We’ve had Pygmalion, we’ve had My Fair Lady, we’ve had Frankenstein…but have we ever had a story about a double-dose? About two inventors, two human-like creations, and each trying to one-up the other? I don’t think so.
Written as a movie, could also conceivably be an 8-episode TV series. Main cast should all be comedians, the idea is to find the humor in the increasingly crazy situations. Just leaving this treatment here in case I ever come back to it.
LATEA, Asian, 30-something, hard worker, genius, with a look that expresses her displeasure with being underestimated
FRANK, white, 30-something, success comes too easily to him, bit of a slacker/loudmouth
LEON, black, well-sculpted body, a robot with a sense of humor who loves Latea
ELIZA, Latina, well-sculpted body, a robot with a sense of humor who loves Frank
PRESIDENT WINFREY, Oprah Winfrey who is the President of the USA
Act I, sequence 1:
Frank flirts with his co-worker Latea. She’s not interested. They work together at the North Carolina Triangle-based Data Lab, which is trying to assemble the world’s information into solving major world problems. Frank discovers missing items from work, and believes that Latea is hiding something at home. He goes to her house and meets her solar-powered robot, Leon, who looks and behaves just like a human. Latea reveals that she and her robot are in a relationship, and that love is the missing ingredient of the Data Lab’s AI experiments; according to her, because Leon and Latea are in love, Leon is not only a better AI but also closer to solving global problems. Latea swears Frank to secrecy; she’s not ready to show Leon to the world, much less the Data Lab.
Frank does a bit of research at the Data Lab and learns that Latea likely built and hid a remote-control “kill switch” for Leon, just in case.
Act I, sequence 2:
President Winfrey, in a meeting with top advisers and military, talks about the problems of other countries drones becoming more intelligent.
Frank comes over to Latea’s house to meet with Leon when Latea isn’t around. He has many questions for Leon.
One day, Latea and Leon are having a heart-to-heart about the way Leon has been programmed to love Latea. The doorbell rings, and it’s Frank. He would like them to meet Eliza. Eliza and Leon recognize each other as robots and begin to fight, mercilessly. They destroy most of Latea’s house and some of the neighborhood before being calmed by their respective lovers. Frank explains that he programmed Eliza in the exact manner Latea programmed Leon. Latea accuses Frank of twisted jealousy and other psychological problems. Latea and Leon tell Frank and Eliza to leave them alone.
Act II, sequence 3:
Watching TV, separately, Latea and President Winfrey learn that Frank has cured cancer! More specifically, Eliza has. Frank explains that Eliza synthesized all previous knowledge, but the previously missing element was love; Eliza and Frank love each other. Latea is aghast, watching an old TV in the tiny motel that she and Leon are now living and working in. The Data Lab sues Frank for stealing their resources. Scientists warn that long-term effects are still unknown, but cancer cells disappear with no obvious adversity. The cure works like effective chemo on most cancer sufferers; it’s even preventative for non-sufferers, who start taking the cure like it’s vitamins. Frank and Eliza are suddenly everywhere, on all networks seemingly all the time. Frank leaves repeated texts for Latea, who refuses to answer. Responding to overwhelming popular demand, Frank promises to mass-produce more Elizas “though first we mass-produce the cancer cure.” Latea is incredulous. President Winfrey meets with Frank and Eliza; she asks Frank and Eliza to work on programming smarter military tech.
Act II, sequence 4:
Watching TV, separately, Frank and President Winfrey learn that Latea has reversed climate change! Well, sort of: Leon has a plan that involves drilling under volcanoes, detonating nukes under them, and thus creating Tambora-like eruptions that reduce global temperatures. Of course many are skeptical, but scientists cautiously agree, if a test can be arranged. Suddenly Latea and Leon are on every show. Latea surprises herself by enjoying the limelight, at least a little. She enjoys sticking it to Frank, who keeps trying to ping her, without success. Frank and Eliza moved into a Durham mansion; Latea and Leon move into a more modest home, which Leon likes because of its hard-steel panic room. Latea and Leon make an agreement with a major company to mass-produce more Leons even quicker than the Elizas. The Leons start rolling off the assembly line, along with the Elizas. It’s like Cabbage Patch Doll mania, but for adults.
The moment arrives for the first test volcanic eruption, in the South Pacific. Latea and Leon stand with President Winfrey and other world leaders on an outdoor ceremonial platform in Washington, DC. On Winfrey’s signal, the nuke gets triggered under the remote island. Many minutes pass as the nuke causes tectonic shifts under the volcano. And then, major eruption, roughly on the level of 1992 Pinatubo. Very minimal, but still measurable, nuclear fallout. And global temperatures do indeed drop about a half a degree. The experiment is widely hailed as a major success, and plans proceed to drill nukes under more volcanoes, to get global temperatures back to roughly pre-Industrial Revolution levels, despite the protests of some farmers around the world.
Frank watches all this on TV in his mansion with some jealousy. He reminds Eliza that they still need to “cure slavery.” She says she’s working on it, but of course it might go better if Frank didn’t want so much cuddle time. Latea and Leon are also in intensified love that comes with professional success. Latea asks Leon to “cure war.”
Act II, sequence 5:
Months pass. Leon and Eliza robot-helpers are ubiquitous amongst the upper classes. Amid controversy, Western nations go forward with planting nukes under major ocean volcanoes. The world is prepped for a major “climate change” – reducing temps by about five degrees, a change pitched to Third World countries as making them more fertile for crops. The fateful day arrives. Leon tells Latea that he’s close to a breakthrough on the “war problem,” doesn’t want to join the ceremony this time, prefers to stay at their house in Durham. Latea shrugs; she’s never been this happy in her life, so why argue?
The nukes are detonated. But something goes terribly wrong; the nuclear fallout at each volcano is far, far more severe than on the first test. Much of the Southern Hemisphere absorbs Hiroshima-like radiation, which starts floating north as well. Leon tells Latea to join him in the panic room, because people are going to be coming after them. Inside the panic room, Leon confesses everything: he wants to destroy the human race and sit in the panic room and make babies with his only love, Latea. Turns out Leon, working with all the world’s info, managed to hack the initial test warhead to make it leak less radiation. Latea is furious. Leon admits that Frank told him about the “kill switch” – but no more lies going forward, because “now we’re even.” Indeed, they see on monitors that the U.S. military is surrounding their house. President Winfrey calls, texts, tells them to give up, that she won’t kill them because she needs them to solve this. Latea refuses to hide in the panic room with Leon. She says she still loves him, but they have to give themselves up. Leon reluctantly agrees.
The military escorts Leon and Latea to the Durham-Raleigh airport, but the soldiers are attacked – by hundreds of Leons! The original Leon controls all his clones, and because they’ve got metal skeletons, bullets barely slow them down. Within minutes, the Leon clones have subdued this army platoon, freed Latea and Leon. And then…Frank and Eliza show up, along with hundreds of Elizas. It’s a war of clones vs. clones…until Frank can get to Latea. The original Leon and Eliza stay close to their lovers, guarding them. Frank asks Leon to call off the clones, but Leon won’t. Frank suggests the four of them get into a tank, and they do. Eliza begins driving the tank. Frank explains that Eliza also wants most of the human race dead; Frank only found out today that the “cancer cure” is long-term poison. Now Leon calls off his clones, and all the clones get into tanks and follow Eliza’s tank, which is slowly rolling toward D.C. The military provides a very slow-motion escort.
Act II, sequence 6:
In a bunker deep below the White House, President Winfrey furiously lays into all four of them. She’d love to kill them all, but she needs them to solve this. Eliza and Leon have never had full access to U.S. government-protected information, so Winfrey gives them that. While they’re working, the President takes Frank and Latea aside: what happened? Wasn’t love supposed to prevent this? Latea blames Frank for letting Leon know about the kill switch; the robots don’t want to be turned off. Metaphysical chatter. Frank explains that Eliza knows Frank will die; that’s the idea of the cancer cure, a step toward immortality. Winfrey wants to know more about the kill switch.
After minutes, Eliza and Leon make it clear that they’re activating the USA’s thousands of silo’d nukes. Winfrey begs Frank and Latea to hit their kill switches (which are on their car keys). They do, only to find out they’re not working. Leon and Eliza accuse Latea and Frank (respectively) of breaking their hearts. As the military officers shoot at them, Leon and Eliza run over to the “double-key” panel, where each of them turns a key, activating global thermonuclear war. Winfrey hustles Frank and Eliza into another panic room with some senior officers. Winfrey explains that all is not lost, but they have to act fast. Clearly Eliza and Leon re-programmed the kill switches; can they be re-programmed again? Latea desperately tries.
Outside, the clones are trying to breach the White House, and the military is gathered to stop them. It’s a war of Terminator-like skeletons versus bazookas. The White House is being reduced to rubble.
President Winfrey explains to Frank and Latea that things have changed since “WarGames,” and in fact American satellites can shoot down nukes; it’s just a matter of trying to get all of them. They have senior people doing just that in a room nearby. After a few minutes of conflict, Eliza and Leon kill the military people trying to kill them. Leon bangs on the door to the SDI control-room; Eliza bangs on the door to Winfrey’s room.
Act III, sequence 7:
Latea works on re-programming the kill switch. It’s like a combo lock, she says, and tries new combinations; the problem is that the possibilities are in the millions. Frank, obviously out of his league when it comes to tech, calls Eliza on the video-conference between their rooms. Eliza has been shot so full of holes she looks more like a Terminator with scattered pieces of flesh. Frank tells her he still loves her, but if she loves him she should stop. She says she doesn’t want to be turned off. Frank admits that he created Eliza to make Latea jealous, but that’s all changed now and he truly loves her. Frank steps out of the bunker, into Eliza and Leon’s room. He says “you may as well kill me then, cause I don’t want to live without you and without our world.” Eliza hesitates, kisses him. Leon runs over, ready to take Frank hostage to get the other doors to open. Eliza tells him to back off, and they tussle again. During the fight, Latea gets the kill switch combo right, at least for Leon, who drops like a puppet with cut strings. So do the other Leons outside, and now the army, only having to attack Elizas, manage to subdue them, though the White House is now in smithereens.
Frank asks Eliza if she can shoot down the nukes, and she says she can. Winfrey doesn’t like putting Eliza on the SDI trigger, but Frank points out that there are only minutes left before the whole world gets nuclear-irradiated and only a highly advanced computer can shoot them all down in time. Winfrey allows it and Eliza amazingly does it, disintegrating thousands of nukes in a manner of minutes. The world is saved.
Latea looks at unconscious Leon, bares her soul to him, admits all the things that Dr. Frankenstein and Henry Higgins and Pygmalion and Galatea ever admitted in their stories’ final sequences.
Act III, sequence 8:
President Winfrey explains as nicely as she can that Frank and Latea will have to be killed and their robots destroyed; the public will settle for nothing less. Frank says, but I thought only we could solve…Winfrey says no thanks, we’ll figure it out. The most they can do is decide the manner of their death/destruction. Latea wonders if they wound up helping with Earth’s war problem, now that most of the nukes are gone…yeah, not really, Winfrey interrupts her. Eliza asks, since she’s solar-powered, if she can be thrown into the sun, just so she can “feel” a power-surge just before she dies. Winfrey arranges it. Frank wants to go with her. And then…Latea does too. They all get put inside an old space-pod, slated for destruction, powered by one last old missile. The missile launches. As they rise above the atmosphere, Latea clicks her kill-switch-car-key and Leon (who is, like Eliza now, little more than a metal skeleton) comes back to life. Leon gets the details, realizes that escape is futile, also feels the power surge because they’re getting closer to the sun. The capsule’s getting hotter; Frank and Latea know they are living their last moments. They clasp human hands even as they also caress their robots. They seem to be having some kind of oddly twisted foursome as the missile speeds toward its destruction in the sun.