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Robot High
IndustryCentral ScreenWriters Exchange: Action/Adventure: Robot High
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By Gary Dover (Gdover) on Thursday, March 29, 2001 - 03:37 pm:

ROBOT HIGH, 119 pp.
Genre: action/urban survival
Author: Gary Dover
901-387-1485 or 901-832-4646

Logline: What happens when the solution is a thousand times worse than the problem?
LEE NIM, a former Viet Cong rebel, has emigrated to America at the end of the war and resettled along the Mississippi River. Nim lives with his Vietnamese relatives in a poor section of Memphis called Smoky City and works in his Uncle Charlieís fish market.

The poverty that existed in Vietnam has been replaced by drug dealers, drive by shootings and
an endless cycle of despair for the inhabitants of Smoky City. After a long struggle, Nim teaches himself English, marries a Vietnamese girl, goes to college and graduates with a degree in Education. After several unsuccessful attempts to pass the Teacherís exam, a letter arrives informing him that he is now a certified teacher of Social Studies for the State of Tennessee.

A policeman enters the fish market and breaks the news that Nimís wife has been killed and raped by a local gang called the Slayers. The grief of his wifeís death causes Nim to put his desire to teach on hold for ten years, while he saves and scrimps money to raise his only daughter, move to the suburbs and put Smoky City behind him.

Shifting to present day, Carlton High School, we witness a gang fight that leaves five students dead as chaos runs rampant in this inner city school. The Slayers and the Bloods use Carlton High as their stomping ground to sell drugs and commit unspeakable wrongs on the few good students, who are unable to leave this inner city outpost of poverty and violence.

Bowing to the voters wishís, the Honorable Mayor Crumple, enlists the help of a high tech company called, Discipline Inc., to come up with a solution to the violence at Carlton High. Enter three Humanoid Robots named Lincoln, Kennedy and Washington, who quickly reverse the number of knifings and shootings at Carlton.

Nim applies to the Memphis City Schools for a teaching job and is assigned a position at
Carlton High School. Nimís passivity causes him to be bullied by the vicious students. A fellow female teacher, EMILY GARCIA, reaches out to Nim during his first few days and develops a relationship with Nim. The Presidential Robots, led by Mr. Lincoln, decide to conduct an intellectual cleansing of the school and go on a rampage, forming an alliance with the gangs who become their Gestapo type enforcers. Students are relocated in holocaust style fashion, as the windowless school is sealed off from the outside world. Nimís goal of becoming a teacher is put on hold, while he endures the cruelties of the gangs and the robots.
Nim escapes, and wages a one man war against the humanoids to rescue the students, Miss Garcia, and in a weird twist his daughter in the brutal climax that forces Nim to fight the robots and gang members in a battle royale.

(Author's note)...I teach in one of the toughest schools in America located in
Memphis, TN. While this story is a dramatization, ideas and dialogue are presented with a realism that will focus attention on the battle we are losing in controlling discipline in our schools in the inner city. Additional screenplays by Gary
Dover...The Couriers, Dead Island, Loganís Hole, Gertie & Luke. Featured writer of the month at, a screenwriting website.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By Alan A. Armer (Alana) on Saturday, March 31, 2001 - 03:34 pm:


Robot High
by Gary Dover

An intriguing concept and one that's certainly ripped from today's headlines.

Major time shifts always concern me, Gary. Early story areas apparently take us through long struggles in which Nim teaches himself English, marries a Vietnamese girl, goes to college and graduates, has daughters, learns that wife has been raped and one daughter killed and then scrimps for ten additional years to raise his remaining daughter.

You're too much of a professional to dramatize this lengthy backstory, so I must assume it's your intention to reveal bits and pieces of it in flashbacks. I have no problem with that. More importantly, I wonder how necessary any of that material is to the main thrust of your story at Carlton High School. Why not just lose it?

A couple of quick thoughts. I feel that naming the robots Lincoln, Kennedy and Washington will get laughs from your audience and will undercut the tense drama you're proposing. The struggle between fascistic robots and students, many of them vicious and bullying, can be fascinating. If the students are cruel and bullying, Gary, I find myself rooting for the robots. Yeah, I realize that sounds weird but successful stories have a basic function: to give the audience a solid rooting position. If the kids are bad and the robots are bad, I think Nim should get his daughter out of there and move to another city.

I like very much the character of Emily Garcia. This can be a dark, ugly story and her presence will brighten it considerably. Perhaps the robots begin as obedient servants of the school authorities and gradually become more and more fascistic until, finally, they take control over the school, its students and its teachers.

I commend you for looking to today's headlines for your story material. But my caution here is that what has happened in too many highschools is damned unpleasant and offputting and I must wonder if audiences will pay $7.50 to see it.

I wish you good luck, Gary. I remember another of your stories. You're profesional and creative and deserve to succeed.

Critique by
Alan A. Armer

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