Selected Writing

Serial ep1: Pilot

You’re a bastard.

You’ve never known your father. Then one day, to your surprise, you’re summoned to his funeral.

You decide to go, and after a lengthy journey find yourself at a mansion in the Scottish highlands, miles away from civilization, in the dead of winter.

The house staff lead you to an awkward service with an open casket and seven complete strangers. When the service is over, and your father’s corpse is in the ground, some shocking information makes this uncomfortable day take a turn for the worse:

Those seven strangers are actually siblings that you’ve never known. Your father’s will says his impressive fortune is to be spread out across any surviving offspring … one week after his funeral. The vehicles that brought everybody to this house are nowhere to be found. And a fresh corpse has just been discovered in one of the washrooms.

Serial is a modern murder mystery serial for television. It plays on the conventions of Christie-esque tales like Ten Little Indians and Gosford Park to tell a deeper story about cooperation versus competition. In each of its ten episodes, one of the main characters is murdered. Paranoia sets in, and the siblings fight for survival in the increasingly surreal setting of the old house and its mazelike depths. Those who survive until the end will discover that it was their father’s plan all along to have them compete for his legacy.

The first episode introduces the bastard children of Milton Anger. Their father was well-traveled, so they hail from a variety of places around the world. Their ages range from seventeen to over fifty years old. They all have their own reasons for coming, from blind greed to curiosity to duty. One of the guests, Perry Wyss, a Swiss biologist, arrives with his wife Adelaide and two young children. The episode focuses on their stretched relationship; she’s sick, and he’s impatient about it, and either through neglect or (he suspects) foul play, she dies in a fit at the end of the first hour. The story also follows growing friendships between some of the other guests: Sean, a Canadian, and Rubin, from Kenya; Jack, a fairweather alcoholic and Claire, who thinks she can save him; Tiffany, who is the real mother of Perry’s first child; and so on. It’s a powder keg of emotions. Episode one develops them, then strikes the match and sets it off.