Over the weekend I put up the latest instalment of Dark Legend. (NOTE FROM FUTURE JAMES- It’s no longer here, but it is on Amazon as Spawn) In it, I revealed Dan’s worst nightmare. It was something I had never thought about before and it just seemed to fit well with the chapter… And it’s absolutely hilarious at the same time. Dan’s worst fear has no name… It is a phobia (For sure… It is irrational…) but it’s not on a list of actual phobias. It is…. THE FEAR OF DOLLY PARTON!!!!
I suppose you’re wondering how I came up with something so absurd as fear of Dolly Parton. Erm? Have you seen her? Just look at any picture of the woman. Not only is she outrageously out of proportion (big lips, big boobs, eighties style hair and a very tiny body) but, quite frankly, if you place that in front of a small child with no prior warning the chances are they’ll wet their pants and run away screaming. And this is exactly what happened to Dan.
Like I said earlier, however, fear of Dolly Parton is quite frankly absurd. She just an ordinary woman, maybe slightly peculiar to British sensibilities but she’s still just an ordinary mortal woman- (Unless she turns into a raging demon with green blood if you stab her… Look at the woman… You can see it happening!) There is nothing scary about, really, about this one person. It’s more rational to be scared of the Chuckle Brothers.
So where the hell did I get this random idea from? Well, It’s right there in the text. Dan explains it. He got his fear from a kids show which included Dolly Parton hallucinations. You might laugh at this and think I made this up but it’s all true. There really was a kid’s show which involved a kid who nicked a load of Dolly Parton CDs and then followed up with hallucinations regarding the aforementioned country and western singer. Or should I correct that? There’s one incredibly freaky hallucination involving the aforementioned country and western singer.
Now I know what you’re thinking: What kind of creepy, fucking weird kids programme would involve a hallucination of Dolly Parton? Thus, I give you: Agent Z and The Penguin from Mars. I doubt any of you remember it…All I remembered from it for years and years was the Dolly Parton hallucination, before a chance google search led me back to it a few years ago. I can’t remember how I found it again, but I did. Turns out it came from a book written by that same guy who wrote The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time, Mark Haddon.
It’s not really about Dolly Parton at all. She only plays a very minor part. (Take note… Dan Leatherborne!) What it’s actually about is this kid called Ben and his friends who have a ‘secret’ gang called Agent Z and they go around playing practical jokes on people. The story is all about them playing a joke on Ben’s arse of a neighbour, Dennis Sidebottom (who, it must be said, is a pompous wazzock) by making him believe he has been visited by aliens with the aid of stolen penguin, some lights and a smoke machine. And mixed in with this are what can only be described as insights into the fevered imagination of a lunatic (which is where the Dolly Parton hallucination fits in)
So… I had a look to see if I could find any trace of it, so I could watch it and relieve the fear of Dolly Parton… But apparently it hasn’t been seen since its original broadcast some sixteen years ago, when I was six… In fac,t looking at the broadcast dates I was only five which makes it kind of worse that I remembered it for all these years. (Hey… Scary Dolly Parton hallucinations leave an impression on a five year old child!) It hasn’t been released to DVD and it has never been repeated.
Not being able to find a trace of the TV series apart from a single, short clip on YouTube, I decided to go and take a look at the books. There were others. I bought one of them. Something about killer bananas I think. I couldn’t find the penguin one but the killer bananas thing sounded cool. I never bothered reading any more of them.
And thus Agent Z and the Penguin from Mars seemed lost for all eternity… Until a bizarre thought hit me whilst writing. You’ll notice in the scene from D.L that Randy and Dan are discussing the music being played in the background and Randy hates it. As I’d never had to deal with Randy’s musical tastes before I started thinking what that might be. Inevitably it ended up as country and western and that reminded me about ‘Argggghhhh… Dolly Parton’ Or Agent Z, as it is better known. I decided it would be funny to make Dan’s worst fear Dolly Parton and have it originate from that TV series. Plus, if you’ve noticed certain other references in the plot, you’ll see it fits quite nicely with that lot… And remembering it, I had another go at trying to find it again…
And boy… did I find it… In the same place I found the short clip years before. So I watched it all. All of it… Only three hours but it was definitely worth it. And even at twenty two the Dolly Parton scene (in episode three) still freaks me out. It’s a shame that kids these days don’t have stuff like that these days- (probably not PC enough and not a cartoon for a start.) It was absolutely hilarious. It was practically genius, especially the last episode. And It makes me think that I really did grow up in a golden age of Kid’s TV. We had it all. Stuff from Britain, from America, Australia… France…. And we saw it and it was good…Not like today.
If I read out some of the programmes from the current Cbeebies schedule then it would sound like I had gone insane: Waybuloo, Woolly and Tig, Numtums, Abadas, Tree fu tom, Telletubbies, Dirtyfhgfd… You see my point. We used to have all sorts of good, intelligent programming for kids of all ages. The only thing that’s even come close in recent years is The Sarah Jane Adventures and Horrible Histories (Seriously… I’m a trained historian and I still find that shit hilarious.) All the rest is programmes for three year olds, programmes with stupid names. They don’t show the older stuff any more. Remember they used to do drama serials on a Sunday afternoon? Stuff like that one with Ian Richardson hiding in a secret room of some old mansion. There was one with a phoenix as well, and a magic carpet… You don’t see them anymore. Not even a repeat. They treat children like idiots these days.
Whoever is in charge of BBC children’s television needs replacing with someone who’ll do a good job. It’s disgraceful at the lack of decent stuff and it’s a shame to think that in sixteen years time some five year old kid won’t be blogging about his own ‘Fear of Dolly Parton’ thing. Partially because it won’t be there. You think these kids will remember this stuff they show these days? Not likely. It’s just generic, stupidly named pap.
Right… Where was I? Oh yeah… Dolly Parton.