The dirty, stained interrogation room at the police station. There is an old wooden table and two worn chairs. Seated is THE SUSPECT, an older, weather-beaten man. His is mumbling quietly to himself. In a corner watching are THE DETECTIVE and THE CHIEF.
“I can’t make it out,” says the Detective. “Is it free verse or iambic pentameter? We’re going to need help on this one. We better call him in.”
The Chief, rotund and stoogie-chomping, grunts. His voice sounds like a tuba played through sandpaper. “He let me hang out to dry last time.”
“You’re right. We need a poet. Get me . . . McCardigan!”
Opening sequence. Music up – fast and percussive, a cross between the Mission Impossible theme on steroids and Jan Hammer on acid. We see a red Ferrari accelerating down the highway. We zoom into the driver, McCardigan, as the title flashes – McCARDIGAN: POET LAUREATE.
The Chief’s Office. He and McCardigan are leaning over the desk in a head to head confrontation.
“I don’t like you, McCardigan,” says the Chief. “I don’t like your act, I don’t like your style, and I don’t like your Armani suits. Frankly, you overuse metaphors, your similes suck, and your rhythm patterns are excessively simplistic! You better not let me hang out to dry like the last time.”
The Interrogation Room. McCardigan is examining The Suspect’s personal effects that are spread over the table. “See?” says McCardigan, pointing to some books. “Keats, Shelley. Your man here is into the Romantics. But the guy you want is strictly Ginsberg and Kerouac. You’ve got the wrong man.”
The Chief grunts. “You better not be letting me hang out to dry on this one.” He turns to The Detective. “Fire up the computer. Start cross-referencing. We’re looking for a terrorist who reads beatniks. Move it!”
The abandoned warehouse. THE TERRORIST is holed up inside. The police have the building surrounded. The Chief and McCardigan are using a police car as a shield. The Chief is shouting into a megaphone. “This is the Chief. We have you surrounded! Give it up!”
“You never take me alive,” shouts the terrorist. “Do your worst!”
“All right. We ‘re going in! Let’s—”
“Wait!” yells McCardigan. “Let me try.” He grabs the megaphone from the Chief. “You! In the building! It’s me – McCardigan!”
“McCardigan!” shouts the terrorist. “I know you! You humiliated me at the haiku open mike at Berkley! I’ve never forgotten that!”
McCardigan reaches into his jacket and pulls out a thin book.
“You got a permit for that?” asks the Chief.
“Yes, I have poetic license.” McCardigan reads from the book into the megaphone. “‘What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god.’”
The terrorist leaves the building in tears, dropping his weapons as he staggers out. “Oh man, that was beautiful.”
McCardigan in his Ferrari with a buxom BLONDE in the passenger seat.
“—and when I saw the suspect was reading Hyperion, I knew the cops had the wrong guy.”
“Oh, McCardigan,” says the Blonde. “Did you ever fix that rhythm problem you were having?”
“My rhythm’s great. How’s yours?”
We pull back as the Ferrari races into the sunset. We watch it recede to the horizon as the music comes up and we