This is a series pitch to be used with the Dramasystem, part of the upcoming Hillfolk rpg.
Mad Men meets Star Trek.
It is the 1960s and there is a renewed interest in science fiction. Beyond Tomorrow was created to steal audiences away from another well-known science fiction series on a rival network. The dream was to get the biggest actors, the best writers and the most amazing special effects. Unfortunately they have shoe-string budget to do it.
PCs take the roles of the actors, writers, directors and the rest of the behind the scenes staff struggling to make the best science fiction show they can. The problem is that some peoples agenda include becoming famous, getting rich or pursuing anything attractive in a short skirt or tight trousers.
Set against a turbulent time for culture, politics and science it is a chance for players to explore every behind the scenes gossip they’ve heard while also creating a fun 60s style adventure on screen. Will they create a legacy that will last through the decades or will they all be forgotten.
What will they find Beyond Tomorrow?
Actors who hunger for fame, fortune or respect.
Writers who want to be taken seriously or give the people what they want.
Directors and producers who try to put something on screen to please the network eternally struggling against an ever shrinking budget.
The executives who want the show to be popular so it can bring in advertisers and make the network some money.
The starry eyed fans who want to meet the actors or become writers themselves.
A busy television network, forever looking enviously at what other channels are producing. Beyond Tomorrow is just one of many shows being made, each with their own dramas going on. Each know that they are in competition with each other over dwindling resources.
The studio should be a hotbed of activity, with things constantly happening somewhere. The PCs will be spending a lot of time there so as a group flesh out who are the big figures and shows. Let them engage in office politics to influence the future of the show and pander to the demands of their superiors.
Outside of the studio there is plenty of issues to be explored in 1960s America. The Civil Rights movement, Hippies, the Space Race, the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Assassination of JFK and the Vietnam War all might impact upon the lives of the staff making Beyond Tomorrow.
- What does the future hold for mankind and what shape will it take?
- Art VS Entertainment
- Integrity VS Approval
- Fame VS Friendship
- Love VS Career
- Popularity VS What is Right
- Fact VS Fiction
- Dreams VS Reality
- Fun VS Responsibility
- Gratification VS Consequences
- Equal Rights VS Sexism & Racism
Tightening the Screws
- One of the supporting cast becomes more popular than the leading actor. Do the production team make the character more prominent at the risk of angering their lead?
- A romantic liaison with a fan goes awry when revealed they lied about their age, overdose due to drugs or attempt to blackmail the PC.
- A science fiction writer accuses a writer of plagiarising his work. Is the writer guilty or is it just a terrible coincidence? Is the science fiction writer just trying to make some money by suing the station?
- The network sponsors demand the removal of a non-white cast member. Do the production staff and actors stand by their principles and risk cancellation?
- With the future of the show hanging in the balance a lead actor is offered a role in a movie. Do they take the part or wait to see if the show is recommissioned?
- An attractive new cast member throws the behind the scenes romances into turmoil. For extra spice they may have a past history with a PC who is currently in a relationship.
- A fire at the studio destroys vital sets for an upcoming episode. Do they rewrite the script or try to repair and rebuild in what little time they have left?
- A director or producer is presented with a bribe or sexual favour to give a cast member more prominence. Do they accept and risk their reputation and relationships? Alternatively a cast member is propositioned and must decide whether to sell their soul and body to advance their career.
- An encounter with a respected member of their profession turns sour when the PC is told that science fiction isn’t art. Do they prove their idol wrong or do they pursue another career?
The exact nature of the television show is left to the players. It can be a pastiche of Star Trek or other popular shows or something unique. It should have a regular cast, rather than an anthology show, in order that the PCs can create relationships.
The ‘Beyond Tomorrow’ episodes are a great forum to reflect what is happening in the real world, letting the characters address the issues in a safe format. The bulk of the procedural scenes should be the actual production of the television show, from the writing to the acting.
You can extend the scope of series beyond the 1960s time frame, exploring what happens after the show is eventually cancelled. In the wake of ‘Star Wars’ is there a ‘Beyond Tomorrow’ movie? Do the actors and writers attend fan conventions?
Is ‘Beyond Tomorrow’ remembered in the future and how did it affect the careers of those who starred in it? Did it ruin their careers, make their name or just become a foot note in their filmography?
You may wish to frame the show in flashbacks, showing the PCs in the present and then going back to the 1960s to show what brought them to that moment.