Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Blast from the Past #384: Mar. 6, 2004: Re: Episode 69 "Time Travails" first draft notes

Mar. 6, 2004: Re: Episode 69 "Time Travails" first draft notes

From: Peter Laird
To: Lloyd Goldfine


Here are my comments on Ep. 69 first draft script:

notes on Ep. 69 first draft script "Time Travails"

1.) Re: the following:

Six weeks of this, just for like, accidentally wiping out a gross planet of giant bugs?  That is completely harsh.  (sigh)"

I think to keep Renet somewhat lovable, I'd like to change this genocidal mistake to something big but much less "harsh" -- perhaps like:

Six weeks of this, just for like, accidentally reversing evolution on a planet of gross giant worms?  That is completely harsh.  (sigh)"

2.) Re: the following:

"PUSH IN on the Orb of Hindsight on one shelf, where in the globe we SEE a horned DEMON (SAVANTI ROMERO) is seated on a throne, questioning his ADVISOR (a bulky hooded and robed figure wearing an ornate mask.)"

I don't mind having this "Orb of Hindsight" here to give a little bit of foreshadowing, but would prefer if it was a little less blatant -- perhaps in the short time we "push in" on the Orb, we see the image change from one historical  scene (could be anything instantly recognizable, like the Roman Coliseum, the moon landing, Ben Franklin flying his kite, whatever) to the scene of Savanti Romero, then begin to change to another scene just before we cut away from the orb.

3.) Re: the following:

"MATCH SCENE -- INT.  CASTLE ROMERO – 1406 - DAY – Romero looks interested in what his Advisor has told him.
A time Scepter, you say?
Yes, my lord.  Our sources say it is held by the Time Lord himself.  Its powers would give you all the conquest you desire."

I'm not loving this apparent change in the backstory of the Savanti Romero character (from how it is in the comics), in that here he has no knowledge of the Time Scepter until his advisor tells him about it, but in the comics he not only knew about it but was once an associate of Lord Simultaneous until he was banished for trying to usurp Lord Simultaneous.
I think it works better if Savanti knows about the Time Sceptre, and has long plotted to get his sorcerous hands on it, though frustratingly he has not been successful (until the arrival of Ultimate Drako, of course!). So I would change this dialogue to something like this:

"MATCH SCENE -- INT.  CASTLE ROMERO – 1406 - DAY – Romero looks interested in what his Advisor has told him.
What?! The -- the Sacred Sands of Time Scepter?! You have found it?!?
Yes, my lord.  My readings of the Winds of Change have given propitious omens that it will soon pass this way. Its powers would give you all the conquest you desire."

4.) Re: the following:

A Spell of Summoning shall deliver the Time Scepter into my hands!"

Though this does not in fact happen in this scene, I think this idea gives Savanti too much control over how he can get the Scepter. It makes it too easy. I think if we have him cast any spells to get the Scepter, they should be "guiding" or "luring" spells, which can't directly draw the Scepter to him, but act as a lure or bait to attract the Scepter.
5.) Re: the following:

"ON THE SCEPTER  -- as Renet’s hands REACH IN and take it.
Sweet!  I’ll – oop.
WIDEN AS – <SFX: BWOOP!  BWOOP!  BWOOP!>  An ALARM goes off, indicating the Scepter has been disturbed"

It might be fun if the statue that is holding the scepter kind of "wakes up" -- its eyes open, maybe it waves its arms, and IT makes the "BWOOP" alarm noises.

6.) Re: the following:

"LEO LOOKS SLIGHTLY FLATTENED as the other two rise, but sticks a thumb in his mouth and BLOWS, comically.  The indentation in his chest-shell POPS OUT.  He kip-ups to his feet."

Oh. My. God. Fred Wolf lives.  My blood pressure just spiked.

7.) Re: the following:

"Let me guess.  You’re not from around here.
Well, duh.  Do I look like you?
The turtles are a little taken aback by this.
42. DON
Well, no… 
(cocks his head, with a grin)
You’re a girl, for one thing.
Raph punches him.
43. DON
Ow.  What!?
ON LEO – explaining.
44. LEO
What he means is, most people find us somewhat… unusual. "

This whole exchange seems weak to me, and Don's lines seem not very Don-ish, and Raph's reaction to them seems more like something he'd do to Mikey. I have to go and read the comic again -- something is missing here.

8.) Re: the following:

"50. DON
And what’s that stick?"

This writer REALLY doesn't get Don. He would not say something this stupid and unobservant.

9.) Re: the following:

"51. RENET
Oh right!  Hi!  I’m Renet, Apprentice Timestress from the Nexus of Time Management.  This is the Time Scepter.  It brought me here."

To avoid confusion with the "Battle Nexus", I think we should not use the word "Nexus" here. And the "Time Management" gag is silly. Why not just have her say "I’m Renet, Apprentice Timestress from the 79th level of Null-Time."

10.) Re: the following:

"54. LEO
Orb of Hindsight?
RENET nods, cheerfully.
Totally!  It shows places where Time is about to get seriously disrupted.  Usually it’s a bummer ‘cause everyone is like, about to be horribly destroyed and stuff?  But you guys seem okay."

This is an interesting description of the nature of the Orb of Hindsight, but I feel it's a little too much. I would tweak her lines somewhat as follows:

"55. RENET
Totally!  It shows Times where EGS happen...

No, silly! E.G.S. -- Events of Great Significance! Sometimes it’s a bummer, ‘cause everyone is like, about to be horribly destroyed and stuff?  But you guys seem okay."

11.) Re: the following:

"57. LEO
Battle mode, bros.  We’re gonna slide outa here nice and easy –"

The second line from Leo here is unnecessary and weirdly contradicts his first line -- I'd get rid of it. 

12.) Re: the following:

"A GIANT HEAD – silvery, but resembling Lord Simultaneous in features, appearing in the air.
(vast reverb)

I haven't read this script all the way to the end, so I may be jumping the gun here, but I feel that I should point out that in the comic, Lord Simultaneous does this kind of "Wizard of Oz" thing where he projects his avatar -- this big threatening shiny head -- to intimidate Renet, but when he is later revealed, we see that he is a short, not-terribly-scary-looking guy (though he IS still very powerful). I'd like to keep this notion intact if possible.

13.) Re: the following:

"ON RAPH – catching the sais as they rebound.  The blades are smoking.  DON reacts.
67. DON
Okay, we got a problem."

Another dopey, way-too-obvious and out of character line for Don. Not to mention that it's unnecessary and would be better expressed by the expressions on the Turtles' faces.

14.) Re: the following:

"68. RENET
We have to bail!  Scepter!  Get us out of here!  Now!
WIDE ON RENET AND THE TURTLES – as they GLOW, and then VANISH with the Scepter."

Why doesn't the Scepter say "Destination?" as it did before? 

15.) I'm really not loving the whole scene where Savanti Romero "summons" the Time Scepter with his "new recipe". The dialogue is silly, and I would really like to keep intact another thing from the comic -- that Savanti Romero is so attuned to the Time Scepter that he can sense its presence once it arrives in his domain.

16.) Re: the following:

"RENET is struggling to her feet with the Scepter.  It is BENT AND SPARKING from the fall.  "

Unless there is some REALLY good reason for the Scepter to be damaged in this manner, I'd prefer to keep it UNdamaged.

17.) I know that we are changing the plot somewhat from the comic, but would it be cool to make Savanti's "evil dark knights" be "evil undead dark knights"? I'm thinking it would be fun to keep some zombies (as in the comic), and it would be a cool visual to show Savanti's sorcerous powers raising these undead warriors -- they could come out of the ground around his castle as the skeletons did in the movie "Jason and the Argonauts". It's not vital, but it could be neat.

18.) Re: the following:

"CLOSER ON LEO – frowning.
91. LEO
Master Splinter always says:  "A battle prevented is the greatest victory."  Renet, can you use that gizmo to get us out of here?
RENET is shaking the Time Scepter, which is still bent and sparking.
I think one of you guys landed on it!"

Okay, now I see what the writer THINKS is a good reason to have the Scepter damaged. But it doesn't really work for me. There are any number of reasons why Renet would not utilize the Scepter at that moment to take them out of that scene of peril:

-- she could just be so rattled that she forgets how to use it
-- she tries to use it but finds that Savanti's spell has exerted some kind of "damping" effect on the Scepter's powers
-- one of the Turtles could remark that -- given Renet's "lack of control" as commented on by Mikey a few moments earlier -- maybe it's a better idea that they fight the knights... at least that's something they can likely handle. Who knows where they might end up if Renet calls on the power of the Scepter again? (Could become an "out of the frying pan and into the fire" kind of thing.)

19.) Re: the following:

"BACK ON RAPH glancing down as his sais spin.  He’s already fighting off two other Dark Knights, their swords striking at him viciously.
97. RAPH
Yeah!  Get these tin cans on their back, they’re stuck!"

I think this is really way too silly. Almost as silly as Mike's rejoinder "Kinda like Turtles!"

20.) I could do without the "mutated aardvark" bit (and its lame "Creature that" line) -- let's just have the more subtle nod to Cerebus with the earlier appearance of the non-mutated aardvark.

21.) I could also REALLY do without Leo's STUPID "Look at my thumb, gee you're dumb" bit.

22.) Re: the following:

Hmm?  Oh.  I was talking about the Time Scepter of course.
WIDER as he gestures with his other hand.  The damaged Scepter is YANKED away from Renet and into his palm.
116. RENET
Hey!  That’s mine, you jerk!"

This seems like a good place for Savanti to respond to Renet with some kind of comment about how the Scepter isn't really hers, something biting and sarcastic.

23.) Re: the following:

"The Turtles are staring at the castle.
137. DON
Oh, sure.  There had to be a castle.  This whole day just wasn’t annoying enough.
ON LEO – looking regretful.
138. LEO
Renet, you’re safe and that’s what matters.  What say we just forget about that stick of yours and go home?"

Two stupid bits in a row. First, what is so "annoying" about a castle? And this is yet another Don line that doesn't sound like Don.
Second, what is Leo smoking? How the hell does he expect to "get home" WITHOUT "that stick"? And come on -- why the hell do various Turtles keep referring to the Scepter as a "stick"?!!! This is SO goofy.

24.) Oh, before I forget -- now I see the "reason" for the Scepter to be damaged: so we can engage in lame slapstick with Savanti crudely bashing it to "fix" it. Groan.

25.) Re: the following:

"164. DON
Yo!  A little help!?"

Don doesn't say "Yo". Raph says "Yo". Mike says "Yo."

26.) The idea that the Sacred Sands of TIme scepter can be used to change/evolve common cockroaches into "Rochasaurs" is an interesting one, and I am not opposed to it. However, at some point in the proceedings I would like it to be pointed out (by whom, I'm not sure -- maybe Lord Simultaneous) that this is a MISUSE of the powers of the scepter. And, as I am not sure that I want to establish the scepter as anything more than a time machine, I would also like it to be made clear that it is able to do this new thing only through the use of added sorcery.

27.) Re: the following:

"168. LEO
Bug, I got just one thing to say.
PUSH IN on his face as he YANKS his katanas free and KICKS out of the mandibles, SPINNING in the air.  His katanas GLEAM.
169. LEO (CONT)
Big mistake."

I've got just one thing (okay, more than one thing) to say -- unnecessary, bad, silly, tough guy poser lines. Let's lose them.

28.) Re: the following:

ANGLE ON THE DOOR – as it CRASHES open, right off its hinges, the four Turtles against it.  The door SMASHES down on the floor, the Turtles rolling off and to their feet.  Renet PEERS IN, then reaches down and twiddles the latch.
176. RENET
Uh, guys?  Wasn’t locked."

Even more stupid, pointless slapstick. And how, pray tell, if the door is SMASHED off it's freakin' hinges, is Renet able to tell it wasn't locked by "twiddling" the latch? Even more to the point -- WHY would she even CARE!!??? I sure as heck don't.

29.) Re: the following:

"He WHIPS off the robe and mask, REVEALING – ULTIMATE DRAKO!  A horrible bonded cross between the Ultimate Ninja and Drako, but it hasn’t been a happy union.  It’s like they were put through a blender.  Bones stick out, vestigial arms in the wrong places, two faces, but with a shared mouth."

As far as I know, there have been no sketches done so far of what the Ultimate Drako is supposed to look like. I'd like to go on record right now that the description here does absolutely nothing for me, and I think a less grotesquely monstrous form would work better -- something which is a clever blending of key Ultimate Ninja and Drako elements.

30.) Re: the following:

And in all that time, our hatred of you only grew!  We found this fool of a demon-sorceror –
Three thirty nine.
And convinced him to seek the Time Scepter so that we could seek you out for our revenge."

As I mentioned in point 3, I think it would be better if Savanti is the one who knows about and craves the Time Scepter. And how would Ultimate Drako know about it anyway?

31.) The conclusion of the battle for the Time Scepter is just incredibly weak. What happened? Why no showdown between Lord Simultaneous and Savanti? Instead we get another wormhole (manifested by a suddenly and mysteriously capable Renet) that sucks in Savanti and Ultimate Drako -- end of story. And why would Renet deliberately free Savanti instead of the Turtles? Makes no sense, unless she did it by accident, which would be more logical considering her character. And unless I'm forgetting some plot that we talked about where his presence would be necessary, why DOES Savanti disappear into the same wormhole with Ultimate Drako?
If the idea here is to set up the adaptation of the "Tales of the TMNT" #7 story, I think it would work much better to follow the story as laid out in the comic -- i.e. that Lord Simultaneous has a history with Savanti, and decides to punish him for his further malfeasance by exiling him even further back in time (to the prehistoric/dinosaur era).

32.) Re: the following:

"DON is looking around.
213. DON
Hey, check it out!  We’re right back at the same time we left!"

I know Don is smart, but without looking at a watch or a clock, HOW DOES HE KNOW THIS???!!!!

33.) Re: the following:

"LORD SIMULTANEOUS pops in, dignified, right at roof level.  
Very sorry that my apprentice disturbed you, sirs.  Rest assured that she will be appropriately punished."

I would prefer to keep Lord Simultaneous' attitude towards the Turtles more like it was in the comic, where he tolerated them and was not inclined to harm them in any way, but he was also not going to put up with any shit from them. Here, he just seems to show way too much deference to them, calling them "sirs".

-- Pete


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. 6.) Re: the following:

    "LEO LOOKS SLIGHTLY FLATTENED as the other two rise, but sticks a thumb in his mouth and BLOWS, comically. The indentation in his chest-shell POPS OUT. He kip-ups to his feet."

    Oh. My. God. Fred Wolf lives. My blood pressure just spiked.

    Hi Peter: I didn't know you have a sense of humor. Your statement about Fred Wolf make me laugh.
    Seriously, since you visited the Fred Wolf studios, why you didn't get involve in the original series. Besides, a lot of episodes have references about the original series.