Second Chances Series 2 Episode 1: "The C Word"

Submitted into Contest #54 in response to: Write a story about a TV show called "Second Chances."... view prompt



Black screen.

Cue music - “Second Chances Theme – Slow Piano Version” by Maria Tomlin.

Voice of Janine Scott: ‘Brian was lovely. Really lovely. We met at high school...’

Fade in artistically blurred, slow motion video of busy high school corridor. Pupils carrying books under arm while others push playfully at each other and laugh.

Janine Scott: ‘We were never in any classes together, but he kept giving me the eye, you know? I was thrilled when he finally asked me out.’

Image changes to an equally blurry beach in the early evening. A couple walk hand-in-hand towards the ocean. A large, orange sun is half hidden on the horizon and the first of the evening’s stars begin to show.

Janine Scott: ‘He was a real charmer. He had a romantic side to him that none of his friends would ever have known about. We saw each other for about a year before he asked me to marry him.’

Image of a newlywed couple exiting a church. White confetti rains down on the happy pair as they walk down the stairs to applause from their guests.

Change of music - “Second Chances Theme – Happy Version” by Maria Tomlin.

Janine Scott: ‘It was the perfect day, really. We were both really happy. My mum cried all day and she kept saying sorry. She hugged Brian and kissed him on the cheek. That made him a wee bit uncomfortable but he laughed it off. We had our first child the year after.’

Cut to hospital maternity ward scene. A proud, smiling new father holds his newborn baby, wrapped in a cosy blanket. The mother lies in bed, exhausted but overjoyed. The new family have their precious first embrace as one unit.

Janine Scott: ‘She was bang on time, arrived on her due date. She barely cried. Three years later we had our baby boy.’

Image switches to a happy family sitting on the floor. The mother and father laugh as a toddler places a block on top of a tower, and the tower collapses to the floor. The mother holds a beautiful newborn in her arms who watches with interest as the blocks slowly tumble to the floor.

Janine Scott: ‘Everything was so perfect. We were all a happy family. I didn’t think it would change.’

Music stops.

Image cuts to Janine Scott in the interview seat. A grey background is laid out behind her and she looks off at the interviewer to her right. Her face is melancholy.

Voice of female interviewer: ‘When did it start to go wrong?’

Janine Scott: ‘Around Christma… Sorry, Christmas.’

‘Shit, stop it there, stop! She stuttered.’

Phil, one of the editors paused the video.

‘Come on!’ John groaned. ‘This is the opener to the series. We didn’t get the viewing numbers we were looking for last year, we need to get this perfect! We can’t have stupid little mistakes like this. Can you edit the stutter out, Phil?’

‘Gimme a sec,’ Phil said, and he started clicking around the software before playing the video back.

Voice of female interviewer: ‘When did it start to go wrong?’

Janine Scott: ‘Around – Christmas.’

‘No, no,’ John said. ‘That doesn’t work at all. You can see the image jump and her voice goes weird. What if we just take out the “Around”?’

‘We’ll have to extend the family scene then,’ Phil said. ‘And then it’ll just jump to Janine when she says “Christmas”.’

‘Did she pause for a bit after she said that?’ John asked.

‘I believe so, yeah,’ Phil said. ‘Stick another black screen on when Lisa asks when it started going wrong, then cut to Janine just as she speaks. Let’s give it a try.’

Janine Scott: ‘Everything was so perfect. We were all a happy family. I didn’t think it would change.’

Music stops.

Black screen.

Voice of female interviewer: ‘When did it start to go wrong?’

Image cuts to Janine Scott in the interview seat. A grey background is laid out behind her and she looks off at the interviewer to her right. Her face is melancholy.

Janine Scott: ‘Christmas.’

Janine stares off into the distance before looking down at the floor.

Cue music - “Second Chances – Main Theme” by Maria Tomlin.

Cue title: “Second Chances”. Subtitle: “The C Word”.

‘Great!’ John enthused. ‘Fantastic work, Phil. What an opener! That’ll get the audience engaged for sure.

John had been asked to produce the second series of Second Chances and he’d thought the title of the show to be quite peculiarly apt. He had just finished producing a flop of a show called Tip Offs. The premise of the show had been somewhat interesting; it was a look at the most unusual things that were found at rubbish tips around the country. The idea was to interview both the people who worked at the dump and also those who were getting rid of unusual items and track down the stories of how they had come to be discarded. John imagined that there would be a few interesting stories to tell. He had been wrong. He’d realised this on the first day of filming when an eccentric worker at one of the dumps had been interviewed.

Yeah, we get a load of weird people coming in here with weird stuff, like. There was a guy once who came in with four big suitcases. I says to him, here you! What’s in them suitcases? He opens one of them and inside was a load of newspaper! Unbelievable! Same day there was this young couple getting rid of a big load of unused carpet. Perfectly fresh stuff as well. I asked them why they weren’t keeping it, they says they’d just moved into their new place and they didn’t need the trimmings. Then they just chucked it in! Can you believe that? Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff in my days here, like.

He never should have signed on to produce that one. The first season of Second Chances had come out around the same time, and it had done moderately well under a young producer who was new to the game. She’d moved on to another project and John had been asked to step in. It had been made clear to him that the numbers last year needed to be improved on if the show was to be renewed. John didn’t want to fail. This was both his and the show’s own second chance.

‘Right,’ John said. ‘What’s the next thing that needs a look?’

Phil flicked through a notepad he had set at the side of his computer. ‘I wanted you to take a look at the confession section.’

‘Okay, roll it.’

Janine Scott in interview seat: ‘So… I decided to confront him about it.’

Black screen.

Cue text on screen:

"The following video was recorded on Janine’s phone"

"It is being used with permission"

‘Wait, wait,’ John said. ‘Why don’t we add one more bit of text at the start, for a little more dramatic effect? Put “Janine decided to confront Brian about the letter” at the beginning. And take out “It is being used with permission”, replace it with “Brian did not know he was being filmed”. That’ll be more engaging. Good, now let’s continue.'

"Brian did not know he was being filmed"

Cue music - “Tension” by Maria Tomlin.

The camera wobbles as Janine places it in a position somewhere unseen. When she steps away we see that we are in the family’s kitchen. Brian steps into view moments after Janine walks away from the presumably obscured camera.

Hi,’ Brian says. He looks a little concerned. ‘What’s up? Is something wrong?’

Take a seat,’ Janine says. We can only see her back as she faces Brian. ‘I want to talk to you about something.’

Okay...’ Brian says, and the pair take a seat opposite each other at the kitchen table. ‘What’s wrong?’

Do you have something you want to tell me?’ Janine asks. Her voice shakes slightly.

Like what?’ Brian says. His eyes are fixed on Janine.

Like anything?’ Janine says. ‘Something you should probably tell your wife?’

Brian stares at Janine, seemingly unable to speak. There’s a silence for a few seconds before Janine breaks it.

I know, Brian,’ She says.

You know what?’ Brian asks. He looks increasingly worried.

I know about the letter,’ Janine says, and she takes it out of her pocket before sliding it across the table to an aghast Brian, who looks down at it with an open mouth.

Well?’ Janine asks.

Brian begins to sob. ‘I’m sorry, Janine. I’m so sorry.’

Cue music - “Drama” by Maria Tomlin.

Voice of interviewer over image of confrontation scene: 'Do you think Brian deserves a second chance?'

Cut to Janine in interview chair. She stares at the interviewer off screen. She says nothing.

Fade to black.

‘That’s pretty good,’ John said. ‘I think we should take out the music during the confrontation though. It’s a little too cheesy. Sometimes this stuff is more effective without the distraction of music. Then it’ll be more effective when it comes in at the end, when Brian apologises.’

Phil did as he was instructed then played the scene back for John.

‘Briliant!’ John said. ‘Much better! That will really work. What’s next?’

‘I’ve got the interview with Brian,’ Phil said. ‘Still can’t believe the guy agreed to be interviewed.’

‘I know,’ John agreed. ‘Brave guy. Let’s take a look.’

Image of the interview room where we’ve previously seen Janine. Brian takes a seat and someone helps him attach the microphone to his shirt.

‘Ugh, I hate it when I’m in these,’ John said.

‘Do you want me to take this bit out?’ Phil asked.

‘No, no,’ John said. ‘My wife gets a good laugh out of it.’

Voice of the female interviewer: ‘Why didn’t you tell Janine?’

Brian heavily sighs. He looks uncomfortable. ‘I don’t know,’ he finally says. ‘I should have. I obviously should have, I just...’

Brian trails off. He seems stuck for words.

Was it the children?’ the interviewer suggests.

Yes,’ Brian responds. ‘Partly, I suppose. I knew they would be hurt. I don’t think they ever would have thought about their dad that way. I was… ashamed, I suppose.’

Did you feel ashamed when your wife found the letter?’ the interviewer asks.

Brian takes another deep breath and stares off into the distance. ‘I never should have hidden it from her. It was stupid. Really stupid. I just never thought I was the type of person. The type of person to ch…’

‘You know what?’ John interrupted. ‘I think this is all fine. We should take one more look at it after lunch, but I really want to make sure we’ve got the ending right. Can we have a look at that?’

The footage that John and Phil had to work with was shot many months after the events that Brian had been describing in his interview. By this point, the Second Chances team had been in touch with both Brian and Janine, and had done some filming. If they could just edit this together in the right way, John thought they’d have a very strong first episode for the new series. He was keen to take a look.

‘Here we are,’ Phil said. ‘This is from… forty-nine minutes in.’

‘Perfect,’ John said. ‘Let’s see.’

Shot of a large, white building from the car park. The camera pans slowly upwards. It’s a bright day but the trees are bare. As the camera reaches the top the sun glares in the lens.

Cue text on screen:

"Ten months later…"

‘Get rid of that dot-dot-dot,’ John said. ‘It’ll look better without it.’

"Ten months later"

‘Okay,’ John said. ‘Now add some emotional music.’

Cue music - “Sad Piano Theme” by Maria Tomlin.

Cut to inside of what appears to be a waiting room. Brian sits with an anxious expression on his face. Next to him, Janine holds his hand and strokes it lovingly. She looks as though she’s trying to put on a brave face.

‘We should probably add that “filmed with permission” thing this time,’ John said. ‘The audience will need reassured.’

Cue text on screen:

"Filmed with permission from Albert Street Medical Centre"

Cut to another angle. From here we can still see Brian and Janine, but we can also see a large, electronic board. With a small beep, Brian’s name flashes up on the board:

Brian Scott – Dr Baker

Room 05

Cut to Brian and Janine walking into Dr Baker’s office. The camera wobbles slightly. On arriving, Dr Baker first greets the couple then makes eye contact with the camera.

‘Damn,’ John muttered. ‘That doesn’t look good. You know what, we don’t really need the footage of them arriving at the office. We’ve already got the establishing shot of the centre anyway. Just go straight to them sitting at the doctor’s desk after the shot of the board. And cut the music there too.’

Music cuts.

Shot of Brian and Janine sitting anxiously at Dr Baker’s desk. Dr Baker pulls a folder out of a filing cabinet and sits opposite them.

Okay,’ the doctor says. ‘Well Brian, I have the results here. As you know, the chances of your cancer clearing were about fifty-fifty. I know that’s not the most reassuring thing to hear, but...’

Cut to Brian, looking as anxious as ever.

Dr Baker continues. ‘I have some good news.’

Cut to Dr Baker, who is now smiling.

You’re in remission.’

Cut to Janine, who gasps and places a hand over her mouth. Tears can be seen in her eyes.

Cut to Brian, who just looks shocked.

Cut back to Dr Baker, who is still smiling. ‘You’ll need to keep having some tests for a while,’ he says. ‘But I can tell you, things are looking promising for an all clear.’

‘Stop,’ John said, and Phil paused the video. ‘Here’s where we should put in our royalty music. What have we got to work with?’

Phil opened a folder on the computer and scrolled through.

‘Let’s see,’ Phil said. ‘We’ve got Snow Patrol, Chasing Cars?’

‘Ugh,’ John muttered. ‘Overused. It’s in everything now, isn’t it? What else?’

‘Everybody Hurts, REM… That old Sia song that’s used all the time now… Oh, what about Fix You by Coldplay? Instrumental version. We haven’t used that for a while.’

‘I suppose,’ John thought. ‘You know what, yeah, stick that in. It’s been a while since it was used for every sob story on X Factor. Let’s see how that works.’

Cue music - “Fix You – Instrumental Version” by Coldplay.

Mixed shots of Brian and Janine embracing and sobbing happy tears, Dr Baker looking on with a smile, the pair exiting the medical centre holding hands and laughing, returning home and hugging their children.

Voice of female interviewer overlapping these scenes: ‘How do you feel to be cancer free?’

Cut to Brian and Janine sitting in the interview room together.

Brian - ‘I’m so happy. So happy. It’s like I’ve been given another chance, you know? A second chance at life. I feel really grateful.’

Interviewer: 'Do you think Brian deserves a second chance?'

Janine stares off camera for a moment before replying: 'Of course he does. Nobody more so than him.'

Janine looks at Brian with a smile. They hold hands and Brian gives Janine's a gentle squeeze.

Cue text, which fades onto a black screen just as the music strikes its last chord:

"Second Chances"

‘Stop,’ John said. ‘That’s it. We’ve got it. It’s perfect.’

August 12, 2020 12:41

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