I first started working on Chan Walrus at the age of 17, almost half a lifetime ago. I had been getting into Blake’s 7 and I had long been a fan of Red Dwarf. I wanted to create a science fiction comedy series which had moments both serious and sometimes extremely violent. It was going to to feature many different ideas and in a way be a parody of the sci fi and horror genre. Later on, I would come across Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace which was what I felt Chan Walrus could have been… If it had been a lot better. This is a tale that I’m not 100% proud of, so please forgive my sheer lack of manliness, as I reveal to you one of the more harrowing experiences of my life. There were many issues with Chan Walrus, as it was a highly ambitious idea, and I hadn’t got much of a budget, or any form of organisational skill. Chandryk Ullesys Walrus and Christopher T. Mandrake on the run from E.D.E.N, the Earth’s Defensive Elite Network. Chan has been rescued by his old friend and rival Mandrake. His mind has been almost completely erased which is one of the reasons his behavior is so erratic, though this I would not write into the script until the second series, as I wanted the cast to become familiar with his behavioral absurdities long before explaining the reasoning for them. As a writer, I don;’t believe that a person’s personality should be defined by their mental state, gender, race or sexuality. These take a part in who they are, but they are not the entire definition. The most important thing was getting Chan’s issues across to people before revealing too much of the darker plot, but also to engineer the plot in such a way that bad things happened in a relatively comical way so people wouldn’t be put off by them. I wanted to draw my audience in with the silly nature of a show they would find it easier to get to know and like the main characters before being shown ideas in flashbacks that were unsettling and the first few scenes in which Walrus actually does some horrible things. Things had to be a little chaotic, as order is not something which I have ever truly experienced in this life. I had to make things fit with my own understanding of the randomness of the universe and with the idea of moving on into a future beyond the series. I have long looked at the universe in a way in which there is no true black and white. No pure good or evil, that every good person has faults and every person who has committed atrocities has not spent a life without one good deed. I wanted the series to have muddy waters and for a younger me, this was very ambitious. The concept of the series was also complicated to explain to others. Most people like virtuous characters, whereas I like characters like Avon, from Blake’s 7, and Colin Baker’s version of the Doctor, characters who’s natures, at times seem a little suspect. These made those characters more interesting than the goody two-shoes characters like Blake, who is a curly haired Paladin of Righteous Justice, and well… Many other heroes. One of the reasons James Bond is a good character is that he’s got his flaws. One of the problems with how I explained the series, is that I feel, looking back on it, that I put forwards too much of the science fiction element, leading people to believe the series would be serious. This was a mistake and ended up costing me greatly. Before I made a single episode, I had a huge support in terms of backing and cast, people heard my ideas and thought that they were fantastic and worked with me to try and build a first episode. Some of the most noteworthy people on my team were my long time friend and collaborator: Rikki Hammond, Will Grantham, famous at the time for designing the Abzorbaloff, Giles Margerum, who was and still is one of the most awesome people I’ve ever met, Cameron Abbott, a fantastic actor I’d met at College, Steven Johnson, who is a living legend, an old friend Jane Edwards, and Shaun Wools came on board as an in joke later on. The musician behind the series release was Robert Porter, who was at the time one of my closest friends. Also contributing to the series was Martin Bower, who’s work on Alien and many of the wonderful science fiction shows of the 80s still lives on, on the dvds of nerds like myself… But not all was going to go as planned.
Release, Disaster and Downfall.
The release of episode one was a mistake. It was premature, badly mastered, and thrown together. It was released within days of a really bad breakup with someone who meant the world to me, and I was not thinking clearly. My original intention had been to release the series episode by episode, putting one up per month, rather than to film the whole thing in one go, master it and put it out there, something I still havn’t learned from. I rushed the episode and got it out far too early, then fell into utter despair as it’s reception was horrendous. I was already in a bad way, and the world just exploded around me and I felt like I’d lost everything. I got a bad reaction from some of the cast, though the majority who had appeared in the episode seemed happy with it, others decided they no longer wished to work on it because it was filmed on a cheap handy-cam and they were above that, and more interested in being filmed on high quality cameras that did above SD. My friend Robert was understandably upset. When I had explained the idea of Chan Walrus to him, I had neglected to put much emphasis on the random, stupid comedy I was going for, he’d backed me 100% and created possibly the greatest theme to any science fiction series ever made. His work was, and still is incredible. The thing is he had had a completely different vision for the series to myself and he didn’t understand a lot of what was going on for many reasons and it was this reason I ended up pulling it shortly. Robert had dedicated months of his life to creating the perfect science fiction track. Each sound perfectly crafted, and looking back on what I had originally created, it was a monstrosity, unworthy of his genius. Many people who had supported the series decided they were no longer interested and my scripts lay among the ruins of my sheer failure. So many ideas and intricately woven plot threads smashed to ribbons. At the time I didn’t even think about replacing cast and soldiering on. With a few swift blows, my morale had taken a plunge into a hell from which I never fully recovered, though despite the horrible experience, the people who stuck with me have become much closer and stronger friends, so the failure for that part was worth it. A little while after Armageddon, I re-uploaded the episode with a different soundtrack comprised of my own music along with that of Nikola Whallon, who has always been a great support to me. with some brief alterations to the script, and some roles cut. It was not what it should have been, but I had a cut of the episode that was passable, though lacked a lot of what I had really wanted. I was too ashamed and broken to use Robert’s soundtrack for the episode. He had spent months working on it, and I had just butchered everything so badly, but I needed to soldier on. One fateful day a few months later, I begged my friend Jane, who I’d gone to Youth Theatre with to help me make a secondary episode in order to carry on. At this point I didn’t want to make the series anymore, but I’d pooled over £2000.00 into it’s production and I was losing my mind. She agreed to help me, which was really nice of her. She played Chan’s ex wife, and ended up dying in the episode, which sucked because I would have wanted her to be a bigger part. She went the extra mile and helped me salvage the hell I had ended up in somewhat. There were those who supported me, even though I was a self-professed failure. My crew who I’ve all mentioned were amazingly loyal friends. There were three I havn’t mentioned yet, Scott Casey, who came down to shoot some scenes with me despite not really knowing me well, Nico Rogers who is now a member of Dead Man’s Whiskey, Jamie Weston, who’s now a hot shot film director and Adam Willis, who is now kicking ass with Willis and Vere. (I wonder if their amazing space epic, The Starship Osiris, was inspired in any way by my colossal failure.) I kept fighting for the series, but soon it became obvious that due to my poor organisational skills I would not be able to keep working on the series, and I apologized to everyone and gave up, finally releasing a Christmas Episode as a final farewell, unconnected with the original plot. This was a slight joke attacking Doctor Who which at the time felt like it spent half it’s run time on Christmas Episodes.
What Could It Have Been?
Series One originally featured a wacky story that made little sense outside of the grand narrative. It was lighthearted and fun with a few silly moments of treachery. Of the first series, 5 of the 6 planned episodes were started and abandoned. One of the worst things for me was the sheer amount of time and effort my crew had put into working on the series with me, I felt I utterly betrayed everybody by not accomplishing my goal and botching that which still exists of it.
Episode 1: Professor Mindstorm (Originally Professor Brainstorm until I realised someone had already created a Professor Brainstorm!) is given a task by a mysterious villain to hunt down Walrus (who like Blake in Blake’s 7 is called a ‘political criminal’) who has escaped. Mindstorm is aware of who Walrus is and chooses to enlist the help of a man who he despises, Avery Guido Veil (Or if you shorten the middle name you can rearrange the letters to A Very Evil Guy. Yes I am that sad.) Mindstorm’s internal logic is simple: If Avery gets Walrus, he wins, if Avery fails or dies, he wins. Sadly however he loses because he doesn’t realise he’s going to have to put his wallet on the line to afford the costs. We briefly meet Veil who is happy to be out hunting Walrus. Mindstorm tries to contact him but Veil shows him animosity and refuses to answer his hails. It gives us a small chance to meet Veil, who is nicely incompetent. I would later realise that he needed to be a little smarter, so for my pilot, I actually treated him with more respect. Finally, we meet Chan Walrus and Mandrake. They are having an argument about Walrus damaging the spaceship. It’s mentioned that they’ve stolen the ship from Aliens. We were going to meet these in season 2! The goal of Episode 1 was: Establish who the main characters and players will be in the series. Heroes: Walrus and Mandrake, Villains: Veil and Mindstorm, and put them all into confrontation early on. As conflict is the best way to figure out who people are at heart, it was a good idea to lead with a conflict early on.
Episode 2: – Begins with scenes and ideas that were cut. Originally two of my friends had begged me to write them in as a double act, and they were going to play as a news team which had some subtle connection to the plot, with one of them eventually cutting off Chan’s arm and using it to fake his death. Yeah that got cut. It was a shame, but I should never have written them in to be fair. Ah well. Christ, even writing about this is painful! They tell a news story muddying Walrus’ name. Then we go to Walrus and Mandrake. I was going to split them up for the episode so Mandrake goes into Cryogenics whilst Walrus stays on the bridge allowing him to get into mischief. He’s not supposed to do anything silly, but he disobey’s Mandrake’s request that he doesn’t respond to hails or touch the Nav system. When Mandrake is out of the picture. Walrus ends up getting a distress call and decides to go and help. It turns out that he was being lured into a trap by his Ex wife, who contemplates destroying him. She communes with her computer and decides to mess with him a little. There’s a weird scene featuring my friend Shaun Wools playing a ‘Body Double’ that I threw in as a joke and a lot of fourth wall breaks. Walrus ends up killing his ex wife and trolling through his script with MEGADOS, her computer. In the script we briefly meet PAL9000, who is the ships computer. He is as boring as I am in the real world, but he calls everyone Dave, whereas, I only call the Daves I know Dave. The goal of Episode 2 was: Introduce fragments of Chan’s past to increase information on the character. The News team were added in which was a mistake but that’s life. I also wanted to throw a lot of references to sci-fi in for all the geeks who wouldn’t end up watching it!
Episode 3: This is where things get interesting. Walrus and Mandrake go to Planet Russia, which is stupidly inhospitable Temperatures range from an impossible -500 degrees Celsius in the day (which is impossible as absolute zero is -273.15) to 1000 degrees at night. It’s clearly a nonsense planet. The surface is covered in Grief Plants which all have human mouths that scream endlessly, and the animal life consists of Owlbats which, when they mate, both the males and females get pregnant and both have a pregnancy cycle of 7 hours during which they are eaten from within by their young that reach sexual maturity within an hour. It’s clearly a horrible place. You need Apernetamine tablets to survive there. Walrus is there to meet his old friend Traitormass who looks nothing like Chan Walrus remembers. This points to Chan’s memory loss and altered states of reality I mentioned earlier. Traitormass has lured Chan there because he needs Chan to identify why his miners have been dying off. Chan works out that Traitormass is conducting an illegal mining operation, showing that whilst he’s not the full ticket he’s not stupid. Traitormass gets him to look at the body of the security chief, who has been murdered. Traitormass is surprised that this has happened, then takes Walrus to meet Exeter, the greatest brain in the universe, currently housed within the shell of a mighty onion. Exeter tells Chan the truth of the universe, that the Author wants to kill him. (Which is kind of like the author of my life wanting to kill me. This realisation that I am a character in a novel came to me at a young age as I doubt few people live lives this badly written.) Exeter is taken over by the Author and tries to kill Walrus but Walrus kills him. We go to the news team who explain one of them is missing, presumed dead. We then go back to Avery Veil who hails Chan’s ship to get Mandrake who has stayed behind. Avery and Mandrake square off in space, leaving the planet behind. Walrus talks with Traitormass, and explains everything to him that happened between himself and Exeter. Traitormass explains that he is actually a traitor, and starts to die, because Chan has taken his Apernetamine tablets. (I mentioned those earlier. This happened during an earlier conversation with Traitormass, and Walrus has changed the hands on his clock so he wouldn’t think to check.) Walrus tries to contact Mandrake who is no longer there, and then he chooses to leave the planet alone. Episode 3 was about adding to the universe, more information on Walrus’ mind not being fully functional and a bit more into his past. Mandrake was going to be kept mysterious til the second series where he would get a chance to shine. It shows that despite Walrus being a gibbering idiot, he’s capable of doing smart things. He’s an idiot savant.
Episode 4: Begins with a Space Battle! Avery, having suffered a sound defeat at Mandrake’s hands, decides to set his ship to explode and launches an escape pod. Avery does this for two reasons. Firstly, to win the fight and secondly because he knows Mindstorm is going to pay for it. We go back to Walrus who is looking for his ship. It’s possibly been vaporized in the explosion – that’s what we want the audience to think at least! Then enters a member of the news crew who breaks the fourth wall. She tells Walrus that he’s actually being killed time and again and that they’re cloning him, and that he is part of a science fiction series. She lies to him and tells him that they were going to be married, the implication being on in real life. Mandrake and PAL have survived, much to Mandrake’s misery, and Walrus is supposedly taken advantage of by the news crew member who chloroforms him and, like a good Sci-Fi villain, cuts off his arm. Veil and his Officer have a moment and they decide to leave Chan to his fate whilst they go back home. Death by ineptitude seems certain. Chan wakes up to find his arm gone and is hailed by none other than Mandrake.They tell each other what they’ve been through and Veil puts up a delightful log in which he enjoys the fact Mindstorm will be paying for everything, and that he knows he has failed. Mandrake attaches a robot hand to Walrus, and reminds him that everything is pretty much normal. They banter a little and the episode ends, much to the relief of an audience who will never see it because it was never made. Episode 4 would allow Mandrake to shine a little. It was rewritten from the original which would have been better without the News subplot.
Episode 5: -Begins with the news team talking with Mindstorm. Mindstorm reveals that Avery Veil will now be flying the exclusively cool Time Ship and hints that it will be an ‘Explosive success’ his glee on the matter indicative that he has a sinister plan for this new star-ship, most likely aimed around revenge. Veil has been watching the transmissions, and he’s already removed the bomb from the ship. Despite being purposefully incompetent, he is not stupid. He and his officer talk a bit about the abilities of his new ship, which would have come into play later in the series. We go back to Walrus and Mandrake who are talking about Veil, and they are suddenly waylaid by the S.S. Argyle Cheese, who originally offer to surrender but scan Walrus and Mandrake to find their ship is defenceless. During the battle, the Argyle Cheese’s parrot, who is also the ship’s engineer, has a heart attack leading to the bridge crew being reduced as the captain goes to revive him. Veil shows up and demands the Argyle Cheese stops firing on Walrus’ ship. We then cut to shady dealings. Mindstorm is hiring/blackmailing Bjornfjord Fjordbjornsson the famed assassin to perform a secret task for him. We go back to Walrus and Mandrake who are arguing about stage technicians on set damaging their ship in the series. As Walrus starts work making repairs, (which would have created issues later in the series) Veil opens fire on the Argyle Cheese, showing off the Time Ship’s special abilities. The crew of the Argyle Cheese, figure out the secret and open fire on Veil forcing him to retreat, and knocking him back in time 3.64 billion years. Suddenly the crew of the Argyle Cheese are attacked by Bjornfjord’s tricked out ship that annihilates them. Mandrake and Walrus celebrate their escape, and we go back in time finishing off with Veil and his Officer freezing themselves in Cryo back on prehistoric Earth to get back to the present. Episode 5 is designed to turn Bjornfjord into a fierce Villain. The Argyle Cheese is so overpowered it beats both Walrus and Veil in combat, but is soundly defeated by Bjornfjord. This is standard anime story design which basically takes characters we know and smacks them down by a villain to show that villain’s power. This was shown in Dragonball Z, when Android 18 annihilates Vegeta only to be devoured by Cell.
Episode 6: Veil and his officer arrive back in the present only to fall into a trap set by Mindstorm that leaves their fate enigmatic, and Walrus and Mandrake go to find out the source of a distress signal on the planet Skoode. Bjornfjord lies in wait and has an awkward conversation with his wife, and the News team make an appearance and do some plot stuff. We then go back to Mindstorm who releases Veil and his officer as Fugitives. Walrus dressed as a cowboy arrives on the planet to see an unconscious cowboy lying in the dirt. He pokes him a few times and it’s revealed he is the famed assassin Bjornfjord Fjordbjornsson. (Of all the people who wanted to audition, the only person who could say it right was Nico Rogers.) There is a duel reminiscent of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Walrus cheats and wins. He kills Bjornfjord to reveal that he is an alien – in real life and not just in the series. Walrus talks with him as he is dying and realises that he could have been a friend and does the “Nooooooo!!!” thing. Mandrake and Walrus discuss their futures, and the series ends with them turning guns on each other and fading out to Laser Blasts as a homage to Blake’s 7. (They would pretend to kill each other so they could come back in Series 2 without it being a science fiction series!) Episode 6 is a set up for the next series and shows a potential world outside the world outside the series. Complicated and insane stuff.
So far, I have been working on my new series, you can see it by clicking:here! It’s my intention to keep making Chan Walrus. There have been drastic changes to the ideas within the series. For the Reboot, I renamed E.D.E.N. to Galactipol as I didn’t want people reading into religious symbolism within the series. With the modern culture the way it is, I didn’t want anyone potentially taking offence to the series on religious grounds that could get it cancelled from YouTube. I have made alterations to Chan’s backstory with more information behind his mind erasure. His original name was: Wilson Orson Channing and he was once a brilliant scientist who stood up against the tyranny of the Federation, but that’s all I’m going to say about that. When will the next episode come? Who knows! You can support me or donate if you like! I’m still looking for actors who want to sacrifice their careers to the greater good!