Tony Television Special #4

At the Tony Television Network, originality is our watchword. We refuse to torture our audience by rehashing the same tired plots over and over and over again. And let it never be said that we shy away from controversial subject matter by playing it safe and sticking to the same bland, inoffensive concepts. No way, José! Our commitment to the startling, the shocking, the never-before-seen, and the groundbreaking -- our commitment to you, the discriminating viewer, is best demonstrated by our fourth television movie event! The drama, the grandeur, the excitement, the novelty that you demand are all here in one gut-wrenching package that is destined to go down in history as one of the greatest films of all time, with undreamt-of cross-marketing possibilities! Nothing you have ever experienced could possibly prepare you for this feature-length drama! Merely burn into your brain this immortal tagline: A Long Time Ago, On an Island Far, Far Away…


The story opens with an exciting car chase through the countryside of Northern Ireland as a 1977 Lotus Esprit sportscar is pursued by a British RAF Police truck. It is the autumn of 1978. The sportscar temporarily eludes its pursuers as it races through a small village. The driver slams on the brakes in front of the village pub, and a large St. Bernard leaps out of the passenger-side window. The driver, a beautiful dark-haired woman, commands the dog to “stay,” then roars off. The military truck speeds past a moment later, taking no notice of the dog sitting near the pub door. Further down the road, the truck finally catches up to the sportscar and forces it into a ditch. Soldiers leap out, guns drawn, and place the woman under arrest.

Later, as she is interrogated at an RAF base, we learn that she is Lady Leah O’Grady, and is suspected of conducting espionage for the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). She remains defiant, despite the cold, intimidating demeanor of her asthmatic captor, Group Captain Garth Eder. He accuses her of stealing the blueprints for a new bomber the RAF is testing at the base, but she responds with only wisecracks and mockery. He orders her taken back to her detention cell, and promises her she will regret not cooperating. Meanwhile, as evening falls, a Rolls-Royce pulls up to the village pub where the St. Bernard is still patiently waiting. A butler gets out and clips a leash to the animal’s collar, on which is attached a decorative brandy barrel. The dog happily bounds into the posh vehicle, which then pulls away and disappears into the night.

The next morning, the butler and the dog are found staying at a nearby bed & breakfast, which is a farmhouse owned and operated by Lawrence and Beth Owens. Their orphaned teenage nephew, Skye Walker, takes a shine to the St. Bernard. The butler, who introduces himself as Mr. S. T. Keough, tells the boy that the dog’s name is Artie. He goes on to say he needs to deliver the pet to an old friend of his employer, Owen Kearney, who is thought to live in the area. Skye replies that the only Kearney he knows of is Old Ben Kearney, a reclusive drunk with a mysterious past. Later that afternoon, while playing with Skye, the dog escapes from the yard and runs off into the hills behind the farm. Skye and Mr. Keough give chase, but are soon accosted by a gang of local hooligans. They are saved by Old Ben Kearney, who appears suddenly with his shotgun and scares off the troublemakers.

Kearney takes Skye and Mr. Keough to his ramshackle cabin, where Artie the St. Bernard is waiting. Skye is in awe of the huge crucifix hanging on the wall, and notices the various other religious paraphernalia scattered throughout the tiny hovel. Old Ben reveals that he is, in fact, Owen Kearney, the notorious IRA explosives expert who made a name for himself nineteen years before during the Border Campaign. He claims to have known Skye’s father back in those days, before he was murdered by RAF Group Captain Garth Eder, a ruthless operator known to have ties to MI5. He takes out a pistol, saying it belonged to Skye’s father, and offers it to the boy. Then, Kearney opens the brandy barrel at the dog’s throat and removes a small canister, which contains a microfilm of the stolen blueprints and a note from Lady Leah. Saying he needs to get the microfilm to Londonderry, Kearney tries to recruit Skye to the republican cause by playing on his Catholic sympathies, but the boy is not interested. However, on the way home, Skye sees smoke rising from over a hill, and as he reaches the top, he discovers that his farmhouse is on fire. British troops are standing around doing nothing but watching it burn down. Then he sees his aunt and uncle, in handcuffs, being pushed into an RAF Police van. Skye watches in horror as his uncle suddenly fights back, only to be shot in the head. His aunt’s anguished screams are silenced by a second gunshot. Gripped with a desire for revenge, Skye returns to Kearney’s cabin and says he wants to join the IRA.

Knowing military roadblocks would prevent them from driving all the way to Londonderry, Kearney takes Skye, Mr. Keough, and Artie into Omagh, where they visit a rowdy pub with a shady reputation, the Moss & Ivy. There, they strike a deal with two drug smugglers, a Swede named Hans Olaf and his incomprehensible sidekick “Debacle,” a Rastafarian ganja-head, to ferry them north aboard their twin-engine Cessna the Maltese Falcon. They narrowly avoid a police raid on the pub and a subsequent attack by gangsters gunning for Hans to reach the airfield and take to the skies. But, upon reaching Londonderry, their flight over the O’Grady estate reveals only a smoking crater -- the manor house has been bombed into oblivion.

Kearney learns that Lady Leah is being held in the military prison on an RAF base several miles to the west and plans a jailbreak. Skye convinces Hans and Debacle to help by playing up Lady Leah’s great wealth and influence and suggesting they will be rewarded handsomely for their efforts. Their greed gets the better of them and they agree. Kearney spends some time teaching Skye how to fight, and tells him how to draw extra strength and resolve from prayer to Saint Michael, the Archangel, patron of all Heaven’s warriors. When they are ready, the quartet infiltrates the base with Skye and Hans disguised as British soldiers and Debacle pretending to be their prisoner. While they work on freeing Lady Leah, Kearney goes to sabotage the base’s power station and cause a blackout.

The plan goes flawlessly until they get Lady Leah out of her cell, when they are spotted by a group of armed guards. Hans holds them off, but Skye isn’t sure what to do. Seizing the initiative, Lady Leah takes Skye’s gun and shoots the hinges off a metal grating covering a window. She then smashes the window and they all jump out, landing in a trash dumpster. Unfortunately, the dumpster is lifted just at that moment and emptied into a garbage truck, with the four unlikely comrades tumbling down among piles of rubbish. They are nearly compacted before Mr. Keough arrives and forces the truck driver to switch off the mechanism. They commandeer the garbage truck and make a break for the rear gate in a blazing gun battle, waiting for Kearney to kill the lights.

Unfortunately, at the power station, Kearney is confronted by Group Captain Eder, which leads to a shootout in which Kearney is mortally wounded. The garbage truck pulls up and Skye yells to Kearney to jump in, but the old man has a different plan. Though he draws a bead on Eder, he pauses, intentionally allowing the soldier to shoot him dead, confident that his martyrdom will bind Skye to their cause more than ever before. As Skye screams in rage, Hans floors it and the garbage truck smashes through the poorly-defended rear gate and escapes. They soon reach the Maltese Falcon and take off, leaving their pursuers far below. They escape from a couple of RAF helicopters by executing some daring aerobatics inside a cloudbank.

Lady Leah directs them to a hidden IRA stronghold outside Ballycastle, where she and her comrades plan a daring attack to blow up the RAF base and destroy the new bomber in its hanger. The leader of the cell, Dooley, informs Leah that the new plane was used to destroy her estate, killing her family and all their servants, as a test run. Outraged, Skye insists on participating in the attack, but, to his disappointment, Hans and Debacle say they’ve had enough, take their money, and leave. The IRA assembles a convoy of explosive-laden trucks and drives them to the base under cover of darkness. Skye is behind the wheel of one, with Artie the St. Bernard on the seat next to him as a good-luck charm.

Upon arriving at the base, the trucks smash through the front gate, scattering the soldiers. They quickly regroup and open fire. However, as the trucks crash into the base’s buildings, they explode. The fires spread rapidly until the entire complex is a raging inferno. Group Captain Eder leaps on a motorcycle and daringly rides among the trucks, shooting the drivers through the windows and windshields. The out-of-control trucks crash into each other, going up in enormous fireballs. Meanwhile, Skye directs his truck at the hanger containing the new bomber. He crashes through the door and slams into the plane, but the explosives fail to detonate. He and Artie get out of the truck, dazed. Reaching the edge of the hanger, Skye watches the battle raging outside. But Group Captain Eder spots him and steers his motorcycle towards the hanger, getting Skye squarely in his sights. Suddenly, the Maltese Falcon buzzes the airfield and Debacle fires a machine gun from his open door, causing Eder to wipe out. Seizing the moment, Skye spins around, draws his father’s gun, and aims at the gas can on the back door of his truck. His head is still a bit fuzzy from the crash and his eyes won’t focus. Then he remembers Owen Kearney’s words and says a solemn prayer to St. Michael. He pulls the trigger. Multiple explosions rip the truck and the bomber to shreds and set the hanger on fire. In the confusion, Skye and Artie steal a Jeep and flee into the night.

Skye, Artie, Hans, Debacle, and the few surviving IRA guerillas rendezvous at Ballycastle the next morning, where Lady Leah congratulates them on a decisive victory for their cause. Mr. Keough brings out their best whiskey and they begin their celebration. Debacle proposes a toast to something no one can quite make out, so everyone merely drinks to whatever it was with a hearty laugh.

The End. Cue sweeping orchestral score.

We here at TTN can really see this leading to a six-movie epic! It’s gonna be huge!! And just wait till you see the Holiday Special…!!!

Previous: Tony Television Special #3

1 comment:

E.G.Palmer said...

I can't wait for the sequel! I have a feeling that someone's going to loose a hand!