note: this idea has been lurking around in the back of my head for some time, maybe as long as a decade. it's the sort of thing that works best on stage in front of a live audience; other media tends to blunt the comedy. since I had no venue for it, Rex stayed unwritten for some time. then it spawned another idea -- a much bigger, better idea -- but one with no room for the original concept.
so here it is: enjoy
Atomic Space Marshal Of The Cosmos
by Buzz Dixon
time: 1950 place: a tiny live TV studio
Cast: REX URANUS…………..the super-scientific genius responsible for maintaining peace and order in the universe, wears a gaudy uniform; in reality a fast fading matinee idol, somewhat long in the tooth for this sort of thing but still clinging to delusions of adequacy
SALLY SATURN…………..Rex’s bright, perky assistant who wears a similar gaudy uniform; in reality a young actress who naively came to the big city searching for stardom and who has been wised up fast
JUNIOR JUPITER…………..a space cadet trainee assigned to Rex, basically a big kid even though clearly an adult, wears a similar gaudy uniform; in reality a journeyman actor who has been in the business long enough to know how the game is played
The DIRECTOR…………..a harried professional trying to keep the show from falling apart on air, wears normal 1950s clothes, carries a much revised copy of the script, may be played by a male or female actor (no dialog)
The ANNOUNCER…………..a consummate professional with a melodious voice, introduces the show and does the commercial breaks, dresses nicely in 1950s clothes, may be played by a male or female actor
The PROCESS SERVER…………..a funny looking little man in a normal but ill-fitting 1950s suit, enjoys his job of sticking it to jerks, carries a blue bound legal divorce papers document he is trying to serve on the actor playing Rex (no dialog)
The stage is divided into three areas.
Center Stage: The standing headquarters set for the “Rex Uranus” TV serial. There is a large flat that serves as the CONTROL CENTER backdrop; it’s decorated with junk / military surplus / retro-futuristic designs. On the left side is a direction arrow labeled “Airlock” pointing stage right. There is a VIEW SCREEN on this flat; in reality it’s a large window size opening that actors may stand behind to appear they’re talking to Rex electronically. It is a practical effect, covered or closed when not actually in use, and needs to be positioned so a person standing behind it can reach through and hand an object to Rex. There needs to be enough room behind the Control Center flat for characters to move easily from one side of the stage to the other.
There is a waist high box on coasters that serves as Rex’ CONSOLE. It normally sits at an angle to the audience so they see two sides painted with retro-futuristic designs. The third side is hidden from the audience except when the Announcer turns the box around to reveal a sign on that side advertising the sponsors: Cocomojo and Castrosiac Syrup. The fourth side is open and reveals a space large enough for the Process Server to crouch inside; the sponsors’ products are stored in there between commercials. Atop the console is a big light colored mug labeled Cocomojo; this is Rex’ personal cup.
Center Stage should be lit and the action blocked in such a way as to indicate it is the live TV broadcast portion of the stage; the action on the sides (except where noted) is “off camera”.
Stage Left: The Director’s side of the TV studio. There is an easel on which the Rex Uranus title card, backdrop for the special effects, and cue cards will be placed; it needs to be situated so both the audience and Rex can read what’s on the cue cards. There is a stack of cue cards the Director will draw from when necessary, as well as a marker so the Process Server can write a message to Rex on the back of a cue card. There is also a fishing pole with a spaceship model hanging from the end; the Director uses this to simulate Junior’s rocket in space by dangling it in front of a space backdrop on the easel.
Stage Right: The Announcer’s side of the TV studio. When it’s time to do commercials, she will turn Rex’ Console so the sign is visible to the audience, take out and demonstrate the appropriate product, then turn it back for Rex to use when the serial resumes. She stores a big dark colored mug labeled Cocomojo and a large medicine bottle labeled Castrosiac Syrup in the Console.
There is a costume rack to the side with enough costumes hanging from it that the Process Server can hide behind it. The costumes should include a robot costume and a space monster costume; these need to be able to be donned quickly by the Process Server and the Director so realism is not a crucial factor. Atop the rack is a space helmet that Sally will cram on Rex’ head; it needs to appear to the audience to be capable of holding the contents of the Announcer’s stomach.
A dark stage. CUE MUSIC: Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. As the ANNOUNCER speaks, a spot lights the “Rex Uranus” title card on the easel stage left.
ANNOUNCER Rex Uranus! Rexxx Urrraaaanus! Atomic Space Marshal Of The Cosmos!
Raise lights, FADE MUSIC, fade spot on title card. REX URANUS and SALLY SATURN are consulting some instruments on the Control Center backdrop. The Announcer stands “off camera” stage right, the DIRECTOR stands “off camera” stage left.
ANNOUNCER As you remember from yesterday, Rex Uranus and his young protégé Sally Saturn are awaiting Junior Jupiter’s arrival from Earth.
SALLY Any sign of Junior yet, Rex?
REX …er…no, Sally. As you know we’re…we’re…
Rex stands so he can see the easel. The Director places a cue card with his next line on it.
REX (cont’d; reading) We’re several billion miles from Earth. Even at…
The Director puts up the next card.
REX (cont’d; reading) …at hyper warp speeds, it will still take him quite a while to get here.
Sally looks expectantly at Rex, awaiting his next line. She prompts him.
I’m sure you must have a very important reason for summoning him here.
No response from Rex.
A very, very important reason.
Hmm? Oh! Yes, yes. A very important reason indeed. You could say…
The Director puts up another cue card.
…the fate of the whole universe lays in the balance.
The Announcer steps onto the “live” portion of the stage and turns the Console so the sign faces the audience.
Yes, it’s another thrilling adventure with Rex Uranus, Atomic Space Marshal Of The Cosmos! Brought to you by Cocomojo, the delicious chocolockoly flavored drink for youngsters, and Castrosiac Syrup, Mom’s reliable partner in keeping her little space cadets healthy and happy! And now, back to…Rex Uranus!
Sally eyes Rex warily; he does not seem focused.
Is everything all right, Rex?
The Director looks puzzled, checks his script; Sally is improvising.
All right? Why wouldn’t everything be all right?
You just seem to be a little distracted recently.
…uh…space fatigue. Just a minor case of space fatigue. (picks up his mug) I…uh…just need a sip of good old chocolockoly flavored Cocomojo to perk me up.
The Director signals for Rex and Sally to get back on script. A BEEP-BEEP SFX is heard. Rex doesn’t register a response; Sally brings him back to the story.
Rex, the cosmic radar has picked up Junior’s rocket.
The Director puts a space background on the easel, then dangles a spaceship model in front of it as the spot lights it. Rex still isn’t up to speed yet.
Maybe we can raise him on the view screen.
Rex looks blank, then remembers.
Oh, yes. The master view screen. (stands erect, commanding voice) Activate the master view screen.
Sally fiddles with some instruments. The spot light on the easel and model rocket fades and the Director removes them. The view screen opens to reveal JUNIOR JUPITER on the other side.
JUNIOR Junior Jupiter calling Rex Uranus, Atomic Space Marshal Of The Cosmos! Come in, Rex!
Junior, how far out are you?
I’m about fifty million miles away from your orbit base, sir. I should see you in the next five minutes.
Excellent. I have an important mission for you.
Junior smiles slyly.
Yes, I know. Junior Jupiter, over and out!
The view screen closes. The Director looks puzzled, checks his script. He doesn’t see the PROCESS SERVER enter behind him. As Rex and Sally speak, the Process Server watches them, then picks up a blank cue card and writes something on it with a marker.
What’s the important mission, Rex?
Rex takes another drink.
It has to be a secret for now, Sally. As you know, I’m constantly on the look out for spies and saboteurs who might impede my duties as the Atomic Space Marshal Of The Cosmos. I’m going to send Junior on a mission to uncover a sinister plot to replace me as head of this organization.
Do you think Junior is old enough for such a dangerous mission?
He’s young, but he’s a good lad. He has…has…
Rex looks at the easel. The Process Server holds up his freshly written cue card:
I’M HERE TO SERVE YOU DIVORCE PAPERS. (flips card) DON’T MAKE THINGS DIFFICULT.
…divorce papers – I mean documents! Documents! Documents of space shattering importance.
Sally turns and sees the Process Server; so does the Director. The Director tries to hustle the Process Server off without making any noise; the Process Server wants to deliver his divorce papers. Sally improvises:
Just what are these documents, Rex?
What? Oh, secret. Top, top secret.
Well, I’m sure all the space cadets watching would want to know.
…uh…they are documents regarding a…uh…treaty between myself and…uh…Stella. The Empress Of Outer Space.
I thought you said you were looking forward to receiving those documents.
What, are you -- ? Er, no. I mean, well, there may be a misunderstanding –
Misunderstanding? Correct me if I’m wrong, Rex, but I thought you told me that you and Stella were nullifying your treaty.
Rex puts his mug back on console.
It’s not as easy as that, Sally! You…you need to understand how important this treaty is to…to my continued success defending the cosmos.
Ohhhh, I understand, Rex! Loud and clear!
The Director, thinking he’s gotten rid of the Process Server, signals the Announcer to do a commercial. As she does so, Rex and Sally step aside to carry on an intense but inaudible conversation. While all this goes on, Junior steps out from behind the Command Center and waits his entrance cue from stage right. On stage left, the Process Server sneaks back in.
The Announcer turns the Console around; takes out her mug.
While Rex and Sally await Junior Jupiter’s arrival, let’s hear this important message from Cocomojo. Young space cadets know Cocomojo is the delicious chocolockoly flavored drink that tastes good -- (takes a deep drink) -- but Mom, you know Cocomojo contains retinyl palmitate, carrageenan, phenylethylamine, theobromine, pantothenic acid, zinc sulphate, and magnesium carbonate, all essential ingredients for your child’s health. (takes another deep drink) Yes, Cocomojo, the drink that not just tastes good, but is good for you, too!
As the Announcer puts her mug back and turns the Console around, the Process Server starts to step onto the “live” portion of the stage to hand Rex the divorce papers. Rex sees him and recoils in horror, shoving Sally between him and the Process Server. The Director realizes the Process Server has returned and yanks him back. The two argue inaudibly as the Rex and Sally watch. The Announcer realizes they have dead air and calls out loudly:
And now back to our thrilling story. (no response) With Rex Uranus!
Rex tries to get back in character but Sally wants to continue their argument.
Junior should be entering the airlock right now.
You told me you wanted her to -- (realizes they’re back on the air) -- to nullify your treaty. You said that she didn’t understand you and she was controlling and domineering and you couldn’t understand why you made a treaty with her in the first place!
The Director hears this and turns from the Process Server to signal to Rex and Sally to get back on script. The Process Server tries to bolt past him but the Director grabs him and shoves him back.
You’re taking what I said out of context, Sally!
You said she was fat!
Sally! She -- she might be listening via space ether!
I don’t care! (to audience) Fat! Do you hear that! Fat! Fat! Fat! That’s what he said.
Rex clamps hand over Sally’s mouth. Junior walks in jauntily.
Hiya, Rex! What’s up with Sally?
Sally has been overcome with interstellar insanity!
Sally bites him; he YELLS and lets go. She rushes off to stage left. The Director stops her and tries to calm her down while Rex and Junior do their scene. As he does, the Process Server grabs the pole with the spaceship model sneaks around behind the back of the Control Center.
Yeah, there’s a lot of that going around.
He picks up Rex’ mug, sniffs it, smiles slyly.
Got a little rocket fuel contaminating your Cocomojo, eh, Rex? Or should I say there’s Cocomojo contaminating your rocket fuel?
Rex snatches the mug and puts it back on the console.
You -- you seem to forget yourself, cadet Junior.
Yeah, forget, that’s the word for it. So, what’s this great big super-duper secret suicide mission you’ve got planned for me?
There is a -- wait, who said anything about it being a suicide mission?
I can read a cast sheet, daddy-o. Junior Jupiter isn’t making role call for the foreseeable future.
Well, the mission might take you away for a long time.
Yeah. Long time as in forever. Remember Mike Mars? Vera Venus? Nate Neptune? All it took was one fan letter too many and =pew!= off into the eternal void they went.
Those were…gallant heroes…died saving the universe…
Yeah. Keep telling yourself that. Look, I know the score, let’s not drag this out too long, okay?
Very well. I want you…
Rex pauses. The Director looks for the next cue card but as he does, Rex looks directly at the audience.
…I want you to take a message to Stella, The Empress Of Outer Space. I want you to tell her that Rex never meant the things he said to her, and that he certainly never said the things Sally said he said…in her fit of interstellar insanity. I…I want you to tell Stella that Rex does not want to nullify our long standing treaty, that Rex is sorry for anything he may have said or done to hurt Stella’s feelings, and that Stella should recall her space ambassador before things deteriorate to the point where we’ll both regret what happens. Oh, and that Rex never ever said Stella was fat. Never.
Yeah, right. Good luck with that. (waves to audience) See ya, kids!
As Junior exits stage right, Sally re-enters from stage left. Though still upset she’s forcing herself to stay in character.
I heard what you said, Rex. Very touching. Very touching indeed.
Rex tries to take her by the shoulders, she steps back abruptly.
The Process Server leans over the top of the Command Center flat and dangles his divorce papers right above Rex’ head. Rex looks up and sees them, recoiling with alarm.
What’s the matter, Rex?
That’s -- that’s a deadly flat space bat! Yes, a deadly flat space bat from Pluto!
Are you sure? It looks like just a harmless piece of paper to me.
She reaches up to take it. Rex grabs her and yanks her away. The Director bolts behind the Command Center flat. The Process Server abruptly disappears, dragging the pole and divorce papers with him. TERRIFIC STRUGGLE SFX as the Command Center flat shakes while the two tussle behind it.
Stay away from the Command Center, Sally, while we…uh…we go through this meteor storm.
The struggle stops. The Director steps from behind the flat on stage left, holding the pole but not the divorce papers. He signals for the Announcer to do a commercial.
As the Announcer spins the Console around and takes out the Castrosiac Syrup bottle, the Process Server sneaks out from behind the Command Center flat on stage right, still in possession of the divorce papers, and hides behind the costume rack to observe Rex.
Mom, you know sometimes when little space cadets enjoy too much of a good thing, their tummy-tum-tums hurt. That’s when you need Castrosiac Syrup, the strong fast acting medicine to put your little space cadets right.
As the Announcer speaks, the Process Server sneaks behind her, crawling along the floor to climb into the open side of the Console.
Just one teaspoon of Castrosiac Syrup mixed in a cup of delicious chocolockoly flavored Cocomojo and their upset tummies will be back in tip-top shape. That’s Castrosiac Syrup, now available in most states without a prescription.
The Announcer returns the bottle under the Console and spins it around for Rex and Sally. Suddenly the Process Server’s hand thrust up from inside the Console, trying to hand Rex the divorce papers. Rex YELLS in alarm and spins the Console around so that the audience sees the open side clearly for the first time.
Another flat space bat!
The Process Server sticks one leg out to push himself along in the Console, chasing Rex around while trying to hand him the divorce papers.
Sally, you’ve got to help me!
While Rex and Sally continue talking, the Announcer reaches out and grabs the Console to pull it to her side. The Process Server tries to push away but she’s got too good a grip and slowly drags him “off camera” stage right. As she does, the Process Server gets an idea: He opens the bottle of Castrosiac Syrup, pours it into the Announcer’s mug, then reaches up, to grabs Rex’ mug from atop the Console and switches it with the Announcer’s mug. The Director hurries behind the Command Center flat but just as he comes out on the other side, the Process Server scurries from the Console and hides behind the costume rack.
Sally, you…you have to look at this from the perspective of…of a mature solar officer, not a space cadet.
Space cadet. Interesting choice of words, Rex. You’ll need a new space cadet now that Junior is gone.
Well, we can have a replacement sent up immediately.
There’s a new space cadet already on the way.
He -- or maybe she -- won’t arrive for nine months.
The Director and the Announcer do a double-take at this.
Well, we’ll just have to make due with -- nine months?!?!?
Nine months?!?!? Are you sure?!?!?
That’s what the space doctor said.
But -- I thought -- the…uh…meteor shield –
These things happen.
But…are you sure this…space cadet is assigned to me?
Sally’s expression turns to cold rage.
What, you think there are other Atomic Space Marshals Of The Cosmos out there? You’re the only one, Rex!
But -- if word of this reaches the wrong ears, it could be disastrous!
The Director pushes the Announcer onto the “live” portion of the stage, motioning for her to do another commercial while Rex and Sally have another intense but inaudible conversation.
…er, while Rex and Sally discuss the…uh…arrival of a new space cadet, let’s take a moment to enjoy another delicious chocolockoly flavored mug of Cocomojo, the drink that not only tastes good, but is good for you.
The Announcer sees her mug atop the Console, grabs it, and drinks deeply. She’s about two swallows into it when her eyes bulge, realizing what she’s drinking. She drops the mug and begins making RETCHING NOISES so loudly even Rex and Sally stop arguing to watch. The Director is in a near panic; he grabs the nearest bucket-like object -- Rex’ space helmet atop the costume rack -- and hands it to the Announcer. She turns her back on the audience and is violently sick in the helmet, interrupting Rex and Sally every time they’re about to start speaking again with RETCHING NOISES.
While this is going on, and the Director is trying to help the Announcer, the Process Server hastily dons the robot costume and starts lumbering out towards Rex on the “live” part of the stage. When the Director looks up in his direction, he freezes. The Director returns his attention to the Announcer and the Process Server advances closer on the stage. The Director looks up again; again he freezes. As the Director’s attention is distracted again by the Announcer, the Process Server lurches “on camera”, trying to hand Rex the divorce papers. Rex sees this and reacts in alarm, pushing the Console between himself and the Process Server.
Sally -- anyone -- help!
Why, Rex? That’s just Klankor, the friendly robot.
He doesn’t seem too friendly to me!
The Director sees what is happening, grabs the space monster costume, drapes it over himself, and then rushes out to grab the Process Server and wrestle him back stage right. As this happens, the Announcer sits down, holding the helmet in her lap, looking woozy.
Oh, thank goodness! A…uh…friendly space monster happened by and saved us from a fate worse than death.
The Director drags the Process Server over to the costume rack and hooks the robot costume onto it so the Process Server is effectively trapped. The Director then checks how the Announcer is doing.
As he does this, Junior re-enters stage right, now changed into his street clothes. Junior looks puzzled at what has happened and confers briefly and inaudibly with the Process Server, then moves behind the Command Center flat.
And what fate would that be, Rex?
Rex grits his teeth.
If there is negative publicity, I might be retired. We wouldn’t want that to happen, would we? How will you be able to help the new space cadet if I am retired?
I don’t know, Rex, I’ll just have to figure it out.
Sally exits stage right. Rex remains alone on the “live” portion of the stage. He has no idea what to do next since the Director is still attending to the Announcer. Rex straightens his costume, faces the audience.
Uh, if Stella, The Empress Of Outer Space is watching this –
The BEEP-BEEP SFX from the Command Center gets his attention. He turns as the view screen opens to reveal Junior on the other side.
Junior! Oh, you don’t know how happy I am to see you!
I bet you are, Rex. Look, before I shoot off into the void, I just want to say I understand how these things go.
Yeah. You got a sweet gig, you don’t want to lose it -- or the perks you think you’re entitled to. So you do what you gotta do to protect yourself.
Well, I wouldn’t put it so bluntly but…I’m glad you see my point of view.
Sure. To know all is to forgive all, right?
Rex steps close to view screen.
I’m so glad you see things that way. And listen, Junior, if there’s anything I can do –
Oh, trust me, you’ve done enough. There is one last thing I’d like to say, however.
Junior leans through the open view screen, grabs Rex’ wrist, and slaps the divorce papers into it.
You’ve been served, daddy-o! And on live TV, no less. Sayonara!
The view screen closes. Rex stands there, looking dumbfounded at the divorce papers in his hand. The Process Server waves his hands above his head like a boxer winning a fight. The Director turns his attention from the Announcer to the disaster unfolding before him. He motions for Rex to say something, anything. As Rex begins speaking, Sally re-enters stage right.
…uh…if the sponsors are watching -- and I know you are – then let me assure you, Rex Uranus has the situation firmly under control. We…uh…I will make sure that the events of today remain ultra tip-top secret, and that no one outside of…uh…our space attorneys need ever know about any of the details involving Stella, The Empress Of Space…or Junior Jupiter…or Sally Saturn…or especially the alleged new space cadet which I am sure if he really exists will be proven in a court of law to actually be –
Sally, enraged by what she hears, grabs the space helmet from the Announcer’s lap, marches onto the “live” portion of the stage, and crams it down around Rex’ ears.
You’re going on a long space trip, Rex! Don’t forget your helmet!
Sally storms off stage left. Rex staggers around blindly. The Director buries his face in his hands. The Announcer looks up at the audience.
Tune in tomorrow, kids, for a brand new show. It’ll probably be a Western.
And as the Announcer whirls to make RETCHING NOISES again…
Rex Uranus, Atomic Space Marshal Of The Cosmos copyright © by Buzz Dixon. Rights inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org