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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Bringing DC's The Question To The Screen

Political corruption at the municipal level.  Machiavellian manipulations at the federal level.  Citizen unrest.  Foreign threats penetrating the shadows of our society.  Journalistic integrity is under scrutiny due to armchair reporting; people are turning to citizen reporters who aren't always as grassroots as they claim.  Lots of questions, no easy answers - and much less certainty of who to trust.  Perhaps the best hero for the times is not one who has the answer, but one who asks the question.

Sounds like a great backdrop for a TV show, doesn't it?

I was a big fan of Dennis O'Neil's version of The Question.  O'Neil took the original, tough-minded, Objectivist-believing character (on which Watchman's Rorschach was based) and gave him an organic infusion of Taoist philosophy.  The result was a hero unlike any other - seeking justice became his path to enlightenment.
This isn't to say he was dull - The Question had wit, romance, cool fighting and intense bad guys to square off against.  To me, though, it was the almost Old Testament/New Testament dichotomy that was really compelling.  Perhaps even compelling enough to watch.
So, here's my pitch for a Question TV show (that could be cast and filmed right here in Canada):
Against a backdrop of Occupy, civic unrest and heightening political/ethnic tensions, The Question follows Vic Sage, an elbows-up investigative reporter based in Hub City.  Following a lead from his former professor/current medical researcher Theodore "Tot" Rodor, Sage begins to unravel a complex plot that spans from Hub City to Washington to the deserts of Afghanistan.  Using pseudoderm, a skin-like bandage developed by Tot to disguise his famous features, Sage becomes The Question to get the answers that a reporter can't.  With Tot and fellow reporter Myra Connely as his only allies, The Question is in a race against time to stop the plans of a selfish few from spiralling into World War III.
If I were actually a TV writer, I would have made that tighter, but as I'm not, here's the exposition.  Season I would have The Question pursue the Arby Twain story as the A arc.  The B would involve his ongoing investigation of municipal corruption in Hub City, which is Myra's beat.  The C arc would involve a slow reveal of a bigger, League-of-Shadows type threat that's informing everything.  This is where Lady Shiva comes in. 
Season I would end like Battlestar Galactica's first season did, allowing Season II to spin off in a whole new direction and turning Sage towards his real question - what drives him most, a killer instinct or the quest for the truth?  This soul-searching would play off against a changed relationship with Myra, big changes in the city he knows and a growing awareness of a bigger problem to which even his own immediate villains seem oblivious.  I already know how Season II could end, too.
Here are the main characters:

Vic Sage/The Question (Joshua Jackson)

 Sage was born Charles Victor Szasz and raised as an orphan in a tough Catholic orphanage.  Growing into a tough kid with a reputation for aggression, Vic changed his name when he went to university, attempting to get a new start.
When we meet him, he's a relatively well-known talking head with a reputation for wit and tenacity onscreen, but a pit-bull arrogance offscreen.  Becoming The Question is more than a new way for him to tackle his stories; it becomes an outlet for internal turmoil and an excuse not to venture into the dark corners of his mind.  To add a layer, he might even play guitar in a punk band.

Aristotle Rodor (Alan Thicke )

Tot is a cross between James Bond's Q and Quantum Leap's Al, with a bit of Batman's Alfred thrown in to tweak Sage's conscience.  Partially played for comedic relief, Tot also lets us see that under the aggression and thrill-seeking edge, Sage is an intellectual with a deep thirst for knowledge.  This sets The Question up for his story arc transition.  Tot also has his own skeletons to deal with - the big Season I arc involves the misuse of pseudoderm and one of the main bad guys is his former colleague, Arby Twain.

Myra Connely (Ellen Page)

Myra is a woman who fundamentally believes the phrase "what is a bad person but a good person's opportunity?"  She feels being a reporter is a noble profession and one that serves to help government and justice function, not be their watchdog.  Having done some investigating of her own, she knows that Sage is Szaz (but not that he's also The Question); she sees him a a broken man and a chance for her to prove she's right about people on the whole.  Plus, he's not afraid to give or take a hit, meaning he's a good guy to have in her corner as her corruption story goes further and further down the rabbit hole.  She also thinks Sage is cute, but clearly that doesn't shape her opinions.

Introduced in Season I but expanded on in Season II:

Lady Shiva (Steph Song)

Shiva is a cross between Miyamoto Musashi and James Bond.  She's the deadliest human alive and knows it.  She hires out her skills for a high price, takes only the jobs that intrigue her and has continual opportunities to test her skill - but something is missing.  When her path crosses The Question's, she begins to think she knows what that thing is: an unresolved riddle posed by a former teacher.  Shiva believes that violence is the purest form of human nature; her teacher suggests that it's actually the quest for enlightenment.  Sage becomes the personification of this riddle and Shiva's best hope at understanding people in general and herself in particular.  Shiva also plays a shadowy role in a plan that threatens Western civilization, setting her up for an inevitable showdown with her would-be apprentice. 
Richard Dragon (Paul Gross)

Dragon is Obi-wan Kenobi to Shiva's Darth Vader; in Sage, he sees a Luke Skywalker, a path to redemption from his own failure. 

There you have it - an outline for what I think would be an amazing and timely show, cast with some great Canadian talent.  They could even film it in Toronto, you know, so I'm close at hand for production and writing.  I've got a lot more depth developed for this, but we'll start small.


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