Of the four Base 327 Christmas specials we’ve made, the third one (from 2011) is easily the most unique. It’s different from the other three in a lot of ways; for instance, the first, second, and fourth film’s plots revolve around Santa coming to the base around two weeks before Christmas to ask them what presents they want, whereas the third is mainly about Rico staying up late to spy on Santa as he places the clones’ gifts under the tree. It’s the only one of the four that actually takes place [partly] on Christmas. It’s the only film in the series before Important Business that is in a “widescreen” format (Which isn’t actually true, given that it’s just a regular 4:3 video with the top and bottom blacked out. We basically “faked” widescreen, and I decided I didn’t like it enough that we quit doing it for the very next episode). And of course, it was blocked in most of the world as a result of a piece of copyrighted music we had used, which meant that very few people could see the video until we uploaded the re-edited version the next December.
And if I’m being honest, I’d probably say it’s my least favorite of the four specials. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate it—personally I think the four Base 327 Christmas specials are some of our best work—I simply don’t like it as much as the others. That said, I guarantee I would like it a lot less if we had used the original ending I’d written.
Now I’ve written dark stuff before; one of the canceled sequels for my live-action time travel short film The Time Trick had a scene where the protagonist’s hand gets cut off by a crazy enemy with an obsession for the time traveling watch, before our hero is able to use time travel to get it back. Although this isn’t quite as bad as that, it’s still pretty dark for Base 327, which is why I felt Halloween was an appropriate time to write about it. Very few people know this story (which kind of makes it creepy…), and this is probably the closest thing to a real-life “lost episode” creepypasta that you’re likely to find, especially from me. And to combat the inevitable accusations, it’s 100% true, I promise!
For those of you who’ve seen Christmas at Base 327 3, either the original or re-edited versions, you know the story: Rico sneaks out of bed on Christmas to see Santa delivering presents, he gets caught, Santa forgives him, Santa happens upon the Janitor about to shoot himself and scolds him for not being in bed, and the clones wake up the next morning, happy with their presents. All is well (and suddenly I feel like watching it again). But it wasn’t always going to be that way.
I don’t know if I was in a bad mood that day, or if I was depressed for some reason, or if I was just trying to inject a little pathos into the series. The first version of the script is practically the same as the final version (why write drafts when you have Microsoft Word?), except that it takes a needlessly dark turn after the scene where Santa confronts the Janitor. Rather than summarizing it, I’ll let you read it for yourself. Here is the complete end scene from the original Christmas at Base 327 3 script, before it was rewritten. The parts in green made it to the final film while the parts in red were either removed or changed.
(Show the Janitor about to shoot himself with a pistol. He is startled by Santa.)
Janitor! What are you doing out of bed!
I’m working, sir.
At 2 am? You should be ashamed!
It’s the night shift! I’m always up at 2 am!
No presents for you, only coal. (leaves)
Even Santa Claus? ARGHHH!!! (picks up gun again)
(Show Rico and Fox going to bed. They here a blaster sound.)
What was that? Uh who cares…
(Fade out. Fade in to show the Christmas tree with tons of presents around it. Show clones sleeping. One wakes up and tells everyone it’s Christmas. The other clones wake up and cheer. This whole scene is just like the beginning of New Year’s at Base 327. The clone yawns and runs out the door, and all the clones run towards their Christmas presents. Show Bomby and Bomber.)
Oh I can’t wait to see what I got! (opens box) What? Coal? But—but I haven’t pranked anyone this whole month!
What about that gun you put in the Janitor’s trash can last night?
(Show Rico and Red going outside.)
My assault tank!
Um, Rico, you realize that’s a droid tank, right? (show an AAT)
I don’t care. (runs off)
(Red sighs and walks away. Show the New Guy frantically running around asking everyone if they’ve seen the Janitor. He goes to the Commander.)
Commander! I can’t find the Janitor!
Ha ha! Why would you worry about him, he’s stupid.
(angrily running off) You’re no help.
The New Guy’s looking for the Janitor…you don’t think…
Oh NO! It was just a joke! I didn’t think he’d actually do it! When the New Guy finds out that I put the gun in the trash can we’ll be in so much trouble!
I’ll just let that sink in. Okay that’s enough.
But really, think about that. In the original script for Christmas at Base 327 3, the Janitor kills himself. And no, this wasn’t like the cartoonishly gruesome death of the Cook in Red Squadron Goes to the Movies, where he’s back in the next episode; I fully planned for this to be the last time you’d ever see the Janitor. In fact, I remember wanting the next episode to be about the Commander trying to find out who killed him (and it would’ve been a much more serious episode).
But none of that happened. I’m not sure how much time passed before I rewrote it, or what made me decide to, but I did, and the film ends with a couple extra present-opening shots, Rico happily receiving his new [droid] tank, and running over to shoot a missile from it. I’m glad I rewrote it. Not only would the implication of the Janitor shooting himself have been way too dark for a Base 327 movie (let alone a Christmas Base 327 movie), but it also would have been bad storytelling. You can’t go from a happy Christmas story to completely different and overly depressing story about suicide in the same seven-and-a-half minute video and expect to get away with it, even if you plan to continue it later on. It’s a complete change of focus and tone. Well, I suppose you could get away with a story like that if you did it right, but the way we were doing it was not right.
To be honest, I don’t really like the rewritten version either. I know we were trying to keep the running gag going that no one likes the Janitor, but of all people, Santa Claus should have been the one person who was nice to him (kind of like how Captain Norris is the one person who can call ARF “Arfy”). In any case, it’s still a lot better than the original version.
At least this one doesn’t give you nightmares. On Christmas.
Happy Halloween everyone! If you’re interested, I’ve included both versions of the Christmas at Base 327 3 script as Doc files, so you can read and compare and whatnot.
Christmas at Base 327 3 (original version of the script)
Christmas at Base 327 3 v2 (rewritten version)
Also, here’s the video itself so you can relive the happy lack of random horror! (click here if embedded video doesn’t work: http://youtu.be/nIx9t9utb6U)
And just in case you can’t stand any talk of Christmas just yet, here’s a link to a playlist of all the Halloween videos my friends and I have made: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLbdbm04N5n74jzta9fURclO20ID4-2v1T. Have a great night!