Monday, April 26, 2010

Blast from the Past #296: notes from developing episodes of the 2K3 TMNT show

I'm going to try something a little different with this BftP -- it's going to be purely text, and it will reproduce one of the many, many emails that went back and forth between me and Lloyd Goldfine, head writer on the 2K3 4Kids TMNT show, while the show was in development and production. This is actually the result of a project that I have been meaning to do for years but haven't started until now -- a comprehensive text archive of all the work I did vis a vis the approval process for that TMNT show. As I have mentioned before, it was a great experience, a lot of fun, and Lloyd was wonderful to work with -- intelligent, creative, and never afraid to tell me outright when he thought I was full of crap (and, conversely, able to admit that HE was full of crap when it was convincingly pointed out to him). That's a rare thing in a collaborator, and it made working with him a joy.

I recently asked Lloyd if he would mind my sharing some of these emails with the readers of my blog, and he was fine with it. Depending on the response to this one, I may continue to post them from time to time.

The following email (chosen pretty much at random) was from me to Lloyd on August 1, 2003. To try to make it a little easier to follow, I'll put my part of the exchange in boldface. (Many of our emails -- especially when we were arguing -- I mean discussing! -- various points about an episode ended up having lots of cut-and-pasted pieces of previous emails, and it was sometimes quite confusing trying to follow the flow. In this email, even though it's just between Lloyd and me, Lloyd copies something from an email of Gary's (who read and commented on every episode of the series, and made quite few very good points).

_________________________________________________________

"Subj: Re: Notes and such
Date: Friday, August 1, 2003 12:39:36 AM

In a message dated 7/31/03 6:24:58 PM, Lloyd writes:

Hey Pete -

Thanks for the notes. I wanted to ask you a couple of quick questions.

First, Gary had this to say about Stockman's appearance in "Rogue in the
House":

Also, my previous concerns about the rather sadistic image of Baxter's
brain, spinal column and one eye in the vat and being tortured by Hun
still stand.


I wanted to know your thoughts? Do you agree, or can we keep it
(providing BS&P doesn't have a problem)?

I am of two minds on this one. On the one hand, as you know, I was never a big fan of the "butcher Baxter" approach, but it has served its purpose, and this bit with his brain, spinal column and one eye floating in a vat is just the logical/ludicrous extremity of that evolution (or devolution), so it's appropriate. However, though we have allowed the Shredder to "torture" Stockman before with little shock devices to keep him in line, Stockman never seemed totally helpless, even though he had been reduced to a head in a spider robot body -- you always felt (and with good reason) that he had the potential to free himself and be dangerous. Shocking this floating brain, on the other hand, just seems a little bit too gratuitously sadistic, as these remnants of Stockman seem so obviously helpless. If Stockman's voice is grating, all they need to do is cut the volume on the speakers. I guess I don't feel the visual is too much, but the gratuitous torture is. It also might work better story-wise if Baxter Stockman APPEARS to be totally pliable without coercion, as he recognizes his precarious situation and has to try to weasel his way back into the Shredder's good graces if he is ever to escape this hell that he is in.

Next, Gary questions Karai's ability to best Leo in a fight, and also
suggests she would (or should) cheat to get the upper hand. His note
was:

#46 Rogue II - I agree with Pete's comment about Karai having her
katanas "scissor like" against Leo's throat, and would add that I don't
like the idea that Karai "gets the upper hand" in a one-on-one fair
fight with Leo. If she is going to get the upper hand I think it
should be because someone cheated, like the Hun intervenes in the
Leo/Karai fight somehow and his action allows Karai to get the upper
hand. Such an event would further call into question her "honor".


Again, just want your opinion on this. I think what we're trying to do
is say A) there are people out there that can best the Turtles (at least
some of the time). they're not invincible, and B) Karai really is (or
really wants to be) honorable, and she is conflicted about the role
Shredder has chosen for her.

I am comfortable with Leo and Karai fighting to a "draw", and I like the suggestion I made about the John Woo-style stand-off, where each fighter has the other at an equal disadvantage. However, even though you are right and the Turtles are NOT invincible and CAN be bested (we've certainly shown that before), at the end of the day Leo IS better than Karai as a ninja, even if in this fight with her he has not been at his best. I don't really see a need, therefore, for Karai to have cheated... though it might make for an interesting bit if Hun -- who we have seen in these scripts to have negative feelings for Karai -- to do something which on the surface looks like he's doing it for her benefit (i.e. intervening in some way in her fight with Leo), but which in fact he does because he knows it will undermine her sense of confidence and mess with her sense of honor.

Lastly, you noted that you couldn't wait to see Hun fight with Zog,
which I'm worried you might not get to see since I asked the writer not
to do that! Did I err?!

Well, I think it's in there -- there's a line which says, I think, "they wrestle like titans".

Since Hun has recently been beaten up by
everyone from Leo to Splinter to Stockman,

I'd have to go back and look to really know the particulars, but my memory of those fights is that he was never totally taken out by those guys, but they made some moves which temporarily put him down. I still see Hun as that hugely strong beast who nearly flattened all four Turtles in the arena cage in the "Angel" episode.

I thought he actually
wouldn't be much of a match for Zog. Instead we're going to have Zog
slug it out with Shredder, which I'm hoping will be even cooler!

The Zog/Shredder slug-fest was actually one of the things about that outline that I wasn't that happy with (too much of a weird mismatch), though not enough to comment on. I would have commented on it, however, if the other bit about Zog fighting Hun was not in the outline.
One of the reasons I like the idea of a clash between Hun and Zog is that for the first time in the series this is a foe which really LOOKS like a match for Hun, in sheer physicality... and I could see Hun seeing this, and I can just picture a wicked grin on his scarred face as he sizes up Zog and realizes that THIS is the kind of opponent he's been looking for, not those puny leaping Turtles or that scrawny nutbag Casey Jones. To me, it's like a classic Kirby confrontation -- like when Thor fought Hercules, or the Thing fought the Hulk. Can't you just see Kirby drawing that panel as they come rushing at each other with meaty fists raised, ready to collide with a senses-shattering, bone-jarring KKRRASSHHHH!!!!?


Anyway, lemme know your thoughts asap!

And so I have!

Hope you're having fun in Maine!

Yes, but it's almost over -- just ten hours until we have to vacate the premises.

Lloyd Goldfine

PS - NYC Police Officers are currently doing a trial run to see if
patrolling the city on SEGWAYS is effective!!!!

I saw that! Cool!

-- Pete

14 comments:

  1. What a terrific glimpse behind the curtain. Many thanks for posting this; I hope for more down the line!

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  2. I have to agree, its such a great thing to see how the creative process works for these shows. its important how you not only give your opinion but how important it is for the writers to think so vividly about these characters. really great read!!!

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  3. Very cool, haven't posted in some time.
    How are you since the change of everything Peter?
    Please keep posting these!
    -Vaughn

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  4. Very neat look at the dev. process Pete. Really shows how much input you had into the whole thing. Now, as someone divested of their creator control, what's your opinion, as a fan, of the rumored mask sculpt from the new live action movie? It can be found here:
    http://www.fusedfilm.com/2010/04/net-crawl-possible-new-look-for-new-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles/

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  5. Oh how cool to let us have a look at the process here!

    Really fun to read you both tossing characterization and visual/plot impact ideas back and forth.

    Thank you for sharing this conversation.

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  6. Wow! Its great to see the behind the scenes look and discussion into seeing what goes on to make things happen! The cloest I've sen was when Dan emailed me the script of "Dragon's Rising" I missed way back when it originally aired due to another round of SATs.

    Any chance there are any notes lying around to development or of your involvment in the '87 series I grew up with? I know its pre-internet and involvment wasn't as great,but thought it wouldn't hurt to ask!:D

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  7. I made this because i was bored and i had just finished reading a whole stack of the TMNT comics
    https://docs.google.com/drawings/edit?id=1JfuOgbkoMGYu9dKzLqb9n1ItIkWsyqoXMpWTUEBIhO0&hl=en

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  8. great post, great to hear the insight from you on what makes each character tick.

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  9. Awsome, I love behind the scenes kinda stuff.

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  10. "Chris said...
    Very neat look at the dev. process Pete. Really shows how much input you had into the whole thing. Now, as someone divested of their creator control, what's your opinion, as a fan, of the rumored mask sculpt from the new live action movie? It can be found here:
    http://www.fusedfilm.com/2010/04/net-crawl-possible-new-look-for-new-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles/"

    Technically, it is well done -- the sculpting and painting are very good. Conceptually, I don't like it -- it veers too far away from the established look for my tastes. The snout looks weirdly insect-like, and the bandana which is ragged on the top and smooth on the bottom looks pretty silly. -- PL

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  11. It seems that the rumor was false and the picture was actually a student project in an FX class.

    http://www.latinoreview.com/news/what-might-be-new-ralph-9812

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  12. I haven't commented since your blog first began Pete but after reading that I just had to say Thanks!! What a great entertaining read that was hope to see more.

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  13. "mikeandraph87 said...

    Wow! Its great to see the behind the scenes look and discussion into seeing what goes on to make things happen! The cloest I've sen was when Dan emailed me the script of "Dragon's Rising" I missed way back when it originally aired due to another round of SATs.

    Any chance there are any notes lying around to development or of your involvment in the '87 series I grew up with? I know its pre-internet and involvment wasn't as great,but thought it wouldn't hurt to ask!:D "

    Hmmm... there may be some hand-written or typed notes somewhere, but I'm not sure. If they do exist and I ever run across them, I'll be sure to post them! -- PL

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