EPISODE 1 – THE PREMISE
A struggling radio station host envisages a reality show to boost his audience numbers, ratings, and revenue. It tests his own limits and those of his listeners.
This fictional drama blends romance, action, comedy, and mystery, as it focuses on behavioral and physical health issues.
Introducing a Reality Game Show
Jack Halifax, hunches over his desk, making edits to the script that kept him up late the past few nights. Rhythmic raindrops batter the window beside him. He throws a glare in that direction, knowing the microphone will pick up the intrusive background noise.
His feet sink into the mire of carpet mildew that permeates the air with an intoxicating sickly-sweet redolence. Paint peels off the walls, and the stairs creak and groan like ghouls. Each shuffle of his damp shoes is a vivid reminder of the decrepit state of the rural edifice in which he works.
“To build confidence, Jack wheedles himself. “This competition should help with revenue. I know it will. Then I can move to a new studio,” he mutters while switching his computer on.
With a flip of another switch, boxes light up and whir to life. While contemplating consequences of financial ruin with this investment, he rubs the dull aching within his temples. Jack takes a sip of his hot, black coffee, grimacing at the bitterness. Then he pulls his script closer and adjusts the microphone. His radio jingle queues and he counts down the moment to begin speaking.
“Good morning, listeners of Two Lonely Trees,” Jack begins in a low and gravelly voice. “Welcome to today’s show. Unless you’re driving, stop and listen to this. I’m excited to announce our new game show—Random Matrimony. Make a vow to unite through sickness and health with a stranger!”
He pauses, allowing his introduction to sink into his audience. Some of whom are just rising, illuminating their slumber quarters. Others tune in with earbuds during their pre-sunrise run.
“The first couple to submit a marriage certificate with verifiable proof of no prior acquaintance wins a furnished home! The newlyweds must then agree to cameras recording the first two years of their lives together. If they can make it to the end of the two years, they get to keep the house without mortgage repayments. As the ultimate wedding gift, Two Lonely Trees will pay it!”
Some listeners elbow partners into consciousness and initiate rousing debates, while others require no further convincing. The studio phone erupts with calls, rattling its cradle as if screaming at Jack to pick up.
He laughs into the microphone. “It sounds like we already have some eager applicants! Please visit our website where you’ll find the entry form and contest rules. Read them thoroughly before submitting! I can’t wait to select a winner and get those cameras rolling on our newlywed strangers!”
Next, Jack plays a 20-minute prerecorded interview with a local business owner who discusses tips for removing raccoons from attics. Jack then becomes a live DJ who takes hillbilly music requests for a couple of hours.
For his segment entitled “In Sickness and Health,” he interviews a local doctor about how couples cope with chronic illness. Then Jack plays a prerecorded mix of songs. At the end of the four-hour set, he repeats the contest details and signs off with his radio’s jingle.
Jack ignores the lamenting phone. After swallowing his remaining lukewarm coffee, Jack stares at the mold growing on the walls of his studio and grins.
“Who could turn down this opportunity?” he asks himself with deep laughter, like a man consumed by madness.