Bar Karma Mythology


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Bar Karma Mythology

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  2. 2. Bar Karma Mythology 2 Tag line Bar Karma: Last call for the universe Teaser logline There’s a place at the edge of the universe, a venue that’s behind time and before space, a watering hole where the tab you run up may never be paid — in this lifetime: a place called Bar Karma. In-season logline Notoriously lucky billionaire Doug Jones wins a bar on a bet, and learns that ownership includes an unforeseen headache: keeping reality itself from coming apart at the seams. Now Doug must help out total strangers on the verge of a bad decision, sit them down for a drink, and guide them to a better outcome — without telling them that the fate of the universe is in their hands. Show description BAR KARMA is a half-hour TV show that answers the age-old question: “What would happen if you could change your fate?” Set in time a traveling bar owned and operated by members of the mysterious organization, the series follows a new bar patron each week as they enter at happy hour and must make life- changing...and possibly world-saving…decisions.
  3. 3. Bar Karma Mythology 3 Premise/characters overview Enter Doug Jones, until very recently a renowned software billionaire, unrepentant ladies’ man, a guy admired as much for his tabloid foibles as his business acumen — and the self-proclaimed “luckiest man alive.” The trouble is, he actually is the luckiest man alive. Coupled with his low moral center of gravity, however, he has become the unwitting source of an infectious metaphysical virus that threatens the very fabric of time and space. As it turns out, terrific luck plus bad behavior equals a dangerous imbalance for everybody. If it continues unchecked, the virus will spread, causing bad people everywhere to get luckier and luckier, and good people will start crashing and burning, planet-wide. It’s bad. Traveling through time and space, Bar Karma and the people who run it are charged with maintaining a cosmic balance. Unfortunately, Doug’s Black Karma is tilting the universe into a precarious new orbit. Either Doug starts righting some wrongs, or the whole notion of karma will change forever. Bad people will get luckier and luckier and good deeds will bring nothing but trouble. At Bar Karma, Doug isn’t known as a super-successful entrepreneur, he’s merely the new owner (and a bartender-in-training). But when he brings up his impressive real-world accomplishments in conversation, he gets no traction — nobody here cares. And he can’t help but notice that the strangest mix of people enter and take a seat at the bar, looking for someone to talk to. There’s the beauty pageant runner-up, still in her sequined outfit with the sash that says “Miss Tierra del Fuego.” There’s the haunted-looking boy, no more than eleven years old, with a sadness in his eyes that pierces your heart. There’s the one-eyed, one-armed guy, like some kind of modern-day pirate, bellowing his opinions to no one in particular. There’s the pimp, the nerd, the jock, the slut, the misguided hero, you name it… and each will eventually get served. An older gentleman named James Anon also inhabits the bar. He calls himself the manager, but he’s clearly more than that. With his vintage three-piece suits and archaic adding machine, he mixes drinks and works the cosmic numbers — making the customers happy, keeping the files in order, and offering enigmatic pearls of wisdom based on his 20,000 years of experience. He also maintains
  4. 4. Bar Karma Mythology 4 something decidedly not bound by the laws of physics: it’s not so much a house of cards as a small, floating galaxy of cards (a few feet wide, it hovers just above James’ roll top desk). It serves as a kind of oracle, as James pulls cards that offer advice, guidance, and bad omens by way of clubs, hearts and face cards. In reality, James isn’t just managing a dive bar. He’s maintaining a centralized database of the entire human experience, but he plays those cards awfully close to the vest. He’s connected to time and space in ways Doug can’t begin to imagine. One downside of James’ enormous power and experience is that his grasp on reality is loose, and his definition of truth has had to become flexible over the course of 20,000 years. There are certain times when a critical piece of information that comes from James cannot be trusted. He likes to describe Bar Karma, for instance, as a rogue venture, but clearly he still takes direction from a mysterious organization. Dayna Rollins is the waitress, and Doug can’t change overnight: if he’s conscious, he’s flirting. Dayna is beautiful, with an Australian accent that drives the guys wild, but she’s learned how to handle unruly male customers without breaking a sweat. She helps control the process of selecting and drawing patrons into the bar by using the jukebox, and she carries her own deep secrets that connect her to Doug. Over time, as Doug pieces together what has happened to him, the viewers get a sense of how things work at Bar Karma. The mythology of the place is complex, and its details are best parsed out over the course of the first season. - Doug has been pulled out of the conventions of time and space in his life, and he either will or won’t get his old life back, depending on how this cosmic sabbatical goes. - He is headed for a fall that will result in being charged with murder. If he can’t unlock the mysteries of the bar patrons and help them without helping himself, he may be forced to return to his predetermined fate in the real world. - Sometimes when James, Doug or Dayna encourages a customer to share his or her story, we get to see it play out as a flashback on the big screen
  5. 5. Bar Karma Mythology 5 TV. Patrons at Bar Karma may be fully aware of a choice they are facing, or they may be completely unaware. - If any member of the Bar Karma team (but it’s usually Doug) needs to visit the real world to follow up on a lead regarding a patron’s karma potential, the bar’s front door connects directly to the place they need to go (the door of someone’s home, a hospital room, a board room, a gas station, a barn — wherever the customer’s story takes them). - Doug is supposed to help discern why Dayna and James have selected the people she summons to the bar. As a lifelong narcissist, learning how to draw people out in conversation is difficult, but he gets better at it. The underlying mystery at the start of each episode is simple: a song plays, someone new enters and takes a seat at the bar — where is their story going to take us? - Consulting James about a customer’s “tab” is a regular occurrence. James will pull a cryptic object out of a file (a matchbook, a scribbled note, a business card) and Doug has to find the connection; or James may pull a card from the galaxy of cards floating near his desk, and the card may lead to a subsequent clue that unlocks the customer’s mysteries. - Certain episodes’ storylines should introduce a character with a direct connection to Doug, and the story should bring his past into sharper focus. - Doug’s and Dayna’s relationship always maintains a hefty dose of flirtation, but he learns to tread softly with her: there’s more than meets the eye here, and he senses strongly that there could be dire consequences for him if he tries to bring his player lifestyle to this particular situation. - For James to leave the bar signals a highest-level emergency, and for Dayna to leave the bar invites a whole new set of risks, primarily to her safety, that make her a last-resort choice for real-world interventions. (That leaves Doug for most of the heavy lifting.) - The galaxy of cards is some kind of communication device or oracle, but there are also the fairly earthbound-seeming communications between James and his bosses, which mostly occur off-screen. There is something
  6. 6. Bar Karma Mythology 6 darkly amusing about the way James will often trivialize their literally life- altering work, as if they were clock-watching minimum-wage staffers in an out-of-the-way tavern as opposed to the theoretical saviors of the universe. - It’s clear that James knows where he gets his orders from and isn’t telling; it’s unclear whether Dayna knows any more than Doug does about the larger forces the guide the Bar Karma threesome’s work.
  7. 7. Bar Karma Mythology 7 Season one overview The episodes in the first season hold opportunities for the Bar Karma team to observe people at a pivotal point in their lives and attempt to thwart the Black Karma virus. The concept of Branching Events becomes an essential tool for the trio at the bar. James maintains an elaborate diagram (the Map of Time) so complex that, at a distance, customers commonly mistake it for a meticulously detailed drawing of a wireframe globe. He will direct Doug’s and Dayna’s attention to it with some frequency, showing how an unknowing person’s path leads to a disastrous incident (a close-up reveals a red, glowing star) and how their path needs to be redirected. If their new path contains too many other Branching Events in the future, however, it could lead them back to the original path — and its original, ill- fated destination. Branching Events diagram The Map of Time
  8. 8. Bar Karma Mythology 8 Powers: Dayna, James and Doug Dayna has a powerful connection to music, which has served as a comfort from early childhood. Music holds memory, the timeless part of the human experience, and in Dayna’s hands, songs also hold the power to summon people to the bar. Dayna connects the music to karma in the world outside the bar. Her power allows her to find deep karmic energy affecting a situation, and bring the person involved into Bar Karma. Dayna loves the jukebox in the bar. She especially likes to touch it, gliding her palm along the surface of the glass. She has a powerful attachment to it and it to her. All through her happy childhood, she played songs on her hand-me-down boombox with one blown speaker. But some songs are not to be played until the time is right, and this she knows. The songs Dayna chooses are what bring the new participants into the bar, always after some kind of consultation with James. Apart from James’ clairvoyance and his ability to manipulate his own independence from space and time, he also reveals unusual powers from time to time. He dabbles in moving objects and people with his mind and, lately, small- scale pyrokinesis (he likes to make an olive explode in a ball of flame). They are always visually interesting but have a trivial or quaint quality at the same time (a little like close-up magic for a magician, something he can only do for a couple of people at a time), so that it’s clear he can’t just solve every episode’s problem by himself with a wave of his hand. In the real world, Doug has always been able to spot weaknesses, both in his corporate rivals and in his romantic conquests, and he has always taken advantage of them to the fullest. At Bar Karma, this talent is transformed into the power of insight — the ability to see more deeply into someone’s story and motivations, to understand them in order to more accurately gauge what they’ll do next. What he used to use in his former life to accumulate power and enhance his feelings of superiority over others, he now uses to discern the critical needs of bar patrons and to identify important Branching Events. In short: Dayna is the one who summons, Doug is the one who provides the
  9. 9. Bar Karma Mythology 9 insight that enables them to engineer potential solutions (and he is almost always the one to implement them in real-world visits), and James is the sage who guides the process. Only James knows all that is at stake: the very fiber of the universe.
  10. 10. Bar Karma Mythology 10 Recurring motifs The metaphysical, the impossible, the absurd — they are lurking around every corner at Bar Karma, so even though it is so ordinary a setting that viewers will feel like they’ve been there once or twice, there are little reminders from time to time that just beyond its walls is a timeless, placeless void. Daylight is an illusion, gravity is a construct, the passage of time — these are just the artificial crutches of convenience and familiarity. Props should inexplicably appear, levitate, glow, maybe even implode. People should glitch out and reappear just a few inches to the left. The figment that is Bar Karma is no small accomplishment, and so we can’t expect it to work perfectly all the time. The show should provide brief visual reminders, perhaps even once every act, that it is not taking place in a real bar. It’s certainly possible to re-use the best of these as recurring special effects that don’t need to be created again and again. Remember that the next diehard fan could be tuning in for the first time at any point during any episode (or even watching a TV in a bar with the sound off), and they need to be able to see that there is absolutely nothing ordinary about Bar Karma. Even though there are references to the fabric of time and space being torn, about the universe imploding, about everything we know and love being turned inside out, there is always a sense that our team, the good guys, have enough cunning and good fortune to keep it from happening. It is both real — as a source of jeopardy and urgency — and surreal, like a bar with magic doors and a floating house of cards. Music is important, but at Bar Karma it’s less about Dayna calling up particularly iconic real-world songs than it is about her finding songs that are hauntingly familiar but impossible to identify, like the songs we hear in dreams. Music is a powerful driving force for the emergence of new characters and the tone of the show. It’s important that Dayna maintains an openness and a real warmth toward Doug, but also shows that there is a clear relationship boundary that may or may not be broken down over time. James may reveal unusual powers, but it should be clear that they come and go.
  11. 11. Bar Karma Mythology 11 They should be visually interesting but seem just a little bit trivial or quaint at the same time (a little like close-up magic for a magician, something he can only do for a couple of people at a time), so that it’s clear he can’t just solve every episode’s problem by himself with a wave of his hand.
  12. 12. Bar Karma Mythology 12 Four-act structure The “A” story will adhere to a traditional four-act structure for television (excluding the in-bar banter and character discovery moments involving the three regular characters that form the “B” story). Act 1 Introduce the new character as a bar patron, usually disoriented and confused about what the bar is and how they got there. There should be a layered reveal: how this character looks and acts initially should not reveal much about who they turn out to be. The first major overturning of one of those expectations can serve as the Act 1 act-out. Act 2 The Bar Karma team tries to discern what they’re meant to make happen or prevent from happening in this person’s life. Doug may play a counter-top bar game with the patron to try to learn something. James may have to consult the floating house of cards. Dayna may or may not have something to offer connected to the music she used to summon them. The result of any of these actions sends one of the team out the door of the bar (almost always Doug) and back into the real world. The clash between what they thought they would find and what they actually do find is the Act 2 act-out. Act 3 In the real world, Doug struggles to find a new understanding of what the task is, and how the situation he finds himself in relates to the patron he left behind in the bar (even as he interacts with an alternate-reality version of the same character in the real world). One more reversal, one that conflicts with his new understanding of the real-world challenge, constitutes the Act 2B act-out. Act 4 The resolution to the real-world scenario occurs midway in Act 3, but with a couple of questions left unanswered. No matter how many times a patron is helped, Doug is still surprised how swiftly the next doorknob he reaches for takes him back into the bar. The patron is (usually) gone from the bar at this point, and the team gathers to discuss the missing pieces of what occurred on the outside. Sometimes a clip will play on the bar TV that allows one of them
  13. 13. Bar Karma Mythology 13 to show the others what they missed. In Bar Karma, story conclusions can be positive, negative or unresolved.