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The Crew

Lost in Space meets Firefly meets The Office

By Mack DevlinPublished 12 months ago Updated 10 months ago 18 min read
Runner-Up in Pitch Your Pilot Challenge
4

The Short Pitch: Lost in Space meets Firefly meets The Office.

The Pitch: Three brothers, the anxious and pragmatic Simon Shelby, a master of navigating bureaucracy, the sarcastic hoverchair-bound Henry, a reckless pilot, and the emotionally sensitive hulk Dylan, a competent and disciplined soldier, after inheriting a spaceship from their father, attempt to make a living in a galaxy rife with crime, corruption, societal decay, and bureaucratic two-stepping. Simon wants to pursue legitimate business ventures, instead of executing Dylan’s mercenary contracts or engaging in Henry’s illegal smuggling. The season begins in the wake of a disaster, referenced only in flashbacks. Simon and his brothers are about to transition into the legitimate business of luxury transport when they discover that a wrong turn has dropped them 150 years into the future. Galactic bureaucracy has grown completely out of control and getting their transport certification is going to require six months of observation by a government functionary, Polly Whetstone.

Mercenary work is out. Smuggling is out, unless they can do it under Polly’s nose. They have to solely rely on aboveboard work, which takes them to new and bizarre places such as Veris 6, a planet dedicated to producing manure, or the Gil Gerard Sector where a cosmic event has created a mass delusion, making everyone believe they are heroic space warriors. The brothers and their diverse crew of eccentric misfits navigate the challenges of certification and keeping themselves fed against the backdrop of workplace humor and sci-fi misadventures, all delivered in a mockumentary style. Being trapped in a different time period forces them to adapt to new challenges while exploring the complexities of their relationships.

One interesting dynamic of the show is a will they won’t they scenario that unfolds between two hover cameras that Simon has employed to document the lives of him and his crew for posterity. This dynamic is made more complicated by the arrival of another hover camera, a glitchy dumpy-looking device that is the third side of a non-sentient inanimate love triangle. This comedic sci-fi series combines workplace humor, occasional dark comedy, weird science fiction elements, and a hopeful message that people, no matter their circumstances, and no matter their differences, can come together to fulfill a common goal. The show is about friendship, the family you make, the strange brutality of brotherhood, and the lessons we learn on this strange voyage through time and space.

The Characters

The show relies on a unique cast of characters with diverse idiosyncrasies, each personality working to create an atmosphere of comedy that occasionally reaches into some dark places. These characters include:

  • Captain Simon Shelby: The captain. Pragmatic and focused on creating sustainable income for himself and his family, which extends beyond his brothers and encompasses the whole crew. He projects confidence but is filled with anxiety and neurosis.
  • Henry Shelby: The pilot. Confined to a futuristic hoverchair due to a spinal injury from a creature known as a Warg. Nobody talks about the Warg. He is bitter, sarcastic, and can be a total misanthrope without descending into sociopathy.
  • Dylan Shelby: The soldier. A handsome, hulking giant who projects toughness and competence. However, when he is with people he trusts, he is actually sensitive and prone to overemotional outbursts.
  • Macy Wong: The co-pilot. Vivacious and full of life, it seems like nothing can get her down, except, of course, when she thinks someone doesn’t like her. Then she becomes overly analytical and paranoid. This negative state is exacerbated when the crew discovers she is responsible for their inadvertent time travel.
  • Casio: The engineer. Possessed of a deadpan sense of humor that often goes to dark places. Very, very dark places. She is a woman of untold depths. Highly intelligent with a keen understanding of how the world really works.
  • Bell: In charge of provisions and acquisitions, Bell is a smooth-talker with chill to spare, but his chill is permanently damaged when he discovers that he might be the last living black man.
  • The Cook: The ship’s cook and nutritionist. A mysterious character with a mysterious accent, possibly from South America or the Middle East. He adds intrigue with his enigmatic and bizarre personality. Everyone assumes he isn’t that smart, but he proves to be quite brilliant, especially when it comes to Machiavellian plots.
  • Quirze: The doctor. He’s a weirdo in every sense of the word. Kind of shady. Licensed to practice medicine in all but one quadrant.
  • Phil: The stowaway. resides in the ship's vents, constantly exposed to radiation. Despite his deteriorating condition, he maintains an endlessly positive outlook.
  • Polly Whetstone: The shadow. As a passive observer assigned by the government, Polly doesn’t have much to say. She mostly just stands in the background eating snacks.

First Episode Cold Open & Act One:

COLD OPEN

INT. ADMINISTRATIVE BUILDING - DAY

SIMON and his brothers, DYLAN and HENRY, are in a dull administrative building. Simon is at the counter, talking to the attendant.

SIMON: How long does this take?

COUNTER ATTENDANT: Depends.

SIMON: On what?

COUNTER ATTENDANT: My mood.

Behind Simon, Dylan, wearing a combat vest for some reason, mugs for a security camera, holding up a Killer Filler Protein Bar, and practicing his pitch. The protein bar has an awkward picture of him on the front.

DYLAN: Every killer needs a filler. (clears throat) Filler for every killer.

Henry, in his hover chair, hovers toward someone sitting in a nearby seat. The hover chair releases twin jets of air as he moves closer to the guy. Henry pokes him. No response.

HENRY: I think this guy is dead.

Dylan comes over to look.

DYLAN: He's not dead. (pokes him) No, yeah, he’s dead.

HENRY: I said he was dead. I know dead.

DYLAN: I know dead better than you know dead. I’m wanted in eight quadrants.

HENRY: I think that there’s a deeper psychological meaning to you always reminding everyone that you’re wanted in eight quadrants. Fear of abandonment, maybe. Frankly, I don’t understand because Mom and Dad made you the center of attention at all times. God forbid Dylan ever be forgotten.

DYLAN: That’s not true. Remember the bike?

HENRY: Really? The bike? How old are you now? The bike was blue.

DYLAN: The bike was aquamarine!

Simon notices the commotion and approaches to check on the situation.

DYLAN: Simon, this dude is dead. Dead for a while. Like days. A couple of them.

SIMON: (to the attendant) Ma'am, do you realize there is a dead man sitting here?

DYLAN: I don't think dead guys sit. I think when you're dead, it's called a slouch, you know, like a transitive verb.

HENRY: That’s not how grammar works.

DYLAN: Don’t tell me how grammar works.

HENRY: I can slowly explain it to you.

DYLAN: No, I don’t need someone who uses split infinitives to explain grammar to me. Now, if you don’t mind, kiss my ass kindly.

SIMON: Let’s just assume neither of you knows anything about grammar.

HENRY: Fine, but can we all agree that Dylan was the slowest zygote?

DYLAN: (holding up his fist) In the face, right here in this government office. I don't care about your hover chair.

SIMON: Look, let’s just get this done and everything will go back to normal. You two can go back to ignoring each other. Dylan can clean his guns.

DYLAN: That’s not all I do. I’m an entrepreneur.

SIMON: Henry can lay in his rack gathering stink.

Henry snickers and turns to the vending machines. He puts his cred stick to the reader and selects a Power Power Protein Bar. Dylan sees this and storms over.

DYLAN: You know I have protein bars!

He starts to pull protein bars out of his many pockets.

HENRY: Yeah, but they have your face on them.

DYLAN: Oh man, I wish that Warg would have kill—

Simon gets between them.

SIMON: We don’t talk about the W-A-R-G incident. He’s sensitive about it.

DYLAN: Sensitive! Ha! I laugh at that!

Dylan laughs.

HENRY: Now I’m wondering if you know how laughter works.

Dylan makes a move. Simon nudges him back.

HENRY: I don’t even know why we have to be here. You usually handle this crap.

SIMON: You know why I can’t leave either of you alone on the ship.

QUICK CUT to Dylan and Henry in the ship’s cockpit, both unconscious. A woman in black combat armor with camo face paint steers the ship recklessly, laughing maniacally while laser fire scours the flight canopy.

CUT BACK TO the administrative building.

Simon addresses the Counter Attendant again.

SIMON: Once again, ma'am, there is a dead man over here.

DYLAN: Dead for days. A couple of them.

The Counter Attendant responds nonchalantly.

COUNTER ATTENDANT: Yeah, I know about him. Happens a lot.

Henry turns to her.

HENRY: How long is the wait here?

QUICK CUT TO:

CONFESSIONAL A: Simon is seated in front of an office window, blinds pulled down. Seems familiar.

SIMON: This is actually pretty huge for us….

The hover camera starts to turn. It reveals another hover camera floating next to Henry. It’s just an orb with a lens and a sleek metal exterior, HC1. HC1 turns in response to being filmed. There is something weirdly haughty about this hover camera.

HC1 POV: HC1 turns, bringing HC2 into the frame. HC2 is also a floating orb with a camera, but the exterior is painted matte red with tiger stripes on one side and a row of metal spikes on top, like a Mohawk. Where HC1 is haughty, HC2 is dangerous, like a coiled rattlesnake.

Simon, part of his face in the frame now, watches the stare down.

SIMON: Um, hello?

He snaps his finger at the camera. HC2 slowly, very slowly turns back to Simon.

HC2 POV: Simon again.

SIMON: So, this is actually pretty huge, making the transition…

The camera starts to turn again. HC1 is still filming it. HC2 shutters violently and dips hard to the ground.

DYLAN (OS): That camera is an asshole!

The camera rights itself and turns to Dylan. Simon is partially in frame.

SIMON: It’s … a camera.

DYLAN: It’s artificially intelligent, yeah?

SIMON: Well yeah….

DYLAN: (pointing a finger at the camera) Then it’s an artificially intelligent asshole! Isaac Asimov’s first law of robotics!

HENRY (OS): Oh my God. Please tell us what that law is. Please.

SIMON: Can I just do my thing?

Dylan points from the camera to Simon, then from Simon to the camera.

The camera turns to Simon.

SIMON: So, the transition from less than legal …

DYLAN (OS): I like the other camera, she’s sexy.

HENRY (OS): Did you just gender a camera?

Simon pinches the bridge of his nose.

DYLAN (OS): Clearly a she. Just look at her.

SIMON: For the love of everything in the damn universe … First of all, he called it sexy and you’re worried about him gendering it? I’d be more concerned about what he’s doing with it. Now, can I please …

Looks to both of his brothers.

SIMON: Thank you. (resuming) This is huge for us because …

QUICK CUT TO:

INT. ADMIN OFFICE - DAY

POLLY WHETSTONE comes in. Carrying a stack of files, she clearly isn’t having a great day.

SIMON: Sonuvabitch!

Polly jumps, files toppling out of her arms. Dylan catches her. He actually grabs her because she wasn’t actually falling. He smiles with all his teeth.

POLLY: Who the hell are you people?!

DYLAN: Dylan Shelby. Friends call me D or Dyl.

Polly extricates herself from Dylan’s grip.

SIMON: I’m so sorry to have frightened you. I’m Simon. Simon Shelby

He bends down to collect her files.

QUICK CUT TO:

CONFESSIONAL A: Dylan is back in his quarters on the ship.

DYLAN: No one calls me Dyl. Or D. Don’t know why I said that. Girls … ya know?

The camera turns to find HC1 floating nearby. The camera bobs up and down, like a nod.

QUICK CUT TO:

INT. ADMIN OFFICE - DAY

SIMON: I have the paperwork for our transpo license. The girl out front said that you could help us with it.

HENRY: There’s a dead guy in the lobby. Also, I’m surprised you still use paper files.

POLLY: All part of purposeful gridlock. And yes, I am aware of the dead man in the lobby. Corpse Extraction is backlogged.

Henry and Dylan share a squinty look. They both mouth: “Corpse extraction?”

POLLY: (to Simon) Did we have an appointment?

SIMON: No, the appointment was with Don. Don Mirney.

POLLY: There’s no way you had an appointment with Don Mirney. You’re standing in the Don Mirney Annex. Maybe you’re confused.

Simon doesn’t see how this is a problem.

HENRY: He’s dead. They only name buildings after dead people.

DYLAN: Is that true?

SIMON: No. (to Polly) I just spoke to Don before our jump.

POLLY: That’s impossible.

She crosses to her desk. Simon sets the files down in front of her like they’re made of thin sheets of ice.

POLLY: Unless you used the Aegis wormhole. And what idiot would do that?

She snorts a laugh as she puts her files away. She notices the silence and the confused looks.

POLLY: Oh. Wow. You did. That’s not good.

QUICK CUT BETWEEN CONFESSIONALS:

CONFESSIONAL A

On Henry in his quarters. He’s listening to death metal and smoking a cigarette. The music ends suddenly and he just sits there, traumatized.

CONFESSIONAL B

On Dylan in his rack crying into a pillow.

CONFESSIONAL C

On Simon in his office. He seems pretty calm.

SIMON: I’m going to kill her. It’s space. People die in space.

CONFESSIONAL D

On MACY WONG on the bridge of the ship, sitting in the pilot’s chair, headphones around her neck. She bites her lip, looks around, and throws up her hands in a “my bad” gesture.

MACY: Guess I blew that one.

QUICK CUT TO:

INT - SHIP MEETING ROOM

A utilitarian space. There aren’t even any chairs around the table.

Henry is still on the edge of catatonia. Simon just stares down at the Formica table. Dylan is pacing.

THE COOK, a short guy with thick glasses, is munching on a Red Vine, smiling for some odd reason.

CASIO, the engineer, matches Dylan in his pacing, only she’s moving in the opposite direction. She’s watching him. This isn’t nerves. This is a mockery.

Macy is sitting on the floor, back against the wall. She pulls back on the skin around her eyes, exaggerating her very real disbelief.

MACY: I didn’t know!

Dylan turns violently and points at Casio.

DYLAN: Stop copying me.

CASIO: (deadpan) Stop copying me.

DYLAN: Stop!

CASIO: (high-pitched) Stooooop!

The Cook speaks with an undefinable accent. Somewhere between Peruvian and Lebanese.

THE COOK: She doing you. (to Casio) You do for me next. Yes?

CASIO: No, that would be racist.

SIMON: Cas, how does this even happen?

CASIO: I don’t know. Why would I know?

SIMON: Because you’re an engineer.

CASIO: I work with engines, life support, and other stuff.

BELL, the provisions officer crashes in. He’s typing furiously on a tablet.

BELL: I’ll have the answer in a second, sir.

A few more keypunches:

BELL: Time--

CASIO: Time dilation. There are wormholes that are referred to in certain circles as time tunnels. They fold time and space, but not linearly like most wormholes. They zig-zag so time and space are extended exponentially, but they also move you through time and space at nearly the speed of light. Not at the speed of light. Nearly at the speed of light. While we were traveling through the wormhole, time was moving relative to our speed. Time at stationary points, like this planet, was moving much faster. What we experienced as a few minutes, because of the distance we traveled and the speed at which we traveled, was much longer here.

Everyone looks at her.

CASIO: (shrugs) I’m a liar.

BELL: Be that as it may, she’s telling the truth. We are exactly—

CASIO: 150 years, 8 months, 22 days in the future. (shrugs) I’m good at math too.

BELL: Yup. Yup, yup, yup.

DYLAN: Mom and Dad are dead.

HENRY: Mom and Dad were already dead.

Dylan nods to the others.

DYLAN: I meant their moms and dads. I was starting a speech. Trying to build our resolve! Why do you always have to undermine me?!

CASIO: I never knew my parents.

HENRY: Is that true?

CASIO: No. They’re dead.

HENRY: Were they dead before we jumped?

CASIO: Maybe. Never knew them.

Simon smacks the table.

SIMON: Thank you, Macy.

MACY: I didn’t know!

DYLAN: How could you not know?!

HENRY: Ease up. She and I plotted the course and Simon signed off on it. There’s a lot of damn space out there. Who can keep track of which wormholes are time-bending and which aren’t? Simon is the one who wanted us to fly a new shipping lane so we could get to this turd faster.

MACY: Thank you, Henry.

QUICK CUT BETWEEN CONFESSIONALS:

CONFESSIONAL A

On Macy in the dining hall.

MACY: Everyone thinks Henry and I have this will they won’t they vibe. We don’t. I would never date Henry.

CONFESSIONAL B

On Henry in the bridge.

HENRY: It’s the chair. She’s a bigot.

CONFESSIONAL A

On Macy.

MACY: I’m not a bigot.

CONFESSIONAL B

On Henry.

HENRY: She hates differences. All of them.

CONFESSIONAL A

Macy, her mouth a line of determination, storms out of frame.

CONFESSIONAL B

Macy lunges into the frame. Each of her words is punctuated by a slap.

MACY: Stop telling people I’m a bigot.

HENRY: The truth hurts.

MACY: Tell them the real reason.

She storms off. Henry sighs.

HENRY: We had sex once. Her hair got caught in the intake valve of my chair. It was pretty bad.

CONFESSIONAL A

On Macy.

MACY: There was blood.

CONFESSIONAL C

On The Cook in the kitchen.

THE COOK: And a great big chunk of scalp. Took him almost two hours to get it out.

He pulls out a Red Vine and sticks it in his mouth.

THE COOK: The Cook, he gotta know everything about his ship. Nobody else here has a family. I had a wife. She was ok. I think I might miss her. (takes a bite) You know, there is nothing better than a Red Vine. Anyone tell you they don’t like a Red Vine is a liar.

CONFESSIONAL D

On Phil in the vents. He has a weeping sore on his cheek.

PHIL: Oh, oh hey. Didn’t think you’d find me in here. No, no, this doesn’t upset me, not in the least. What’s 150 years? You gotta roll with the punches, right? Sometimes radiation kills you slowly, sometimes it kills you fast. It’s killing me pretty slowly.

QUICK CUT TO:

INT. SHIP MEETING ROOM

Dylan punches the wall.

DYLAN: So, we go into a new sector and you three idiots don’t think it’s a good idea to read the fucking shipping news?! People think I’m the dumb one in the family!

THE COOK: It’s the muscles. People only see the outside, not the inside. The inside is soft and supple and full of blood and bile and probably undigested food.

DYLAN: Thank you?

Simon hits a button under the table and a stool rises up beneath him. He sits with a heavy sigh.

SIMON: You’re right. I’m the Captain. I cut corners. This is on me.

THE COOK: You like BP. One little screw-up and boom you ruin everything. Birds and fish dying, environmental catastrophe. Shame. Shame on you. But it’s ok, you forgiven. Let’s just try to adapt, yeah?

Everyone silently agrees.

SIMON: So, Bell, what are we looking at in terms of transpo?

BELL: The rules have changed in the last … century and a half. I mean, you thought we had bureaucratic nightmares back then, this … time … period is a bureaucratic leviathan.

THE COOK: Like in the Bible.

Everyone stares at The Cook for a long, uncomfortable moment.

BELL: Yes, thank you, like in the Bible. (pause) About ten years after we disappeared, there was a war. Not an explosions and firefights kind of war. It was a war between bureaucracies, so you can imagine it was pretty frustrating. I’m sure there were deaths … from stress, but it was mostly bloodless. Now the galaxy is united under one massive bureaucracy called The Department of Monitoring and Verification. The DMV.

Everyone nods and mutters in agreement. That makes sense.

BELL: The DMV uses monitoring as a form of verification in order to measure intent. That means to get a license to do anything, you have to be monitored for six months. An agent is assigned to shadow your movements. And the amount of paperwork is staggering, to say the least. But the process of getting a shadow is pretty …

Bell’s tablet makes a chirp. He gestures and says:

BELL: This is the Bucephalus. Commander Bell speaking.

DYLAN: Commander?

HENRY: When did that happen?

DYLAN: If anyone gets the title of commander it should be me.

BELL: This is Bell. Go ahead.

POLLY (VO): Commander Bell, I’m your shadow. I’m outside. It’s raining.

Everyone scrambles from the room except Casio and The Cook. They share a meaningful look.

THE COOK: I’ll get the snacks.

CASIO: I’ll get the Mecha-Bong.

EXT. LANDING PAD – DAY

Rain comes down in sheets. Polly holds a file folder over her head. It’s a terrible umbrella. She’s soaked.

THE BUCEPHALUS is revealed in one wide shot. Her cargo bay door starts to open.

Polly is greeted by Henry, Bell, Dylan, Macy, and Simon.

DYLAN: Hi. Hello. Howdy. Not sure how they greet people in this time.

POLLY: We still say hello.

Henry invites her onboard with a wave. He leads her into the ship. Dylan chastises himself.

DYLAN: Howdy? Should have stopped at Hi.

HENRY: Win some, lose some.

A man in a green raincoat steps into the frame.

Macy takes a step closer to Henry.

MACY: Who is this?

HENRY: How would I know?

Dylan steps between the others and this new arrival.

DYLAN: Help you with something?

RAINCOAT: (in a croak) You in charge?

He clears his throat, steps out of the rain, and lowers his hood. A harmless middle-aged man. This is DOCTOR QUIRZE.

QUIRZE: Sorry, frog in my throat. Are you in charge?

DYLAN: No.

QUIRZE: (to Macy) You?

MACY: Nuh-uh.

Quirze points his finger at Dylan, then Macy, and then lands on Bell.

QUIRZE: Then I guess you’re the man in charge.

Bell, Dylan, and Macy look down at Henry.

DYLAN: Why can’t he be the man in charge?

QUIRZE: No … no reason. I just … at some point one of you could have told me who was in charge. This isn’t on me.

DYLAN: Maybe it is. You asked me first. There’s a woman standing here. There’s (gestures to Bell) … another guy.

BELL: You can say black guy. It’s ok.

DYLAN: I don’t like it when people make assumptions, mister.

QUIRZE: I get it. You’re one of those tight-knit groups. Suspicious of outsiders. This is a show of solidarity. I didn’t mean anything by it. No offense.

DYLAN: Well maybe I’m taking offense. That crippled sonuvabitch right there … I can call him crippled … because he’s my brother. And I don’t like someone assuming that just because he’s disabled, he can’t be in charge.

QUIRZE: So, he’s in charge?

Everyone laughs, including Henry. Quirze even laughs nervously.

DYLAN: No, my brother is in charge. My other brother. But I don’t like your face. I don’t like your vibe. I don’t like the fact that you remind me of my dad. Mister, I loved my dad. He was a great dad. Didn’t understand the difference between aquamarine and blue, but regardless … good dad. Good dads teach their kids to stand up for people who can’t stand up for themselves. And my brother, he can’t stand. Not because he’s weak, but because his legs don’t work.

Dylan just stares and sways a bit.

HENRY: He forgot the point he was trying to make.

Bell and Macy nod in agreement. Bell puts his arm around Dylan’s shoulders and leads him inside.

BELL: Don’t worry, big guy. Probably just low blood sugar.

DYLAN: I am pretty hungry.

Quirze lets out a deep breath.

QUIRZE: Look, I’ll make this easy. I’m a physician. I’m looking for work. I’m licensed in every quadrant except for one. I’m just surveying to see if any new arrivals need a ship doctor.

Macy looks at Henry with wide eyes.

MACY: We left Doc in Capurnia.

HENRY: Oh, shit, we did. I wonder how long he waited for us.

QUIRZE: Is that a yes?

HENRY: Why not? We’ll clear it up with Simon later.

MACY: Welcome aboard. Where’s your stuff?

QUIRZE: I’m wearing it.

Quirze gestures inside. Henry waves him in. He enters the ship.

HENRY: For the record, Dylan is not allowed to call me a cripple.

MACY: I almost said something but he was in the middle of his rant. Sometimes you just need to let him have his moments.

QUICK CUT TO:

CONFESSIONAL A: Doc Quirze is settling in at the medical bay.

QUIRZE: Normally it would be unethical for a doctor to write a prescription for himself, but it’s space.

He laughs.

END OF ACT 1

WitSarcasmComedyWritingComedicTiming
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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.

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  • Abubakar Sadiq10 months ago

    It's nice

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