Thank you, Mr. and Ms. Hollywood producer, allowing me to pitch you my idea for A great new television series featuring adventure, mystery, character conflict, aging, and medical ethics: Picture the following concept -
Researchers in recent years have begun to make great strides in understanding the causes of dementia and developing effective medical interventions to slow down or mitigate its symptoms, Virtually everyone predicts continued progress in the quest to prevent, cure, or at least better manage the ravages of dementia. I have just the character to make this scientific challenge come alive for your viewers each week - Magnum P.I.
In my new series, though, Magnum would no longer be a private investigator traipsing all over in a sport shirt and baseball cap trying to outsmart bad guys. Instead, the P.I. in this title would stand for Principal Investigator, and Ur. Magnum would be in charge of a laboratory studying the causes and nature of dementia. Story lines could be developed each week that raise interesting ethical conundrums that pit family members against each other ("Don't tell Dad he has Alzheimer's disease even though you want him to enroll in a study," "I have a right to know if the patient has a particular genotype, I'm her daughter," "I know my brother agreed for Mom to participate in your project, but I've just arrived from the other side of the world after an estrangement from the family for 20 years and I say no"), the P.I. against the Institutional Review Board (we can have the IRB chair sleeping with a rival investigator during sweeps month), government funding sources (with lots of scenes of key legislators literally and figuratively in bed with conflicting interests), and the nerdy institutional risk manager who is always citing some pesky law that gets in the way, and the patient against the mean managed care plan that refuses to pay for "experimental" treatment. We can bring in action and suspense in an episode in which the P.I. threatens to publish negative results from a study and the drug company that sponsors the study tries to run the P.I. over in the medical center's parking lot, with the wrongdoer apprehended in the end but only after a dramatic car chase and bloody shoot out. The opportunities to develop one-dimensional characters with whom the audience can easily identify are tremendous.
Besides pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers of products and services for older adults (maybe even the American Association of Retired Persons) will line up to sponsor this series. The movie and merchandise spinoffs ("Buy a Kid's Meal and receive a free placebo in your choice of colors") abound. And, if we're lucky and scientists in your and my lifetimes do find ways to put an effective end to the clinical and human horrors of dementia, you'll be able to sell the series tapes to the History Channel so future generations can get a better idea of what, fortunately, they will be missing.
Please give this concept a try. Consider it an experiment.