05x14 - Smile Time

1 INT. WOMAN'S APARTMENT - DAY

The television set is on, and a children's TV show called "Smile Time" starts playing. The set has a blue doghouse and a treehouse with a ladder leading to it. A very simplistic song starts playing, and the puppets appear. There's a brown dog puppet in the doghouse and two children puppets in the treehouse. The boy puppet has red hair and wears overalls and a baseball cap backwards on his head. The girl puppet has brown hair in pigtails on her head, fastened with daisy barrettes.

PUPPETS

(singing on TV)

In our secret backyard

we can make your day more fun and less hard

(the children and dog stand together)

no more frowning, let's get learning

ABC's and 123's

everything from words to weather

Pan over to show there's a young boy sitting in his pajamas on the couch watching the television. The boy has a thermometer in his mouth.

PUPPET DOG

(singing in a gravelly voice on TV)

we'll discover them together

Woof!

PUPPETS

(singing on TV)

Time to strap your thinking cap on thinking things are going to happen...

WOMAN

(on the phone, pacing nearby)

Because he's still sick, Ma. He can't keep anything down.

(takes thermometer from the boy's mouth, stands between him and the TV)

Yeah, and he's running a temperature.

(the boy tries to look around his mom so he can see the TV)

Well, what am I supposed to do? My shift starts in half an hour. Yes.

PUPPETS

(singing together, in a hug with a large formless purple puppet with a musical horn where his nose and mouth should be)

Every day's a new beginning all your friends are here and grinning 'cause it's smile time

WOMAN

No, Ma, I can't.

(pacing, wanders away from the TV and Tommy)

PUPPETS

That's right! You're on smile time.

(they repeat the song from the beginning)

PUPPET BOY

(separates from the singing group; comes up to the TV screen, pressing both hands to it and watching the mother leave)

Oh, good. She's gone. OK, Tommy, you know what to do.

(shakes his head)

Tommy, you should never break a promise. You don't wanna be a bad apple, do you? Come on. You know smile time isn't free.

(angrily now)

Now get over here and touch it.

(Tommy stands and walks toward the TV)

That's it, Tommy. Come on. Touch it!

(when Tommy puts both his hands on the TV screen, the puppet starts moaning with pleasure)

Ohh! Ohh... that's it.

(pan up to show Tommy's face is paler, and he has dark circles under his eyes)

Oh, yeah. Good boy, Tommy.

(Tommy's eyes roll back in his head)

Oh...ohhh...

Tommy collapses and falls to the ground. When the mother starts walking back toward the TV room, the puppet boy sees her and gasps. He heads back to join the singing group again.

WOMAN

(getting ready to go)

OK, Tommy, grandma's gonna be here in a few hours. Listen, I don't want you watching that crap all day long...

(looks up at the boy and stops in her tracks)

Tommy is lying on the floor where he collapsed, only his face is frozen in a creepy smile. Meanwhile, the puppets are still singing in the background on television.

PUPPETS

(singing)

'cause it's Smile Time.

That's right!

You're on Smile Time!

Fade to black.

Opening credits.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ACT I:

2 INT. SCIENCE LAB - DAY

Fred is looking into a microscope in the lab when Knox walks out of her office carrying papers.

KNOX

(hands the files to Fred)

Courier brought this in. Looks medical.

FRED

Oh, right. Good.

(flips through the papers)

KNOX

So, what do you got?

FRED

(reading the reports)

Mini epidemic here in L.A. 11 children between the ages of 5 and 8 hospitalized due to collapse over the last 3 weeks. None of them have woken up. I'm working under the assumption that this thing is mystical in nature.

KNOX

Oh, why's that?

Fred takes a picture from the report and shows it to Knox. The picture shows a child in the same position as Tommy—his hands are up beside his face, which is frozen in an eerie smile.

KNOX

Right. Could be the Joker.

(Fred glares at him disapprovingly)

From the comic books? Just trying to think outside the box.

Fred looks back at the papers to see a greeting card has been slipped into the stack. She takes it out to read it. The front, edged with pink and red hearts, depicts a monkey holding a heart and reads "I don't wanna monkey with your heart." She opens it. The inside reads "Happy Valentine's Day" in red letters.

KNOX

I know Valentine's was last week, but, um...

(Fred looks at him hesitantly)

I didn't take the discount on the card.

FRED

(smiles politely)

Thanks. Um...

(uncomfortably)

We talked about this.

KNOX

(sheepishly)

I was thinking maybe we could talk about it again.

FRED

(sighs, shakes her head, hands him the card and vials of blood)

I'm sorry, Knox, but you have work to do.

KNOX

(looks at her, backs away slowly, nods)

I do.

Cut to:

3 INT. LOBBY OF WOLFRAM & HART - NIGHT

The elevator doors open, and Nina (the werewolf from episode 5x03 "Unleashed") steps out. She's wearing a fashionable low-cut ensemble with a pretty necklace and a black blazer. She looks around the lobby expectantly. A demon wearing a suit walks by her talking on a cell phone. Angel walks down the stairs toward the lobby while reading a file, when Nina spots him.

NINA

Um... hey!

ANGEL

Hey. Back for the Wolfram & Hart Bed-and-Breakfast?

NINA

(smiles)

Full moon cycle starts tonight, in...

(checks her watch)

38 minutes, actually. Had a little snag getting out of the house.

ANGEL

(signing a document a legal aide handed him)

Haven't told your sister yet, huh?

NINA

It's not the sort of thing that's easy to jump to in conversation. "Oh, by the way, Jill, I've been a werewolf for 4 months."

(Angel hands off the documents he was signing and walks toward his office; Nina follows)

I told her I was going camping in the desert again. She's starting to worry I've turned into some new agey, moon-worshipping Wicca person.

ANGEL

Might be relieved to find out that you're just a werewolf.

(Nina chuckles)

HARMONY

(as Angel and Nina pass the receptionist's desk)

Hey, there, Nina. We've got your suite ready.

ANGEL

(puts his arm around Nina, touching her shoulder)

It's OK, Harmony. I'll take her.

NINA

(turns to Harmony smiling, waves and whispers)

Bye!

GUNN

Harmony, did you get a receipt from the county clerk on that filing I did for the Wayburn case?

HARMONY

(smiles, points, nods)

Oh! Yeah. Clerk's office called, said you filed the wrong papers.

GUNN

What?

HARMONY

Yeah.

(looks at her notepad)

Um, you sent them a motion for change of venue instead of a motion to dismiss. Unless you meant to do that. Some kind of tricky lawyer maneuvering you're trying to pull. That it?

GUNN

Yeah. Keep 'em on their toes.

(walks away looking worried)

Cut to:

4 INT. BASEMENT - NIGHT

Angel opens the door to the basement room. Inside, there's a cage with metal bars.

ANGEL

Seems like you're getting used to the routine, though.

NINA

Yeah.

(walks into the cage)

In a weird way, I'm starting to like it. These stay-overs, I mean. Not the going all hairy part, but... I don't know, coming here. There's always something interesting going on.

(looks away coyly)

And getting to see you,

(looks into Angel's eyes)

I look forward to that—you... all month, actually.

ANGEL

(stuttering uncomfortably)

Uh-huh. Um... I should probably close the cage.

(closes the cage door)

NINA

(laughs nervously)

What?

ANGEL

Insurance thing.

NINA

Oh, right.

ANGEL

OK, um... Bye.

(hurries toward the door)

NINA

(quickly tries to get this sentence out before Angel walks out the door)

Anyway, I was thinking... I mean... What are you doing for breakfast tomorrow?

ANGEL

(stares, frozen in place for a moment)

Oh, you know—

(chuckles)

Drinking blood.

NINA

(nods, embarrassed)

Right, yeah.

ANGEL

Uh, see ya.

(shuts the door)

Nina sighs.

Cut to:

5 INT. WESLEY'S OFFICE - NIGHT

Angel is talking to Wesley in Wes's office while Wes looks over some papers on his desk.

ANGEL

(not facing Wesley, uptight, concerned)

She asked me to breakfast.

WESLEY

Breakfast.

(nods, looks up from his papers)

Right. How did you respond?

(looks back over his papers)

ANGEL

Well... of course, I—ahem— ignored it completely, changed the subject, and locked her in a cage.

(paces, turns toward Wes)

WESLEY

(looks up from his papers)

Sorry. What?

ANGEL

Wes, it wasn't just breakfast. You know, it was, uh... breakfast.

(rambling)

I mean, here we had this very good, very platonic thing going on, and then all of a sudden, out of the blue—

WESLEY

Are you blind?

(Angel stares back blankly)

Angel, there are things called signals.

(Angel shifts uncomfortably in his shoes)

Odorless, yes. Invisible, certainly, but unmistakable, like the ones she's been casting your way for months.

ANGEL

(shakes his head)

No. I would have noticed—

WESLEY

This isn't just from me.

(Angel rolls his eyes)

This comes from people who know. This comes from the ladies.

ANGEL

(raises his eyebrows in disbelief)

The ladies?

WESLEY

Fred, Harmony... the girls in transcription.

(Angel frowns)

As Harmony put it, "Why else would a chick who's coming to spend 3 nights in a jail cell dress like it's her first date?"

ANGEL

(stares at Wes in panic)

Oh, God.

(Wes stares back with a knowing smile)

The ladies are right.

(sits in a chair)

Nina's down there right now, turning into a werewolf and liking me. I don't—can't— I have no time for that kind of— I have no right. I mean, look, we all know what happens if—

WESLEY

(shakes his head)

If what? If you achieve a moment of perfect happiness?

ANGEL

I turn back into Angelus, and we don't want that.

(Wesley scoffs)

What?

WESLEY

99.999-ad infinitum percent of the best relationships in the recorded history of the world have had to make do with acceptable happiness.

ANGEL

Look, Wes—

WESLEY

(stands, throws his hands up, paces)

Hiding behind your gypsy curse when there's a beautiful, engaging—all right, occasionally hirsute—young woman who actually wants you?

ANGEL

Wes, it's not gonna happen.

WESLEY

Why?

ANGEL

(stands, emphatic)

Because I'm not that guy. That guy is charming and funny and... emotionally useful. I'm the guy in a dark corner with the blood habit and the 200 years of psychic baggage.

WESLEY

Get over it!

ANGEL

Why are you yelling at me?

WESLEY

Because!

(softer)

Angel... if there's a woman out there... who you find truly attractive, who you think about, let's say, most of the time, who represents even part of what you think makes the world worth fighting for and who doesn't view you as an entirely sexless shoulder to lean on...you have to do something about it.

ANGEL

Who are we talking about here?

WESLEY

(looks down, the looks over Angel's shoulder toward the door)

Fred.

FRED

(walks into the office holding a stack of files)

Hey, guys. I—I think I have a case.

ANGEL & WESLEY

(simultaneously with relief)

Thank God!

FRED

(hands the files to Angel)

Children's epidemic. 7 kids, comatose, each with a semi-rictus of the facial muscles. I haven't been able to isolate a causative agent.

WESLEY

You think it's mystical.

FRED

Well, I've been down the strictly physiological route, number-crunched all the victims' charts, even had our hospital contacts send over blood samples. I've pulled all their plasma apart. No indicators on the cellular or subcellular levels.

ANGEL

(flipping through the files)

TV.

FRED

(turns to Angel)

What?

ANGEL

Parents said all the kids collapsed between 7:00 and... looks like 7:30 A.M. And all of them in front of the TV.

FRED

Huh. That could be something, but I'd still like to get a handle on the pathology.

ANGEL

Good. I'll—I'll follow up on this lead.

(over-enthusiastically)

I'll need to clear my schedule. These kids need help.

(walks out)

FRED

Wow.

(turns to face Wesley)

He really jumped on that one.

WESLEY

(nods)

Yes, he is a bit jumpy.

(walks back to stand behind his desk)

He's realized Nina has feelings for him.

FRED

(grins)

Well, took long enough.

WESLEY

He can be rather dense.

FRED

Um...

(smiles, walks up to Wes)

by the way, my car is in the shop again, and I was thinking...

WESLEY

Of course.

(picks up the phone)

FRED

(smiling flirtily, trying to finish her thought)

Maybe you and I, we could...

WESLEY

(holds up his hand to stop Fred)

(to the phone) Yes, Ms. Burkle needs a driver to take her home tonight.

(Fred looks deflated)

(to the phone) That's right. 511 Windward Circle.

Fred shrugs and bites her lip.

Cut to:

6 INT. ANGEL'S OFFICE - NIGHT

Lorne's sitting on the edge of Angel's desk while Angel reviews papers.

LORNE

Oh, the signals are there, jefe, loud and clear. Nina definitely wants a piece of Angel cake.

ANGEL

(rubs his forehead)

Lorne? Can we get back to the job?

LORNE

(leafing through papers)

Your wish, dreamboat, my command. I know most of the show runners in town, and none of them are really up to this sort of big-league, sinister...

(stops abruptly)

Hey...

(chuckles)

7:00 to 7:30?

ANGEL

(looks up)

Yeah.

LORNE

Well, that'd be funny... you know, if it wasn't.

ANGEL

What?

LORNE

Real popular kids' show in the So-Cal regional market. It's in the right time slot. It's in the right demographic.

ANGEL

What's it called?

LORNE

(holds up the picture of the kid frozen in an eerie smile for Angel to see)

"Smile Time".

Cut to:

7 INT. TELEVISION STUDIO HALLWAY - NIGHT

On the set of KTCE, in a section marked "Closed Set. Absolutely NO VISITORS", Angel walks down the empty office hallway at night. He hears a squeaking noise, and a janitor pushes a wheeled trashcan around the corner. Angel doesn't move, and the janitor walks toward him without noticing him. Angel waves his hand in front of the man's face, but still no reaction. The janitor walks on past Angel.

Cut to:

8 INT. TELEVISION STUDIO OFFICES - NIGHT

Angel walks into the "Smile Time" offices. The room is decorated with the show's logo of a smiling sunshine, plus cardboard cutouts of the puppets are placed around the room. Angel investigates a throbbing rumble coming from somewhere nearby. He looks around the room, following the noise until he sees a rattling file cabinet on one wall. He moves the cabinet out a bit, revealing a hole has been cut in the wall behind it. The rumbling noise is louder now, and Angel walks through the hole into the secret hall beyond it.

Cut to:

9 INT. TELEVISION STUDIO HIDDEN ROOM - NIGHT

Angel flips on a buzzing light overhead, revealing a set of doors at the end of the hall labeled simply "Don't". The rumbling grows louder as Angel approaches the padlocked doors. He pulls the padlock off with ease, opens the doors, and walks into the hidden room. At the far end of the room, a man is sitting, hunched over resting his elbows on his knees wearing a towel over his head. The man is sitting underneath a large, metallic, egg-shaped, glowing thing. Angel walks up to the man, but the man doesn't get up or remove the towel from his head. Suddenly, the man's hands start twitching, and the man struggles to speak

MAN

(weakly)

You shouldn't... be here.

The rumbling sound gets louder and louder. Pan up to the large metal oval above the man. The oval slits open along its bottom curve, forming a bright, glowing smile-shaped opening. When the "smile" is fully formed, a jolt of power thrusts Angel across the room. He lands in some boxes that were stacked against the wall, and he gets covered by them. The metal oval object stops smiling, and the rumbling noise goes back to a dull roar. The boxes that covered Angel move a bit, and a puppet's hand reaches out from them. The puppet pulls itself up to reveal that it looks a lot like Angel (black hair that sticks straight up, wearing a black leather duster and the same outfit Angel was wearing before). The puppet Angel looks at his hands, confused.

PUPPET ANGEL

Huh?

Fade to black.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ACT II:

10 INT. SCIENCE LAB - DAY

Fred is working at her desk in front of the computer when her phone rings. She answers it on speakerphone.

FRED

Practical science.

ANGEL (O.S.)

Uh, Fred...

FRED

Oh, hi, Angel. Listen, about the epidemic, it might not be mystical after all.

ANGEL (O.S.)

Do you think you could—

FRED

(interrupting)

Knox found a systematic endocrine dysfunction common with all the children similar to the effects of an obscure rain-forest pathogen—

ANGEL (O.S.)

Fred...

FRED

(continues to talk over Angel)

...So I put a call in to the C.D.C., And—

ANGEL (O.S.)

(shouting)

Fred!

(Fred stops talking, and Angel speaks in a softer voice, but still irritated)

Believe me, it's mystical.

Cut to:

11 INT. ANGEL'S OFFICE - DAY

Fred pokes her head into Angel's office. Angel is sitting in his chair, facing his back wall where he can't be seen from the doorway.

FRED

Angel? You all right?

(walks into the office, followed by Gunn and Wesley)

GUNN

You sounded weird on the phone.

WESLEY

Yes. Is there a problem?

PUPPET ANGEL

Oh, there's a problem.

(turns around in his office chair so that the gang can see him in puppet form)

GUNN

(steps back)

Whoa.

WESLEY

(looking carefully)

Angel? Is that...you?

FRED

Oh, my God!

(rushes to Angel's side)

Angel, you're...

(shrugs and smiles)

cute!

PUPPET ANGEL

(turns away, holds his hand up)

Fred, don't.

FRED

(bends over to inspect Angel's new form excitedly)

Oh, but the little hands! And the hair...

(scratches his head)

PUPPET ANGEL

(snaps)

Hey! You're fired.

(Fred frowns)

LORNE

(walks into the office)

Sorry I am late, gang.

(looks at Angel, chuckles)

What's with the big... puppet?

(Angel looks at his hands)

WESLEY

Angel, what happened?

PUPPET ANGEL

I'm not sure. I went over to Smile Time last night, and I think their office is under some kind of spell. I could feel it trying to get at me. I—I shook it off, but then I met this guy with a towel over his head, and something exploded! I woke up like this. Ugh.

WESLEY

(everyone shifts uncomfortably)

Clearly some sort of hex... or a—a powerful warding magic.

LORNE

(shrugs)

Maybe it's some type of puppet cancer.

PUPPET ANGEL

(through gritted teeth)

I do not have puppet cancer! Come on, guys. This is a serious situation. I'm a puppet, and there are children's lives at...

(gasps as he glances at the clock)

Hey, it's Smile Time!

(hurries out of his chair toward the television set; tries to turn on the TV via remote control)

Hmm...

(grumbles as he fumbles with the buttons; beats the remote on the table petulantly)

Stupid plastic piece of crap!

(panting, notices everyone's staring at him)

What?

LORNE

Well, Angel, it's OK.

(takes the remote from Angel, turns on the TV program)

WESLEY

This transformation may have altered your stress-response mechanism.

PUPPET ANGEL

What?

GUNN

He's saying that you have the proportionate excitability of a puppet your size.

PUPPET DOG (on TV)

Oh, hey there.

PUPPET BOY (on TV)

Hi.

PUPPET DOG

Aw. Looks like Polo has a case of the grumpies.

PUPPET GIRL (on TV)

Yeah, he sure does, Groofus. That mean old Mr. Fish-and-Chips said that Polo won't win the race tomorrow, no matter how hard he tries.

PUPPET BOY / POLO

Uh-huh, and I feel just awful. Well, what if Mr. Fish-and-Chips is right?

PURPLE PUPPET (on TV)

(makes a "toot toot" sound like a squeaky toy)

FRED

(picks up the phone)

Tracy, record the program that's running on channel 12 right now. Use everything. I'm gonna need a full-spectrum analysis.

As Angel watches the puppets on TV, he grows increasingly angrier, grunting and making fists.

PUPPETS

(singing on TV)

Self-esteem is for everybody

Self-esteem is for everyone

You can dream and be anybody

But self-esteem is how you get it done.

Self-esteem is how you get it...

PUPPET ANGEL

(angrily)

Wes, put the special ops team on red alert.

WESLEY

(calmly questioning)

Red alert?

PUPPET ANGEL

I want helicopters and tear gas.

GUNN

Angel—

PUPPET ANGEL

This is war!

LORNE

Angel, baby... Muppet, pumpkin, uh, this show is number one in its time slot. Tykes love it all across the Southland. We can't just toss a Jihad at their studio.

PUPPET ANGEL

(calmer now)

Oh. Right. Lorne, who runs "Smile Time"?

LORNE

Oh, that's Gregor Framkin. Yeah, real rags to riches. Started out in a garage with a couple of used couches and a glue gun. He turned it into a puppet gold mine.

PUPPET ANGEL

Yeah, great. You and Gunn go over there and meet with Framkin. Put some pressure on him, see if he cracks. Let him know we're onto him. Fred, Wes, I need you to figure out what Framkin did to those kids...

(frowns as he looks at his body)

and what he's done to me.

WESLEY

Absolutely.

Everyone turns to leave Angel's office.

PUPPET ANGEL

(sighs, calls after the others)

Oh. Uh, guys? This, uh, condition of mine? It's classified until further notice, OK?

(rubs his forehead; looks at the TV program again)

PUPPETS

(singing on TV)

We have ev-ery, everything we need

Self-esteem is for everybody

Self-esteem is for everyone

You can dream and be anybody

But self-esteem is how you get it done...

Angel walks back toward his desk, sighing heavily, when someone starts to open his door.

NINA

Angel?

Angel gasps in fright, turns off the TV, throws the remote into the air as he takes a flying leap toward his desk, landing under his chair, and scrambling to hide under his desk.

NINA

(opens the door fully and walks in, looking for Angel)

Angel?

PUPPET ANGEL

(as he tries to hide under his desk, he makes a noise)

Damn it!

NINA

(hearing the noise, approaches the desk hesitantly)

You— Are you under your desk?

PUPPET ANGEL

No. I—

(hangs his head)

Yes. So was there something...

NINA

Well, I can see you're... busy. Listen, what I put out there last night... I don't know, if it was a problem, please—

PUPPET ANGEL

Nope. No problem.

NINA

Um... is there a reason why you won't look at me?

PUPPET ANGEL

'Cause I'm under my desk.

NINA

Angel—

PUPPET ANGEL

Nina, would you mind getting out of here?

NINA

All right. Sorry... I guess.

(turns, walks out of the office)

PUPPET ANGEL

(groans, climbs out from under his desk to sit in his chair)

What a nightmare...

SPIKE

(barges into the office)

Hello, big guy! Need another car. Afraid this last one ended up in the drink...

(stops in mid-thought when he sees puppet Angel sitting at the desk)

PUPPET ANGEL

(anxiously)

Spike...

SPIKE

(staring)

Look at you.

PUPPET ANGEL

(gesturing with his hands)

Just turn around and walk away.

SPIKE

(still staring)

You're a—

PUPPET ANGEL

Spike!

SPIKE

(starts laughing uncontrollably)

You're a bloody puppet!

Angel launches from his chair at Spike, knocking them through the office windows and into the lobby.

Cut to:

12 INT. LOBBY OF WOLFRAM & HART - DAY

Angel attacks Spike, wringing his neck. They fight, rolling around on the floor, while Spike can't stop laughing at him.

SPIKE

(laughs)

You're a wee, little puppet man!

(Angel punches Spike in the face)

Ow!

(laughs; Angel punches Spike in the face harder)

Ow! Hey! That's enough.

(pushes puppet Angel off of him, throwing him high into the air)

(Angel lands on his feet, glaring at Spike)

Angel, what the hell happened to you?

(gets to his feet)

You look ridiculous.

PUPPET ANGEL

Get out of here, Spike.

HARMONY

Oh, my God. Angel, you're a—

PUPPET ANGEL

(points at Harmony)

Shut up!

(looks around the lobby, realizes everyone's staring at him)

What are you people looking at? Well?

(the employees back off, frightened)

SPIKE

(turns, smirks)

They're looking at the wee, little puppet man.

Angel growls and leaps toward Spike again, biting his forearm this time. Spike groans in pain, trying to wriggle his arm free of Angel's grip. Spike bashes Angel into the wall near the elevator, but Angel holds on tightly to Spike's forearm. Spike steps back as he tries in vain to writhe free of Angel's grip, and they stumble into the elevator. They're still wrestling as the elevator doors close on them.

PUPPET ANGEL

(heard from inside the elevator)

Stupid limey piece of crap!

(a thud is heard, then the elevator doors open revealing Spike collapsed on the floor)

(walks off the elevator and addresses the crowd of employees that gathered around the elevator)

Yes, I'm a puppet. Doesn't mean you don't have work to do.

(the crowd disperses; Spike stands and watches Angel walk back to his office)

Harmony, get my call list.

HARMONY

(watches Angel, confused)

Um...

Spike walks toward Harmony's desk.

PUPPET ANGEL

And Spike needs a car.

SPIKE

(to Harmony) You heard the puppet.

Cut to:

13 INT. TELEVISION STUDIO OFFICES - DAY

A woman escorts Gunn and Lorne into Framkin's office at the television studios. Framkin is wearing magnifying goggles and is bent over his workbench with a glue-gun creating puppets.

GUNN

Mr. Framkin?

FRAMKIN

(looks up, smiles)

Hi there.

(takes his goggles off)

Ah... excuse me for not getting up. Bit glued in at the moment.

(chuckles)

GUNN

Mr. Framkin, we've been tracking an epidemic that's affecting a great many—

FRAMKIN

Cocoa?

GUNN

What?

FRAMKIN

I could have some cocoa brought in. Extra yummy. Got those itty-bitty marshmallows?

LORNE

Ooh, those are good.

(sees Gunn's not laughing, changes his tone to threatening)

Listen, Santa, you can keep your tempting beverages to yourself. We're here from—

FRAMKIN

Wolfram & Hart. Yes. I've heard of it. And of you.

(Lorne smiles)

Made quite an impression in our little industry. So much accomplishment despite your unfortunate deformities.

LORNE

(frowns, offended)

Deformi-whats?

FRAMKIN

We have a song here at smile time that reminds me of your courage and pluck. It's called, uh, "Courage and Pluck." Goes a little like this:

(singing)

Oh, courage and pluck courage and pluck—

GUNN

OK, Framkin, enough. We're onto you, understand? We're gonna shut you down.

FRAMKIN

Oh, my. On what grounds?

GUNN

Well, for starters, violations of the provisions of section 5—

(stutters)

5... 6-8-C... set forth in chapter 15 of the children's...

(frustrated)

TV thing! You turned my boss into a frickin' puppet!

FRAMKIN

(calmly)

I disagree.

GUNN

Yeah, but— you—you what?

FRAMKIN

And if your intent is to pressure me, extort money, do any of the things your firm is famous for, well, I'm afraid you're in for a fight.

LORNE

Yeah? Well, a fight suits us just fine, Papa Smurf. We're gonna let the entire world know what you're up to.

FRAMKIN

Up to? Gentlemen, I bring joy and laughter to children. You bring tax exemptions to nasty corporations, acquittals to the clearly guilty. Frankly, I doubt the world wants to hear from you.

GUNN

Come on, Lorne. We're through talking to this hump of garbage.

(walks toward the door)

FRAMKIN

(wags his finger disapprovingly)

Uhp, no name-calling at smile time.

LORNE

(looks at Framkin on his way out the door)

Bad person!

(Lorne and Gunn exit)

FRAMKIN

(waves)

Bye-bye now.

(singing the "Smile Time" melody)

Bum bum bum bum bum buh bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum buh bum bum bum...

Pan over to show Framkin's lower back has a hole in it. The puppet "Polo" has his hand in Framkin's back. When Polo pulls his hand out of Framkin's back with a slurping sound, Framkin collapses on the desk. Polo picks up the phone and dials it.

POLO PUPPET

(to the phone) Get everybody in here. We got a problem.

Fade to black.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ACT III:

14 INT. TELEVISION STUDIO OFFICES - DAY

Polo, who's got a cigarette tucked behind his left ear, pours whiskey from a Jack Daniels flask into his "Smile Time" logo coffee mug.

POLO PUPPET

OK. Which one of you short-bus bastards turned the C.E.O. of Wolfram & Hart into a puppet?

GROOFUS PUPPET

Uh...

PUPPET GIRL

Well...

PURPLE PUPPET

(throws up his hands)

(toot)

POLO PUPPET

What do you mean, "it wasn't us"?

PURPLE PUPPET

(throws up his hands)

(toot toot toot)

GROOFUS PUPPET

Ratio's right, man. This Angel cat must've been the dude that broke into the "Don't" room last night.

PURPLE PUPPET / RATIO

(throws up his hands)

(toot)

GROOFUS PUPPET

That's what I'm sayin'. He messed with the nest egg.

POLO PUPPET

Stupid jackass! Might as well walk into a nuclear reactor and lick the core! I mean, anything could've happened to him! To us, to...

(pounds his fist on the desk)

You just don't mess around with the nest egg!

PUPPET GIRL

Well, maybe we should take the spell off a couple of our workers you know, so they could actually see an intruder?

GROOFUS PUPPET

Yeah. Damn zombies can't even work a camera!

POLO PUPPET

Doesn't matter. The nest egg's already got enough power in it to keep our cloaking spells up and running, make our connections with the kiddies, even turn this Angel guy into a puppet.

PUPPET GIRL

Which is definitely gonna bite us in the ass.

POLO PUPPET

Then we make sure our ass ain't there to bite.

PUPPET GIRL

Wha?

POLO PUPPET

Ratio has perfected our little system.

RATIO PUPPET

(waves)

(toot)

POLO PUPPET

Tomorrow we go on the air, and instead of draining one brat's life force at a time, we can take our whole demographic in one fell swoop.

PUPPET GIRL

(gasps)

RATIO PUPPET

(throws up his hands)

(toot)

GROOFUS PUPPET

Yeah! So tomorrow's gonna be a pretty big show, huh?

POLO PUPPET

The biggest.

GROOFUS PUPPET

Cool. 'Cause I've been workin' on this great new song about the difference between analogy and metaphor?

(Polo throws his coffee mug at Groofus, hitting him in the head)

Man!

POLO PUPPET

Are you out of your mind?!

GROOFUS PUPPET

Well, we want it to be good, don't we?

POLO PUPPET

We eat babies' lives!

GROOFUS PUPPET

And uphold a certain standard of quality edu-tainment.

POLO PUPPET

(pounds his fist on the desk)

Screw edu-tainment! The life force we're pulling out of these snotnose kids is 100% pure innocence, dickwad! You have any idea of the street value that carries down in hell?

RATIO PUPPET

(throws up his hands)

(toot)

POLO PUPPET

Damn right we're gonna be rich. Enough to build our very own Hades.

GROOFUS PUPPET

Well, I gotta admit I like the sound of that.

PUPPET GIRL

(nods)

Mm-hmm.

POLO PUPPET

After tomorrow's harvest, we're gonna torch this craphole and blow town before the rafters fall.

FRAMKIN

(weakly)

Please, let me...

POLO PUPPET

(thwacks Framkin on the arm)

Someone say you could join in?

FRAMKIN

Let me die...

PUPPET GIRL

Oh!

(laughs)

POLO PUPPET

Are you sayin' you wanna talk to the hand? Oh, I think he does. Come on, fat boy. Why don't you talk to the hand!

(shoves his hand into the puppet hole in Framkin's lower back)

FRAMKIN

(sits upright, gasps in agony)

Aah!

All laugh.

GROOFUS PUPPET

Make him swallow his tongue again!

PUPPET GIRL

That was a good one!

GROOFUS PUPPET

Yeah!

The puppets all laugh while Polo tortures Framkin.


Cut to:

15 INT. BASEMENT - NIGHT

Nina is standing alone in her cage, holding onto the bars as night falls. She sighs and turns around to take off her shirt, when she hears Angel's voice.

ANGEL (O.S.)

Uh, Nina...

NINA

(stops taking off her shirt, turns to look for Angel)

Angel?

PUPPET ANGEL

(hiding behind the door)

Yeah, sort of. Uh, listen, I wanna apologize about the way I treated you this morning.

NINA

Look, Angel, I understand.

PUPPET ANGEL

Pretty sure you don't.

NINA

You've got this whole, complicated, important life going on, and... the last thing you need to deal with is a crush from monster girl, some charity case you were nice enough to—

PUPPET ANGEL

Nina...

(breathes deeply and exhales; walks out from behind the door so Nina can see him)

NINA

(realizes Angel's a puppet)

Oh.

PUPPET ANGEL

I was turned into a puppet last night.

NINA

I, uh... Wow. Are you—are you OK?

PUPPET ANGEL

I'm made of felt...

(pulls off his nose; speaks nasally)

And my nose comes off.

(puts his nose back on his face)

NINA

I don't know what to say.

PUPPET ANGEL

(walks up to the cage, holds onto the bars)

My people are workin' on the problem. I'm sure they'll fix it. Eventually.

(sighs)

I didn't meant to upset you this morning. I just didn't want anyone— Well, I didn't want you to see me this way. It's a little, uh, embarrassing, I guess.

NINA

I'd call it a little insane.

(Angel hangs his head in shame)

But... what do you care what people think, anyway?

(Angel looks up at Nina, surprised)

Angel... you're you, you know?

(kneels to talk to Angel on eye-level)

You're this— I mean, God, you're an actual hero, and, I don't know, this may sound cliché coming from an art-school chick, but... the vampire thing's kind of sexy.

PUPPET ANGEL

It all sounds good, but that's not how I feel.

NINA

I know. That's what I like about you.

PUPPET ANGEL

(Nina stands)

I'm not very good at any of this.

(sighs, looks away)

I've spent so much time worrying about the past and the future and my very complicated life... it's been a while since I looked up and really saw what was going on around me. It's not my strong suit, you know? But I'm working on it. I'm paying better attention to—

(a growling noise comes from the cage and a dog's paw grabs Angel, pulling him into the cage)

Aah! Ohh!

(tries to get away)

No, Nina! Bad Nina! Yaah!

(fabric rips; Angel groans)

Cut to:

16 INT. HALLWAY AT WOLFRAM & HART - NIGHT

Lorne's walking toward his office when he hears a battered and torn Angel making his way toward him.

PUPPET ANGEL

(trying to hold his stuffing in)

Lorne...

LORNE

My little prince!

(Angel groans and collapses; Lorne goes to his side)

Ohh... what did they do to you?

(picks up Angel in his arms)

PUPPET ANGEL

Nina... tried to... eat me.

LORNE

(yells out)

Medic!

(to Angel) You're gonna make it, Angel. Just don't stop fighting.

(yells out)

Doctor! Is there a Geppetto in the house?!

Cut to:

17 INT. DOCTOR'S OFFICE - NIGHT

In the same eerie doctor's office where Gunn first got his brain enhancement procedure performed, a doctor works on a patient. Electricity buzzes as he adds the finishing touches to the man's the man's eyes. The man puts on dark glasses as the doctor takes off his own protective goggles. There's a knock at the door, and Gunn walks into the room.

DOCTOR

(checking the patient's eyes)

Good, good.

(to Gunn) With you in a minute.

(to the patient) So I want you to keep those glasses on for a full week, give those fancy new retinas time to adjust.

(the patient stands and walks to the exit; the doctor calls out after him)

Then I get to see you in 14 days.

(to Gunn) X-ray vision.

(makes air quotes)

Very now.

GUNN

Something's wrong with the implant you gave me.

DOCTOR

Well, I doubt that— Gunn, isn't it? But let's take a look.

(humming, grabs an instrument and looks through it into Gunn's eyes)

Ah. The imprint is fading. Don't blink. Your neural path modification has almost completely reverted.

GUNN

I'm losing it. The law, the languages, the strategy.

DOCTOR

Oh, acute "Flowers for Algernon" syndrome.

(chuckles)

It must be sheer torture.

GUNN

Well, fix it! Put it back.

(sits in the doctor's chair)

DOCTOR

Well, no offense, counselor, but your insurance plan wouldn't cover what I charge to wash my hands.

(Gunn rolls his eyes)

You were given that upgrade 'cause the senior partners wanted you to have it, and if you're, uh, losing it, well, they wanted that, too.

GUNN

Why would they do that?

DOCTOR

(laughs)

You never know with them.

GUNN

I can't lose this. This power, these skills, they've—they've changed me, given me...

DOCTOR

Meaning? And to have it taken away, it's... heartbreaking.

(shakes his head sympathetically)

Though I do think Cliff Robertson captured the poignance of it more elegantly.

GUNN

(stands, angry)

I'm not going back to who I was.

DOCTOR

Well, maybe, maybe not.

(walks away to a computer)

See, I, uh... always have a few things going on the side. Currently, I have a lot of capital sunk into a shipment that's being held up at customs.

GUNN

Drugs?

DOCTOR

(chuckles)

Goodness, no. I make my own drugs. No, just an ancient curio, a collectible I hope to turn a profit on.

(turns back to face Gunn)

If I was to give you the permanent upgrade, I'd say that, uh, you'd be more than able to cut through all of my red-tape problems.

GUNN

I don't make deals with people like you.

DOCTOR

And believe me, Charles, I don't make deals with people like you. Not the person you really are, the ignorant street muscle...the high-school dropout... I would, however, love to make a deal with Charles Gunn, Attorney at Law.

Cut to:

18 INT. SCIENCE LAB - NIGHT

The "Smile Time" program is playing on a TV screen.

POLO PUPPET (on TV)

And now it's time for action math news with your action math experts, Ratio Hornblower aaaaand Groofus!

RATIO HORNBLOWER PUPPET (on TV)

(toot toot tooot)

GROOFUS PUPPET (on TV)

Thank you, Polo. Our top story this morning... 2 plus 2 is 4! And in related news, 4 plus 4...is 8!

Pan back to show Fred and Wesley are watching the show in the lab.

WESLEY

It could be the lack of sleep talking, but... I'm really starting to like this show.

FRED

(giggles)

I know what you mean. What time is it?

KNOX

(walks in with two coffees; hands one to Fred and keeps the other for himself)

4 A.M. And counting.

(Wesley looks at Knox's coffee)

Oh! I'm sorry. Did you want—

(holds out the coffee to Wes)

WESLEY

That's all right.

KNOX

'Cause I could—

WESLEY

No. Really.

(turns back to the TV)

All right... what are we missing?

FRED

(turns back to the computer hooked up to the TV)

I guess we should go back and comb through the signal spread, check all the tracks again.

KNOX

Ecch. Again. What's up with you two? The tracks are clear. We ran it through every filter we've got.

WESLEY

That's not how magic works, Knox.

KNOX

Really...Merlin? Then how does magic work?

FRED

(turns to Knox, smiling)

You know what? I think we can handle it from here. You should go home, Knox. Get some rest.

KNOX

Oh, no. I don't want to abandon ship.

FRED

That's OK. Somebody's got to be awake enough to run the lab tomorrow. Seriously, go home.

KNOX

(nods)

OK.

GROOFUS PUPPET (on TV)

(singing)

Just a little bit of math in everything...

FRED

(giggles)

I love this one.

(offers her coffee to Wesley; he takes it)

Knox watches Wesley with Fred, then walks out hanging his head.

GROOFUS PUPPET (on TV)

(singing)

...From the number of your toes

to the arc of a swing

and even in the length of a yo-yo string

there's a little bit of math in everything

one plus one is two

and two plus two is four...

WESLEY

(looks over his shoulder to see that Knox has left)

So... how's it going with you and Knox? I know you were starting to—

FRED

Started and stopped, actually.

WESLEY

Really?

(hands the coffee back to Fred)

FRED

(blushing)

Yeah. We went out a few times, but... I don't know.

WESLEY

(turns down volume on the TV)

So...you stopped it.

FRED

Yeah. He—he's nice enough, but... I think he's been working here too long. Plus, he doesn't make me laugh at all. I mean, he tries, but...

WESLEY

I see.

(turns back to face the TV)

You're looking for someone funny.

(typing)

FRED

(reading Wes's body language, realizes he took her meaning wrong)

A...certain kind of funny. Yeah. But...I'm not really looking for so much as looking at—

WESLEY

(notices something on the TV program)

Hang on. Go back a second. There's something different. Maybe if we bring up... the volume.

Fred rewinds the tape. When Wesley turns the volume back on, the image on the show changes. On mute, Polo has his hands pressed against the screen, but with volume, Polo is singing with the other puppets. Wes and Fred are seeing the same effect the boy Tommy saw at the beginning of the episode.

GROOFUS PUPPET (on TV)

(singing)

To the arc of a swing and even in the length...

FRED

(Wes mutes volume, and Polo's hands are on the screen again)

Polo isn't singing with the rest of them. It looks like he's talking to the audience.

WESLEY

(turns the volume on and then mutes it again)

Yes. When the song is playing, it acts as a sort of cloaking spell allowing Framkin to address his target without being seen by the rest of his viewers.

FRED

So that's how he's been hiding it.

WESLEY

No. That's how he was hiding it.

Cut to:

19 INT. ANGEL'S OFFICE - DAY

Angel is sitting at his desk using a needle and thread to sew up his torn jacket.

ANGEL PUPPET

(pulls the thread through the fabric, grunts)

Stupid fingers.

(pulls the thread, breaking it)

Stupid string!

(puts down the needle, groans)

Wesley and Fred walk into Angel's office. Angel looks up at them.

WESLEY

It's all in the broadcast— Some very nuanced magic, but we found it, finally.

FRED

(notices claw marks across Angel's face)

Angel...what happened?

ANGEL PUPPET

Uh...nothing. It's not important. D-doesn't matter. Go on.

FRED

It's a hidden carrier wave masked by a spell that turns the TV into a 2-way conduit with direct access to the viewer.

WESLEY

That's how he's been draining energy from the children, and judging from the strength of yesterday's signal...

FRED

Framkin's ready to take out the whole audience.

WESLEY

The object you described in that secret room is most likely a repository for the children's life force. We'll have to break the binding magic on it.

FRED

Which should free those children and... reverse your puppet problem.

ANGEL PUPPET

(upon hearing these words, Angel gasps and rushes to hug Fred with overenthusiastic gratitude)

I love you guys.

(Fred smiles, not really knowing how to take it; Angel gathers himself together and steps back)

Oh... we'd better get moving. Framkin knows we're onto him. If he's ready to zap his whole audience, he'll pull the trigger today for sure.

GUNN

(walks into the office confidently)

Not him. Them.

ANGEL PUPPET

Gunn.

GUNN

Framkin's not doing this. It's the puppets. They're demons. The show is possessed. "Smile Time"'s ratings hit an all-time low last year. Framkin made a deal with some devils to bring it back to number one.

WESLEY

You sure of that?

GUNN

Dead sure. Every contract signed with the lower planes is filed in the Library of Demonic Congress. You just gotta know where to look. Pretty tricky legalese, too. Framkin must have missed some of the fine print.

ANGEL PUPPET

(pacing)

Which allowed them to take over everything.

GUNN

Including Framkin. These particular devils have a fairly distinctive M.O.

FRED

They've done this before?

GUNN

You see the last few seasons of "Happy Days"? Point is—you wanna take out "Smile Time", take out the puppets.

ANGEL PUPPET

(walks back to his desk)

Well, then...

(takes a sword off the wall, removes it from its scabbard)

Let's take out some puppets.

Cut to:

20 INT. LOBBY OF WOLFRAM & HART - DAY

Fred opens the double-doors leading from Angel's office to the lobby. Gunn and Wesley flank her as they walk out toward their mission. Pan down to show puppet Angel is leading the way, carrying his sword behind his head, parallel to his shoulders.

Fade to black.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ACT IV:

21 INT. LITTLE GIRL'S ROOM - DAY

A little girl is sitting on her bean-bag chair beside her doll house watching TV in her room.

PUPPETS

(singing on TV)

In our secret backyard

we can make your day more fun and less hard

no more frowning, let's get learning

ABC's and 123's

everything from words to weather

POLO PUPPET

(talking to the audience while the other puppets continue to sing in the background)

Hi there!

LITTLE GIRL

Hi!

POLO PUPPET

Listen, kids. Today is gonna be an extra-special best show ever! But only if everyone at home can give us a hand. Now get up... and come over here.

(the little girl stands and approaches the TV)

That's it, everyone. Just keep your hands right there.

(the girl puts her hands on the TV)

Oh! Ohh... let it go! Let it all go!

(the girl is starting to look ill and pale as Tommy did when he touched the TV)

After all, it's Smile Time!

ANGEL PUPPET (O.S.)

No, it' not...

Cut to:

22 INT. TELEVISION STUDIO SET - DAY

The puppet Polo turns away from the camera to see Angel standing on the set behind him carrying a sword.

ANGEL PUPPET

...it's time to kick your ass all the way back to hell!

POLO PUPPET

You!

Angel swings his sword and lets out a primal yell as he leaps toward Polo. Angel swings the sword at Polo, but misses. Polo punches Angel. The TV show staff act as if they can't see what's going on around them. They are clearly still under some sort of spell.

GROOFUS PUPPET

(to Angel) Hey, man! You're ruinin' the show!

Someone else swings a sword, cutting off Groofus's head.