What if the first guy who always gets killed off in sci-fi shows was the only guy who survived? That's the premise behind Johnny Redshirt, one of three ideas I considered for a new series in the summer of 2010. One was Mackenzie (see earlier in the gallery) and the other was Princess Pi. Princess Pi won out.
The setting is an alternate 1930's where space travel is very prevalent, yet it works on the kind of bulky tech available then. This is unfortunate, as an alien species wants Earth for its own, and THEIR technology is closer to what we have today. The odds are against the humans, but they keep beating them back through sheer determination.
The series would've played out at first like a Star Trek parody, following a cocky arrogant captain and his stereotypical crew. They would beam down onto a hostile planet and tell Johnny to go search for trouble. Then a giant bomb would fall from the sky, make a shadow over Johnny...and blow up everybody else instead, causing him to scream like a girl and run around while lasers were fired at him.
Johnny winds up beating the entire alien fleet through sheer luck, which would come to define his character: he is at once the luckiest and the unluckiest person in the world. He constantly stumbles into trouble, but always stumbles out of it just as haphazardly. Plus, his girlfriend is Shani DeRaya*, the motion picture star!
*It was Shani Del Ray until a singer took that last name. If Lana Del Rey goes away by the time this becomes a series then I'll change it back.
Johnny comes back to Earth and is treated as a war hero for his decisive victory. This is how he meets up with Shani, who surprisingly recognizes him. Turns out they grew up together as kids in the same orphanage -- only Shani was adopted by a wealthy tycoon and Johnny was adopted by the Earth Galactic Army for involuntary lifelong servitude. They start hanging out and become friends again. Then they become more than friends.
But the Captain survived! And his account of the interplanetary battle is a lot different than Johnny's version (a lot more fabricated too). Having no way to prove it was he who saved Earth, Johnny loses his hero status and trudges back to his barracks at the EGA. But he still has Shani, who believes in him.
From the heights of Hollywoodland to the depths of ugly alien worlds, Johnny and Shani have many adventures together. (Their names rhyme on purpose.)
Sounds pretty solid, right? Why haven't you seen it? Well, it wasn't half that developed that summer; I've just been chipping away at it and playing out scenarios in my head as to what would work. It wasn't a period piece until last week and I didn't know what the two main characters looked like until today. The germ of the idea sparked after I finished True Believers, was surprised at how good the core relationship of that turned out, and thought my next series should be "something with a couple." Then I ended up liking Princess Pi better, so that went to series instead.
The biggest problem, the biggest thing keeping me from writing this, is that in recent years my interests have drifted more toward fantasy, and setups without rules. Science fiction is the opposite of that; everything requires an explanation. I'm not really in the "mode" to write sci-fi right now.
Maybe, someday, I'll drift back and you'll see what happens to Johnny and Shani....