31 Plays in 31 Days, #24 – “Grading Circle of Hell”

This scene piece for my Frasier spinoff pilot feels particularly not cohesive. It’s got lots of good ideas and the beginnings of funny jokes, but it doesn’t have the right rhythm or flow yet. It’s designed to set up Freddy a little as a snarky, lonely person who feels a bit trapped in his life, but it doesn’t completely demonstrate that. Still, I think with editing it could be made to work nicely. It also would be the first scene featuring Leah Keoh, a fellow adjunct that Freddy works with, tentatively filling in the Roz role. I wrote about her already in Day #20 – Reaching Out.

This would be the first part of the scene that is finished off with the piece from Day #4 – The Cousins Crane. As I mentioned before Day #22 – Men of the Ivies, I’d want to edit the second part of this so that David had not yet told Niles that he was suspended, and that he wasn’t sure whether or not he’d be going back to Yale after an attempt was made to straighten things out. I haven’t made those edits yet, but I will when I start assembling the pilot from the scenes.

Day #24 – “Grading Circle of Hell”
From Frasier spinoff
By Phoebe Roberts
~~~

INT. ADJUNCT OFFICE – DAY

TITLE CARD: THE BAD COUSIN

Freddy works away grading a stack of essays at his desk. Enter LEAH KEOH, a young Asian woman about Freddy’s age, another adjunct professor at the university.

LEAH
You still here? Have you moved from that desk since last night?

FREDDY
Oh, time has no meaning here in the grading circle of hell. These intro to philosophy papers are so bad, I’m fairly certain I must have had a stroke at the beginning of the semester and taught the entire class in gibberish.

LEAH
Try teaching a gender studies class full of freshmen. Emphasis on the “men” part. You never heard so many “Well, actuallys” in all your life.

FREDDY
Just today, I’ve seen what I hope are unintentional defenses of eugenics, arguments that go so circular you could use them to mix paint, and a student who uses nihilism as a justification so often I’m wondering if I should refer the kid to the counseling office.

LEAH
Oh, yeah? Try this.

She holds up a paper to read.

LEAH
“Feminism is a movement where opinions are presented as facts and emotions as evidence.” Something tells me this kid spends a lot of time trying to argue women into dating him.

FREDDY
Which never works— or so I’ve heard! But here’s my personal favorite— the phrase “the theory-ladleness of observation.” Yes, this paper sure has theory by the ladle-full. So are you going to be in here for a while? We can order takeout or something.

LEAH
No thanks, I’m trying to reserve a few reasons to leave the office every now and then. Otherwise, why not just put a mattress under the desk?

FREDDY
There is a shower a few doors down in the chem lab. Of course, the university would probably just start charging us rent.

There is a knock at the door. Leah goes to answer it. She opens it to DAVID CRANE, eighteen, delicate featured but athletic, dressed like a bro. Freddy stares at him in surprise.

LEAH
Can I help you?

DAVID
I was told this was Freddy Crane’s office. Is he in?

LEAH
Office hours are from one to three on weekdays.

FREDDY
No, Leah, it’s okay.

He stands and goes over.

LEAH
Is he your student?

FREDDY
No. He’s my cousin. On my dad’s side. David.

DAVID
Hey, cuz.

LEAH
This guy’s your cousin?

FREDDY
He’s a lot younger.

DAVID
I think she got that from how you’re dressed like my dad.

Leah laughs.

DAVID
You don’t seem happy to see me.

FREDDY
Not at all! It’s just you look so… different.

DAVID
Yeah, I’m not so into tricycles anymore.

Freddy laughs embarrassedly.

FREDDY
It’s been a while. So what’s got you in Boston? I would have though you’d be at school right now.

DAVID
Yeah, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. Is now a good time?

He glances at Leah.

FREDDY
Oh. Oh, yeah, sure. Leah, do you think you could give us a minute?

She gathers up her papers.

LEAH
No problem, I’ll just go down the hall.

She leans into Freddy and stage whispers as she goes.

LEAH
If he takes your lunch money, just give a holler.

She exits. Freddy shows David over to his desk.

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