(Note: I originally posted this under the title ‘1000 Ways to Not Fly’, but I never really liked that title. Therefore, I’ve given it a more-to-the-point title in this repost edition).
Posted by Chris Lang on July 13, 2012 at 7:25 PM
Okay, I’ll be honest. I’m not really all that fond of the anthology series 1000 Ways To Die. At best, it can be a guilty pleasure, as the acting is ridiculously over-the-top, and the dark comedy lands on occasion. It’s okay in small doses, or if I’m really bored and am looking for anything on TV. But sometimes it gets a little too morbid or mean-spirited, or portrays subcultures in a clueless way that shows the creators don’t exactly get those subcultures.
Mind you, though the opening says the stories are based on real deaths, they’re mostly fictitious or greatly exaggerated. Many of them are based on urban legends rather than real deaths (and some of those urban legends were declared ‘busted’ on MythBusters). Sometimes they are based on real deaths but the people they happened to changed (a fact the narrator admitted in the ‘Bad Max’ episode where a Mel Gibson parody meets a most gruesome demise). So knowing this makes one feel less guilty about the occasional chuckle over the narrator’s darkly comic remarks than one would had this show told completely true stories.
A while back, I decided to look up parodies of the show on Youtube. I’m not even sure why, outside of curiousity. I guess I wanted to see just how one parodies a show like this. However, I found that almost NO ONE did it right. All the videos I found were lame hand-held filmed skits where one of the people pretends to die in a silly way. What was missing were the stories leading into the deaths, and the snarky narration.
The thing is, if you do have a snarky narrator telling the story of a Darwin Award winner or a jerk/asshole/very unpleasant person who meets a crazy demise, then you’re basically doing 1000 Ways To Die straight, and not parodying it at all.
Honestly, the only way I think you can parody 1000 Ways To Die is to do a crossover fic or a fusion fic where you ‘fuse’ it with something else. So here below is such a short parody I wrote some months back as part of one of my other online activities.
What am I combining it with? I’ll give one hint: I covered this before in one of my WIJDW (Why It Just Doesn’t Work) articles. And if you want a refresher course on what crossover and fusion fics are, check out my Fanfic Subgenres: Crossover and Fusion Fics article. (There, I hyped both of my sub-series in a single paragraph! 🙂 )
As it was originally presented in a larger work where a character sees this on TV, I’ve omitted this character’s comments and am just presenting what she saw on the TV. I’ve also translated it into script form.
Narrator: Death is everywhere. Most of us try to avoid it. Others can’t get out of its way. Every day we fight a new war against injury, germs, toxins, illness, or catastrophe. There’s a lot of ways to wind up dead. The fact that we survive at all is a miracle. Because every day we live, we face … 1000 ways to die.
(The image of a shack and a snow-covered slope appears. We see a man ski down the ski slope and stop in front of a table where another man is waiting).
Narrator: Gus was a man down on his luck. He was so hard-up he would do anything for a buck. Then one day, Ross came into his life. Ross was one of the wealthiest men in town. He owned one of the world’s most successful coffee companies, and didn’t care that he had to break a few rules … or a few laws … to maintain his success. All Gus had to do for him was hack into a few computers, and ruin his boss’s competitors. One day they decided to discuss their dirty dealings at Ross’ ski resort.
(The camera pulls out to show that the ski slope and shack are on the top of a tall building that has to be at least sixty stories. It looks most incongruous surrounded by the other rooftops of the city).
Narrator: Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that the ski resort was located on the roof of a tall building.
(A blonde woman appears over the image. A caption identifies her as ‘Dr. Chase Meridian, clinical psychoanalyst’).
Chase: Eccentric, arrogant millionaires like Ross tend to flaunt their wealth. They build things like artificial beaches or artificial ski slopes simply because they like to show off. They want to show their guests ‘I’m rich. That means I can do whatever I want. Screw the rules, I have money’.
(Chase disappears after finishing her speech. The screen resumes showing Ross and Gus talking about their deal. Gus then heads back up the slope).
Narrator: With his powerful connections, Ross was able to bypass all safety regulations when he commissioned the construction of the rooftop ski resort. Gus, meanwhile, wasn’t thinking about any of this. He was thinking about the money he would make once he’d eliminated the latest obstacles in Ross’ way. His mind was not on where he was until he made one little mistake on the slope.
Gus: I – I CAN’T SKI!!!
(Gus slides down the artificial slope at rapid speed. This time, he passes Ross’ table completely and crashes into the flimsy railing surrounding the rooftop. The railing breaks, and he falls several stories downward.
The viewpoint changes to the interior of a restaurant where people are looking upward through a transparent slanted roof, seeing the falling man approach. The viewpoint then switches to two restaurant patrons as a loud, squishy noise is heard mixed with the sound of shattering glass. Blood and glass flew through the air.
An older man appears on the screen. A caption introduces him as Dr. Emil Hamilton.)
Dr. Hamilton: Gus fell 60 stories from the top of that ski resort. He landed on his feet … or his skis, but the pressure caused by gravity and the speed at which he fell made it impossible for him to survive a fall from that height. His legs fractured, and shot up into his body, resulting in a chain reaction that broke nearly every bone in his body.
(Behind Dr. Hamilton, computer graphics shows a man’s skeleton shattering in the manner Dr. Hamilton described. The screen then showed a replay of Gus and Ross’s discussion as the narrator spoke again).
Narrator: Gus thought that by ruining his bosses’ competitors, he would end up with more money than he knew what to do with. Instead, he found himself … flat broke.
(The screen then shows a still picture of Gus’s terrified face, and then a large caption reading: WAY TO DIE #833: Death Ski.)
So there you have it. This, of course, did not happen in Superman III. There, Gus was saved from the terrible fate he would have met if Superman wasn’t around — but NOT by Superman, but in a ridiculous bit of good luck that would NEVER have worked in real life (instead, the result would have been the scenario above).
I would like to add that I have nothing against Richard Pryor, but Gus Gorman was FAR from his best work (still, there are a few people who thought at least some parts of his performance funny). Honestly, if you want to see what made him such a well-respected comedian, see him in Stir Crazy or just about ANYTHING other than Superman III. This parody is only intended to make fun of one of the latter film’s stupider scenes.
And as for the TV show also being parodied, I hope I managed to capture the feel of it. In any case, feel free to leave your comments.