Apr. 6, 2004: Re: TMNT - 73 "Same As It Never Was" 1st draft
From: Peter Laird
To: Lloyd Goldfine
Here are my comments on Ep. 73 first draft.
1.) Re: the following:
"REVERSE/REVEAL – This is Master Splinter’s tombstone: tall, rectangular, Japanese in nature, with the Kanji for his name and a small picture of Splinter crudely and hurriedly etched into the wood of the shamble of a grave marker (obviously erected rapidly and under duress). And, his walking stick leans forlornly against the tombstone never to be used again."
I think that the use of Kanji is a cool idea, but -- because most of our viewers are English reading (I think), and it makes sense anyway that one of the Turtles would use English in making this grave marker -- I think we should ALSO have the word "Splinter" on the grave marker, in English. I question also the idea of "a small picture of Splinter crudely and hurriedly etched into the wood" -- unless this is done VERY cleverly, it could look really goofy.
2.) Re: the following:
"DONATELLO leaps to his feet looking around in surprise as …
It can’t be. It is!"
Don's lines here seem kind of silly.
3.) Re: the following:
"A little freaked out, Donatello presses the button for the elevator … it doesn’t work.
Donatello <PRIES> open the doors to the elevator to reveal that it is halfway down the shaft at the door tilted slightly, bent and clearly inoperable.
DONATELLO looks at this and is still confused …"
I'm confused too. This is the "alien" elevator we're talking about -- the one that the people from the Underground built? From this description, it sounds more like a traditional elevator. Maybe there shouldn't be an elevator in this dimension.
4.) Re: the following:
"DONATELLO is still confused.
None of this makes any sense.
EXT. WAREHOUSE ABOVE TURTLES’ LAIR – FUTURE – NIGHT – CONT’D
Donatello comes outside through a jagged, charred-edged hole in the wall (from an explosion long ago) and looks around … he squints his eyes as if he’s not believing what he’s seeing … we hear the <O.C. APPROACHING SIRENS> of police cars and the approaching <O.C. ROTORS> of a police helicopter …
45. DONATELLO (CONT’D)
What’s going on?! Where am I?!"
While I would not expect Don to fully understand exactly what is going on here, I think that he would by this time -- given the evidence he's seen so far -- be formulating some kind of theory in his head, being the bright boy he is, and especially because early in the script we have him discussing other dimensions and time travel with April. Plus, of course, the fact that Ultimate Drako had just attacked them with the Time Scepter.
I'd suggest that he says something to himself about the grim hypothesis he is forming, and how he doesn't like the implications of it, etc..
5.) Re: the following:
"WIDEN TO REVEAL - The police are all FOOT GESTAPO with long black leather coats, belts and black boots with their Foot Mask and all emblazoned with the Foot insignia."
I'll reserve judgment on this concept until I see the designs for it. This could look REALLY silly, unless handled carefully.
6.) Re: the following:
"46. FOOT GESTAPO CAPT.
You are violation of Foot Curfew. "
There seems to be an "in" missing between "are" and "violation". Also, do we really need to say "Foot Curfew"? It sounds a bit silly, and it's already obvious that whatever curfew there is, it's a Foot Curfew. I would just say "curfew".
7.) Re: the following:
"HALF IN SHADOW – One Armed Mikey stops and looks wary … and weary.
51. ONE ARMED MIKEY
Are you going to fight me now? You might as well. It couldn’t be any worse than anything else."
These lines from Mike strike me as strange. In the ensuing dialogue between Mike and Don, we discover that "all these years" ago Don disappeared and was never heard from again. Now, if I understand what just happened, Mike somehow came upon Don being stopped by the Foot "Gestapo", and decided to help him out. What went through his mind at that point? Here is his long-lost brother Don, suddenly reappearing and seemingly none the worse for wear. What does Mike think about this? I would suspect that he would be simultaneously pissed, glad, and want to get some answers from his brother. I also don't think he would run away from him as described in this "rooftop chase" scene -- maybe lead him away to a safe place, yes, but not actually try to get away from him.
8.) Re: the following:
"DONATELLO is distraught with anxiety and frustration!
I didn’t! I got zapped … we all did … and I woke up here … or in the lair … or at least what used to be the lair. So, I haven’t been gone … I mean … to me … I’ve only been gone a split second. I would never leave you guys. Never! Don’t you believe me, Mikey?!"
One Armed Mikey eyes Donatello growing a bit more sympathetic …
64. ONE ARMED MIKEY
You don’t look older … maybe … maybe you’re telling some kind of truth …"
I don't think Don would say he's only been gone a "split second" -- obviously, he has already spent several minutes in this strange world.
Also, this would be a good opportunity for Mikey to say -- as he is starting to realize that there is something different about this Don, and his anger is softening -- something like "So... the Turtle with the big brain finally doesn't have all the answers. Who'da thunk it?"
9.) Re: the following:
"65. ONE ARMED MIKEY (CONT’D)
Come on, we’d better get off the rooftops. The Exterminators mostly come at night … mostly.
One Armed Mikey leads Donatello off the roof …
PAN UP TO – HIGH IN THE NIGHT SKY – THREE EXTERMINATORS patrol (a mutant flying mix of machine & enslaved/cyborg/Borg Utroms).
67. ONE ARMED MIKEY (O.C.)
The Exterminators used to be Utroms. The Shredder conquered them, blew up the Utrom homeworld, wiping out most of them. He brought the rest back here to be his mindless slaves."
I know we don't need to go too deeply into the backstory here, but it would help me to get a better idea of it. Did the Don in this world leave his brothers BEFORE everything went to hell and the Shredder conquered the Utroms... or AFTER? I ask this because it affects how Mike describes to our Don what is going on in this world. For example, he describes the Exterminators as if Don had never heard of them. Would it be better if, from this Mike's perspective, Don SHOULD know about them... and Don's lack of knowledge adds to Mike's sense that this is a different Don? And if so, wouldn't it be better to say something about that? What I'm suggesting is that when Don says "Exterminators?", Mike gives him a look and says something like "Geez, don't you remember ANYTHING?..." then goes on to give his description.
On a separate note, I have to say I'm not a big fan of the "blowing up the planet" thing -- it just seems to get used too much. And it really isn't necessary here -- the Shredder could have conquered his Utrom adversaries on Earth, before they could complete their transmat, and enslaved every Utrom on Earth. No need to involve their home planet... or maybe that could be worked into this story as some kind of jeopardy -- that the Shredder has plans, almost come to fruition, to use the Transmat (finally completed under his control by his Utrom -- and human -- slaves) to then vanquish the Utrom homeworld. This could add even more urgency to the whole "gotta beat the Shredder" theme in this tale.
Also, if we could come up with a new, cooler name than "Exterminators", that would be a good thing. Not that "Exterminators" is a bad name -- it just seems a little overused in sci-fi. (Here are a few -- not necessarily great, but off the top of my head: "Utrominators", "UtroDemons", "Legions of Mortu")
10.) Re: the following:
"69. SHREDDER (O.C./SILHOUETTE)
You may speak, Princess Karai."
"Princess"? Sounds silly.
11.) Re: the following:
It is the turtles, my lord. Donatello has been spotted in a skirmish near their old lair."
I'd prefer this wording:
"It is the turtle Donatello, my lord. He has been spotted in a skirmish near the Turtles' old lair."
12.) Re: the following:
"An Exterminator high overhead gets a reading on one of his scans as a light <FLASHES> and <BLINKS>. His drooling Utrom face (plied and inter-spliced in cyborg fashion with metal-based technology; it should be pretty scary with nuts and bolts in Utrom flesh and a long, jagged scar where metal is sewn to Utrom flesh, etc.) REACTS…"
Again, I'll reserve judgment until I see the designs, but I'm a little concerned that the description of the Exterminator is a little over-the-top in a crude way.
13.) Re: the following:
"SLIGHT UP ANGLE ON – DONATELLO stumbles forward and falls to his knees as we PULL OUT enough to include the wooden tombstone in FOREGROUND before Donatello.
You mean, because I wasn’t here … because I was gone … !?
DONATELLO hangs his head and beats his fists on the ground before the wooden tombstone.
94. DONATELLO (CONT’D)
This is all my fault! All my fault!"
Why does he say it's all his fault? What has he learned so far that would indicate such a thing? Doesn't make any sense to me.
14.) Re: the following:
"STRAIGHT ON - Donatello is blank with overwhelming emotion.
99. ONE ARMED MIKEY (CONT’D)
He always hoped you’d come back. He said you would.
(at a loss)
I’m sorry … I’m so sorry …"
This is very odd -- I can see that Don would be saddened by Mike's story about the death of Splinter, but why is Don taking responsibility for it? Remember, it's THIS universe's Don who split... and we don't even know what part that played in Splinter's demise.
This is actually something that is bothersome - the fact that the Turtles of this dystopian universe seem to think that our Don is THEIR Don... and our Don seems to not really do anything to disabuse them of that notion. It's very odd.
15.) I'm not quite sure WHAT I think of the bizarre Stockman/Hun combo. Depending on how it is treated, it could be cool or terminally goofy.
16.) Re: the following:
"155. ONE ARMED MIKEY
We’re gonna need a bigger exo-suit."
I think we're gonna need a better line. This cliche was REALLY fun (and totally appropriate given his character) when Roy Scheider said it in the first JAWS movie, but it has NOT worn well since then.
17.) Re: the following:
"REBEL APRIL leaps out of the turtle tunneler; she bears a large laser shotgun, which she cocks <SH-SHICK> and fires <VAROOM> … cocks <SH-SHICK> … fires <VAROOM> …"
I can't tell if the writer is being slyly sarcastic here with the notion of a "cocking" "laser shotgun" (!!!???!!!), but can we get rid of it, please? I know this substitution of lasers or blasters for real projectile guns is the way we get these scenes past BS&P, but this one makes my brain hurt. Let's just give her a non-cocking laser gun. I don't care that it looks sort of like a shotgun -- just that is does not cock like a shotgun.
18.) The Hun/Stockman/Mega Shredder scene makes absolutely no sense to me. It is, as Stockman says, "insane".
19.) The battle between Mega Shredder and Donatello in his Exo-Suit could be very cool, but its resolution as written here is unsatisfying and not terribly logical. For example, why doesn't the Mega Shredder try to move away when ExoSuit Don deploys his "coring blade"? I mean, he's only grabbed the armless ExoSuit and is holding it -- why doesn't he push it away and let go of it, instead of reacting "in terror" and just standing there so ExoSuit Don can cut into him?
Also, Don was just blazing away at Mega Shredder with these powerful guns and didn't damage him -- why, then, are we supposed to believe that this "coring blade" is going to do any better?
It's not that I don't like the basic setup -- I do! -- but I think it needs tweaking. My suggestions:
-- Have something built into the ExoSuit -- like powerful electromagnets or some kind of instant-acting super adhesive -- which will prevent (at least for those key seconds) the Mega Shredder from pushing off from the armless ExoSuit. He should be essentially trapped momentarily like a fly on flypaper.
-- Instead of a blade which can cut into this previously seemingly indestructible Mega Shredder armor, let's have the Shredder Utrom display his arrogance and overweening confidence by actually opening up his protective bubble and thus rendering himself vulnerable to a hidden grapple device on Don's ExoSuit which will shoot out and GRAB him. The Shredder Utrom can even say something about wanting to "smell Don's fear" as he is crushed completely (his reason for exposing himself).
20.) Re: the following:
And, may flights of angels sing them to their rest."
This is a sweet line (from Shakespeare, right?), but sounds totally inappropriate coming from Don here.
21.) Re: the following:
"189. REBEL APRIL
Donatello, remember! This doesn’t have to be. None of it. The future isn’t set. I know it. If you can, change it. Change the past …
But, Donatello is gone …
190. REBEL APRIL
(quietly to herself)
… before it’s too late."
Just so we're clear, this is NOT our Turtles' future -- but the future of some Turtles in a parallel dimension. I think it would be better if April were to say something hopeful about the future of HER world now that the Shredder has been defeated.