BEV & BEVERLY: Alien Historians 101
So, who are BEV and BEVERLY?
There have been a few blog entries written about these two already – some of the history behind how they evolved and some of the hopes of yours truly about getting the elusive Randall Lanthier to return to the role alongside the wonderful Viv Moore. But all that is secondary to how a new audience will come to perceive my two favourite aliens.
All good B-movies should have baddies – that is just a given. All good B-movies should have humour – it is what saves the plot from instantly being scoffed at and reducing the film to a C, D, Z or even a film starring Jennifer Lopez. B-movies need to plant a tongue firmly in cheek and just go for broke which, considering the plot of so many B-movies, often helps to soften the stretch in the credibility factor, pulling it back slightly from the edge of that black hole called “Straight to DVD release”.
Flashback is no less a classic B-movie archetype, minus the “movie” part of it, of course. As a CD series, it strives to celebrate what is best in B-movies as well as in other popular media while doing all that in the audio format. And while some of the main characters aren’t really your typical B-movie hero or heroine, the baddies… or the perceived baddies as they are… should really offer the listener the chance to fondly remember all that is good and wonderful and extremely cool about B-movies, without actually being a B-movie at all. I suppose I just love the idea of homage.
Enter Bev and Beverly.
For almost all of the time up to and including the recording period I was wondering how I would depict them visually – i.e.: on the CD box set art or even on the web site. I had already planned to manipulate their voices just so they wouldn’t sound so “human” but what would I do with the visuals? I entertained ideas of bulbous heads, spangled space suits and ray guns the size, (and perhaps shape), of schnauzers. But when it came to take the photograph that was to ultimately become the first piece of original artwork to represent Bev and Beverly, what was I really looking for?
Well, I’m not one to want to hide my actors away in virtual foam latex suits am I? And I wanted more than just the actors’ eyes to be recognised by their friends and family. So, really, I wanted more. I wanted the aliens to be almost human in form and when I look back over the writing, I see why I would want that.
Bev and Beverly are more human than most aliens. I suppose they have to be if they are to participate in an audio series because it is really difficult to evolve two principle characters in a convincing story arc if all they do is grunt, spit acid and ovulate over the course of ten episodes. So what I really needed was to give these two characters lots of traits an audience would relate to. What? Not convinced? Well, you try it… go on, I dare you…
I needed to give them humour, pathos, sadness, a range of possibilities, interests, and an adventure peppered with the occasional boring bit of techno-babble… I needed to present them as well-rounded individuals but also as belonging to the same species. As listeners, you get to hear two more members of the alien society – a lowly communications technician and the Senior Archivist herself, deftly and humorously played by Elaine Smookler in more than just a Conehead parody/homage performance. But Bev and Beverly needed to stand out in a way that made the listeners feel for them – feel sorry for them, feel proud of them, feel tickled by their quirks and one-liners. I needed the listener to buy into them 100% and if I then turned around and represented them as blobs with a brain carriage the size of six Victoria sponges, well… then I think I would be doing the characters an injustice.
I chose to interpret them for the audience in the image above because I think what makes some of the humour even more hilarious is the similarities to our own species. Bev is disgusted with humanity, with the way we look, the way we eat, our primitive languages, etc. Isn’t it better then that she resembles us? What better way to point out that really, these aliens are not that dissimilar to ourselves, so therefore, they can behave like us and make mistakes, yet also make good judgements. It is perhaps racism taken to the extreme, wrapped up in comedy and then baked until light headed. Bev loses control but Beverly is just like an eager puppy when presented with new opportunities and new playthings.
I guess I really like these two and while the temptation was there to dress them all up like Ming the Merciless, I chose to tone that down a bit and let the acting dictate how the listener will interpret them. Viv and Randall’s styles are completely different and that is as it should be. The two characters are completely different, like Laurel and Hardy or Basil and Sybil. They are the double act whose set is invaded by outsiders and must alter the act in order to get even more laughs. Right now I’m using temporary audio effects as I edit their scenes together, giving their voices the kind of resonance made popular by the alien Zentradi in the Japanese cult-film success Macross or its American remastering as the series Robotech. And so far, I think it really works!
It remains to be seen how much people will take to these two but I for one have laughed my head off during the recording sessions and I plan to do a hell of a lot more laughing as I proceed into the dialogue edits and start adding in the wacky sound effects. I simply can’t wait to release these two upon the world!