Something truly scary is lurking in the vents in the Galactipol patrol ship that Walrus and Mandrake stole last episode. They have no idea what it is, what it looks like and what it’s obviously sketchy motives are! Will they be able to stop this threat to their very lives?
The Making Of What Lurks Above
What Lurks above was made on a draconian time limit. I had to get an episode up and out as quickly as possible and had very little option in regards to what I could do. It was hard to make an episode with Walrus and Mandrake arguing because they’d just worked together, however I had to find a way to drive a rift between them in a way that would give them the option to still get along as friends.
Around the time I was writing the pilot of Chan Walrus: Space Adventurer, I was working on a film called Aircraft II by my good friend Hen Jach. He and our talented mutual friend John Simpson had designed a fantastic interior for their Aircraft, and I begged Hen to let me on board so I could use it. I also asked Hen if he wanted a role in my wacky sci fi series. He was very happy, and so I thought that we might as well do something that resembled my favourite film of all time: Alien.
One of the best moments in that film were the moments where Dallas is crawling through the vents so I figured I’d send Mandrake into the vents because he’s slightly less cowardly than Walrus. But I had to put something in the vents that was much scarier than any xenomorph! I chose the most frightening thing that came to mind. An Intergalactic Salesman!!! The horror!
At the end of the episode the main joke is that Walrus has had a gun the entire time, which we actually see earlier in the episode! He sent Mandrake up into a possibly life threatening situation with a terrible makeshift weapon. Whilst everything is OK because the salesman wasn’t dangerous, this is still an unfortunate rift in their friendship which Mandrake brushes off. He doesn’t have a lot of faith in Walrus at the best of times so he passes it off as something that’s just in Chan’s nature.
• The guns in Chan Walrus are made by Martin Bower who originally designed them for Blake’s 7! • John Simpson and Hen Jach are much better set designers than me! The hold of the ship was made on the Aircraft II set and is AWESOME! • I made the radar in Microsoft Paint. Don’t judge me. • We had to take the candle going out 5 times as the blasted thing just wouldn’t go out! • The Vents aren’t actually filmed in Vents, I forced Rikki to crawl on stone floor for this episode. • We lost Rikki’s visor making the episode we wouldn’t find it for months! • The blue blazer for Chan I used to create a contrast with Mandrake’s red because for once I had proper lights. • The lights on the Aircraft II set weren’t mine!
Walrus and Mandrake are on the run from Galactipol’s Avery Veil, who’s spaceship they’ve stolen! Avery has commandeered a Space Freighter from the Miner’s guild and tries to chase down our gruesome twosome before they can reach the asteroid belt and escape!
The Making of Ones And Zeros
Ones and Zeros was a hard episode to write because I was completely rebooting my previous attempt at making Chan Walrus. I liked the idea of Chan and Mandrake being criminals because I loved the original concept in Blake’s 7 of the crew of the Liberator being on the run from Servalan and the Federation. I decided to make sure that at the beginning of this series they were already on the run so it would fit my ideals!
I rewrote Chan Walrus as a character, like me, he is dyslexic and suffers from a number of different psychological issues which are a major distraction. Above all, he wants to have fun, explore and take over the universe. The original Chan Walrus was pretty much the same, however I feel he generally lacked character.
Mandrake was as always a steadfast, loyal and very tolerant friend. As Walrus mirrors me, Mandrake mirrors Rikki in his friendship with me. He’s always been there for me when it comes to making my silly films and helping with my insane projects, no matter how hard they are, so naturally he was happy to reprise the role of Christopher T. Mandrake.
I contacted Will who had been the villain of the old science fiction series and asked him if he was up for reprising the role of Avery Guido Veil, (or A Very Evil Guy) and he was happy to help me get the series back on it’s feet.
Building the set was complicated because I had very little space to work with, I had to completely destroy the cockpit I built for the series and make it so I could easily reassemble it later. Will helped me and got this great photo of me being a Walrus!
The story for this episode had to do a number of things, and I like to think that I succeeded. The episode began with action, a confrontation between Walrus, Mandrake and their enemy Avery. I needed to show a few things with this: Avery had to be smart and know his stuff, whilst being fallible. Walrus and Mandrake had to show their friendship so I had them working as a team in this episode. My build for their friendship is one of general irritation. Walrus loves to annoy Mandrake, Mandrake tries to tolerate Walrus, but in risky situations they do what they have to to survive!
I devised the idea that they were on the run because they’d stolen Avery’s spaceship. Avery, an officer of the law had stolen a Space Freighter from the Mining Corps (Though I didn’t mention that in the episode) in order to chase Chan down. I wanted to show that Avery was a bit of a risk taker and he wasn’t afraid to go against the law in order to be the law. I have great plans for his character in the series. There had to be risk in the story so I decided to make it so that Avery is very happy to bring in Walrus dead or alive…
Avery had to be a threat so he has to have a higher level of intelligence than Chan and Mandrake. He also has to know his old ship quite well. This kind of knowledge would give him the advantage over Chan and Mandrake. I thought about how things would work. The police ship would have a superior engine and allow Chan and Mandrake to escape from Avery, at which point it’d give me a chance to get them away from the control panel and talk. As they’d only just taken the ship it made sense to have them argue a little about their overall plans.
All autopilot systems are pretty terrible so it made sense for Avery to catch up as he is flying manually. This sets off the red alert systems, and they run back to the cockpit and see a screen saver, which Avery claims is a virus that he has infected their computer with. He was able to tell that they ran a system reset on the ship because the ship began broadcasting it’s emergency radio signal again. This shows Avery’s competence against Walrus and Mandrake’s ignorance as neither of them try and even reach for the controls.
Avery presses on and explains that anything they do will be futile, because if they touch the console, they will “Experience Binary hell!” Walrus and Mandrake go out of earshot so they can come up with a tactical decision. With insurmountable odds stacked against them, Mandrake makes the decision to take a risk and try and save them… Then realises it’s a screensaver.
Mandrake turns the ship around and opens fire on Avery’s much weaker Spaceship, causing him to bail out in an escape pod, threatening that one day in the far future, he will return and get his revenge.
• The Cargo the Police Ship was carrying is actually Aubergines, if you look closely you can see them! • “Little” Will Grantham who plays Avery Veil is actually the creator of the Absorbaloff in Doctor Who. • I nearly set Will on fire making this episode – Twice. • All the fire is real and we nearly burned down the garage the first time we shot it. • I havn’t killed any of my actors… -Yet. • The line that begins: “How Wonderful” was inspired by the Thraddash from The Ur-Quan Masters. • The title effects were made by A Luna Blue https://www.alunablue.com They are really cool cats! • The music for this episode was mainly written by Dan Pound who makes weird shamanistic music. The battle music was written by Erick McNerney. • Sair Feather did the artwork of the sci-fi backgrounds for the ending titles. • My associate producers for the episodes are James O’Neil, Pippa Thomas, Steve Heath and Kirk Humphris. • The space I had to shoot in in the garage is 1.5 by 1 metre. This is not enough space to film. • The helmet will wears at the end of the episode is NOT meant to be a space helmet, it’s actually a crash helmet as the miners didn’t have a space suit on board. I had a proper space helmet at the time of shooting and elected to get a different type of helmet that could be worn by miners in future episodes. • Most of the episode was filmed in 4k allowing me to get dynamic action. I actually detested it and decided to go back to 1080p which gives a better picture.