Almost Plausible

Ep. 9

Penny

29 March 2022

Runtime: 00:42:49

This week on Almost Plausible, we attempt to decide which story to develop through a literal coin toss. Our protagonist finds a penny, but will it bring her luck, or is her penny dreadful? And minor spoiler alert: We finally tackle a story about time travel. Join us for an episode full of excitement, insights, and a ton of references.

References

Transcript

[Intro music begins]

[Emily]
Okay, so what I’m hearing from Shep here is we want to do the little girl. No, retake that!

[Shep]
Are we not doing “Phrasing!” anymore?

[Intro music]

[Thomas]
Hey there, story fans. Welcome to Almost Plausible, the podcast where we take ordinary ideas and turn them into stories. I’m your host, Thomas J. Brown. Lucky penny. Pennies from heaven. A penny saved is a penny earned. Despite being the lowest denominator nomination of US currency currently in circulation, the humble penny has certainly made an impression on our society. Hoping to make an impression on you are my co-hosts. First, she’s a pretty penny. It’s Emily-

[Emily]
Hey, guys.

[Thomas]
And he is worth every penny. It’s F. Paul shepherd.

[Shep]
I can’t think of a clever thing to say.

[Thomas]
Let’s see if the three of us can do the penny Justice by coming up with a story where it really shines. So Shep Emily, a penny for your thoughts.

[Shep]
My first thought is that intro was great.

[Thomas]
Thank you.

[Shep]
So much going on there.

[Emily]
Right?

[Shep]
I was listening to you and I was like, “Oh”. And then it was my turn to talk like, “Oh, no, I’m not ready.”

[Thomas]
I’m trying to make the intros a little more interesting.

[Shep]
Yeah, it was really interesting. It was so interesting that I was paying attention to that-

[Thomas]
Too interesting.

[Emily]
It was amazing.

[Thomas]
Well, did anybody have any really good pitch ideas? I have a bunch, but most of them are bad.

[Emily]
Both of mine are garbage.

[Shep]
I have one and it’s great.

[Thomas]
Okay, well, it sounds like we’ll go least to most. So, Shep, we’re starting with you.

[Shep]
So-

[Thomas]
Least in quantity, not in quality.

[Shep]
I get it. It took me a second. So obviously with the penny of the first thought, is lucky penny or bad penny. You said lucky penny, but what about both? So I was reminded of the fourth, I think, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book Mostly Harmless, which had the Guide Mark Two, which was like a bird, a sentient Hitchhiker’s Guide that took the form of a bird that could change reality, basically, altered events to make things, unlikely things happen. So it was lucky to have it. Or was it? Because it was lucky for the last person to have it. It would do things that would be bad for the current owner to get it to the next owner as it’s trying to get to its final destination. So that led me to Final Destination. So imagine a lucky penny that just picking it up and having it means you win the lottery or you can never miss or whatever, good things happen to you until you get to the point where it’s ready to move to the next person. And so you are, I assume, killed off Final Destination style, where a sequence of improbable things happen leading to your demise.

[Thomas]
The people standing over your corpse go, “Wow, that guy was just really unlucky.”

[Shep]
Yeah. “What are the odds?”

[Thomas]
Right. It’s funny. I had an idea that was sort of similar to that that I actually didn’t put on my list. So good thing I didn’t.

[Emily]
I love that idea. Let’s just stop and do this.

[Shep]
It’s Final Destination, but with a penny that brings you good luck temporarily.

[Emily]
Yeah, that’s perfect.

[Thomas]
That’s a cool idea. I really like that one. All right. Emily, you said you had two. What are they?

[Emily]
I do have two. A little girl finds a penny from 100 years ago. She uses it as a marker on a game of Mexican trains. And as she lays it down. She’s transported to a Mexican train 100 years ago.

[Thomas]
Does she speak Spanish or is she really in trouble?

[Emily]
She speaks the amount the Dora the Explorer had taught her.

[Thomas]
So she’s in trouble.

[Emily]
So she’s in big trouble. My second one is a little bit better and one I’m more committed to. A man finds a penny from the year he was born, and he flips it to make some big decision that’s coming up in his life. And when he does it, he’s able to see both outcomes, and he can choose based off of that, based off of seeing what the outcomes would be. And so he uses it for a while to make decisions.

[Shep]
To make all decisions. Why would you ever make a decision without the penny?

[Emily]
Right? Exactly.

[Thomas]
You’d become dependent on it like, “What should I have for lunch?” And you’d be flipping the penny and you’re like, “Oh, okay.”

[Emily]
And then maybe at one point, he flips the penny, and the one outcome he has to lose the penny and lose this ability in order to save himself or someone he loves. And the other one, he can keep the penny, but he loses something important.

[Thomas]
And then sometimes does the penny, like, ask again later or outlook unclear?

[Emily]
It just lands on its side.

[Thomas]
Yeah, exactly.

[Shep]
I like both of these. I like time travel and I like magical reality. And this scratches all my itches.

[Emily]
Yours scratches my horror itch.

[Shep]
Yeah. We should write scripts together.

[Emily]
What?!

[Thomas]
We’ll try to get that going. So lucky penny. Like you said, that was the very first thing I thought of. As soon as we decided to do penny, that was like what popped into my head. But because that felt super obvious, I wanted to steer away from it. Although I think what you did with it, Shep, is phenomenal. I had this idea of a penny where the picture of Abraham Lincoln talks to the person who’s holding it. I don’t know what the story is. I just like that idea. It seemed funny.

[Shep]
I love it. It’s Wonderfalls.

[Thomas]
Exactly.

[Shep]
Which was great.

[Thomas]
Yeah, it was a great show. Loved that show. The next three ideas are all basically the same idea, which somehow I got in my head the idea of lots of pennies is very funny.

[Emily]
It is.

[Thomas]
I don’t know, it tickles me. So the main character has picked up pennies his whole life, and he’s now an older adult and has literally tons of pennies. Or somebody inherits the contents of a storage unit from an elderly loved one after they die. And the storage unit is filled with shoe boxes and each shoe box is filled with loose pennies. Or there’s a big treasure hunt that ends up in digging up a big treasure chest. And once they open it up, it’s filled to the room with pennies, basically all the same idea. There’s a lot of pennies.

[Emily]
I like the idea of the treasure chest and it being children and not really quite grasping the concept of how much that treasure chest of pennies is worth. And they’re like, “We’re millionaires.” And really, they got, like, $75.

[Thomas]
Which for children, may as well be millions. I mean.

[Emily]
That’s true.

[Shep]
For all of these, it’s just take it to the bank, dump it in the machine that counts coins.

[Emily]
The storage unit is an obscenely large amount of pennies that you can’t- that’s wheelbarrows and wheelbarrows of pennies.

[Shep]
You don’t have to do it all at once. You do it a bit at a time.

[Thomas]
But what if it’s like so many pennies, it’s going to take you years?

[Shep]
Are they all glued together? Because if not, you can only take some of them.

[Thomas]
So the next one. A lot of people even treat pennies as worthless. They’re such a low value. What if we flip that around? So a coin collector finds a 1943 D bronze and copper Lincoln Wheat cent, which is, if you had one, would be worth probably a couple of million dollars. It is the Holy Grail of US pennies. If he sells it, the money would change his life. But this coin represents the pinnacle of his lifelong hobby.

[Shep]
Take a selfie with it. Then sell it. What else are you going to do with it?

[Emily]
Admire it.

[Shep]
Yeah, that’s why you take a selfie with it. “I did it. I won the game. I’m gonna retire now.”

[Thomas]
What would he spend the money on? Just more coins. “I can buy even more pennies.”

[Shep]
Yeah. The thing that he could spend the money on is whatever he fucking wants. He’s a millionaire.

[Thomas]
The last idea is more of a joke than anything. It’s a romantic comedy called “See a Penny, pick it up” about a guy who falls in love with a girl named Penny.

[Shep]
Well, I like the title.

[Emily]
I love the title.

[Shep]
You don’t need to pick it up part. Just “See a Penny”. Let the audience figure out, “Oh, pick it up. I get it. He’s picking up a girl named Penny.”

[Thomas]
I’ll say out of all of these, I like Shep’s the most. That one is phenomenal.

[Emily]
Yeah, I think-

[Shep]
I like the little girl finding the penny and going back in time 100 years. I don’t know if it’s necessarily great that she doesn’t speak the language. It would be enough to be out of time.

[Emily]
It doesn’t have to be an actual Mexican train. It was just, I thought the idea of going to the year that’s on the penny would be intriguing.

[Shep]
Yeah, I like that. Can she do it with any coins? Because then she could only go backward in time. There aren’t coins from the future unless she brings them with her.

[Emily]
Well, she could always come back to the present if she has those coins with her.

[Shep]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
Let’s say she doesn’t. Let’s say she only has this penny. How does she get back?

[Emily]
She finds a quarter from a time traveler from the 80s.

[Shep]
Does it have to be Mexico?

[Emily]
No, it doesn’t have to be Mexico.

[Shep]
Could it be Colombia?

[Emily]
Sure.

[Shep]
Could she be a boy? Could she know the future? Could her name be Bruno? I’m just saying.

[Emily]
We don’t talk about Bruno.

[Thomas]
So how does she get back from the past to her present time if she doesn’t have a future coin? If it’s just this one coin that causes her to travel through time?

[Emily]
Does she get back? She’s a little girl. You would want her to get back. That would be sad if she was lost forever.

[Shep]
I don’t know. What if she had a terrible modern-day life but found a family in the past? You could make a happy ending out of that.

[Emily]
Yeah, you could. She could find her true home in the past.

[Thomas]
Does she return to the present and realize, “No, wait, this sucks. I want to go back.”

[Emily]
There you go.

[Shep]
Yeah, there you go. She returns to the present. You think that’s the happy ending. And then her family is abusive and mean, and she goes, “No, I made a- I made a terrible mistake.” And then it’s an indie film, so you stop it right there.

[Thomas]
Right.

[Emily]
And let the audience decide. Most of them will decide that she died right then and there because we’re sad, sick world. I brought it down. Okay.

[Thomas]
We weren’t depressed. We were pensive.

[Shep]
I also like the penny with the talking Abraham Lincoln.

[Emily]
I like that one, too.

[Thomas]
What would the plot of this be? Because I do like the idea of it, but I have no idea what we would do with that.

[Emily]
Could he just give sage advice, or-

[Shep]
Or terrible advice or he’s blown away by the modern world.

[Thomas]
That would actually be really funny if he’s like, “Oh, just go do this.” And it’s like, “We don’t really do that anymore. That’s not a thing.” “Really? Oh, uh…”

[Emily]
I would like him to be super sexist, too.

[Shep]
Was Lincoln sexist?

[Emily]
Well, I mean, he would have- for today’s modern world, he would inherently be sexist because of the time frame in which he lived.

[Shep]
I think you’re being judgmental based on time. You’re timeist.

[Emily]
I am timeist. I’m going to acknowledge that I am a timeist.

[Thomas]
Would he have the traditional, deep Abraham Lincoln voice or the much more realistic, high pitched Abraham Lincoln voice?

[Shep]
Oh, you got to have the high pitched voice.

[Emily]
It would be Sam Waterstone who was the greatest Abraham Lincoln to ever live.

[Shep]
Oh, no. But his voice is so inaccurate.

[Emily]
Sam Waterstone. His voice is very accurate for Lincoln. That’s one of the things that people liked about him playing Lincoln.

[Shep]
I haven’t seen him play Lincoln.

[Emily]
He played Lincoln once. Short little Sam Waterstone from Law and Order.

[Shep]
I can’t picture it or hear it.

[Emily]
He did a great job.

[Thomas]
All right, which store are we going to choose?

[Shep]
They’re all good.

[Emily]
They are all good.

[Shep]
So I was thinking of scenes with coins. No Country for Old Men with the quarter scene in the gas station is good. Two-Face, where he’s flipping a coin to decide whether he kills someone or not. But that’s kind of like Emily’s, the man finds a penny and he flips it and he can see the futures. I still like the Abraham Lincoln talking one. Like a guy gets hit in the head or something, and then he sees the penny talking to him. He’s trying to figure it out. I don’t know where that would go, just like you-

[Thomas]
Yeah, right.

[Shep]
But I like the imagery of it in my imagination. These are all good.

[Emily]
They’re all good. I agree.

[Shep]
I think that romantic comedy, “See a Penny”, should be in the background of one of the other-

[Emily]
Yeah, we could totally add that into-

[Shep]
It’s just an Easter egg.

[Emily]
It could be a part of your Final Destination one, that could be part of his bad luck. That could be his lowest low. He’s going to lose his Penny. Both of them. All right, we got to pick one, guys.

[Thomas]
I mean, we know what the story of the little girl one is. Basically. What is the story of the lucky bad penny combo? Obviously, the penny moves around.

[Shep]
Yes. So like I said, it’s basically just Final Destination, which already exists as a movie series. We don’t necessarily need to make that. So it’s just a sequence of seeing someone with a penny and being lucky, but knowing they’re going to die perfectly. And you have that suspense. When is it going to happen? When is it going to happen? When is it going to happen? And then it happens. And then someone else gets the penny.

[Emily]
So we see this over and over again. With the penny moving from victim to victim.

[Shep]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
I think it would be nice to have a main character who is somebody who’s studying these mysterious and suspicious deaths. They can sort of be the audience’s eyes into the world where this lucky penny happens. So we’re not explaining it right away to the audience. Somebody has to sort of do the research and figure out, does the penny choose people or do people choose to pick up the penny?

[Shep]
Well, if the penny is going to a specific person, it has an intention, it has a destination in mind, then it’s choosing the next person.

[Thomas]
And there’s nothing they can do about it.

[Shep]
Well, they don’t know about it because it’s just a penny. They’re not going to associate it necessarily with being lucky or unlucky.

[Emily]
Does the penny have an end goal?

[Shep]
To get back to the leprechaun who dropped it.

[Emily]
So we’re taking, it’s Final Destination 5, where it ends at the first Final Destination. Spoiler alert.

[Shep]
I was going to watch that never.

[Emily]
Instead of starting the sequence over again, it goes back to start the Leprechaun trilogy. Okay.

[Shep]
Yes, but it’s also Candy Man because you just have someone investigating this stuff. And that’s the audience framing device. So it’s Candy Man, Final Destination, Leprechaun.

[Emily]
This little horror nut is sold.

[Thomas]
At least we know what we’re writing.
`
[Emily]
Yeah. Nothing’s new anymore. Let’s just go down this road.

[Shep]
They made a new Scream movie.

[Emily]
I know. And I didn’t see it for my birthday like I really wanted to.

[Thomas]
Does anyone have a penny? I feel like we should flip a coin here to decide between the two.

[Emily]
Don’t have one with me.

[Thomas]
I only have quarters at my desk. All right, I’ll flip a quarter here.

[Emily]
What are we choosing between?

[Shep]
So what are our top two picks? Is that what you’re saying?

[Emily]
Yes.

[Thomas]
Yeah. I mean, I think it’s the girl who goes into the past and the lucky bad penny. I think of the top two. Those are the ones we have more of a story for than any of the others.

[Emily]
We can’t choose all of them. We have to pick two.

[Shep]
But they’re so good. We’ll make this a three episode series. We’ll just do pennies three times. We’ll work our way down the list. All right.

[Thomas]
All right. Yeah. Assign a heads and a tails to these.

[Shep]
So heads, little girl. Tails, unlucky penny.

[Thomas]
Okay, it’s tails.

[Shep]
So that’s the bad penny one. Well, we got it already. We’re done.

[Emily]
Okay, so what I’m hearing from Shep here is we want to do the little girl. No, retake that!

[Shep]
Are we not doing “Phrasing!” anymore?

[Emily]
What I’m hearing from Shep is that we want to explore the girl lost in time.

[Shep]
I like time travel stories.

[Emily]
We haven’t done a time travel one, really? Have we? No.

[Shep]
Have we not? We’ve talked about it before, but they’re complex, because if you can travel at will through time, then you have a bunch of complexity. But if you’re just stuck in the past, a lot of that complexity goes away.

[Emily]
Right. So I think we should go with this.

[Shep]
How old is the girl?

[Emily]
Ten.

[Shep]
Because there are interesting stories for all ages.

[Emily]
There are, what’s an age you want-

[Thomas]
I mean, young enough to be in danger or in trouble by being alone in 100 years ago, but old enough to-

[Emily]
Survive it.

[Thomas]
Survive and not absolutely need an adult for everything.

[Emily]
Between ten and 14.

[Shep]
Okay.

[Thomas]
Where does this penny come from?

[Shep]
Heaven. Oh, wait.

[Emily]
In my original long synopsis, she finds it.

[Shep]
So it’s just a penny on the ground?

[Emily]
Yeah, we can have it. Be that she’s collecting pennies for penny drive at school.

[Shep]
Is that a thing?

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Emily]
Yeah, that’s the thing.

[Shep]
I don’t have children. Oh. She finds it in a time capsule.

[Thomas]
Excellent. Very good.

[Emily]
Yes. Oh, you’re so smart, Shep.

[Shep]
So she finds a time capsule. That’s how it starts. She’s by an old tree, and there’s, like, a little corner of something sticking out in the dirt. And she’s a kid, so she’s playing around and she digs it up, and it’s like a metal box. And in that metal box is a letter, a photograph, a penny. I don’t know. Things that you would put in a time capsule?

[Thomas]
Yeah, some little trinkets and stuff. A really interesting rock.

[Emily]
Lucky rabbit’s foot.

[Thomas]
Is she in control of traveling through time or not?

[Emily]
No.

[Shep]
I would say no. She finds this box and digs it up and is going through it, and then when she goes back to go home, she’s in the woods or whatever. The home is not there because it hadn’t been built yet.

[Emily]
It’s just more forest.

[Shep]
It’s just more forest.

[Emily]
Making her way through the woods, trying to figure out what the hell is going on now.

[Shep]
Yeah. She’s lost in the woods, she thinks, not lost in time.

[Emily]
How do we know it’s the penny that did it and not just the time capsule?

[Thomas]
Did you see Tomorrowland?

[Shep]
No.

[Thomas]
The girl in Tomorrowland gets this pin, and it’s like as soon as she picks up the pin, she snaps into a different reality, and it’s just an immediate thing. She drops the pin at one point, and she’s like, “What the-?” And she’s back in her world, and she picks up the pin again and she’s back in the Tomorrowland world. And it was a really obvious shift.

[Emily]
Can we do that cinematically without… I think she should put it in her pocket as she’s walking, getting to where she should be, where she expects the house to be. But it’s gone.

[Shep]
Does she still have the box? Does she still have the letter and the photograph?

[Emily]
Oh. While she’s digging and she’s going through everything, she can hear somebody calling for her. That’s what prompts her to go away. And she was in the middle of digging, and she still has the penny in her hand, sticks it in her pocket and heads back to the house.

[Shep]
Where’s the box?

[Emily]
It’s still on the ground. She’s just abandoned it because she’s going to come back to it later.

[Shep]
Why would it be in the ground? She had to open it to get the penny out.

[Emily]
She had opened the box. She’s sitting there digging through everything. Hears her name being called, puts the penny in her pocket. Puts the box down.

[Shep]
I want her to take the box with her because in it is a photograph and she can find someone in the past in the photograph.

[Emily]
Yeah, I thought that, too, when you said that there was a-

[Shep]
But I like that someone calls her and that’s when she gets up and goes.

[Emily]
Yeah, I think somebody should call her.

[Shep]
But as she’s going, she doesn’t hear them anymore. She can’t find them anymore.

[Thomas]
So she pulls the box out, and just as she opens it or something, she maybe pulls out the photo and the letter, and you can see the other things in the box. And that’s when her mom is calling her and she kind of turns around toward the voice and then turns back and quickly grabs the other stuff out of the box and stuffs it in her pocket, not realizing that the moment she grabs that penny, she’s jumped back in time. And so as soon as she picks it up, maybe even, like, mid- if she has a two syllable name, Julie or whatever, the mom goes “Ju-“. And then it cuts off as soon as she picks up the penny and she turns around and yeah, it’s just forest.

[Emily]
That works for me. And then she has all the things. So she has the photograph and the letter so she can find those owners. And it’s not her mom. It’s got to be a foster situation because I don’t want her to come back to the present. I want it to be an unpleasant, unhappy experience. So just make it some shitbag relative, not like a mom.

[Thomas]
And it’s not like, nice calling. Like, “Hey, time for dinner.” It’s like “You get your butt back here. Now.”

[Emily]
Yeah. Imagine Thénardier’s wife in Les Misérables. It’s her. She’s taking care of her. She’s calling her back.

[Shep]
It could be her and a friend in the woods because they’ve run away from home.

[Emily]
I like it. Keep going.

[Shep]
So she already doesn’t want to go back home.

[Emily]
Yeah. She’s not interested in going back home. She just fears the repercussions of not heeding the call right away.

[Thomas]
Plus, if you have a friend there who doesn’t travel through time, that person’s disappearance really drives home immediately that something has changed and gone wrong.

[Shep]
Oh, yeah. So at first she’s trying to find her friend.

[Thomas]
Yeah. “Where’d you go? Quit playing around.”

[Shep]
So it’s the two friends in the woods. They find the box, they’re digging it up. They’re just starting to investigate it. They hear her stepmom calling them, who’s coming after them. And that’s when they pack everything. She packs everything up and goes to go, and looks around. “Where did Julie go?” So then what? She has to get to civilization somehow,

[Emily]
Yes. She has to find the town at some point or a house.

[Shep]
Or she has to be found because she’s in the woods.

[Thomas]
Perhaps there’s a dirt road that goes through the woods.

[Shep]
Or how smart is she?

[Emily]
She should be pretty clever.

[Shep]
Does she know how to survive in the woods? You all went through the woods survival training. When you’re in elementary school, you know what I’m talking about? You go through every year.

[Thomas]
Definitely not.

[Shep]
This has to be a thing. I can’t be the only one that went through this. So she could know walk downhill until you find a source of water. Follow the running water. That kind of basic knowledge.

[Emily]
She can have that. Sure. She could be in a situation where she grew up in a community like that, where that was instilled in all the children in elementary school.

[Shep]
Oh, they’re planning to run away. She learned how to survive in the woods, thinking, “We’re going to run away from home and we’ll just survive off the land.”

[Emily]
Nice.

[Thomas]
There you go.

[Shep]
It’s part of the plan.

[Emily]
Does she have her things with her?

[Shep]
Because they’re running away. That’s when they’re running away. Right then.

[Emily]
Right. Would she have her things on her person, like a book about edible plants?

[Shep]
Could be.

[Thomas]
It would make sense if that’s the moment she’s running away, it would make sense for her to have some stuff.

[Emily]
Yeah. So she comes to the past with a backpack full of things?

[Shep]
Now this is going in a very different direction than I thought it was going. Is she just going to live in the woods? Is this My side of the mountain?

[Thomas]
I think she definitely needs to get to some kind of civilization. So is it 100 years back from now? So it’s 1922?

[Emily]
Yeah. 1922. She can live in the western states, so that definitely still makes things very rural and wilderness-like. It could also be set in the 90s, and then she goes back to the 1890s. We like the 90s, and then she can meet Doc, take that train back to the future. That’s how she gets back.

[Shep]
We did it.

[Thomas]
She’s a stow-way on the train.

[Shep]
The Mexican train. We brought it full circle.

[Emily]
Yeah. All done. Wrapped up in a bow.

[Shep]
It could be more than 100 years. It could be whatever the year is on the penny.

[Thomas]
That’s true.

[Emily]
Yeah. It could just be a really old- It could be just a super old penny. It could be 150 years. How far back the pennies go?

[Shep]
To the 1700s.

[Emily]
If she finds a European coin that is equivalent to a penny, does she go to that country? Does she travel time and space?

[Shep]
Can she travel through time as much as she wants, depending on coins? Or is this just a one magical incident?

[Emily]
This is a one-off magical incident because that solves a lot of complications, like you said earlier. And she’s young enough, she doesn’t know enough to disrupt anything with technology.

[Shep]
She does have a modern printed book with lots of survival knowledge, the copyright date of which would be questionable. The fact that it has a different year in it could be a thing. So she meets a boy of the era who is presumably the one that left the time capsule. Has he left the time capsule yet? Is he going to leave the time capsule later?

[Emily]
Do we see him leave the time capsule for her specifically? Or is it…

[Shep]
I’m saying.

[Emily]
I’m going to say it depends on how we do the ending. If we have her come back to the present and make the realization that it’s awful here and she’s going to just have a better life in the past for her personally, then he leaves it on purpose because he wants to call her back. He knows that’s how he’s going to get her. If we’re going to leave her in the past and she’s going to stay in the past forever, then he’s already left it. It’s fine. He left it because his mother died and he and his dad and his brothers made a time capsule in honor of that. They just filled it with her favorite things, a letter she wrote them, her lucky penny, whatever.

[Thomas]
I like the idea that it’s sort of a memorial to the mom. Could be a photo of the mother, and the boy is like, “Where did you get that?”

[Emily]
Yeah. It would be very upsetting to him.

[Shep]
Well, the photo that she has would be very old.

[Thomas]
Maybe it’s a daguerreotype. And so it’s hard to tell.

[Emily]
Maybe he notices that.

[Thomas]
Is she like, “Yeah, I’m from the future.”

[Shep]
“I can prove it. Here’s a book.”

[Thomas]
“Here’s a backpack made of material you’ve never seen.”

[Shep]
“Nylon?!”

[Emily]
Is that something we want to see in a time travel movie that we don’t normally see? I think it would be interesting to see a modern sassy girl who’s, like, “Something weird happened. I’m not from here. I don’t feel like I need to blend in.”

[Thomas]
What’s her goal? Is her initial goal to get back to her own time?

[Shep]
I think her only initial goal, initially… Her only initial goal initially is to find her friend because they were a team, they were going to run away together, and now she’s alone.

[Thomas]
That gives her a reason to go back to her time, because now her friend is alone in the woods and she’s the one with the survival book and maybe has a first aid kid or something, some supplies. Plus that’s her friend, like, they’re trying to go off and be together.

[Emily]
Yeah. I think her goal should be to get back to the present because it’s comfortable. What she knows. This is a strange world. She doesn’t understand it. It’s way the hell harder than it than life in modern times is.

[Shep]
Also, the cell reception, miserable.

[Emily]
Have you seen toilet paper from the 1920s?

[Shep]
I have not.

[Emily]
It’s called the Sears and Roebuck catalog.

[Thomas]
While we Google photos of that, let’s take a quick break and we’ll be back in just a moment.

[Break]

[Thomas]
We’re back. And let me tell you, I have never been so glad to have a bidet as what I saw in here.

[Shep]
Agreed.

[Thomas]
Okay, so she finds the box, she gets the penny, she goes back in time, leaving her best friend alone in the woods in 2022. She’s sent back in the woods in 1922 or whatever time we want her to be there. I feel like if the boy that she eventually meets is the one who leaves the box, buries that time capsule, he would know the woods. Perhaps that’s how she gets out of the woods is he plays in the woods and they run into each other.

[Shep]
That seems a little coincidental, though. If we are wanting her to be the heroine of the movie, then I would like her actions to be intentional.

[Thomas]
Okay.

[Shep]
So she finds her way out of the woods, finds a way to civilization. She has the letter which has a name on it. She could try and track that down. She has a photograph. Maybe she’s looking at who might be in this photograph.

[Thomas]
Yeah, that all makes sense.

[Shep]
What kind of ending are we going for? She goes back to 2022 briefly and grabs the hand of her friend and then jumps back to 1922? That’s where they run away to? They run away to the past?

[Thomas]
That’s a good point. If her whole reason for getting back to her time is because of the friend, surely she doesn’t just abandon the friend again.

[Shep]
Yeah.

[Emily]
What if maybe they’re at a home for girls or something like that? Her friend actually gets reunited with her family or gets some kind of happy modern day ending, but she isn’t going to get that. And she knows this, like, great life in the past exists. So she now has confirmation her friend is set and she’s good. And she decides to go back for her own.

[Shep]
Well, if she just stays in the past, she has 100 years to prepare a life for her friend.

[Thomas]
She buys old timey stock in her friend’s name.

[Emily]
Puts her as the beneficiary.

[Thomas]
Yeah. She leaves a certificate in the time capsule so that her friend still goes out and finds it.

[Shep]
She leaves in the time capsule and then ends up with it in the- “Oh, I brought it with me again. Oh no!” Is she keeping her time travel a secret?

[Thomas]
I don’t think she could get away with not telling at least the boy that she’s a time traveler. I could see him not reacting to it in a big way.

[Shep]
Is this story still about the penny?

[Thomas]
That’s a good question.

[Emily]
Excellent question.

[Shep]
And if it is, then would he know about the properties of that penny? He put it in the time capsule intentionally. She might not know. Here’s what I’m thinking. She finds her way to civilization. She maybe buys a newspaper to confirm the date. It costs a penny or whatever. I don’t know what 1920 newspaper costs, but she spends the penny that she had found and then tracks down the boy, and he tells her that it was a magical penny. It was whatever. And now they have to find it again. But she has already spent it. They’re trying to- “Okay, I spent it at five and dime, and so it’s got to be in their till right now. But they would deposit to the bank at such and such date, and…” I don’t know where I’m going with that.

[Emily]
Bank heist.

[Shep]
Now it’s a bank heist movie. How are they going to identify that it’s a penny? That it’s the penny?

[Thomas]
I mean, if he knows the properties of the penny, he should be able to somehow recognize the penny. Well, you kind of touched upon a question that I had, which was, is this penny magical? And that’s why he puts it in there. Does he know that? Does it somehow just get imbued with magic while it’s in there? It sounds like we’re moving in a direction where he absolutely knows it’s magical.

[Emily]
So if it’s a memorial for his mother, the whole time capsule-

[Shep]
Oh, the magic of the penny is it always finds its way home. His mother died, so he puts that, the penny that she told him always finds its way home, in the time capsule. And so the girl gets the penny, and it takes her into the past. But it’s one way because it always finds its way home. Or could she use it to go into the future? If she had a home in the future? What if her home is her friend? Could it find its way to her? I don’t know. My point is, he knows it’s magic, and the magic is it finds its way back. So her spending it is not a big deal because it will find its way back to him because it always does.

[Thomas]
Maybe him putting it in a box was a test.

[Shep]
Well, he wanted his mom to come back.

[Emily]
Oh, yeah. I love that. That’s perfect. He puts it in the box.

[Shep]
Was that- was that not clear?

[Emily]
Sure.

[Shep]
Sometimes I think things and don’t say them.

[Thomas]
So she like, panics, Like, “We got to get that penny.” He’s like, “Don’t worry, we will.”

[Emily]
He explains how this happened, how she came back, and then she’s freaking out. She’s like, “But I spent it,” and he’s like “It’ll find its way back.”

[Shep]
So what is the movie about? Is it just her living in the past while they wait for the penny to show up again?

[Emily]
Well, I think she’s got to learn about stable home life and love and acceptance with people.

[Thomas]
I think it’s her trusting people and finding out the meaning of family.

[Emily]
Yeah. Some people didn’t come from dysfunctional families.

[Shep]
What?

[Thomas]
I think it could also be her figuring out what she wants, what she really wants. She has an idea of what she wants.

[Shep]
What she really, really wants. We need to have time enough for her to decide that she wants to stay in the past.

[Emily]
Right.

[Thomas]
What’s her plan for getting back to the future?

[Shep]
Well, like I said, what if she thinks that if she has the penny again and it always finds its way home, that it will find its way to her home with her friend in the future? That’s her plan. That’s what she’s thinking. But by the time the penny arrives, she’s changed her mind. She wants to stay in the past.

[Emily]
Yeah. Her idea is she’s going to get the penny back, go back to the woods, to the time capsule, to the tree and reset. If she puts it back in, it’ll take her back.

[Shep]
That’s what she’s thinking.

[Emily]
That’s what she thinks.

[Shep]
Oh, it’s got to find- So it takes her back to the boy.

[Emily]
He’s her home.

[Shep]
He’s her home now.

[Thomas]
Right. I was thinking it’s the Newsies ending. She leaves and then comes back.

[Emily]
Newsies had the best ending.

[Shep]
Do I need to watch Newsies now also?

[Thomas]
Oh, Newsies is fantastic. I love it.

[Emily]
Always watch Newsies.

[Thomas]
A lot of people shit on it, but I think it’s a great movie.

[Emily]
It’s one of the only musicals out of the early 90s. And the best.

[Thomas]
Oh, my God. Santa Fe, soulcrushing.

[Shep]
All right, I’m adding it to my list. Watch Newsies.

[Emily]
Oh, let me lend you the DVD, though, because Disney Plus changes the lyrics in one of the songs, and it really pissed me off.

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Shep]
Oh, what? So we know how it ends. Are we missing anything yet? We don’t have her life in the past, which I think is the bulk of the movie.

[Thomas]
Right. But we also know what happens, right? Like, she-

[Shep]
She’s fish out of water.

[Thomas]
Starts trusting people. She starts learning-

[Emily]
She learns some skills and learns more about herself as she learns the skills.

[Thomas]
She has to be useful around the farm or whatever. Got to earn her room on board.

[Emily]
She learns about gardening and cleaning. And-

[Shep]
What is the excuse the boy uses to his family as why this girl is staying with them?

[Emily]
Could it be a situation where- Well the mom’s dead, obviously. And the dad is away to market and he and his older siblings are left to tend the farm? So nobody gives a shit because there’s no adults around.

[Shep]
But the dad’s coming back.

[Emily]
True. Maybe he hides her for a while and he doesn’t tell the family about her right away. He does the whole hide-her-in-a-barn thing. And then the dad catches him sneaking food out and realizes there’s this strange little girl living in his barn.

[Shep]
Have you all slept in a barn? It sucks. She’s got modern sensibilities.

[Thomas]
Yeah, that’s a good point.

[Shep]
I have trouble picturing because it’s first of all, freezing cold at night. Way colder than you’re thinking. Barns are not insulated well.

[Emily]
That’s why you burrow into the pokey itchy ass hay.

[Shep]
So this isn’t a house in town. This is a farm.

[Emily]
It could be a house in town. Maybe he keeps her in the cellar. That’s a little more insulated. Not a lot, but. Keeps her in the attic?

[Shep]
There you go.

[Emily]
She’s Mrs. Rochester.

[Shep]
Why is she hiding, though?

[Thomas]
I’m because what’s the excuse for her to be living there?

[Shep]
Why is she staying with them?

[Thomas]
What else is she going to do?

[Shep]
Good question. If I were in the past, I wouldn’t want to hide in an attic.

[Thomas]
Okay, who’s our target audience? Because if this is a kid’s film, we don’t need to explain that at all. He just brings her home and is like, “She’s lost. Can she stay with us?” And the parents go, “Yup!” And kids will go, “I accept this.”

[Emily]
I don’t think it’s far-fetched to have the family want to take her in that time period. People are much more trusting in the 20s, especially in rural areas.

[Shep]
If the penny is actually magic, then the dad would know about it because it was the mom’s penny. So he says, “I have a friend who wants to stay over. Is that cool?” And the dad is like, “Sure, whatever.” But is suspicious because her clothes are some weird style he hasn’t seen before. And so-

[Emily]
And she’s wearing pants. That’s 100% weird.

[Shep]
She’s wearing pants. Of course she’s wearing pants. They’re running away in the woods. It’s practical to wear jeans. So the dad is suspicious and is like, asking leading questions during dinner because he’s got an idea what’s up. The dad’s no dummy. Nobody in the movie is a dummy. Everybody’s smart. The girl is smart. The dad is smart. So if the dad knows that this girl is essentially victim of his dead wife’s magical penny, he would probably have no objection to taking her in-

[Emily]
Absolutely.

[Shep]
Until they can get the situation sorted because it’s kind of his fault.

[Thomas]
Yeah, that makes sense. Ha, makes cents.

[Shep]
There’s the one pun of the episode now we don’t have any more.

[Emily]
I’ll give you another one, because that was weak.

[Thomas]
When it was an accident. That’s how they all work. I’ve trained my brain.

[Shep]
So, yeah, if she does end up in the past, I would imagine the dad maybe adopting her.

[Emily]
Right.

[Shep]
Because she’s an orphan, essentially.

[Emily]
Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. She would end up becoming part of that family. In the end, that would be her home. She would find home.

[Shep]
What is the target audience? I’m trying to figure out where to go.

[Emily]
Family.

[Shep]
Just family film.

[Emily]
It’s a family film. They used to make those in the 80s.

[Thomas]
Generic family.

[Emily]
So how does she get back to the present?

[Shep and Thomas and Emilly]
Or does she?

[Shep]
I thought that she didn’t. I thought that she tried…

[Thomas]
If she doesn’t, she does need to resolve… She has to take some action that resolves things for her friend.

[Shep]
Yes.

[Emily]
Well, I like the idea that she sets stuff up for the future, for the friend. We can see that. We can see how she’ll figure out a fund or something so that the friend is taken care of.

[Shep]
She’s got her whole life to do it as well. She could write a letter to a friend at age 80, and it’s like, “You’re just being born right now.”

[Thomas]
“I leave my entire estate to, oh, this person.”

[Emily]
Right. I think that’s an easy one to get to, but I think once the penny finally comes back to her, comes back home, she’s got the plan to go back to the tree, to go back and do a new time capsule or whatever she needs to do, whatever she thinks is going to get her back there. And she goes and she’s digging and she’s doing it and it’s not working.

[Thomas]
Yeah. I was going to say, is it Idiocracy where she thinks she can travel through time and then she gets there and it’s like, “No, this is a one-way trip.”

[Emily]
Right. Exactly. It’s a one-way trip and she’s realizing it and she has to mourn that life as bad as it was. So she’s crying and sobbing and she’s out of place. She’s out of place. She’s fish out of water in the past she didn’t have anywhere she really belonged in the present. And then that’s when she kind of comes to the realization that this family, this man and these kids have taken her in and they are her family. This is her home. This is where she belongs. The penny brought her home.

[Thomas]
There’s some, like, neighbor. That’s a teacher. That’s the love interest for the dad. So they can, like, have the standard family unit at the end because that’s what family movies do.

[Emily]
Or we could fuck that and it could just be a single dad raising a kid, an adopted daughter and his kids in the 20s.

[Thomas]
How likely is that in the 20s?

[Emily]
I mean, the gal who invented Father’s Day was raised by a single father.

[Thomas]
Yeah, that’s a good point.

[Shep]
So you put the thought in my head of the dad having the romantic interest of a teacher or a neighbor or something, and maybe they plan to wed, and that’s when she shows up again. So the whole family is there.

[Emily]
She comes back dirty and sobbing and they’re in this beautiful Victorian, or Edwardian gilded age wedding and they’re all excited that she came back and everyone’s crying. There’s a cat with a little bow tie.

[Thomas]
Adorable.

[Emily]
Yes. I just want the imagery. We just throw a cat in the story. It’s fine. There’ll be a reason at the end for a cat to be in a boat tie. It’s fine.

[Shep]
I’ve seen Kiki’s Delivery Service. You don’t need an excuse to throw a cat into the movie.

[Thomas]
Well, we’re reaching the end of our time. I feel like we’ve been thin on details but I feel like we have the overarching story like we kind of know what the plan is.

[Emily]
Yeah, we’ve got a point A to point B.

[Shep]
Yeah, the middles are hard.

[Emily]
Middles are hard.

[Shep]
I might have said that before.

[Thomas]
Now that we’ve reached the end of our time we want to know were we pennywise or pound foolish?

[Shep]
Oh, no.

[Thomas]
There’s more hold on.

[Shep]
There’s more.

[Thomas]
Your feedback is important to us so we hope you’ll give us your two cents by sending an email or contacting us on social media. Links to those can be found on our website AlmostPlausible.com Thanks for listening, Emily, Shep, and I will be back next week for another episode of Almost Plausible.

[Outro music]

[Thomas]
I’ll have to seek the clip out or something because I haven’t seen it and I also am struggling to picture and hear it.

[Emily]
I hope I didn’t make this up in a dream and that this is real. Because I have done that before.

[Shep]
Stupid realistic dreams.

[Thomas]
Well, if you find it, we’ll include a link in the show notes and if you don’t find it, we’ll just edit this part out.

[Emily]
Going to find it. It’s going to be there. This whole part is going to be in there.

[Thomas]
I was trying to think of a movie the other day that Ewan McGregor was in and I was like, searching and struggling and I’m like looking through his list of movies and I’m being like “I don’t think it’s any of these.” It was Jude Law that was in the movie.

[Shep]
Wait, those are different people?

[Emily]
By the way, I did find a clip of Sam Waterstone reading the Gettysburg address.

[Thomas]
Okay. Excellent.

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