Saturday, July 30, 2011

Blast from the Past #379: Feb. 18, 2004: comments on Ep. 66 first draft script

Feb. 18, 2004: comments on Ep. 66 first draft script

From: Peter Laird
To: Lloyd Goldfine


Here are my comments on the first draft script for Ep. 66.

comments on Ep. 66 first draft / "The Darkness Within"

1.) Re: the following:

CLOSE ON – Leonardo’s heart starts to pump hard in a rapid cycle of systole and diastole.  <HEART BEAT>."

This seems totally bizarre, unnecessary and inappropriate to me. And much the same thing could be accomplished with sound (loud heartbeats), I think.

2.) Re: the following:

"ANGLE ON – There is the <FAINT SOUND OF TURNING GEARS> as the elevator begins to descend.

DOWN ON – The elevator <DESCENDS> on it’s thick cable and pulleys away from camera."

Have the Turtles recently installed an antique Otis lift? I don't recall the alien-like elevator that the Turtles discovered in their lair -- the ONLY elevator in there, if memory serves --being so creaky, so... ordinary.

3.) Re: the following:

"CLOSE ON – Angel holds up an old, minted gold coin."

Even if the animators are somehow able to SHOW that the coin is gold, I think it is quite odd that none of the Turtles or Splinter remark on the fact that Angel's brother has apparently found a stash of GOLD coins. That's not something that happens every day.
I think at the very least Don should make a comment about this nature of the coin, perhaps when he is talking about the date and its being Dutch.
Actually, I just thought of something that might be kind of funny: When Mike takes the coin, he bites it. Everyone gives him a look. Don says "What are you doing?" Mike says "They do this in the movies all the time -- I'm testing it to see if it's real gold!" Don sighs and grabs the coin from Mike and says "The only thing YOU'D be able to tell with that technique is whether it's really chocolate wrapped in gold-colored foil."

4.) Re: the following:

Hmm.  Ok.  But be careful."

I don't think Splinter says "Okay".

5.) Re: the following:

Don’t worry, Master S, we’re always careful … "

"Master S"...? I don't think so.

6.) Re: the following:

FOLLOW SIDE ON – The BattleShell <SPEEDS> along the street when suddenly its lights go out and the engine becomes a <QUIET HUSH>.
Stealth mode.  I just installed it.
The BattleShell <HUSHES> past a HOMELESS GUY <TALKING> on a cell phone.
Sweet.  What does this button do?
O.T.S. – The Homeless Guy whips around as suddenly the BattleShell emits a <KLAXXON> and its lights flash.
Mikey, don’t touch anything else.  … Ever."

What the heck? I have NO idea why this scene is in this story. Does this "stealth mode" get used in this episode? Is it setting something up for a later episode? And which lights go off -- inside or outside, or both? And what the heck is a HOMELESS guy doing TALKING ON A CELLPHONE???!!! It all seems like goofy slapstick with no point.

7.) Re: the following:

Are you sure this is the place?"

A minor point -- but I can't see any reason why Don would ask this question at this moment. I mean, Angel has told them that her brother found the coins at a construction site, and here they are at a construction site. The line seems completely superfluous, and it could be excised with no ill effect.

8.) Re: the following:

"CLOSE ON – Leonardo approaches the building’s large, carved oak doors and gives them a slight push.
WIDER – The doors <SWING> open widely on their hinges and the turtles, followed by Angel, walk into the darkness."

Even IF the building's front doors were left unlocked (which seems kind of odd), I doubt that approach would be the one the Turtles would take -- they would be more likely to try to find a less-obvious entry point.

9.) I'm not sure if there is any particular significance to the name "Van Clephas", but it just occurred to me that it might be cool if we could come up with a clever anagram of "Lovecraft" to use instead of Clephus. (I'm pretty sure I have an anagram generating program somewhere, and if I can find it I'll give it a shot.)

10.) Re: the following:

Hello!  Is there anybody here?"

Great ninja technique! I'm joking, of course.

11.) Re: the following:

"CLOSE ON – Angel examines a broken piece of oak paneling, held up by scaffolding.  She <TUGS> the piece of wood aside to reveal an old lever, which she <PULLS>.
DOWN ANGLE ON – The eye mosaic suddenly changes as the tiles of eye’s pupil <FLIP> and the pupil <TRANSFORMS> into a staircase descending into darkness.
You found it, Angel, you wanna go first?"

First, the way Angel finds the lever which opens the staircase seems a bit odd to me -- why would she be examining a "broken piece of oak paneling, held up by scaffolding"? I think if would be better and visually cooler if maybe she was with Mike when he's looking at the bust of Van Clephus (and this bit might work better it the bust was in a recessed alcove in a wall), and she does something with the bust (maybe goes to lean it toward her to get a better look at it) and the bust tips forward and IT activates the staircase.
And Raph's line seems TOTALLY out of character.

12.) Re: the following:

"WIDE – The turtles and Angel step off the spiral staircase which <RETRACTS> upwards.  "

Aside from being an interesting visual, is there any reason for the staircase to automatically retract? I haven't read the script all the way through yet, but wouldn't it make more sense if it stayed in the open position so that the Turtles could make their escape back up it?

13.) Re: the following:

"PAN ACROSS – The inscription over the door reads "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate".
What’s it say, Don?
It’s Italian.  It says …  Abandon …  all …  shoes … ye who …  enter here.  At least, I think it does.
CLOSE ON – Raphael gives Donatello a confused look.
Abandon all shoes?  What’s that supposed to mean."

I don't get the point of this gag. Don can read all the "Italian" (why Italian? why not Latin? or Dutch?) EXCEPT for the word he translates as "shoes"?

14.) Re: the following:

"PUSH IN ON – The skeletons chest cavity is filled by a small creature with writhing tentacles and one central sinister red eye as it emits a <HIGH-PITCHED SCREECH>"

This is a little too close to the Utroms in their robotic exoskeletons for my comfort. I'm not even sure we NEED these "small creature with writhing tentacles" anyway... but if we DO, maybe it would be better if they were in the SKULLS instead, with tentacles coming out of the eye sockets and mouths.

15.) Re: the following:

"CLOSE ON – Angel peers around from behind Leonardo’s shell.
Perhaps they’re friendly."

Hmm... animated skeletons with weird tentacled creatures in them, brandishing weapons -- and THIS is what Angel says? Just plain stupid. 

16.) Re: the following:

"CLOSE ON – The Elizabethan skeleton faces off against Donatello as it <SWISHES> its rapier in the air, then salutes him.
CLOSE ON – Donatello gives him a curious look, then <FLOURISHES> his staff and salutes back."

I could very well be wrong, and I'll have to check my history book, but is an "Elizabethan" character an anachronism? Did the Elizabethan period predate European arrival in the New World?
Also, I don't get the "salute" bit. I thought these skeletons were animated solely by the power of the Cthulhu-type monster in this story, but this bit implies that some of the living personality of that dead person is still present. Does that make any sense?

17.) Re: the following:

"53. OLD MAN (O.C.)
Close the door!
WHIP PAN TO – The silhouette of an Old Man, holding a bright lantern stands in the tunnel behind the turtles.
ANGLE ON – The turtles charge forward and begin to shove the door which begins to <SWING> on its hinges.
CLOSE ON – With the turtles pushing as hard as they can, the door <SLAMS> shut, catching one skeletal arm which <FALLS> apart as the door <CLOSES>."

I suppose this will be worked out at the storyboard stage, but I'd like to get some clarity now -- exactly which way is this door swinging? Did it swing INWARD or OUTWARD when the Turtles first saw it? Which is spookier? (Later on, we see Angel and the Old Man putting their backs against the door and pushing it shut from the outside, so I guess that  would imply that it swings OUT... but is that necessarily the best idea?)
Also, how does the door open in the first place, and why? Should we have the Turtles and/or Angel actually do something to make it open, rather than have it just open on its own for no apparent reason? And how (and why) does it stay closed once the Turtles have retreated, conveniently keeping the skeletons from pursuing them?

18.) Re: the following:

"FRONT ON – An Iroquois brave stands at the entrance to a cave leading into the meteorite.  He is dressed as the Native American skeleton was earlier, as he flourishes the same tomahawk."

It would be cool if we could get some kind of authenticity in the Iroquois garb/headress. Also -- what's up with this "cave"? I thought the sky stone was in a big rut (that it made) on the surface. Maybe it would be cool if instead of being in a cave the sky stone is surrounded by an Iroquois-built hut or hogan (whatever style they used at that time), and that building over time is replaced by various other buildings, ending up with the massive stone edifice in this story.
And can we come up with a cooler name than "sky stone"?

19.) Re: the following:

Yeah, it makes a change from fighting the Shredder …  Y’know that thousand-year-old evil from outer space dude."

This doesn't sound at all like Don -- but it does sound like Raph or Mike.

20.) Re: the following:

LOW ON – The turtles find themselves in a tube, <DRIPPING> with slime.  The walls are porous lava, which glow with an interior ambient light."

Is this the same tunnel in which the Turtles fought the skeletons earlier? It would seem to have to be, as they entered it through that same golden door. If so, why is it lit now when earlier it was dark?

21.) Re: the following:

Do you guys buy that Old Man’s story?
At this point, I’m just about willing to believe anything.
Uhm, Leo, did I mention Master Splinter  said I should be in charge and stuff.
Well, maybe not anything."

The Mike/Leo gag is funny, but totally wrong for the situation. I say lose it.

22.) Re: the following:

[plaintiff]  Noooooooooooo!"

"Plaintiff" is a person who instigates a lawsuit. I think the word needed here is "plaintive".

23.) Re: the following:

"CLOSE ON – Suddenly Casey and April reach up and <PULL> off their faces like rubber (think Mission Impossible) to reveal in place of their usual features, a mass of writhing tentacles with a central red eye.
CLOSE ON – Donatello antics back in fear.
April …  Casey …  What’s happening?  Why are you?  I …  I …
WIDER – Suddenly April grabs the dinner table and <HURLS> it across the room.
CLOSE ON – Casey picks a limp Donatello up, his feet dangling off the floor."

It seems very odd -- because there doesn't seem to be any reason for it -- that Don doesn't fight or struggle at all in this scene. If it's necessary that Don be helpless, I would buy that the monstrous Casey and April are too strong for Don and are able to pick him up in a grasp which does not allow him to escape.

24.) Re: the following:

(to self)
I’m home?!  That’s funny.  I could have sworn I was in an underground meteorite about to face some ancient evil creature who lives off fear."

Minor point, but -- are they actually INSIDE the meteorite? I didn't get that. If they are in fact NOT inside it, I suggest changing Mike's lines thusly:

(to self)
I’m home?!  That’s funny.  I could have sworn I was in an underground tunnel about to face some ancient evil creature who lives in a meteorite  and feeds off fear."

25.) This may be too much, but while reading Mikey's dream sequence, I thought it might be cool if his warped adversaries keep saying -- in their insane screechy voices from the mountains of madness -- "Cowabunga! Cowabunga! Cowabunga!" That would drive anyone over the edge!

26.) Re: the following:

Raph!  Wake up!  It’s all a bad dream!
Michelangelo stops slapping him as Raphael blinks his eyes open and looks around.
A bad dream?  But …  how do I know this is real?
Michelangelo thinks for a [BEAT] …  then begins to <SLAP> Raphael again.
(between slaps)
Ok …  Ok …  It’s …  not …  a …  dream …"

How about, instead of having Mike start slapping Raph again, he instead lets loose with one of those HUGE patented Mikey BURPS right in Raph's face?

27.) The bit where the creature stings Leo again and Leo starts to imagine that he is in the Saharan desert seems really pointless and unnecessary.

28.) Re: the following:

"CLOSE ON – Leonardo grabs the tomahawk from his belt.  The tomahawk is glowing blue."

Like Frodo's sword Sting in the presence of nasty, tricksy Orcses? Maybe we should use a different color.

29.) I still don't understand the relationship of the old man to the creature, especially when we reveal that he is the original Van Clephas. Did the creature keep him alive all this time through some eldritch magical means? If so, why? If the old man is the creature's slave, how is he able to help the Turtles? And if the old man is NOT the creature's slave, why hasn't he destroyed the creature before this? I mean, he knew about the tomahawk, after all... right?

30.) Re: the following:

Angel, when your brother goes to work tomorrow, make sure he fills this tunnel with concrete.  We don’t ever want to go into that place again.  Now let’s leave this creepy building.
157. ANGEL
Does this place make you afraid, Leo?
Yes, Angel.  It sure does."

This is probably the worst dialogue I've read in a long time, and that's on top of it being totally unnecessary. Let's see... the creature has just been destroyed -- as far as they can tell -- so why the heck is Leo telling Angel's brother to fill the tunnel with concrete? And how, exactly, would Angel's brother be able to do such a thing? And... "We don’t ever want to go into that place again."? Well... DON'T!!! I say lose all this -- maybe just have Leo give a last look around and say something like "Let's get out of here."

-- Pete

1 comment:

  1. Hi Peter: I was reading that particular part of the "Darkness within" episode

    13.) Re: the following:

    "PAN ACROSS – The inscription over the door reads "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate".
    46. LEONARDO
    What’s it say, Don?
    It’s Italian. It says … Abandon … all … shoes … ye who … enter here. At least, I think it does.
    CLOSE ON – Raphael gives Donatello a confused look.
    48. RAPHAEL
    Abandon all shoes? What’s that supposed to mean."

    I don't get the point of this gag. Don can read all the "Italian" (why Italian? why not Latin? or Dutch?) EXCEPT for the word he translates as "shoes"?

    Donny is right the phrase is in Italian. He translate most of it right but except on one word: speranza.

    The phrase is actually one of the quotes from Dante Aligheri's book "The Divine Comedy". I just figure it out through Google. And actual translation is like this:

    Lasciate ogne speranza voi ch'intrate
    English translation: Abandon hope all ye who enter here.
    This is written on the entrance of Dante's Inferno (Hell)part of The Divine Comedy.

    Do the producers wanted to pay tribute to another Italian great like Dante Aligheri? As you know the boys (the TMNT) are named after famous Renaissance artists. And I don't find any problem that Donny (he's cute) knows Italian, after all he is the brain of the bunch like the song of the show says. :)