouldn’t?” Baker asked.
“No. The show would be more about my character’s life as a lieutenant. We would show her ups and downs, her trials and tribulations, her life and loves.”
“Oh God,” Dean moaned.
“And I want her to get a child to add some family drama,” Lisa continued ignoring Dean. “Have her sister die and leave her a child, or maybe have a child on the ship lose its parents and she adopts him.”
“And that’s your idea.” Baker said as he leaned back in his great chair.
“Yes, what do you think?”
“It’s dry, dull, and over-used,” Dean said. “Television is full of these ‘real-life’ shows. Audiences get tired of that very fast. They want entertainment so that they can escape the drudgery of their own lives. They don’t want to watch their miserable lives on television. That’s why Star Traks works. It’s just a comedy. No messages, no heavy drama; just laughter, pure and simple.”
“Although I don’t totally agree with Angela, she does have a point,” Baker said. “Television is full of that type of show. We have three of them on our schedule alone. I’m sorry, but it’s just not workable right now. Why don’t you just sign the contract for Star Traks now, and we’ll keep your idea in mind if the right opportunity should present itself later.” A large, ‘trust me’ smile spread across his face as he held a pen out to her. Lisa wasn’t going to give up that easily.
“I do have another idea.”
“Oh joy,” Dean remarked as she sank deeper into her chair.
“And what’s that?” Baker asked patiently. Lisa was starting to feel like the man was actually interested in her ideas.
“It’s a tough, gritty action drama about a lone woman assigned to keep order on a backwater outpost. It would have lots of fights, tension, drama. Just imagine, Lieutenant Beck gets transferred to oversee a small, mining asteroid. The Federation leaves her alone to keep order. Not only would we have action, but there could be love interests and real human drama.”
“We’d have a clone of at least seven other shows,” Dean said. “It’s been done a number of times in many different ways.”
“But not this way,” Lisa protested.
“Look, the only difference is that you and the Federation would be in it. Other than that, it would just be another show.”
“I’m sorry, Lisa, but Angela’s right,” Baker added. “Now here’s the Star Traks contract…”
“How about letting me host a news magazine with real human drama?”
“Sign right here.”
“A talk show.”
“A game show,” Lisa pleaded.
“Sign it now!”
“Can we at least do a dramatic episode of Star Traks?”
“No. People watch the show expecting comedy. We’d lose half of our viewers if we pulled a switch like that,” Dean explained.
“We could put a warning at the beginning of the episode.”
“We’re not doing it.”
“Maybe a dramatic scene with someone.”
“A dramatic speech?”
“It’s not going to happen.”
“Lisa, if it will make you happy, we’ll let you have one dramatic moment,” Baker said. “How’s that?”
“All right,” Lisa said feeling a real sense of triumph. She signed the contract and walked happily out of the office.
“Are you sure you should have done that?” Dean asked.
“Why not?” Baker replied. We’ll just give her a one second dramatic moment.”
“O.K. If you say so.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Fine. I just have fears that Dillon’s going to come in next year demanding to do Shakespeare.”
“Captain, the object is in visual range,” Lieutenant Commander Jaroch reported. Lisa got ready. Her big dramatic moment was coming up.
“On screen,” Captain Alexander Rydell ordered. The image of the huge object filled the viewscreen. “That thing’s big!” Rydell exclaimed.
“And it is heading right for us, sir,” Jaroch added.
It was Lisa’s moment.
“We may all die,” she stated solemnly trying to convey the fear of death and the comradery she felt for her shipmates in those few simple words.
“Shields up,” Rydell snapped. “Brace for impact.” Suddenly, the ship rocked violently as the object smashed against the shields leaving a gooey mass all over the ship. “What was it, Jaroch?”
“Banana cream, I believe,” Jaroch replied. Lisa’s moment had passed. In her big dramatic scene, she worried that she might be killed by a gigantic banana cream pie. At least, she’d had her moment though. Next year, she’d be tougher in the contract negotiations. Who knows, maybe next season they’d let her have two dramatic lines.