Punchline
BBV
 
 
Punchline
Written by Jeremy Leadbetter*
Directed by Paul Ebbs
Post-Production and Music by Steve Johnson

Sylvester McCoy (Dominic), Susan Travers (June), Barry J. Gordon (Sir), Neil Bull (Kevin).


* Pseudonym for Rob Shearman


A perfect house...

A perfect son...

A perfect wife...

WIFE?

When your life is a 70's sit-com and every episode ends happily, why on Earth would you want to change?

In Suburbton, no one can hear you scream...


Notes:
  • This is the tenth story in BBV's audio series featuring the Time Travellers, although in this story the Dominie is alone.
  • Released: February 2000
 
 
 
 
Synopsis
(drn: 58'51")
A jaunty tune plays as Dominic Perkins arrives at his home in Suburbton. His wife June meets him at the door, and they rhapsodize over the joys of home. After a kiss, she takes his briefcase and umbrella and gives him his newspaper and a gin and tonic. He drinks, and tells June that he had a hard day at work; his boss, Sir, is always difficult, but the new contract theyíre working on has made him even worse. Their son Kevin, a lazy teenager with a penchant for get-rich-quick schemes, greets his father. This week he has taken up modern art. Kevin suddenly remembers that Sir called and announced that he was coming over for dinner that evening. Panicking, Dominic utters his worried catchphrase, ďOh, my golly gosh! Oh, cripes!Ē If he makes a good impression on Sir, he could be promoted, but if it goes badly, he could end up like Cooper in Accounts, who had Sir to dinner last week and hasnít been seen since. June tells him not to worry. She can defrost a steak and give Sir a meal like heís never tasted.

Later that evening Kevin is working on his painting. Dominic orders him to clean up, but as he does he spills paint all over Dominicís trousers. Dominic has to change, but Sir is at the door. After answering without his trousers on and slamming the door hastily shut, Dominic hurriedly puts them on and opens the door again. Sir is affronted that Dominic has slammed the door in his face, but Dominic improvises, explaining that it was the wind, which often blows inside big old houses. When Sir comments that his house is really rather small, Dominic explains that itís deceptive: ďitís bigger on the inside than it is on the out.Ē He is then distracted by the feeling that thereís something on the tip of his mindÖ But it fades, and he takes Sirís coat and leads him into the house.

Dominic exchanges uncomfortable small talk with Sir as he pours a drink for his boss. Kevin arrives in the living room, and because of his long hair Sir mistakes him for a girl. Dominic apologizes for his sonís behavior, saying ďIf I could go back in time and not have him, I would.Ē He then becomes distracted again, seeming to remember a time when he wasnít frightened of anyone in the universe, and didnít have a boss or a son. June returns from the kitchen, and the moment passes, though Dominic complains of frequent headaches. Sir is so impressed by Juneís looks that he offers Dominic a promotion, provided the meal goes well. He then announces that he is expecting vegetarian food per his doctorís orders. Dominic panics again but recovers quickly and sneaks out the kitchen, where he uses Kevinís paint to disguise Sirís steak as greens. Sir adores the meal, and Dominicís promotion is assured. Everything has ended happilyÖ

The opening tune plays again as Dominic arrives home once more. June takes his briefcase and umbrella and offers him the paper and a gin and tonic. He drinks, but as he is praising her drink making skills the sound fades outÖ The tune plays, and Dominic is home again. Everything happens as before, but the sound fades as Dominic takes his drink. He arrives home yet again, but this time pauses as though confused when praising the comforts of home, and when offered his gin and tonic he asks for ginger beer, because he fancies a change. June is at first confused and then frightened. Dominic ultimately accepts the gin and tonic, but June cuts off his praise to go and make a phone call.

Kevin greets his father. His scheme this week is different; even he sees that itís a terrible idea. He was going to sell carbonated soft drinks like ginger beer. Dominic thinks there might be a market for it, but when Kevin gives him a taste of ginger beer itís absolutely revolting. To show that itís mostly bubbles and foam, Kevin shakes a bottle up, and it spills all over Dominicís trousers. The doorbell rings. Sir has stopped by unexpectedly. He wonít stay long, as he expects Dominic wants to get his home fires burning. Dominic laughs but is then briefly confused again, thinking he ought to have come up with the line himself. Dominic offers Sir a drink, which he accepts, provided that itís gin and tonic and not ginger beer. Indeed, he is visiting because June called to tell him that Dominic has developed a taste for ginger beer. Sir loathes ginger beer drinkers; in fact, Cooper from Accounts was a ginger beer drinker. Dominic vows never to touch ginger beer or wish for a change again, and Sir, June, and Kevin are all relieved.

Dominic arrives at home once more, and everything goes as usual except that Kevin brings him his drink. When Dominic wonders why, June reminds him that it is their wedding anniversary. He panics, and she worries that heís forgotten again, ďlike last year, when I went back to Motherís and you had to win me back in a two-part episode.Ē Dominic has forgotten, but he manages to cover, transforming the wine-tasting party Sir is holding there that evening into an anniversary party. June leaves to change, and Dominic asks Kevin if any of the eveningís events seem terribly familiar. Kevin convinces him that all is well and that he shouldnít question things, and directs him to send Kevin out to get an anniversary present. Before he leaves, Kevin spills defective perfume all over Dominicís trousers.

Sir shows up for the party, and while he and Dominic are talking Dominic notices the laugh track that has been accompanying their comments. He orders Sir to vary one of his stock comic statements, and deduces that it isnít the meaning of their words but the inflection that causes the laughter. Deciding that the technology providing the laughter must be hidden by hypnotic suggestion, he locates it by looking through the corner of his eye and begins disassembling the machine. While working, he points out to Sir that they have no idea what their company does. Ignoring complaints from Sir and a returned June, he manages to deactivate the machine. Once it is broken, Sir and June recognize it as a CannedLaughterTron, leading Dominic to decide that ďthe logic changes as we go along.Ē June or Sir must be an alien using mind control on him, but he remembers now that he fights evil for a living. They both deny his lunatic suggestions.

Kevin joins them, and Dominic says that he must be the alien. Kevin denies it, and then notices that the laughter is gone. He is confused but soldiers on, even when Dominic refuses to continue the charade and Kevin must play his fatherís part as well as his own. They conclude the anniversary scenario as Dominic recalls that he used to travel in time and space, which June denies: ďthe furthest weíve ever been is to Paris, in that feature-length Christmas special.Ē Dominic wonders if heís going mad. The theme tune plays, and Dominic realizes that the scenario reverts endlessly. June has forgotten about the CannedLaughterTron, and ignores his suggestions that something is amiss. No matter what has happened, she will love him forever. Dominic continues to wonder about his mental health; even if he is mad, he doesnít want to be sane again. He canít remember ever loving June. They never make love, and when they kiss itís only through the air from six feet away.

Kevin comes in. In case they are real, Dominic apologizes to them for abandoning his family in favor of his new memories. He wants a divorce. When Kevin complains that Dominicís bizarre behavior has left June crying all day, Dominic claims that she and the rest of her world donít even exist when heís not around. He demonstrates that thereís nothing outside the front door, just a white void. Kevin panics and runs to find his mother. The doorbell rings, and this time the street is there, along with Sir, because they have a dramatic purpose. Dominic suggests to Sir that their company ought to manufacture machines that travel through time and space, dimensionally transcendent machine in the shape of a small blue box. Sir gives him another promotion, at which point Dominic has had so many that he is now Sirís superior, and orders him to work on a prototype time-and-space machine.

June and Kevin return, and June announces that she has a surprise for Dominic. Kevin transforms himself into an alien monster, and June tells Dominic that heíd better save them from the monster. Thereís a weapon in his briefcase that should work. He finds a Technobabble Burbulator gun, but refuses to use it on Kevin. June protests that she thought this was what Dominic wanted, then takes the gun and destroys Kevin herself. She asks Dominic why he canít be satisfied with what she has offered him. He begs her just to talk to him, and she agrees, sending Sir away.

Dominic protests that he cannot love June no matter what she becomes; his love is for the entire universe, and he canít commit to a single individual. June questions whether his love for the universe matters in that case, and Dominic admits that he doesnít know. June removes the illusion of a home, and in the distance Dominic recognizes his ship in the midst of the white void. June begs him to take her with him on his journey; she can be his companion in his sci-fi stories, and demonstrates her ability to act as an expositionary device. She tells him that he is escaping not from fantasy to reality but from her fantasy to his own; how realistic is it that he travels through time and space in a blue box? He protests that he has stood against evil all his lives. June points out that his stories all have happy endings, not like real life. She begs again to go with him, but he refuses: if he takes her, heíll never be able to escape the possibility that his life is only a fantasy. She offers her love one last time, and as he disappears and the void surrounds her, June can only say, ďOh, my golly gosh. Oh, cripes.Ē

Source: Brendan Moody
 
 
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