Sunday, November 13, 2011

Blast from the Past #435: September 29, 2004: comments on Ep. 96 ("The Trouble With Augie"), comments on Ep. 98 ("Return of Savanti Romero Part 1") outline, comment on flying Shrednaughts

Subj: comments on Ep. 96 ("The Trouble With Augie") first draft
Date: Wednesday, September 29, 2004 2:11:03 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


Here are my comments on the Ep. 96 first draft.

1.) Re: the following:

"PUSH IN SLOWLY on the O’Neil Family Portrait (NOTE: NEW VERSION includes April’s older sister) hanging on the wall of the shop. "

Because this family portrait is a "new version", let's make it an all-new photo, with new poses, so it doesn't look like we've retroactively changed to original family photo from "April's Artifact". This one could be more of a candid instead of a posed studio portrait.

2.) Re: the following:

Are you alright? "

One of my pet peeves -- there is no such word as "alright".  And it's used a lot in this script. Grrr.... that's not all right.

3.) Re: the following:

Are you alright, April?  You seem quieter than usual.
I’m alright.  It’s just been a tough few months.  All my friends used to be around – now I barely get to see them."

In addition to being bad form, the use of "alright" twice in the space of three lines is way too much. At least one of these instances should be replaced with "okay" or "fine" or some such.

4.) Re: the following:

Is this about those guys that you’re always talking about? "

This is a curious line. It implies that April talks to her sister about the Turtles a lot, even if she doesn't reveal that they are mutant turtle ninjas. Does this make any sense?
It's also curious that there is no follow-up to this line -- April just ignores it!

5.) Re: the following:

You used to talk about that Casey guy a lot.  Is he your boyfriend?  You still seeing him?
Can we talk about something else?
Sorry, didn’t mean to pry."

I don't get why April doesn't want to talk about Casey. In fact, I don't get most of this conversation, which is really overly stiff and morose. I would think that at the very least, April would be jazzed to see her sister, even if she is bummed that she hasn't seen the Turtles a lot recently.

6.) Re: the following:

"CLOSE ON APRIL’S FACE – staring at the computer monitor. 
PUSH IN ON THE MONITOR – with more numbers and symbols.
This is no virus. "

I know April is really bright and all, but it seems a pretty big leap for her to say "This is no virus" after a few seconds of looking at the screen. Maybe instead she should say something like "This is no virus... at least not one I've ever seen before."

7.) Re: the following:

"ESTABLISHING SHOT.  Michelangelo sits on a cushion – watching television and struggling to reach the last chip out of a can of Pringles.  PAN ACROSS TO – Donatello, wearing his work goggles, working on something on his table in front of the big “Green Brothers” moving van."

Uh... did I miss something? Where and when did the Turtles get this "big “Green Brothers” moving van"?

8.) Re: the following:

Where’s all your equipment, Don?
I moved most of it into the moving van.  Figure it can be our new mobile command unit.
I’ll move the rest of my equipment in there after I fix the Battle Shell that Raph wrecked."

This exchange seems like a painfully clunky way to establish that Don is tricking out this moving van (and where did that come from again?) as a mobile command center, and also really doesn't make any sense. Why would Don move ALL of his equipment into the van? Is he planning to spend most of his time in the van and not in the lair?

9.) Re: the following:

We have reports - and these are being confirmed - that a mutant fish attacked an apartment complex by coming out through the toilet bowl."

I have to admit I laughed out loud at this one, though probably not for the reason the writer intended. No, what I laughed at was the notion of an apartment complex with ONE toilet, and the fact that ONE mutant fish attacked that whole complex. Here's how I would change that so it wasn't unintentionally funny:

We have reports that a mutant fish attacked the residents of an East Side apartment by coming out through the toilet bowl."

10.) Re: the following:

Another mutant from the outbreak.  Come on, Raph.  We better go check it out."

Minor grammar point -- I think Leo should/would say "We'd better..."

11.) There is perhaps a logic problem with the fact that while April's computer is "going haywire" (to use her words), she can still use it to send email to Don. Perhaps we should establish that she CAN'T do that, and in fact is using ANOTHER computer (a laptop) to send Don the email.

12.) Re: the following:

"Donatello’s screen starts to display the symbols and gibberish from April’s computer.
PREVIOUS – Donatello’s eyes narrow as he stares at the screen.  
It looks like static or gibberish, but it’s coded in a repeating pattern.  "

Here's a question -- are these symbols similar to the ones the Turtles became familiar with during their "April's Artifact" adventure? If so, perhaps Don could refer to that here, even if it's just something like "Hmm... there's something familiar about these symbols."

13.) Re: the following:

Uncle Augie is in trouble!"

Well -- DUH!!! I don't know why, exactly, but this line from April seems to be really dumb in the "stating the incredibly obvious" vein. I really don't think we need it -- a close up on April's concerned face might be all we need here.

14.) Re: the following:

Robyn sits on the couch watching television.  April sneaks out the front door. 

April walks in and joins Donatello at the counter.  Donatello holds his work bag and stares at his Tech Tab. "

The bit with April sneaking out of the apartment and leaving Robyn watching TV made me scratch my head a little, as it seemed completely pointless. Then I realized that the writer was trying to let us set up a scenario that would allow April and Don to work uninterrupted in the antique shop. I think it could be done better with just a line of two of dialogue between April and Don, something like Don asks April where her sister is and April says something like "Oh, she's jetlagged from her trip -- she'll be sleeping 'til tomorrow" or "She's glued to the couch watching (her favorite TV show or movie)".

15.) Re: the following:

The message must have come through your dimensional artifact and jammed into the nearest computer.  "

That has got to be the WORST bit of technobabble I've ever read. "Jammed into the nearest computer"? Sounds like what happens when a stick gets into your bicycle's spokes. A simple (though not necessarily best) fix might be as follows:

The message must have come through your dimensional artifact and been received by the nearest computer."

Or if we want to be even a little more nerdy:

The message must have come through your dimensional artifact and been received by the nearest WI-FI-equipped computer."

16.) Re: the following:

"ON APRIL – as she goes behind the counter and pulls out a box.  
Then I’m using those coordinates to go save Uncle Augie.
CLOSE ON THE BOX – as April sets the box on the counter and then opens the box, revealing the dimensional transport artifact."

I appreciate that April loves her Uncle Augie and wants to help him, but the way she is approaching it is really dopey. Basically, she's going into an unknown situation and environment with ZERO preparation. She doesn't take any supplies, food, weapons, etc..  Lame.

17.) Re: the following:

April, the message might be fake or wrong."

I'm glad this line is in here, though I think it could be expanded upon a bit -- especially the part about being "wrong" -- i.e. incomplete. 

18.) Re: the following:

"ON APRIL AND DONATELLO – as the glowing grows and <SWOOSHES> over April and Donatello.  They disappear – leaving the artifact behind to fall on the ground."

My memory of how it worked in "April's Artifact" may be a little shaky  -- but if the artifact doesn't go WITH you when you use it, and Don knows this (or at least he SHOULD), aren't they taking a HUGE leap of faith that they will find another artifact which can send them back home?
And the more I think on it, the more ridiculous it seems that the artifact doesn't go with you when you use it -- that's a pretty poorly-engineered interdimensional travel device!

19.) Re: the following:

April, I’m not letting you go alone on something like this.  We’re in this together.  "

Something about this bugged me, and after a while I realized what is was -- and that was the fact that Don doesn't even suggest that they get one or more of the other Turtles to go with them. I think we need to do something to establish that both April and Don think there isn't time enough to get the other guys together to go on this mission.

20.) Re: the following:

You have nothing to fear here.  We are the Brotherhood and we have built our civilization on the advancements of Peace and Love and Brotherhood.  
ON DONATELLO AND APRIL – following behind.
That’s good.  Cause I’d hate to see you guys angry and full of hate."

Don's line is sort of funny, but it is really more of a Mikey line. I think it's also unnecessary (as in obvious), and we should lose it.

21.) If the big Transport Artifact isn't actually BROKEN -- Augie just doesn't have the coordinates for Earth -- why don't the lizard guys have him transport them to some OTHER world to plunder? Is Earth the ONLY destination they're interested in? If so, why?

22.) Re: the following:

I am sorry, but this is the central food storage for our entire civilization.  It is a restricted area."

This line cracked me up. Must be a pretty small civilization if their central food storage can be contained in one building.

23.) Re: the following:

"HIGH ANGLE ON THE DOUBLE DOORWAY – as the four Brotherhood warriors stand guard.  Donatello climbs upside-down on the ceiling past them."

Let's keep in mind here that Don is a mutant turtle -- NOT Spider-Man.

24.) Re: the following:

"WIDE ON SEVERAL WOODEN BARRIERS – blocking the path of the railway.  The word FORBIDDEN is crudely written on the barriers.  The out-of-control monorail car RACES INTO FRAME – and <SHATTERS> the barriers into pieces.
WIDE ON THE MONORAIL CAR – as it sails through the barriers and down a steep decline on the railway.  
ON THE END OF THE MONORAIL TRACK.  A rubber safety barrier marks the end of the line – the out-of-control monorail car RACES INTO FRAME and <COLLIDES> with the safety barrier, sending the monorail car hurtling through the air.
WIDE ON THE GROUND – as the monorail car <CRASH LANDS> and skids to a stop.  
CLOSE ON THE MONORAIL CAR – as Uncle Augie, April, and Donatello gingerly climb out.  
At least we stuck the landing. "

This whole action sequence is more than a little bit preposterous (why is there a "steep decline" near the end of the railway?) and the violence with which the car leaves the track, flies through the air, and crash-lands makes it seem unlikely that our heroes would just climb out "gingerly" but apparently uninjured.

25.) Re: the following:

The Brotherhood call this place the “Bone Yard”.  They never come in here. We should be safe."

Uh-huh. And Uncle Augie knows this, and has no suspicions about the Brotherhood? What a dimwit.

26.) Re: the following:

I should’ve seen that the Brotherhood was evil.  But bringing Peace and Love to Earth… Cures for diseases… It all seemed so beautiful.  "

So far, we've not seen Uncle Augie say or do ANYTHING that would lend credence to his claim that "I should’ve seen that the Brotherhood was evil". I think this bit needs to be rewritten to show that he WAS completely fooled by them, and that his regret now is because of that, and that the main reason he was fooled is that he was blinded by the possibility that he could bring all these wonderful things to Earth.

27.) Re: the following:

To prevent them from traveling to other dimensions, we have destroyed the book of coordinates.  That should trap them here on our world."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Sorry... but... "the book of coordinates"? In this hyper-evolved super-technological world? I am suddenly reminded of one of the absolute WORST moments ever in a STAR TREK film, when Uhura drags out a bunch of old, printed-on-paper BOOKS to find the right Klingon phrases in an emergency. Maybe we should just have them say "We purged all other-dimensional coordinate files from our databases" or something like that.

28.) Re: the following:

"ON APRIL – as she runs at the corner of the wall, then uses her legs to run up the wall (Jackie Chan move – see Rush Hour)."

Oh. My. God. Please... somebody delete this incredibly ludicrous bit.

29.) Re: the following:

"WIDER ON THE CITY STREETS – as holographic images of Zodats appear on the streets.  "

This is a clever gag to confuse and frighten the Brotherhood. The problem is there is no decent setup for it. I think the simple solution is that back in the scene where Don access the display and we get the recent history of the Zodats, we actually have a seemingly computer-generated holographic Zodat appear standing next to the display, telling the story. That way, we at least establish that these systems are capable of projecting 3D holographic images of Zodats on the streets, so it doesn't look quite so much like Don pulling this amazing feat out of nowhere.

-- Pete


Subj: comments on Ep. 98  ("Return of Savanti Romero Part 1") outline
Date: Wednesday, September 29, 2004 2:12:05 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


Here are my comments on the Ep. 98 outline.

1.) Bishop seems to be very passive with Stockman in this episode, putting up with his tirades without comment. I think that is out of character for Bishop.

2.) Re: the following:

"We see Stockman in his lab with a soldering mask on.  He’s soldering something that seems to be right in his lap.  Sparks are flying."

A minor point, but -- I don't think there is such a thing as a "soldering mask", and soldering doesn't throw off sparks. I think what the writer means is a WELDING mask.

3.) Re: the following:

"Stockman gets up to try out his new leg.  It works like a charm.  But then, his other leg falls off."

I think here we've crossed over into "stupid".

4.) Re: the following:

"Stockman is at the lab, clutching his head in agony.  He’s never looked worse: his decomposing flesh is stitched together with metal staples and green waste oozes from open sores.  The twisted metal of makeshift limbs jet out from empty arm sockets."

I'll reserve final judgment until I get to the end of this outline, but with this description of Stockman's condition, I think we are getting into really silly territory. I mean, as egotistical as Stockman is, don't you think he would go back to his "brain in a jar" setup if his new body had deteriorated to this point? That way he could start form scratch instead of stumbling around in this rotting monstrosity.

5.) Re: the following:

"Stockman: “That’s when I met my problem!  The reason for all of this!  I know who to blame!  And they’ll pay!  They’ll pay with their life!”"

I think he means to say that they will pay with their LIVES.

6.) Re: the following:

"Suddenly there’s a loud, desperate banging noise in the lair—the Turtles are surprised—someone’s planning on coming in through the secret entrance! But who?!  They’re not expecting any visitors!

But the noise is getting louder and louder.  More and more desperate.  The Turtles ready themselves for anything.

Then, Casey bursts through the door.  He’s been beaten up.  Badly."

Where exactly is this "secret entrance"? Above ground? Underground? I think we really need to get to work designing this new "hiding in plain sight" lair.

7.) Re: the following:

"Stockman has got April flung over his shoulder and is navigating through the back allies of New York. "

I think it's "alleys", not "allies", but anyway -- where is Stockman going? Back to the helicopter so he can return to the Area 51 base to perform this operation, it would seem. So... where did he land the helicopter? How far away is it? 
I know this probably seems like I'm obsessing over minor details, but I think if we set this up properly, we won't have yet another instance of the Turtles looking for somebody in this huge city and conveniently finding them in minutes. My suggestion would be to have Casey and April SEE Stockman land the helicopter (perhaps nearby -- or on top of -- the Second Time Around shop) and then try to escape on Casey's motorcycle... unsuccessfully, for although they get a few miles away, Stockman catches up to them and the fight ensues in which Casey got beat up. THEN... Stockman grabs April and starts hauling her back to the helicopter... and thus Casey can give the Turtles some direction when they go after Stockman. (None of this needs to be SHOWN, but a few lines from Casey when he comes to the new lair could set it up.)

8.) Re: the following:

"Stockman is out of rockets but starts following her hand over hand on the cable.  Stockman bursts into the gondola and now April is really cornered …

April puts up a good fight …

… but Stockman overwhelms her and is again about to begin the new body transference with a piece of his cyborg-ness (the laser torch and some sharp surgery-ish tools). "

I think we need to be clear on the difference between being mad/insane and being STUPID. Stockman is the former, but not the latter. He CAN'T be, if -- for example -- he is capable of building himself this cyborg monster body. And I don't think he would be stupid enough to try to start the operation on April in these circumstances, without all the key support technologies to ensure that April's body (not to mention his brain) doesn't die during the operation. And it's not even necessary for this scene -- it's scary enough that he's still trying to get her.

9.) Re: the following:

"But, the Turtles are coming up the cable trying to get to the gondola car now hanging high over the East River.  Using their ninjitsu skills of balance and acrobatics, they manage to get along the cable almost running (flipping and somersaulting in a very precise and dangerous high-wire act)."

I think we must play this VERY carefully -- seems like another episode of "super ninja" to me. If there is any way for them to get to the gondola without doing this high wire act, I think we should use it. One thought that just occurred to me -- and I'm not sure if it would work into the structure of the story -- would be to have Don jump into Stockman's black ops helicopter and use that to fly them all out to the gondola. Actually, the more I think about it, that could be a really cool frenetic scene -- Don flies the other three Turtles out to the gondola, then keeps circling in the helicopter while they fight Stockman, desperately angling for an opportunity to get April into the helicopter so he can fly her to safety. (I keep seeing that scene from "True Lies".)

10.) Casey seems to disappear after he and the Turtles confront Stockman in the alley. Where'd he go?

-- Pete


Subj: flying Shrednaughts
Date: Wednesday, September 29, 2004 7:53:11 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


I went back and checked and indeed there was a later "Revised Final Draft" of Ep. 93 which does indeed have flying Shrednaughts. I still don't think they should fly, and I have to say I am a little concerned that a substantial and unexpected change like this can find its way into a "final" draft. I guess I should start paying more attention to these "finals".

-- Pete

1 comment:

  1. I think I mentioned this in an earlier entry but I have seen Robyn O'Neil referred to as April OLDER sister and by a few years at that. I was under the impression April was older because of that whole "April is a drawing" thing. She was brought to life because at that point her parents were childless.

    Also, did you have any involvement in the April is drawing concept? I had problems liking ideas where the few humans are revealed to be something else like both Chrell and The Slayer in 2003 cartoon. I am not sure of your take on that. Thanks.