That Wacky Redhead

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Brainbin, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. Dan1988 Vamos abrir a porta da esperança!

    Feb 23, 2007
    ATL Royaume du Canada
    Great job, Brainbin and e of pi. You guys have done it again.
  2. TheBatafour Complete Anarchy

    Nov 23, 2012
    Another excellent update! Here shall follow some random remarks:
    1 Boy, George sure is a more interesting character than we have had before in one of these timelines, compared to OTL. Seeing him get his act together (at least for now) makes me optimistic for the ever so mysterious future of TTL. :)
    2 Say, a rebel pilot, a tough force-sensitive lady and an idealistic fighter, where have I seen these characters before? And having the pilot played by Tom Cruise, where do you get these ideas? :p
    3 Han not coming back is not very unlikely actually, the low-budget 'sequel' draft known as Splinter of the Mind's Eye IOTL was written without Han in it, as I recall Ford having always been reluctant to feature in both Empire and Jedi (one of the reasons for the whole carbonite thing actually)
    4 Funny how instead of financing Indy films George now finances indie films :p
    5 Curious how a franchise that avoids the name Star Wars is more concerned with the actual war than that of OTL
    6 Seeing as how, at least in my opinion, the star wars 'tradition' was encoded with Empire, this franchise is only going to get more divergent from this point on. In no specific order, there now is no Boba Fett, no family ties between characters, no Yoda, no Vader as focal point of the saga, and no prominence of the Millennium Falcon. I wonder if ATL me would still like it, but with the franchise having more long-term viability, I'm sure that this Lucas will put his eccentric mind to work on the science fantasy mythology we all love and loathe.
    7 lastly, with TWR so close to the end, I thought I would make some predictions as to how the timeline as a whole could be improved. Firstly, I think you need to double down on the commercialisation of TTL. Everyone would buy TWR action figures, so why not write stuff into the timeline that would fit this marketing more? I suggest an appendix on the history of teddy bears. Furthermore, we all want to know the backstory of Lucille Ball. I'd say go back to when she was 9 or so. And while you write these prequels, extensively rewrite the original TL to fit the changes (I'd suggest calling it the special edition). Lastly, if you want to write more personal alternate history, you can always sell it to me for 4 dollars. How does that sound? :p

    That last part got a little crazy, but what matters in the end is that this is a magnificent piece of alternate history, and I hope to read many more like it by your hand. Quite curious what you have planned for us. It's been a blast, and all on account of That Wacky Brainbin! :D
  3. Roger Redux The Revisionist

    Feb 14, 2015
    The Mother of all ASBs (a.k.a. "The Real World")
    Did Nintendo's entry into the video game field get butterflied away entirely? If not, I know OTL Nintendo approached Atari to release the NES in the U.S. (in 1985); it would be a bit of allohistorical irony for the Syzygy VCS III to be inspired by/combined with TTL's FamiCom. What ever happened to SEGA ITTL? Did The Trial of the Century occur before Paramount sold them? Are they owned by LucasFilm now? Or will Syzygy's inevitable competition be more domestic? Say a successor to Fairchild Industries/Semiconductor's Channel F VES?

    I'd say at the very least you should look into publishing TWR through AH's own SeaLion Press. I don't know if they sell through Amazon, but if they do, this would definitely go on my Christmas List.
  4. Daibhid C Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2013
    I like the idea of Journeys of the Force not being about specific characters, but a universe, although I can see how fans might have got annoyed. The idea that Han Solo just disappears from the story entirely is interesting. I don't know how TTL Daibhid would feel about it; I suspect it would continue to be "the sci-fi franchise that's quite interesting, but that I'm not a Proper Fan of like Trek and Who".

    Before things wrap up, back in 1982, Jim Henson was trying to get a Saturday morning Muppets series, following the disappointing box office of The Broken Crystal. Whatever happened to that?

    Looking forward to the final part, although not looking forward to it being the final part...

    (Oh, and I've just realised that if you started this in 2011, and it's ending soon, that makes it ... a five-year mission!)
    Roger Redux likes this.
  5. Roger Redux The Revisionist

    Feb 14, 2015
    The Mother of all ASBs (a.k.a. "The Real World")
    Seconded. I was trying to find a way to say it but couldn't, so I elected to say nothing. :cryingface:
  6. Jinx999 Well-Known Member

    Feb 18, 2013
    I did notice the bit where Kurt Russell suddenly has a new agent.
    Roger Redux and iopgod like this.
  7. The Walkman Rowdy before Rowdy was cool

    Jan 1, 2013
    Parts Unknown, USA
    I can't believe this is almost over...

    But to quote Dr. Seuss: "Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened." :)
    Ogrebear and Roger Redux like this.
  8. Mr.E The Man that Time Forgot

    Aug 2, 2012
    The Mountainous Democratic Republic of Colorado
    You don't remember this update :. I recall you commented on it when it came out.

    I second this.
  9. Roger Redux The Revisionist

    Feb 14, 2015
    The Mother of all ASBs (a.k.a. "The Real World")
  10. kennethos Member

    Aug 2, 2014
    Excellent penultimate chapter. Looking forward to seeing the conclusion!
  11. Brainbin Kingpin of the Cultural Cartel

    Jul 26, 2009
    The British Empire
    Thank you all for your lovely replies to my latest update! I feel the need to point out that although this next update is the last update proper for the TL, it will also be followed by an epilogue, which will bring us back to the very beginning of the TL. (And back to script format, for that matter.)

    This is not the beginning; this is not the end of the beginning; this is not even the beginning of the end. In fact, very soon, it will be the end. (Which is also the beginning. Confused yet?)

    Well, Professor, thank you for sticking around for so long! Not too many of my other posters can claim to have planted their flag on this thread all the way back in 2011! :D

    If TV Tropes existed ITTL, and if there were a Useful Notes page on Robert Stanfield, and if it had a Laconic subpage, it would read, in its entirety, "A Safe Pair of Hands".

    That depends on whether you believe the Ewoks to have been modeled on the Afghans or on the VC (which is to say, the [verboten] Cong). In the former case, perhaps; in the latter case, probably not.

    Thanks, Dan! We really enjoyed writing this one, as you can probably tell :p

    Thank you, TheBatafour!

    George Lucas is the key to all of this. If we get George Lucas working... Because he's a more intriguing character than we've ever had in this TL before.

    I knew I was on a highway to the danger zone when I was awakened to these character types, but they still take my breath away.

    Indeed, the carbonite was a very easy way to get Harrison Ford out of the sequels (still four more as opposed to just one more at that stage, IIRC), which is why the OTL film does not end with his rescue.

    Well, no, because Lucasfilm is still a major studio. I think the terminology you're looking for is smaller, more personal pictures.

    Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

    This sort of thing happens quite often, actually - this is why there's a trope called Early Instal(l)ment Weirdness. (Note the section on Star Wars.)

    You missed a few zeroes there. Nine, to be precise. Although I'd probably settle for six zeroes, to be fair.

    Thank you very much for your lovely compliments :happyblush In addition to returning to my long-dormant TL project Harry Potter and the Small Screen, I did have several other concepts in mind, which I may yet share with all of you in due time.

    As far as I know, SeaLion Press only sells through Amazon, and I would advise you to peruse their catalogue at length - the finest collection of AH stories on or off the web.

    One thing I like about the anthology format taking hold is that it really has no equivalent IOTL - all of the big movie franchises are serialized, or at least tell a continuing story. Star Trek comes the closest, with an explicit baton-passing in the seventh film and then a proper reboot in the eleventh. (Even the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is ostensibly an anthology of parallel series, is more and more bleeding together into a single, unified series.)

    It made it to air, as The Muppets, and features said muppets engaging in madcap Saturday morning hijinks. (Think a combination of the OTL Muppet movies and Muppet Babies.)

    Indeed. That was not intentional when I started writing this thing, let me assure you... :oops:

    Very good eye! Details like that are definitely there to be noticed by the observant reader, and I'm glad you noticed it!

    A most apropos statement, The Walkman, and thank you :)

    Thank you, kennethos, and welcome aboard! :)
    AndyF, The Walkman, OwenM and 4 others like this.
  12. Electric Monk Does Your Believing For You

    Jun 16, 2005
    Capital Regional District
    Half a decade ago I handily ignored this timeline.


    We all make mistakes, although I have to admit this one was bigger than most as regards excellent and fascinating timelines being missed. Because this was absolutely 100% in my wheelhouse of interests, indeed I'm honoured to have helped out upon occasion (let's not even mention the friendship with the author, because words are inadequate).

    Now don't me wrong it didn't take me that long to get on board. The 5th of January 2012, in fact. But that was, let's say, at least two months late given the quality inherent even in the opening (in retrospect, given later posts) uneven work. And now it's winding to a close. The end of an era in pop cultural timelines. To quote Star Trek, albeit one that never exists in this timeline, “All Good Things…”
    AndyF likes this.
  13. MatthewFirth Well-Known Member

    Mar 12, 2012
    Portsmouth, England
    As much as I regret that there won't be a sequel to this, I would surely like a where are they now or What Happened Next section?
  14. Indicus Stuff

    Aug 1, 2014
    Torontum, Ontarium Minor, Imperium Romanum
    This timeline's almost over now? Damn. At least I got to read it before its conclusion.
  15. Andrew T Kick 'em when they're up!

    Aug 14, 2011
    This TL needs a Breakfast Club close!
  16. Curiousgorge66 Member

    Jun 24, 2016
    Is anything related to Nickelodeon gonna be involved in this?
  17. Dan1988 Vamos abrir a porta da esperança!

    Feb 23, 2007
    ATL Royaume du Canada
    I distinctly remember a brief mention in an earlier update under its orignal name, Pinwheel. Apart from that, at this point it would be too late.
  18. Daibhid C Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2013
    Yep, it was here. Basically, its origins are as OTL, although if I'm reading it aright, it maybe kept the name Pinwheel ITTL?
  19. Dan1988 Vamos abrir a porta da esperança!

    Feb 23, 2007
    ATL Royaume du Canada
    Sounds right - I did quite a bit of work on that one (I can still recognize where! :) ), and yes AFAIK Pinwheel is the TTL name for the channel.
  20. Brainbin Kingpin of the Cultural Cartel

    Jul 26, 2009
    The British Empire
    Work proceeds apace on the last two posts of this timeline: the final update proper, and the ensuing epilogue, which will bring us back again to the beginning! They will be posted in the next few days... and then, well, to quote the great philosopher Strong Bad in his seminal work Teen Girl Squad: IT'S OVER!

    If I may quote Star Trek, albeit one that never exists in this timeline, in response to this very lovely post, all I can say is "I cannot help but be touched" :happyblush

    Definitely not "what happened next", if you define "next" as "after September 20, 1986 (a Sunday), 11:00 PM Eastern/10:00 PM Central". I might be more open to a "where are they now", assuming of course you define "now" as "September 20, 1986 (a Sunday) at 10:59:59 PM Eastern/9:59:59 PM Central", as they will all cease to exist in the instant that follows :cool:

    And I appreciate all my readers, regardless of when they came aboard! I'm having trouble wrapping my head around finally being done writing this thing after almost half a decade... :eek:

    No comment.

    Welcome aboard, Curiousgorge66! As @Dan1988 mentions, the precursor to Nickelodeon has already been mentioned ITTL, albeit probably not to the extent it should have.
    OwenM, Indicus and Dan1988 like this.
  21. Threadmarks: Say It Ain't So, Lucy!

    Brainbin Kingpin of the Cultural Cartel

    Jul 26, 2009
    The British Empire
    Say It Ain’t So, Lucy!


    Official studio photograph of Lucille Ball, on display at the Desilu Gower Visitor Centre from the spring of 1986 onward.

    She’d always hated funerals.

    But there was no getting around it: Lucille Ball just had to attend the funeral of her late ex-husband, Desi Arnaz, the father of her children, and still a close friend long after the divorce, until the day he died. As far as she was concerned, the empire that had been named after them, the one the media had decided that they’d built together, had really been his creation, and had only prospered under his guidance. Even though he hadn’t been involved with the studio in any formal capacity for just about a quarter-century, she still felt as though a part of it had died with him. She had already decided to leave, but any lingering doubts she had about doing so were scattered, along with his ashes, to the four winds.

    They’d asked her what she would do with all her free time, now that she was retiring. Every time they’d asked, she came up with a different “joke” answer, each more corny and ridiculous than the last. In all honesty, she didn’t know what she would do with her free time. She wanted to live each day as it came, a fatalistic outlook she’d come to embrace more and more as she got older. She liked the idea of spending more time with her many grandchildren before it was too late – some of them were still small and she doubted she would live long enough to see them come into the full bloom of adulthood.

    As for her two children, both of them would be plenty busy, as the plan was for them to jointly take the reins of Desilu - but Lucie Arnaz, the responsible, hardworking daughter, would be named President and CEO. Her brother, Desi Arnaz IV, would be far better served as an effective “mascot” for the studio, much as Ball herself had been.

    True to his word, Herb Solow was making good on his own plans to retire. Ball had graciously allowed him to take with him the original three-foot model of the Starship Enterprise from 1964, which had adorned his desk for most of his more than two decades at the studio. She’d asked him to stay on a bit longer, so as to ease the transition between generations, but Solow held firm.

    “I can’t imagine the studio without you,” he had said, over their final cup of coffee at her desk. “I don’t think I ever want to see it, either.”

    “Well, what if I don’t want to work here without you, either?” She was choking back tears, not that she’d ever admit it, or that he would ever ask if she was.

    Solow smiled at this, a wan little smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “You can’t always get what you want.”

    He took a moment to reflect upon how she’d changed in all the time he’d worked at Desilu. When he’d started, under Oscar Katz, she’d been content to run The Lucy Show as her personal fiefdom and leave the rest of the studio to her talented underlings. She had even been planning on selling her studio to Gulf+Western - and considering what had happened to Paramount, who knows what might have happened to Desilu if she had? More than once, he’d shuddered at the thought. She’d always credited that dream for changing her mind, but he was never sure he’d really believed it himself. The only thing he was sure about was how much he was going to miss her, much to his own bemusement.

    “Happy trails, Herbie,” she said to him, at the end of his last day. “And when you write your tell-all expose about your years working here, promise you’ll go easy on me.”

    He would. He signed a book deal just a few short months later, and the tentatively-titled Inside Desilu Productions: The Real Story was scheduled to hit bookstore shelves in time for Christmas, 1987. Word on the advance manuscripts noted the glowing depiction of Ball - then again, perhaps that was because Solow had saved up all his venom for Brandon Tartikoff.

    As for Tartikoff, he would become SEVP and COO, ascending to Solow’s former position, but wielding considerably more power, as the two Arnaz siblings intended to be far less hands-on as chief executives than their mother or father had been. One idea which tickled their fancy was a semi-autobiographical star vehicle: a sitcom about a responsible elder sister and a layabout younger brother who go into business together. Tartikoff wasn’t crazy about it, but he was willing to produce a pilot in early 1987 with an eye for a premiere in the 1987-88 season. If ABC, with whom Desilu retained their right-of-first refusal agreement, wasn’t interested, perhaps the fledgling new PGTV network might be - it was only proper that Desilu got a show broadcast on the new fourth network sooner or later, after all.

    That said, there were other parties interested in the future of Desilu programming beyond the four networks, none more prominent (or vocal) than the titan of Pay-TV, Ted Turner, proprietor of WTBS Atlanta, available throughout the United States (and Canada) as TBS Superstation. He had been seeking an audience with Ball for years, but she had always rebuffed him. When she announced her retirement, she figured that would be the end of him calling on her, but to her surprise, that only seemed to strengthen his resolve. Her only planned involvement with Desilu post-retirement was to assume the title of Chair Emeritus on the studio’s Board of Directors, on which she would continue to nominally have a seat, albeit one she would probably never occupy. That was apparently still enough for Turner, who was eager to “have [her] ear” as she would “have the ear of the new power-brokers of an evolving, growing Desilu”. Slimy businessman-speak to the last, but she finally consented to meet with him in the dog days of summer, 1986, eager to put all the concerns of her job behind her before she formally retired.

    “Miss Ball? Ted Turner here to see you.”

    “Thank you, Doris, send him in.”

    Ted Turner was many things - shy was not one of them. He strode into her office like he owned the place; Turner owned many things, granted, but Desilu Productions was not one of them. Ball did her best to maintain a neutral expression, though her lips were pursed so tightly they were turning white.

    “Miss Ball, I’m privileged to have this opportunity to meet with you today.”

    “Thank you,” she said, making a point not to tell him to call her “Lucy”, as she otherwise always did. She was about to invite him to take a seat when he beat her to the punch, resting his laurels in the chair Herb Solow had usually occupied during their meetings. She wondered if he knew that, and if he did, what he meant by doing it. She was about to find out.

    “I should think by now my work speaks for itself. I’ve always wanted Turner Broadcasting to represent the vanguard of the entertainment industry in the 1980s, and the decades ahead, up to and including the new millennium, in much the same way Desilu has always represented the vanguard of television.”

    “That’s an admirable goal, Mr. Turner.”

    “Now come on, call me Teddy. I know you want to.”

    She grimaced, hesitating, trying to come up with a diplomatic response, but he didn’t bother giving her the time for one.

    “Now I know Desilu has been involved in a lot of parallel ventures. You’ve been working with that video game company since forever ago, you got in on the ground floor of the home video revolution, and you invented the rerun, for which we at TBS - not to mention most every station in this and every other country - are eternally grateful.”

    “That was Desi, he had all the good ideas - ”

    “And modest to a fault!” he interrupted dramatically. “A true lady. The kind of lady I’ve always wanted to do business with.” At this, he tossed his briefcase upon her desk, dramatically opening it and pulling out a dossier which he handed to her, and which she accepted reluctantly.

    “We were all heartbroken by word of your retirement. But I see a golden opportunity for your studio to move in a new direction. The Desilu empire is built on the syndication market; I know it, you know it, everybody knows it. I’ve been spending the last several years and a not-insignificant sum of money investing in ways to make beloved classics more appealing to modern audiences. I can’t help but think how much Desilu’s library might benefit from the new technology we’ve been working on, in the same way the film libraries of so many classic film studios already have, including studios you worked with in the Golden Age. So what I think you really ought to do here is to let our powers combine.”

    She’d heard all about this new technology, and leafing through the dossier had confirmed her worst fears. Colourization. She glanced up at him, unsure if she could hide the pall of dread which had crossed her face; he was grinning like the cat that ate the canary.

    “The wave of the future,” he said. “Now a lot of people, including some of your very close friends, are getting terribly upset at what I’ve done to breathe new life into classic films. And I’m no tyrant, Miss Ball; although I own the copyrights to those films and have every right to do whatever I please with them, I realize it would be much better to seek input from the original creators wherever possible - for public relations purposes, you understand.”

    “That’s very interesting, Mr. Turner, but I don’t see what that has to do with Desilu. You don’t own the copyright to anything this studio has ever produced.”

    Turner chuckled at this, dismissively. “You’re right about that,” he said. “But not for lack of trying. I’ll have you know I was gunning hard to get I Love Lucy myself, before you beat me to the punch.”

    “Really? I hadn’t heard,” she said. She was lying.

    “Oh yes. I had plans for I Love Lucy. Big plans. I say “had”, but I still have them, actually. That’s why I’m here. As you know, TBS has been running I Love Lucy - along with Star Trek and many other Desilu programs - for many years now. We’ve been a very loyal customer of yours, Miss Ball.”

    “And we here at Desilu appreciate your continued patronage.” Which was true enough. WTBS paid top dollar to secure syndication rights for the Desilu shows in the populous Atlanta broadcast market, seeing as the station constantly had to outbid all three (and soon to be four!) national network affiliates for the privilege. On top of that, the TBS cable channel also paid for several Desilu shows, in a deal distinct from the ones with WTBS, the (de jure) independent television station. This was why Ball had ultimately felt obliged to meet with Turner, despite her personal distaste for him; he had funnelled a very large amount of syndication money in her studio’s direction over the years.

    Turner seemed to be waiting for her to ask just what his plans for I Love Lucy were, but she adamantly refused to bite. So he launched into his sales pitch. “I can’t stress enough how wonderful a show I Love Lucy is. Still funny, still well-written, still brilliantly-acted. Whole generations have fallen in love with your character, Miss Ball, including yours truly.”

    “Thank you,” she said. She wasn’t sure she could watch I Love Lucy anymore. All three of her co-stars were now dead, and the “Lucy” character who had so defined her public image at that time in her life seemed a whole other person from what she had become.

    “But nobody’s perfect, of course, and I can’t help but think of ways we might be able to make a great show even better.”

    She decided to stop beating around the bush. “Which is why you want to colourize it.”

    “You see, Miss Ball, this is what makes you such a great studio head. You cut right to the chase. And you are exactly right. We live in a world of colour, Miss Ball; what excuse is there for a show to be… black-and-white in this day and age?” He said the offending words in a withering tone, as if he were discussing a leper colony.

    “Well, it was filmed in black-and-white,” she said.

    “Yes, but you had no choice, you would have used colour if you could.”

    “Colour film existed in the 1950s, Mr. Turner. If we’d wanted to shoot in colour, we certainly could have. Other shows in the fifties did.”

    Turner paused, as if taken by surprise, but he covered himself admirably. “Wuh - well - yes, yes, of course, but none of that mattered, because there were no colour TVs back then. You used black-and-white because you had to. Nobody would use black-and-white if they had a choice.”

    “...You have seen The Exorcist, haven’t you, Mr. Turner?”

    “Oh, that was different, that was black-and-white for artistic purposes.”

    “Are you trying to say I Love Lucy wasn’t black-and-white for artistic purposes?” Her eyes narrowed. Her teeth clenched. In another place, at another time, she might even be impressed by his brazenness.

    Turner, wisely, chose not to answer that question. He reached over, leafing through the pages in the dossier he had given her, before he stopped at some colourized photos of the I Love Lucy sets.

    “Here, take a look at how the Tropicana comes to life in these vivid, bright colours.”

    Then she didn’t something he didn’t expect - that she didn’t expect - and burst out laughing, coughing and wheezing so hard it looked as though she was about to run out of breath. Once she had regained her composure, she rose from her seat, heading over to a filing cabinet in the back corner of the room. She opened the top drawer, rifling through several folders, many of which were faded and worn, and had obviously seen better days. She retrieved a single folder and returned to her desk; Turner noted that the label on the folder read I Love Lucy Set Photos. She removed a single photo from the folder and laid it down on the desk.

    “Have a look, but don’t touch,” she said, still giggling, with a big grin on her face.

    It was instantly recognizable as the set of the Tropicana on I Love Lucy - and it was a colour photograph, a rare and invaluable artifact from the Golden Age of Television.

    “What colour is the foliage?” she asked, still unable to hide her grin.

    He muttered something unintelligible.

    “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that?”

    “Pink,” he said, louder. “All the trees are hot pink.”

    “You know why all the trees are hot pink?”

    He muttered again - but this time, she didn’t give him a chance to finish.

    “Do you know who Karl Freund was, Mr. Turner?”

    “Uh, Freund, Freund. Wasn’t he the shrink who thought everybody wanted to sleep with their mother?”

    “That’s Freud. No. Karl Freund was a cinematographer. A leading light of the German expressionist movement, you ever heard of it?”

    “Well, yes, as a matter of fact - ”

    “Desi hired him to shoot I Love Lucy. He figured out how to light the show in such a way as to avoid casting shadows with a three-camera setup. He was a genius, a great man. I didn’t talk to him much, that was Desi’s department. But I feel very privileged to have known him and to have seen him work. Now you’ve actually seen what the sets looked like, how they were the most ridiculous colours, so they could show up better on black-and-white film! And I’ve seen how wrong you were trying to figure out what the actual colours were. So you tell me, why would I agree to you doing this?”

    “But… but you have red hair, you joke about it all the time on the show, but how can they really tell if it’s in black-and-white?”

    She scoffed at his ignorance. “Mr. Turner, Desilu has always - always - treated our audience with respect and have never looked down on them, and we’re not about to start just because I’m leaving.”

    “Miss Ball, please. I think you’re letting your nostalgia blind you to this once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity. I’m talking about the wave of the future here. I thought you would understand.”

    “Mr. Turner, you’re a businessman, not an artist. That’s what you always were, and what you always will be. It’s why you’ll never understand why I will never colourize I Love Lucy. It’s about heart.”

    Heart? What the hell does heart have to do with anything?”

    “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you.” At that, Ball slammed Turner’s dossier firmly shut and handed it back to him. “Thank you for stopping by, please show yourself out. And close the door behind you.”

    “Miss Ball - ”

    “Don’t make me call security.”

    “Well, come now, you wouldn’t really do that now, would you?”

    Without a word, she reached over to her phone and lifted up the receiver, her finger hovering over a prominently-displayed bright red panic button. She’d had it installed after Harlan Ellison had barged into her office back in 1967, ranting and raving about re-writes to his Star Trek script.

    Ball gave Turner a sly look. Just try me, it said.

    Reluctantly, he rose from his seat. “I can see there’s no swaying you, Miss Ball. A shame, I think we could have had a very lucrative and productive business relationship. Perhaps your successors might see things differently.”

    “That’ll be difficult, since I intend to tell the board of directors that they’re not to enter into business with you in any way. And that includes making any new syndication agreements with you, once our current ones expire. God only knows what you might do with our shows anyway, if you’re given the opportunity. And I don’t intend to ever find out.”

    Turner snarled, but without another word, turned on his heels and stomped out of her office, slamming the door behind him as he left.

    Ball sighed. At least his visit had clarified one thing. Her legacy at Desilu had been to foster creators, and then to defend their creations from those who might do them harm. It went all the way back to when she had decided not to sell to Gulf+Western, and now it concluded with her refusal to make a deal with Turner. It amazed her how, after all these years, and all the many ways the entertainment industry had changed throughout, the fundamental aspects of how people did business were exactly the same.

    Ted Turner’s insistence to speak with her personally, as opposed to her new COO Brandon Tartikoff, or even her children, served to demonstrate how thoroughly her “Boss Lady” image had captured the popular imagination. It was a very different image from the daffy sitcom star of the 1950s and 1960s, but at the end of the day, she wasn’t really sure it was any closer the real Lucille Ball. She was a performer by profession, and at heart, so it wasn’t surprising that she’d spent her entire career putting up a front to the public, starting as a Goldwyn Girl all the way back in the 1930s. She was tired of being anyone but herself, and she figured she’d done enough to earn her immortality. She’d always be remembered by one of her many masks, so it suited her purposes just fine to live out the rest of her life on her own terms, as her own self.

    At the very end of her very last day, after the movers had finished removing her personal belongings from her office, Brandon Tartikoff appeared in the doorway. “Lucy, can I come in?”

    “You’re always welcome, Brandie,” she said.

    He entered, walking up to stand alongside her as she looked around the mostly-empty room. “It looks so different.”

    “It looked just like this after Desi moved out,” she said, without looking at him. “24 years and it looks exactly the same.”

    Tartikoff knew better than to try coming up with a response to her rhetorical musings, merely smiling wanly at her when she finally glanced over at him. She attempted to match his smile with her own, and shuffled back over to the doorway. The final artifact of her occupancy was the nameplate on the door, which she gingerly slid off its base, clutching it tightly in her hand.

    “Come on Brandie, it’s time to go.”

    “It’s not going to be the same without you, Lucy.”

    “Life goes on, Brandie, life goes on.”

    Tartikoff exited the office, leaving Ball in the doorway, alone with her thoughts. Reaching into her purse for a cigarette, she lit it and took a long, desperate drag, sighing dramatically as she exhaled, and gingerly closed the door behind her without another glance.

    It was time to leave.


    Thus concludes the final cycle of That Wacky Redhead! The epilogue will follow in short order. Thanks to e of pi, as always, for assisting with the editing of this last update proper, although I must stress once more that the epilogue is still to come, and the timeline will not be well and truly over until then. But until then, please enjoy the official ending theme of That Wacky Redhead, “If You Leave” by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, as originally featured IOTL in the 1986 film Pretty in Pink (for those who guessed another John Hughes film, close but no cigar). Thanks to vultan for helping me to decide on this particular song as this TL’s sendoff - yes, that’s right, I still remember, Admiral! After all, an elephant never forgets…

    Remember, it ain’t over till it’s over, and the epilogue is yet to come, though it is completed, and will be posted in a couple of days. Until then!
    Knightmare, AndyF, Thande and 17 others like this.