The Brink – Concept for a Television Series By Coleman Luck & Coleman Luck III

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Three people.

Three case histories all true, but the names are changed.

Three military veterans on the brink.  They represent the heart of this series.

Robert Sanchez:  Mexican American, early 40’s.  He did three tours in Afghanistan as a Marine sniper and has over 50 kills on his record. A year ago, he was paroled after three years in a federal penitentiary.  When Robert left the Marines, he was recruited by MS13 to be a hitman.   Out of desperation because he couldn’t find any other work that would satisfy his shaky adrenalin addiction, he took the job.  As a hitman, he was the hunter, but also the hunted – by other gangs and law enforcement.  Robert was successful and very well-paid, but nightmares started coming.  Over the years, they got worse and worse.  Finally, during his last assignment, he was hit himself and left for dead. But he lived. He was caught and convicted, not for murder, but for conspiracy and membership in the gang.

The plea bargain took a fifteen-year sentence down to three years.  During his time in prison, Robert changed dramatically. He met a good woman, a teacher who taught in the prison, and they married.  Now they have a baby daughter. The last thing that Robert wants is to go back into the old business.  But suddenly, he is being pursued to do so by people who don’t like to be refused.  And the nightmares have returned.

Miriam Lubaton:  Filipina American, 37.  An extremely successful surgeon who earns in the high six figures. As a surgeon in the reserves, she was activated and did a long bloody, front-line tour in Afghanistan.  Coming home, she was never the same.  Every time she enters an operating room she has horrible flashbacks to the most terrifying experience of her life. In Afghanistan, her surgical unit came under mortar attack.  Several of her team died in front of her, blown to pieces and she was seriously wounded. Now her life is falling apart. She drinks, her husband, also a surgeon, is leaving her and taking their two children with him. Miriam is becoming more and more self-destructive.  Recently, in the middle of the night, she drove her Porsche at 120 miles an hour down a freeway. The car spun out and crashed.  It is a miracle that she is alive. But what will happen next time?

Douglas Schroonback:  African American, 93. When he was 18 years old, he was an Army infantryman who fought through the hell known as the Battle of the Bulge and then fought across Europe.  At the end of the war, Douglas came home and began a “normal” life. Working hard in spite of terrible discrimination, he became very successful as a welder.  In 1950, he married. Evelyn, who is still his wife, loves him deeply. Douglas has been a good man, a faithful husband and father. In spite of this, she has known that something was deeply wrong. Something very dark is bound up inside him and it has been there from the first moment they met. Through an iron will, he has controlled it, but in old age, nearing death, things have grown much worse.  Douglas carries a terrible secret from the war that he hasn’t been able to share with anyone and it is eating him alive.

True stories and there are thousands more.

Veterans on the brink. 

At the huge Manhattan VA Harbor Healthcare facility of New York, one of the bravest and most skilled psychiatrists in America stands with these suffering people.  His name is Daniel Brinkman. His patient clients all love him and call him “The Brink”, because of the way he keeps so many of them from falling into a dark abyss.

Brinkman is a graduate of Harvard and Johns Hopkins, but he holds to no particular school of psychotherapy. Many of his professional colleagues do not like the way he works because he is willing to do anything and everything necessary to save lives.  Along with traditional therapies, he uses hypnotherapy and is considered close to an equal with the greatest hypnotherapist who ever lived, the late psychiatrist, Milton H. Erickson.   Also, Daniel has used strange, new therapies such as Rapid Eye Movement and others. His work is not just in an office. He goes out into the streets, where so many lost veterans live.

From long experience, Daniel Brinkman knows that sometimes you must take a man or woman back into the darkest and most terrifying moments buried deep in memory. Above all else, he knows that every combat veteran comes home with a broken heart.  True healing can be found only through forgiveness, both giving it and receiving it.

As he helps so many others, Daniel carries heavy burdens of his own. At 54 years old, he has only been head of psychiatry at the VA hospital for three years. For many years before that, he was the highest level psychiatrist with the CIA and director of the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group, a joint task force of the FBI, CIA and DoD, charged with the ethical and legal interrogation of suspects who pose a potential threat or have information regarding such threats to the security of the United States. His Mobile Interrogation Team traveled to many of the world’s worst and darkest places to interrogate violent detainees.

Through two-decades of intelligence work, Brinkman grew deeply disillusioned. He lived through the years when physical torture was encouraged by the American government. As a young psychiatrist, he witnessed many awful sessions and the memories will not go away.  He counseled interrogators who had done horrifying things to other human beings and were haunted by what they had done. Brinkman nearly lost his career due to his strong objections to torture. At one point he took his objections all the way to the President of the United States.  Finally, he was given permission to form his interrogation group to show that there was another, far more effective and non-violent way, to get information.  He based his system on what is called The Scharff Method, perfected by a German interrogator during WWII who very successfully got information from American Pilots without torture.

However, in spite of all the evidence, many in the military and elsewhere believe that torture is the only way.  There are even leaders who want to go back to the secret techniques of MKULTRA and the “Terror Doctors”, whose highly classified files Brinkman has studied.  It was a constant battle and finally, Brinkman had enough.  He wanted to help people, not manipulate them to get information.  Though he left the CIA, for several reasons he cannot fully disengage.  A strange man named Ernest Lansing, a CIA Assistant Director comes to Daniel for help whenever there is a devastating crisis. It could be a high-value interrogation or a troubled, dangerous operative in the field.  It could even be a suicidal U.S. Senator.  The other reason he can’t disengage is his daughter.

Because of his globe-trotting years, Daniel Brinkman has paid a heavy price in his personal life. He is divorced. His ex-wife, Ella, an African American, is a pediatrician with a wealthy practice in Hartford, Connecticut. She blames him for the lives of their two oldest children.  Their daughter, Harper, 28, is a fast-rising young field officer in the CIA. Her father’s name helped her get into the agency right after college. Harper is very bright, very beautiful and very skilled. Ernest Lansing is quite willing to try to manipulate her to get what he needs from Daniel.  This is not easy. Their son, Daniel Jr., 25, was a Navy SEAL.  Tragically, he is serving a long sentence in the military penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for a crime that he swears he didn’t commit.  Their youngest child, Eric, 17, is adopted and has cerebral palsy. He lives with his mother and has no interest in anything relating to government, the military or medicine.  He wants to be a comedian and YouTube star like his hero, Zach Anner.  The kid really is funny with a biting wit which can drive his parents crazy.

Daniel Brinkman has lived his entire professional life walking on the razor’s edge of a moral and sometimes physical, abyss. Always, he is on The Brink.  Now it is for others.

Layout of the Series

Structured like The Equalizer television series, the first priority will be stories about crises involving veterans.  There are over 20 million living veterans in the United States. They and their families have given much to this country. Many of them are suffering. Veteran stories will include action flashbacks to the past and dangerous situations in the present. Hypnotherapy will offer unusual storytelling opportunities. With these will be season-long arcs dealing with Brinkman’s past, his current CIA involvement and his family.  Over these season arcs, there will be the very slow reveal of the ultimate antagonist.

Pilot Episode Concept

A montage of nightmares.  Day in a city in Afghanistan.  Carefully hidden in a tower, a Marine sniper and his spotter execute a perfect kill.  They are half a mile away from their target, a brutal-looking man. They take him out with one shot.  The shooter is Robert Sanchez. Quickly, the team packs up and leaves.  Night in New York City. Three men are torturing a young man who is hanging by chains from the ceiling. Suddenly, out of the darkness appears Robert Sanchez.  With three shots he kills them. The images speed up.  More kills in Afghanistan.  More kills in New York. Faster and faster they come in screaming horror … until the shot that almost killed him. Robert Sanchez lurches awake covered with sweat.  He’s in bed with his wife.  Sleeping near them is their new baby daughter.   His wife wakes up.  This has been happening almost every night and she’s deeply concerned.  Robert won’t tell her what he is dreaming about.  He has never told her that he was a hitman.  All she knows is that he was in a gang, but isn’t anymore.

Sanchez is sitting in a circle with ten other tough-looking veterans at the New York VA hospital.  Leading the group is Daniel Brinkman.  Robert is very emotional as he tells the story of what happened when he was in the Marines and afterward.  In Flashback, we see him recruited by MS13.  It was a frightening experience.  But he can’t tell the men what he did for them.  All he says is that he spent three years in a federal pen for his involvement with the gang. During that time, his life changed.  He’s been out a year, but bad things are starting to happen and he is desperate.  He would rather die than endanger his wife and little daughter.  The way he has screwed up his life, maybe death is the answer. That’s all he will say.  Everyone in the group is very concerned.  The other men try to talk to him, but he is a stone wall.

The truth comes out in a private session with Brinkman.  Together, they go to the place where Sanchez was shot and almost died.  Brinkman faces three problems in trying to help this man.  First, he must find out why he chose to be a sniper and how the kills changed him, leading him to kill for MS13.  Second, he must find a way to free him from the guilt that is destroying his life.  It means confronting the truth of what he has done. Third, somehow he must release him from the grip of MS13.  Accomplishing all of this will take Sanchez onto the ragged edge of sanity and both of them into physical danger.  But they aren’t alone.  Other combat vets will stand with them. “We never leave anyone behind.”

Season 1 Brinkman Personal Arc:   Daniel Jr. in Fort Leavenworth.

As Brinkman deals with veterans in crisis such as Robert Sanchez during the week, on the weekends he begins traveling to Kansas to have regular visits with the veteran closest to his heart, his son.  Daniel Jr. swears that he did not commit the horrible crime for which he was found guilty, but his memory is very foggy about a number of important details. He has terrible nightmares and sometimes feels as though he’s losing his mind. Though the loss of memory through PTSD is not uncommon for soldiers who have been in brutal combat, Brinkman senses that something far worse is going on. Though he doesn’t want to do it because it goes against his basic ethical standards, he feels he has no choice but to start therapy sessions with his son. This includes hypnotherapy to find out what might be buried in his subconscious memory.  Daniel Jr. is extremely reluctant to do this, but his father assures him that wherever his memories take him, and those memories will be very real, not like dreams at all, he will be there by his side.  (This will bring powerful visual storytelling, as Daniel Jr. is taken back into terrifying situations that he lives through as though they were actually happening, but also observes from the outside with his father beside him.)

Step-by-step through season one, Brinkman will discover increasingly odd memories buried deep in his son’s mind, fragments, pieces of horror, some of which are so frightening that he won’t let Daniel Jr. remember them when he awakens from a hypnotic trance.  What becomes clear is that his son has been powerfully manipulated by mind-control.  But who has done this and why? Ultimately, what he learns, takes Brinkman on a journey into the darkest, most evil corners of psychology and psychiatry. And into very real danger.

The Ultimate Antagonist

Imagine an antagonist who can make terrible things happen to innocent people but who never leaves a trace of his crime. This is because he is never present when the crime takes place. He is hidden deep in the minds of those he manipulates to do whatever he wants.  Because of his prestige and authority, he is never suspected.  Quite the opposite, often he is brought in to help solve the crimes that he has perpetrated. Meet Nathaniel Margrave, Doctor of Psychiatry, who holds the Distinguished Exdon Chair of Psychiatry at Cambridge University. His reputation for skill in psychotherapy is world-renowned and he has authored many books and professional studies.  Privately, Margrave has been a counselor to Prime Ministers and Presidents.  As founder and director of The Ilford Institute, he is a member and consultant to every powerful group from the Bilderbergers to the Council on Foreign Relations.

His institute, with offices in London and New York, but with secret “research facilities” in oppressive countries, is a dark center for the most dangerous psychological experimentation.  Using every technique from torture and hypnosis to mind-altering drugs, Margrave has gone light years beyond the primitive, mind control experiments of MKULTRA, MKSEARCH, BLUEBIRD, and ARTICHOKE. His great knowledge and willingness to quietly sell his expertise to any person or nation willing to pay his fee makes him one of the most dangerous men in the world. His goal is power, and money is the measure of that power. Yet Margrave considers himself a great philanthropist and that is the way the world sees him. Through the charitable wing of the Ilford Institute, he gives millions to suffering people.

In every way, Nathaniel Margrave is the exact opposite of Daniel Brinkman and views Brinkman as a tremendous threat to his activities. On the outside, Margrave presents himself as Brinkman’s friend and distinguished colleague on important projects, while secretly working to destroy him. As the Ultimate Antagonist, his true identity will not be revealed for several seasons.  But his shadow is buried deep in Daniel Jr.’s mind where not even Brinkman can find it.

With a bedrock of episodes confronting veteran crises both in the hospital and in the street and a larger battle with darkness that is encroaching into his life, Daniel Brinkman walks ever closer to The Brink.

(Note: Everything relating to mind control involving hypnosis, drugs, stress, etc., which will be presented in the series, will be based on specific research information obtained from the CIA through the Freedom of Information Act along with the personal statements of men who were involved in such operations. Reality is much stranger than fiction.)

Who are we?

Best known as the Showrunner and an Executive Producer of the classic series, The Equalizer, and the creator and Executive Producer of Gabriels’ Fire that brought an Emmy to James Earl Jones, Coleman Luck knows combat veterans because he is one. He spent 1968 as a First Lieutenant, an infantry platoon leader with the Mobile Riverine Force of the Ninth Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam.  Because of his military experience and family, he has a deep concern for the welfare of other veterans, and active-duty personnel and their families, many of whom suffer in silence.  A frightening number of veterans are committing suicide. Coleman believes military families will love The Brink and the new national awareness it will bring.

Coleman’s son and co-writer, Coleman Luck III started working in television when he was a teenager, writing coverage for his father during staffing season. After earning his degree in English Literature, he worked as a writer, story editor and co-producer on six television series and wrote and was co-producer on one feature film.

Registered WGA

Representation:  Michael Lewis – The Michael Lewis Agency

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2 comments

  1. toayminator · 10 Days Ago

    Compelling. I’d watch.

    I noted the similarities to The Equalizer structure as I read.

    Couple questions. 1. Why publish this in the open? I assume you’ll be pitching it.
    2. Ernest Lansing. Is this a nod to Robert Lansing? (aka “Control”). He was a great actor.

    MT

    Like

  2. Coleman Luck · 10 Days Ago

    Why publish in the open? In the current Hollywood climate, why not?

    Like

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