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David Hines [userpic]

I surrender: "Jupiter Four"

February 3rd, 2012 (12:58 pm)
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So the "I surrender!" meme wherein you have someone assign you a basic premise to turn into a TV show is going around again. I have a theory that [personal profile] marina is basically my opposite fan creature -- we are in fandom for opposite reasons! She is all about the FEELINGS whereas I hate feelings! She is here for the porn and I am bored by it! Naturally, I asked her to hit me up.

Naturally, she assigned me GIGOLOS IN SPACE.

BACKSTORY

JUPITER FOUR is a space thriller series set on the Jovian moon Callisto. In 2087, the inner solar system is increasingly colonized. Mars was long where the action is; now it's becoming a suburbia. But the moons of Jupiter are still undeveloped frontier territory. The place is remote. Isolated. Sparsely populated. It is bleak and barren, and it is the last place you would expect to find three handsome young gigolos.

AND YET.

I would say "meet the gigolos" here, but the problem is that you can't, because I can't cast them. The role requires three extremely good-looking guys in their early twenties, and *these are my least favorite kind of actors on the planet,* because they are pretty much interchangeable as far as I am concerned. (I agree unreservedly with Angelica Huston, who said, "I think people become more watchable after 30, when they have something on their face and something between their ears.") I am wide open to suggestions, because I need 'em here. I will tell you about their personalities and backgrounds instead.

The gigolos are Nate, Wendell, and Lee. Nate was a relatively privileged kid who never learned to worry about money. He partied through the easiest classes in a very expensive college until his family met with some nasty reversals and left him high and dry. Faced with having to cover tuition, and housing, and food, and car payments, and the credit lines he'd run up, Nate tried for a Hail Mary. With the aid of his friend Wendell, who came from a poorer background and felt obligated to Nate because Nate's family had been unknowingly helping Wendell cover a lot of the bills, Nate ran a gambling scam that unfortunately hooked a far, far, far bigger fish than he'd realized was even in the ocean. They got off with their lives, and wound up working on the big fish's pleasure line. After a year, Nate and Wendell ran Wendell's meticulous records against the numbers their supervisor provided, and realized they were never getting out unless they made a break for it. With Lee, whom they'd met on the pleasure line, they stole a shuttle and made a break for the Jovian moons, where they promptly find themselves in a shitload of trouble.

THE CAST

NATE is a very, very, *very* good gigolo. He's an excellent actor and people-reader; he doesn't just give his clients what they want, he gives them *who* they want. Sometimes before they even know they want it. As we start out, Nate is in a pretty cynical place: he has had a big dose of The Way the World Works, and he doesn't have a lot of optimism. He will lie, he will cheat, he will do whatever the hell he feels he has to.

WENDELL is Nate's conscience. Where Nate is the leader, the gentler Wendell is the business head of the team. He's shy and soft-spoken, surprisingly warm-hearted, and very good with figures the way Nate is good with people. He has a brilliant capability for logistics and excels at identifying the weak points of organizations and systems -- not the people who have a capacity to let it down, but the flaws in how it is designed to operate. Where being a gigolo has changed Nate, Wendell is largely who he always was. More to the point, he remembers who Nate used to be.

LEE is the innocent of the team, which is odd considering he was born and raised in a space whorehouse. He's been underfoot, he's been a servant and cupbearer, when he grew up he was a sex slave, all of it in an atmosphere of decadence and luxury. To Lee, the outside world and workaday life is the most exotic thing imaginable. He's already fucked the universe. Now he wants to *see* it. He is a little bit in love with Nate, who, sad to say, brought him along in the escape only because Lee was seen as eminently trustworthy and so had access to everything they needed to facilitate their getaway. Nate manipulates Lee shamelessly. Wendell doesn't like that, because he actually cares about Lee.

THE PILOT

The shuttle lands on Callisto, the tide-locked fourth moon of Jupiter, near the Vrooman Scientific Research station. The station is under the command of DR. DELILAH COLE (Ellen Barkin), who oversees a small human crew and an enormous robotic staff. Cole initially tries to run the boys off, but Nate's charm and her crew's interest leads her to give them a chance, much to the delight of adventure-seeking geologist DR. MARGIE GREENE (Ciera Payton) and the mild befuddlement of shy roboticist ELLEN YANG (Joan Chen). Also present is the humanoid robot CHATTER-G (animatronics voiced by Maurice LaMarche), who not only serves as an interface between the humans and the robotic workers but is programmed to be the best friend a person could possibly have -- supportive, understanding, cheerful, upbeat. And it is, to the point that Cole has come to hate it.

Cole and her crew are eighteen months into a four-year mission, and the boys are a welcome distraction. But Cole points out the flaws in Nate's plan: the settlements on Callisto are tiny. Most of the ones on the dark (non-Jupiter) side are small scientific stations. They'd make more money planet-side, where a lot of the mining consortiums operate. And they'll have to pay plenty to resupply food and water. Keeping humans alive on Callisto is expensive.

Cole has business on the other side, so Nate and crew offer her a lift. They make inquiries about their own business there, and run afoul of MARIUS (Ron Perlman), the closest thing to an organized crime boss on the Jovian moons. His bar/hotel/casino, the Wall of Sleep, is the closest anyone has come to a den of scum and villainy on Callisto. When the boys go there to try to find a place to rent, or drum up clients, Marius makes it known that if there are any whores, he'll be running them. Nate won't have that: he's working for himself. No one else. It turns ugly, and the boys and Cole are forced to flee. They take her back to her base, and get ready to leave Callisto in the morning.

When they wake up, their shuttle has been sabotaged. There's only one way to get supplies: place a very expensive special order, which they can't afford. Or they can go back to Marius's place to see if anyone has parts for sale. Which they probably can't afford either. Not to mention that nobody knows who sabotaged the shuttle, so they're all paranoid as hell. And did I mention it's expensive to keep humans alive on Callisto? Cole is going to have to start going to major trouble to keep them, which means charging an exorbitant amount of rent. Also, they keep borrowing her land rover. They might wind up having to sell the shuttle and going home by charter flight and commercial transit to face the wrath of the Big Fish.

Nate swallows his pride and goes for another meeting with Marius. It doesn't go well, in part because Nate's hatred for Marius makes him unreasonable, and vulnerable. Marius still refuses Nate permission to operate. Won't buy the shuttle. But he does ask, in passing, how much Nate charges for sex. When Nate tells him, Marius puts it on the table. Nate says he doesn't need the money that badly. So Marius doubles it. And doubles it. Until there's enough on the table to fix the shuttle and fly out. Marius is enjoying himself: he knows how much Nate hates him, and he doesn't need the money. The sum is everything to Nate and nothing to him, and Marius is curious to find out at what point Nate will swallow his self-respect and take the cash.

Which, of course, Nate eventually does.

The money he gets for letting Marius bend him over the desk is enough to get the shuttle fixed, to fly out. To where the Big Fish is looking for them.

So of course he gives all of it to Cole. Bed and board, he says. He's just bought six months. He's going to build a business, earn enough to pay his own way, and upend Marius's applecart. Because no one is ever, ever, going to push him around again.

THE SERIES

-- Cole gets more and more swept up in Nate's schemes, in part because she keeps having showdowns with Marius on his behalf as the dark side's administrator. She winds up becoming the de facto crime lord of the dark side.

-- Cole and Nate manipulate the hell out of each other and have lots of sex.

-- The boys build up their business and have adventures and interactions with any number of customers ("client of the week" episodes).

-- Wendell realizes that Cole is not telling them the truth about exactly what kind of research her team is here *for.* She has secrets, big ones, and Yang and Greene may not be in on all of them.

-- Nate becomes the escort of choice for visiting dignitaries, which means that Marius is essentially forced to let him operate to a certain degree in Marius's territory. This is an excuse for any number of Lex-and-Clark-at-the-charity-ball-type scenes.

-- CHATTER-G serves as a telepresence device for all *sorts* of things. Some nefarious.

-- Lee suffers disillusionment with "normal life," and starts thinking about calling the Big Fish to come get him.

-- Wendell gathers information about Marius's network, which gives us angles for various espionage and crime stories.

-- When, under Yang's direction, CHATTER-G does its best to emulate Nate's successful social interaction, it programs other robots to do the same and Yang is alarmed to discover that she has inadvertently created a robot brothel.

-- Greene discovers a mineral pocket that is entirely ancillary to the mission, but that could make her personally quite wealthy. She desperately wants to exploit the strike, and is torn between it and her mission with Cole, the successful completion of which might keep her from ever returning to the strike.

-- That mission? The discovery of alien life beneath the surface of Callisto. It turns out that the boys' shuttle wasn't sabotaged by any of the usual suspects. This, and some other mysteries that crop up, are the result of explorations by Callistan scouts who are astonished to discover that intelligent life exists outside their great ocean.

Originally posted on my DW. | comment count unavailable people have commented there. | Do so yourself, if you like.