Friday, December 9, 2011

Blast from the Past #442: October 16, 2004: comments on EP. 97 ("Insane in the Membrane") first draft

Subj: comments on EP. 97 ("Insane in the Membrane") first draft
Date: Saturday, October 16, 2004 12:38:11 AM
From:       Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


Here are my comments on the Ep. 97 first draft.

1.) Re: the following:

ON STOCKMAN as his most recent incarnation: a brain in a floating tank with a holographic face.
Until I was nothing."

I wonder if "nothing" is appropriate here... especially because I think Stockman would consider his brain his most important part. Here are a couple of different options:

Until I was almost nothing."

Until I was nearly nothing."

Until I was reduced to my last -- but most important -- component."

2.) Re: the following:

But I don’t hold those thugs accountable anymore. I’ve finally realized who truly deserves the blame.  Where all of this really started!  And now I’m going to use my brilliance… my genius…my new body…and get even!"

While "thugs" is certainly appropriate, perhaps a word like "cretins" would sound more Stockman-like.

3.) Re: the following:

No reason?  Your genetic miscalculations have caused an outbreak in New York that’s turned the city into a cesspool of mutations of nature! "

I think "of nature" is somewhat redundant, and also throws off the rhythm of the line. I would lose it.

4.) Re: the following:

"Stockman turns around to face Bishop and pulls out a vile filled with a bright red liquid compound."

Maybe it is "vile", but it definitely is A "vial".

5.) Re: the following:

Oh, I wish I could, honey.  But Momma’s gotta work tonight.
WIDE – Little Stockman’s body slumps, disappointed.  Momma crouches to his level.
Tell you what, though.  I’ll wake you up when I get home and we can play then, okay?"

There's nothing particularly wrong with this, but I do think this scene reinforces the common stereotype that every black mother had to work several jobs to keep bread on the table. I would prefer it if we gave her some other, equally valid reason for going out at night -- maybe she's a member of a book club, or she's going to a political rally, or she's attending night school, or something like that.

6.) Re: the following:

Whoa!  And that train’s gonna get ‘im both! "

Minor point, but it should be "'em" (them), not "'im" (him).

7.) Re: the following:

WIDE – Stockman strolls out of Bishop’s base with his arms leisurely behind him and revels in the glorious desert landscape. 
Oh, how I’ve missed this.  The sights. The smells!  The tastes!  
CLOSE - Stockman pulls out an ice cream cone.  He savors a lick.  Then, a cool breeze comes through.  A look of pleasant surprise appears on his face.  He looks down to his arm and from his POV we see that his arms have tiny goose-bumps."

Where does Stockman "pull out an ice cream cone" from? He's apparently at Bishop's base in the middle of the desert... do they have an ice cream bar there? Or is this ice cream part of his Shredder hallucination?

8.) Re: the following:

I’m sorry about all that noise, baby doll.  You’re Daddy’s just in a foul mood tonight.  But I want you to know how proud your Momma is of you.  Getting into the University at just 14 years old! 
Gently, Momma strokes Stockman’s face, relaxing him. 
Your Daddy had his reasons for taking that scholarship money…but I’ll find a way to pay your tuition somehow because my baby’s gonna make it.  You can make it!"

I'm not crazy about the stereotype of the abusive black father, either. As the real point of these flash backs is to show that Baxter loved his mother and she loved him, I don't see why these cliches have to be part of this backstory.

9.) Re: the following:

"A calendar with flip pages SUPERIMPOSES itself over the terrified Stockman and begins and flips a few pages to indicate the passing of a few days."

Nothing particularly wrong with this, but it is an old cliche -- would it make more sense to update it with some kind of digital readout or display (perhaps something we see earlier on in Stockman's lab)?

10.) Re: the following:

"CLOSE ON HUN – he’s pointing a hot poker towards the camera.
Say, “ahhh”…"

I know we've never actually specified HOW Stockman has suffered his various injuries at the hands of Hun and/or the Shredder, this one seems a little weird -- "say "ahhh"" usually means "open your mouth". Why would Hun be sticking a red hot poker in Stockman's mouth? Maybe we don't need Hun to say anything here, or he could just chuckle evilly ("Heh, heh...").

11.) A small digression -- while I was reading this script, it occurred to me that a cool future form for Stockman might be in the body of a super-duper Mouser (kind of poetic justice!).

12.) Re: the following:

"Soon, the images and words come even faster as Stockman gives deranged <MOANS>:
The Mousers at Stockman’s old lab…Hun escorting Stockman from Shredder’s chambers…the Shredder…the Turtles…Bishop…Stockman scurrying as a spider…the Turtles again…Hun again.
Not my fault you screwed up!
Let’s kick some shell!"

The "Let's kick some shell" line for the Turtles in Stockman's hallucination seems weak and inconsistent with the lines from Hun and Shredder. I think we could find something different, something more personally pointed and insulting (to Stockman).

13.) Re: the following:

Any sign of him? 
Well, sir.  A weapons cache has been ransacked. 
Bishop turns to the young agent, his eyes hinting urgent concern.  
And there’s something else, sir.  One of our Black-Op choppers is missing.  Has he gone AWOL, sir?
Bishop picks up one of the empty syringes.
No.  He’s gone psychotic."

The "Well, sir." from the Young Agent seems stilted -- I would lose it. Also, the "Has he gone AWOL, sir?" question and Bishop's "No.  He’s gone psychotic." lines are a not very successful attempt at snappy dialogue which also doesn't make much sense (even if he has also "gone psychotic", Stockman HAS gone AWOL). I think we could lose them.

14.) Re: the following:

Where did GPS indicate he was heading? 
New York City."

Minor point, but it is a little odd that they could tell he's going to NYC specifically -- unless he left a long time ago (long enough for one of those copters to be able to reach a point where it MIGHT be obvious that he is going to NYC). Perhaps the Young Agent could give a heading (in military jargon), and Bishop could nod knowingly and (predicting the likely destination) say "New York City".

15.) Re: the following:

And I hooked up your Game-Box 3000.  Honestly, Mikey, all ya had to do was plug it in!"

Don would say "you", not "ya".

16.) Re: the following:

Yeah, ‘cept for a week.  Ya think it has anything to do with that scratch you got on your leg from those outbreak slime-balls? 
Don looks down at the bandage on his leg.
Nah, I don’t think--"

Two things here. FIrst, Don would say "No" instead of "Nah". Second, I think that, Don being Don, he might at least admit to the possibility that his illness was related to the scratch... perhaps like this:

"Don looks down at the bandage on his leg.
No, I don’t think... well... hmmm... maybe..."

17.) Re: the following:

Ever since I met you everything’s gone wrong!  You ruined my work for the Shredder!  You brought those Turtles into my life!  Because of you my life has gone to pieces!  Well, Ms. O’Neil, now it’s your turn to go to pieces! 
WIDE FROM BEHIND – Stockman is getting close to an empty lot where we can just make out BLACK-OP CHOPPPER on the ground.
And when we’re back at my lab, under the knife, you will!"

The phrasing here in the last line is odd (it implies that when they're back at his lab, they'll BOTH be under the knife), "under the knife" is somewhat redundant, and the use of the phrase "gone to pieces" followed shortly in the next line by "go to pieces" is awkward. Here's how I would fix this:

Ever since I met you everything’s gone wrong!  You ruined my work for the Shredder!  You brought those Turtles into my life!  Because of you my life has been torn apart!  Well, Ms. O’Neil, now it’s your turn to go to pieces! 
WIDE FROM BEHIND – Stockman is getting close to an empty lot where we can just make out BLACK-OP CHOPPPER on the ground.
And when we’re back at my lab, you will!"

18.) Re: the following: 

"STOCKMAN’S POV - we see a horde of MOUSERS crawling down the Chopper, then coming from underneath.  They’re everywhere. "

I wonder if it might be fun to include in Stockman's hallucination a weird amalgam of Mouser and Shredder -- could look cool!

19.) Re: the following:

"CLOSE ON APRIL – she’s absolutely confounded.  From her POV we watch STOCKMAN madly swatting away at thin air. 
He really is a psycho."

April's line here seems completely superfluous -- I'd lose it.

20.) Re: the following:

"The Turtles and Casey are standing next to the black-op chopper.
I don’t get it.  Their trail leads right to this Chopper but they’re not here.  
Maybe not, but I think we have a lot better chance of catching up with them now.  Donny?  How ‘bout a lift?"

The "I don't get it" line seems particularly thick-headed coming from Don. I mean -- what's not to get? They came to the chopper, and for some reason they left. DUH! Also, Leo's line doesn't seem to follow logically from Don's (the implication of Don's line being that the trail led up to the chopper, and stops dead... and if so, how is it that Leo could think having the chopper would help the Turtles "catch up to" Stockman and April? I mean, in which direction are they supposed to look?). However, we obviously know that there IS a trail AWAY from the chopper -- actually, TWO trails (April's and Stockman's). If we need any line here, maybe it should be as follows:

"The Turtles and Casey are standing next to the black-op chopper.
Hmmm... Stockman's trail leads right to this Chopper... then two trails lead off in that direction.  
Meaning April got away from him -- at least for a while. <Looks at chopper> And I think we have a lot better chance of catching up with them now.  Donny?  How about a lift?"

21.) Re: the following:

Right, see if you can find some kinda rope ladder and I’ll try and get this bird low enough to lift her out!  "

Don would say "kind of", not "kinda".

22.) Re: the following:

"INSIDE THE GONDOLA – Leo charges Stockman with his Katana.  Right when he’s in reach, Stockman grabs for him, but Leo slides in between Stockman’s legs. He leaps up on the other side and delivers a kick to the back of his head.  Stockman hardly budges but when he turns around we see that his jaw is slightly askew. 
CLOSE ON LEO – disgusted.
What the--?!"

After all of the weird stuff that Leo has seen and dealt with, I don't think this bit with Stockman's jaw would elicit more that a disgusted look from Leo. I would lose Leo's line here.

23.) Re: the following:

"Stockman takes out a syringe of the red compound and injects it then charges with his hands clenched over his head.  Stockman’s fists crash down on Leo, dropping him to the floor.  He then kicks him, sending him back and denting the back wall. "

I don't really see the point of Stockman injecting himself with anything here.

24.) Re: the following:

Now, April, hurry!
Stockman turns around to see a rope ladder down through the gondola hole and April climbing up it."

Would it be cooler/more exciting/more logical if, instead of just dangling the rope ladder from the helicopter, Casey is actually hanging on it so that he can grab April and help her?

25.) Re: the following:

You have a date with a dissection tray!  But if you’re going to play so hard to get, perhaps we’ll just begin the operation right now!"

Would "dissection table" make more sense than "dissection tray"? Also, I'm not crazy about the "play so hard to get" phrase and its connotations of flirtation/sex, inappropriate in this context. I would change it as follows:

You have a date with a dissection table!  But if you’re going to be so difficult, perhaps we’ll just begin the operation right now!"

26.) Re: the following:

I can’t everything’s off-balance!  I’m gonna have to recalibrate some of the instruments to stabilize her!"

This is bloated. I would change it as follows:

I have to recalibrate some of the instruments to stabilize it!"

27.) Re: the following:

Miss me?!
Stockman climbs up and out of the hole again then peels the metal he originally tore off back into place.
Sorry about all the interruptions!"

Both of Stockman's lines here sound silly to me -- I'd lose them.

28.) Re: the following:

"As he’s walking Stockman shoots up with some more of his bright red compound and then charges into grapple with Hun."

Again, I don't see the point of Stockman "shooting up".

29.) Re: the following:

"WIDE ON APRIL – she’s just about to grab the ladder when <KREEEEK>.
Aw, not again…"

April's line is just filler -- let's lose it.

30.) Re: the following:

"HIGH ANGLE – April and Stockman both just barely hang onto the gondola by way of two door handles.
Well, Ms. O’Neil, I guess there’ll be no dissection today!  At least not until I recover you body from the East River! "

Stockman's lines make NO sense to me. 

31.) Re: the following:

I gotcha!"

Leo would say "I have you!"

32.) Re: the following:

You can still make it, baby doll!  Don’t worry about me!  Your daddy didn’t know what he was doing!  Just get out of the house, baby doll.  Go on now! 
CLOSE ON STOCKMAN – he’s overwhelmed with concern.  He’s got to save his mother!
Momma?!  No!  I won’t let Daddy hurt you!  I won’t!
WIDE – Stockman grabs April’s arm and using his enhanced strength lifts her up to the rope ladder.  She grabs on.
Hang on, Momma!  Hang on!
ON THE TURTLES – they’re bewildered.  
Stockman looks on adoringly at April as she climbs the ladder, followed by Leo, Raph and Mikey.
I love you, Momma!  I love you!"

Ugh. Mess of more cliches. And this is disappointingly not very close to the "redemptive moment" that we discussed (using the "This Man, This Monster" Fantastic Four story as our example). In the FF story, the fake Thing made a conscious, sane decision to do one single last unselfish act (perhaps his only one EVER in a wasted life) when he realized Reed Richards was not the asshole that he had always imagined him to be... in fact, he was the total opposite (noble, self-sacrificing, etc.). Here, Baxter is hallucinating, so it doesn't really MEAN anything. It would only mean something if, for some reason, he suddenly came back to reality -- shocked back to it by the similarity of April's words to his mother's? -- and recognized that what he was doing was wrong.

33.) Re: the following:

Establishing shot of April’s building.
WIDE - April, Casey, Leo, Mikey, Raph, are just getting in.  
Well, here you are, April!  Safe and sound at home!
Safe?  Sound?  First Karai stops by.  Then Stockman.  Who’s next, Hun?  The Shredder?!  I swear, I oughta move to a doorman building!
Don’t sweat it, April, we’ll stay with you the night if it’ll make you feel better!
Raph is just about to sit on the couch when Mikey jumps on it from behind and stretches out on it.
I call couch!
CLOSE ON APRIL – she’s smiles as we here Don <SNEEZE>."

This seems a bit too casual and "flip" following such an intense and deadly adventure, especially April's lines. And didn't Stockman tear up her apartment when he attacked earlier? There's no mention of any damage in this scene.

-- Pete


  1. Where did the name Stockman come from? I don't think it's really a common name to just choose out of a hate, so to speak :)

  2. "Neil Vitale said...
    Where did the name Stockman come from? I don't think it's really a common name to just choose out of a hate, so to speak :)"

    Neil, I was going to question your seemingly odd phrase -- "choose out of a HATE"??? -- but then realized you meant "hat", not "hate".

    Stockman's last name was inspired by a particular type of paper upon which some comics were being printed around the time the first few issues of the Turtles were published. It was prized for its bright whiteness and quality feel... and its name was "Baxter Stock". -- PL

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