Script: AH.com: The Series
The parodic adventures of the members of the AlternateHistory.com
discussion board. Imagine Star Trek
if everyone on board was a pornography-obsessed stoner. And every episode was that "Mirror, Mirror" one.
The basic setting is that the ragtag crew of the MES AH.com
travel between parallel Earth Alternate Universes
, or timelines, exploring them for no better reason than to find booze and porn. Occasionally these timelines are serious, plausible scenarios, but more commonly they are jokey, unrealistic, magical or parodic situations, such as alternate Earths overrun by psychopathic lesbians or Charlton Heston film characters.
The show's main influences include Red Dwarf
. It has, oddly, "outlived" many real TV shows, having recently begun its fifth season with over 120 episodes produced.
New episodes of the Series are published on the main AH.com site, viewable only by members, but the Series has now acquired its own site
, where remastered versions of the old episodes
will gradually be posted, complete with snazzy new title card artwork. The complete overview of the series can also be found on this page
of AH.com's wiki (including an episode guide
The series also has a character page
AH.com: The Series provides examples of the following tropes:
- 2-D Space: Averted quite well in the space battles depicted. Of course it helps that the special effects budget consists of the reader's imagination.
- Affectionate Parody: Many episodes use one of these as the basis of their setting.
- Alien Space Bats: Recurring antagonists of the crew.
- The American Civil War: Commonly referenced due to the frequent use of a victorious South (the Confederate States of America) in Alternate History.
- America Saves the Day: Subverted. The crew is about three-quarters American but is run by a Canadian, Doctor What. Also, most timelines lack a powerful USA (if only because Balkanised Americas are more interesting Alternate History possibilities).
- Author Avatar: Most of the authors of episodes are also characters on the ship. Some of them write themselves in a balanced way or don't mention their own character much at all. Rather more are subject to Mary Sue syndrome, or as it is known on the Board, Characterwank.
- Berserk Button: Several characters have these, most notably Flocculencio's tendency to go Ax-Crazy whenever anyone mentions the name of his nemesis Justin Pickard.
- BFG: The actual name of the plasma firearms used by the AH.commers.
- Big "NO!": after the crew saves the Multiverse in "Hair Today, Gotterdammerung Tomorrow", Doctor What asks Leo to bring the ship to an universe where all men are dead and all women are desperate for sex. Leo reveals that, due to the emergency they were in, he had to dump the data, including the address to that universe. Cue the Big No.
- Britain Is Only London: Even though some of the writers are British, for a while the only episodes set in Britain were by non-Britons, thus leading to this being played straight.
- Butt Monkey: The recurring characters Chingo360 and Alt. Luakel, who are constantly trying to get their old ship back, failing, and returning to dead-end jobs in a mall on the Hub of the Multiverse.
- The Captain: Subverted; the AH.com Ship's captain, Doctor What, is a goofy screwball who leads the crew more through charisma and imagination than command ability.
- Catch Phrase: Lots of these. Some examples :
- Characterisation Marches On: Typically with the more minor characters. Also, everyone has tended to become less Ax-Crazy over time.
- The Chew Toy: Luakel. Before he joined the crew, Othniel was often used instead.
- City of Adventure: The Hub of the Multiverse, sort of.
- Continuity Porn: Anything written by Merry Prankster. Also the season three finale, "Hair Today Gotterdammerung Tomorrow", which tied together threads started in about seven earlier episodes.
- Cool Airship: Of course. For example, the Ludendorff from "Sealions on an Airship".
- Cool Old Guy: Ward, despite being a villain.
- Cool Starship: The AH.com Ship and its sister ships, such as the CF.net or AV.net.
- Cunning Linguist: Leo Caesius.
- Depending on the Writer: In the earlier seasons, much less noticeable later on.
- Evil Counterpart: The Mirror Crew, who in the finest traditions of this role are all equipped with goatees. Also became the crew's Opposite Gender Counterparts in the singularly disturbing episode "Genderbender Mirror".
- Expansion Pack Past: Everyone, due to flashback episodes filling in how different characters joined the crew. The ship itself has a Belated Backstory that only comes at the end of season one.
- Explosive Instrumentation: Discussed and then justified—it turns out that the ship's consoles are packed with explosives, because its original builders wanted to have the ability to detonate the console of a treacherous crewman in a You Have Failed Me fashion.
- Fore Shadowing: when the Administratum says that the Luakels are all clones that tend to destroy everything in the timelines they are sent to, Doctor What mentions that the Luakel he knows has parents and all of that. It is a plot point, because the AH.com Luakel is the original one.
- Funny Foreigner: Played with. The Board has a very international audience so this can only be used ironically. We meet entire planets' worth of people acting according to their national stereotypes thanks to a nefarious virus.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Dave Howery.
- George Jetson Job Security: Chingo and Alt-Luakel. No matter how clever their Zany Scheme to get themselves out of their dead-end Burger Fool jobs at the Hub, they're always back there again by the end of the episode.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Doctor What's children by Atta.
- Humans Are White: Averted. While the majority of the crew are, indeed, various shades of pink, there are at least three non-white crewmembers - G.Bone (interracial), Flocculencio (Indian), and Psychomeltdown (the other sort of Indian) as well as many non-white guest stars.
- Inn Between the Worlds: Ouroboros, the "Pub in the Hub of the Multiverse", functions in this capacity, although it's technically in an ATL of its own not a separate dimension. Other locations serve similar purposes: it's implied that crosstime traffic is quite widely used in certain timelines and certain locations, for example the orbital city of Singapore, have developed into crosstime ports.
- Lampshade Hanging: Every cliché of Alternate History and Speculative Fiction has been lampshaded at least once.
- Laser-Guided Karma: a non-lethal one. In "Teens On A Ship", Ward infects most of the members of the AH.com ship with a "teenifying virus" to transform everyone into a kid. At the end of the episode, the AH.com happily get their revenge, and soon it is Ward and the others who are being teenified.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The Rafeks.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: The AH.com Ship alone has a crew of about twenty regulars, not including the (often many) guest characters and recurring enemies and allies that appear in a typical episode. Often a writer chooses to focus on just a small number of crewmen to take centre stage for an episode.
- Lower Deck Episode: "Second Stringers", along with to a lesser extent other episodes by Michael.
- MacGuffin: Usually "vital engine parts" (which we never hear of again) fulfil this role in driving the crew to explore a timeline searching for replacements.
- Alternately, porn and booze.
- Mad Scientist: Both Thande (chemistry) and Torqumada (biology and medicine), who often compete. Dave Howery occasionally evokes more of a Mad Engineer persona.
- Man, I Feel Like a Woman — Used with the mirror crew in "Genderbender Mirror". Most eye-forkingly so with Female Mirror Luakel.
- The Multiverse: Given the jokey alternate history premises behind most episodes, this trope is the broad setting of the series, in addition to outer space. The trope is commonly referred to by its name.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Doctor What, having suffered memory loss, helps a bunch of Neandertals that nearly destroyed his homeworld escape death from Ward. The Neandertals proceed with their plans to kill Ward and then eliminate all humanity from the Multiverse.
- Also, when they get sent back to the past, their presence is what makes the Machine clone Luakels.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Three examples stand out. The Asian Lesbian Ninjas in Leather from the episode "Genderbender Mirror". The Nazis Riding Dinosaurs, led by Cyborg Himmler and Golden Throne Hitler, in the middle of the hollow Earth, in "Dinos and Nazis and Deros, Oh My". And then there's "Hair Today Gotterdammerung Tomorrow", which features an interstellar virus ship being foiled by having its bomb bay doors blasted shut at the last minute by an F-16. Which is being piloted by Elvis. Who is the World Emperor and religious icon of the timeline in question.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Averted, both with Alyson Hannigan (who half the crew lusts after) and Keira Knightly (who is the subject of the other half's... affections).
- No Fourth Wall: Varies, but tends to increase as the series progresses; one fourth-season episode is technically about what happens when the writing staff goes on strike and the Editor in Chief is forced to get... sub-par replacements.
- Official Couple — Landshark and Iron Yuppie. Later, also Dave Howery and Keira Knightley (don't ask).
- Only Sane Man: GBW's usual role on the ship.
- Put On A Crosstime Ship — Often used due to former forum regulars, previously chosen to be crewmembers, leaving the Board. Crewmen Abdul Hadi Pasha and DMA were removed in this way - both eventually returned in real life, but only DMA was restored to the crew, Abdul Hadi Pasha instead being used in guest roles.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Some characters gain new catchphrases or attributes based on what their real life counterparts have been doing on the forum.
- Red Shirt: Lampshaded with the CF.net's security goons, Federation X, Gedca and Fortyseven. All three are Trekkie forum members in real life, so naturally they wear red shirts as they go into battle. Yet subverted in that, while invariably defeated, they always survive. That is, until the big battles at the end of the second season, which kill two of them.
- La Résistance: Many episodes involve the AH.commers helping the Resistance from a timeline overthrow their oppressors, whether these be the Spanish Armada, Hollywood Cthulhu, or Barney the Dinosaur.
- Ridiculously Human Robots: Averted with the ship's computer Leo Caesius' android avatar, who is a Steam Punk, obviously metallic humanoid robot. Played straight, however, with the super-sexy assassin droids Bill and Hillary (...yes) seen in the episode "Hey Hey We're The Monkeys".
- Running Gag: So many that we're forced to link to the AH.com wiki to list them. Most are Shout Outs to running jokes on the forum the Series is based on, but others are unique to it.
- Second Law My Ass: Leo Caesius to some extent, especially after he gets infected with a virus in the episode "Leo Atrox".
- Spiritual Successor: As a Time Skip sequel to both AH.com The Series and AH.com The Next Generation, a new series titled "AH.com Enterprise" has been in the development stages since December 2013. The new series is meant to be part revival and part sequel to the first two series. (There are even some early plans of a crossover miniseries for the 10th anniversary of the first show - it would apparently feature the older crews and the newer crews from all three shows teaming up to go save the multiverse together.)
- Stable Time Loop: after the war with the ASBs at the end of season 4, the crew and the ship get sent to the Big Bang (the start of the multiverse) and accidentally give the Alien Space Bats some ideas, as well as giving the Machine the DNA for cloning Luakel.
- Stalker with a Crush: Psychomeltdown with Alyson Hannigan. Later brought to high levels of squickery when Psycho's GenderBendered Mirror Universe counterpart went insane and declared s/he WAS Alyson Hannigan - especially since s/he continued to maintain this even after partly changing back to a man. In later episodes, also used with several characters - both crewmen and recurring villains - with Keira Knightley.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: happens many times.
- Swiss Army Gun: The 'BFG' weapons were eventually revealed to be this, in order to explain Depending on the Writer continuity issues with the weapons fire being described differently in different episodes.
- Sufficiently Advanced Alien: The ASB s (Alien Space Bats).
- Take a Third Option: In "The Cult of the Swamp God", after a few members of the crew are forced to compete in a LARP due to a computer glitch, they are given the option to take one item from the LARP world. Dave Howery has to choose between a Bag of Holding and Keira Knightley. In the end, he chooses to put Keira in the Bag of Holding and take the Bag.
- Take That:
- Techno Babble: Used ironically. Notably, a powerful enemy weapon is said to use 'technobabblyon particle beams'.
- A term borrowed from Sev Trek, a Star Trek parody webcomic.
- Teleporter Accident: All the time, but usually played for laughs. There is the odd exception, such as "To A Theatre Near You", where it is used for drama.
- The Slow Path: what the main characters have to do when they accidentally send the AH.com into the future from the Big Bang, without themselves inside.
- The Verse: "AH.comverse". The two newer series, AH.com The Next Generation and AH.com Enterprise, also use the same setting.
- Those Two Guys: Hermanubis and Imajin on the Hub, Shadow Knight and Scarecrow on the Mercator, and Flocculencio and Michael on the AH.com.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Occasional villains. So relentlessly studied in Alternate History that they are invariably used in an ironic or deliberately cartoonish way. Usually associated with their (historical) plan to invade England, Operation Sealion, which is generally acknowledged to be so badly conceived that even Hitler wasn't crazy enough to order its implementation.
- Too Kinky to Torture: Inevitably, Doctor What. The only interrogator who managed to wring information out of him was his own counterpart from another timeline, Docteur Quoi. And that was by holding lesbian porn up just out of his reach.
- Unobtainium: Used as the actual name of the fuel that the Shift drive runs on, lampshaded mercilessly. Usually to be found in asteroid field mazes haunted by an entire race of psychopathic Pac-Men.
- Unusual Euphemism: Although ordinary swearwords are used liberally, occasionally "fenk" shows up, possibly because "every other sci-fi series has a blatant made-up alternative to fuck !"
- Villain Episode: The "Counterfactual" miniseries and the later episode "Whatever Happened to the CF.netters?"
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Pretty much everyone on the AH.com, but particular vitriolic pairings are Flocculencio and Michael, Psychomeltdown and Michael, and Matt and Weapon M.
- Wave Motion Gun: The CF.net Ship has one of these. It's so rarely used that a running joke is that it takes an entire season's worth of episodes to charge up.
- Zany Scheme: Ward's plan to infect the AH.com crew with a 'teenifying virus' in the episode "Teens on a Ship" (lampshaded in that the usually dark and gritty villain Ward admits he's just in a cartoonishly evil mood), and also the AH.commers' plan to pay for repairs by getting demeaning jobs in "Temps".