ARCHIE'S COMMERCIAL ADVENTURE
by Sarah B.
I am deeply honored to be able to present this classic from Sarah B., maintainer of the Horatio Hornblower Fan Fiction Archive (where this can also be found). Enjoy!
SCENE: A windswept English coast. A full team of cameramen, etc., are preparing to shoot a commercial. Standing on the beach is ARCHIE KENNEDY, wearing his naval uniform without the jacket or vest. His shirt is open to the belly button and he's staring at the surf pensively.
DIRECTOR: Okay, Archie baby, we're all set to rehearse your spot. Any questions?
ARCHIE: (peevishly) Yes, a few. Why haven't I seen the script? And why am I standing here in 45-degree weather half-naked?
DIRECTOR: Archie sweetcakes! We're professionals, you can trust us! Just read what's on the teleprompter, you'll be a smash. And don't worry about the weather, you look great.
ARCHIE: I'm freezing.
DIRECTOR: (ignoring him and walking back to his chair) All right, you're only in port for a day and your colleagues are already halfway done shooting their spots, so let's get this rolling. Just walk toward the camera and read what's on the teleprompter.
(ARCHIE sighs and steps back to his mark)
ARCHIE: (walking slowly along the beach, reading the teleprompter carefully) As a distinguished member of the Royal British Navy, I live a life that demands respect, loyalty, and above all, honesty. So you can trust my word, ladies, when I... (pauses and squints at the teleprompter) Why am I speaking to the *ladies*?
DIRECTOR: You're great, Archie baby, you're smash! Just keep going!
ARCHIE: (shrugging and continuing his slow walk) So you can trust my word, ladies, when I recommend a product. Therefore, when it's that time of the...that... (stops in his tracks and blinks at the words rapidly for a moment; then:) BLOODY HELL!!
DIRECTOR: What, Archie baby? Problem?
ARCHIE: (jamming his hands onto his hips) I'm doing a TAMPON COMMERCIAL?!?!
DIRECTOR: Archie, this is the nineteenth century! It's hip, it's progressive, the chicks go nuts for a man who understands their sensitive side.
ARCHIE: (sapphire bullets of love blazing) What on EARTH made you think I would consent to selling WOMEN'S SANITARY GARMENTS? I'm a MAN for heaven's sake!
DIRECTOR: Er - well, yeah, of course you are, babycakes! But -
ARCHIE: I thought I was selling cars or tires or beer!
DIRECTOR: Archie, bay-bee! Our market research shows that women don't associate you with those things. When they see you - um - well, if they saw you with a bottle of beer or standing next to a hot-looking car, it just wouldn't fit!
ARCHIE: (very angry) WHY NOT?
DIRECTOR: Well, uh...well, you just don't have the tough, macho image, you know! Those big innocent eyes, the peach-fuzz cheeks - that scrunchy little nose, most women think you're cute as a bug's ear! That doesn't sell cars!
ARCHIE: But it sells absorbant napkins?!
DIRECTOR: Sure! Women trust you, they figure those baby blues wouldn't lie. You've hooked their maternal side. Don't fight it.
ARCHIE: But - but I'm tough! I raced a burning fuse to save Horatio!!
DIRECTOR: Yes, and everyone thought that was very sweet.
ARCHIE: I KILLED PEOPLE in our first raid on the Indefatigable!!
DIRECTOR: And jumped around like a cute little puppy dog afterward.
ARCHIE: I fended off a sniper attack for heaven's sake!
DIRECTOR: Yes, and sent a million women squealing when you scrunched that button nose. You're going to look fifteen forever, deal with it.
ARCHIE: Are you trying to tell me that after five years of service in His Majesty's Navy, after enduring trials and tribulations and fighting to defend my flag and my country with sword and pistol, that I still rate no better on the testosterone scale than ladies' protective sanitary products?!
DIRECTOR: Well, if it makes you feel any better, you weren't our first choice. But Bunting kept sobbing hysterically, so...
(HORATIO saunters up, wearing a leather biker's outfit and drinking a Foster's Lager.)
HORATIO: Hullo, Archie. Is something wrong?
ARCHIE: (looking Horatio up and down). Oh, DON'T tell me you've been shooting a beer commercial!
HORATIO: Yes, lovely fun actually. This morning I had on a World War II uniform and they filmed me running through a mine field rescuing orphans. That was for Bentley, I think. Then they dressed me up like a race-car driver and we shot a Michelin tire ad. After lunch I'm putting on chaps and there's a mechanical bull - Archie, you're
turning very red.
ARCHIE: (through gritted teeth) I'm - selling - god-damned - tampons.
HORATIO: (after a pause) Oh. Well, heavens, I could never do that. See, you've bested me, Archie. Good for you.
ARCHIE: STOP that, dammit! I hate this! I've been through WORSE than you and women still see me as the boy next door! No - the POODLE next door! What the hell happened?
HORATIO: (taking a swig of the beer) Nothing, Archie. They just haven't seen your incredible courage is all.
ARCHIE: But why not? If the daring raid I pulled off while you were on the Marie Galante won't make women swoon, what the hell will?
HORATIO: Well - actually, no one ever saw that. It was edited out. Commercial breaks,you see.
ARCHIE: (after a pause) Nobody saw me swinging off the topmast rope past the burning sails?
HORATIO: No, sorry.
ARCHIE: Well - well, but surely the part where I defended those helpless prisoners in France won them 'round! Against the sadistic guard? After I was captured?
HORATIO: Er...well, I'm afraid that had to be cut as well. Timing and everything. I'm certain it was very brave of you.
ARCHIE: (after a longer pause) Nobody saw THAT either? I was brilliant!
HORATIO: I'm sure you were, but -
ARCHIE: But - well, come on! You're famous for your heroics, Horatio, but even you had to be impressed when I saved the ship on our way home from Muzillac. I should be receiving a ton of lusty fan mail for that act alone, and yet no one's said a peep. It's like it never happened.
ARCHIE: Oh, DON'T TELL ME.
HORATIO: I'm sorry, Archie, but we were only slotted for eight hours! The series isn't called 'Kennedy', after all!
ARCHIE: Are you trying to say that NONE of my daring, heroic exploits made it on the air?
HORATIO: (after some thought) Well, I always thought it was damn brave the way you dumped out your soup in the prison. I always thought the bread was worse, myself...
ARCHIE: Oh, SOD OFF. Horatio, I don't understand it! If no one saw those things, then all they saw of me was - was how I cowered in front of Simpson, and how I had a fit and you had to knock me out, and then when I was in the prison, and when I almost choked in Muzillac! I would have come off as a complete... (pauses and covers his face with both hands) oh BUGGER.
HORATIO: (trying to be cheerful) Well, they didn't see any of the buggering. So there's some luck, eh?
ARCHIE: (glaring at Horatio) Oh, DO shut up. My God, no wonder I'm stuck doing a menstrual aid commercial while you're off fighting the Nazis! Women must think I'm a total sissy!
HORATIO: Well, not all of them. Some of them think you're kind of cute, actually. Like Ricky Martin.
ARCHIE: GRRRRRR!!!! All right, that's it! (grabs the beer bottle out of Horatio's hand and bites the neck off) What did you say you were filming this afternoon?
HORATIO: er - It's a Michelob commercial on the mechanical bull - but -
ARCHIE: But nothing, Horatio. I've been kept down long enough, and it's time for women to see Archie Kennedy as he's always been MEANT to be seen - hair flying, covered in leather, hairy manly chest bared to the world. Show me to wardrobe, dammit - I'm ditching this uniform for a Harley Davidson jacket!
DIRECTOR: (approaching cautiously) But Archie, baby, you've got a contract!
(ARCHIE clobbers him.
CUT to a short time later, interior of a smoky bar. Archie's sitting on top of a mechanical bull, dressed head-to-toe in motorcycle leathers. He has a black cowboy hat jammed over his eyes and is chewing on a cigar. Horatio stands nearby, looking around nervously.)
HORATIO: Archie, I'm not certain this a good idea -
ARCHIE: (Giving Horatio a small glare) You can talk. You blubbered over Mariette's body and snotted all over the captain, and no one think's YOU'RE a sissy. I have to prove myself, Horatio, or I'll be selling feminine deoderants next. How do I look?
HORATIO: Like three of the Village People. Archie -
ARCHIE: Confound it, Horatio, this is my one and perhaps only chance to be taken seriously by the women of the world. They're going to see Archie Kennedy, full-blooded English male, or I'll die trying to bring it to them. Now turn on the bull.
HORATIO: Archie -
STAGEHAND: I got it!
(Horatio jumps back as the bull starts whipping around frantically. Archie hangs on for all of two seconds before he is flung through the air.)
(ARCHIE hits the wall with a very loud thud and slides down it to land in a heap at the bottom)
HORATIO: (hurrying over and kneeling beside his bashed buddy) Archie, I tried to warn you, that mechanical bull's thrown three men already today. Captain Pellew was injured attempting to film a Pine Nuts ad on it this morning, they had to take him to the emergency room to remove a beer tap from his forehead.
HORATIO: So you see, Archie, it's useless trying to pretend to be something other than you are, because the women of the world will always have their Romeos, but there are precious few men they can truly trust and call friends.
ARCHIE: (disentangling himself) How very philosophical of you, Horatio. But I still want to be seen as something other than everyone's darling little brother.
HORATIO: You will be; in the meantime, I've found a sponsor who is very anxious for you to sell his product; in fact, I think he'll be very happy if you film it right here, while you're still bleeding. Here's the script.
ARCHIE: (taking the script and reading it) *sigh*. Well, it's a start I suppose. (looking toward the camera as the blood runs freely down his forehead) Hello, this is Lieutenant Archie Kennedy for 'Band-Aids'...
(Thanks to Loje for the porthole image!)