Monday, January 23, 2012

#7 - The Therapist

Villains tend to surround themselves with lackys - with Yes-men and henchmen who will do the deeds the big bad can't or won't do himself. The Baron Von Briar Thorn is no different. He has a crew of characters who do his bidding... some just a bit more willing than others... In fact, only one really does what the Baron wants with gusto, but we'll get to that; the others accomplish tasks less than happily.
And high on this list of the Baron's court is the Therapist.
Oh, the poor Doctor - the whipping boy to the Baron and the butt of jokes from everyone else. He tries his best, but sadly, his best only gets him misery.
For what ever reason - reasons unclear to most - the Baron hired himself an anger management therapist. Yup, a therapist to work out the evilness that makes the Baron so bad. Seems like a logical thing, right? An ill-tempered fella might need someone to find the root of their evil. There have been many villains who could have used a good doctor to figure out what makes their clock tick backwards. Some villains don't even need a doctor. We all see what makes them so... wonky. Prince John in Disney's Robin Hood would suck his thumb and cry for mummy when things didn't work out. Obviously some mother issues, right? How about Gaston? Someone sure wasn't told "No" enough when they were just a little meathead. Some times the bad guys just need a good sit down and cry session with a competent shrink. And somehow, the Baron thought he'd do just that. He went out, kidnapped himself a professional, and put him to work.
This once proper gentleman is now at the mercy of the erratic evil ruler. He cannot escape his duty as mental physician, so he tries and tries again to crack the hard shell of the Baron. He tries to get deep into the murky madness of Von Briar Thorn and hopefully discover what makes him so evil. Although, typically, the sessions end with the Therapist getting blasted with some magic and yelled at until he leaves the room. But ever-loyal, he keeps coming back for more. He puts up with a lot from the Baron and everyone else because he is determined to do his job.
He wouldn't be the first who attempts his duties despite everyone shoving him aside. Cogsworth is constantly under-minded by the rest of Beast's court, Swearengen's men let him go bananas on them and they still cry when he's hurt. What about the hapless Smee?
Maybe it's because they know what would happen if they left. The Therapist in the Princess Knight is a bit like Zazu from the Lion King. He has no choice once Scar takes over. He serves reluctantly, sure - but he does his job.
Whatever the case, the Doctor is at the Baron's side through the course of the show constantly sharing his feelings on matters, whether the Baron wants to hear it or not... and when he doesn't want to hear it...
The Therapist tends to loose a little bit of himself.
One of the best parts about the role of the Therapist is all the physical humor he gets to do. I grew up watching the Three Stooges with my Dad and my Grandpa Jack. I love a good smack in the face gag. And the poor Doc in our show gets a wide variety of injuries throughout the entire adventure. He might just be as much of a mental case as the man he is trying to help, but he is still trying. He's no fool. He does know a thing or two. Here is a scene between the Therapist and Chester while the Baron sits watching in annoyance...

Doctor, I have told many tales about many different types of people. I think I know more than you do.

Ha! Ha-ha! Oh? Is zat so?

...yes... "Zat" is so.

Oh ho-ho-ho! Vell, do tell me, "Prin-zez". Tell me about zeese characterz you know zo vell.


I know a master detective
whose skills of detection astound.
He can enter a room, see the smallest of details,
and soon the truth is found!
Sure he doesn't know the earth circles the sun
and his retorts are less than complimentary,
but to him even the most complex of crime
is merely elementary!

Hmmm... Yes... Quite zimple... AHEM
(Speaking very rapidly)
Uneven obzessionz vith random topicz, a narrow range of capacities for memorizing lists or trivial information, visual-spatial skillz are not zigns of an enthuziast... Azperger's.

(Pazed slightly)
... Oh... Okay... um... That doesn't prove anything! I still say I am better at reading people.

Round two zhen?

A child of the deep blue ocean,
but dreaming to be part of our world.
Collecting treasure upon treasure
is this vocally talented girl.
She doesn't know what half the things do
but she keeps them all to inspire
to motivate and drive her hopes
to join the world above the water.

(Speaking rapidly)
Und compulsively collecting and hiding avay items zat she has developed an emotional attachment to - neglecting day to day responzibilitiez. Maybe you don't know zee people as vell as you claim. Zat is Disposophobia.

Dis-a-what now?




A Beauty who gets lost in books
with no place he town for her

Zelf-imposed zocialy izolated
Schizoid Personality Disorder

A chatcher in the rye
who lost his friend, brother, and borrowed sweater

Should talk vith me as soon as can be
about his pozt traumtic stress dizorder.

A Good witch who gives ruby shoes
To help Dorothy to find catharsis

Puts zat poor girl through a long unnecessary journey.
Classic Sadist is my diagnosis.

It iz now your time to admit
zat I am zee expert and you don't know spit!
Put your sorries in a sack
it is YOU who is zee hack!
I won't take anymore interruptions today--



Go away.

(The Baron blasts the Therapist square in the chest sending the poor doctor directly out of the door and out of sight.)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

#6 - The Evil Baron Von Briar Thorn

Baron Von Briar Thorn is a villain. He rules the Briar Patch with very little regard for the subjects who, for whatever reason, remain in the land. He has been accused of ruining crops because he didn't like the way they smelled. He turned a sister into an ostrich because she was too punctual. He picks on the elderly because, as he puts it, "They won't remember anyway". He burned a house down because huffing and puffing would've taken too long. He took a bologna cheddar cheese sandwich from a guy, and he doesn't even like bologna, and then banished all bologna from the kingdom because he could not spell it correctly on the first try. He once kidnapped a whole family because they were known for their bed making skills, and not building beds, but making them after a night of sleep. He punched a baby who was "giving him attitude". Yes, the Baron is a villain.
But why is he so evil?
That is the question several ask during the course of The Princess Knight. Scarlet only sees him as the threat. She doesn't care about his motives. Chester, on the other hand, thinks he sees something more than an evil ruler. The Baron's people have varying opinions as well. His servant witch, Vesper, loves his evilness. While his minions wish to be free of his hold over them.
And then there is the Therapist. For reasons unknown, the evil Baron Von Briar Thorn has hired himself an anger management therapist to work through these villainous ways. Over the course of the show, we see cracks in the facade of nastiness and maybe, maybe there's more to the Baron than just blasting spells and badness.

Some of the best heroes really are made by the best villains. Batman has the best rogues gallery. Joker, Mr. Freeze, Catwoman, the Penguin, Scarecrow, Riddler, I could go on and on. Having these great villains makes Batman way more interesting. People would probably appreciate Superman more if he didn't have the lamest bad guys to fight. Who really wants to be Luke? Darth Vader's got the cloak and the red lightsaber, and the voice. The bad guys are the roles people really want to play. It's way more fun to be bad in plays. Othello's all right, but everyone wants a shot at playing Iago. Villains get the best clothes and usually have all the fun one-liners to taunt the heroes with. And the songs they get to sing are usually the best songs in the show. "Poor Unfortunate Souls", "Mr. Oogie Boogie", "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch".
But beyond the costumes or dialogue, the villains can often be more complex. Why are they the way they are? What led them to wanting to be the kind of person they are? And the more interesting the history - the more colorful and twisted, the better the character. Who was the Wicked Witch of the West before she was dubbed Elphaba? She was just the green meanie who was all "I'm melting!" and "I'll get you my pretty!" But then we got Wicked, and well, who wants to play Dorothy now?
The Baron has an arch. Just like the interesting princes, our villain is more than just a plot device. At first glance, sure, he comes off as just "The Bad Guy", but then Chester asks him why:

Baron, let me ask you something.
Is it... evil?
Uh... no... It’s just... Why are you such a - a - a mean guy?
(Shrugging and not understanding the question.)
Because it is what I do.
“What you do”?
Correct. I am the bad guy. Or have you not noticed?
Oh, I’ve noticed. But... why? Why not be something else?
(Getting agitated.)
Because this is me. This is what I am.
Well haven’t you ever thought about being - I don’t know - something else? There is a world of possibilities. You could be something else entirely.
(Pointing HIS wand sharply at CHESTER.)
You have never even thought about the possibilities, have you?
I - I - I -
Thought so. Let me tell you a story, Baron. Once upon a time, there was a dread pirate who sailed the seven seas...

The Baron is being bad because that's his role. But like many of the characters in our show, he starts to learn that there is more to life than being what you're told to be; or doing what you're told to do. There are possibilities...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

#5 - Chester

Chester is not a dashing heroic knight in shining armor. He is a goofy and fun-loving entertainer. He spends his days traveling and telling tales to the locals. He acts out plays as one-man shows. He sings and dances. He brings joy to all he meets. His older brother thinks he is a fool who wastes his time. Their father loves both of his sons, but doesn't expect much from Chester. That's fine by him though. A lot less pressure if he doesn't have great expectations to live up to. Chester collects tales to share and creates his own adventures through those stories.
And it is this natural joy for the simple things in life that draws Scarlet to Chester. She sees him entertaining a group of children and he is unlike any of the suitors who have been vying for her affection. The two meet and are connected by their mutual love for fairy tales and fanciful journeys.

This sort of free spirit is the kind of character I always liked. The love interest in most fairy tales is the dashing and handsome Prince Charming. But what do we really know about Snow White's or Cinderella's prince? We know they're good looking, and... um... rich... and live in nice castles. That's pretty sweet, I guess, if you're into that sorta thing. But what else?... Nothing. They're boooooring. Prince Phillip is pretty cool. He goes against his father's wishes and follows his heart to Sleeping Beauty. There's a little more to him. At least he has a name. Beast is a great character. He's got a whole lot going on. He's got history and dreams. He's a full fledged character, not just a plot device.
I've always liked the less than smooth heroes - the ones who don't have all the training and riches to be the knight in shining armor. Aladdin lets his larger than life dreams take him on a journey way out of his comfort zone, but his guts keep him going with the flow. He takes it all on with a smile on his face - "...wish me happy landing. All I gotta do is jump!" Westley, a farmboy kidnapped by pirates, becomes the famed Dread Pirate Roberts and saves his love from the odious Prince Humperdinck - "Why'd you say that name? You promised me you would never say that name!" Tristan Thorn promises his crush he'll get a fallen star for her and ends up in a world of flying lightning thief pirates, witches, and ghostly dead brothers. Hiccup is considered a screw-up, but he shows the whole village that brains can trump brawn.
None of these young men were ready for their adventures, but they became the heroes of their tales. They didn't have the training or the know-how, but they had it in them to be great - everyone has it in them to be great. Chester shares this message in his song "Where A Hero Gets Their Start":

"Heroes are made of more than muscle.
Heroes are made of stuff of the heart.
All that good stuff that you got inside,
that's where a hero gets their start.
Forget the stories of knights in steel,
I know a tailor who won the day.
Heroes are made of giant hearts..."

It's easier - and more fun - to relate to the everyman characters than it is to the dashing, rich ones. Flynn Rider the thief; young Wart, the once and future king; Frodo and Bilbo Baggins are the unlikely heroes of their tales, and they were just little guys (though Aragorn, while a king, is still a pretty bad ass hero... He wasn't really a king though. Boromir is more along the lines of the silver spoon prince, but there I go digressing).
I guess what I'm saying is that Chester is the dorky guy who might just get the girl in the end. I have no idea why I would created such a character. I'm totally not a dork. Right?