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Mostly Dead and Buried

A supernatural comedy about finding yourself … literally.

By Mack DevlinPublished 12 months ago Updated 11 months ago 10 min read
6

THE MICRO PITCH

“Ghosts” meets “Quantum Leap”

THE TAGLINE

A supernatural comedy about finding yourself … literally.

THE PITCH

What if you woke up one night to find that you were dead? A ghost, a specter, an incorporeal still shackled to the living world. What if you find out that you’re not dead? A ghost has hijacked your body and is using it to live your life, to drive your car, to spend your money, to sleep with your wife. What would you do? For Moshe Ibrahim, that’s the question.

THE PREMISE

Moshe wakes up in a cemetery one night having no idea how he got there. When he attempts to leave through the cemetery gate, he is blasted back to the spot where he first woke up. After regaining his senses, he finds a group of people staring down at him, all dressed in clothing from different periods, all emanating an unearthly aura.

These are the Shackled, men and women stuck in the earthly realm until they can make amends for their transgressions. They explain to Moshe that through an unholy alliance, one of their own has taken control of Moshe’s body and has forced him out into the spirit realm. Moshe demands that the spirits help him, but, as one of the denizens puts it, “You won’t find me dippin’ me fingers in the arcane. Bad enough I’m stuck here with dis lot. Don’t want to spend an eternity in hell, now do I?”

Frightened, alone, and unsure of what to do, Moshe wanders to the very edge of the graveyard to be alone with his thoughts. This is where he meets Sam, a former slave who was hung for killing his master, and Tally, a nineteen-year-old Victorian girl who, in life, was a writer, but had her greatest works stolen from her by her older brother. Unlike the other ghosts, they are sympathetic to Moshe’s plight and express an interest in helping him, but they cannot leave the graveyard.

Enter Lemuel, a night soil man whom all the other ghosts avoid because he is “pervasively imbued with the stink of excrement from a miserable, downright hellish lifetime of shoveling other people’s shit.” Lemuel knows a way that Moshe can leave the cemetery, but it requires temporarily possessing someone. The possession only lasts from sunup to sundown. At night, the spirit is forcibly expelled from the host and returned, rather violently, to the graveyard.

Permanent possession, like what Moshe experiences, automatically “shackles” the unmoored soul, even if they have no reason to make amends in the earthly realm.

Through temporary possession, Moshe can drop in on his life and figure out how to reclaim it.

And this is what sets the show apart from other shows. In every episode, there will essentially be a new protagonist. While Moshe can inhabit the bodies of the living, he cannot overwhelm their personalities. Each “host” he inhabits has their quirks and idiosyncrasies. For instance, when Moshe possesses a woman with ADHD, he finds himself constantly distracted from his mission. When he inhabits a misanthrope, he finds himself at odds with everyone he encounters, cajoling all manner of negative responses, including being pepper sprayed by a priest.

Families visiting the graveyard also present the opportunity for other ghosts to possess the living, creating even more comedy and chaos. For instance, Lemuel possesses the body of an elderly woman and, because he was a night soil man, develops a fascination with toilets and waste disposal. The possibilities are endless. But this is also a show with heart. The ghosts learn and grow as they go along, finding themselves moving ever closer to making amends with the universe, giving the Shackled hope that they will one day be unshackled. The ghosts also create changes in the lives of the people they possess. Some good, some bad.

Mostly Dead and Buried is a serialized single-camera comedy with a seasonal arc focused on Moshe reclaiming his body from the spirit that has stolen his life. Alongside comedic and supernatural elements, there is also the element of mystery. The only way Moshe can reclaim his body is to figure out who helped the spirit steal it in the first place. As the season progresses Moshe will encounter several potential suspects, including a shady psychic medium who projects peace and earthiness, a goth historian of the arcane, and a telepathic budgie, among others.

There is also heartwarming drama to be found. Sam discovers that he is not Shackled not because he did something punishable, but because he cannot forgive himself for what he did. This creates some supernatural romance between him and Tally as she strives to help him learn how to forgive himself. Sam’s plight creates a perfect opportunity to delve into what it means to make amends and how we can make amends to ourselves.

But that’s not the end of the drama. Oh no. In a dramatic subplot, Moshe’s wife, Lilah, notices small changes in her husband. Not Moshe, the spirit possessing his human form, seems more sensitive, more caring, and certainly less self-involved. Seeing his wife with Not Moshe makes Moshe examine the choices he has made, and reflect on his failings as a husband.

The show will have many rotating characters, both living and dead, both possessed and dispossessed, but it will follow a core group of diverse characters.

Top: Moshe, Tally, Sam, Lemuel, and Ren Bottom: Lilah, Echo, Baal, Mirna, and Not Moshe

THE CAST

Moshe Ibrahim: A wealthy software designer who finds himself forcibly separated from his body and thrust into the realm of spirits. When we first meet Moshe, he is whiny and self-involved, but by literally walking a mile in the shoes of others he learns to figuratively do it, as well.

Tallulah “Tally” Vidas: In life, Tallulah was a talented writer, but her overbearing father would not allow her to publish her writing. She enlisted her brother to help her, but he ended up publishing her writings under his name. Her parents, who emigrated from England to Spain in 1856, did not believe Tally when she revealed what her brother had done. In an act of defiance, she burned her brother’s books in the street, inadvertently setting fire to an entire city block and killing herself in the process. Tally is smart and pragmatic. She is also deeply compassionate.

Sam Geary: Sam was born into slavery. After his mother and father died of cholera, he was raised by the white family that owned them. His adoptive mother was kind to him, “as kind as someone who owns someone else can be,” but his adoptive father was abusive. After years of abuse, Samuel fought back and accidentally killed the old man. Samuel is patient, kind, and slow to speak.

Lemuel Fierst: Lemuel was a night soil man, meaning he disposed of the waste of others. He was considered of low station, so he never married and never had children. He just disposed of excrement until the day he died. He claims that in exchange for teaching him how to read, Charles Dickens shadowed him for months and eventually based the character Fagan on him. Lemuel is disgusting - no manners, no filter – but he is loyal and given to self-sacrifice.

Lilah Ibrahim: Lilah married Moshe when she was 19 and spent the early years of their marriage working with him to build up their company. It was her innovations that made the company a massive success. Moshe has never given her credit for this, privately or publicly. Lilah would give a stranger her last dollar, and that is part of her problem. She is a doormat who wants to be more assertive, something for which she has been seeing a therapist.

Not Moshe: Not much is known about the mysterious spirit possessing Moshe’s body. The Shackled had very little to do with him when he was in the graveyard. All they know is that he was very sad and “spent most nights moaning like a sick cow.” His identity will be teased throughout the first season, through his behaviors (he is fascinated by boats, trains, and anything mechanical), his triggers (he becomes enraged when he sees people smoking or vaping), and his interest in a certain historical period (September 1859). Despite being the antagonist, he is quite likable.

Ren: A transgender (female identifying as male) groundskeeper whom Lemuel tries to forcibly possess, but Ren ejects him immediately, telling him that “just popping in like I’m a bloody lido is rude A-F.” Ren has been able to see the Shackled since he was nearly killed by a cocaine-amped driver when he was five. He will not allow the Shackled to possess him but is willing to help them with earthly matters. He does not agree with what Moshe is doing but understands that it is an extreme circumstance. Not only does Lemuel’s relationship with Ren create comedy – he can’t wrap his head around transgenderism – it also creates fertile ground for some truly tender moments of empathy and understanding.

Baal: Finn Diarmuid, aka Baal, is an arcane researcher with a massive online following. He has naturally pale skin but bleaches his black hair to solidify his edge lord persona. Different color contacts simulate heterochromia, further enhancing the image. He is the kind of person you love to hate, but behind closed doors, he is an astute caregiver for his mother, Kay, who suffers from dementia, and his autistic brother, Jaime. Irascible and pedantic though he is, he has a very human side.

Mirna Bell: A lifelong hippy and vegan, Mirna projects serenity and earthiness, which helps her engender belief in her abilities as a psychic medium. She can indeed commune with the dead, but she does so without any respect for their wishes. Most just want to be left alone.

Echo: A budgie with telepathic abilities. When we are first introduced to Echo, she is pretending to be a pigeon, milling about with other pigeons. Having survived a horrific owner, she is terrified of becoming someone else’s pet. After meeting Moshe, she decides to make her home in the graveyard and becomes friendly with the denizens. This does not mean Echo is above suspicion. She may be residing at the graveyard to keep tabs on the Shackled trying to return Moshe to his body.

A SHOW WITH A HEART OF GOLD

Mostly Dead and Buried, at its heart, is about relationships and learning to understand people on a profound and intimate level. What is more intimate than occupying the same body? It is also about growth and discovering that it is never too late to change. Comedy, drama, action, and the supernatural all come together in what is sure to be an amazing spectacle of humor and heart.

SAMPLE SCENE WITH DIALOGUE

Moshe has possessed Annie, a woman with ADHD. He is trying to get her to focus. Annie is moving toward her destination when she sees a coffee shop and tries to enter.

ANNE: No. You had coffee ten minutes ago. The last thing you need is caffeine.

Annie turns away from the coffee shop, then turns back.

ANNIE: Focus. Don’t be a drifting thumbstick.

MOSHE (VO): It's like walking a cat.

Annie pulls out her phone and brings up cat videos.

ANNIE: Focus. Gotta focus.

A text message notification pops up.

A CHYRON appears above Annie's head when she opens the text:

Mum: Dad's asking about you. Pop in to see him, yeah?

Annie: Little busy today. Will try.

Mum: Do try. Doesn’t get many lucid days, the lamb.

The CHYRON closes.

Annie throws open the door to the coffee shop and enters.

Inside the coffee shop.

MOSHE (VO): Is that what this is? Am I … are you in a perpetual state of running away?

Annie hums as she waits in line.

MOSHE (VO): Look, I don’t know how this works. I don’t know if you can hear my thoughts, but we need to focus. If that means going to see your dad …

In a terrifying rush of sights and sounds, Moshe is sent flying back to the graveyard. Lemuel squats down next to him.

MOSHE: What was that?

LEMUEL: Ain’t but done it once. Time I did, got thrown back when the sun went down. If I’d still had bowels, might have shat meself.

Moshe looks around. Sun is still high in the sky.

MOSHE: The day isn’t even half done.

LEMUEL: Hmmm. (pretends to smoke a pipe) Time was I’d have a puff whilst thinking. Didn’t bring me pipe with me when I died. Unfortunate that. (lowers the pipe) Did ye try to break through?

MOSHE: Talk to her?

LEMUEL: Aye.

MOSHE: Yeah.

LEMUEL: Then I imagine her quiet mind … not sure of the word ...

MOSHE: I think you mean subconscious.

LEMUEL: Perhaps. Methinks her quiet mind got wise and cast ye out.

Lemuel taps out his imaginary pipe.

EPISODE ONE OUTLINE

Act 1:

  • Moshe Ibrahim wakes up in a cemetery, disoriented and confused. He doesn't remember how he got there.
  • He encounters the Shackled, a group of ghosts stuck in the earthly realm, dressed in clothing from different time periods.
  • The Shackled explain that another ghost has taken control of Moshe's body, forcing him out into the spirit realm.
  • Moshe demands help from the spirits, but they refuse, fearing the consequences of meddling in the arcane.

Act 2:

  • Moshe wanders to the edge of the graveyard and meets Sam, a former slave, and Tally, a Victorian girl whose writings were stolen by her brother.
  • Sam and Tally sympathize with Moshe's situation but explain that no one can leave the graveyard.
  • Lemuel, a repulsive but knowledgeable ghost, reveals a way for Moshe to temporarily possess someone and re-enter the living world.
  • Moshe reluctantly decides to pursue temporary possession as a means to investigate his own life and reclaim his body.

Act 3:

  • Moshe successfully possesses the body of a woman with ADHD, leading to constant distractions and challenges.
  • He struggles to navigate her life, finding it difficult to get her to focus.
  • Meanwhile, Lemuel decides to possess the young groundskeeper, Ren, only to be cast out. He discovers Ren can see the Shackled.
  • Moshe's first possession experience teaches him the complexities of inhabiting another person's body, setting the stage for his further journeys and growth throughout the season.

WitSarcasmLaughterComedyWriting
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About the Creator

Mack Devlin

Writer, educator, and follower of Christ. Passionate about social justice. Living with a disability has taught me that knowledge is strength.

We are curators of emotions, explorers of the human psyche, and custodians of the narrative.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  1. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  2. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  3. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (3)

Sign in to comment
  • Novel Allen11 months ago

    This is very fascinating. I love the idea of graveyard drama. I can def see this happening and be a winner. Very well presented.

  • D. ALEXANDRA PORTER12 months ago

    Bravo! Your rhythm and energy are captivating!

  • Gina King12 months ago

    This would make a great show!

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