Written & Created by: Mand Paskuski
(Gonzo Drama Series)
A young drug-dependent woman struggles to cope with her depressing existence in Regency England when a wounded stranger's life falls into her hands.
POPPY FIELDS is a one hour dramatic multi-episodic recurring series.
Set in Regency England circa 1812, Poppy Fields is the obscure marriage of Hunter S. Thompson and Jane Austen. An odd pairing, you might think, but hey, don’t opposites attract? Our Dearest Poppy Baincroft, is twenty one, mischievous, hot-tempered, charming and completely addicted to heroin. In fact, she’ll do almost anything for an escape. This is where we meet her, floating, high in a lake with her best friend and close neighbor, Penelope whereby all the flowers bobbing on the surface of the water rise into the sky and paint themselves into the clouds. A beautiful hallucination to set up a recurring theme throughout this series, spreading the gap between illusion and reality. Much in the way that Terry Gilliam masterfully crafted in visual format the effects of drugs on the brain in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” we will see this type of cinema for the first time in this historical cinematic space. Borrowing from the giants of the reel, we will get to witness dazzling new filmmaking - Never before been seen on film. How wild!
This is no fairytale, though there is a mean step-mother – the bain of Poppy, her twin brother and little sister’s existance who in their father’s strange death, she inherited. But no money and when we meet them, they’re barely surviving bread-loaf to bread-loaf. All seems bleak, until a wounded solider finds himself at their doorstep and at their mercy. They doctor him through the hard night and save his life and we get a real glimpse at Hate-At-First-Sight. One thing’s for sure, Poppy’s world will never be the same again and audiences will yearn for tormented moments between her and our smarmy new stranger, Fields. A Gonzo Romance for the ages. Are you ready?
The show should have a similar structure to that of Joe Wright's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (2005) meets Terry Gilliam's FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS (1998). Borrowing from these two vastly successful but contracted cinematic masterpieces will lend itself to a new visual and creative playground; One in which, experimentation will be welcome. It will take a strong Director and Show-Runner to craft the merger of these two design concepts together.
At the beginning of every episode a new "problem" will be issued for our characters to combat. Also with every episode should come a new lens with which we see the world through Poppy's drug-addled eyes. Depending on her state, we will get to see many things, equally beautiful and horrific.
By the end of each episode the small problem will have been addressed, though a larger looming cloud will hang over season one, building itself to a crescendoed thunderstrorm, whereby we leave our audience with a shocking cliffhanger.
POPPY BAINCROFT (21), is our tormented heroine, addicted to heroin; Opium or Poppy seeds being her preferred substance of choice. When we meet her, she is naked in a lake watching the world paint itself colourful around her. She is deeply stubborn, head-strong, brazen at times but all the while, inexplicably charming. Her presence is felt upon entrance and missed upon exit. She is a force to be reckoned with, like the sea, like a storm, like fire.
FIELDS (25), is calculated, level-headed, balanced and as fate would have it also very hot-headed. He likes to be challenged, to challenge himself and others and as such can be quite competitive. When we meet him, he is wounded yet all the while, somehow, keeping spirits light. A smarmy, snarky, rascal who even in the darkest times remains hopeful, optimistic and kind. There are not many men like him but the ones that are, are worth finding and holding onto.
GERALD BAINCROFT (21), Poppy's twin brother and the battery of the family. As he is somewhat newly the man of the house, he keeps this burden close to his chest and strives to be proud, courageous and strong for his sisters. Romantically, he is quite reserved - preferring the company of other men to women but not yet ready to admit such to anyone. He's had a long-standing dalliance with one of Poppy's best friends, Heath, whom both have kept secret.
AMELINE BAINCROFT (15), Sweet, smart serious and earnestly innocent, dearest Ameline cares only for the comforts of her precious books. Yes, an avid reader she could lose days to pages. That being said, she's arriving at an age where certain interests are beginning to open up to her. Later in Season Two, Ameline develops a very dangerous relationship with a widowed bookshop owner much older than her, a scandal that could ruin the Baincroft family name. As many her age do, she believes they're in love and later will find out the horrors of a broken heart. She turns to her older sister to "fix" it.
PENELOPE SINCLAIRE (21), Best friend and neighbour to Poppy since infancy, Penelope is a close confidant and loyal companion. Always with best interest, she is the support, the crutch, the shoulder on which to cry if needed, sometimes the mother long lost. Penelope, make no mistake, is single-handedly the most important person in Poppy's life. As it were, she's also terribly reliant on heroin and having a lower tolerance and constitution than Poppy, will struggle with this addiction throughout the season.
HEATH LONGBOURNE III (21), The thespian of the bunch! Heath happens to be a sensational talent now and since the age he could speak. His love of the stage trumps all else except perhaps for Gerald Baincroft. The two have been sweet on each other since they were young boys but due to society's rigid social constructs, have been unable to host their relationship publicly. At the end of season one they are spotted by someone and the threat of having their secret exposed weighs heavily on them both.
LADY VIOLETTA MORTOMER (50's), Here is a woman that doesn't suffer fools lightly. Her estate neihgbours the Baincroft's humble house. She is Poppy's mentor in a word. From the time Poppy was a young girl and the family lost their mother, Lady Violetta has watched over them and at times protected them from harm. She is a light shrouded in dark velvets.
LORD FREDERICK BRIOR (41), A somewhat recent widower of a beloved wife, Freddie seeks comfort of his grief in the company of Ameline Baincroft. Wouldn't you know it, they fall madly in love with one another but our dear Mr. Brior feels that conflict burning him up inside about their unseemly age difference. It isn't long before he pushes her away, against his heart's desires for what he believes is her own good - how very wrong he is, for Ameline will set about a coping mechanism and as fate would have it, he older sister happens to be a drug-addict. Fred enjoys reading and consumes his life with it and his lovely spaniel pup Bex.
MRS. ELLEN BAINCROFT (50's), would cook the cat for meat, sell the family heirloom for money and ditch the babe to feed one less mouth. She's a mean person, rough around the edges, rougher at the core. It was her cunning that lead to her advantageous marriage to a mournful, then alive, Mr. Baincroft. It was her unfortunate marriage that left her with a great inheritance upon his untimely death, three children to which she does not welcome to treat well. Resentful of her poor upbringing, she takes her frustration and anger out on Poppy, Gerald and especially Ameline, who loves books and is by far the smartest in the household. Ellen, were it not for her station in life would have chose to marry well and rich, to never have worn hands with calluses or feet flecked with bunions from work. The sorrow of living is almost as great for her as the idea of dying.
JOHN "UNCLE BUMPY" BAINCROFT - is Eldrich's younger brother and nephew to his children, Poppy, Gerald and Ameline. He is the fun uncle, personified - always ready with gifts from his many travels abroad and always full of stories to match them. Simply put, his is living adventure.
KING PRICHARD VI - Current ruling monarch of England. [Season Two].
ELDRICH BAINCROFT (60's), though deceased, his presence resounds through the lives of all our characters. He was kind, cheeky, stubborn and much too alike our darling Poppy. He struggled to provide a good life for his family and after his wife died found it even harder which is why he decided to re-marry. His idea was that he'd already married once for love, why not marry now for duty. He was and still is beloved, a good, attentive, loving father that a child could only dream of having. He too, was a great man, loyal, reliable, resourceful and resolute.
Marrying a Hunter S. Thompson world with a Jane Austen one will be no small feat. Through the combining of these two aesthetics we will be opening a new cinematic door; or perhaps even building a bridge per say and it won't be easy but it will absolutely be worth it. It will take skills far greater than my own to collaborate with ideas on how to effectively shift our audience's perspectives, perceptions and even awareness at times. The viewer should feel slightly out of pocket, high along with our characters even as they go through this world together. Our guide and teacher for this in terms of technique is Terry Gilliam's adaptation of FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS. Specifically what comes to mind is the reptillian bar scene where faces of patrons anthropomorphize into creatures and beasts, horrifying and ugly. These mixed with scenes of astounding psychedelic beauty - nature heightened by a thousand, surroundings and senses magical - the air around us magnified to see the rainbows and prisms between our fingers - the fifth wall open, the sixth sense unlocked - exquisite life.