GRAVE PASSAGE

 Comedy-Drama Television Series
WRITERS:  Robert Bernstein & William Doonan
ADAPTED FROM:  Doonan's Henry Grave Mystery novels       
PRODUCER: Graham Leader                                    


SERIES BIBLE

LOGLINE

12 million take a cruise each year. Most have fun. Some die. Henry Grave investigates.

TEASER

EXT. BETHLEHEM, PA, POOLSIDE AT THE ROLLING PINES RETIREMENT COMMUNITY - DAY

Henry Grave (70-something; a cross between Yoda and Mr. McGoo) parades past a bevy of active seniors as he walks like a peacock between the edge of the pool and the first row of lounge chairs. He wears a pair of baggy old-man bathing trunks, a white, complimentary robe from a cruise ship, and a tattered bathing cap. As he strides past the lounge chairs, every woman's eye is on him, but not just because he's the bell of the ball. The cell phone in his pocket won't stop blaring at 80 decibels and he apparently can't hear it. Finally, someone coming from the other direction intercepts him and says: "Are you going to answer that?"

Henry turns up his hearing aid and answers the phone with a simple: "Henry Grave here." He listens for a second and then shouts: "Mozambique?"

CUT TO:

INT. EXECUTIVE OFFICE, SAKATO-KOBE CRUISE LINES, JAPAN - NIGHT

President KENJI SAKATO is on the phone talking to Henry: "Martinique, Henry. Martinique. The ship is due in Miami in less than forty-eight hours. You have less than two days. I have ordered a car for you, your plane ticket is at the airport, and a helicopter will be waiting in Martinique. How soon can you be ready?"

BACK ON SCENE:

Henry glances at his robe, at an empty swimming lane in the pool, at the old women around him smothered in many layers of sun screen. He sighs and pulls off his bathing cap.

"I'm ready now," he says.

SYNOPSIS

A cruise ship is an escape into unimaginable luxury, a cocktail of high fashion, hard bodies, exotic locations--and more money, jewelry, and liquor per square foot than anywhere else on earth.

It's a fantasy come true . . . until someone gets murdered, at which time jurisdiction issues arise and crime scenes get contaminated; forensic analyses are practically nonexistent, and cases turn cold when a ship reaches port and the passengers disembark for parts unknown. The clock ticks at the speed of the ship's propellers. It's a detective's nightmare.

Meet Henry Grave, a private investigator with a keen understanding of human nature, an unremitting love of the cruising life, and a suitcase full of idiosyncrasies. Is he an obnoxious old man, romantic charmer, kindly grandpa, or unrepentant glutton? Nobody seems to know for sure. It's hard to tell if he's over the hill or standing on top of it.

Henry will eat and drink like a sailor, woo every attractive woman who crosses his path, and go toe to toe with anyone he suspects of harboring clues to the crime. He makes some people laugh and others squirm and, when the time comes, he won't hesitate to put a bullet where it belongs.

FORMAT & FOCUS

Comical social interactions and the tragic, real life complexities of getting old serve as the thematic through-line for thirteen episodes of a weekly, one-hour detective/mystery television series.

The modern cruise ship is a city at sea, carrying with it a great diversity of cultures and people. Its rich and dynamic environment provides fertile ground for humor, conflict, drama and the edginess and quirkiness required for a contemporary television show. Granted, murder is serious business, but our main character, Henry, is a people person who relishes the cruising life. On a ship, he lives to the fullest. He won't let a murderer escape, but neither will he let an investigation get in the way of a "good time."

It's Henry's romp, and we're along for the ride. And yet--

Henry is an oxymoron as a cruise ship detective. He's too old, too drunk, too casual, and too flirtatious, maybe even senile. Plus, underneath his glib, casual facade lurks a terrible secret that makes him quick and lethal, like turning a switch. He'd be out of a job except for one thing: he always solves the case.

Toni Koeeg is a young, idealistic Korean who has clawed her way to the top by relentlessly pursuing truth and justice. Determined to see Henry forced out of law enforcement, she takes a position as his second-in-command, surreptitiously gathering the evidence she needs to prove he's a danger to himself and others.

FIRST SERIES CHARACTER ARCS

1. (PILOT) Henry investigates the murder of a guest lecturer, a man who had written a book about a failed hotel heist. He solves the crime, but shoots and kills the suspect under what ship's head of Security, Toni Koeeg, considers questionable circumstances. She brings her concerns to the head of the cruise line, Kenji Sakato, suggesting Henry is mentally unfit to serve as the industry's chief investigator. Instead of getting him fired, like she had hoped, and in lieu of taking the perceived problem over Sakato's head to the International Cruise Vessel Association, she finds herself with a new job -- as Henry's partner.

2. Unbeknownst to Toni, Henry has been told she is his assistant-slash-caretaker, not partner. She contacts the head office to tell Sakato she's done, but he convinces her to stay...in an undercover capacity. She reluctantly agrees, and a battle of wills ensues that makes Henry look even more confused and incompetent. It doesn't help when his primary suspect stabs him in a crowded elevator. Toni likes the old man, sort of. At the same time, she has a job to do, two jobs. Assist Henry in the investigation of a murder, and collect details and evidence that will get Henry out of law enforcement forever. But no sooner does she think she has proof of Henry's senility, he does the unthinkable -- solves the case and kills another murderer.

3. In-fighting among Henry's roller derby girls at home has him distracted. Off his game, he allows himself to get poisoned, and the suspected culprit just might be the one man who has slipped through his fingers for thirty-five years, Buster Pullman. Against orders, and in complete disagreement with Henry about procedure and tactics, Toni enlists the help of Porfirio Duarte, a shady underworld character from the pilot episode who happens to also be on the ship. The two search for Buster Pullman on a Greek Island. Meanwhile, Henry almost misses the clues that lead to the murderer of an Egyptian agent and a stolen ancient Minoan cup. Once again, when Toni is certain she has the proof she needs to bring to Sakato, Henry solves the crime, and, yet again, kills the murderer.

4. With the roller derby team back on track and winning games, Henry's in top form. He, Toni, and their criminal underworld consultant, Porfirio Duarte, head off on another case. This one's on the largest cruise liner in existence. Unfortunately, Toni andDuarte are not speaking (romantic tension carried over from the previous episode) and Henry has to smooth ruffled feathers while at the same time trying to solve a murder and prevent a coup d'etat. The constant interference into her personal affairs sends Toni over the edge. In a fit of anger, she confesses the truth about the real reason she's there, not as his assistant or caretaker but as his probation officer and eventual replacement. Later, while talking to Duarte, she comes to realize Henry had played her into giving up the information. Duarte tells her Henry had suspected something was amiss all along. Once again, Henry comes out on top, solves another murder, and kills another bad guy.

5. All outward appearances suggest Henry has forgotten Toni's betrayal of the previous episode. In fact, he hasn't forgotten at all. When he gets the call from Sakato to fly to the Bering Sea to investigate a bizarre murder case involving cannibalism aboard a cruise ship, he cunningly ditches Toni and Duarte at the airport by sending them to a different ship halfway around the world. Instead of Alaska and the Arctic, Duarte and Toni end up in Fiji. It's too late for them to catch up with Henry, or make any adjustments, because Henry has made sure to keep her out of the picture. She attributes Henry's error and subsequent actions to his deteriorating judgement. Duarte, on the other hand, is starting to see things differently. Meanwhile, on board the Arctic cruise ship, Henry begins to suspect the murderer in the Bering Sea is a mythological Arctic demon, a conclusion he shares with Sakato and Toni without reservation. Needless to say, this revelation serves as more grist for Toni's mill. Henry does, indeed, solve another case and kill another murderer, but not without cost.

6. Henry's actions during the previous case, including his suggestion the murderer was a mythological demon, have left Sakato in a tough spot. At Toni's urging, Sakato presses Henry to submit to a psychological evaluation. Henry finds all this attention to his mental state irritating and intrusive. He reminds Sakato that he is a "private" investigator and says he'll take some time off and think about it. Sakato offers him an all expense paid VIP South Seas holiday, provided he goes with Toni. The trip turns out to be far more than anyone could have imagined. On the ship, Henry gets very suspicious of a tour group, once again pitting himself against Toni. She thinks he's being paranoid and mentally dysfunctional. Turns out it really is something. Not a murder but something humorous, the crazy antics of a bunch of former circus performers pulling pranks on each other for the fun of it. Henry and Toni are convinced each of them was in the right. Toni said it was nothing, and it was, but Henry knew something was up, even though it turned out to be harmless.

7.  Henry agrees to the psych evaluation. We see this in flashbacks during this episode. Suddenly, for the first time, Toni feels sorry for him. But she's a pro, and sorry doesn't cut it. They're on another case together, but this time Henry is depressed and just wants to drink, lounge around, and woo the ladies. Toni has to step up to the plate all by herself to run the case, and things are not going her way. She finds herself in a bad situation with the murderer about to do her in. She should have shot and killed him but she tried to take him into custody instead. Who should show up at the last second to save her? Henry. Again, outward appearances suggest it was all Henry's Way. The depression, drinking, wooing the ladies, ignoring the case, all part of his plan. Or was it?

8. The psych evaluation comes back inconclusive on any particular form of Adult Mental Dysfunction. It does, however, recommend further testing, as one of the psychiatrists wrote the words, "Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and PTSD????" on Henry's chart. Meanwhile, certain indicators were a dead giveaway to Alzheimer's, while others weren't. Henry, fed up with Toni and Sakato, decides to use his own money to look into a cold case. He strikes off on his own, without official sanction from Sakato, goes rogue, on the hunt for Buster Pullman, the only murder suspect to ever have eluded him. Not just a murder suspect, a serial murder suspect. Now it's Toni's turn to be an investigator. Her job? Find Henry: a man who is known to operate with multiple identities and who can blend into any group of senior passengers on any cruise ship. (Continued)

9. (Ep 8. Part 2) Toni enlists Duarte to help find Henry and track him down before Pullman kills him. They interview Henry's known friends and associates, his son, Helen, residents at The Rolling Pines Community, members of his roller derby team, etc. They begin to puzzle the pieces of Pullman's identity and in so doing discover there are huge similarities between Pullman and Henry. Age, wartime experience, physical characteristics. Toni concludes that Pullman and Henry are virtually identical. Moreover, they seem to have travelled along a similar timeline. Either Buster Pullman has been killing people on board every ship that Henry has been on, or Henry and Buster Pullman are one in the same. She calls Sakato in a near state of panic, thinking Henry is not just mentally disoriented, he may just be insane or psychotic. Sakato tells her she's being ridiculous but no matter what, it will have to wait, because she has to fly out immediately to investigate a double murder on a ship in the Asiatic. (Continued)

10. (Ep. 8. Part 3) Toni and Duarte arrive on the ship introduced in the previous episode. A double homicide. They start investigating. Out of the blue, Henry shows up. He says the murders were committed by Buster Pullman. But ship's security has no record of a passenger fitting Pullman's description, other than Henry, which further fuels Toni's suspicions. She remains calm, and tightlipped, refusing to share her concerns with Duarte, whom she also suspects. She can't trust anyone. In her mind Duarte and Henry have become too friendly. Desperate for clues, she bugs both their cabins, and, one fateful night, she hears Henry talking to himself about not letting someone get away. To himself, he says. "I'm just going to have to follow him and take him out." The next morning, while the ship is in port, she tails Henry as he follows a young man through the streets of Singapore. Henry and the man go into a men's room. Toni goes in, too. Inside, she discovers that the men are behind two separate stalls. As she tries to figure out what to do, the man Henry followed opens his stall door. He sees Toni and charges. At that moment, Henry, sitting on the can with his pants down, kicks the door of his stall open and shoots the man in the back, killing him. Turns out, it's a serial rapist wanted by Interpol, not Buster Pullman.

11. Toni, convinced Henry's shooting of the young man in Singapore was premeditated, talks to Sakato about bringing Henry up on charges. Sakato can't believe his ears. Has Toni lost it? Has she reached the point where she will challenge a man's right to defend himself and/or save his partner even when he's caught sitting on the can with his pants down? But Toni is more sure than ever before that Henry is a cunning, devious murderer, and that he planned it to look like he was defenseless and literally backed into a corner. Without seeing any alternative, and very angry, Sakato places Toni on paid, administrative leave. Stunned, she flies back to the U.S. to lick her wounds and begin her search for another job. She tries to hook up with Duarte but can't get a hold of him. She pours herself a stiff drink and goes back to researching the case files on Buster Pullman; once again she starts compiling evidence that Pullman and Henry are the same person. Her search takes her from police station to police station around the country, investigating unsolved murders. After a fruitless few days, she's back at home, again pouring over evidence, and again pouring herself stiff drinks. This is what she's doing when she hears a knock. Scantily dressed, with more than a little booze in her, she opens the front door to find Henry pointing a gun at her. (Continued)

12. (Ep. 11. Part 2) Henry--sitting across from Toni in her living room, his gun resting casually on his lap--tells Toni her dogged pursuit of him has not only drawn his ire but the ire of Buster Pullman as well.  His whole approach is such that anyone listening would think he was talking about himself in third person. It's not meant as subterfuge, not Henry's way this time. He just doesn't get that Toni suspects him of being Buster Pullman, until he looks at the notes and evidence scattered on and around her coffee table. A tense few moments transpire when Toni gains the advantage by drawing a 25-caliber pistol from under the couch cushion, at which time Henry has to sell his story to her, tell her who he thinks Buster Pullman really is, the prison camp ghoul who tortured him and his shipmates after the USS Pueblo was captured by the North Koreans. Henry shares the details of his story with Toni for the first time, but she's not convinced. A psychopath is an expert liar, as any law enforcement professional well knows. Henry begs her to call Duarte. Duarte, he says, will confirm all this, because he, Henry, previously confided in Duarte, and Duarte has seen the real Pullman. This is when Toni admits she has been trying to get a hold of Duarte for two days. To Henry, she says: "What have you done with him?" Henry now has to take a bold risk. He gets to his feet and heads for the door. "Shoot me if you want, but if Pullman didn't come here for you, he went for Duarte. I should have known, because Duarte is the one who can identify him, not you." Without much choice, and still not quite believing in Henry, she joins him on a trip to Florida to search Duarte's residence for clues. Eventually, the two follow a trail of breadcrumbs left by Pullman as a setup to a deadly trap--a showdown slated to take place on a cruise to the Lesser Antilles.

13. (Ep. 11. Part 3. Season Finale) Henry and Toni, with Sakato's help, board the ship in St. Lucia. It's not so much about catching a murderer this time. It's more about preventing one. And Toni and Henry, who continue to disagree on enforcement and investigative procedure, have to work together to hatch a plan and draw out Pullman. Deep in her heart, Toni is still not convinced Pullman and Henry are two different people; without notifying Henry, she enlists ship's security to back her up in the event he turns on her. But it is Henry who assumes the most risk. Either he is Pullman, and Toni and ship's security have good reason to arrest him, or he is the good guy presenting himself as bait to the real Pullman. Either way, he stands to lose the most in this mixed-up cat and mouse game. Furthermore, in his haste, he has forgotten or neglected many precautions, including his blood pressure pills. If, indeed, he is "the bait," he has placed his faith in a woman who has yet to fire her gun, and who, for all intents and purposes, abhors his tendency to shoot first and ask questions later. In the end, the final showdown takes place between a very real Pullman, Duarte, ship's security, and Toni, who--after finding Henry tortured nearly to death--shoots and kills Pullman out of pure revenge. The finale concludes in a coda, with Sakato seated by Henry's hospital bed, asking Henry if he--in his special way--allowed Pullman to capture and torture him in order to find out what Toni would do.

CHARACTERS

Henry Grave: (mid- to late 70s) lead investigator for an organization that responds to crimes in international waters and accredits security protocols on cruise ships.

Henry was born in Albany, New York in 1940 and married Emily in 1961. In 1969, while serving as a petty officer on the USS Pueblo, he was captured with the rest of the crew and spent eleven months in a North Korean prison. This is the defining experience of Henry's life, and the singularity from which his acute understanding of human nature emanates. 

Emily died due to complications of childbirth while Henry was in the P.O.W. camp. Their son Teddy, born in 1969, is a cardiologist in Boston.

Henry lives in Rolling Pines, a retirement community in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He's an avid swimmer.

Toni Koeeg: (age 35) security officer for Contessa Voyager. Toni meets Henry in the pilot episode, where she comes to the realization that Henry's idiosyncrasies will eventually lead to disaster. She takes a job as his assistant/partner, but her real motive is to gather evidence against him in hopes of pushing him out of law enforcement forever.

Helen Ettinger: (age 52) a gutsy, sexy real-estate broker from Miami who Henry meets in the pilot episode. She is an on and off love interest for Henry throughout the series.

Porfirio Duarte: (age 42) former Cuban intelligence operative and underworld cohort. Duarte is someone Henry and Toni call upon now and again for assistance and information.

Henry's Roller Derby Team: The all-girl roller derby team from Pennsylvania that Henry manages.

Buster Pullman: (mid- to late 70s): Arch villain. Serial predator.

Kenji Sakato: (age 65) Henry's long-time friend and chief supporter in the industry,  owner of Contessa Cruise and Luxurious Luxor Lines. Sakato is also a senior board member of the International Cruise Vessel Association, Henry's employer.

Teddy Grave: (age 43) Henry's only child, a cardiologist in Boston.  Teddy is not featured in the pilot episode. He and his father are estranged.

Ships Crews: Every episode has different minor characters filling the same job descriptions, e.g., captain, engineer, staff officer, recreational director, security chief, etc.