An episode I wrote for the relatively short (one season only) series for what used to be known as the Sci-Fi Channel – aka SyFy now – “Welcome to Paradox” – an anthology series based on the vague-sounding but intriguing premise that “in the future, technology alters the human spirit”. Also relatively unique because, in the show’s format, every episode was based on a published work/story by a sci-fi author, some quite well known but a number of others, brilliant writers, almost totally unknown outside of a small group of hard-core sci-fi fans.
“The News from ‘D’ Street” was based on a short story by the underappreciated Canadian writer Andrew Weiner; this particular episode was directed, with flair and obsession, by Guy Magar. In the adaptation of Weiner’s original story – a metaphysical film noir mystery about existence – I added my own tribute to the dark world-weary 1st-person narrative voices of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett that have peopled so much of my reading over the years. Rasheed Kay, the protagonist of ‘D Street’, the hardened ‘Inquiry Agent’ (aka private detective) of Betaville, is a total cynic: he knows that, even in the future, husbands still cheat on their wives, employees still steal from their bosses, and people still go missing for a variety of unpleasant, dark, and very real reasons. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Some things never change. And the worse things get….the more money Kay can make from his ‘inquiries’, profiting from the fundamental angst, emptiness, alienation and suffering of those around him. But like many seekers, the one person whom Kay has never really examined….is himself.
The one name which does not appear on the series credits but should is that of my old friend Jiles Fitzgerald, the brilliant executive whose behind-the-scenes creative energy and vast knowledge of sci-fi literature was largely responsible for the birth of this series. Produced in Canada as a can-con (Canadian Content) production via our Exec Producer Louis Chesler, “Welcome to Paradox” suffered both from relatively low budgets and some occasional network indifference/apathy due to the general and historic problems of promoting an anthology series with no regular recurring weekly cast members.
This particular episode is among my favorites, in part because it echoes some of my own obsessions with alternating levels and perceptions of reality – what is real as opposed to what we think of or perceive as ‘reality’.
Pablo Picasso said, “Everything you can imagine is real.”
“The News from ‘D’ Street” takes that little sentence and amplifies it in unexpected and dizzying ways.
The episode was first broadcast on September 7, 1998.