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Episode GuideUp Above The World So High
Synopsis - Concept StorylinesFirst Draft Screenplay
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ReviewFrom Script to Screen
Up Above the World So High - First Draft Screenplay
Act One
Act Two Part IAct Two Part II
Act Two Part IIIAct Two Part IV
The First Draft screenplay of Up Above the World So High you are (hopefully!) about to read is probably unlike any other Planet of the Apes TV series script you may have seen.
As a rule, the scripts for the video incarnation of the Apes saga have a page count of around sixty-four, which is divided between four clearly defined “Acts” of almost equal proportions. Although this early version of Up Above the World So High conforms to expectations in terms of its length (which runs to sixty-two pages) in all other respects its format is unique.
It opens characteristically enough, with a First Act of eighteen pages, but the section which follows is, at forty-four pages, atypically overlong, and not only provides the next part of the narrative but carries it all the way to its conclusion.
Given that all Planet of the Apes episodes conform to a four-act format, and that the scripts which are their source must do likewise (as even the surviving First Drafts of Escape From Tomorrow, The Good Seeds, The Cure, and The Legacy attest), why is this one so different?
Some indication of the answer to this question may lie in the fact that within the tale’s extended second act, there are three scenes which conclude with the words, “Possible Fade Out”—on pages thirty-three, forty and forty-eight. Similarly, there is one occasion on page thirty-eight where a “Cut To” instruction is supplemented by the option, “Or Fade Out.”
Is it possible that these tentative directions represent suggestions from the writer (presumably Arthur Browne, Jr.) as to where Acts Two and Three could end? If so, why are there four such instances, instead of two?
The most likely explanation is that the author was writing without any idea of where the required breaks in the story would fall, which implies that he had not done what most writers are required to do—had a detailed treatment, or breakdown, of the narrative constructed and approved beforehand. Secondly, the fact that a teleplay that deviated so dramatically from the required structure was subsequently submitted, duplicated and circulated suggests that the series’ script editors and producers had agreed to accept it in this form…
All of which paints a picture of a story that was rushed into production, with its author working under such intense pressure, to such a tight deadline, that he did not have time to organise the tale into the standard, accepted format.
In support of this, an examination of the dates on the available versions of the script for Up Above the World So High reveals that three days after the First Draft was written, the Final Draft of the story was mimeographed—and when we look at a calendar for 1974, we can see that the First Draft carries the date of a Friday, while that on the Final Draft falls on a Monday.
Is this testament to the fact that Browne was asked to get something—anything—to the production team before the end of the week, so that they could comment on, and dictate how the story should be restructured and rewritten over the week-end, in time for duplication and distribution on the Monday?
With this in mind, it is interesting to note that the concept for Up Above the World So High had been in existence for some time. The code number allocated to it (B-542) tells us that Shimon Wincelberg had submitted his original outline during the period that Escape from Tomorrow (B-540), The Trap (B-541) and Tomorrow’s Tide (B-543) were in development, possibly in late June or early July of 1974.
In any event, with serious development of the script finally underway, the following three and a half weeks bear witness to a number of dramatic and significant changes to the tale.
On October 31st, a Revised Final Draft is circulated, with further modifications (seven new pages) being made within twenty-four hours, on Friday November 1st. The following Monday—November 4th—brings some twenty new pages to the script—representing a major restructuring to almost a third of the story!
Five more pages are rewritten and circulated the next day—on Tuesday November 5th—bringing into focus the tale that audiences were presented with over six weeks later.
It is probably safe to assume that what was to be the final chapter in the adventures of Virdon, Burke and Galen was filmed shortly after this date.
In transcribing the First Draft (for what I hope will be your reading pleasure!) I have used the “Possible Fade Out” directions as a guide when dividing the document into more manageble file sizes—which means that this script has five sections, instead of the usual four.
Mark. June 6th. 2011.
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