Friday, November 27, 2009

Jared's Daggy, Shite Vision for Torchwood! (circa 2008)

For about three minutes' time in the aftermath of Torchwood's second season finale, I was very excited about the show. To the point where I actually started writing a script for it, in one of those warped "Ha, let's see if the professionals can do a better job than me!" efforts.

Because the enthusiasm did not last very long at all, there is pretty much no script to speak of. And it was all me trying to nut out how they would introduce two new cast members in the space of one episode and have a gripping story going... again, turned out to be a non-issue because shows generally aren't handled that way in the business.

Industry comprehension FAIL.

Anyway... what did I have in mind. Well, I actually wrote some of the cold open..


1. CARDIFF STREETS

(The Torchwood SUV is, as always, speeding recklessly along the road, with Jack driving and Gwen by his side)

2. TORCHWOOD SUV

(Jack is concentrated on the road, a stern look on his face, while Gwen is loading two pistols in the passenger seat)

IANTO (VO): Yes, Coller Street. Number 16a - a woman says she has an alien in her house, that's all I got.

JACK: No name?

IANTO (VO): Jane Topp, 35 years old, 5'9, slight build, blond hair-

JACK: Cut it, Ianto, you're sounding like a sex-line now.

(Gwen rolls her eyes, and holsters the guns)

GWEN: When did the call come in?

IANTO (VO): Erm... well it was before ten so... more than twelve minutes ago..

JACK & GWEN: What?


3. TORCHWOOD HUB - KITCHEN

(Ianto is holding his earpiece with one hand and holding a cup of coffee with his other. On the bench there are a dozen different coffee makers, with boxes of even more visible)

IANTO: I was busy! And you were fighting... I don't know, giant stingray, was it?

GWEN (VO) A very giant stingray!

IANTO: Yes and I couldn't get through. I'm only one man, you know.

JACK (VO) What the hell have you been doing?

(Beat. Ianto takes a sip of the coffee and makes a face)

IANTO: Erm. This and that. Filing, mostly.

JACK (VO) I'll check the files.

(Ianto grimaces, and empties his cup into the sink)

IANTO: Fine, then. I've been making some coffee.


4. TORCHWOOD SUV

(As before)

JACK: For Christ's sake, Ianto!

IANTO (VO) He stole it, Jack! John STOLE the coffee machine

(Gwen and Ianto's dialogue overlaps)

GWEN: We KNOW Ianto!

IANTO (continue) right in the middle of everything! The city was burning, you were meant to be dead, the Weavils had the city

GWEN: We were there remember? How many times are you going to keep telling us?

IANTO: and in the middle of all of that, oh look, here's a nice little kitchen appliance that NOBODY will ever miss. I might as well tuck it into my ridiculous tight leather trousers and swan off again!

(Jack is laughing now, Gwen is looking more irritated)

GWEN: I bet if you can't find your boxers you'll blame it on him too!

IANTO: That coffee machine was beyond good, you know. It fell through the rift! Twenty-seventh century, Jack told me!

(Jack shakes his head and mouths "No I didn't", while trying to stop himself laughing. Gwen rips her earpiece out in disgust, killing the link)

GWEN: You really find this funny?

(Jack shrugs)

JACK: It's so Ianto. Just his way of dealing with it. Focus on the one thing that nobody else will care about...

GWEN: We've got a LOT to focus on now, Jack. We can't go on like this...

JACK: We can go on like this for one more house call, come on!

(He brings the car to a stop.)


4. SUBURBAN HOUSE

(Gwen and Jack get out of the SUV, which is parked in front of a very plain and dull looking suburban home - it looks like a kit home, utterly mundane in everyway. The two of them walk cautiously across the lawn. Then they see the screen door is hanging open, and bangs against the wooden frame with a dull, deathly noise. They both drawn their guns and hurry across to the front door)


5. TORCHWOOD HUB KITCHEN

(As before. Ianto is really worked up into a fever-pitch now)

IANTO: -but you clearly think that it's not important. You probably would just grab anything off the shelves. Chinese made I bet! You hear the stories about China? Oh, yes, I'm sure it'd be a good choice IF YOU WANT TO BE DRINKING FORMALDEHYDE FOR THE REST OF YOUR DAMNED LIFE!!

(He falls silent, moodily looking at the vast array of coffee machines, drumming his free hand on the bench. After a moment he notices the silence)

IANTO: Gwen? Any luck with that... alien?

Ianto sighs and walks out.


6. TORCHWOOD HUB

(Ianto walks down the stairs, muttering to himself)

IANTO: Communication to be maintained at all times but no, nevermind about that. Completely unprofessional but why should I-

(He has reached the bottom of the stairs, and looks up at something beyond the camera in shock)

IANTO: Erm.. excuse m-

(There is blue flash and Ianto screams)


The threat to Ianto remains completely mysterious at this point. Meanwhile Jack and Gwen bust into the flat with guns blazing and lots of shouting to find... a squid faced Jaggaroth-like dude sitting down having a fishfinger dinner with the aforementioned Ms Topp. The awkwardness carries on as she explains her boyfriend 'came out' as an alien recently and she understood you went to Torchwood for alien stuff, thinking he'd go onto a registry or something like that.

Very embarassed Gwen promises to start up a registry, or helpline and to pay for their door, etc while Jack storms out and gets on the phone to chew out Ianto for his shoddy message-taking. But Ianto doesn't pick up .. the camera returns to the hub and we see he's in a COCCOON OF BLUE GUNK!

DADADAUMDADUM-bettabettabetta-DADADADUMDADUM-bettabettabetta Torchwootorchwootorchwoodood!

UP TO CODE
not actually written by
JARED HANSEN
because the bugger didn't finish (or even really start) it

Basically, I was thinking the series would need to continue the trend of Torchwood becoming more and more public knowledge and humanity more accepting of aliens - rather than the brutal redressing that COE gave these concepts. Naturally, their approach was smarter.

Anyway, they arrive at the Hub and find one of the typical God-like beings that always feels the need to appear in human form holding centre stage. He says he's 'just an Auditor'.


AUDITOR: Now, now... 'Jack' isn't it? No need to be alarmed. I just needed you all in one place.

(He clicks his fingers - the blue gunk melts off Ianto immediately, and he is left looking around himself in shock, barely able to stand.)

IANTO: What-?

AUDITOR: Inertia inducer. Strong. You'll be fine.

(Ianto falls over, and Gwen runs to help him)

AUDITOR: Well, should be fine I should say. Haven't really dealt with your species before. You seem quite weak.

JACK: Come a bit closer and say that.

AUDITOR: Who was it who said 'hosility will get you everywhere'?

JACK: Nobody.

AUDITOR: And it wasn't coincidence. I am The Auditor and I come on behalf of The Doctriumvirate of Holistic Integrity.

JACK: Never heard of you.

AUDITOR: Our work isn't public. More sort of.. omnipresent.

GWEN: What are you talking about?

AUDITOR: Holistic Integrity is 'Order'. A principle we pursue on a Universal scale.


Now... the idea was rather a bizarre one which I thought was fairly clever at the time - The Auditor breaks the fourth wall by representing an outward, higher power that dictates terms and has decreed that Torchwood needs five people at least. He does not give any details but explains that galactic events are in a volatile state, and Earth is gravely threatened by the immediate future. Balance is needed, the same balance that was ruined by the reckless interference from Gray and Captain John, and it needs to be provided in an equally sudden intervention.

The Auditor announces that there is a doomsday device in the city, planted by aliens, due to activate in three hours' time. They will need as much help as they can get to disable it, with the help of fresh recruits. To Jack's frustration he cannot even get through to Martha Jones, due to her recent promotions, and all his connections can get him is an insubordinate, recently dishonourably-discharged UNIT medic to replace Owen, causing him to reflect darkly on Torchwood's image.

Obviously in their desperation for more people they call on one of the established cast - I'm sure I was thinking Andy at the time of writing, although Rhys and Mickey were obviously candidates.

From there on - stuff happens. They win, obviously. But I was thinking a nice kick-off for a story arc would be Jack being incredibly hostile towards the Auditor, trying to challenge him on his points based largely off a suspicion that the Auditor planted the Doomsday device himself. He finds out his hunch was correct, but at some cost. When the true power of the Auditor and his masters is revealed the Auditor shifts him out of time and kills him, before bringing him back to life an hour later with just as little effort - "You owe a debt to us already, Captain Harkness. And it is one you can never pay off."

Looking at it now, I think it was exceptionally backward thinking on my part. Very eighties - especially considering the fact that the Auditor's role is basically the same as the White Guardian and quite similar to Q in Star Trek: TNG. Aside from my sporadic motivation and lulls in self-confidence, I'd say my inability to intertwine mundanity and fantasy in the remarkable way that RTD does is my biggest failing as writer and shown in the very trad sci-fi idea behind the story. Any semblence of reality would need to sown in small moments in the script.

It would be interesting to imagine what kind of series this story could have actually spawned, though..

Rejected story from Series 5: Lords of the Bathroom

Also a rejected story from the latest thread of the Silent Sticky Yellow Fluid (if you know what I mean) - this is here purely for my warped sense of posterity and completionism, as I've posted all my other ill-advised Ben Chatham fics on this blog.

Now I think about it, I don't think that I've ever posted an explanation about who the hell Ben Chatham is. If anyone stumbles across this blog it would be a head scratcher...

.. Kaldor City sucks. Lawrence Miles Lawrence Miles and spambots are welcome in the comments section. There we go, that should fix the odds pretty sweet.

This is a story I put very little thought to, largely being 1/2 BPM off being clinically dead when I wrote it, a state I've been in for the past month or so. The onset of test cricket has not improved this. Who plays Steve Syme? ...I actually can't remember the names of any of Spara's favourite actors so I'll say that it's a star-spangled combo of body modelling by Ben Lee and vocals by Chip Jamison.

Also, as an odd side note the title comes from the Peter Molyneux videogame The Movies, which automatically generates titles for your cinematic masterpieces. This was certainly my favourite name to come up.


Lords of the Bathroom

In the season's Doctor-lite episode we follow Steve Symes, the only ex-boyfriend of Ben Chatham to have not been brutally disemboweled by this point. Steve dropped out of archaeology, but has found a career as a freelance journalist and is assigned by his cigar-chomping boss to run a story on a floppy-haired nutter called the Doctor, seen making moralising speeches at scenes of mass machine gun slaughter in London's CBD. On his way to the scene of the crime, Steve fights off the onset of sleep by dictating his private non-fiction manuscript "The working class and their destiny, Volume I" into a tape recorder.

By the team he arrives, all the bodies have dispersed into a strange green fluid, somewhat unusually, and a trollop-esque girl is collecting them into jars and offering him a taste of her fresh yams. He comes to the conclusion that this woman is Daisy, a companion of the Doctor who is truly an extraterrestrial alien being travelling through time albeit primarily contemporary rural England. Daisy compliments Steve on his lateral thinking and is so overcome with joy she strips off and green-sludge-wrestles a nearby policewoman.

Reflecting on the beauty of this moment Steve decides to kidnap a schoolgirl to bring such wondrous companionship into his life - this is perfectly understandable considering that he is lonely. In the course of his antics there is a misunderstanding and he is arrested!

The bint behind it all, PC Amy Pond, is very determined to place charges on Steve. He is distraught, and so prays to whatever godlike powers exist. Fortunately, who should hear him, but the Doctor, who dematerialises on his TARDIS. Bizarrely the Doctor delivers a four-minute monologue to the wall of Steve's cell about how we should judge others less harshly than we do, before drugging Amy, shredding the paperwork and setting Steve free. He explains that the dead bodies from earlier were accused slave traders but in reality were running an orphanage ferrying service and were killed by the Judoon in a horrible misunderstanding, and so the Doctor now wants to give a life back to the world!

Steve makes it back to his office just in time. His story so far is boring and doesn't make much sense, so his finished article claims the Doctor is a pedophile to grab reader interest. His boss is so impressed with the article he makes Steve partner and reveals that the tabloid rag they run is actually a half-arsed front for Indonesian gun-runners. They share a laugh at the irony of it all.



Be sure to note the way it makes no sense was very deliberate.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cash for Codpiece

There's never been a better time to turn the microscope on online news, seeing as Rupert "Senator Ovaltine" Murdoch has been laying down the law and saying that we need to be forced to pay money so that people who can't read read the works of rednecks who can't write published by a mummified codger from Christmas Past. Let's have a look at what NineMSN is offering me tonight!

Eva Mendes' sideboob-turned nipple-slip!

Ooh, we're off the marks with a winner. For me, at least. That said Eva probably doesn't count as A-list and gets them out with fairly little ceremony as is - we get to see a lot of her arse in The Spirit, for example, and God knows if there was a film worth a loss of dignity in making it wasn't that one. (Curiously Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson paid much higher prices whilst remaining fully-clothed throughout..)

..damn, photo just loaded on my crappy dialogue. I can see the faintest glimmer of aureola.

Hmm, let's see

Chris Brown wants Rihanna to shut her mouth

Rest of the world says feeling is mutual, especially when microphones in vicinity - this extends doubly to Brown.

Chris Brown has told MTV News that he wishes Rihanna had kept the gory details of his brutal assault on her private. We're speechless.

Well, in his half-hearted defense you have to admit if you look at it SOLELY from his pig-headed perspective, you can see why exactly he would wish that.

"While I respect Rihanna's right to discuss the specific events of February 8, I maintain my position that all of the details should remain a private matter between us,"

Okay, CB, you're sounding like a guy from the 1950s with these attitudes, or at least a Western Sydney football player. Can you salvage this by turning this all around and sounding like an emo wanker with a bullshit introverted justification for this?

"I do appreciate her support and wish her the best. I am extremely sorry for what I did, and I accept accountability for my actions. At this point, I am taking the proper steps to learn about me and grow from my mistakes.

Yay! Nice to say thanks for her support, whilst offering none at all in return.


Good Charlotte rockers Joel and Benji Madden have stormed out of a Melbourne radio station after taking offence to an interview segment about Britney Spears.

That's understan- wait... an interview segment? About Britney? Hmm, specific...

The normally laid-back twins began the interview with Fox 101.9 breakfast show hosts Jo Stanley and Matt Tilley by warning the pair that they were "pretty wrecked" after a big night out.

Okay, they've been sharing crack, that will explain any bizarre outbursts..

After answering a few preliminary questions, the Madden brothers were asked to play a game to test if they could sense what the other was feeling.

The game soon turned pear-shaped when Benji was blindfolded and Joel was shown a well-known photograph of Spears getting out of a car without her underwear on.


Incidentally, I have never been able to find an uncensored version of this photo. I didn't go crazy looking, but I figured I'd be able to seeing as EVERYONE IN THE WORLD seems to have seen it if you go off the online buzz. I am similarly snatch-ignorant of Paris and Lindsay.

Benji promptly guessed that his brother was annoyed while Joel made no secret of his irritation.

"I think I'm pretty laid back dude, but you guys are getting on my nerves," he said.


BERSERKER BUTTON!

"Don't get my brother horny. You wouldn't like him.. when he's horny!"

"Joel mad! JOEL SMASH!"

A spokeswoman for the radio show told ninemsn that producers were forced to use the "dump button" to prevent expletives from the musicians going to air.

Heh, it's as if it had been me.

Joel told producers off air he was offended about being shown the photo of Spears because he was a father.

That explains everything then.

.. wait, WHAT? What.. what the hell?

"I've been doomed to never see a vagina again. WHY ARE YOU TORMENTING ME WITH THIS???"

I really can't follow the logic. Couldn't he elaborate?

"I was really offended because I am a father. This means I am getting WHIPPED by my wife at home which has reinforced the sheer pansiness of my lily white arse and so I lash out at anybody irrationally whenever they make reference of anything sexual and pretend that I have a legitimate reason for this."

It isn't just me is it? Is seeing a photo in which a vagina is visible that bad in our society? I know I can be unusually tolerant at times...

"Just walked out of a FOXfm interview in Melbourne not in the mood to be a clown," he wrote in a post.

"Most of the time I can put up with idiot morning show hosts but not today. I guess I have finally found some Aussies I don't get on with."


Maybe he should pop over and say hello, make it a habit? My opening gambit is "Hello my name's - eh, who cares 'Little Things' is the worst fucking song I've ever heard and why the fuck would a dancefloor need an anthem you fools anthems don't work that way anyway I've got some hardcore German dungeon porn going and I'm running a special on 5 year old Thai slave boys - I call it the 'My Garage Needs a Hose Out' special."

*

So, is it worth paying for?

AHAHAHAHA! OF COURSE NOT! It's all crap! Okay, yes, I only looked at the 'goss' section but the 'news' is absolutely nothing but brutal murders and sexual assaults - and not the funny kind of sexual assaults. I need material to work with to make up for my atrocious lack of talent.
If I was to say something nice, it would be that I did not find any blatant errors, either in spelling or poor research. The fact that this is a step up does NOT say anything nice for the online journalism in this country.

I'd sooner pay for music!

What's that? ... really? But... you can get it for free. What? Stores? Serious? Hmm, okay I'll look into that..

Anyway NineMSN won't be getting my money soon, unless they forge an altered copy of my will and make it look like an accident.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thoughts from 11:27 PM.. and onwards..

A NineMSN headline tells me that Lady Gaga is givng her hair away. Why should this amaze me when she does the same to her own genitals?

*

The Australian cricket team really does seem to be managed by Crazy John. Shipping errors would be the easiest way to explain the ludicrous amount of players to debut this year. How ludicrous? Well, these are just the ones I've got on the top of my head...

Dave Warner
Shaun Marsh
Moises Henriques
Dirk Nannes
Bryce McGain
Phil Hughes
Andrew MacDonald
Doug Bollinger
Ben Hilfenhaus
Clint McKay
Marcus North
Graham Manou
Tim Paine
Luke Ronchi
Callum Ferguson

Obviously my target audience is capable of counting but, hey, that's fifteen dudes! Considering it's eleven men to a side, I find that stat pretty damned incredible. The obvious question to take away from all of this is... fuck, I've lost that train of thought.

*

I really am not on drugs. Though I feel the need to keep telling people I'm really tired as explanation for my continuing craziness. Just thought I'd set it done on the disposable stone that is the internet, as it would actually explain some shit, like the novel I've started writing (in the loose term of the phrase) that's extended from a short story I attempted ages ago about a guy being the first inter-universal astronaut. It's the kind of thing I'd expect Mad Larry to write. I couldn't be possessed, could I?

Basically, the main character's the ultimate soldier and gets promoted to a position where he ends up killing thousands of his own men through gross incompetence - they discover the disturbing reason why this happened, and why he was so good a soldier in the first place is because he was freakishly born without an imagination, and following on from that struggled with any degree of abstract thought. The problem is, when he goes slowly crazy and begins hallucinating, he is unable to conceive of the idea that things he cannot see could actually not be there or not what they appear to be.

And.. the story goes on from there and he becomes the first inter-universal astronaut. Which becomes increasingly irrelevant due to a terrible war. Trust me, in my head the plot is awesome. Well, I say awesome, I mean quite good. To me. Not for everybody. Maybe I should blame it on Catch-22 and 1984, my most recent reading material?

I woke up at 11 last night and started writing this because I had a scene appear in my head out of nowhere - I consider this a good sign. As TAFE winds down I seem to have caught the writing bug all of a sudden. Maybe I can actually finish some stories? We can only hope..


*

Also, it seems like something I would have mentioned by now, but there almost certainly won't be much more to this blog this year. Not that I'll get rid of it or anything, but for whatever reason I like the post counts to be round and evenly divisible - and once I press 'submit' on this particular one there will be 4 more until there's 50 posts. I know, way to set my sights low. We can't all be as prolific as Ewen. If you set out to read one post of his blog per day, it would take you A YEAR to get through it.

That said, if you read that slowly I wouldn't want you navigating when I was driving. You'd need an appalling average words-per-minute ratio to average around that mark.

Ahem. What is in store for this blog? Well, if there's 4 posts, DW has it already covered! There's the rest of my Torchwood review, the inevitable "DEAR GOD THIS IS SHIT!!!" hellscream that Waters of Mars will provoke (actually, I'll probably like it. Sometimes I think I can it be predictable) and then my immediate reaction to the David Tennant Fuck Off Special buried in a pile of gay jokes and allusions to Roman orators. The remainder wild card entry could just be a heap of book reviews.

Incidentally, even though I keep myself spoiler-free for Doctor Who - via amazing technique of just not caring until somebody gives me the episodes which nobody else seems to have thought of - there are some things it is hard not to know by now, as everyone assumes that you know them. I'm not sure why people are persistently surprised by this, either - are the Thetans meant to be streaming podcasts full of Matt Smith interviews to the metal plate in my head, for fuck's sake?

Anyway, I know..

The Master's coming back.
Rose is coming back.
Matt Smith looks and sounds like a tit.
The Doctor's new companion is seemingly a stripper acting as a policewoman / vice versa
Donna is probably coming back
Prahfessa Reeever SOHNGArkayyohllojist! is [motherfucking] coming back
The Daleks are coming back.

I'm not sure if I've heard anything specific about that last one but it's one of those inevitabilites that bores me to tears just to think of. Okay, most of you like the Daleks. Spare a thought for the poor fuckers like me who can't stand them. Around a sixth of the first four series have featured the tedious aliens who can't be killed. I ranted to Ashley, a fellow TAFEr of mine about this on a train yesterday, in that now the stories contain no drama but how exactly the Doctor can build a magic Dalek hooever of ambiguous construction in the space of 45 minutes, and occassional issues like where to find the pixie dust to power it or corrupted phelbotium which causes the device to backfire, or something else completely obtuse.

I really feel I should apologise, once again, to mauling Helen Raynor in an earlier review - Daleks in Manhatten, when I look back on it, is the best of a rotten bunch. No offense to Rob Shearman, the long-haired loon.

Where was I going with this? Oh, yeah..

Is it just me or does the future of DW sound a little shite? Really? I've been trying to ignore this disaparate elements but what a fanwank avalanche it's developing into. I'm probably just a grouch but the amount of pointless fucking navel gazing done by the new series is what irritates me. To think people mocked the classical stories' throwback moments...

*

Also we're winning the cricket!

*

For an enjoyable evening viewing I highly recommend the Granada Jeremy Brett adaptation Sherlock Holmes and The Six Napoleons. A fruit and ham value meal is the best way to describe it. Such a cast of over-actors has never been assembled.

By this point Brett and Edward Hardwicke as Watson had been playing their parts for a while and had developed their own special degree of campness. Colin Jeavons as Inspector Lestrade seemed keen to catch up with them in these stakes, drawing out the 'o' in his weedly "MISter Hoooolmes" more every time he says the line. The first scene featuring the trio is a textbook example of how to make three fully clothed men sitting around a fire and not looking at one another feel gay as a result of this.

The supporting cast upstage them, though. Eric Sykes is inexplicably the guest of the week as a moaning newspaper actor with oddly theatrical lines and an odd habit of staring in quizzical silence, as if trying to remember what he's meant to say. A John Innman look-a-like appears at the end to show off his excellent bust (ooh-err) of Napoleon to the other gentlemen, a pint-sized antique seller with a ridiculous false moustache cries out that 'Red anarchists!' are out to smash his statues, a bulldog looking man gets to announce "I'm damned glad you caught the scoundrel!", one moustachioed Italian gets a bizarre scene of two minutes of frenzied yelling in his mother tongue while engaging in what appears to be a Cosmo Kramer exercise routine in the streets of London, and his other fellow countryman (looking like the drummer from the Monkees) giggles wildly like a monkey whenever he is arrested (well.. it only happens twice)

Delightfully, the sheer outrageous overracting of the rest of the cast seems to rub off on the usually reliable Vernon Dobtcheff, playing a German master sculptor, whose wandering accents leave you with an impression of a blend between Santa Clause, the thespians from Blackadder III and Yakov Smirnoff, which was presumably not the intention.

This one of the stories that Mrs Hudson gets to sit out. She would have just spoilt the gay old time that was on the cards, no doubt. Fantastic stuff.

*

Good lord, Vernon Dobtcheff is still acting. 75 years old. And according to IMDB he was born in France. Well I'll be...

*

I also saw The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus and thought it was a motherfucking master piece. Other people think it's shit, which I find understandable. I could go on about it for ages if I wasn't so close to collapsing on this keyboard that I'm contemplating filing myself as clinically dead, but that is the case so I will not. All I have to offer is my analysis of what actually happens in the film (especially in the end) that I posted on IMDb. There it got no reaction at all after a week. So I put it here, so if nothing else I have a record of it.

Please note: the following is nothing but spoilers


There's quite a bit of talk about this film just being a chaotic mess with no rhyme or reason, but I think it makes quite a bit of sense in the end, though there are certainly loose ends.

I think in the end, the Devil is after a greater power from Parnassus, which has secretly been his agenda throughout the entire film, by presenting him with two choices: to tell him what the symbols on Tony's forehead mean or killing Tony. It's very significant that the choice is offered here - just as the choices are presented to everyone, when their souls are at stake. One is much easier than the other (the low road and the high road) - as others have noted the symbols appear on some of Paranassus' cards, so he probably could have told the devil and then he would have the power of the storytellers.

Paranassus doesn't do this, as he sees through the plot by seeing what should happen in the cards once again and so knows that Tony dying is the right thing. As he does throughout the entire film, he can only present Tony with a choice, as the Imaginarium is driven by his own mind and those of others, rather than that of Parnassus. Because Tony is so cowardly Paranassus has to use trickery to make him choose the right option - Tony needs to actually confront the consequences of his own actions rather than just running away from them again. He does this, unwittingly, by choosing the dummy flute.

I think this is also why the Devil reneges on his deals for the first time in the wake of this, realising that Paranassus will protect his secrets and always take the high rather than low road to escape from him.

Tony's choice could also be seen as him becoming the fifth soul that Parnassus needed to win all along (It's said Valentina doesn't count, albeit by Tony) and so the Devil cannot keep Valentina's soul, and of course earlier in the film we see that he doesn't want her anyway (he's disappointed when she walks through the mirror) That said, she is merely her own woman - the bargain was only that he wouldn't take her, not that Paranassus could keep her, which is why they are separated in the end.

I've only seen it the once, though, so there could be stuff in there to contradict it all.