Monday, September 19, 2011
Blast from the Past #410: June 22, 200: Re: second draft of Ep. 80 ("The People's Choice")
Subj: Re: Show 80
Date: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 12:27:17 PM
From: Peter Laird
To: Lloyd Goldfine
After your mysteriously missing email last week (before your visit) and this latest thing with me not getting either draft of Ep. 80, I hope we are not heading into some new "email void" problem.
Anyway, here are my comments on the second draft of Ep. 80 (I didn't bother reading the first).
1.) Re: the following:
*EXT. OLD SAW MILL – NIGHT
*MIKEY – lying on his back in the grass, his eyes closed, *looking deceptively relaxed.
You couldn’t ask for a better day to go campin’.
*CLOSER ON MIKE – his eyes blink open and he stares up at…
*MIKEY’S P.O.V. - …the big blue sky, PINE TREES blowing in the *breeze. A BLUE BIRD <TWITTERING> and flitting around overhead.
The sun is sunnin’, the trees are treein’, the birds are birdin’…"
A minor point, but it IS confusing -- is this day or night? It starts out as "EXT. OLD SAW MILL - NIGHT" but then everything that Mike describes reflects daytime.
2.) Re: the following:
"*MICHELANGELO (V.O. CONT’D)
There’s nothin’ cooler than mega robots, alien blobs or cat fights from Mars. "
The "from Mars" bit is slightly tired and probably inappropriate here, so why not change it to "from outer space" or "from space", or change the whole "cat fights from Mars" to "intergalactic cat fights"?
3.) Re: the following:
"ESTABLISH – It’s a beautiful starry night with a full moon. A *forest of tall pine trees surrounds a 100-foot wide LAKE created by a 10-foot high rock dam that was once fed by a now *dried up, little river. The forest has been clear cut a *quarter mile around an old, abandoned 3-story saw mill with a *water wheel sits just below the dam beside a dry river bed. "
Not to be too picky -- and I don't really think I am, because this is a key location -- but I'm a little unclear about how a 100-foot wide lake (which I would call a pond) which was apparently created by damming a "little river" could continue to exist for very long if that little river is "now dried up". I don't see the point of having the river dried up -- maybe it figures into the story later on, but right now it makes no logical sense to me.
4.) Re: the following:
<deep breath of fresh air> Just look at this place. They just don’t build turn of the century saw mills like this anymore.
*WIDER ANGLE - Mikey looks around at the tree stumps.
Probably because they were running out of trees."
I'm all for Mike making a snappy/funny comment here, but this one is pretty lame, especially after this location is described earlier as surrounded by a "forest of tall pine trees". Maybe something like "Probably because it's not the turn of the century anymore" or "You think it's got indoor plumbing?"
5.) Re: the following:
"*OTS SPLINTER - looks at his wrist, which doesn’t have a watch.
Oh, yes. I did not realize how late it was."
This "looks at his wrist" bit is ALMOST funny, but really unnecessary, and not very Splinter-like.
6.) Re: the following:
"*TURTLE’S P.O.V. - Suddenly, the shooting star turns, coming their way!
*MED SHOT – Mikey and Don’s smiles turn to puzzled expressions.
It turned! But that’s an astronomical impossibility!"
There's something weird in this context about the phrase "astronomical impossibility", but in any event, given the Turtles' recent experiences with space ships and aliens, I think that most likely the first thing to jump into their minds would be that this thing is most likely some kind of spaceship. So I think it would work better if Don didn't seem so stunned, but instead just said something like "It turned! That's no ordinary shooting star!" or maybe better, he could start saying something and be interrupted by the "shooting star"'s crash -- like "It turned! That would indicate it's some kind of technological -- " (and then he has to jump for it.
7.) Re: the following:
"ANGLE FROM THE LAKE - The trail of bubbles keeps moving towards them.
MIKE AND RAPH – They’re a mix of bewildered and apprehensive.
ANGLE FROM THE LAKE - The trail of bubbles keeps getting closer.
*DON AND LEO – Leo puts his hands on his katanas, ready for *trouble, while Don shows more curiosity."
I like the fact that Don is "more curious", but the way Mike and Raph are described makes them seem really passive and stupid, and doesn't fit in with past behavior -- under these kinds of circumstances, they would most certainly be getting ready for trouble, not just stupidly gawking. If the idea is that Leo -- given his current emotional problems -- is more on edge, let him get his weapons out first and/or display a greater edginess than the others. But the other Turtles would certainly arm themselves under these circumstances.
8.) When the "robot" first comes out of the water and the Turtles confront it, I think there is a good opportunity for some Mikey humor and a nod to one of the all-time classic sci-fi movies, as follows:
"*DOWN SHOT - The robot continues its approach the turtles.
Hold it right there, sparky.
*FAVOR DON as he holds up a hand toward his brothers.
Hey, guys, maybe it’s friendly.
Donnie could be right! Let me try something... (MIKE steps forward, raises one hand, palm out) "Klaatu barada nikto"!
*STRAIGHT ON - The robot stops.
*OTS DOWN ANGLE – The robot stares down at the uncertain *turtles.
*OTS UP ANGLE – The turtles stare up at the giant robot.
*MED UP ANGLE – the robot raises its right forearm to point at *the turtles…
STRAIGHT ON – the robot’s forearm TRANSFORMS into something that looks like an ENERGY CANNON.
*CLOSE ON LEO – He looks pissed.
Maybe it’s not!
Actually, it probably makes sense to lose Leo's last line there.
9.) Re: the following:
"*MIKE uses a WOODEN SPOON to toss eggs into the air one at a *time and whack their shells off <CRACK, CRACK, CRACK, CRACK…>
*CLOSE - The CONTENTS OF 5 EGGS fall into the frying pan Mike *holds over the fire and <CRACKLE>.
*WIDE ANGLE – Raph grabs Don’s staff and hits the bottom of the *pan, sending the eggs flying.
I like mine over easy.
*TRACK EGGS as they fly through the air.
*MIKE flips backwards, keeping his eyes on the flying eggs.
*ON MIKE – as he DIVES TOWARD CAMERA, catching the now scrambled *eggs in the pan, and sprawls on the ground, looking up at…
Hope you like scrambled."
This whole slapstick routine leaves me cold. What's the point? Raph's behavior makes him seem like a thuggish vandal -- why is he deliberately trying to ruin breakfast? And Mike whacking the eggs' shells off in midair is just too stupid.
10.) Re: the following:
A universal translator.
I still don’t understand what she’s yammerin’ about."
I wonder if it might be good if we added something to make it clear that it's not that Raphael can't understand the words she is speaking, but that he doesn't get her meaning, perhaps as follows:
A universal translator.
See if it has a "Make Sense" setting -- 'cause I still don’t understand what she’s yammerin’ about."
11.) Re: the following:
Sounds pretty much the same way we do it here.
*PAN OVER to Don. He shakes his head.
Not quite. We elect a new leader and the old one steps down. It’s a peaceful process."
So the Turtles vote? Sorry... but maybe there should be a little thing to indicate that Don's talking about what HUMANS do. It could be as simple as this:
Sounds pretty much the same way they do it here.
*PAN OVER to Don. He shakes his head.
Not quite. We -- well, not US exactly, but humans in this country -- elect a new leader and the old one steps down. It’s a peaceful process."
12.) Re: the following:
Your process sounds fair."
Given that Jhanna apparently has no problem with HER system of choosing a leader -- at least when it's done correctly and without treachery --I though it might be fun to add a bit as follows:
Your process sounds fair, if a little... boring."
13.) Re: the following:
What is your people new she tried to ambush you!"
I think that's supposed to read:
What if your people knew she tried to ambush you?"
14.) Re: the following:
"PULL OUT as Moriah’s alien monsters (G’viss, EEL BEAST, ROCK BEAST AND BUBBLE BEAST) emerge from the forest behind her. <ROARING, HISSING, GROWLING>
ANGLE ON TURTLES – PUSH IN - Don and Mike with surprised looks – Leo and Raph ready to kick butt."
Given the circumstances, why do Mike and Don have "surprised looks" while Leo and Raph don't?
15.) Re: the following:
"*NEW ANGLE – LEO runs into shot and drives on of his katana, *like a javelin, piercing the beast’s belly with the tip. *<GURGLING ROAR>"
This action is a bit confusing. I take "like a javelin" to mean that something is THROWN (like a javelin) -- is Leo throwing his sword? And why is he just "piercing the beast's belly with the tip" when he could SLASH with his katana and open up a BIG hole?
16. Re: the following:
"*WIDE – Jhanna runs toward Moriah, her weapon raised. The rock *beast is looking the other way until…"
I don't get why the rock beast is "looking the other way" -- is there something more interesting than the woman he is supposed to be trying to kill?
17.) I absolutely hate everything in the "breakfast in bed" scene. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Makes NO sense. Pointless and infantile.
18.) Re: the following:
"*ON DON AND G’VISS – as he forces the surprised lizard down.
Buckle up, we’re about to hit some turbulence."
I like "snappy patter" as much as the next guy, but this seems very weak, inappropriate and unnecessary. I'd lose it.
19.) Re: the following:
"Back in the ruins of the old mill Moriah moves toward the fallen Jhanna."
Hmmm... I thought they (Moriah and Jhanna) were OUTSIDE the mill last time we saw them? And how has Jhanna "fallen"? The last we saw of her she had been briefly pinned, then released, by the rock beast. What happened to make her "fall"?
20.) Re: the following:
"OTS MIKEY - faces the rock monster as it lumbers towards him. Still twenty feet from Mike, the rock beast punches its fist into the ground.
*CLOSER - PAN muddy ground <CRACKING/LIFTING> in a line TOWARD *CAMERA.
Now how about lending me a HAAAA-!
*The rock creature’s hand bursts from the ground under Mikey and *grabs his leg as he tries to leap away."
This is TOTALLY bizarre. What amazing capabilities are we giving this rock creature now? It can suddenly STRETCH like Mr. Fantastic underground?
21.) Re: the following:
"*WIDE DOWN SHOT OF BATTLE FIELD – CAMERA ROTATES CCW – all the *creatures are down or destroyed, the turtles and Jhanna are *down, as well (moving slightly). Moriah begins to walk toward Jhanna.
LOW ANGLE - As the DUST settles, Moriah walks past the sprawled bodies of the turtles toward Jhanna and stops.
MORIAH smiles as she looks down at her opponent.
*O.T.S. MORIAH’S - On the barely moving Jhanna. Suddenly *Donatello leaps in between them, brandishing his staff."
Another weak and confusing moment in the staging of the action in this episode. How can Donatello come leaping in when it was just stated that the Turtles are "down"?
22.) Re: the following:
"MORIAH turns on Jhanna, brandishing her weapon with devilish glee. (This is better than sex!) She moves to strike.
*ON THE TURTLES – They look at each other, wondering if they *should give these girls some privacy."
I have the uncomfortable feeling that I just got an unintended peek into the writer's mind, and... yuck. "Better than sex"? "Give these girls some privacy"? Ewwww.
23.) Re: the following:
"*NEW ANGLE - …kick Moriah in the back, sending her flying OS, *before landing. Jhanna jumps into the air again…
*THE TURTLES exchange looks.
Cool move! I gotta remember that one.
We won’t interfere.
Don leads them OS toward trees."
Don's "We won't interfere" line, coming right after Mike's "Cool move! I gotta remember that one" seems like a total non sequitur. And why are they moving towards the trees? They can't stay where they are and not interfere? I don't get it.
And then, a few lines later, when Moriah has Jhanna pinned, the Turtles come "RUNNING TOWARD THEM". Some non-interference!
24.) Re: the following:
"OTS JHANNA - Moriah kicks Jhanna in the back and pins her to the tree.
*PAN from Moriah, down her extended leg to Jhanna.
Not as long as I breathe!
*NEW ANGLE – INCLUDE TURTLES RUNNING TOWARD THEM – as Moriah *begins to push her foot into Jhanna’s back, crushing the *breath from her.
*CLOSE ANGLE - Jhanna’s gauntlet’s GLOW and she <BREAKS> the trunk of the tree, <SNAPPING> it off.
ANGLE - She swings the tree around like a baseball bat, <BREAKING> it against two other trees before…"
A few odd things here. FIrst, Moriah's "My pleasure" line is I think meant to show how cruel and sadistic she is but it doesn't really work or make sense.
And the whole bit with Jhanna snapping off the tree and hitting Moriah with it makes me shake my head. How big is this tree? You'd have to think that it was pretty sizeable so that Moriah could pin Jhanna against it... but if it's really big, that means that Jhanna's glowing bracelet gave her some kind of superpower that allowed her to pull off this stunt, and if she has this magic bracelet power then she wasn't really in much jeopardy to begin with, was she? So her win is really not because she's strong or good or clever or courageous, but because she has magic super powered bracelets. Lame.
25.) Re: the following:
"ON VAN – As the door <SLAMS CLOSED> Raphael notices that Casey and April look upset.
What’s with you two?
*WIDE ANGLE – as the van does a U-turn and drives away.
*APRIL & CASEY
<mumble under their breath>."
What a truly ridiculous non-resolution to a truly pointless exercise (the whole Casey/April thing in this episode). Why even have them in it if it is going to be this foolish?