Two Spec Scripts for the Television Series
VOLUNTEERS is a weekly dramatic television series conceived by Wayne Whited and David Burns of New Richmond, Ohio.
In the fall of 1998, the series creators and their production company, Historical Productions had gone so far as to get the series optioned by NBC, recruited some major league talent to help produce the series, including composer John Debney (of seaQuest DSV), Billy Campbell (prior to his stint on Once and Again), and were also very close to signing Sean Patrick Flanery (of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and The Dead Zone) to play the lead, LIEUTENANT ALEX RIDGEWAY.
As quite often happens in television, somewhere along the lines NBC decided that the show was not what they were looking for for their fall schedule that year, and plans for its production were scrapped. Before that time, of course, several scripts for potential episodes were already being drafted. I had the pleasure of developing two scripts for this series, snippets of which can be found here. What follows is a description of the series premise, taken from the Volunteers writer’s guide along with brief descriptions of the two episodes I penned.
Although NBC passed on the series nearly two decades ago, Wayne and David still have ambitions to bring it to the screen somewhere, somehow, sometime. (They are currently in talks with the History Channel!) And when they do, hopefully you’ll be able to see these stories played out on the screen. Until that day comes, though, I hope you enjoy this brief glimpse at what could very well be television’s first hour-long scripted drama to take place during one of the darkest periods in American history.
“Volunteers is a series about the lives and adventures of a company and the individuals during a terrible time in American History.
The Volunteers series is about, but not based on, the 25th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company A.” — From the official Volunteers Writer’s Bible
The series takes place, naturally, during the American Civil War.
“Parallel Lines” uses flashbacks (ala Forever Knight, Lost, Once Upon a Time) to tell the story of CAPTAIN FREDERICK TIBBALS’ adventures during the final battle of the Mexican War at Chapultepec. Events in the “present” Civil War timeline trigger his memories of events during that war.
“The Face of the Enemy” takes place inside a Union Army field hospital where the men of the 25th are treated following a particularly brutal skirmish.
Also among the wounded is a Confederate soldier whom Captain Tibbals ordered be brought in as well; a decision that causes much consternation among the staff of the hospital under the supervision of DOCTOR STEVEN TALBOT and NURSE CATHERINE ANDREWS.
However, it is hospital Steward PETER TERRENCE, who causes the most waves when he suggests that the best way to save the life of the injured SERGEANT O'NEILL might be to perform a “radical” procedure: a blood transfusion. Further complicating matters is the fact that the only one who appears willing to go along with the idea is the wounded Confederate soldier, MERRIMAN.