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Code Monkey: the musical
Bar Harbor
When I saw that Boston College had put together "Code Monkey: the musical", based on the music of Jonathan Coulton, I knew kestrell and I had to go. I expected a show with college-level writing, acting, and production values, but which would nonetheless be goofy fun. And that;'s more-or-less what we got. The first act exceeded expectations somewhat, but the second act pretty much fell apart. In order to arrive at something like a traditional happy ending, they had a surprise guest appearance by (spoiler alert!) Barack Obama, to mediate between the zombie hordes and the Freemason army.

Favorite bit #1:
Tom: Is that legal?
Dr. Martin: It's *better* than legal; it's government-funded!

Favorite bit #2:
Scarface: I have a Yes Master's degree!

Since it has now been demonstrated that one *can* make a (semi-)coherent musical plotline out of JoCo songs, I naturally want to make a better one. This may make less sense if you haven't seen the show. Or not :)

First and foremost, an overall tone change. Make the wit dryer. Don't have (or set up expectation for) a happy ending; JoCo songs rarely have either happy endings or healthy relationships. More songs, less exposition.

Move "The Future Soon" to be the opening number, and give it to Tom. Having Dr. Martin, who already *is* a Mad Scientist, sing it robbed it of much resonance. Also, having Tom be a budding Mad Scientist himself, rather than a simple naïf, would give him a more interesting relationship with Dr. Martin. Rather than simple Hero/Villain, you can have Student/Mentor, with a Betrayal at a dramatic moment.

Developing this notion, Tom only joins the company in a vain quest to follow Laura. She disdains him at first. When he gets taken under Dr. Martin's wing, and it seems like he actually will 'make something of himself', she starts to pay more attention to him. Dr. Martin in turn pays more attention to her, which ends up motivating his betrayal of Tom.

Cut back a lot on the heavy-handed exposition establishing that NOTANEVIL Pharmaceutical Company is evil. Instead, insert "I Feel Fantastic", showing the effects of their (public) products.

"Soft-Rocked" worked well as an Act I closer, except that they didn't actually *close* there, having a few more minutes of dialogue and plot development. If there *must* be plot development here, work it into the song. In performance, this song is often eextended by excerpts from various soft-rock classics. Why not choose excerpts that develop the plot in the desired direction? If that proves too daunting, try filking to some recognizable tunes here.

The whole 'drinking radioactive monkey urine' thing, while mildly amusing, doesn't work with a less buffoonish Tom. Let's replace it with a Remotely-Operated Mutation Enhancer, or more colloquially, a gun that devolves humans into monkeys. (This also helps support the 'made a neat gun' line in "Still Alive".) Tom gets to invent the gun, but Dr. Martin sabotages the experiment so that it backfires and starts de-evolving Tom.

Cut the whole alien angle, I think. It simplifies the plot structure a lot. We may have to lose Scarface's rendition of "I Crush Everything", but I could live with that. Or it might work with yet another recontextualization. Perhaps he is singing about escape rockets fleeing the doomed planet Earth...

Ape-Tom uses his (repaired) monkey-gun to make a simian army under his command, and they attack Dr. Martin. Laura is rescued and Dr. Martin is apparently killed. But it turns out that he had a contingency plan in place, and his personality was uploaded to the internet ("Still Alive"). In a fit of pique, he releases a zombie virus.

The world ends ("The Big Boom") in zombie/ape-man apocalypse ("re: Your Brains"). Some plucky survivors escape in rocketships (possibly built at "Ikea"?)-- only to end up on "Chiron Beta Prime", where Dr. Martin has a robot army to rule this (tiny) world.

And if one *must* manage a happy ending somehow, neither Freemasons or Obama are a sufficiently geeky means of rescue. No, I think we must resort to the power of time travel, chaos mathematics, and one badass fucking fractal! "The Mandelbrot Set" even has lyrics in the chorus about saving the day.

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I confess I have no idea who Jonathan Coulton is, but it
would seem I ought to know more about this. I *am* after all,
an officer in the Freemason army. Yeah, there is one. Well, not
really. But, yeah, technically. I mean, well, okay, it's complicated.
Y'see, it's like this....

Oh, 'scuse me, there're some men in funny hats at my door....

Just don't worry. We have everything under contr....


I really object to the loss of "I Crush Everything." The buildup of elements to make the various lines work was fantastic. It doesn't need aliens; I think that if Dr. Martin has robots on Chiron Beta Prime then he can probably have a spaceship orbiting the Earth, and someone can be on there that captures Scarface's heart.

I agree--I really liked the cute fluffy minion, and not just because he had an accent. I thought dragging it out with him trying to stand up straight was tedious though--he has a "Yes, Master," degree--he should be shown demonstrating his knowledge of the discipline of B movies. Everybody knows once the mad scientist kidnaps the girlfriend and begins monologuing, his evil plan is doomed. You could have Scarface switch sides and begin cultivating Tom to replace Dr. Martin. You know, showing that, behind every mad scientist is a cute fluffy minion.

How would you feel if the love interest in orbit was Dr. Martin's upload?

Haven't seen the show, but like the music.

I think Dr. Martin should be enslaved by his own robots on Chiron Beta Five along with everyone else. A nice twist to screw everyone.

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