Friday, August 12, 2011

Blast from the Past #386: Mar. 22, 2004: Re: TMNT - 73 Outline

Mar. 22, 2004: Re: TMNT - 73 Outline

From: Peter Laird
To: Lloyd Goldfine


Here are my comments on Ep. 73 outline. Be forewarned -- I go off a bit at the end! 

1.) Re: the following:

"Donatello falls to his knees before a tall, rectangular (Japanese) grave stone.

Donatello:  “Master Splinter!  Nooooo!  It’s all my fault!  It’s all my fault!”

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 etched into the rock of the stone.  And, his walking stick leans forlornly against the tombstone never to be used again."

I love the imagery here, but I am wondering if perhaps a stone monument is inappropriate. I think a wooden one (in the same shape) would be more in keeping with the idea that the Turtles are "on the run" in this world, and a wooden monument to Splinter is the best that they could do under such circumstances.
And hopefully as I read on I will find out why Don is saying "It's all my fault!"

2.) Re: the following:

"A little freaked out, Donatello goes to the surface on the elevator (after clearing an I-beam out of the way) and finds that the warehouse is a shambles … riddled with bullet holes and half blown to shreds and painted in all sorts of graffiti.  Donatello moves outside and sees a strange, horrific New York (as in Preview … a battle worn and more Shredder-ized Manhattan)."

Perhaps the elevator is not working, and Don has to climb up the shaft -- might be a cool visual.

3.) Re: the following:

"And yet, Don finds conclusive evidence (the wall where Splinter would mark the Turtles height, a yellowing issue of one of Mikey’s Silver Sentry comics, etc.) that he is indeed in the real lair … only an old and abandoned lair … abandoned many years ago."

Just a minor -- but key -- point to reiterate just so we're all on the same page -- he's not in the "real lair" if we think of the "real lair" as the one that our regular Turtles have lived in since episode one. This is an almost identical -- though aged -- lair in a parallel dimension. It is not the "real lair" at some point in our future. In other words, this is not a time travel phenomenon, but a trans-dimensional travel one.

4.) Re: the following:

"… we widen to reveal that the police are all FOOT POLICE!  (Foot Ninja with an extra layer of police uniform and police hat).  They approach, laser weapons drawn …"

I hope that we don't use the goofy image which popped into my head when I read this -- a Foot ninja wearing a NYC police uniform -- with hat! -- over his ninja garb. I think we need to design something cool which does NOT look like what I just described, but gets across the idea that the Foot control the city in this world.

5.) Re: the following: 

"Donatello:  “The last thing I remember was that combination Drako and Daimyo’s son monster …”

Michelangelo:  “We named him the Ultimate Drako.”

Donatello: “He zapped me 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.  I swear.”

This concerns me somewhat -- do we really want to have such a clear convergence of histories in the parallel universes? Why is it important to bring the Ultimate Drako bit in to this parallel universe?

6.) Re: the following:

"Donatello:  “But, there is.  It’s in the four hundred and third amendment to the Shredder’s Constitution: any person or persons strong enough to overcome the President in hand-to-hand combat shall be named World President within thirty days of victory.  I’ve been doing a little reading.”

“A Presidential Challenge?!”
“Nobody’s ever tried that before!”
“He’d never honor it.”
“Unless enough people saw us make the challenge.”"

I like this "challenge" bit, but I think a few little tweaks to it would make it work better. First, I think it should be made clear that the Shredder ALLOWED that amendment because he knew that no one would be able to best him. And second, I think it would be cooler if others HAD tried to defeat him in this kind of contest... and they ALL failed miserably. In fact... would it be cooler if, instead of dying in a prison camp, CASEY had challenged the Shredder in this type of contest?
Also, though it is apparent the writer wants to get all four Turtles in action against the Shredder, the stipulation that "any... persons" could be read to mean that an ARMY could go up against him, which the Shredder would clearly not allow. I think we should have it be restricted to single combat, and choose which Turtle (Don?) should challenge the Shredder.

7.) Re: the following:

"On the view screens as they <fritz> and <change> to the four turtles.  They make the challenge:  “Yo ugly, remember us?”  “We’re mean, we’re green and we’re on the scene.”  “And, using your own laws, we invoke the right of a Presidential Challenge.”  “The four of us against you in mortal combat.”  “If you got the guts, you nasty little bug!”"

I know this is just an outline, and a lot of things will be changed, but some of this makes me ill -- "Yo, ugly", "Mean, green and on the scene", "you nasty little bug"... blechhh. This should be serious stuff.

8.) Re: the following:

"Just then, a huge hover ship comes lowing down into Times Square in front of the turtles (blowing over the video camera) and sending the populace screaming in terror.  A large hatch opens and a silhouetted figure appears … in full battle armor … it’s Karai … dressed more like what the Shredder currently wears.  Her Dark Princess outfit.  The Shredder accepts the turtles’ Presidential Challenge.  And, he will face them … at the Presidential Palace.

Knowing that this is probably a one way ticket, the four turtles board the hover ship and it takes off … and we go to …"

I don't get this. I thought that the Turtles, via April's hacking into the system, were at some remote location to do their video challenge thing -- NOT standing there with their camera in Time Square in plain sight! Doesn't make much sense to me.

9.) Re: the following:

"At one point, Donatello is knocked across the room and slams against the wall near the bricked up prison cell door.  Stockman’s eye/tentacle protrudes and turns up at Donatello:  “Donatello, hello there.  Where have you been?”  “Stockman?  <Shudder>”

Donatello turns ready to go back to the fight but … a tentacle reaches out and hooks his leg.

Stockman:  “Wait!  I have something … something I developed fifteen years ago … just before I was bricked up in here to suffer unspeakable torments and experimentation.  Take it!  Take it!  I was going to use it on the Shredder … but never had my chance.  You are my chance now.  Take it!  Take it!”

The tentacle unfurls and drops a small, jagged green pill into Donatello’s hand.  Stockman (o.c. cont’d):  “Make him eat it.  You’ll see!  You’ll see!  <hideously insane laughter>!"

Do I sense a recurring (silly) theme here? This is the second time in the last two episodes where a villain is defeated by somebody eating something (last time it was Mike swallowing the "Utromidium"). I think it is ridiculous.

10.) I'm not loving much of the resolution of this episode. It's fractured and illogical and silly in parts, and while I am not averse to a "downer" ending to some of our stories, this one seems to cry out for a LITTLE ray of hope -- and NOT this:

"A sad and heartbroken Donatello falls through a tunnel of Null Space.  But, then, he sees something at the end of the tunnel of Null Space that cheers him.  He sees Raphael … and Michelangelo and Leonardo … all young and in good health … and he falls towards them calling their names with joy as we fade away …"

... which seems to make NO sense, at least to me. 

I think it would be behoove us to work with this plot some more, and make it a little more interesting and not quite so goofy, with some more unexpected twists. For example... the audience is going to expect that one of the Turtles will face the Shredder in "honorable" -- and very likely hopeless -- combat. But -- what if we use a twist and have that Turtle pull a fast one (while still staying within the rules) and come into the combat in a way which keeps the playing field level? Here's what I'm thinking:
First, let's ditch the "walled-up Hun and Stockman" stuff -- it's silly and a waste of time and good characters. Instead, I propose Twist #1: Stockman (whatever degraded form of him we want to use, and maybe the eye/brain/spinal cord version would be best) has actually switched sides and is now in league with April, his former employee! I'm sure we could come up with some likely rationale to explain this, if needed. 
Twist #2: After Don gets over his surprise at seeing Stockman on their side, he gets an idea... an idea which depends on how much like our original universe's Stockman this one is, at least in terms of the kinds of things he has invented. 
Cut to a scene set in a dusty, abandoned secret lab. There are strange shapes covered with dusty tarps scattered around the lab. Stockman is saying something about how he had hoped to complete and perfect some of these weapons systems with this universe's Donatello's help... but when that Don went missing, Stockman reluctantly abandoned them. Don is walking around checking things out... he's obviously looking for something specific. He stops in front of a large hulking shape covered in a tarp, and pulls the tarp off. We don't yet see what is under it, but we do see the appreciative look on Don's face, and his determined grin as he says something like "This COULD work...!"
Then we cut to a brief montage of snippets of Don, Stockman, and April working on pieces of SOMETHING (we never show the whole thing... yet), welding, soldering, running computer diagnostics, etc.. 
Now we do the "video challenge" bit, and Karai in her cool Shredderesque armor (with a face-hiding mask -- IMPORTANT!) is sent -- along with a squad of Foot ninja -- to pick up this challenger. She arrives at some location (to be determined) and finds, to her surprise, the one-armed Mike waiting for her. She can barely contain her amusement -- "YOU?! Wasn't losing one arm enough punishment for you, freak?!" -- but she is shocked when the other two Turtles leap out from the darkness and in a savage whirlwind of ninja fighting, take out her Foot escort. They then take her down, and while she struggles against the restraints they tie her up with, she curses them and says stuff like "Slay me if you will, but worse awaits you! The Shredder will -- "
From the darkness off to one side, a voice speaks. "We're not going to kill you, Karai... even though God knows you deserve it. No... we need you." A pause... and then the speaker steps into the light -- it's April. "Actually -- it's not really YOU we need..."
Cut to Karai's ship bringing the challenger to face the Shredder, in whatever arena setting is deemed appropriate. The Shredder awaits, huge, imperious, threatening, supremely confident. Legions of Foot ninja ring the area. Nearby, something about eight feet tall and four feet around is draped with a covering bearing the Shredder's mark.
Karai's ship settles to the ground... the hatch opens, dropping to the ground (like a ramp) and down it comes Karai. She stops and bows to the Shredder. Then, a Turtle comes down the ramp -- it's Mike. The Shredder is as amused as Karai was at the impertinence of this crippled adversary. But before he can spew too many insults, another Turtle comes down the ramp. It's Raph. Then Leo comes down the ramp and joins his brothers.
Now the Shredder chuckles. This is more like it! Two almost worthy adversaries. The Shredder smirkingly reminds the Turtles of the rules -- they can't BOTH fight him -- they have to pick one. "Maybe you need help in making that decision," he says -- "Perhaps another vote...?" With that, he rips the covering off the thing next to him.
Horrified gasps from the Turtles -- because what is revealed is that universe's Donatello, posed stiffly on a pedestal. Stiffly, that is, because he's DEAD and STUFFED! (IF we can't get away with this, maybe we could have him frozen or something.) The Shredder laughs at their outrage, and says something about how some time earlier this fool Turtle tried to assassinate him.. and failed, and the Shredder turned him into this curio. "Now..." says the Shredder... "Choose your champion! Which one of you will it be?"
The Turtles can barely control their outrage...  but through gritted teeth, Leo speaks for them. "It's not going to be one of us, Saki... there is another..." All the Turtles turn slightly toward the ramp... and Karai's ship shakes slightly as loud, thumping footsteps are heard from within... as SOMETHING large comes down the ramp. We see the Shredder's reaction... there is the first hint of concern in his posture.
Then... we pull back and up to reveal what it is -- it's Stockman's giant mech body! (OR something much like it) Within its glass dome "head" we can see the eye and brain of Stockman. 
The battle begins -- and being as it is a battle between what are essentially cyborgs, it can be a horrific and punishing battle. Smashing! Bashing! Ripping! Tearing! And it culminates in a moment when the Shredder -- who is VERY damaged -- seems to get the upper hand when in a clinch with Stockman, he SMASHES the glass dome, spilling out the life-giving fluids which preserve the existence of Stockman's brain. The Shredder roars in triumph,  but Stockman -- with his last bit of life energy -- speaks his last to his former master: "You always did like to claim victory before you actually won... what you don't realize is that the purpose of my sacrifice was solely to get my robot body in a position to do... THIS!!!" Stockman activates a circuit, and the front of his robot's chest pops open -- and out springs our Donatello!
(I'm not sure WHAT he should do here -- I briefly thought of having him have the Sword of Tengu, but that might be a bit too much -- but he should do SOMETHING which decisively wins the battle, maybe something which SMASHES the Shredder suit open, leaving the Saki Utrom to flop helplessly onto the ground.)
However, the evil one is not through. He squawks commands to the legions of Foot ninja -- "Attack! Kill them all!" -- and the Foot ninja leap forward. But a commanding voice orders them to halt. It's Karai! She orders them back to their positions. Karai draws her sword and stalks over to the Saki Utrom. "By your own laws, you have lost this contest... and by your dishonorable actions in defeat, you have earned DEATH!" Karai slashes downward... and the evil one is no more. We pan up to Karai as she removes her face mask -- it's APRIL! Softly, she says "And THAT'S for Casey..."
Don leaves (or gets drawn away) as the other Turtles and April face a world without the Shredder, and where POSSIBLY things can get better. Perhaps if April can maintain the pretense that she is Karai, she can help to direct the Foot in a more benign direction.

-- Pete


  1. An April as Shredder is a very cool image idea. Although I always liked the idea of Karai taking on the's something we havn't really seen before...the mantle of Shredder being passed on...

    As if the episode isn't dark enough already, I kind of like your take on it..

  2. I might like these ideas you had for the episode better than the final result. The turtles fighting the shredder in a tournament style battle would of been cool to see.
    When you came up with these ideas, were you planning on shredder fighting in a huge mech like the final episode or his original shredder suit? personal i never liked him in a huge mech because it takes away from the ninja part of the character and you dont have a cool martial arts fight

  3. Peter:It's this the sad episode Same as it never was?

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