Sunday, September 4, 2011

Blast from the Past #399: April 30, 2004 re: Ep. 78 ("Exodus, Part 2") outline; May 4, 2004 re: Ep. 77 ("Exodus, Part 1") first draft; and May 10, 2004 re: 2nd draft Ep. 77

Subj: Ep. 78 ("Exodus, Part 2") outline
Date: Friday, April 30, 2004 4:09:48 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


Here are my comments on Ep. 78 outline.

1.) Re: the following:

"The Shredder (v.o.): “For almost a millennia of earth years, I have been trapped on this planet …”

"Of Earth years" seems redundant and unnecessary.

2.) Re: the following:

"In the belly of the spacecraft, the super weapon can be seen, pieced together from various alien (Triceraton/Federation) hardware.

The Shredder (v.o. cont’d): “… and it carries the master weapon which I will use to destroy the Utrom HomeWorld!”

I don't recall this superweapon thing from the previous episode. I recall  wondering about whether the Shredder HAS such a thing in my last set of notes on Ep. 77. So... what is it, what does it do, and why does the Shredder want to use it against his people? I'm still not entirely convinced that -- as bad as the Shredder is -- he would be that genocidal.
Perhaps it is something else -- a device which will allow him to enslave the Utroms, instead of just killing them (which seems pretty much of a waste, when you think about it).

3.) Re: the following:

"Inside the ship as its blasting up, the four turtles are overcome by the tremendous G-forces.  Splinter alone seems able to withstand them, obviously affected, but strong beyond his appearance."

For the life of me, I can't understand why Splinter would be less affected by the G-forces than the others. It seems to make no sense.

4.) Re: the following:

"… after the turtles have passed the three hanging exo-suits/(Shredder-ized), the middle of the three exo-suit moves and watches the turtles and Splinter go and then … this is the Shredder (inside the exo-suit), and he attacks.

Splinter is ready for the attack and spins to block the Shredder’s down swinging blades.  The turtles spin around and join in the fight.

The Shredder comes on strong and starts beating the crud out of the turtles.  And, to make matters worse …

Karai comes from the shadows, her blade drawn.

Leonardo intercepts her and those two start a lengthy battle of blades."

As I read this, it occurred to me that it would be a cool visual if Karai also donned a suit of the Shredder armor to join  in the fight -- TWO Shredders kicking Turtle butt at the same time.

5.) Re: the following:

"Bishop orders a marker dropped on the crash site (in the middle of the Atlantic) for a possible salvage operation later."

Not that I have a HUGE desire to see the Garbageman return, but when I read that line I immediately thought of "Junklantis" and Garbageman's undersea salvage operation -- I wonder what he would do with such a prize?

6.) The "just in the nick of time" arrival of Mr. Mortu and the other Utroms is necessary, I guess, but it just seems to be thrown in there BECAUSE it's necessary. I'm not exactly sure how to do it, but I think SOME kind of setup would be a good thing,

-- Pete


Subj: Ep. 77 ("Exodus, Part 1") first draft
Date: Tuesday, May 4, 2004 2:27:03 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


Here are my notes on Ep. 77 first draft.

1.) Re: the following:

Are you sure you don’t need, you know, something bigger? Like a roll of carpet?  I don’t think this’ll cut it. "

How about "beach towel" instead of "roll of carpet"?

2.) Re: the following:

"Mikey stops, unrolling the scroll, filled with KANJI writing.
I can’t read it.  It’s kanji!  Man, I knew I should have paid more attention to Master Splinter’s kanji lessons…
Honeycutt peers over at the scroll.  CLOSE on his ‘eyes’ as a WHITE LINE moves up and down them, like a computer scanner.
I have many earth languages in my database.  I’ll scan it and… oh, my.  Oh, dear.
I think you should wake your brothers… quickly."

I'd like to suggest a small tweak to this bit, as follows:

"Mikey stops, unrolling the scroll, filled with KANJI writing.
I can’t read it.  It’s kanji!  Man, I knew I should have paid more attention to Master Splinter’s kanji lesson. I'd better go wake up Leo...
Oh, no need to disturb his rest, Michelangelo...
Honeycutt peers over at the scroll.  CLOSE on his ‘eyes’ as a WHITE LINE moves up and down them, like a computer scanner.
...I have many earth languages in my database.  I’ll scan it and… oh, my.  Oh, dear.
Perhaps you should wake your brothers… now!"

3.) Re: the following:

‘Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello…  I do not believe words are adequate to express …’
PAN ACROSS Mikey, Raph and Don from behind LEO as he reads, his voice overlapped by MASTER SPLINTERS in VO.
(almost overlapping)
…how proud I am of you all.  My life has been so very rich because of my sons."

I'd like to suggest the following changes:

‘My sons, words are not adequate to express …’
PAN ACROSS Mikey, Raph and Don from behind LEO as he reads, his voice overlapped by MASTER SPLINTERS in VO.
(almost overlapping)
…how proud you have made me.  My life has been so very rich because of you."

4.) Re: the following:

But now, the time has come to face my old enemy one last time."

So we don't repeat the word "time" in this line, I suggest changing it as follows:

But now, I must face my old enemy one last time."

5.) Re: the following:

…even if I must sacrifice mine.  The Shredder must be stopped, and, for reasons I cannot explain, I know this is my last chance to do so."

Reasons he can't explain? What are they? Will we get an explanation? Is he referring to the vision he had which we saw in the opening? Unless it's really important for Splinter to be so mysterious about his reasons, I suggest changing this line as follows:

…even if I must sacrifice mine.  The Shredder must be stopped, and this may be  my last chance to do so."

6.) Re: the following:

Leo, tell me we’re going after him.
CLOSE ON LEO, determined.
Of course, we’re going after him.  If this is something our father has to do, then we’ll fight by his side - to the end.  "

I wonder if we should have a character moment here for Leo, where, instead of immediately making his decision, he struggles a bit with the conflicting and seemingly mutually exclusive feelings of (a) wanting to help his master/father, and (b) wanting to OBEY his Master/father's EXPLICIT instructions NOT to try to help him. Leo should recognize that Splinter is working on a "point of honor" here, and as such Splinter's decision should be respected --even if Leo and the others are appalled by it. And it shouldn't be easy for Leo to overcome his conflicted feelings.
This could actually be seen as a key moment in Leo's growing up  -- he is faced with a dire situation in which there are two equally (though for different reasons) "right" solutions... and he has to pick one of them. And this is unlike other situations where the Turtles disobeyed Splinter's orders to not go aboveground or follow him somewhere (as in the first "Big Brawl" episode), because of the honor issue.

7.) Re: the following:

Hey!  Guys!  I think I’ve got plan ‘C.’
(to Leatherhead, pointing at the grate)
Doc… smash THAT."

Why does Mike refer to Leatherhead as "Doc"?

8.) Re: the following:

Professor – can you send a signal to the Utroms?  A warning?  Anything?
CLOSE on the chip, which starts BLINKING.
I’m already sending it, Donatello.
Or at least, I think I am.  I can’t, um, seem to remember EXACTLY how to contact them.  But the signal is definitely going into space!"

A logic point -- exactly what kind of signal is Honeycutt broadcasting from his "Palm Pilot" platform? We're talking above vast interstellar distances, remember -- any ordinary radio signal would take a REALLY long time to get to the Utroms, if they were even listening for it. I'm not even sure if this signal to the Utroms is necessary -- I haven't read to the end of the script yet. 
Perhaps to ramp up the tension, we should have Honeycutt say something about how he needs to find a subspace communications array to send a decent signal to the Utroms... and the only likely place to find one of those right now would be on the Shredder's starship!

9.) Re: the following:

Where do you think they are?  It’s not like them to just take off… 
(thinks on that)
Well it’s not like Donatello, anyway.  He was going to help me with Uncle Augie’s math algorithms."

Who's "Arpil"? (Just kidding.)  I don't think we need the word "math" in April's line -- it's redundant. And I like the alliterative qualities of "Uncle Augie's algorithms."

10.) Re: the following:

Hey, I wouldn’t worry about it.  Splinter’s with them – how much trouble could they be in?"

How does Casey know that Splinter is with them? 

11.) Re: the following:

Whoa.  Dr. Stockman, what should we do?  We have to help Mr. Saki!
Yeah.  I’ll get right on that."

I think Stockman would say "Yes" instead of "Yeah".

12.)  I wonder if we should have a moment of reaction by Bishop when he -- along with Hun and the other Foot -- see the reveal of Saki's "true" Utrom form. I suspect Bishop would find that VERY interesting.

13.) I think this is going to be one KICK-ASS episode, and I really hope we can get some great action stuff in the big fight when Bishop's commando team battles the Foot ninjas. One of things that I would like to avoid if at all possible is the kind of weird/silly fight staging that we saw in the last episode of the "City At War" arc, when we had all these guys with big guns shooting at each other in a relatively small room, with very little effect. I might even suggest that we throw in a line or two from Bishop and/or Hun that weapons fire should be kept to a minimum around the Shredder's starship (might cause serious damage/explosions, etc.) and that the fighters should switch to hand-to-hand combat.

14.) I'm still not sold on the idea that Saki is going to take a big particle cannon into space and try to destroy the Utroms with it, for a number of reasons. I'm not sure it's even necessary to specify what kind of peril the Utroms might be in from Saki if he gets off Earth -- just the fact that the evil little dude is running free around the cosmos is enough to cause great consternation among the Utroms.

-- Pete


Subj: Re: TMNT - 2nd draft 077 ("Exodus, Part 1") 
Date: Monday, May 10, 2004 3:04:55 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


Here are my notes on new Ep. 72 second draft "Exodus".

I think there are some really cool elements to this new draft of the episode, and some great action. However, I think it still suffers from some logic holes, the most obvious one being -- how do we square the starship blasting off from Saki's mansion with his stated desire to leave his Foot organization intact (and respected by the people of New York) on Earth? Or are we saying that he just doesn't care? It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, as you pointed out to me during one of our phone calls last week.
I've made a few suggestions in the points that follow, but to sum up my overall idea: I think that the launch of Saki's spaceship should be kept separate from the party at the mansion (and thus not conflict with his stated goals of keeping the Foot going on Earth under the leadership of Karai). There are several ways to do this, one of which I lay out herein. I also think that Bishop's assault on the mansion is too crude and blatant, and really would work better (for me at least) if it were done differently. In fact, I think it would be cool if we had two things going on simultaneously: the assault and destruction/explosions/carnage deep inside Saki's mansion HQ, and something like a huge fireworks display which would not only keep the party guests occupied and distracted, but also serve to cover the noise and vibrations of the battle that rages within the depths of the mansion.

1.) Re: the following:

"LOGLINE:  Splinter receives a vision from his Master Yoshi … and a mission.  He must stop the Shredder."

I know this "Logline" thing is a short summary of the episode, and thus may not fully describe key concepts, but unless something significant has changed, Splinter has a vision OF his Master Yoshi -- not FROM his master Yoshi.

2.) Re: the following:

"MASTER YOSHI is tied to a chair as the Shredder stands over him.
UP ANGLE – ONE OF SHREDDER’S CLAW/HAND BLADES rising up into FRAME and then swiftly flies back down out of FRAME and …"

Is this part of the vision supposed to reflect "true" events? Because if I remember correctly, Yoshi was on the floor (not tied to a chair), weakened by TASER darts, when the Shredder delivered the killing blow -- and Splinter in his pre-mutated form was there to witness this.

3.) Re: the following:

High in the snow capped Himalayan Mountains, upon a rocky outcropping, Splinter kneels facing a kneeling Master Yoshi.  Yoshi holds up the Guardian robes (he was wearing in the previous scenes) towards Splinter … giving Splinter the robes.
Splinter.  You must take this now.
Yoshi bows (still kneeling) as Splinter bows even lower reaching out to take the robes and we …"

While this is not bad per se, I wonder if it is a bit too literal (and I really want to steer clear of any idea that Yoshi is actually sending Splinter a message from beyond the grave), and also wonder if we should do something a little more symbolic -- perhaps blending/morphing an image of Yoshi in his guardian robes and Splinter in his normal garb, the resulting image being Splinter in a version of Yoshi's guardian outfit.
I kind of dig the idea of Splinter taking on the mantle -- literally -- of a Guardian.

4.) Re: the following:

And, I plan to return at some point.  This city has been good to me.  It is my adopted home.  But, enough of this talk.  Please, enjoy your dinner … and let us make this evening a truly unforgettable night."

The last line ends a bit awkwardly -- I would suggest changing it to read "… and let us make this a truly unforgettable evening."

5.) Re: the following:

It’s your party, Mr. Saki."

Actually, I think it should be "Mr. Oroku", given Japanese naming conventions. 

(And because I just had this thought and don't want to forget it, I'll mention it now -- if we bring back the character of Usagi again, I was thinking it would be very cool if there was an analog of our Shredder in Usagi's world, complete with armor that looks similar, etc.. I'm not saying that he should be an Utrom, but just a character in Stan's version of feudal Japan who is a visual analog of our Shredder. This idea is, of course, also subject to Stan's approval.)

6.) Would it be more interesting if April arrives at the Shredder's mansion party on the back of Casey's motorcycle -- or even driving it herself? Or maybe Raph gives her a ride to it on the Shell Cycle? Not that the cab bit is bad -- just trying to think of ways to make it more interesting. (I was thinking it would be funny if she drives up in the Battle Shell and gives the keys to a freaked-out parking valet... but that might be a bit over-the-top.)

7.) Re: the following:

"ON – DONATELLO as he has the TECH TABLET version of PROFESSOR HONEYCUTT attached to his belt.  And, Donatello has his workbag, as he will throughout this episode and Ep 78.
Professor Honeycutt is standing by to take your call.
Yes, I am ready.  But, I wish you had let me use my robotic body instead of this more diminished mode of transport."

I don't know why, but as I was reading these lines I suddenly had the vision of Professor Honeycutt using a leftover Mouser (!) body that Don had in storage and adapted for Honeycutt to use as a temporary host. I think it would be hysterical to see one of those chomping robots speaking in Honeycutt's voice -- and it might even work as part of the way they infiltrate the compound (Honeycutt could use the Mouser robot's digging abilities to tunnel into the place as needed, or whatever). And just imagine the look on Stockman's face -- er, brain/eye -- when he sees one of his Mouser robots speaking like the Fugitoid!
Actually, if we can't use it here, I'd like to do this gag at some point in some future episode... but I think it might be used to good effect here.

8.) This next idea is completely off-topic, but it popped into my head right now. What if... at some point in the future, we have the Saki Utrom actually become the human Shredder that the fans have been clamoring for? Here's the scenario that I'm thinking of right now: At some point in a future episode, the Saki Utrom escapes from his exile. He finds his way back to Earth and during some kind of battle, is physically damaged enough so that only his brain is salvageable -- and we throw in some time-travel back to feudal Japan, where Saki  has his brain transplanted into the body of a great warrior/lord -- who could be the "original Shredder" we've talked about before. This is obviously a very rough idea, but I thought it might be worth discussing.

9.) Re: the following:

Before those fools of Utroms attempt to come back here to capture me, I will be at their throats."

The phrase "fools of Utroms" sounds awkward to me -- maybe he should just say "Before the other Utroms attempt..."

10.) Re: the following:

With my forces from here and my old comrades, I shall lay waste to the Utrom Homeworld … and enslave those who oppose me …"

Whoa! "My old comrades..."? Who is he referring to? Do we know? Are they other Utroms, or some other alien race(s) who were his allies long, long ago?
I also question the use of the phrase "lay waste to" -- not to sound like a broken record, but I don't believe that Saki is interested in destroying valuable assets. He wants conquest and power, yes, but only enough destruction required to accomplish those aims. I would suggest replacing "lay waste to" with "conquer" or "subjugate". 

11.) Re: the following:

Gotta go.  Bye now."

I think Stockman would not say "Gotta". I would change that to "Must go!"

12.) I haven't read through to the end yet, so I don't know what, if anything, has been done to address the issue of how do all of Saki's human party guests react to the launch of a starship from his mansion. But it just occurred to me that a way to make this work might be to have the ship be on some kind of cradle which could lower it into a tunnel out into the river/ocean, and it could travel several miles out from shore and launch from the water, thus not drawing attention to Saki's mansion.

12.) Re: the following:

"APRIL pulls a small remote with a red button on it out of her purse.
CLOSE ON - She presses the button.
The catering truck (which Casey parked there in Act One) <EXPLODES> upward in a huge ball of <FIRE> and <FLAMES>."

While pyrotechnically interesting, this struck me a very bizarre -- doesn't April care about potentially innocent bystanders who might be immolated in this truck bombing? I wonder if it would be equally or more effective if instead of just exploding like this, it sets off some kind of huge and beautiful fireworks display -- which might work well to draw people out of the mansion.
Actually, if we use my idea of an ocean launch for the starship, it might not be necessary to have anything to force the partygoers to vacate the mansion.

13.) Re: the following:

I am afraid I only have one speed for climbing.  Slow and steady.  Oh, that’s two speeds, isn’t it."

No, it's not. Dopey joke -- let's lose it.

14.) Re: the following:

"SPLINTER steps up and raises his walking stick over his head.  Then, with a <CLICK>, Splinter <UNSHEATHES> a sword hidden inside his walking stick and holds both sword and stick/sheath …"

I don't think so. If Splinter needs a blade for the coup de grace, he can use one of Leo's or find one in the mansion. Or he could use the blade of his kusari-gama.

15.) "Hover tanks"...? WTF??? Where did they come from?

16.) Does it occur to anyone how incredibly BLATANT, CRUDE and STUPID it is for Bishop to have a TANK and HELICOPTERS firing shells and rockets at Saki's mansion? Is he TRYING to draw attention to himself and his covert op?
I think it might be more interesting -- albeit not as pyrotechnically engaging -- if Bishop already has men on the inside -- maybe some of the waiters and caterers are his guys -- and they assist him and his commandos in getting inside the mansion at the key moment. 

17.) Why is it that Chaplin can remain oblivious through the noises of explosions and battle because he has his MP3 player blasting music in his ears, but when the Shredder calls, he hears him?

18.) Re: the following:

The Utroms have hounded and hunted my father all his life.  They deserve what they get.
It’s not true!  The Utroms saved my father!

ON – THE DOOR to the catwalk/platform opens and the THREE TECH NINJA enter.  They press their chests and CLOAK themselves … and leap to attack.
You do not know of what you speak.
FOLLOW – The three CLOAKED Tech Ninja leap across the room and grab and attack Donatello just as Splinter, Raphael and Michelangelo land down behind Saki.
No, it’s you who’s been lied to … by your father!  By the Shredder!  He’s a monster."

I think the idea of this exchange between Karai and Leo is good, but the execution of it is a little off. For example, when Leo says "It's not true!", what is he saying isn't true -- that the Utroms have hounded Saki all his life (which we know to be more or less true), or that they deserve what they get (true only from Saki's perverse perspective)? And when Karai says "You do not know of what you speak", what is she referring to? It's all kind of muddled, and I don't see one of the key points being spoken -- which is that Leo should try to say that the Utroms had a good reason for "hounding" Saki (he's a criminal), and thus Karai's loyalty is misplaced. 

19.) Re: the following:

"CLOSER ON – Hun and LeatherHead start to fall …
Awwwwwww …
WIDER – They fall … and fall …
… cruddddddddddddddd!
WIDER STILL - … and fall … and fall …
DOWN ANGLE ON – The two hit the bottom far below with a tremendous crash …"

I think we may be seriously straining the "toughness" envelope here -- how much punishment can these characters take and still live? What is just described would just about kill anyone, even tough guys like these two.

20.) Re: the following:

Stop him!  Incinerate that ship!"

Why "incinerate"? Why would Bishop want to destroy the ship rather than disable it?

21.) I'm disappointed that we don't have the scene where Hun realizes that Saki is an Utrom. What happened?

-- Pete


  1. Your comment about the Japanese naming convention reminded me of an episode of the Fred Wolf cartoon that I hated as a kid (one of many): "Shredder's Mom". The writers of that episode made the same mistake, but nobody ever corrected them before it aired.

  2. Interesting that you mention the Mr. Saki/Mr. Oroku discrepancy. It's been a point of contention between some of the fans, since there are some who believed that the multiple references to the Shredder and Karai as Mr. and Ms. Saki were mistakes by the writers and/or by the characters, and that their proper surnames were Oroku, like in the Mirage comic, while others, including myself, thought that the fact that they were only referred to as Mr. and Ms. Saki--never as Mr. and Ms. Oroku--meant that Saki was, in that particular continuity, their canonical family name. I had assumed that this would have been something you would have hashed out with Lloyd Goldfine and company, but apparently not. Do you recall if there was ever any correspondence on the matter, aside from this particular set of e-mails?

    In any case, the Japanese convention of surname first/given name second, I believe, only applies when actually speaking or writing Japanese. If you're speaking in another language (English, in this case) then the name is spoken/written using the conventions of that language, such as in this BBC article on the selection of Yoshihiko Noda as Japan's Prime Minister ( ). While this isn't an absolute law--Miyamoto Musashi (or Usagi, for that matter) is never referred to as "Musashi Miyamoto", no matter what the language--leaving the name unchanged in English, as in the original TMNT comic--is the exception, not the rule.

  3. And, oddly enough, if memory serves it was corrected in the 'Legend of Koji' episode where Shredder states 'I'm an Oroku too'... His Ancestor also had the Name Oroku Sanjo. So they got it right at least once ;)

    I haven't looked at the credits in a while, but

  4. Mr.Laird should have gotten a writing credit for improving the dialogue on some of these things :)

  5. " I think we may be seriously straining the "toughness" envelope here -- how much punishment can these characters take and still live? What is just described would just about kill anyone, even tough guys like these two."

    Too funny. I love these comments. But you are considerate. You're not trying to find faults you're just being constructive and pointing out inconsistencies.

    You would make a great script supervisor.

    1. "You would make a great script supervisor."

      Thanks! It is something I have considered looking into, though in truth I am not sure if I would be able to muster the same energy for something that I wasn't intimately connected to like I was to the Turtles when I did the work with 4Kids. But maybe... -- PL