Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blast from the Past #371: More notes from the development of the 4Kids TMNT series: Thoughts about Bishop

(Note: I may have mentioned this in a previous post, but during the time that I was working with Lloyd Goldfine on the 4Kids TMNT show, every so often Lloyd would call me to discuss at length issues about the show which could not conveniently be covered with just email. Most of the time, this was because of some pressing deadline problem, and talking things out on the phone was the most efficient way to solve things. I recall many times getting calls from Lloyd on my cell phone while driving or riding my bicycle. I'm pretty sure the following is a recap of sorts after one such call. -- PL)


From: Peter Laird
To: Lloyd Goldfine

April 6, 2004

Re: Thoughts about Bishop


After talking with you today, I thought I should jot down these thoughts about the mysterious character known as Bishop. As I have said before, I feel that I don't really have a handle on the guy and his purpose and motivations, but maybe some of the things we talked about will help.

One thing that bothers me about him was one of the things in that outline -- the last scene with the President. I thought it was just not right, even given the little I understand about Bishop, that he would so overtly threaten the President, and that the President would so easily be cowed. I feel that even if Bishop is as dangerous and powerful as we have discussed that he is, he still needs to stay "under the radar", as it were -- he can't really demonstrate his power in ways which would threaten his employers, who I assume are the US government. As powerful as he is, he could not stand against the full force of the government (or, at least not yet).

Which is not to say that in a private meeting with Bishop, even as powerful a man as the President would not feel uneasy, perhaps even secretly fearful. Bishop is, after all, a creepy dude.

I feel strongly that to make Bishop a great character and give him some "legs", we need to create a cool and strong motivation for him. Why is he so invested in this concept of genetic engineering? Why is he willing to go to such lengths to achieve his goals? What IS his real aim?

Bishop is (at least in my understanding of him) the head -- or at least one of the most important agents of -- a secretive government agency (and we should probably think up a name for that agency at some point). The implication of this is that at some level, his activities are sanctioned by people in our government -- perhaps as high up as the President (though I think the jury is still out on whether involving POTUS is a good idea). However, at some point, Bishop's own personal aims and goals began to supersede his official, government-sanctioned ones, and he has increasingly been going off on his own tangents.

I think it would be great if we could define -- even in general terms -- WHAT that government sanction was for. I think there has been some indication so far that he is trying to find ways to create "super soldiers", and that would certainly be appropriate for his type of agency. Actually, this thought just occurred to me: What if the original purpose of Bishop and/or his agency was to create a new type of army which would be specially suited to battle extraterrestrials, on Earth or in space? It might be kind of fun to play with the idea that this agency was created as the result of an actual "flying saucer" crash (a la Roswell) years ago, in which the government recovered the remains -- maybe even a few live samples -- of ET's, thus sparking the urgent development of an "Earth Protection Force".

This could sort of tie in to the "Invasion of Earth" episodes in the beginning of the third season, which I believe is when we first encounter Bishop... maybe his presence in that scenario actually springs from the fact that he and his agency have been training in secret all these years to deal with an extraterrestrial threat, and this is their first chance for the "real deal". Of course, as we know, Bishop has his own agenda, which he pursues relentlessly, striking a deal with General Blanque as I recall.

Hey -- maybe Bishop IS an alien (one of those who crashed on Earth years ago)! Or the offspring of an alien and a human, or some kind of alien/human recombinant DNA experiment. Or... maybe in one of those crashed UFOs, we found a strange type of life-form which the aliens were transporting -- a kind of "blank" or template being, vaguely humanoid in appearance but initially amorphous in nature. The purpose of these "blanks" was to be configured as needed by their alien masters to whatever use was appropriate (i.e., if they need someone to work underwater, they program or configure a "blank" to grow fins, gills, etc.). And maybe we've figured out how to duplicate them in quantity, and Bishop's task is to find ways to enhance these "blanks". Maybe Touch and Go were once "blanks"! Or... maybe Bishop himself was once one of these "blanks"... and maybe once he was activated, he somehow took over the identity of an agent named Bishop, and used the "blank's" protean abilities to mimic this Bishop's appearance.

I wonder if it would be even MORE fun to go back even further, into the 1800's, and say that the extraterrestrials actually crashed on Earth back then, and the secret government agency was created then to deal with them at that time ("The League of Extraterrestrial Gentlemen"?).

On the other hand -- my idea about Bishop and mutated animals: The idea is that Bishop is obsessed with the Turtles and Splinter because he believes that humans are inferior to other animals and his goal is to create a new breed of being which will supplant humanity. His previous experiments with genetically engineering animals have not been terribly successful, especially in the area of enhanced intelligence, which is key to creating a superior breed... and he thinks that whatever it was that mutated the Turtles and Splinter could be the secret to his future success.
This could be an interesting way to introduce a whole new group of animal-based mutants into the show, which would please a lot of the fans of the old show and probably Playmates too... but as I said during our phone call today, I would only want to do it if it could be done in a cool way.

-- Pete