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(Zack, Mort, Milo, and Melissa are standing before a banner reading "BATTLE / OF THE / BANDS". They approach Shelley, the MC, who is talking angrily on her phone.)

Shelley: Yes, now! It's Battle of the Bands; (stops them) I think they'll notice if we don't have microphones. (puts her phone away) And you are…?

Milo: Milo, Melissa, Zack, and Mort.

Shelley: I mean the name of your band.

Melissa: Do we need a band name?

Zack: We're just getting started.

Shelley: Well, welcome to Battle of the Bands, Just Getting Started.

Zack: That's not what I meant.

Shelly: (hands him a sign whereon is written "JUST / GETTING / STARTED") Put this up in your practice area.

Among diverse bands' practice areas

("Just Getting Started" are walking.)

Melissa: So, this is our competition, huh?

Zack: Yeah, but we're not here to battle. We're just here to gain experience playing in front of people.

(They stop at one area. Cut to show that it belongs to a band called "BAD / IDEA".)

Mort: I like their band name. Bad idea.

Melissa: As in, bad idea if we have to follow them.

Zack: Stop worrying. Our only goal is some experience playing on-stage.

Milo: (coming on, holding wristbands) All right, guys, I got our wristbands!

(The practice area collapses, covering Bad Idea in cloth.)

First member: You okay?

Second member: Yeah.

Third member: Okay.

(Bad Idea resume practising.)

Mort: Guess I'll suit up now. (Dons a helmet)

Just Getting Started's practice area

(Milo has just finished installing caution signs and chain-link fencing around it. Mort, Melissa, and Zack have their instruments at the ready. Zack has a guitar, Melissa a bass, and Mort a drum-kit.)

Milo: Now we should be safe from any Murphy's-law-type activity.

Mort: Looks sturdy, but I'm still a little nervous. (Hiccups) Oh. Sorry. I hiccup when I'm nervous.

Zack: We all had nerves when the Lumberzacks first started.

Melissa: Sure. The costumes alone.

Zack: What exactly are you guys worried about?

Melissa: What if my bass goes out of tune between then and now?

Zack: That's not gonna happen.

Melissa: What if no one can hear us?

Mort: Or I'm emotionally out of sync?

Melissa: Or I have a sneezing fit?

Mort: A coughing fit?

Melissa: A giggle fit.

Mort: A snoring fit. (beat) I'm a snorer.

Zack: Mort, you'll be awake.

Milo: I'm preparing for all of the above. Plus, electrical fires, building instabilities, or llama stampedes.

Zack: Hey, guys, there's no pressure for us to be perfect. Everybody, relax.

(Milo, Melissa, and Mort breathe deliberately in and out.)

Melissa: Okay. Thanks, Zack.

Zack: Okay. (doffs his guitar) I'm going to go get some snacks. (Milo shows him out) You guys work on —

Milo: (as he is carried off by runaway shopping carts) Whaa, I'll see you later, guys!

Zack: — relaxing.

Mort: I was never anxious about shopping carts — until now. (Hiccups)

A snack stand

(Zack has just gotten snacks.)

Shelley: Lumbermax! Lumbermax!! I have your wristbands!!

Zack: "Lumbermax"? No. Can't be!

Shelley: Lumbermax!

Max: We're right here. (takes the wristbands) Zack? What are you doing here?

Zack: Hey, Max. Lyle, Sean, Melvin.

Max: Oh, we changed their names to Max too.

Zack: Ah. Hi, Maxes.

Secondary Maxes: Hi.

Max: You competing today?

Zack: It's actually our first gig, so we'll see how it goes!

Max: I always appreciate some good competition.

Zack: I meant we're really not focused on winning.

Max: I hear you, friend; I relish the rivalry.

Zack: But I don't want to be your rival.

Max: I see what you did there: a little reverse psych.

Zack: (as Max walks off) I'm not reverse-psyching anything. (follows him) You know, how are you guys doing?

Max: We're making a comeback. (starts dancing as in the music video for "Chop Away at My Heart") Touring, a new album, (the other Maxes join in) a music video, and there's a Lumbermax-themed set of tools. They sing when you saw. How have you been?

Zack: Good. I like my new school and my friends — things are good.

Max: Ow. You've had a rough time. Why didn't you say?

Zack: No; I'm not having a rough time at all.

Max: That's it. Let those hard times fuel you.

Zack: (flustered) I'd — better get back to my band. (starts off) See you later.

Max: Don't beat yourself up too much. Second place is great for an amateur musician.

Zack: You know what? (chuckles irately) Okay. (goes off) Okay!

Just Getting Started's practice area

(Melissa is practising. Zack enters.)

Zack: You are not gonna believe this.

Melissa: There's a saw that sings?

(Pan and zoom to reveal that Milo, with safety goggles on, is sawing a plank asunder with a singing saw.)

Singing saw: ♪ Saw, saw, saw, saw a— ♪

Milo: (stops sawing) I picked it up just in case. Isn't it cool?

(Transition to a sort of commercial for the Singing Saw. The Saw itself is present, and eighth notes emanate from its handle as it sings. In the bottom-left corner of the screen is an icon of a television, on whose screen are the words "Saw it on TV".)

Singing Saw: ♪ Saw, saw, saw, saw away at my heart ♪

Announcer: (this text appears as he says it) The singing saw is for entertainment purposes only and should not be used to cut actual wood.

Singing Saw: ♪ I can feel it — ♪

(Return to the scene.)

Zack: I ran into the Lumberzacks. (sets down his snacks) They're called the Lumbermax now.

Melissa: Well, now, all the good band names are taken.

Mort: Who are the Lumberzacks? Is there some backstory that I'm not —

Zack: It was the year twenty sixteen.

(Zack's "sixteen" echoes. Pan quickly to Milo at an amplifier.)

Milo: Sorry. I had the reverb up all the way.

Zack: The year twenty sixteen, (Begin flashback, in which Zack appears in his Lumberzacks attire, together with Max. Zack's continued speech is voice-over.) and the Lumberzacks were on tour. (Zoom out to show all the Lumberzacks on an escalator.) We had been to shopping malls all over the Quad-State Area. (Show the Lumberzacks in concert) We sang together; (show them dancing) we danced together.

Milo: (voice-over) You wore flannel shirts together…

Zack: (voice-over) But the pressure was too much; we started partying constantly. (Show the Lumberzacks fooling around with drinks; zoom out to show a birthday party and a banner saying, "Happy 11th Birthday Jen".) It was nonstop. (Show the Lumberzacks in line) Then, one day, a girl came between us. (Erika comes between them.)

Max: I was standing there.

Zack: She can stand there.

Max: I was clearly in line.

Zack: I don't think it was clear.

(Erika, irritated, walks away.)

Zack: (voice-over) Just like that, we drove her away.

(Return to the scene.)

Melissa: So, how did it end?

Zack: When I left, (return to a flashback; Zack is walking out the door of a house) they didn't take it well.

Zack: (in flashback) I'll see you guys. Good luck. (He exits)

(Show the rest of the band occupied and inattentive to Zack.)

One of them: Okay.

(Return to the scene.)

Zack: Plus, they all changed their names to Max!

Milo: So?

Zack: When I was the lead singer, they never changed their names to Zack!

Melissa: Did you want them to?

Zack: No, but that's not the point! And now they're convinced they're gonna win. We have got to step up our game.

Milo: I thought you said the "Just relax", and something; I don't know what the rest was. I got carried off on a shopping cart.

Zack: If we don't sound great, these guys will really think I'm lost without them.

Mort: Woooooow; this is like one of those movies where there's one dance team from the streets and one dance team is classically trained, and they're both gonna do this competition. But then the street team runs out of funding, so they have to raise the money. And then the classically trained dancer leaves the other team and joins them and teaches them the value of hard work! (Looks around for a reaction; a long pause)

Zack: Exactly! Now pick up your sticks! (Mort goes to his station) Melissa, pick up your bass!

Melissa: Okay, but I'm telling you now, I'm not changing my name to Zack.

Zack: Milo! That accordion's not gonna play itself! (takes up his guitar)

Milo: Actually, it does. It has a self-play function right here!

Zack: That's cool, but another time! A-one! Two! Three! Four!

(They play.)

Zack: No, stop! Start again. One! Two! Three! Four!

(They play, but Zack stops them sooner.)

Zack: Wait, no; not quite my tempo. One! Two! Three! Four!

(They play. A caution sign tips over, opening a crate, out of which many tambourines roll. One makes it all the way across the street to a store labelled "PETS N STUFF U FEED", to which cut. It bounces out again, many puppies chasing it. Return to Just Getting Started.)

Zack: Stop!

Melissa: (vexed) What was wrong with that?

Zack: Nothing yet, but I had a feeling something would be.

(The tambourine rolls in, and the puppies follow it and gather around Melissa.)

Melissa: I love puppies!

Zack: No backtalk! We can replace you with a drum machine.

Melissa: I play bass.

Zack: Okay, then we'll replace Mort with a drum machine, and he can play bass.

Mort: I like puppies too.

Zack: Yeah, so do I! But you don't see me destroying this band over it!

Milo: Well, actually, —

Shelly: (off-screen) Just Getting Started! Please check in back-stage!

Zack: All right. Shake it off. Put your differences aside; hands in. (All put their hands in.) One, two, three,

All: Just Getting Started! (Melissa says it less enthusiastically than the others.)

Zack: Yeah, we really need a better name.

The stage

(Shelley is standing on the stage before an audience of dozens and three judges besides. The audience applaud.)

Shelley: All right. I'd like to introduce our judges. (Show each judge as Shelley describes them) Judge number one, Ms. Whipley, the music teacher at Jefferson Middle School. Judge number two, Mr. Schmidt, the manager of the Pets and Stuff You Feed 'Em store, (he waves) whose parking lot he has graciously offered for today's event. And judge number three, Slash.

Audience member: I'm a big fan, Mr. Slash. Can I have your autograph?

Slash: Just call me Slash. (gives his autograph) Mr. Slash is my dad.

(Cut back to Shelley.)

Shelley: Let's hear it for our first band, Scott and the Undergrounders.

(This band comprises Scott, a bassist with a broken bass, a Dan Povenmire lookalike at a drum kit with a ball-peen hammer, and a Swampy Marsh lookalike seated on the ground with two drumsticks. "He Shall Be Our Leader" commences. As Scott sings, the bassist walks in circles, knocking over his microphone. )

Scott: ♪ He shall be our leader! ♪ (The song ends.) Tha­— that's it. That's all we have.

Shelley: O—kay. (A stage hand walks on and puts out the Swampy lookalike's fire.) Scott and the Undergrounders!

(Cut to the audience, who are still, except for one man.)

One man: Yeah!

(Cut back to Shelley.)

Shelly: Next up, the Lumbermaxes, (they enter the stage) performing their new song, "Saw, Saw, Saw, Saw Away at My Heart".

("Saw Away at My Heart" commences. It sounds identical to "Chop Away at My Heart", and the choreography is identical too.)

Max: ♪ I know you're pining ♪

♪ But every cloud has got a silver lining ♪

Zack: (just off the stage) All he did was change the word "chop" to "saw"!

Max: ♪ The leaves are parting; now the sun is shining ♪

(The song continues.)

Melissa: Zack, are you sure you're —

Zack: We've got to be great if we're gonna beat them. Is your bass tuned properly? Let me take a look at it. (Melissa gives him her bass; he checks it)

Milo: (unsure) Ah, okay.

Zack: Yeah, yeah, seems to be okay to me. Yeah. Yeah. (hands it back to Melissa, then reconsiders) Know what, I'd better just play this for you. Yeah, I can play both at once, can't I? I mean — yeah! Yeah! I can do it. Yeah, this'll work!

Milo: Uh, Zack?

Zack: Milo. What about your accordion? Everything okay with it?

Milo: It's fine?

Zack: Let me take a look. (Milo hands him his accordion.)

Maxes: ♪ Saw! saw! saw! saw away at my heart! ♪

Zack: (checks the accordion) Yeah. Looks good. But, you know, maybe, maybe I'd better play it too. Yeah! I can handle this!

(Show Melissa, Milo, and Mort wide-eyed. Mort hiccups.)

Zack: Mort, (Dutch angle) let me check those drums.

(Transition to Zack checking Mort's drums.)

Zack: Yeah, g— good to go, yeah, yeah. This'll be fine. I can do this.

(Shelley walks in.)

Shelley: Okay. Just Getting Started is up next, and on deck is Reflective Randy and the See-What-You've-Becomes. (They walk in, all bedecked in mirrors.)

(Zack looks into their mirrors, which show him sundered from his band-mates.)

Zack: What have I become? (to his band-mates) Oh, guys, I'm so sorry. Can you guys forgive me?

Milo: Of course we can!

Mort: Yeah, because when the classically trained ballerina returns to the street team all repentant, not only do they win the dance competition, but they all learn the true value of their friendship.

(Zack looks quizzically at Mort. A pause.)

Zack: Exactly! This contest was about us playing music together, not about getting wrapped up in what my old friends think.

Melissa: I say your new friends show your old friends you don't need their Singing Saw.

Milo: (holding a Singing Saw) Yeah. Who needs more than one?

(Cut to the stage.)

Lumbermaxes: ♪ — from the start ♪

♪ So baby, saw! saw! saw! saw away at my heart! ♪

("Saw Away at My Heart" ends. Shelley walks onto the stage. The audience applaud enthusiastically.)

Shelley: (clapping) Wow. That's gonna be a hard act to beat. (The Lumbermaxes go off.) Good luck to the next band. Let's hear it for Just Getting Started!

(The audience clap. Just Getting Started, now on the stage, start into "A Bumpy Ride Tonight". As they play, one of the stage's supports breaks down, and the stage slides into a fire hydrant. The stage being now tilted, a speaker slides down it, and Milo leaps to catch it.)

Zack: ♪ Boom, gunpowder, music gets louder ♪

♪ Shakes you down to your soul ♪

(Mort looks up and sees the screen falling down. He bounces himself and his drum-kit out of the way.)

♪ Jump and shout; just knock yourself out ♪

♪ You're gonna wanna lose control ♪

(The audience start to cheer.)

♪ We're all burning and churning, twisting and turning ♪

(An old man on a distant park bench is tapping his foot to the music.)

♪ Sometimes you gotta let go ♪

♪ Don't you know, we gotta slam big jam, like a battering ram ♪

(The fire hydrant damaged earlier floods the parking lot. The audience are raised, and the judges also. Amanda and Lydia float by, enjoying themselves.)

♪ So you'd better look out below ♪

♪ You'd better buckle up and hold on tight ♪

(Milo takes out a sort of large inflatable raft, puts it under the stage, and inflates it, causing the stage to float.)

♪ 'Cause it's gonna be a bumpy ride tonight ♪

Milo and Melissa: ♪ Boom, gunpowder, music gets louder ♪

(One climbs up to the uttermost height of the stage and leaps off.)

♪ Shakes you down to your soul ♪

Zack: ♪ A bumpy ride tonight ♪

Milo and Melissa: ♪ Boom, gunpowder, music gets louder ♪

♪ Shakes you down to your soul ♪

Zack: ♪ A bumpy ride tonight ♪

Milo and Melissa: ♪ Boom, gunpowder, the music gets louder ♪

♪ Shakes you down to your soul ♪

Zack: ♪ A bumpy ride tonight! ♪

("A Bumpy Ride Tonight" ends. The audience applauds enthusiastically.)

(Mort shoves his drum-kit aside and tears off his shirt.)

Mort: Yeah!! Stage-dive!

(He leaps off the stage in majestic slow-motion and plops weakly into the water.)

Zack: Guys, that was awesome!

(The judges give their appraisal: Ms. Whipley and Mr. Schmidt give "10"; Slash gives "PLAY SOME METAL". The audience applaud. The Lumbermaxes row in on a park bench.)

Maxes: Zack, good news! We've discussed it, and you're back in the band.

Zack: Thanks, but I don't want to get back in the band.

Max: Secret message received. Practice tomorrow at four.

Zack: It wasn't a secret message.

Max: (winks) Okay.

Zack: Okay nothing. I'm not back in the band.

Max: So rehearsal's on Saturday; is there any chance you could pick up pizza on the way?

Zack: I'm not picking up anything; I'm not back in —

Slash: (as he floats by and plays a guitar riff) Walk away, man. Just walk away.

(The end.)

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