Friday, August 5, 2011

Blast from the Past #381: Feb. 23, 2004: comments on Ep. 67 first draft "Mission of Gravity" script

Feb. 23, 2004: comments on Ep. 67 first draft "Mission of Gravity" script

From: Peter Laird
To: Lloyd Goldfine


Here are my notes on Ep. 67 "Mission of Gravity" first draft script:

1.) Re: the following:

"WIDEN FURTHER TO REVEAL - The Domebot is, in fact hovering beside the asteroid "cone" below the city of BEIJING, which hovers high in the upper atmosphere."

The visual for "flying Beijing" should, I think, not be exactly like the Triceraton asteroid ships, which as originally conceived back in the old Mirage comic days were actually irregularly shaped asteroids, chunks of rock found floating in space -- which the Triceratons has adapted and shaped to fit their needs. I think it would be cooler and make more sense if flying Beijing is more or less spherical (as opposed to conical) in shape, with the idea being that the force field which protects it and keeps the atmosphere in was also part of the mechanism by which Beijing was cut out of the Earth's surface. My vision of force fields of this type is that they are generally spherical in nature, as they originate from a central point (the force field projector) and propagate outwards to equal distances in all directions, until the force field reaches its desired or maximum range -- and the result is a sphere shape. I think it would be visually cool as well.

2.) Re: the following:

"CLOSER TO REVEAL - The "cloud" of figures is, in fact, SILVER SENTRY, ANANDA and METALHEAD, leading an army of flying DOMEOIDS for an all-out assault on the atmospheric shield.  Ananda and Metalhead are each carried by a pair of Domeoids (unless we want to give them cooler-looking Dome-like jet exoframes).  They all <POUND> relentlessly against the shield (Metalhead with his morphing metal hair), but are unable to penetrate it."

Playmates Toys is planning to release its beautifully sculpted Silver Sentry figure with a couple of accessories -- I believe they are a sort of "mystic energy shield and staff". (Gary could probably fax you the Playmates drawing of these items if you haven't already seen them.) These accessories obviously have nothing to do with what we have seen of the Silver Sentry so far on the show, but in discussions with Playmates I felt it was POSSIBLE that the Silver Sentry (whose abilities we have not fully explored or explained) MIGHT have the ability to form these kinds of weapons/tools via mental or mystic powers, or pluck them from a "holding place" in another dimension, etc.. If it would make sense to have him do this in the show, and try to use the  energy shield and/or staff against the force field protecting Beijing, maybe we should, as it might be more visually interesting than just having him (as well as everybody else in this scene) just bashing his fists on the force shield.
It also just occurred to me that it might be cool to have Dr. Dome send at least a few of his Domeoids on a kind of desperate suicide run at the force field, sacrificing some of them in an effort to get through the shield -- could be a cool visual to see a few of the Domeoids being blown apart and their bits and pieces falling towards Earth.

3.) Re: the following:

"7. DR. DOME
Dome to Tech Team!  We can't hold it!  Get the Antigrav field back online!  Now!
A valiant Scientist clings to the Antigrav Generator, reaching for the controls as all around him is in freefall.
CLOSE ON HIS HAND - pushing in a control button.  We hear the sound of the Antigrav Generator <POWERING UP>."

This is a very exciting sequence, but I feel the need to put on my science nerd helmet and point out a few things that we might want to consider. First is -- how high up are they at this point? Because if they are in the atmosphere -- even if they are in the upper atmosphere -- they would still be affected by Earth's gravity, and would not "float up in the air" when the antigravity generator is turned off. I think Beijing would need to be in Earth orbit (essentially, in space) for this effect to happen. And if they ARE up that high, the dissipation of the force field and the subsequent nearly instantaneous loss of atmosphere within it would, I believe, cause explosive decompression (very messy for living creatures).
Also, story-wise, it makes the later climactic plunge towards Earth of the crippled flying Beijing a bit redundant -- like "Haven't we already seen this?"
With those things in mind, I would like to suggest an alternative with a few changes: Let's say that flying Beijing is high up but still within our atmosphere (allowing all the Justice Force members to do their thing without dying from lack of oxygen or freezing to death (though it might be cool if they need SOME extra oxygen, and thus wear some kind of little breather thingies). Keep everything the same up to and including these lines:

"CLOSE ON A SCIENTIST - carefully working a series of controls.  We hear the sound of the Generator <POWERING DOWN>.   
WIDER - Everyone looks alarmed as there is a SUDDEN LURCH."

But instead of Beijing FALLING while everybody floats up, I suggest that Beijing starts RISING! What has happened is not that the antigrav effect has been turned off, but INCREASED, to the end result that Beijing is being forced AWAY from the nearest large gravity-producing object (in this case, the Earth). Now, with this change, it would make more sense (at least to me!) that things that aren't tied down on the surface of Beijing might start "floating" and rising into the air, as a side effect of the increased antigravity force. (Actually, it doesn't make MUCH sense... but I'd be willing to let it slide as an "transient unknown side-effect of the unauthorized and uninformed manipulation of an alien anti-gravity device".))
Also, if we keep the idea that the force field shuts down at the same time, it could be extra exciting because as Beijing starts to rise higher in the atmosphere without the force field, its internal breathable atmosphere would start to bleed away, and if Beijing keeps rising into space... well, it's game over. (The obvious problem with that is this: if much of the breathable air is blown out, how does it get replaced once the force field is reestablished? You could say that not enough air gets lost to harm everyone still in Beijing, AND that it increases the sense of urgency for our heroes to get Beijing back down to Earth, just because now the people in Beijing have that many hours FEWER of breathable air. On the other hand... would it make any sense for the Triceratons to have designed this system to be totally closed off, and not build it in a way for the force field to regularly admit new breathable air, just so as to keep alive whatever living "slaves" that were trapped within?)
Anyway, our Justice Force heroes are now faced with having to try to catch up with the rapidly ascending flying city (and I have to say at this point, that bit with them all flying underneath the city to try to hold it up was just WAY too silly), and they soon realize that they are close to exceeding their own limits (no air! cold space!). The frantic efforts to reestablish the former settings of the antigrav generator could proceed more or less as written, though I had a suggestion that instead of the Chinese scientist just reaching out with his hand to punch a button, it might be cooler like this: The scientist has a laptop computer connected in a jury-rigged way to the antigrav generator, and it is through this computer that the "shutdown" command was given. When the gravity shifts and everything starts to go haywire, the computer is still connected, via perhaps one thick cable or group of cables, to the antigrav generator. The scientist keeps a grip on the computer, and desperately types in commands to try to reset the antigrav generator... and all the while the stress on that connecting cable is starting to wiggle the connector loose... very tense situation until the final command is typed in and the generator is reset.

4.) Re: the following:

Believe me, Boss Man, you're gonna dig it big time."

Chaplin referring to Oroku Saki as "Boss Man" seems pretty flip and familiar. I think he would more likey call him "Sir".

5.) Re: the following:

"20. KARAI
But Master… what of the millions of innocents that will perish when Beijing comes crashing to Earth?
SAKI - glares at Karai.
21. SAKI
They are of little concern to me."

I'm wondering if Saki's repsonse might be cooler if he says something like:

"If they perish, it is their karma which makes it so... and it is of little concern to me."

6.) Re: the following:

Here it is, just like I told ya. Another one a' Shredder's alien tech garbage picking goon squads.
What do you think he's collecting all this stuff for?"

As it is pretty doubtful that Don would think any of the other Turtles would/could have figured it out before HE does, I think Don would more likely put that thought in this way:

"I wonder what he's collecting all this stuff for?"

7.) Re: the following:

Hey, Stock-Man.  I just want to say I think the Shred-Man's been giving you a bum ride.  He should be honored just to be in the presence of the legendary Baxter Stockman.  
(beat, looking at Stockman)
Even if you are a freakish, brain-in-a-jar shadow of your former greatness."

Much like my earlier comment about Chaplin referring to Saki ad "Boss Man", what is UP with "Stock-Man" and "Shred-Man" and the "freakish, brain-in-a-jar" stuff? Has this Chaplin dude had a personality transplant since the last time we saw him? When did he become so... so... SNARKY? (See also lines 63 and 125.)

8.) Re: the following:

"STOCKMAN - grabs a piece of equipment (a crash helmet maybe?) and <CRUSHES> it between his robotic hands.
All the better to crush, er… collaborate with you, Dr. Chaplin.
CHAPLIN - pats Stockman's robotic body on the back <KLUNK!>.
I figured you'll need it to survive the big mission. 
FAVOR STOCKMAN - He gently caresses the instrument panel at the helm like a beloved pet, playing it up for Chaplin.
Ah yes, the mission.  Pity you'll miss out on the maiden voyage of this incredible vessel you designed and built with your own two hands.
FAVOR CHAPLIN - as Stockman sidles up close to him, tantalizing him, reeling him in like a pro.
Nor will you get to study incredible antigravity technology, not to mention witness firsthand as an entire city crashes down from the stratosphere.
Stockman <SMACKS> robotic hand down on an instrument panel to illustrate.  Chaplin's mouth is practically watering."

It might work better if, instead of Stockman crushing the piece of equipment just before line 57, he instead holds on to it, perhaps rolling it around in his hands as if he is testing the dexterity of the robot body's fingers, and then when he says the line about "an entire city crashing down from the stratosphere", he uses that piece of equipment to demonstrate the "crash" effect (perhaps holding it in one hand while smashing his other hand into it).

9.) Re: the following:

"74. KARAI
Is this not the robot who sacrificed himself to end the alien invasion?"

Question: Would Karai more likely say "Is this not the robot which sacrificed itself to end the alien invasion?"

10.) Re: the following:

So you were the one making those calls.  Your memory core must have downloaded into my palmtop.     
ON DON'S PALMTOP - as data rapid scrolls past the Fugitoid.
Well, most of it.  Your hard drive doesn't have the same capacity as my old robotic body, so I'm afraid I had to forgo some nonessential information. "

I wonder if it might be cool if in addition to Honeycutt explaining that Don's hard drive is too small, he (Honeycutt) also did -- and refers to in this scene -- one or both of the following:

-- used experimental compression algorithms to shrink the size of some of his memory files down, and/or

-- distributed via the Internet (peer-to-peer file sharing?) some of the less essential parts of his memory, with the intention that at some point in the future he would go online and try to track them down and rejoin them to his memory core. It might be fun (or not) to  do something with this in a later episode -- i.e. somehow those pieces come together (perhaps with the aid of a hacker) and create an incomplete, perhaps evil "Dark Fugitoid". Maybe even hook up with Nano and create the NanoToid!

11.) I'm not sure how or if it would be advisable to put this into the mix, but it might be fun to play with the "all the Turtles look alike" thing when we are showing how the Fugitoid doesn't have all of his memory.

12.) Re: the following:

Oh.  Well, in any event, with my knowledge of Triceraton technology, I could easily assume control of the Antigrav Generator and gently lower the city of Beijing back to its original resting place."

Should Honeycutt speak in such blase terms of his ability to do this thing -- especially as later (in line 123) he says "Oh dear, I hope can still remember all my Triceraton Antigravity Physics"? I think it might be better if he suggests that he MIGHT be able to do it (maybe even rattle off, Spock-like, some percentages or probabilities of success), and Karai and the Turtles ruefully acknowledge that that's not only better than nothing, it's the best idea that they've heard (or been able to come up with) so far.

13.) Given that the Turtles are cooped up in that crate for quite a while, would it be funny if we did a "I have to pee!" gag? Perhaps Mikey could be the bladder-challenged individual, with the other Turtles giving him variations of the old "You should have gone at home!" and "You shouldn't have had that last super-sized soda!" lines. Maybe there could even be an oblique reference to the ancient ninja techniques for dealing with this situation that Splinter taught them, and Mike could complain that he was never really much good at those lessons. Or maybe that kind of joke is too infantile.

14.) Re: the following:

Hun sneaks down silently into the cargo hold, eyeing Karai with an evil grin.  (She doesn't see him.)
CLOSER - Hun presses a control button on a wall panel.
102. HUN
(sotto, to himself)
Goodbye, Karai.  Happy landings."

For purposes of "plausible deniability" for Hun -- in the perhaps unlikely event that Karai survives the fall -- should we have Hun play act "accidentally" bumping into the button to press it? Also, in his lines above, "Goodbye" seems superfluous -- I would just have him say (after perhaps an "Oops!" when he "accidentally" bumps the drop button) something like "Happy landings, Karai."

15.) Re: the following:

Just shut up and peddle."

Although the bicycle has been appropriated from a Chinese peddler, I believe the word is "pedal".

16.) Re: the following:

"SWAT VANS and POLICE CARS <ROAR> into the square as BEIJING POLICEMEN scramble into position, aiming spotlights up at:"

Do they have SWAT in China? And what do police cars (and police uniforms) look like there? Perhaps some research is in order.

17.) Re: the following:

Chaplin turns to Stockman proudly, pointing to the MegaMousers.
Mousers, Version 2.0.  I took your basic concept and gave 'em a little upgrade.  Cool, huh?"

This is not necessary, but might be a good character bit -- when Chaplin says this line, Baxter Stockman, unwilling to acknowledge any improvements on HIS brilliant ideas, could give a slightly offended and unimpressed sniff, looking down his holographic nose, and say something like "Upgrade? More like a... sidegrade."

18.) Re: the following:

"ON BEIJING POLICEMEN - <FIRING> their weapons at the MegaMousers.  Bullets merely <PING> off the bots."

Are we really going to have BULLETS pinging? Cool!

19.) Re: the following:

"ON A POLICE CAR - Two Beijing Policemen scramble out as the MegaMousers swarm all over the car, which disappears under the onslaught of MegaMousers.  A beat later, they scramble off, leaving nothing but the shell of a completely stripped car. "

Would it be fun to make these two cops the Beijing version of the "Eastman and Laird" cops as seen in the show several times? Also, while it is a fun visual to have the Megamousers completely strip the car down to a shell, it really makes not a whole lot of sense -- why would the Megamousers do that? Maybe they should just remove the wheels of the car to incapacitate it.

20.) Re: the following:

Funny.  Karai never mentioned anything about giant Mousers on steroids!"

There is some amount of redundancy here -- Mike should either say "giant Mousers" or "Mousers on steroids". And I must confess that as I am becoming tired of the "______ on steroids" cliched phrase to describe something big and powerful, I would prefer "giant Mousers".

21.) Re: the following:

Guess again, "Stock-Man".  "

Let's lose this one. Why the heck is Leo using the "Stock-Man" bit? Makes no sense.

22.) Okay, I'm confused. Wasn't the original plan to have the Shredder actually succeed in getting ONE antigrav generator out of this adventure? I thought he needed it for his spaceship (and WE needed him to get it for future plots to work). Am I misremembering things?
IF the answer is "No, he doesn't need it" and WE don't need it plotwise, then I think Saki should have a slightly different response to Karai's vid-screen report to him from the back-on-Earth Beijing. It's clever of her to turn the apparent failure into a different kind of success, but I think it would make sense for Saki to be at first angry about it, then grudgingly acknowledge her point. And he can still be even more pissed at Hun and Stockman.

22.) I think we should really steer clear of "cartoon physics" (at least as much as possible), such as those "Roadrunner" effects when the antigrav generator is shut off and Beijing starts to fall... and everything in Beijing starts to "float" in "free-fall". I think even a cursory examination of this scenario would reveal that EVERYTHING would fall at the SAME rate of speed (remember Galileo?). In other words, gravity would affect the city and its rocky base just as much -- or as little -- as every person, vehicle, or potted plant in Beijing. Beijing would not drop out from under everyone's feet!
I am also really not loving the whole "cut (actually, CHEW) the antigrav generator loose/raise it on a cable/turn off the anitgravity effect/cut the cable/turn the generator back on as it falls/save Beijing" bit. It is just full of holes, and feels really goofy. For one thing, the idea that it's even POSSIBLE to move the antigrav generator while it's sill turned on and putting out its gravity field AND the force field which encompasses the whole of Beijing is VERY suspect.
I would prefer to see a revised scenario which would leave the generator still attached to the ground, have the cable attached to it at some point (which would cause consternation on Hun's and Stockman's parts as when the device gets prematurely shut off at some point, the blimp they are in begins to get dragged down out of the sky along with the plummeting Beijing -- and it could be an act of cowardice that saves them, i.e. they choose to sever/release the cable to save their own skins at the expense of the Shredder's prize... which, of course, does NOT please him).

-- Pete


  1. Its really cool to see alternate sequences to episodes. Thanks for sharing!

    Were there many episodes that looked very different from the inital script to the product we see on televison?

    While its on my mind... not long after that one, the episode "Dragon's Brew" took place. It featured a monster that was once human that had a connection ot Agent Bishop. It is never followed up on or given a clear explaination of who he was and how he became a monster through his connection with John Bishop. If you happen to remember that one was there any further plot to that one. The plot stands out as incomplete. Thanks.

  2. "mikeandraph87 said...
    Its really cool to see alternate sequences to episodes. Thanks for sharing!

Were there many episodes that looked very different from the inital script to the product we see on television?"

    I would say that quite a few of them turned out differently from their original concept -- the premise stage -- but once the script was finalized, the actual episode seen on TV was very close to that script.


"While its on my mind... not long after that one, the episode "Dragon's Brew" took place. It featured a monster that was once human that had a connection ot Agent Bishop. It is never followed up on or given a clear explaination of who he was and how he became a monster through his connection with John Bishop. If you happen to remember that one was there any further plot to that one. The plot stands out as incomplete. Thanks."

    I don't remember a lot about that one, but it is quite possible I will run across some comments about it which I will post here. -- PL