Buckaroo Banzai : Ancient Secrets & New Mysteries Script Review

Glen Oliver, formerly of the Aint-It-Cool-News web site, wrote two pieces about the Ancient Secrets & New Mysteries on the http://scifi.ign.com although these articles seem to be, sadly, no longer be there. His review of the script can be found in the second article below.

The first article, posted on December 9th, 1999, is called Banzai for Sale (http://scifi.ign.com/tv/3284.html although this link no longer works) and discusses the fact that a copy of the first draft script for the pilot episode of the proposed Buckaroo Banzai TV series (called "Supersize Those Fries") was available for auction on the Ebay web site.

"Banzai for Sale

If you can't wait to find out what happens in the new Buckaroo Banzai TV series, why not buy it?

December 9, 1999

Late last year, Aint it Cool News confirmed reports which had been circulating around the Net for some time: cult hero Buckaroo Banzai could well re-enter America's pop culture via a television series in development for Fox.

The series, entitled Buckaroo Banzai: Ancient Secrets and New Mysteries would have spun-off from the 1984 film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension, and continue the adventures of rock star / neurosurgeon / physicist Buckaroo Banzai, a cultural icon who regularly saves the world from calamity with Hong Kong Cavaliers.

Speculation and curiosity immediately ran rampant: would the proposed series finally tell the tale of Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League, a sequel promised at the conclusion of the first film, fifteen years ago? Would the characters known and loved by fans be well represented in the new project, or would Buckaroo have different friends with different personalities? Was there anyway in hell John Lithgow's Emilio Lizardo /John Worfin character could return to the franchise after being blown to bits in the finale of the first movie?

In a fascinating turn of events, people who want answers to such questions need not wait for show's debut. Currently, the script for the first episode of Buckaroo Banzai: Ancient Secrets and New Mysteries is currently being auctioned on e-Bay.

The opening episode of the series is called "Supersize Those Fries", and is written by Earl MacRauch (who penned the movie). "Supersize" recounts the dizzying tale of Buckaroo and company as they mobilize to stop Dr. Emilio Lizardo (now allied with blood-drinking World Crime League overboss Hanoi Xan) from stealing Earth, and driving it all the way home to Planet 10. The script is very dense, and is crammed with vivid detail about the Banzai characters and universe. Many of the original characters are represented in the story, they sound and feel exactly like the characters introduced in the first film. Time has changed them slightly, and sometimes given them a little more edge. But they are all comfortably familiar.

Anyone interested in scoping out this little gem can do so by going to e-Bay, and typing "Buckaroo Banzai" (without the quotes) into the site's search field.

(This is the information that was found on Ebay :

Buckaroo Banzai TV Pilot Script
Item #215350281
Bidding is closed for this item.

An original teleplay for the pilot to the proposed Buckaroo Banzai TV series, titled "Supersize Those Fries". The first real addition to the BB saga since the classic "Across the Eighth Dimension" and the first time we get to see Hanoi Xan and the World Crime League! It's been years since the classic filmed adventure and a lot of things have changed for the Hong Kong Cavaliers but a lot is still the same - the world still looks to Dr. Banzai and Co. in times of crisis and they allways come through for us! Winning bidder agrees to pay $5 for shipping and insurance in the United States. Airborne Express shipping available for $7.50 International shipping may vary depending on country. Please inquire about rates. Winning bidder to contact seller within 3 days of auction close to confirm sale. Payment to be received within 10 days. Positive feedback traded upon completion of sale. Thanks for checking out my auction and be sure to check out my other auctions!)

"Supersize" is a wild ride which very much lives up to the expectations that were generated by such a protracted wait. IGN will bring you more information about the script in the coming days...

--Glen comes to the IGN fold from old Ain't It Cool News. Look for him and a host of others on one of IGN's next big projects: FilmForce."

The second article, posted on December 13th, 1999, is called Buckaroo's Prime Time Preparation (http://scifi.ign.com/tv/3315.html although this link no longer works) and discusses the contents of the Buckaroo Banzai script as well as the status of the proposed TV series at that time.

Buckaroo's Prime Time Preparation
IGN Sci-Fi brings you an exclusive look at the Buckaroo Banzai TV pilot. Whether it makes it to TV is another matter.

December 13, 1999

Last Friday, IGNSciFi reported that the pilot script for a proposed Buckaroo Banzai television series was being auctioned on eBay. The script, entitled "Supersize Those Fries," ultimately sold for $76.

Why so little? Over the last few days, there has been much discussion on the Internet about whether or not the alleged script was real, whether this auction was some kind hoax or scam.

While I can not vouch for the seller of the item, I can say that the auction was most likely legitimate. There are copies of Earl MacRauch's super-secret Banzai pilot script in circulation. I know this because I have a copy. The proposed Banzai series is called Buckaroo Banzai: Ancient Secrets & New Mysteries. The series is currently under-consideration at Fox, and marks the return of cult hero Buckaroo Banzai after a fifteen year absence.

At the end of the 1984 film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension, audiences were promised further exploits of the rock star / neurosurgeon / physicist who regularly saves the world with the help of "those hard-rocking scientists," the Hong Kong Cavaliers.

Despite the underperformance of Across the 8th Dimension at the box office (generally blamed on Fox's abysmal advertising campaign for the film), plans for a follow-up movie progressed nicely. Financing for Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League had been secured, and much of the cast had agreed (in principle) to return. However, David Begelman, an executive of dubious repute, quashed the project in 1985. Some say the paperwork involved in producing Against the World Crime League would have illuminated his questionable business practices (Begelman had previously been caught embezzling, among other things.) Some say Begelman simply hated the franchise, and preferred Buckaroo and company never again see the light of day. Either way, Begelman made himself an insurmountable obstacle -- and hopes for another film were quickly dashed.

Begelman committed suicide in 1995. While suicide of any nature is inherently tragic, Begelman's passing provided the first stepping stone towards W.D. Richter and Earl MacRauch (who directed and wrote the first film, respectively) being able to re-invigorate a franchise that had been, for all intents and purposes, exiled to the wastelands. With Begelman no longer able to overrule them, the two had a fighting chance to get the mythos back on track.

II: Banzai Rises Again

Several years later -- after a bevy of rights issues were resolved -- Richter and MacRauch set about bringing Buckaroo back from the dead. Early in 1999, they submitted a pilot script for a proposed Banzai television series to Fox. Numerous Banzai-related props and paraphernalia were included with the submission of "Supersize Those Fries;" a demo tape of proposed visual effects for the series was rendered by Foundation Imaging (Babylon 5, Star Trek: Voyager) and was also included with the proposal.

After the official announcement that a Banzai series pilot script was being structured , a whirlwind of commotion ensued, as fans who had waited for over a decade couldn't get a fresh fix of Buckaroo quickly enough. But "quick" isn't the word for the events that followed.

Fox, MacRauch, and Richter were in no hurry to bring Banzai to the small screen. This is not a bad thing, as progress towards realizing a Buckaroo Banzai television series is definitely being made. But Ancient Secrets and New Mysteries wasn't, and isn't -- on the fast track by any stretch of the imagination. MacRauch's pilot script was submitted to Fox nearly a year ago. From this, Fox considered the status of the series: did the network want to do a series at all, or "pass" on the show (which meant Richter and MacRauch could carry the project to another venue)? Would Fox greenlight the show right out of the gates, or tinker with the concept before deciding whether or not to proceed? Etc.

Several months after submission, the initial draft of the script was returned to Richter and MacRauch -- with notes suggesting changes. This is frequently perceived to be a negative thing. But, realistically, whether or not such notes are "negative" depends on what the notes actually say. In this instance, Fox's notes appear to have addressed concerns shared by others who have read the script: it's a great piece of writing, and it's a lot of fun -- but it's "too dense."

"Dense", in this instance -- refers to the amount of material crammed into a finite space. I.E. the script is only 69 pages long, but its storyline is very busy, and feels like a two-hour graduate of the movie. "Supersize" boasts a massive cast of Banzai Institute characters: some of them familiar, some of them new. The script is set in multiple environments (the streets of Chicago, The White House, Banzai Institute West, which is an abandoned ICBM base - and the potato fields of Idaho are among the settings.) The script is stuffed with cool and ingenious material, but it's almost exhausting to read. Sources indicate that a majority of Fox's notes regarding "Supersize Those Fries" pertain to streamlining the story, making it a bit easier to follow, and not quite the sensory overload it currently is.

Accordingly, Richter and MacRauch set about re-working the "Supersize" script to these new specifications. Their revisions will be turned into Fox in the very near future, if this hasn't happened already. Compounding the project's slow development is the fact that all parties concerned have a jillion things to do at the moment, Banzai is only one of them. They love Banzai, and are passionately interested in seeing the series hit the air. But there is an overwhelming sense of "If we've waited so long to do this, why should we be in a hurry now?" surrounding the project. If the high quality of "Supersize Those Fries" is any indication, such patience and restraint might well result in a wonderfully refined product when all is said and done.

III. And Now, the Script

What exactly is "Supersize Those Fries"? Is it the much-heralded Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League everyone has been waiting for? In title, it is not. In concept and execution, it is difficult to imagine Against the World Crime League would have (or could have) been significantly different than "Supersize Those Fries".

"Supersize" is very much a sequel to the 1984 theatrical film. The story finds Across the 8th Dimension nemesis Dr. Emilio Lizardo / Lord John Whorfin (who have now mastered the power of the potato. Yes, it means what it sounds like) allying with World Crime League overboss Hanois Xan (who Buckaroo calls "the Devil's Sugar Daddy") as they join forces in a dastardly scheme to hijack the Earth -- literally using the entire planet as a vehicle. Upon learning that Lizardo / Whorfin are still alive, Perfect Tommy insists to Buckaroo: "That's impossible! You shot him down, Lizardo crashed and burned. Everybody knows that!" To which Buckaroo replies, "Maybe he didn't finish dying."

Returning heroes include Buckaroo, Perfect Tommy, Reno, Mrs. Johnson, and Professor Hikita. Team Banzai is also joined by a new Rawhide, a new personality taking the codename of the original Rawhide, who died in the first movie. This Rawhide is struggling with something of an identity crisis arising from having "a second hand name."

It should be pointed out that no casting decisions have been made in any way, shape, or form. At this time, it is unclear whether or not the original cast might reprise their roles whenever possible, or if Ancient Secrets & New Mysteries will re-cast its leads altogether. Sources familiar with the project indicate casting "isn't even a consideration at this time."

New protagonist characters include The Widow Oh (hint: not all Lectroids made it to Whorfin's escape vessel in Across the 8th Dimension), Happy (a youthful Team Banzai wannabe who must earn his way into the fold), Lady G (a butt-kicking female addition to Team Banzai), Tumblin' Tumbleweed, Blue Blaze Irregulars Weldon Rumproast and Weldon Jr., and Jack S. Tarantulus (a music industry weasel who relentlessly hounds Buckaroo Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers to record new material.).

A gaggle of villains joins the above-mentioned Emilio Lizardo & Hanoi Xan in "Supersize". Among them: a particular group of nasties sporting what may be the coolest clique name ever: The Archbishop Derek Warlock and the Kings of Steele (apparently some sort of clergyman gone bad, backed by "Heavy Metal rock and roll badasses"). Also entering into the fray is General Augusto Pinochet and his "ceremonial saber" (I suppose this could be interpreted in several ways?)

Many characters move through "Supersize Those Fries", I've only touched the tip of the iceberg herein. It's a massive cast, many of the roles require one or more lines of dialogue. The script is very is solid, sometimes it is even brilliant. But it iswelldense. Sometimes it is packed so full of people and flavor it's almost confusing. But this is the script's greatest sin, and it's a small price to pay for such a high quality of ingenuity.

After fifteen years of waiting, one can't help but have high expectations for the return and enhancement of a franchise such as this. Banzai's rebirth could easily have disappointed fans by feeling detached and disingenuous from its source material. But "Supersize Those Fries" fires perfectly on almost all cylinders.

MacRauch's script very clearly indicates that he and Richter have not lost the sense of what made Banzai such an appealing construct to so many people. Not only have they properly recaptured the Banzai "flavor," they have even enhanced it, and brought it a little more edge:

(regarding a recent credit card bill)

It's Lizardo's credit card all right


Recent purchases?


Clothing boutique, beauty shop, a thousand dollars worth of lingerie


Nothing surprises me anymore.

Amidst the zaniness of planetary hijackings, Potato Guns, Jet Cars, and Lectroids there is still room for the esoteric psychology which so vividly marked Across the 8th Dimension.

Should Fox (or some other studio) actually produce the series, there's a good chance MacRauch and Richter can make it look great without spending too much.

Sentiments like: "I learned long ago, if you insist on being grindingly logical in an inherently absurd world, you only destroy yourself" and "The world is full of friends we haven't yet met" replace notions like: "No matter where you go, there you are" These ideas, along with several plot elements centering on emotional continuance and rebirth, provide "Supersize" a (generally effective) moral and emotional pathway on which the audience can approach the strange characters and events of this story. Making some of the script's harder moments a little more gritty, and a little more real.

"Supersize Those Fries" concludes with a tag for Buckaroo's next adventure -- "The Pivot of Mystery". Let's just hope it doesn't take fifteen more years before that one comes about. Would be a terrible waste when there are clearly so many great Buckaroo Banzai stories still waiting to be told.

--Glen appreciates the hell out of this script, and is happy to see so much attention being paid to "getting it right". But he's getting fidgety about what's going to happen next...

<-- Previous | Next -->

Buckaro Banzai FAQ Home Page

This page was last updated on June 10th, 2016.
Maintained by Sean Murphy [figment@figmentfly.com]