PSI OPS TEAM
Beaten out by X-Files
PSI OPS TEAM loses battle of the network screenwriters to X-Files
Truth is Stranger than Fiction Dept.
In early 1992, our literary agent, Bernard Shir-Cliff approached Rick and I because his buddies at FOX Network wanted to produce a show about the occult. Based on our own personal experience at SPOOK CENTRAL (MRU) we wrote a treatment of a psychic Mission Impossible Team, which had NOT been done at the time (prior to Dan Akroyd's show). Only the names have been changed to protect the usual suspects.
Of course, we came in 2nd of their solicitations to a little show called the X-Files, which I hear did pretty well ;)
Years later, I was surprised to see the star of our first episode, Trinity Church, turn up as the reveal in NATIONAL TREASURE.
Ah well, great minds think alike!
Here is the original treatment proposal file:
THE PSI OPS TEAM
by Richard and Iona Miller, with Burt Webb
Occult entities and energies from other dimensions are creating a real crisis on earth, jeapardizing the Ionosphere which screens earth from ultraviolet radiation death. A psychic "Mission Impossible" team is created to clean up the equivalent of psychic and spiritual toxic waste. The twist is that it all takes place against a kaleidoscopic backdrop of international, political and corporate intrigue. This one has it all: secret societies, dirty politics, Wall Street sharks, the Third World, ecological crisis, cloak & dagger, the occult, UFOs, cyberpunk brain interfacing, lunatic fringe, psychotronic weapons, and a global playing field whose prime time is running out.
The basic idea is that a wealthy industrialist has a change of heart about the impact of development on the world. He decides to dedicate his company to ecologically responsible projects, especially in the Third World. He runs up against a very powerful group of businessmen who have their own plans for exploiting the people and resources of the Third World. Strange things begin to happen to his projects. Poltergeists, ghosts that scare native workers, and other magical things. As he investigates, he finds that these are not hoaxes. He assembles a team including an occult scholar, a Russian biophysicist, and a parapsychological tinkerer with his EVP Ghostbox.
They begin to discover and explore a complex environment of other planes and dimensions which coexist with the earth. These planes have life forms which are intelligent and can sometimes communicate and even visit the earth. They are responsible for UFOs, ghosts, and other occult phenomena. There are different types with different power-bases and homes. There are groups with strong leaders, renegade individuals, etc., and they have complex and conflictive motivations.
One group feeds on death energy, while another feeds on birth energy. A third group consumes negative emotions and a fourth positive emotions. Some are acting out of ideological intent, others are feeding, still others are just playing jokes. There are objects and places on earth which have been "energized" by interactions with these other dimensions and their inhabitants. There are also occult rituals and drugs which can breach the barrier. The inventor in the Psi Ops group discovers a way to use complex microwave holograms to stimulate certain areas of the brain to access these realms.
Because of the increase in human population and the acceleration of social interactions and cultural change, more and more of these entities are interfering with human affairs. They exploit objects, places and people. The leader of the Psi Ops group decides to use his money and power to neutralize objects, places and people who are a conduit for these forces. This places him in direct opposition to the leader of the other group, who is a powerful wizard with his own agenda.
First known as the Entity, he plans to cause a major interpenetration of these other planes with the earth, so that magic becomes the normal state of affairs, with him as the ultimate power. He has powerful allies on the other planes. The Psi Ops Team must use their technology and make allies to oppose him. The adventures have to do with specific objects, sites or people, but the whole world is a game board, with them winning and loosing battles in a war with the Entity, who is trying to bring about a sort of unharmonic convergence.
Blake Martel - The Industrialist
Background: Inherited an international contracting firm from his father. Divorced with two sons, one deceased.
Personality: Authoritarian, not much humor, lots of honor, workaholic.
Abilities: Shrewd businessman, charismatic leader by virtue of
natural intensity and deep resonant voice.
Appearance: Medium height, medium build, brown hair and intense
Karen Thorson - Executive assistant to Martel
Background: Came up through ranks to run her own corporation which
Martel bought, had affair but now only friends, interest in occult.
Personality: Pleasant but only opens up around her close friends.
Abilities: Highly intelligent, hard worker, great with details.
Appearance: Slender figure, red hair and freckles, cute face.
Iron Claw - Pilot for Martel
Background: Native American, Hopi.
Personality: Quiet and efficient but reserved.
Abilities: Excellent pilot and mechanic.
Appearance: Tall, good build, handsome, black hair and eyes, dark skin.
Stan Carter - Head of security for Martel
Background: Ex Army Intelligence (Eastern Europe), P.I.
Personality: Usually easy going but has a nasty temper when crossed.
Abilities: Intelligent and observant, weapons, explosives, martial arts.
Appearance: Black, medium height, stock build, rugged features.
Svetlana Mishkin - Russian biophysicist
Background: Emigrated to United States during Gorbachev years.
Personality: Friendly and trusting, passionate.
Abilities: Brilliant theoretical scientist in a variety of disciplines.
Appearance: Big, full figured woman, features a little too strong to be
beautiful, but attractive.
Chet Billings - Parapsychological tinkerer
Background: College drop-out, estranged from family.
Personality: Withdrawn, almost antisocial but lonely.
Abilities: Computers, electronics, chemistry, great in lab.
Appearance: Short, thin, long scraggily blond hair, poor dresser.
Moshe Ben Gurion - Occult Scholar
Background: Survivor of holocaust as a child, emigrated to US to escape
conflict in Middle East.
Personality: Old World Gentleman.
Abilities: Encyclopedic knowledge of the occult and mythology.
Appearance: Tall, slender, silver hair, big nose, dresses formally.
Fernando Castille - The Entity (Head of Opposition)
Background: From noble Spanish Aristocracy.
Personality: Arrogant and demanding, charismatic.
Abilities: Shrewd businessman and powerful occultist.
Appearance: Tall and dashing, impeccable dresser.
Obviously the first story needs to be a two hour, made for TV movie which sets up the premise. Opens with Stan Carter witnessing a spontaneous human conbustion of a native who had been helping him learn why workers are deserting a project in the interior of Brazil. (Turns out to be some hydroelectric project which will flood an ancient ruin which is a power site that Castillo wants to exploit).
He reports back to Martel who puts Karen to work assembling a team to investigate the paranormal nature of the problems. She goes to University to talk to Moshe who teaches courses. He introduces her to two of his ex-students, Sventlana and Chet.
There follows the usual stuff with personality conflicts, slowly tracking down the opposition group and its leader, Chet building the brain interface, Martel fending off the financial attacks, Stan dealing with the occassional car chase and gun fight. Moshe handling an occult confrontation or two and a grand finale in the jungle of Brazil with the aid of an old shaman where both conventioanl and occult weapons and combatants duke it out. The bad guys are beaten, but escape to fight another day. Show ends with decision to act as a sort of Metephysical Protection Agency (MPA) to clean up toxic sites and objects by somehow "valving" off the esoteric energy charge.
THE MANHATTAN CONSPIRACY
Basic Story Line:
A high ranking member of a Secret Lodge is inducted into an inner circle and finds out he cannot accept some of the past actions of the Order. Among other things, he finds out about the theft of Manhattan (Manhattan Conspiracy). He decides to bail out and takes the deed, among other things, for insurance. The Lodge put the heat on him and he contacts (Tom Lyttle). This man remembers family legends about the deal and agrees to meet the Lodge, but is killed before he can keep his appointment. Now a race is on to find the deed. The main character enlists the aid of detective. The detective hires a hacker to crack the Lodge files. There are the usual car chases, threats, gun fights and narrow escapes. The main character eventually recovers the deed and some real nasty dirt on Lodge activities. Now he has to decide what to do. Will anyone believe him? If he is believed and what he knows is made public, will the Lodge retaliate? If he says and does nothing, will he suddenly disappear?
(3 Acts, 2 subplots)
Act I: The Set Up
Opening Scene - Begins with Ben Gurion's initiation into the inner echelon of The Lodge, and the revelation of its various manipulative activities, both financial and psychological. Martel's team has attempted an infiltration for months, so this is their chance. Upon closer inspection, Ben Gurion realizes he is dealing with very "dark forces." He quickly formulates a plan to steal key evidence of the plot, including the deed to prime Manhattan property, allegedly under the control of an orthodox church (actually a front for The Lodge activities).
Chase scene around Manhattan ensues, showing landmarks and back alleys. Ben Gurion winds up at the occult shop of an acquaintance, where he is shuttled into a strange contraption which allows him to slip into another dimension for escape. He is now a fugitive from The Lodge (through the remaining shows). This mystery character has many enemies from around the world because of his activism, and has lived as an "underground" person for many years. He is a master of disguise, and hypnotic manipulation, (sort of like "Yoda").
Scene 2 - Opens in the Psi Ops lab in Seattle, Washington, a couple of days after his escape. Ben Gurion awakens from a hypnotic trance. He has just undergone a regression to determine what really happened during his escape, and to recall helpful details and specifics about his pursuers. His description of the Manhattan Conspiracy for the benefit of the Psi Ops team fills in the viewer through dialog and interrogation by the other characters present. Martel is present, but shown only from behind. He remains a mystery man for several episodes. Thorsen and Carter are also present, helping plan security and recourse.
Scene 3 - Ben Gurion calls for his former students Svetlana and Chet to join the team in planning their strategy. Flashbacks describe the sexual tension between these two. Even though he is four years younger, Chet harbors a crush on Svetlana, because he worships her brilliant intellect. They had previously worked together on developing an interdimensional brain interface. She is a biophysicist, he has background with biochips.
Though it is really unrequited love, there was a time or two in the past when Svetlana succumbed to his advances in a moment of weakness. This old fuel keeps his fire burning, and he pursues her relentlessly, even though he is not (and never will be) her "type." He is a great programmer, but hopelessly immature, emotionally.
The sexual undercurrent is a continuing theme throughout the series, which never consummates or resolves. They are virtually forced to work together due to circumstance, though it is painful for them both for different reasons.
Act II: The Confrontation
Scene 1 - Through their vast network of informants and "dark forces," The Lodge manages to locate Ben Gurion in Seattle. They descent like a plague of locusts, attempt, and are successful at retrieving their documents. They take them back to The Vault which, though in another dimension, is accessible only from the catacombs underlying the old Trinity church property in Manhattan. They now perceive the entire team as their enemy, and plot to eliminate them all for their highly proprietary knowledge.
Scene 2 - Back in the Lab again, a discussion of how to retrieve documents from the timeless/spaceless alternative dimension ensues. Using the brain interface, how to break into the Vault from a remote location is explained, and Carter can now go in and get the job done. The problem is that in the process, he is observed by The Entity (unknown to the team), and he mobilizes even more of his vast resources. There is the implication that he is "otherworldly." Yet, his world-wide financial grip gives him tremendous political clout.
Scene 3 - In the course of a seemingly unrelated government business activity (IRS audit), Thorson is lured and captured by the minions of Castille. Because of her attempt to protect Ben Gurion, Karen Thorson is captured and held for ransom, only to lure the other players within reach. She is the easiest mark. The subplot of tension between Svetlana and Chet continues. Though the heavy "baggage" of their past interaction is very apparent, they must now put that aside, and focus on their respective specialties.
Act III: The Resolution
Scene 1 - Back at the Lab, hacking their way into top level computers, the team gets a better idea of who the Entity is, his world-wide network of influence, and his alternative dimensional resources. Hints of his past manipulations of world economy, psychology, and culture to gain an economic stranglehold, and dupe the world into enslavement for his own glory - almost an Anti-Christ figure with his behind-the-scenes machinations.
Scene 2 - Lots of action now ensues, depending on the close coordination of the entire Psi Ops team. Karen is rescued, plus the documents, plus dirt on The Lodge. The team can now threaten or blackmail The Lodge to leave them alone, but of course they are undaunted, since they are prepared to sacrifice their dark souls for their "cause." Each minion has their own idea of what their reward will be, predicated on their personal psychology (lust, money, fame, power, etc.). Again, Castille almost prevails.
Scene 3 - Though temporarily thwarted, Castille tucks his tail and musters his forces for another day. Perhaps he retreats to his compound in Spain, with its underground hi-tech/occult training ground. With his "generals" around him, he feels secure for the moment to live to fight another day.
The ill-defined group of researchers and intelligence operatives become more cohesive in rallying around Ben Gurion. Even beyond his protection, they now have a common mission to "save the world" from immanent social/political/financial collapse.
Martel provides the necessary funds as patron and world-wise director. But we still aren't exactly sure just who he is on the world stage. He is still shown from the back only to preserve the mystery. A future show will disclose in more detail the context of his life and involvement. Personal conflicts in the group remain evident, but bonding experiences moderate these as time goes on.
The documents provide the basis for a legal battle to usurp The Lodge's power spot in downtown Manhattan. The Trinity Church, which has been the dupe of Castille, musters its financial and political power against the team for another episode.
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