Television

Matter Short Film Script

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Matter
Below is a short film I wrote but never actually filmed.

Character Bios

Angel

Angel has had a tough life. His father was an alcoholic. He used to beat his mother. He left her and ended up raising another kids parents. His father was not in his life growing up. He has a lot of unresolved anger within him. He got into trouble from a young age. He would get into fights constantly.  Women loved him, he hated them and treated them like shit. He never respected them. He has a wife and 3 kids, he constantly abuses her, physically and emotionally. She loves him. He had just returned from 12 months in jail for aggravated assault. He got into an argument earlier with his wife about the guns he carries in the house..he grabbed a knife from the kitchen and he killed her.  He is in constant denial that he killed her, maybe he doesn’t even believe he killed her. His mother brought him up as a devout catholic, no matter the evil he does, he always goes to church on Sunday. He believes in God.

Detective Jackson

Detective Jackson, has been a homicide cop for a while. He has as evidence a knife that was used to kill Angel’s wife. There is no DNA evidence though. The three children saw Angel kill their mother. They are 2, 4 and 8. The 8 year old told detective Jackson what happened. He originally said it was a family friend who killed his mom, but then he said it was his father. Angel’s aunt has since convinced the family that the son will not testify. The only way detective Jackson will get a conviction is if he gets a confession from Angel. It is now 3 weeks since the murder.

Jackson married his childhood sweetheart. They were together since high school, they married when they were 24. He absolutely loved her. He did everything for her. She left him, he has never gotten over it. He is jaded with life. Every time he puts away scum he puts away the guy that his wife left him for. See Jackson was too safe for her, too kind, too nice, she left him for a smooth talking drug dealer, a petty crim, who excited her. They have since moved interstate. He has never seen her since they left. He has no children, although he’s always wanted to.

As the interrogation goes on detective Jackson realises he will not get a confession from Angel.. he starts to question the value of his own life..and whether losing his life to end Angel’s would matter… secretly he wants Angel’s life .. he wants what he never had.. a wife that loved him as much as she did..3 children..
Opening shot of white board..

Black pen writes a list…love..happiness..memories..friends..caring..hope…humanity..children..innocence
We only see the back of the man..

Cut

Interrogation scene

Detective Jackson

What matters to you?

Angel

A lot of things…

Angel is wearing the same jacket as the man writing on the board..

Jackson

Like what?

Angel

My wife..my family..my parents..

Jackson

Your kids?

Angel

Yeah my kids

Jackson

What about when you were younger?

Angel

Nothing mattered to me back then…

Jackson

And that’s why you have such a long history of violence… Look at this record.. assault..battery..theft..antisocial behaviour

 

Angel

And you didn’t make those mistakes when you were a younger B?

Jackson

No..

Angel

you lived a charmed life right..had good role models.. good parents that were around.. good education

Jackson

No.. I never had parents.. They were always at work…I was left to my own…devices

Angel

But you did spend your life helping people…I can see it in your eyes.. you are jaded detective, because assholes like me get everything that you want.

Jackson

What have you got Angel, a dead wife, distraught children, an impending death penalty.. Naah thats not what I want.

Angel

You were one of those nice guys in school that got no play, and now your bitter and twisted, that.. shit I was probably banging your girl while you were stuck home alone..and now you got to take it out on me when I got nothing to do with what you are talking about.

Jackson

Choices, Angel, life all comes down to choices. And those choices lead to the position we are both in.

Angel

That is true… that was a choice I made.. a choice that you wish you did.. that you wish you could.. but you didn’t…

Jackson

When you murdered your wife, in front of your kids.

Angel

I don’t know what you are talking about.

 

Jackson

Let it off your chest Angel, I can see its getting to you, you want to tell someone, you want to repent for your sins. I know your daddy was never around <sarcasm> I know you’ve had a tough life<sarcasm> You had every right to kill her, she was pissing you off, she wouldn’t listen to you. You are a man, you are a strong man, so just confess your sins, and you’ll be cleansed.

Angel

You’re not my priest. You are just a pathetic man. I see that ring on your finger, but I don’t see a happily married man, I see a lonely, desperate man.

Jackson looks away, trying not to engage.

This isn’t about me.

Angel

She left you didn’t she.

Jackson

You don’t value life, do you Angel.

Angel

I love my family, I love my wife, I love my kids.

Jackson

You don’t love yourself though do you Angel… and… Well… you have to value yourself… before you can value something else

Angel

You’re a lonely man detective, trying to place your own insecurities on someone else.

Jackson

If you strip everything away from your life…everything that doesn’t matter…what are you left with…

Angel looks back blankly

Jackson stares him down

Angel

You love helping people don’t you detective, but how do you help people when you are in such desperate need of help yourself, I can see it all over yourself…You’re the one that needs help…You’re wife left you, you sit in the corner of your bedroom, alone at night, with your revolver in your mouth, hoping one day to pull the trigger… you lost your wife and now you want to seek revenge on me..and put me away for you losing your wife.. I had nothing to do with it… While I was in prison that whore was banging guys all over the neighbourhood, one of them did it, it wasn’t me.

Jackson

You hated your wife didn’t you. Like you hated life.

Angel

I don’t hate life…or death… unlike you… you are so afraid of death you could never make a decision involving life and death. Could you? You are too weak. You are a weak man, and guys like me end your life.

Jackson

Is that a threat?

Angel

You are so afraid of death, so afraid of what might come, you can’t even live in the moment. That’s why your wife left you didn’t she?

Jackson

Tell me Angel, tell me why you killed your wife, your own son told me he saw you stab her in the kitchen. He asked you why you stabbed mommy. Your…own…son…8 years old and he sees his dad kill his mother… what hope does he have in his life now.

Angel

I love my wife

Jackson

I understand Angel, I understand that a man can be pushed to do certain things, things he never ever considered, but a man has a breaking point. A tipping point, and if you get pushed far enough, then maybe you will do what you once thought you wouldn’t.

Angel

Trying to nail me for something I never did isn’t going to improve your life detective. You’ll never get back your wife, I’ll never get back mine, but I control my life, I control what happens, you don’t. That’s the difference between me and you detective. I don’t have to watch my back, while your constantly watching yours, afraid of what might happen. Well you’ve come after the wrong guy.

 

 

Jackson

Just confess Angel. You’ll feel better.

Angel

I got nothing left to say. I want my lawyer.

Angel puts his head on the desk, his arms around it, as if he is sleeping.

Jackson walks out of the interrogation room in disgust.

Shit

Jackson walks away in disgust knowing he didn’t get the confession he needed to get nail Angel as the killer. He is going to walk free.

Final scene

man continues writing on board.. Violence..sex..hate..small things..arguments…fame…celebrity…work..other peoples lives..

Man puts down black pen, picks up a red pen and pauses for a minute… the camera pans out…there are two lists…on the left violence etc on the right love etc… We can’t see what it says at the top of the lists… He can’t decide which column to write in… Then finally at the bottom of hope he writes “death” camera pulls back…<we only see angels black jacket in shot>

At the top of the white board… the two columns say.. What matters in life…what doesn’t matter in life… he wrote “death” in what matters in life..

As he walks away camera pulls further out…and a man lays on the floor dead it is Angel sans jacket…the man puts on his gloves he walks out of the shot… We see his face… it’s detective Jackson…dressed in Angels jacket..in the end he became Angel..to kill him.

Lost Sketches

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Below is some sketch comedy outlines I submitted for a TV show. They didn’t make the cut but I still think they are pretty funny!

 

Jesus gets Bounced

Everyone is lined up to get into the hottest club in Jerusalem. Jesus gets stopped from getting into a club by a bouncer.
Don’t you know who I am?
I’m sorry sir, please step aside.
The bouncer spots Judas and points him out, waving him over, “Hey Judas come on in.”
Judas how could you. [Judas steps behind the red rope] Sorry Jesus I know the owner.
Mary Magdalene walks straight through. The bouncer says Hi Mary, and gives her a kiss.
“Really? Mary? That is the standard here? Come on,” Jesus says in disgust.
What about me, I promised all my disciples a good time tonight.
Sorry sir but we must keep the ratio of women to men in here, we don’t want it to become a sausage factory.
I was going to walk on water tonight.
That’s what they all say after a few drinks.
Are you hungry? Do you like fish
I’m sorry sir I do not take bribes.
Who do you think you are god?

The Emotional Baggage Claim

Two women sit together on an aeroplane, they walk through airport lounge. Sign above says ‘Emotional Baggage Claim” Level one. They reach the baggage claim, where they are greeted by a woman. Do you have your baggage claim receipt. Yes, She says and hands it over. Okay lets see what you’ve got here, daddy issues, trust issues, childhood neglect, abusive relationship, here you are madam. She hands over a very heavy bag.  She struggles to carry it as she walks away. The other woman looks on horrified. A man gives his receipt, Anger issues for you sir, she hands him a boxing gear bag, thanks for flying with us. The next women in line nervously hands in her receipt. I am sorry miss, it seems we have lost your baggage. Oh Thank God! She exclaims. I guess I no longer have a resentful mother.

The lonely sock Adoption Agency
Someone owns a sock adoption agency. They place socks that have previously been orphaned, found by themselves without their pair in the dryer. Mother Sock places these socks in new homes and pairs them up with new partners.
A couple walk into the store looking to adopt a sock.
Anything you are looking for in particular?
Well I hope we can be discreet about this but we would much prefer a black sock.
Sir, I will not stand for any discrimination against any of my socks, they all deserved to be placed in a strong loving family and given a chance to flourish.
Yes but, well I lost one of my socks and it was black, and needs to be paired again, he is quite lonely, hasn’t been worn in months, just sitting in the back of my cupboard.
I understand, tell me more about this sock, stripes, patterns, 100% cotton?

Gangsta with Toilet Paper Issues

A drug kingpin walks through shopping centre with a bag of groceries in his left hand and a 16 pack of toilet paper on his right shoulder. His second in command confronts him.

What are you doing man? We are trying to run these streets. How will people fear us if you are walking around in public with toilet paper on your shoulder?
Well it doesn’t fit in a plastic bag.
Why did you have to get 16 rolls?
It’s cheaper to buy in bulk
Ridiculous man
Well it runs out.
What if del gato saw you out here looking like this?
The confrontation escalates.
Well did you at least buy some tissues as well, we are out of tissues. <end>

The Invention of the Phone

A man travels from the future back to when Alexander bell invented the phone. Alexander Bell is excited, he just invented the phone! The man dressed in modern day clothes is relieved he’s here, he looks at his “time machine/watch” and then yells out, “Alexander Bell stop right there. I can’t take these photos of girls in the bathroom, I can’t take all these photos of food. It is out of control it has to stop.”
“What are you talking about? I just invented the phone.”
“You don’t understand in the future girls use it to take endless photos of themselves, with these horrible duck faces, in their bathrooms.”
“But it’s a phone, you use it to talk to someone else.”
You have no idea what you just started mate.
He also tries to explain the internet, and people no longer talking to each other in real life because of the phone. Alexander Bell becomes flustered and loses all excitement. The man shops him a new phone, Bell loves it, is engrossed with it and begins ignoring the man.

Doctor who talks like a Reality TV Show host
A patient goes to see a doctor to get his test results.  The doctor used to host a reality TV program. He keeps speaking like a TV host. He places an inordinate amount of pauses between the words in his sentences. He keeps delaying giving his patient the results and dragging it out and the patient becomes increasingly frustrated.

Becoming Unemployed at an employment assistant agency
A woman is instructing job seekers on life. You have to never give up. You need to get up in the morning with a reason to live. You can’t just accept where you are she instructs the largely disinterested group. All forced to be there.  You have certain obligations you need to meet as a job seeker she continues. A man comes in the door and interrupts her. He whispers in her ear. She is completely shocked. He has fired her. Suddenly she loses all hope.  She wallows in self pity. Saying how she will never ever get a job again. I’ve got an astrophysicist in here, she says pointing to one of the attendees, what hope have I got.

My housemate is a witch

Dinner party between friends. They arrive at the apartment. A man pulls his friend aside. Listen man I think my housemate is a witch. Are you crazy? What makes you think that? She can cook fettuccini in a small saucepan without one strand sticking together. She knows everybody’s name before I even tell them. His friend gets more and more nervous as he sees the signs that she could in fact be a witch. He tries to find out if she has cast any spells lately.

Wow Sandra, the way you cooked that fettuccini was incredible. How did you do it?
I guess I’ve just got that magic touch.

A depressed writer continues writing children’s books

A successful children’s book writer has his wife leave him and becomes depressed but he continues to write children’s books. His editor/book publisher confronts him and tells him he must stop writing these books while he is in this state of mind. Look Where in the detention centre is Carmen san diego and James and the giant speech impediment are not books I can sell. You need to snap out of it. You’ve gone from happy the clown, to that bitch took everything, and trust me that is not suitable for children. The depressed writer is so depressed he ignores all her pleas and she becomes increasingly frustrated.
The Stabbing Sneezer

At office, the secretary sneezes and when she sneezes it sounds like she is being stabbed. Boss rushes in ready to save her. All she needs is a tissue. He goes back to his job. She starts sneezing/screaming again. The cleaner comes rushing in, is everything okay? I heard someone screaming in pain. She is oblivious to the fact her sneeze sounds like she is in severe pain.

 

Toe Cramp while Driving

Someone has a toe cramp while they are driving, he thinks he’s going to die. The passenger tries to talk him through it. He is desperate to put pressure on his toe, but that is the accelerator and he is driving in heavy traffic. He starts to completely freak out.
Oh God
What is it?
Toe Cramp
I normally put pressure on it.
It’s your right foot man and we are in a 40 zone!
They get to the curb, he gets out of the car and starts jumping on his foot and extending his toes.
He gets back in the car and starts driving.
oh shit
what
finger cramp <end>

Therapy Sale – This week only!

A therapist decides to hold a stocktake sale at his clinic. This week only. He is trying to get his staff to promote the idea but they are put off by it. Look this is a great chance to promote myself he says, it’s  25% off emotional trauma, 30% off mental anguish and 70% off an inferiority complex. His receptionist implores him, you can’t put a price on those things. I’ve been putting a price on them my whole career my dear, he says condescendingly.

Brooklyn Nine Nine is the best comedy on TV

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Brooklyn Nine Nine’s first season was one of the strongest first seasons of a comedy in recent years. Most of the great comedy series have taken until season 2 or 3 to really hit their stride. Brooklyn 99 had started to gel as a comedy series halfway through the first season. The characters within the show were quickly established and the chemistry between the amazing ensemble cast had started to produce some hilarious episodes. Credit has to go to the writer/creators Dan Goor and Mike Schur. Having previously worked on The Office and Parks and Recreation it was clear the lessons they had learnt on these two shows helped them develop Brooklyn Nine Nine into a great comedy quickly. Juel Bestrop did some amazing casting. The most genius casting decision was hiring Andre Braugher.

Andre Braugher has done some outstanding work in drama and his work as Detective Frank Pembleton created one of America’s best television characters. There was actually a lot of comedy within Homicide and he continued some of that work in Men of a Certain Age. He can definitely pull off comedy but he has been a revelation in this series. The writers have used him well, giving him dramatic moments to ground the series and giving him outrageous comedic scenes that surprise and shock. Andre’s reaction to the statistical analysis of Moneyball was one of the series funniest scenes. Andy Samberg may have won a Golden Globe but Andre deserves an Emmy for his work in Brooklyn Nine Nine.

The show’s biggest problem in the first series was with it’s star Andy Samberg. It took a while to get the character of Jake Peralta right. Initially he was simply too silly, and when there was too much Peralta it took the show too far away from reality. Although developing the relationship with Santiago may have been an obvious choice the growth in their relationship through the first series helped the character a lot. Seeing Jake have a few more serious moments helped when he then does deliver some great comedy.

The first season had many great episodes. “The Party” was probably the best. Getting the series away from solving a weekly case proved to work wonders. The entire cast visiting Captain Holt at his home and trying to impress him produced some hilarious scenes.  In this episode we also got to meet the Captain’s husband and learn that Holt’s friend actually he thinks he is one of the funniest people they know. The Party was the perfect mix of character development, great interactions between the cast members and sharp writing.

“The Pontiac Bandit” featured a great guest appearance from Craig Robinson. His obsession with Rosa provided some great laughs and it was a smartly written episode that hopefully leads to the return of Robinson in this role. He could prove a great nemesis for Jake.

“Old School” was a great episode which explored the cops of the past with their present day counterparts. It showed the police setting can actually really work for a comedy. Stacey Keach was excellent as an old beat reported comparing the rough cops of the 70s to the present day.

“Sal’s Pizza” featured fire marshal Boone played by Patton Oswalt. The rivalry between the cops and the fire department made for some great scenes as they fought over a case. It also featured Boyle talking about his weekly pizza email blasts and his reviews which take into account “mouth feel.” This was a great character development for Boyle, and was when Joe LoTruglio really started to shine on the show. He quickly started to stand out with his excellent display of physical comedy. I think when he got engaged it started to move away from his best work but thankfully that storyline has ended so we can get back to regular Boyle (not full Boyle).

The key to Brooklyn Nine Nine becoming a great comedy is really about making the audience care about the characters. I think they are well on their way to achieving that. If they can build on the first season they can maintain one of TV’s strongest comedies. Although the show has received great reviews from the critics it has struggled to find an audience. People may have started the show and given up or never given it a chance but if you buy the first season on DVD or Blu-Ray I can guarantee you will end up a fan.

 

Why do women love Dexter?

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The area of interest is crime drama. Specifically looking at the American Showtime series “Dexter” and its female demographic aged between 18 and 30. Dexter is a critically acclaimed series about a blood-spatter expert with the Miami police force who moonlights as a serial killer. Dexter operates by a code given to him by his foster father and only kills other serial killers.

A relevant text is “TV Drama in Transition” by Robin Nelson. Nelson (1997, pp 156) suggests the very best TV drama makes you think. It stops viewers in their tracks and draws them away from the newspaper and the distractions of domesticity. If a drama is framed just off-centre it demands viewers to see something afresh and challenges their accounts of the world (Nelson, 1997, pp.156). Nelson believes characters that draw people in display “the complexity of a characters’ motivation; the sense conveyed between mind and body, decision and action.” Nelson values matters of ethics. Ethical issues must be acknowledged as well as the pleasures generated from TV Drama. This is relevant to Dexter because the show makes viewers question their own ethics. Dexter is a likeable character but how does it make the audience feel when he kills other people.  The fact that he has a code and only kills serial killers presents a real ethical dilemma.  Nelson (1997, pp 230) places greater value on TV drama’s that “set criteria of critical reflection on human life and its values in general.” These dramas tend to engage viewers and open up new ways of seeing. Nelson does not suggest some TV Dramas are better than others but simply some shows have more to offer.

Graeme Burton’s Talking Television (2000) explores the television audience. Burton (2000, pp. 215) believes the audience uses television to gratify inner needs to do with the social aself and with self-image. He highlights the need for identity and reveals how people use television, in particular personalities and enacted roles in order to check out our sense of self and our social behaviours. This could be tied to the audience’s viewing of Dexter.  They would view Dexter’s acts in order to check their own moral boundaries. Burton also looks at the effects of violent television. He describes effects such as catharsis in that violent television can get rid of violent feelings. Violent material can arouse people before the mood disappears. Other effects include imitation and desensitisation. The effects he discusses may provide some information on the appeal of a show like Dexter.  Why do people watch a show about a serial killer?  Burton suggests violence in real television can be more disturbing than violence in factual television. He also believes television may help in the understanding of violence in society. Burton suggests personal experience and context may have an effect on how the viewer perceives the narrative. He believes voice over work is used to naturalise the discourse. Dexter does use voice-overs by the main character to describe how he is feeling.

Patrick Barwise & Andrew Ehrenberg “Television and its Audience” is another appropriate text. Barwise & Ehrenberg (1998, pp. 25) highlights the fact that different programs are mostly watched by different people. Barwise & Ehrenberg (1998, pp. 26) suggest women spend more time watching television generally. Although the audience sizes for different programs can vary greatly, the make-up of these audiences tends to be broadly similar. There can however be exceptions for individual programs. Narrative programs, which have a continuing storyline benefit from developing plots, establishing characters over time and building audience appeal. This is an important point for Dexter.  The first season of Dexter told 1 story about an “ice truck serial killer” over 13 episodes. Barwise & Ehrenberg (1998, pp. 25) state that some programs take longer to build an audience.  Dexter more than doubled its audience from the pilot to the season finale. Barwise & Ehrenberg believe ongoing storylines or serials build a more loyal and habitual audience. They also assert that studies of audience appreciation show a strong link between how often people watch a given program and how much they like it. They also highlight a relationship between how much a program makes us think and how great an impact a show makes.  Dexter is a high impact show, which leaves viewers talking.

Another relevant text to the general topic is “Women Viewing Violence” by Schlesinger, Dobash & Weaver. Schlesinger (1992, pp. 2) highlights the often-held concern that violent fictional representations bring about a deadening of public sensibilities.  Schlesinger argues that factors such as age, sex, class background, and area of residence are all connected to the perceptions that audience members bring to bear upon their reading of crime and violence on television. Schelsinger (1992, pp. 9) suggests that for some members of the audience reactions to television violence involve an interaction with their experience of violence. Schelsinger (1992, pp. 164) also understands that for some women viewing televised violence may be seen as a depiction of a relatively abstract and distant act. Schelsinger determines that the viewing audience therefore becomes several viewing audiences. He points out that women are more afraid of violence, which distinguishes them from men. Excuses for the violence play a part, as well as the character and situations in which the violence occurs.  This is a key point in the violence depicted in Dexter. Although he is a serial killer he has a strict moral code and does not harm innocent people. This may affect women’s viewing or attraction to the program.

Barrie Gunter “Television and the Fear of Crime” also deals with crime on television.  Gunter (1997, pp. 1) asserts that the influence of television on public perceptions and fears of crime is not strong. Gunter also suggests people’s experience of crime effects how they view crime on television. He intimates that television drama can teach lessons about who wins and loses in conflicts and it may reveal an insight into the power structure of the world. Television can provide a symbolic environment to present a system of beliefs and values. Gunter (1997, pp. 8) believes television can change the outlook people have on the world. He also determines that violent crimes such as murder are actually over represented in US television. Typically crime shows tend to portray criminals as especially heinous. He concludes that crime drama shows are the most popular on television therefore mass audiences are regularly exposed to crime themes.  The way Dexter is portrayed is different to most violent criminals. He is in fact shown in a sympathetic light, which perhaps sets the show apart from many crime dramas. Gunter reveals how viewers perceive and interpret programmes is very important. Viewers do not always read the same meanings into television content.

In Wendy Dennis’ article “The thinking woman’s killer” she details how attractive Dexter is to females. She points out that he is a serial killer who kills other serial killers and he is a great listener, so what’s not to love? She highlights how both men and women are captivated by Dexter but women seem to have a special affection for the character.  Dennis reveals that half the show’s audience is in fact women. Dennis (2007, pp. 51) suggests Dexter is the thinking women’s serial killer who is kind to his co-workers; sweet to his girlfriend, great with her kids and supportive of his sister. Dennis emphasises that like all heroes Dexter lives by a code. He only targets the most violent criminals who slip through the judicial system. Other appealing characteristics for women are that he is very bright, he does very difficult work, and he is protective and a religious man. Dennis believes that for certain women serial killers have held a hypnotic fascination. Dennis (2007, pp. 52) believes most women don’t have it in themselves to kill so liking Dexter gives them license to go there. The fact that many people find themselves rooting for Dexter and hoping he doesn’t get caught is the appeal of the show. The fact that he kills such abhorrent people from pedophiles to those who dispose of immigrants allows the viewers to cut him some slack.

Great television drama presents ethical dilemmas. Television involving violence can have an impact on an audience and its own values and beliefs. Dexter manages to do this while appealing to a strong female demographic. My research question is what are females in the 18-30 age range fascination with Dexter and why are they watching the show?

 

References

Barwise, P. and A.Ehrenberg. 1988. Television and its Audience. London, California, New Delhi: Sage Publications

Burton, G. 2000. Talking Television. London: Arnold

Dennis, W. 2007. The Thinking Woman’s Killer. Maclean’s Vol. 120 Iss. 10. (March) :51-2

Gunter, B. 1987. Television and the Fear of Crime. London: John Libbey & Company.

Nelson, R. 1997. TV Drama in Transition: Forms, Values and Cultural Change. London, New York: Macmillan Press

Schlesinger, P., R.Dobash, R.E. Dobash and C. Weaver. 1992 Women Viewing Violence. London: BFI.

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