Network Interference or: Formulas Belong in Math, Not TV

  • Herc, glad you could meet with us. You’re doing a great job, and the network just loves it, loves it, but we have a couple of notes.
  • Uh, notes?
  • Just a couple of teeny, tiny notes.
  • I thought you said you love it?
  • Oh, we do! But we have a responsibility to the advertisers, too. This is still a business, after all. The Nielsen ratings are in and –
  • Wait, you can tell who’s reading this?
  • Yes, and it doesn’t look good. You pulled in good numbers on the premiere, but that’s normal. What we’re seeing is a drop in readership, especially at the beginning of each week. And a full third of the audience is in the North American market.
  • And that’s important… why?
  • Well, for this to be profitable, advertisers will want you to really consolidate that demographic. And something needs to happen about that early-week slump.
  • Woah, hold on there. Are you implying that I whore myself out for more site hits? Like, dumb it down? And introduce nonsensical plot twists? Should I have a sassy black sidekick too?
  • We prefer to use the term ‘urban’. And if you want to be renewed for a second season, without a budget cut, we strongly advise you to have a look at our notes. You’re not obliged to follow them. But you are strongly advised to.

So, uh, welcome to another installment. Erm, “thousands” of years ago, the Ancient Greeks derived a formula that could generate the Fibonacci numbers (somehow. Fibonacci was born in 1170 AD).

Teaser

FLASHBACK:

EXT. BEACH. Coastal Greece, looking suspiciously like Santa Monica. A title card reads ‘Athens – 2000 BC.’ even though that’s inland, and Ancient/Classical Greece was generally between 8th-4th century BC.

INT. PARTHENON – NIGHT. Oiled-up scholars are taking a break from sodomy to do some math. The most revered member of the priesthood (scholar/priest, don’t worry about continuity) manipulates a device and notes numerals on a wax tablet. When finished, he places it on a pedestal, and clumsily remarks to a fellow scholar/priest how devastating it would be if this device were to ever be lost. CLOSE ON the device.

DISSOLVE TO: The same device. Title card reads “1687”.

PULL BACK to show: the Turks of the Ottoman empire using the Parthenon to store gunpowder. The sounds of fighting can be heard off-screen. One sound pierces through and grows louder, and lower in pitch (despite the fact that the Doppler effect would say otherwise). A mortar fired by the Venetians ignites the gunpowder, and the Parthenon is destroyed. This is actually shockingly accurate.

CLOSE ON: the device, under flaming ruins.

MONTAGE: with each passing century, the device is further hidden from history.

Act I

So, without, uhm, this alleged device, we’re gonna use good old-fashioned mathematical elegance to solve it. Since each Fibonacci number is generated recursively by summing the previous two numbers, this is what’s called a ‘recurrence relation’.

And it turns out, for certain forms of recurrence relation, we can use a powerful little trick called a ‘generating function’, which in this case will allow us to get any particular instance of the Fibon- excuse me, the doorbell seems to be ringing.

  • Well hey there, sugar! You packed and ready to go?
  • Where? And who the bloody hell are you?
  • Oh, quit yo’ playin’, fool! We’s got work to do!
  • What on earth are you talking about?
  • Nuh-uh! Dontchoo pretend you don’t know me! I’m your sidekick Shaniqqqua! And we’ve got a plane to catch if we wanna find that device!
  • Why do you spell that with three “q”s? Wait, how do I know that? I mean, right, oh, you got me! I was… just playin’, ’cause… I’m a fool.
  • Well, what’re you waiting for? Let’s go! I wanna get back in time to watch my stories. And I ain’t sitting through any in-flight enterTAINment by mahself!
  • [With complete disregard for copyright infringement, she throws Herc an Indiana Jones hat and bullwhip].

EXT. PARTHENON – DAY

  • Well, I can’t find it. I guess we’re gonna have to go back and do some math.
  • Aw haylll no! We di’int come all this way to give up! I have something that might help. Here.
  • [She hands over an envelope]
  • And this is?
  • It’s from your late father, God rest his soul.
  • But he’s not – oh right, yep, God rest his soul.

HERC’S LATE FATHER (V.O.)

Son, if you’re reading this, it means it’s too late and those rat-bastard Nazis have gotten to me. But I know something they don’t: the exact location of the device. I finally translated that strange dialect on those tablets we found. The device is at these co-ordinates: 37.9778° N, 23.7278° E.

[Ignoring the question of how the Ancient Greeks knew the modern latitude/longitude system, or even why they’d need to note down the co-ordinates of a contemporary device, he somehow uses a compass (and don’t get me started on that) to make his way over to the supposed location of the supposed device. He brushes aside, like, four rocks, and it’s totally there. It is in hilariously good condition.]

antikwatch

  • Ok. Yay. Well, we found it, let’s go back. To normal.
  • Your dead father (God rest his soul) would be so proud.

Act II

[Suddenly, the device is swiped from his hands. By a short man. A short man in a brown military uniform. He wears an armband. On it is a sigil that appears to be half Golden Spiral, half swastika. He is surrounded by a group of similarly dressed, though taller, individuals.]

  • For fuck’s sake! Who the fuck are you, and why the fuck would you even want this?
  • I am Fibonazi!
  • Lawdy!
  • Holy racist christ.
  • With zis device at mein fingertippen, I vill control ze Vest!
  • HOW?!? These are numbers that you can generate manually. This just speeds things u-
  • Silence!
  • You know what? Take it. I don’t care. In fact, I will be massively impressed if you can do anything of use with this. Fibonacci numbers are primarily the domain of “mystics” and stoners these days anyway. Good luck with that.
  • Take him away and tie him up!
  • Whatever else happens, I just want you to know: you are sorely underdeveloped, and your motivations are wafer-thin.

Hercles will return after a short word from our sponsors!

porsche

If you don’t buy a Porsche, then you’re a pussy! And if you do buy one, beautiful strangers will blow you. That’s the Porsche promise!

06mcdonalds2-articleLarge

Come to McDonalds! Great food, great prices! All that stuff you heard about fast-food being linked to obesity? That’s just part of the liberal pinko hippie agenda! And if you listen to them, the terrorists win. You don’t want that, do you?

And if you’re too busy being blown in your Porsche by a beautiful stranger, use our drive-thru!

McDonalds: I’m lovin’ it.

Act III

[Herc is tied up in, presumably, a Nazi fortress of some sort. The only thing distinguishing it from the ‘Parthenon’ set is a couple of Nazi banners and old-timey radios. You know the ones I mean. Shaniqqqua is nowhere to be seen because, you know, fuck continuity. Fibonazi paces back and forth. About a dozen henchman watch.]

  • Zo. You thought you could get to ze device before me?
  • I honestly didn’t know who you were, and still refuse to believe you’re real, since I have a hard time thinking that even the most damaged and twisted mind could come up with you as a concept. So, no, I did not.
  • [The fourth (probably fifth by this point) wall begins to creak]
  • Insults! Vestern scum!
  • Actually, we’re both part of the Western wor –
  • [Herc is struck by the now-customary backhand]
  • Third acts are, like, 7 minutes including credits. And with all the pacing and slapping, you’ve already wasted two.
  • [A dozen more slaps are administered]
  • Three!
  • Seriously, I am kind of intrigued as to how this device could possibly be of any use.
  • Before I kill you, I vill tell you, yah. You see, decades ago, mein father voz vorking with your father, and zey discovered zat –

[Glass smashing. A woman swings in through the window. Her figure is completely unrealistic, and no doubt contributes to the unhealthy perception of body-image already prevalent. Her tits are huge. At each breast, her outfit is emblazoned with a φ symbol.]

  • Babe-raham de Moivre! Nein! Get her!
  • [She avoids and dispatches three of the henchmen with hilarious ease]
  • Ha! I’m too smooth to be caught off-guard! I put the ‘generating funk’ into ‘generating functions’!
  • [For no discernible reason, funk music plays while Babe-raham de Moivre dispatches the rest of the henchman. It’s like 60s Batman, except somehow worse ’cause we should know better by now. While this happens, Fibonazi escapes. Somehow.]
  • Drat! I’ll get him next time! With God as my witness, in the memory of your late father (God rest his soul), I will return the device to you… the rightful heir!
  • No, seriously, it’s fine. I can work it out with math, the device doesn’t matter at –
  • Nonsense! It is my sworn duty, for I and the generations before me have upheld a sacred vow to protect the device from the hands of those that misuse it. And with that, I must take my leave and continue to hunt for the dread Fibonazi! Godspeed!

Roll credits

Next time, on Hercles:

  • What is this dog doing here?
  • I’m Jacques-Russell Binet! I am the reincarnated soul of Jacques Philippe Marie Binet, and I am your spirit guide for your vision quest!
  • Vision quest? But I’m not – Did you drug me? Is that why I can tell your words have a hyperlink in them?
  • I’ve ztill yet to explain anyzing in detail! You zee, our fathers had been hired by their governments, to locate – actually, let me start again. Ze year voz 1938. Summer had begun to burgeon –
  • Oh no he di’int!

nbc

Stay tuned for more poorly-written dreck. We mean well, but we can’t compete with CBS’s Two and a Half Men or The Big Bang Theory. And we’ve got families to feed. Please, we had no choice.

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