Wednesday, April 14, 2010

For all you millions of OPEN ALL NIGHT fans...

Here's a portion of one of the scripts my partner David Isaacs and I wrote for OPEN ALL NIGHT. Wish I had the video to post but this will give you some idea of the short-lived ABC series that has become a cult classic. Or... at least a few people still remember it. I recently posted some examples including the theme song.

OPEN ALL NIGHT was set in a 24 hour convenience store and was very edgy for an 80s sitcom. We were encouraged to be a little bizarre. The creators and show runners (Tom Patchett & Jay Tarses) oversaw the best years of THE BOB NEWHART SHOW and created BUFFALO BILL among other credits. Individually, Tom created ALF; Jay created THE DAYS AND NIGHTS OF MOLLY DODD. Ironically, they’re both the same show.

George Dzundza played Gordon, Susan Tyrrell played Gretchen, and the punker was played by David Paymer (pictured) who went on to a very successful screen career (based solely on this guest starring appearance I'm sure).

So here’s an example of OPEN ALL NIGHT.

INT. 364 STORE – NIGHT

HALLOWEEN DECORATIONS ARE UP. GORDON AND GRETCHEN MAN THE COUNTER. A TEENAGE BOY IS BLASTING AWAY AT ASTEROIDS ON ONE OF THOSE ELECTRONIC GAMES RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS COUNTRY’S SHORTAGE OF QUARTERS.

A YOUNG PUNK ROCKER – SID VICIOUS TYPE -- ENTERS. HE’S TASTEFULLY ADORNED IN DENIM AND CHAINS. A ‘DEVO’ HAT SITS RAKISHLY ATOP HIS ELECTRIC ORANGE HAIR.

PUNKER: Happy Halloween.

GRETCHEN: (appalled) Same to you. What are you supposed to be?

GORDON: Don’t you recognize the costume, Gretchen? That’s Johnny Vomit.

PUNKER: This isn't a costume. But later I'm going as Dudley Moore. (then) You guys got anything you want here, right?

GORON: You name it, we’ve got it.

PUNKER: I’d like some Astro-turf.

GORDON: (snapping his fingers) Just sold the last hundred yards.

PUNKER: You got “Les Miserables” on video cassette?

GORDON: Expecting a shipment tomorrow.

PUNKER: How ‘bout some kitty litter?

GORDON: That I got.

PUNKER: Well, at least we eat.

GORDON: (after a beat) I’ll get it. You just stay here in the light. (crosses to Gretchen) I’ll be in the back for a second. Keep an eye on him. He’s perfectly safe. He’s near death.

GRETCHEN: Okay. Hurry.

GORDON EXITS INTO THE BACK ROOM. THE PUNKER APPROACHES THE REGISTER AND JUST STARES AT THE NERVOUS GRETCHEN.

GRETCHEN: (eyes closed) Can I get you something else?

PUNKER: I’d like a pumpkin gurgle.

GRETCHEN: Small or large?

PUNKER: Small. I just want to freeze my nose.

AS GRETCHEN WORKS THE MACHINE, ANOTHER CUSTOMER ENTERS, IN HIS LATE TWENTIES, DRESSED IN A FATIGUE JACKET. HE’S UNKEMPT BUT NOWHERE NEAR AS WEIRD-LOOKING AS THE PUNKER. GRETCHEN IS VERY RELIEVED TO SEE HIM.

GRETCHEN: What can I do for you?

THE CUSTOMER STEPS UP TO THE COUNTER, PUTS HIS HAND IN HIS POCKET, AND SHOVES IT OUT AS IF CARRYING A GUN.

ROBBER: (desperate) You can give me all the money in the register.

GRETCHEN: What?

ROBBER: You heard me! All of it! (to punker) Outta my way, Captain Tinfoil.

HE PUSHES THE PUNKER AGAINST A COUNTER.

PUNKER: Ow! I think I’m hurt… Thank you!

ROBBER: Let’s go, mama. I'm late for a party.

HE TAKES A BAG FROM THE COUNTER AND SNAPS IT OPEN. IT READS ‘364 STORES – PLEASE COME BACK’.

ROBBER: Right in there. (Gretchen obliges) Throw in a a Lotto ticket. All right. Nobody moves and not a peep.

THE ROBBER STARTS TO BACK AWAY. GRETCHEN LETS OUT AN INVOLUNTARY SQUEAL. THE ROBBER AIMS HIS JACKET.

GRETCHEN: That wasn’t a peep. It was a whimper. There’s a big difference.

THE ROBBER BACKS OUT THE DOOR, HITS THE PUNKER FOR GOOD MEASURE AND RUNS OFF INTO THE NIGHT.

PUNKER: Great! A permanent bruise. (calling) Thanks, again!

GRETCHEN JUST STANDS THERE FROZEN. GORDON RE-ENTERS CARRYING A GIANT BAG OF KITTY LITTLER.

GORDON: Here you go. This brand’s got chlorophyll crystals for extra flavor. Three dollars. Bon appetite.

THE PUNKER HANDS GORDON THE MONEY, GRABS THE KITTY LITTER, AND HEADS FOR THE DOOR, LIMPING.

PUNKER: (delighted) There’s no feeling in my leg. (to Gordon) I love this place! I’m gonna tell all my friends!

THE PUNKER EXITS.

8 comments:

Bob Claster said...

You've got to have some great Susan Tyrell stories, though you might not opt to post them publicly. At the time, at least, she had the reputation of being quite the character.

Too Many Zombies said...

Is this related to the UK's excellent Open All Hours at all? Doesn't read like it from the script excerpt but the name is very similar.

Chazz said...

Friday question, Ken...when you're pitching a show, how many times does a studio call you back so you can work up the chain to finally pitch to the people who can buy in the room? What's the worst note you ever got?

(In book publishing we first pitch to Idiot Jimmy the Unpaid Summer Intern as he goes through the slush pile armed only with a high school english class and the aspiration to become a MFA knob.)

Sandy Koufax said...

I guess you had to be there. This one didn't work for me.

Kevinmacduff7137 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
olucy said...

I guess you had to be there. This one didn't work for me.

Yeah, and while you're at it, take back what you said about The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd.

Seriously...for the sake of a cheap quick joke you equate it with Alf?

Jeff Badge said...

Friday Question: how many table reads are there on a sitcom, and how animated are they? Is there a lot of laughing? Is laughing/not laughing a political thing? (Any other general thoughts on table reads appreciated.)

nubndigger said...

I doubt you'll see this post, Ken, but I have several episodes of OPEN ALL NIGHT on VHS - including the two you wrote. If you want 'em, let me know at nubndigger@gmail.com.