CAPTAIN PLEONASM AND THE GENESIS OF THE BREVITRONS.

Although no recordings of the old Captain Pleonasm radio serial have survived, a number of the original scripts were recently unearthed in the archives of the Northern Broadcasting Company.

ANNOUNCER. Malt-O-Cod, the delicious and nutritious malt food drink flavored with real cod-liver oil, presents…

(Music: Theme, up and under for…)

ANNOUNCER. The Thrilling and Exciting Adventures of Captain Pleonasm and His Faithful and Trustworthy Sidekick and Assistant, Interjection Boy! Featuring the musical stylings of James Levine and His All-Girl Orchestra.

(Music: In full, then fade.)

ANNOUNCER. As you recall, Captain Pleonasm and Interjection Boy had just foiled the serial phone prankster who bedeviled the offices of the Consolidated Electric Automation Corporation, and as a reward were being given a tour of the research department by the company’s chief scientist, Doctor Gertrude von Dribling.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. This small machine or device seems to be a marvel of mechanical intricacy and complexity.

DR. VON DRIBLING. That’s a stapler. But over here we have a prototype of the world’s first four-dimensional printer, which not only prints objects in three dimensions but also takes time to do it.

INTERJECTION BOY. Great gabbling ganders, Doctor von Dribling! That’s amazing!

DR. VON DRIBLING. We’re very proud of it. And over here is our improved atonal player piano, which cannot be made to play a melody no matter what roll is loaded in the mechanism.

(Sound: Cacophonous jangling random piano.)

CAPATAIN PLEONASM (shouting): A remarkable and extraordinary instrument!

DR. VON DRIBLING (shouting). Very popular in conservatories!

(Sound: Piano stops.)

DR. VON DRIBLING. And here is—

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. What is in that room or chamber beyond the glass wall or partition there? And what is that curious and peculiar machine therein that resembles a six-foot thimble on wheels?

(Music: Stinger.)

INTERJECTION BOY. Jeepers, Captain Pleonasm! Did you hear that brassy dissonant chord?

DR. VON DRIBLING. Ah! That is our literary automation department, where we are developing the latest in electrical editing technology. Come through this door and I’ll show you.

(Sound: Footsteps.)

DR. VON DRIBLING. Here we are. In here we are creating the editor of the future. Never frustrated, never tired, and always completely dispassionate in its pursuit of efficiency in communication: we call it a Brevitron.

(Music: Stinger.)

INTERJECTION BOY. Wobblin’ wallabies, Captain Pleonasm! There’s that brassy dissonant chord again.

DR. VON DRIBLING. Let me demonstrate it for you.

BREVITRON (tinny monotone voice). Active.

DR. VON DRIBLING. Brevitron, explain the principles of good style in speech and writing.

BREVITRON. Speak to the point. Use short sentences. Avoid needless repetition. Choose simple words. Passive voice is not recommended.

DR. VON DRIBLING. Hmmm… It may need a little adjustment there, but you see the principle.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. It seems to me that these recommendations and suggestions, while well suited to children and young persons, may be too simplistic or unsophisticated for such speakers as have reached a state of adulthood and maturity, and whose——

(Sound: Electrical ZAP.)

BREVITRON. Avoid needless repetition.

INTERJECTION BOY. Jigglin’ jellyfish, Doctor von Dribling! What just happened?

DR. VON DRIBLING. The Brevitron is equipped with an up-to-date interrupto ray to assist it in improving the speech patterns of our clients.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. It is a rather unpleasant feeling or sensation.

DR. VON DRIBLING. The tingling passes in a few minutes.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. Nevertheless, an educated interlocutor might posit that—

(ZAP)

BREVITRON. Choose simple words.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. I mean that it might be asked wheth—

(ZAP)

BREVITRON. Passive voice is not recommended.

DR. VON DRIBLING. I think the settings may be a little too sensitive, which of course is one of the adjustments we can make when we—

(ZAP)

BREVITRON. Use short sentences.

INTERJECTION BOY. Great bouncing bobcats, Capt—

(ZAP)

BREVITRON. Speak to the point.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. This machine or de— (ZAP) would appear to be a menace or (ZAP) to the public and (ZAP) at large.

BREVITRON. Avoid needless repetition. Choose simple words.

DR. VON DRIBLING. It’s not supposed to act like that.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. Perhaps its algorithms or (ZAP) may be (ZAP) of a sudden (ZAP) or adjust— (ZAP)

BREVITRON (droning continuously throughout). Avoid needless repetition. Use short sentences. Choose simple words. Speak to the point. Passive voice is not recommended.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. Flee and (ZAP), Interjection Boy! (ZAP) and retreat to the security and (ZAP) of the outer chamber or (ZAP)!

INTERJECTION BOY. Gallopin’ (ZAP), Captain Pleonasm!

(Sound: Brevitron zapping and making pronouncements, confused footsteps; then door slamming and silence.)

DR. VON DRIBLING (breathless). My apologies, Captain Pleonasm. Something about the way you talk seems to have affected the programming.

INTERJECTION BOY. Mutterin’ meerkats, Doctor von Dribling! Can that thing get out of there?

DR. VON DRIBLING. It shouldn’t be strong enough to break through the Plexiglas by itself.

INTERJECTION BOY Golly! It’s got arms! I didn’t know there were arms inside that tin can.

DR. VON DRIBLING. Naturally we gave it extensible arms, so that it could manipulate a red pencil.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. It has removed three casters or wheels from that shelf, and it appears to be attaching them to that metal plate or panel. In your opinion, Doctor von Dribling, based on your considered judgment, what is it doing?

DR. VON DRIBLING. I don’t know. Now it appears to be bolting that large cylinder onto the wheeled panel.

INTERJECTION BOY. Holy kippered herring in mustard sauce, Captain Pleonasm! It’s building another Brevitron!

(Music: Stinger.)

ANNOUNCER. Will Captain Pleonasm be able to save the world from a plague of Brevitrons? Will the tingling sensation in his chest and larynx ever go away? Don’t miss next week’s riveting episode of the Thrilling and Exciting Adventures of Captain Pleonasm and His Faithful and Trustworthy Sidekick and Assistant, Interjection Boy!

(Music: Theme, in and under for…)

ANNOUNCER. Kids, when it comes to the rich, satisfying flavor of Malt-O-Cod, you can’t use too many words. It’s delicious, nutritious, and—never mind what you hear from those goons at the FDA—not a bit pernicious. Don’t forget to whine and fuss until your parents buy you Malt-O-Cod, the malt food drink that’s brain food.

(Music: in full, then out.)