It seems Drake Darrow has been with me since I was in college. He first appeared as a Defense Attorney in a schlocky soap opera I wrote about my summer friends. At that time I liked to intersperse my real friends with fictitious characters. Drake was among them. Drake was a good solid character and was fun to write. I used the soap as a writing exercise. It was never going to be seriously used. I think my summer friends are thanking me.
After college, I became bored with the soap. After ninety episodes I retried it and retired Drake in the process, or had I?
When I was a kid, I became a huge fan of the Indiana Jones series. Indie was so cool to me. I liked the idea that he was all about the big quest or the next adventure. He was so cool. He carried himself with confidence and he looked the part down to his stylish Fedora and his bullwhip. I must have seen the first movie by now a dozen times. I still find myself returning to it now and then. While I was living in St. Albans Vermont working in radio, one weekend I rented it. After the weekend was over, Drake Darrow began to speak to me. He was pissed that I had retired my series, he told me that he was hoping I would make him a stand out character. “Hey Murray, you know I can be like that Indiana Jones guy. I got the name. Hey, I can be a Private Eye or something.”
Sure enough within a week, Drake was constantly on my mind. That little character voice that speaks to every writer, never goes away if they are that persistent. Drake sure was persistent and I really did like that name. From time to time Drake and I would talk. We explored the PI bit. Drake explained to me he was an orphan and raised by a priest. The priest Father Michael Barry discovered Drake was gifted. He enters MIT becomes a scientist and bang he has telekinetic powers when an experiment goes bad. This was good. This was very good. I needed a story. I decided Atlantis had to be it. A search for Atlantis with his ex-wife Harriett Alfredsson.
I wrote a first draft and it was good in some places, but mostly shlock. I wrote another one this time Harriett was in search of her Father Johan Alfredsson, Drake’s mentor. This made sense. Harriett and Drake met through him. Alfredsson had an obsession with Atlantis. I began work on another draft. This type of draft stayed with me for some time. I worked it and worked it. Clayton Baxter was now in. He was in the military searching for Drake. I had no discernible reason why, or what their past history was, which I kept referring to. Baxter was my hardest character to develop and he took some time. I reworked again. This time I started with the Sabotaged experiment. Clayton was Drake’s best friend. Now I had a history, but no reason Drake was upset with him. I changed Harriett’s initial meeting with Drake and Kitty Lange began to develop.
Kitty started to speak to me quietly but I couldn’t hear what the poor woman was saying. Harriett shows up at Drake’s boat and she finds Drake with this strange woman. They had obviously slept together that night and Harriett is not pleased. I kept Kitty in the one scene. In true Kitty fashion she finally kick down the door and screamed, “Look you son of a bitch, I am part of Drake’s life, capiche! Yes she really did use the Italian phrase and a thick Boston accent appeared with it I happened to be watching the Sting at the time. Paul Newman’s character has a girlfriend played by Eileen Brennan. When I saw Eileen Brennan that’s when Kitty exploded. I didn’t want Kitty to be with Drake at first. That wouldn’t work. I had to develop that. I made her his partner. I changed the first meeting between Drake. Kitty comes upon Harriett. She is going to make calamari for Drake and finally tell him she has feelings for him. She thinks Harriett is there to break into Drake’s boat. She jumps her and a cat fight ensues. Drake breaks it up and becomes mad at Harriett and throws her in the water. At that time Drake lived in Florida. With Kitty and Harriett fighting over Drake, I had an interesting love triangle.
The movie got better with time. I came up with a polished version of it. A friend of mine from college wanted to see it. I sent it to him. He loved the idea, but he wanted to help make it better. His help was invaluable. I reworked it again. I then started a sequel. At this point the movie was not called The Third Eye. It went through two title changes. I can’t remember the last. As I am working on a sequel it suddenly dawned on me. I didn’t want Drake to be wasted on sequels. I had more respect for him than that. He told me tv series. He said I have telekinetic powers from my Third Eye. Bingo the perfect name for the series.
The television series was a wild idea. It allowed me the freedom to come up with complete backstories and arcs for each character. At the time I was reworking the Pilot I was binging intense shows, like Burn Notice, 24 and the X-Files. These shows sparked my imagination. From Burn Notice, came the idea for a Third Eye team. Fiona Glen Ann. was one of the most explosive female characters I’d ever seen. Gabriel Anwar played her like a pent up Psycho. If it was at all possible for Kitty to become more intense, she did. Senator George Peters was a small part of the movie. I now expanded him and he becomes Drake employer. With that I needed a way for Drake to get his hands on classified information. The smart alec Ringer was developed and as his show proceeds, he will meet his match in a Russian female hacker. Joe Duncam became more prominent.
Through the years I had developed research about strange myths and Government mythical secrets through a website called Crystallinks. In there is some interesting stuff about the Men In Black, which the X-Files used. The X-Files became a prominent idea trove. I have developed Harriett’s archeological dig stories a bit further. With the Smoking Man came my antagonist, Shadow. I needed him to run some sort of secret organization that holds all power in Washington. For years the myth of the Skull and Crossbones had been thrown out there by conspiracy theorists. . Whether I believed any of it or not, I decided to use it as a good part of the arc. Shadow needed a right hand man, but not someone whose some sort of dumb henchmen. I needed a character that people would be completely afraid of. It happened one night reading an article on the Watergate scandal. There was a picture of G. Gordon Liddy. I had my idea of what this guy looked like. I just didn’t have a name. Then one night, he spoke to me in a short sentence. One word and the vision of a syringe. Morphine.
24 is probably the most imaginative and intense show I have ever seen. This show helped me in ways I could never imagine. The idea of an episode running one hour of one day and a whole season runs twenty four hours of that day, had me riveted. Jack’s father was a huge part of the development of Shadow. I realized that characters are not always what they seem. Some come off as wanting to help and then backstab you. 24 helped me finally create Clayton Baxter’s story which is important to Drake. I also found it interesting to bring in the President of the United States. It seemed to make sense with what I had created. He will come in. I am working out the kinks to this character.
Drake’s love story, will build. He will have one or two dalliances. One character finally has a series playground to play in. I have had the name Jackie Faresis since I lived in St. Albans. I was going to use her in another show, I want to develop called Maze, but felt she was more interesting here. Jackie Faresis has spoken to me from time to time. When I put her in Episode three, she exhaled and said, finally you found a fit for this great name I have. She will be the DA that Drake and Kitty butt heads with. Briefly Drake will have a fling with her. Drake will have other women before we finally get to the ultimate battle between Kitty and Harriett.
These characters have been living on paper for some time. This winter as I have been raising money to name a dressing room after my Dad, I came up with a perfect event. I wrote a play, got some actors together produced it online. I’d never tried it before. We zoomed rehearsals and recorded. I tinkered and learned iMovie so I could broadcast it. While working with iMovie, it suddenly hit me, that I could do more and finally create my own theatre company. I had no idea what I was going to start with. I took the first scene or two of Third Eye and recorded it so I could practice editing. That was the moment it hit me. I now realized that actors could bring these characters to life. In recent weeks I have set about changing the script from television to radio. In the process the idea of making this a different sort of radio drama hit me. Why not make it look like a comic book, after all Drake is a comic book character.
Now the idea is beginning to have legs. Coming this summer Drake Darrow, Kitty Lange, Ringer, Joe Duncam, Harriett Alfredsson and her father Johan will live and breathe in a radio drama called the Third Eye.