Untitled Series, Working Title “Red”
Episode 101: “PILOT”
EXT. CITY SIDEWALK – MORNING
Bruce is walking to work. Abruptly, the normal city commercial district ends, and, after he crosses a street, he comes to the Department of Domestic Defense, a massive cement monument more akin to a bunker than what you'd expect from a civic building. It should feel very cold and uninviting, foreboding, even, and contrast harshly with the sunny, cheery atmosphere of the people walking around, and the sunshine glinting off the still moist roads. Text appears at the bottom right of the screen. "Department of Domestic Defense; Northwest Branch, Portland, OR; 8:02 a.m., November 27th, 1984." Then back to a medium shot on Bruce. Parked just in front of the DDD is a police cruiser, the same from last night. Rickie steps out slowly, groggily. He hasn’t had any sleep. Neither has Bruce, but he’s used to it. Rickie follows Bruce into the Department.
INT. DOMESTIC DEFENSE DEPARTMENT – DAY
The Department resembles a bank, with nearly every surface made out of a slate-gray polished marble, down to the security/receptionist desk in the center of the room. Two armed guards stand at attention in front of a standing marble wall, while a single female receptionist sits and answers phones.
Welcome to the Department of Domestic Defense. I've worked here most of my life. It's where I met Teresa. It's where I was when I got the call saying my kids were-
I’m not so sure about this.
You’ll do fine.
You’re horribly cheerful for how early it is.
All thanks to the glorious nectar that is recaffeinated coffee.
If you hadn’t taken my gun I’d shoot you.
Ah, but if I hadn’t taken your gun they’d shoot you.
A couple of linebacker-sized guards armed with automatic weapons step up from behind them (they come out of a sliding marble door in the wall that’s almost impossible to see, save for a thin outline where the seam is- but for the purposes of this shot we’ll treat it like they just appeared out of thick air). Before he understands what Bruce is talking about, one of them puts a large hand on Rickie’s shoulder. Rickie turns slowly, terrified by the giganto, who “guides” him with the hand towards the hidden security door (exit screen right).
Enjoy your processing- oh, and try not to give them any reason to cavity search you.
Bruce smiles and spins around, walking towards a bank of elevators on the wall opposite the entrance.
CUT TO Bruce’s POV. This is the first look at BRUCE-O-VISION. There’s a very brief bit of static (not too long, we don’t want to insinuate that he’s a robot- although it might be interesting to consider him having a camera there that the tech guys can watch through) with white text on the bottom of the screen announcing: “BRUCE-O-VISION“ flashing three times. BRUCE-O-VISION is kind of like a video game, and we've got a heart meter at the bottom left that beats with his heart, and a dollar counter with x43 at the top right. A woman in a tight skirt passes by and Bruce watches her butt.
INT. ELEVATOR – DAY
Bruce slides into the elevator behind her, into the corner as she hits the button for her floor.
INT. BRUCE-O-VISION – DAY
Bruce adjusts to get a better rump shot, just close enough to touch her.
Well heeello. Bruce likey. Bruce likey lots.
Bruce takes a pen from his shirt and flicks it between the woman's legs.
Excuse me, ma'am, but I've dropped my pen.
As she bends over to fetch it for him, Bruce puts his hand on her bum. She squeaks, whirling around angrily, holding the pen in a stabbing motion. When she sees it’s him she brings it down slowly.
INT. ELEVATOR - DAY
PULL OUT to watch the woman as she puts the pen in Bruce's shirt pocket and kisses him. During the kiss the elevator dings and the doors slide open, and she pulls away and scampers off.
INT. BRUCE-O-VISION - DAY
TERESA waves goodbye.
Isn't Teresa great?
BRUCE-O-VISION starts to sag, and we watch her bum again as she walks off.
We've been married ten years, and I've never gotten... STOP THAT!
Bruce smacks himself in the face, and we fall out of BRUCE-O-VISION.
INT. ELEVATOR – DAY
Bruce shakes his head as the elevator doors close.
Until you little monkeys can learn to behave, no more Bruce time.
INT. OFFICCE - DAY
Bruce walks down a cubicle aisle, with a solid office wall to his right. Bruce passes by REGGIE the mailboy and nods.
Morning, Reggie. Any mail?
Uh... no... nothing for you yet, Mr. Campbell, sir.
Okay. And Reggie- it's okay to call me Bruce.
Bruce turns and continues down the hall a few steps and into an office. The camera dwells a moment on the name on the door: B. Campbell.
INT. BRUCE’S OFFICE - DAY
He sets his briefcase down on the floor beside his desk and sets to work turning on his old apple green screen. The camera pan shows a typed note on his desk.
INSERT: CU ON THE NOTE
"I know who you are, and I know what you do, and your family will never be safe. This is your finial warning."
BACK TO SCENE
Bruce turns around, sets his coffee down and picks up the note. Bruce slowly lowers the note with a look of dread on his face. His phone rings.
INT. SPLIT-SCREEN – BRUCE AND SALLY ON THE PHONE
SALLY is the boss's secretary. She’s the kind of woman who got hired on as a secretary right after high school because of her looks, and somehow at 30 is still there, and now only slightly pretty, and a little annoyed.
Sally, I've told you, call me-
Mr. Olivetti wants to see you right away.
He did say it was urgent.
You can tell him I'm on my way.
Bruce hangs up and walks out.
INT. OFFICE BUILDING - DAY
Tracking shot. Bruce leaves his office, walks past one office and then past Sally's desk and into Mr. OLIVETTI's office. During the trip the following conversation is overlayed.
Mr. Olivetti? I called Mr. Campbell and he's on his way.
Good. When he gets here-
INT. OLIVETTI’S OFFICE - DAY
Bruce walks into Olivetti's office and shuts the door behind him.
-send him right in. Ah. Excellent. Good work, Ms. Nickles.
Have a seat, Bruce.
Olivetti stands up and looks out the window, out at the city. This is an excellent opportunity to show the geography of the city. When that's done, BACK TO: Bruce squirming in his seat uncomfortably.
Sorry. Just waiting for that blasted Sally to bring me my coffee.
Couldn't you, I don't know, get it yourself?
Never again. Doctor's orders. You remember the Director's meeting last August?
Yeah. You came in covered in coffee grounds. Said that someone had boobytrapped the coffee machine. They locked down the entire building for 27 hours.
I want to tell you a secret, Bruce. There was no boobytrap. I... I spilled that coffee.
Match cut. Zoom on Olivetti’s right pupil at the office, then zoom out of his left in an office building.
INT. OFFICE BUILDING - DAY
Olivetti is standing by a coffeemaker, pot in hand, pouring himself a cup. Suddenly, the glass pot explodes, and steaming coffee goes everywhere, splattering grounds and filter, and Olivetti freaks the fuck out, screaming like a wild banshee. Another match cut: zoom on the pupil again, then zoom out of Bruce’s pupil.
INT. OLIVETTI’S OFFICE - DAY
Bruce’s jaw is dropped open, and he’s staring in disbelief.
They cavity-searched over a thousand people. They searched me three times.
INT. OPERATING THEATRE – NIGHT
The room is mostly dark except for a bright light source from the next room. Standing between the double-doors, taking up most of the room and blocking most of the light is GUNTER, an 8-foot tall gorilla man wearing a green smock. CUT CLOSER as he snaps a glove on his enormous ham-sized fists, smiling wide, showing a horrible row of jagged, apelike yellow teeth before covering his mouth with a sanitary mask.
CUT BACK TO:
INT. OLIVETTI’S OFFICE - DAY
Bruce looks traumatized, his lip quivering. And Olivetti’s next line will make or break the pilot. It would be supremely easy to read it crazy or goofy or silly, but it needs to be straight, and not just deadpan, but this is the moment where we all need to feel bad for the mildly retarded boss. To add to the gravity of the moment, CU on the jaw of Olivetti as he looks out the window and breathily says the line.
And now you understand my shame.
Sally comes in with Olivetti's coffee, hands it to him, and walks out of the office. Olivetti sips, (maybe throw in the Popeye bounce sound after he’s had his spinache, something like that) then the entire tone of the scene changes.
Now the reason I wanted to see you... do you have any idea what today is, Bruce?
Yes, but... it's thirteen years, Bruce. Time again that I ask you what I have for the last three years. And I want you to pay particular attention to my left eye.
Olivetti points to his eye and winks.
Now Bruce, you've been with us for thirteen years. And in that time you've proven yourself one of our most capable and trustworthy associates. However, our rules clearly stipulate that, given your years of service, you be offered a promotion. Specifically, this will be a promotion that includes higher pay, a larger office, and absolutely no fieldwork. I have personally spoken with our personnel officers, and they have assured me-
Olivetti gives an exaggerated wink.
-that we have any number of suitable candidates-
Olivetti gives another wink, bringing the camera closer to his eye.
-more than willing-
Olivetti gives another wink, bringing the camera still closer to his eye.
-and more than capable-
Olivetti gives another wink, bringing the camera in closer to his eye while pointing.
-to perform, even outperform-
Olivetti gives another wink, with an ECU of his eye.
-your duties for the department.
The camera comes back out, Olivetti gives a final wink, then looks confused.
Oh, hell... skip that last one.
Well, I'll have to talk it over with Teresa.
Olivetti walks over behind him and pats him on the back.
Splendid news. I'm frankly relieved you're not- wait, what?
My wife. I'd like to hear what she has to say before I make a decision.
Bruce stands up out of the chair as Olivetti nervously gestures, walking beside him to the door.
Not a bad idea? I know. Glad I had it.
Bruce leans through the mostly closed door.
I'll let you know.
Bruce closes the door.
Olivetti, looking worried.
INT. CAFETERIA - DAY
Cafeteria, not too unlike a hospital cafeteria, only it’s colder, more sterile, and less inviting. The tables are made of polished steel, the walls cold and gray, the floor covered in ceramic tiles. Bruce takes his tray over to where Sally Nickles is sitting up like a bolt, her hands hovering over the table in the “home” typing position. She swallows and turns a page on a Daniel Steel paperback she’s reading. She drinks from a glass of water.
Sally makes a loud hissing noise at him.
I know we ‘re not exactly friends but-
Sally thumps against her chest, points to her throat and makes a strange motion to tell him she's choking. She tries weakly to inhale, and passes out. Bruce starts to kneel to attend to her but something doesn't feel right, and he looks up, and sees Reggie, staring too intently at them from across the room (although most of those responding haven’t even fully stood up yet). There's a not-so-nice look on his face; he's not nervous anymore. Quickly, he turns and leaves as the crowd around Sally and Bruce start rushing around, bustling conversation filling the room as they look for a doctor or someone trained in First Aid. Bruce, in the meantime, looks suspiciously at her food, takes her tray and exits the scene.
INT. LAB - AFTERNOON
Bruce walks into an even colder, more sterile environment. This is the lab, and even the walls and ceiling are covered in ceramic tiles. A typical scientist, wearing welding goggles, a white smock and rubber gloves that end mid-bicep. He’s a young guy, mid to late twenties. He’s holding a glass of scotch, and gesturing a bit too happily with it. His name is MARC, but he’s never going to admit that to you (after all, you might be a communist).
Bruce produces the contents of Sally’s tray from inside his jacket, now occupying a gallon baggie.
Well... I need this to be run for trace chemicals and allergens.
What is it?
I need it kept quiet.
Pull Sally Nickles’s personnel records, and check it against anything she may be allergic to. Start with anything you wouldn’t expect from our cafeteria.
So it should put up a red flag if I find anything that tastes good or has even a passing nutritional value.
Stick to exotics.
Bruce takes the letter, also in a baggie, out of his jacket and hands it to Marc.
Also, run this for prints. Check it against the chemical signature of the office equipment.
Marc takes the note and looks down to read it. Immediately CUT CLOSER as he looks up to save time.
You think someone in the office is responsible for this?
Not sure. But I’d like to know.
Marshall; we’re under the gun here. As soon as you know, I know.
You sure? I could bury it under a mountain of paperwork and bureaucracy and not even look at it for several months.
Bruce just gives him a cold look, and Marc knocks back the rest of his scotch.
Isn’t is a little early.
Today I’m on Munich time, so actually I probably should have passed out a few hours ago. I’ve been lax.
INT. BRUCE’S BEDROOM – EARLY MORNING
From a black screen, we hear distant ringing. In the darkness we can see a blurry red 5:17. Then we see an arm lean across our view and pick up a phone.
Bruce sits up in bed.
INT. LAB – EARLY MORNING
Marc has a glass of scotch in one hand, the phone in the other. He should look like he’s been up for thirty hours straight and like he’s had a whole bottle of scotch to himself (it’s been more than that, but he’s used to it).
No, it’s Mario. I’ve been up all night testing the food against Nickle’s personnel file.
INT. BRUCE’S BEDROOM – EARLY MORNING
There’s a subtle click here that will make sense in a moment.
There were trace amounts of garlic, but in a pasta that’s not so strange. However, I found large amounts of animal dander, and a very specific type of fungal spore found almost exclusively in the deserts of the American Southwest.
Teresa sits up groggily, wearing a little nightie (cute but not too sexy- for heaven sakes, she’s somebody’s momma). She looks at Bruce, blinking sleepily, looks to her alarm. From Teresa’s P.O.V. see double when she looks at her clock, then CUT TO a shot of Bruce, listening intently on the phone. He gets a body pillow to the face, and it falls off camera.
We checked the note for prints, latent chemical traces. I tried to get hold of Sherman for the print codes of the work equipment, but he’s out on vacation, and his assistant is apparently worthless, so that may take a while. But as far as I can figure it seems to be the right weight and composition as the stock we use, similar caloric content and pH. Now this all-nighter has thrown me onto Beijing time, so with your permission, I’m going to drink the rest of a bottle of cheap scotch and pass out onto my lab table.
Go ahead. You’ve earned it. Mar-?
INT. LAB – EARLY MORNING
Zoom out from the scotch glass, empty. The phone is sitting on a tape recorder, still going.
Okay, one more time for the ladies- I am the very model of a modern major-general...
The song, obviously, can be changed to suit expired copyright. Marc is smiling contentedly and drooling, passed out.
Dial tone as screen blacks out.
INT. RICKIE’S BEDROOM - MORNING
Bruce is standing at the foot of Rickie’s bed. It’s a fairly large bedroom, with sliding mirror doors on the closet. He’s a bachelor, and his lifestyle is evident in the décor and cleanliness of the room. Pan across the room to see (but not linger on) several specific objects in the mess. Framed on the wall he has the Playboy where Malcolm X is interviewed, and the issue of Time magazine with the headline “Castro’s Back?” with a photo of the dictator, his image blackened out and a question mark in the center of his silhouette. There are small piles of clothes, seemingly denoting some degree of organization. There’s a birdcage on a tall stand on the ground, empty, with the cage door open. Beside the cage is a book by Frederich Engels. There are eleven bottles of various sizes and various liquors (some hard, some beer) on his cluttered nightstand, but the largest by far is a bottle of mouthwash.
Get up get up get up.
Rickie sits up, rubbing his eyes. His hair is all Einsteiny. Intercut shots so that the speaker is onscreen.
What the hell are you doing in my bedroom?
This some kind of hazing?
Get up. Save the world stuff.
But how did you-
Kicked your door in. Pants. Then go.
Pants or I shoot you.
This job sucks ah-
Bruce yanks him out of bed, and we see his bare ass quickly before the cut- swearing through nudity, huzzah!
INTERIOR OLIVETTI’S OFFICE – MORNING
Sir, I need a word.
Please come in-
Olivetti steps aside to let Bruce enter, but looks concerned when Rickie follows him.
Bruce, I don’t know how to tell you this, but you have a tail.
No, sir, this is the man I brought in yesterday. Name’s-
Sargent Rickie Gallion. And actually we’ve met before.
Olivetti blinks stupidly at them.
But what brings you in so early?
I think we’ve got a plant.
Olivetti starts to take a drink from his coffee cup.
What’s more, I think Sally’s allergic reaction yesterday wasn’t an accident.
Olivetti jerks his cup away from his mouth in surprise.
That’s preposterous. I personally interview everyone with access to this floor.
Olivetti turns towards Rickie.
And I demand to know why you’ve brought this uncleared-
Olivetti starts to move the mug to his lips again.
He’s the new man, Gallion. You interviewed him yesterday.
This is actually the fourth time I’ve seen you in the last 24 hours.
Olivetti jerks the mug away, gesturing widely in surprise.
Really? Pesky reds must be sneaking amnesia into my coffee again.
Olivetti glares suspiciously into his mug.
That wasn’t amnesia. The lab identified them as Juju Bees, and your office tapes showed that you put them there.
Bruce focuses in on the mug as Olivetti raises it for a sip.
Bruce leaps over Olivetti’s desk, knocking the mug into the wall, where it shatters.
Who got you this coffee?
Why, didn’t I get it?
No, because you aren’t covered in coffee grounds.
Oh. Well, then it must have been that helpful mail boy.
Bruce picks up the phone and dials three numbers.
Security? Seal the floor. Now.
INT. OFFICE BUILDING – DAY
Bruce and Rickie are running through the cubicles.
Have you still got your service revolver?
You told me no one was allowed armed on this floor.
But do you? Because you may have to back me up. Reggie’s been here four years. No telling how many other sleepers there could be. There he is.
Reggie is delivering mail. He looks up from his task and sees Bruce and glares.
Stop that mailboy!
Bruce tackles Reggie over the mail cart and they roll out of the row of cubicles, against an office wall. Reggie sprawls as he hits the wall and Bruce draws his gun from a should holster. Security officers, wearing foghat gray and black military-style uniforms, draw their weapons and point them at Bruce.
He’s gone mad. He just attacked me from nowhere.
Sir, there are no firearms allowed on this level.
But you have guns.
The guard steps between Bruce and Rickie.
We’re security, sir.
Security herds him away from the scene.
We’re better than you. Now please step aside.
CUT BACK TO Bruce, his gun in Reggie’s face, with the guard pointing a revolver at him.
He’s a communist. He put fungal spores in Sally Nickle’s food, and poisoned the Section Chief’s coffee.
SAM BLACKWELL, who we’ll get to know later, comes in. He’s a field agent just like Bruce, and is wearing a similar suit, charcoal gray.
What the hell’s going on here?
Mr. Blackwell. This man has brought a fire-
You’re an idiot. Most of us on this floor do.
Sam pulls out his revolver enough that the guard can see it.
But sir, firearms aren’t allowed-
We know. And if you weren’t so damned lousy at your job we wouldn’t be able to bring them up here, but Section Head figures so long as we can sneak weapons up here Reds could too, so he keeps it quiet.
One of the guards points his gun at Sam.
Sorry, sir, I’m going to need that weapon.
Bruce reaches into Reggie’s jacket and pulls a flip-open wallet out. There’s a communist party card prominently displayed.
Drop it or I’ll fire.
He’s red. And he’s armed.
Bruce throws a snubnose out of Reggie’s jacket, and it thuds on the carpet between the security guards. Then Bruce spins Reggie, kicks him to his knees, zipties his wrists and pulls a switchblade out of Reggie’s sock. Finally, he pulls a glass vial out of Reggie’s outer jacket pocket and tosses it to the guard.
Directly to the lab, and take a sample from the Chief’s mug in his office. You, get on the radio, let the other stations know we had a sleeper. Go. Now.
INT BRUCE’S OFFICE – SUNSET
Sam comes in. Bruce is sitting at his desk, staring at a printed security camera still of Reggie.
Sam, what’s the damage?
There’s been a nationwide sleeper activation. We lost the Heads at Miami, Washington and Chicago. L.A. caught the bastard with a heater in a service elevator, and blew the shaft. Orleans caught theirs alive, trying to pump serin in through the ventilation.
That all? Six sleepers?
Seems so. We still haven’t been able to get ahold of the Director. He’s supposed to be in the Appalachians with his son. If one of his aids-
D’s fine. He’s an old-school cowboy, worked through the ranks. What about Baklor?
The Senator’s been incommunicado since 3 this morning. There’s been some kind of localized emergency at the hydroelectric plant. The whole area’s without power. Chicago’s dispatching one of their sweeper units, and they’ll be arriving in the next five. Olivetti didn’t go home, did he?
No. He wanted to, so I had him sedated. He’s in the vault.
Where’s the rookie?
I sent him with Deacons to process the prisoner. I imagine he’s gone home now.
Who do you think this was. Russians?
Too sloppy. If the Russians had four-year moles they would have been in information-gathering. And if they were going to mass-activate sleepers they would have just slipped nerve gas into the buildings. No; these were amateurs trying to prove something.
Not yet. But I’ll find something. Then we’ll nail these bastards to a wall.