Get this: Antiques Roadshow meets Ghostbusters
What is it? A buddy comedy about a regional television show on which viewers present heirlooms to get psychic readings. One of the two leads believes in the spirit world but the other is just a cynical showman and a skeptic. Everything goes haywire when a fan brings on an ancient statuette that gives the skeptic actual spirit-reading powers, and they only learn after the broadcast that the artifact is being sought by an evil Illuminati cult. Can they find (and save!) their fan and stop the cult?
Working title: Vintage Spirits
Tagline: “Some things are better left in the attic.”
Bonus: There’s a great degree of flexibility in that the gender and race of the two main characters can be developed to suit the producer, as can the region for the notional television show. The potential for historical gags is virtually unlimited, and the skeptic’s transformation adds a fish-out-of-water element.
Sequence breakdown: The first sequence would simply set up the concept of the TV show and the Odd Couple relationship between the two main characters. The true believer buddy is shown as sincere, if a bit naive, while the skeptic buddy is sarcastic and dismissive, insulting each viewers under his breath as they walk up with their antiques to be “read.”
The fan appears as the inciting incident shifting from sequence 1 to 2, and the skeptic insults him/her after being “zapped” by the haunted statuette. The gradual appearance of the skeptic’s spirit-reading powers would constitute the second sequence debate. The appearance of a creepy member of the Illuminati searching for the fan character seals the first plot point, as the skeptic gets an undeniable sense that the fan is in danger (physically if not spiritually) and decides they have to find the fan to warn about the weird stalker.
The fun and games of sequence 3 could be a live, “Best Of” marathon week of the show that the two buddies put on to try to locate the endangered fan. When the skeptic is given antiques for which he previously gave fake readings, the new and genuine readings could be shocking to the skeptic (who suspects stress-induced hallucinations) and funny to the audience. Meanwhile, the fan watches the marathon fuming over the insult the skeptic delivered when they last met. Eventually, the fan returns to the show to confront the skeptic, but is identified by the Illuminati on live TV, leading to a midpoint chase.
If the true believer buddy is harmed during the chase, hospitalized and unconscious, this could provide the dark night moment and raise the stakes for the skeptic, who is now completely without guidance on his new-found powers. The skeptic has to beg the fan for forgiveness; perhaps a romantic side-plot (built on the earlier antagonism) develops as they rely on each other while avoiding the Illuminati.
The second plot point could involve the revelation that the true believer buddy is going to keep getting worse until the Illuminati are defeated. The skeptic could decide to lure them to him for a confrontation, by hosting a final live segment of the show. He digs deep down, and comes clean on-air to all of the viewers about his years of cynical fakery. The Illuminati arrive, and the skeptic is nearly killed in the ensuing confrontation, until the show’s fans show up with their haunted artifacts to help put the villains down.
In the denouement, the show resumes but with genuine antique spirit readings instead of fake ones.
Elevator pitches: I started the Elevator Pitch series to cleanse my mental palate of the thousand and one ideas that crowd their way into my consciousness every day. A few of them seem cool enough to share, and I’ll share them here!