THE BOTTOM LINE
'First things first, let me make it abundantly clear that you're all safe job-wise. Just because we're bringing back Reactor Cannon doesn't mean that any of what you're doing has to come to an abrupt halt.
'Now then, this is a rough breakdown of what we're going to do with the reboot. Yes, I did just use that dreaded word. I feel that it would work best in the current climate if we started fresh, returning to the TV show's sci-fi serial roots. Namely the 8-12 year old demographic. So as not to confuse the new audience, it just makes sense that we bring in an all-new cast.
'But that doesn't mean we're dismissing the original 70's cast outright. In fact I have a rather crafty way of bringing them into the new series later on. However I think it'd be wiser if we focused on the new lot for the time being for obvious reasons.
'To answer the question I see playing on John's lips, seen as how you have the original cast on contract for the 'Continued Adventures' audio dramas, you needn't worry. Carry on until the ends of their contracts and then we'll arrange something new. Love to them all by the way.
'As for the novels, Tom, it'd be great if you could create a new series to follow the rebooted show. It'll mean splitting focus, perhaps toning down your magnificently rich and complex current series, but I'm confident you can manage it. I will, of course, be getting out a rundown of the first series episodes to you all as soon as we've settled on the order. We certainly don't want any crossed wires. I have a list of writers I want involved in the first few books. You included too, of course, Tom.
'Now I just want to say welcome to the team, Pat, I've been hearing some fantastic things about your editorial skills on the web comics. I want to get in contact with you ASAP; as I'm sure you know we're bringing back the good old Reactor Cannon Monthly magazine and we'll need comics from the get-go. Am I right in thinking you have nothing in the works at the moment? Great.
'Now I've got to be going; we're starting bright and early for auditions. Tomorrow we're looking for the next Estefan and Lorna. Trust me, we will find the best. Thanks, guys.'
TIME'S UP - Novel Extract
'Shit,' Tom said. He sat at the corner of the bed. John was switching off the laptop at the table and Pat was just stepping into the bathroom. No matter how much they tried, they couldn't seek out enough space for themselves in the rather small hotel room. It was under Tom's name.
Tom swept back his curly brown hair and bit his bottom lip with his overbite. He pulled his tie out from under the stiff collar of his cream shirt and threw it behind him.
'Shit,' he said again.
John looked back at him. The scrawny old man with snow-white hair looked anxious himself but he was holding a lot back, Tom could tell. There was a small rivalry between them.
'Not to worry, old chap,' John eventually said. 'At least our projects are still green-lit.'
'Oh fuck off, John,' Tom grumbled. 'Your radio series is fine.'
'For the time being,' John said.
Pat switched the light off in the bathroom. She was still brushing her short black hair. Tom realised that he could actually look her in the eye whilst sitting down, she was so small.
'I don't really see what the problem is,' she said. 'Just more work.'
'Weren't you listening?' Tom snapped. 'That was Peter's awfully polite way of telling us that our hard work for the past twenty years has just been largely disregarded.'
'When did he say that exactly?'
'It was in the subtext!'
'Really, Tom.' John stood up. 'I don't think you need to shout at the girl.' He turned to Pat. 'I think what Tom is really angry about is the sudden change of canon.'
'Canon?' Pat frowned.
Tom sighed. 'She doesn't even know what canon is...'
'You're familiar with how the original Reactor Cannon series ended, yes?' John said.
Pat nodded. John smiled.
'The satellite was destroyed with everyone on board. It was the king of all cliff-hangers. Now Tom and I have been working together since then to carry on the series, first as well-meaning fans then as thriving businessmen. We continued the story. I picked up from the cliff-hanger with my audio drama Remnants and then Tom began the novel line with his book Days of Reconstruction.
'Since then we have taken the story in several directions. It was our story really until Peter announced he was bringing the show back. The story we had made was canon as far as the other fans were concerned. We had the license, we had the characters, we took them to hell and back.
'However now Peter has just told us that the show is starting from the beginning, our story has to come to an end. It may no longer have meaning to the show's future, it may no longer be canon.'
Pat shook her head. 'Sorry. I kept hearing canon as cannon.'
Both Tom and John frowned at her.
'As in Reactor Cannon,' Pat said. 'Two 'n's instead of one.'
'Three 'n's,' Tom interrupted. 'God's sake.'
'Look, do you remember what we were talking about in the lobby?' John said.
Tom watched the old man run his lovable granddad routine on the little woman. She looked off into the distance above his head, one eye squinting. 'I have a vague recollection.'
AN HOUR AGO - Comic Script
PAT, steps through the hotel entrance doors, her scarf eschew. She isn't quite certain where to go and quite frankly the bright lights in the lobby are a little blinding. Perhaps we can show this through a slight squint in her eyes and flailing hands. Or is that too cartoony? I know, I know, this ain't the funny pages.
Close-up of JOHN, a rather dashing mature gentleman. He has his green coat folded over in his arm. He offers his other hand.
JOHN 1: You are Patricia May, yes?
JOHN 2: I'm John Bradford. Hello there.
PAT is quite taken with JOHN; she's always had a thing for older men. Make her a bit starry-eyed for me. She takes his hand.
PAT 1: Yes. Hi, John.
PAT 2: Sorry, who do you represent again?
They're moving up the lobby now, towards the stairwell. Long-shot, I suppose. JOHN is smiling.
JOHN: Grand Flourish Studios. I'm the chap who makes the audio adventures. CDs and so forth.
PAT: With the Reactor Cannon cast?
JOHN holds open the door for PAT. She's still gazing at him as she passes.
PAT: I'm the new editor of Space Age Comics.
JOHN: I heard.
They ascend the stairs. Is there a clean way of going from behind them to straight in front of them? Perhaps I'm over-thinking this. Either way, they're now side by side.
JOHN: I've even picked up a few issues.
PAT 1: I used to script a few. Perhaps you've read them?
PAT 2: I was sort of fast-tracked to this position.
JOHN: I see.
Long-shot - now it might be a good time to show them from behind again. Come to think of it, we should vary up the perspectives of this conversation. They've reached the first landing.
PAT: Do you know what's going on here today?
JOHN: Well, I've been led to believe that we're having a video call in Tom's room. You've met Tom, right? Tom Wallace?
PAT: Oh yes. The one with the teeth and curls?
Mid-shot - focus on JOHN. He's laughing at that one. He has quite a warm laugh if you can show that.
JOHN 1: Ha, ha. Yes, I suppose that's a good description as any.
JOHN 2: He's the chief editor of Beyond the Reactor Cannon novel series, by the way.
Mid-shot - focus on PAT. She's got an embarrassed smile on her face.
PAT: I know.
Long-shot behind - they start ascending the next set of steps.
JOHN 1: We often work together.
JOHN 2: We do squabble though.
Mid-shot in front of them - PAT turns to JOHN with a frown.
Mid-shot of JOHN.
JOHN 1: Oh, yes. Mostly about what's canonical.
JOHN 2: Nearly there now, I think.
They reach the top of the stairs. Didn't really want that entire sequence to go on for that long. I'm starting to think an elevator would be a little less laborious.
JOHN: He thinks that not everybody got off the ship in the cliff-hanger. He says that there were prisoners still aboard.
They move towards the next set of doors. There's a sign beside them - ROOMS 40-50.
PAT: I thought it was a weapon satellite.
JOHN: It was.
They start up the corridor.
JOHN: They just kept a few dangerous characters in the lower parts. Nasty alien types that couldn't be just booted out into space.
I'm quite comfortable keeping behind them as they move up the corridor but it is of course up to you what would look more visually pleasing.
JOHN 1: I think they kicked the prisoners out before the final series but Tom insists that they were still aboard.
JOHN 2: He's written about them but I haven't once acknowledged their death in that way.
Mid-shot - they're standing outside Room 46, one on either side. JOHN knocks.
PAT: Oh. Okay.
JOHN: Fans never completely agree.
The door opens. TOM, all teeth and curls, is stood in front of them.
TOM 1: Come in, come in.
TOM 2: The computer's already booting up.
'Well I'm glad she understands now,' Tom said, though he didn't really mean it. 'I suppose comics aren't too concerned with knowing the finer details.'
'Excuse me?' Pat said.
'It just doesn't seem to me like you know much about this show. You haven't really read up on it. Or even what John and I have done to keep the show going.'
'Well, I'm very sorry that I'm not up to your level of knowledge,' Pat snapped, folding her arms. 'In case you didn't know I've only just taken this job. The previous editor never really told me much about the 'canons' of all our licenses. He just told me to keep an eye on the quality of the stories, run them by whoever owns the property from time to time.'
'Please, Pat,' John said. 'Try not to take too much of what Tom says to heart. He's hurt because he now has extra work on his hands.' He turned to Tom. 'Which might just be a blessing, you know. For both of us.'
Tom stood up. 'What do you mean?'
'Like the man said, a fresh start. Isn't this what we both want, Tom? Reactor Cannon back on the air. What's more, we're going to help bring it back. This is our opportunity.'
'And what will the original cast say?'
'Oh, I've talked to most of them, they agree that they couldn't really re-enter the roles. It's a young man's show.'
'Then why are they still doing the audios?'
John sighed. 'Do I really have to spell it out, Tom? Their voices haven't changed much but their bodies have. There's no double standard here.'
'Look, do we really have to argue?' Pat said.
'You don't.' Tom turned to her. 'You're safe. Peter said as much.'
'For goodness sake! We're all safe!' John raised his voice. 'We'll probably have to phase out our current projects eventually but that's it. The show is back, Tom! We've done our bit to keep it going and yet we're still wanted. Reactor Cannon hasn't been cancelled again, it's been rebooted!'
Tom moved back to the bed, laying down. 'I hate that term.'
'It's an Americanism, isn't it?' Pat said.
'Yes.' John scratched his nose. 'I believe so.'
Tom folded his arms. 'Always so confident, John.'
'And what's wrong with that?' Pat said.
John laughed. 'What's wrong with that indeed?'
EARLIER IN THE HOTEL LOBBY - Radio Script
SCENE 1 - INT Hotel Lobby. Background noises - guests booking in at the front desk, the clack and roll of wheeled luggage across linoleum floor, doors closing heavily, occasionally a phone ringing.
JOHN: Hello, Peter. This is John.
PETER: John? [beat] I thought we weren't holding the meeting for another hour or so yet.
JOHN: We still are. I just wanted to make a quick phone call before then.
PETER: What's up, John?
JOHN: I just wanted to let you know that our recording studios are ready for you as and when you need them.
PETER: Well that's great, John, but we didn't ask for that.
JOHN: I know. I'm just [beat] planning ahead, as it were.
PETER: John. I hope this isn't an attempt at bribery.
JOHN: Of course not, Peter! Perish the thought! I just thought you might need to borrow some of the sound effects and what not. Do you have everything you need?
PETER: Right now, yes.
JOHN: Fantastic. That's fantastic. I just wanted to let you know that all you have to do is ask. Grand Flourish is very happy to get involved with Reactor Cannon's comeback, very happy to ally our unique resources with yours.
PETER: That's great, John. Your enthusiasm is commendable. Just maybe tone it down a bit until we've got everyone on board. [beat] Okay?
JOHN: Yes. Yes, that is okay.
PETER: Talk again in a bit, John.
[SFX: a button being depressed on a phone]
'Fine,' Tom said. 'I suppose it won't kill me to bring out a new line. I am a bloody publisher after all, I have to get stuff out no matter how much it compromises my previous work.'
'That's good.' Pat smiled. 'And, worst comes to worse, we can always meet to discuss the new canonical state.'
'That's just canon, Pat,' John said.
Tom stood up. 'I don't think she quite has it yet.'
'I don't think any of us have it yet.' John approached him.
'Well, I'm going downstairs for a drink.'
'We'll join you,' Pat said.
They all moved towards the door. Pat looked up at John.
'So, John, are you available?'
He frowned. 'What do you mean?'
'Sorry, got that out a bit wrong. Are you single?'
'Oh. Yes.' John's face softened as he held open the door for her. 'Who would have me anyway?'
Pat gave him a wry sideways glance. Tom was already at the elevator, thumbing the button and muttering to himself. He had something of a plan fixing together in his head, very simple but relevant.
'It'll have to do,' he said.