Monday, May 23, 2011

Blast from the Past #369: More development notes from the 4Kids 2K3 TV series

Here's another bit of history from the development of the 4Kids TMNT series. This somewhat short email is one I sent to Lloyd Goldfine in January of 2004 -- on my birthday, no less -- about the initial premise for the episode about the monster on Wall Street (can't recall right now what the title for that episode was). -- PL

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January 27, 2004
To: Lloyd Goldfine
From: Peter Laird

Lloyd,

Comments on Ep. 66 premise:

Curiously, I don't really have many specific detail comments on this one, just some larger overall comments. It's funny to me that when I started reading the story, I began to think of changing it so that the creature had a long history of being in servitude to a long line of the same family -- and then that was what was in the premise!

I think that basically I like this one, but it needs some remolding. This has the promise to be a substantial tale, but only if we really transform it. One thing that I immediately latched onto was the mention in the early part of the premise that this building was on Wall Street, heart of the financial district. And it occurred to me that it might be cool if the monster wasn't necessarily in thrall to the family that keeps it, but that it could be more of a symbiotic relationship... that while the monster provides insights/knowledge/whatever to the members of this family, it feeds off the greed of the family -- greed that it promotes and enhances with its powers. (And isn't Wall Street -- rightly or wrongly -- seen by most people as the center of rapacious greed in this country?) It could be that the members of the family THINK that they have kept the monster captive, but it's really the other way around -- IT has enslaved THEM to feed its psychic hunger for greed over the centuries. (And we could have wicked fun with all of the evil things that this family did in pursuit of money, based on real events from history -- from selling smallpox-infected blankets to the Indians to covertly working with the Nazis during WWII, etc.)

I also think that while the idea of the latest (though not necessarily LAST) member of this family wants to end the perverse relationship with this monster, it would be cooler if he (or she) walls it up both physically and magically (with mystic symbols and the like) in an effort to deny it its sustenance (greed)... and this effort, while initially successful (begun a few years ago?) is thwarted or at least seriously set back by the damage from the Triceraton invasion which broke open its cage. And now it is sending its psychic feelers out, drawing to it those who can be enslaved to greed. (Maybe this is why the kids have been going into the building -- they hear its call.) I think it might work better to if the person the Turtles encounter who explains all this to them is not an old man (or woman) but a younger one.

While the Indian hatchet is a cool prop, I'm not loving the "poke the monster in the eye and it will be defeated" bit. I think instead we should think up a more clever way to defeat this thing. 

I think the whole "Turtles experience nightmares induced by monster" bit could very successfully be tweaked to reveal more of our characters' personalities/dreams without the cliched "vampiric April" and "monster Raph in mirror", etc. What I suggest is that the monster does in fact ensnare them, but instead of nightmares, it reaches into their minds and creates scenarios based on what they desire -- attacking them at their weakest. For example, Leo could dream of being a great warrior hero, lauded by the masses and set upon a throne, a Shogun. Mike could be seen with all of the snack foods and toys and STUFF that he could ever want in a giant mansion or estate (think Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch to the tenth power). Don's fantasy might be of having access to any kinds of technology or gadgets his heart desires. And so on. 

Now, they could struggle and eventually free themselves in a manner like what is in the premise, but I was thinking that it might be even more fun and cooler to bring Splinter into the scenario, and have the twist be that HE can defeat this monster because, as a master of Zen, he desires NOTHING ... and it drives the greed monster crazy.

I also wonder about bringing Angel back in this story, which doesn't really seem to have much to do with her or her brother -- they're just convenient props to get the story rolling. To my mind, it might work better if it were either April or Casey or both of them who bring the Turtles into the fray.

Also, I don't think this creature should be amorphous and bloblike -- it should have a really weird, Cthulhian-type anatomy.

-- Pete

10 comments:

  1. In case you are curious the episodes titles was "The Darkness Within".

    This is actually probably one of my favorite "one shots" in the series because of the Lovecraft overtones the entire plot has.

    Just curious what your thoughts were about the fact they kind of took your Zen, desire nothing idea in the end but implied it to Leonardo instead of Splinter??

    I liked seeing Angel in the story because I liked her character, but I though this episode was an odd placement for her. It made her original appearance seem confusing, because if she had a brother she was this supposedly close to why wasn't he out after her when she was attempting to join the Purple Dragons??

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  2. Fascinating! :D
    Thanks for sharing this. It was really interesting.

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  3. Interesting, I have been in the process of re watching the 4kids episodes. Its neat to have little insights into the episodes in preprodction like this =)

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  4. "Lea said...
    In case you are curious the episodes titles was "The Darkness Within"."

    Thanks!

    "This is actually probably one of my favorite "one shots" in the series because of the Lovecraft overtones the entire plot has.

    Just curious what your thoughts were about the fact they kind of took your Zen, desire nothing idea in the end but implied it to Leonardo instead of Splinter??"

    Honestly, it has been so long (and so many episodes!) that I don't really recall, though there may be something about it in some other notes that I will stumble upon as I search through my old emails. But my guess is that it didn't bother me that much.

    "I liked seeing Angel in the story because I liked her character, but I though this episode was an odd placement for her. It made her original appearance seem confusing, because if she had a brother she was this supposedly close to why wasn't he out after her when she was attempting to join the Purple Dragons??"

    You make a good point. -- PL

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  5. Hi Peter: One of the episodes from season 3 the guys were send by the Son of the Damiyo and that Dragon dude (both merged together)to different dimensions. Why Donatello has to be the one who was send to a horrible nightmare (Same as it Never Was)while his siblings had more exciting adventures? What happened to the Donatello of that horrible future? And after Donny came back to his time, he is reacting normally like nothing happened. Anyone who has witnessed the dead of his/her family would come back traumatized and need immediate therapy.

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  6. margui118 said...
    Hi Peter: One of the episodes from season 3 the guys were send by the Son of the Damiyo and that Dragon dude (both merged together)to different dimensions. Why Donatello has to be the one who was send to a horrible nightmare (Same as it Never Was)while his siblings had more exciting adventures?"

    There is no particular reason why it was Donatello who experienced the events in "Same As It Never Was" -- it was just the luck of the draw. It could have been any of them.

    " What happened to the Donatello of that horrible future?"

    Something bad. I don't think we ever worked it out in detail, but it was not necessary for the story we were telling.

    " And after Donny came back to his time, he is reacting normally like nothing happened. Anyone who has witnessed the dead of his/her family would come back traumatized and need immediate therapy."

    It would probably have been good to give Donatello some time, even a few moments, to reflect on what he had experienced, but sometimes stuff like that had to get cut for reasons of time -- there just isn't a lot of it in a half hour TV show.

    And while it may not have been made clear in the episode -- I haven't watched it in a long time, so I can't accurately remember -- the truth is that that was not necessarily the future of Don's family. It was A possible future of the Turtles in ONE of many dimensions… and I think Don understood that. -- PL

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  7. Thank for your answer. Many people said that this particular episode should have its own series.

    And I really thank you for not to put in detail what happen to the Donatello of that dimension, that episode would be more sadder than it was and it would made cry, I love Donny a lot(I hope it doesn't sound silly :( ). Many people commenting in Youtube actually cried watching it. I didn't but when I watched it didn't make any comment to the person who was watching it with me. We watched in complete silence. We began to talk after we finished watching it.

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  8. Another question: Since you change the spelling from the cutie orange-masked turtle from Michaelangelo to Michelangelo. Why you guys didn't change the pronunciation of the name since it's Italian? I went to the Italian dubbed version of the show because I love to listen it in different languages. The pronunciation sounds like: Me-kel-angelo.

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  9. Last question: There is one thing, that I don't like about the 2003 TMNT. Why Master Splinter hit his kids? How he dare? I noticed that in one of the episodes from Season 1 and the fact that Michelangelo (pretty name) is constantly hit in the head by his brothers. He's not stupid; he's just a cutie :) Lucky, "Sensei" is a rat not a human, because he would be arrested for child abuse!! :0

    I wonder how old are our "favorites heroes in a half shell" (aka the TMNT)?

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