Monday, October 3, 2011

Blast from the Past #417: July 20, 2004: Ep. 84 ("Grudge Match") second draft, and July 28, 2004: comments on Ep. 85 ("A Wing and a Prayer") first draft

Subj: Ep. 84 second draft
Date: Tuesday, July 20, 2004 1:43:33 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


Here are my notes on second draft of Ep. 84.

1.) I don't have any comments, except to say -- much improved! And approved! Please pass along my heartfelt appreciation to whoever is responsible for making this one work.

-- Peter


Subj: comments on Ep. 85 first draft
Date: Wednesday, July 28, 2004 1:27:30 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


Here are my comments on Ep. 85 first draft.

1.) Re: the following:

I have watched over your world from on high for too long, never knowing what it was like to walk among men.

But times have changed.  The world of man encroaches into the heavens."

Raptarr's voiceover in the Preview seems a bit off. The use of "have" in the first line implies that up to this point (of this story), he hasn't had anything to do with the human world... which is not the character of Raptarr as I know it. I believe we set him up as someone who has been doing this for a while, even gaining recognition as a "superhero". 
And I don't get this "world of man encroaches into the heavens" thing. What encroaching? 

2.) Re: the following:

"ANGLE - Michelangelo runs onto a TV aerial and springboards off it to…"

That's one sturdy TV aerial.

3.) Re: the following:

"DOWN ANGLE – Mephos flies out over an alley, between buildings.  One of Mephos wings sweeps Michelangelo off and he falls."

I don't understand how, if Mike is sitting on Mephos' shoulders with his legs wrapped around his head, one of Mephos' wings can "sweep" him off. How does that work?

4.) Re: the following:

"OTS RAPTARR – TRUCK IN as he catches up to the more amazed than fearful Michelangelo.  The ground is coming up fast.
Whoa, cooool!"

Mike's "Whoa, cooool!" line only makes ANY sense if Raptarr has caught (i.e. grabbed to stop his descent) him -- which is not immediately clear the way it is written (at least to me).

5.) Re: the following:

"UP ANGLE – That’s when one of Raptarr’s wings cinches up, and he looks like he’s in pain.
DOWN ANGLE – the birdman tries to control his decent with his good wing, but they end up spiraling down.
LOW ANGLE from alley – ask Mikey <crashes> onto his back, and Raptarr lands hard beside him.
NEW ANGLE ON RAPTARR AND MICHELANGELO – Raptarr kneels over Michelangelo.
(a little uncertain)
Are you… all right?"

This action seems a bit pointless, especially the bit about Raptarr's wing suddenly (and for no apparent reason) "cinching" (?!) up. Then when he crashes next to Mikey, he apparently is unhurt by the fall... so why bother with it? I'm not saying that we shouldn't have scene where characters fall and don't get hurt, but it seems that it would be better if there was a decent reason for it, even if it is -- for example (and I admit not a GREAT example) -- a little slapstick-type bit where they crash land in a Dumpster and climb out with banana peels and other garbage decorating them.

6.) Re: the following:

"LOW ANGLE - Raptarr sits up.  He winces when he tries to spread his right wing and notices that it is SPLINTED AND BANDAGED.
Your, uh, wing was sprained… so we splinted it."

Does it seem weird to anyone that the Turtles were able to diagnose a "sprained" wing while Raptarr was unconscious? Isn't a sprain the kind of thinkg you can only discern when the patient is AWAKE?
Then this is followed by this other goofy bit:

"NEW LOW ANGLE - Master Splinter suddenly leaps up on the back of the couch behind Raptarr and jabs him in the shoulder with the index and middle finger of each hand.  Raptarr sits up in shock.
CLOSER – Splinter twists his fingers on the spots on Raptarr’s shoulder and back, then he pulls away.
WIDER – Splinter jumps down from the couch.  
That was ancient ninja remedy.  Pressure points that will redirect the flow of chi to remove pain.
Raptarr stand up and stretches out his wing.  He doesn’t wince."

Why is Splinter LEAPING? It makes no sense in context. And why is he talking like a stereotypical English-challenged Asian ("That was ancient ninja remedy")? But most of all, why bother with the splinting and bandaging if all Splinter has to do is poke Raptarr in the shoulder with his fingers and it's all better??!! Dopey.

7.) Re: the following:

This place, it’s of Y’Lantian design!"

(Note: is the correct spelling "Y'Lantian? That seems wrong somehow, and too close to "Atlantian" in pronunciation. WIthout checking back to past scripts, I think it is supposed to be "Y'Lyntian".) I think it is cool that Raptarr makes the connection between the lair and the Y'Lyntian culture. But... I thought that the lair itself is supposed to look like a HUMAN design  -- and the Y'Lyntian part (the elevator to the surface) was originally HIDDEN (remember how Mikey found it by accident while pounding a spike in into the wall?). If you think about it, nothing about the lair (aside from that elevator) looks particularly alien or non-human. I think for the sake of logic and continuity, we should have Raptarr make the connection to Y'Lyntian culture because he sees the elevator -- maybe Mikey or one of the other Turtles arrives in it from some errand, and that's when Raptarr notices it.

8.) Re: the following:

Of course!  You’re the race of bird men created by the Y’lantians."

I think this line would read better if we added "one of" as follows:

Of course!  You’re one of the race of bird men created by the Y’lantians."

Actually, as I reread that now, should we have Don say something other than "bird men" to describe Raptarr's people? "Bird men" seems kind of juvenile (like something Mikey might say).

9.) Re: the following:

With these remnants they constructed a new crystal orb which was powerful enough to keep aloft a vast city…"

Reading this made me start thinking about how the Avians ended up with this flying city. It seems perhaps a bit much that they built it from scratch and made it fly after Y'Lyntias sank. What if it was originally the "pigeon coop", if you will, where the Avians lived while in thrall to the Y'Lyntians? I'm envisioning a floating aerie originally tethered (probably with less than a thousand feet of cable/chain) to the continent of Y'Lyntias, kept aloft by a small crystal. The rationale could be that the vain Y'Lyntians didn't want the home of their flying slaves in any way befouling their precious land, and so kept them in this "bird cage" away from the mainland of Y'Lyntias. The irony is that when the cataclysm came, and Y'Lyntias sank beneath the waves, it was this "bird cage" which saved the Avians, as, in a desperate two-pronged struggle, they severed the chain/cable (could be a cool visual) and also stole larger crystals to allow their home to go higher into the sky and become their floating city. (I envision that the Avians would have, over time, gradually enhanced/improved/enlarged their original "bird cage".)
It might also be cool to mention that they did not right away have the invisibility cloak for the city -- this was something that they developed in the centuries after they gained their freedom, having predicted (correctly) that at some point in the future humans would build flying machines. It could be neat if during that time that the Avians' flying city DIDN'T have the cloak, the sight of it in the skies, glimpsed by ancient humans on the ground, gave birth to certain legends.

10.) Re: the following:

HIGH DOWN ANGLE – three old Avians are perched on the perches around the crystal. MEPHOS (WITH REGULAR WINGS) stands before them with other MISC. AVIANS and Raptarr. "

This "perched on the perches" description makes me nervous -- the writer does know that the Avians are NOT birds, right?

11.) Re: the following:

"MED SHOT ON MEPHOS AN RAPTARR – Mephos pushes Raptarr back. At the last second, Raptarr spins them so Mephos hits spikes.  TRUCK OUT as Mephos hangs from the spikes by his wings, screaming in anguish and anger.
DOWN SHOT - Mephos (with only stubs for wings) falls AWAY FROM CAM down the tunnel to Earth, his face twisted, screaming.
Mephos was beaten, his wings lost and he was exiled to the world below.  But I felt he was not gone forever. "

This is all very murky. What exactly happened to Mephos' wings? Did they get torn off in the battle? Did the other Avians remove them as punishment? What about the other Avians who sided with Mephos -- were they punished similarly? And why is Mephos shown FALLING to Earth with no wings -- wouldn't that likely kill him? I think it probably makes sense that both Mephos and his allies would be punished and exiled -- wingless -- to the surface. It might also then be cool if Mephos was the only one of this group to survive exile, mainly due to the inner strength fueled by his hatred of the Avians who cast him out.
Also, I need to get a handle on WHEN this all happened. How long-lived are the Avians? Did this happen millennia/centuries/decades ago?

12.) Unrelated to this script, but perhaps germane if we ever return to the Avians and their floating city -- I was thinking it might be cool if over the years of human flight, some unlucky humans had blundered into/crashed into the flying city, and -- for security reasons -- never been allowed to leave. It might be fun to tell a kind of "Bermuda Triangle" story using this idea.

13.) Not that EVERYTHING in this series has to be connected, but... would it be a cool thing if somehow Bishop (or Stockman, or Malignus) was involved in the backstory of how Mephos got his new metal robo-wings? Not that we need to go into  it in detail in this episode, but if we wanted this connection, it might be fun to drop a hint about it.

14.) Re: the following:

But as long as he doesn’t have a crystal diadem.
What’s a diadem?
DONATELLO leans over and half whispers to Raph.
Uhm, would that be the thing Mephos grabbed off your head after he knocked you out?
RAPTARR reaches up and panics when he realizes it’s gone.
No! "

This feels wrong on several levels. Raph seems like a dope with his question. And if Don is half-whispering to Raph, why is he saying "the thing Mephos grabbed off your head"? Mephos didn't grab anything off Raph's head. This feels like  a silly/stupid attempt at humor which just falls flat. Why not just have Don speak directly to Raptarr, referencing the diadem that Mephos took during the fight? Actually, wouldn't Mephos realize as he's speaking about it that the diadem is no longer on his head? Maybe this whole goofy exchange is unnecessary. I wouldn't miss it if it were removed.

15.) Re: the following:

"REVERSE ANGLE – Mephos flies <SCREECHING METAL WINGS> through the center of the tunnel TOWARD CAMERA.  PULL BACK."

"SCREECHING METAL WINGS"...? What's up with that? What''s causing them to screech? Or is this just a Mephos-specific "flying sound" that the writer is suggesting, and not the result of some action (i.e. the metal wings actually scraping on the tunnel walls)?

16.) Re: the following:

"WIDE OTS MEPHOS - As Guards descend Mephos beats his wings, generating a hurricane wind that blows the Avians backwards."

Stupid cartoon physics. How can Mephos generate a "hurricane wind " that doesn't blow HIM back too? ("Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.")

17.) Re: the following:

Join me and we will create a new Avian!  Oppose me and perish!
LOW ANGLE ON GUARDS – PAN as some kneel and bow to Mephos to the surprise
Mephos smiles wickedly."

"A new Avian"...? What does that mean?
Also, these guards aren't much if they turn on their rightful rulers just because of this fight. This was a weak point in the premise and it's STILL weak.

18.) Re: the following:

"ON THE TURTLES – Mikey and Don horror stricken. Leo and Raph grim.  Raptarr looking mad as hell."

"Horror stricken"...? Seems a bit much.

19.) Re: the following:

We’re too late.
Maybe not.
WIDER - Raptarr looks up.
Come!  He’s heading for the Crystal Chamber!"

Couple of goofy things: Why does "horror stricken" Don say they're too late? Just because they see some guards trussed up? Seems to be jumping to conclusions. And how does Raptarr KNOW that Mephos is "heading for the Crystal Chamber"? Or is this just a guess on his part?

20.) Re: the following:

"OLD AVIAN’S POV – TRUCK IN ON DOUBLE DOORS - <THUD – THUD> (BEAT)  Mephos wing tips pierce each side of the double doors.  <CLANK - CLANK>  The doors are <RIPPED> off, revealing Mephos, and hurled back behind him by his metal wings."

I suspect the writer has recently seen the second Spider-Man movie and liked the way Doc Ock's tentacles could do all these sorts of things. But somehow I don't see Mephos' metal WINGS having the same kind of power, i.e. to tear huge metal doors off their hinges.

21.) Re: the following:

"BACK ON MICHELANGELO AND RAPH - looking smug… until the slack is taken up on their lines and the two turtles are hoisted up OS with looks of surprise.  CAM ADJUST to Leo and Don.
Are we going to let them have all the fun?
Leo and Don launch themselves, flying up OS."

Does it make any sense that -- if the Turtles are still wearing their flying rigs, as is made evident here -- that Mike and Raph would be "hoisted up OS with looks of surprise"? If they're still wearing and using the flying rigs, wouldn't it make MORE sense that they are fighting the Avians while in the air?
I have to say that I'd rather the Turtles DON'T use their flying rigs during this fight (I mean, how good could they be in them if this is really their first time using them?), and in fact prefer that they (temporarily) ditch them so that they are not encumbered and can fight as true ninja.

22.) Re: the following:

"CLOSE ON UNCONSCIOUS GUARDSMEN BELOW – They awaken from their ninja induced naps."

Let's see -- it's been, like, what -- about a minute since they were "ninja pinched" into unconsciousness?  Not a very effective ninja move, then.

23.) Re: the following:

Will you surrender creature?
Let me answer that question with a head butt."

REALLY stupid dialogue.

24.) Re: the following:

"Raptarr grabs Mephos in the gut with his elbow."

Wow... elbows that GRAB? These Avians are cool!

25.) Re: the following:

"WIDE UP ANGLE - …sweeping Raptarr up with one of his wings and hurling hard at the domed ceiling.  TRUCK IN as Raptarr breaks through the ceiling.
DOWN ANGLE – as Raptarr’s limp body breaks through the ceiling, tumbles up through the air.  But he recovers, beating his wings to stabilize himself."

Hmm... didn't I see a scene nearly exactly like this in Spider-Man 2, when Doc Ock hurls Spidey through a window in his dockside lair?

26.) Re: the following:

"ON SECTION OF DOME WITH DAGGERS IN IT - Cracks form rapidly, and debris falls.  Suddenly a fifteen foot section of the ceiling caves in and falls OS.
DOWNSHOT – the ceiling falls straight down, near the wall.
BACK ON RAPTARR – a look of panic comes over him.
WIDE ANGLE – pan with the falling piece of ceiling.  ZIP PAN DOWN to see that it’s going to drop on Raptarr’s father.
ON TURTLES – still fighting guardsmen.  They see the danger, too.
DOWNSHOT – the ceiling continues to fall straight down, near the wall. "

Wait a minute -- isn't this the same dome that, apparently from the previous scene, you can be hurled through without being harmed? Why then is anyone worried about pieces of it falling on them? It can't be that substantial.

27.) Re: the following:

"ON RAPTARR – He strains to stand up, pushing off the piece of ceiling pinning him. He rises out of frame.
<long strained grunt>"

And yet another bit lifted right out of Spider-Man 2...!

28.) Re: the following:

"PAN WITH MICHELANGELO – as he rockets in past Raptarr and catching Mephos off guard tackles him.
Waa-hooo! Just like catchin’ some air. "

Mike's line is inane.

29.) Re: the following:

"DOWN ANGLE - Mephos removes two feather daggers from his wings and stabs them into Michelangelo’s back.  They only go in a quarter of the way.

Hmm... the daggers only go in a "quarter of the way". What, exactly, does that mean? A quarter of their length... or a quarter of the way through Mike's shell? And, if the latter, why does Mike go "Yaarh!" -- which I take to be a pain response? It's just his shell, after all.

30.) Re: the following:

So, what are we standing here for?  Let’s go kick some stuffing into that turkey. "

Now it's Raph's turn for an inane line.

31.) Re: the following:

"Mephos beats his wings and the heroes are buffeted down OS by a hurricane wind."

The "hurricane wind" thing is STILL stupid.

32.) Re: the following:

"They crouch behind some ruble."

That is some GIGANTIC Russian coin! (Sorry... couldn't resist.)

33.) The denouement of this fight is ridiculous, as we are asked to buy that somehow, Don is capable of manipulating this crystal gizmo WHICH HE HAS NEVER SEEN BEFORE in a way which SPECIFICALLY takes down Mephos. Then the bit with Mephos waking up in his cell with the section of wall still welded to his wings is just LAME.

34.) Re: the following:

"ANGLE - Leo squats at the end of a long platform perch extending from one of the highest towers in the city.
NEW ANGLE - Michelangelo plunks down beside him, legs swinging over the edge.
What up, Bro?
Just thinking.
‘Bout what?
What if I can’t cut it anymore?
Leading.  Fighting.  Winning…  Everything.
You can’t let that control you.  Leo, we’ve gone through some pretty rough times together, faced some scary stuff.
That we have.
Okay, okay.  But when I’m up against the bad guys and I’m freakin’ out, I think, “What would Leo do?”  (long beat) You’re my hero, bro.
Leo doesn’t respond.  Mikey continues to stare at him.  Leo gives a slight smile.
ON LEO AND MICHELANGELO – at the end of the parapet – PULL BACK TO A WIDE SHOT OF THE TOWERS – as Raptarr, Raph and Don walk up behind them."

What the f--?! Where did all THIS come from? Why is Leo doing this soul-searching right here, right now? What a BAD ending.

-- Pete


  1. Was Raptarr a Mirage character or did he orginate in the 2003 show? I know my volume one but my knowledge is sketchy after that. Thanks.

  2. "mikeandraph87 said...
    Was Raptarr a Mirage character or did he orginate in the 2003 show? I know my volume one but my knowledge is sketchy after that. Thanks."

    Raptarr was a character I created for the TMNT Volume 4 comic books, and he ended up crossing over into the 4Kids TV show. -- PL