BertHorse was born during a Friday morning email exchange between myself and two friends, co-workers of mine from The Project, waaay back in Disco Charlie. (I’m being vague for a reason.) We’d had some laughs about an online article featuring Google map photos of people wearing horse masks in unusual settings. We began brainstorming professionally inappropriate events to wear such a mask to, ignoring the gawking crowds and shrugging in an oblivious manner. “They must be talking about some other fellow in a horse mask! How interesting!” We imagined BertHorse making his cameos at trade shows, being the quiet hit of cake-fed office parties, giving a rousing PowerPoint presentation to a cheering crowd of fresh-faced go-getters at a quarterly conference, making off-color jokes at a Monday morning planning meeting, or blowing off steam at a Friday night punk show at the 930 Club. I spent all of ten minutes that night creating a Twitter account for @BertHorse and the weekend generating content, a personality, and followers. This is a more recent email conversation between five BertHorse-savvy fellows.
MV: BertHorse as Voltron would be a smashing Saturday morning hit. Of course, for prime time television, they’re already shopping the BertHorse Vigilante pilot to cable…
Me: (dramatic voiceover) “His left leg is LAW. His right leg is ORDER. And his front legs are both called JUSTICE. He’s the one horse you can bet on when the chips are down… Coming to NBC this fall!
OX: STARRING Ernest Borgnine as DETECTIVE LEFTY “LUCKY” McGILLICUTTY, the hardened, alcoholic police veteran and the only one in the department who trusts BertHorse. His catchphrase, uttered every episode: “Dammit to Hell, BertHorse!”
ALSO STARRING Paul Simon as PIETRO DE LOS CAMPÁSIOSO, the plucky cub reporter whose journalistic instincts put him in the thick of the caper! He wears a false moustache and sideburns, mirrored aviator sunglasses and a fringe leather jacket when working undercover — which is every episode.
Delta Burke as TALLULAH BERTHORSE, BertHorse’s ex-wife whose hard heart can’t let go. She’ll say this at least once in every episode: “BertHorse … be careful out there.”
Larry Hagman as DR. RECKETT VON FORTHLIN VII, the powerful crime syndicate super villain billionaire and BertHorse’s sworn adversary. His schemes usually involve hijacking something — every episode.
BertHorse as HIMSELF
Me: (practically wetting myself with laughter at his desk) Roll title sequence! A flaming brand comes whooshing out to the forefront of the screen and burns away one confident, fiery word: BERTHORSE!
We see: BertHorse in a denim shirt unbuttoned to mid-chest and turquoise belt buckle! BertHorse punches up the bad guys! He falls onto a hay bale! There’s an explosion! BertHorse makes a phone call from a phone booth! He jumps onto a speedboat! BertHorse drives down the highway in his red Mustang convertible. He lowers his aviator sunglasses as bikini-clad women climb out of pools. He cocks a sawed-off shotgun and kicks in a door! BertHorse, disguised as a dockworker in a knit cap and plaid shirt, knocks a guy off a ledge! A bad guy falls onto a pile of cardboard boxes and the boys in blue swarm in to arrest him! Hooray!
Each of the main characters freeze on the screen place as their names scroll up. The theme music is fast, catchy. Lots of guitar riffs. Somebody get Dire Straits on the phone!
OX: Also, we need a car chase where the bad guy’s car — preferably a late ’70s Plymouth Gran Fury — goes careening off a dock into the water. When the bad guy surfaces, BertHorse is standing there, hands on hips. A Coast Guard response boat pulls up, blue lights flashing, and the crew begins hoisting the bad guys out of the water:
MCGILLICUTTY (observing the scene with a look of satisfied determination on his long face): “What in the hell, BertHorse!?”
BERTHORSE: “I called in a favor to some old shipmates, detective… Take ’em away, boys!”
Me: Oh, yeah! And the guys on the boat will mention their days “in the shit”; turns out BertHorse and his buddies were in some “special unit”. That way you can do a flashback episode where the daughter of one of his war buddies comes to BertHorse for help when her father, a little league coach who worked with at-risk youth, gets killed by gang members from the Golden Triad who are pushing dope in his neighborhood. “Oh, BertHorse! I don’t know who else to trust!” She sobs once, and buries her face in his large horsey chest. I’m telling you, this thing would go GOLD. A live-action 80s retro shoot ’em up, and the protagonist just *happens* to have a horse’s head?? Why not? It’d be like Matt Houston, Riptide and Magnum P.I. all in one.
HK: [Mac and OX sit in Francis Ford Coppola’s office, brief case and laptop in hand]
Me: “He’s like Magnum P.I., but with a horse head!”
OX: “It’s like Charles Bronson meets Secretariat. The kids love Secretariat!”
Coppola’s finger taps lightly on the ejector seat button… the moment is tense.
FFC: “Alright kids, let’s do it, but if one of you mentions Brando being involved, you’re all taking a short ride to the glue factory.”