Saturday, January 28, 2012

Blast from the Past #463: March 4, 2005: Re: 114 ("Fathers and Sons") Outline

Subj: Re: 114 Outline
Date: Friday, March 4, 2005 12:29:15 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine

In a message dated 3/3/05 4:37:54 PM, Lloyd writes:

Hi Pete –
 While I wasn’t at all happy with this outline myself, I have no objections to Splinter bringing the Turtles on the trip, and I think  the idea of the Ancient One giving the Turtles their original masks (the over the whole head ones) works very nicely.  You did too, once upon a time - - they were your ideas!  ;)  And they’re in the approved season 5 story arc document.
 I don’t think any of this violates the continuity that we’ve set up for our series, and we can do many things to explain and clarify if that’ll help.  My big concern was that the writer had Splinter and the Ancient One argue all episode for no reason – there was no reason for the trip, no reason for this story – and that to me was the real problem.  Once we have a compelling reason for Splinter to take this trip (the death of Yoshi, for example) everything else will fall into place.


I had a devil of a time tracking down your extensive Season 5 document on my laptop's hard drive, but I finally found it, and you are right -- the whole Splinter/Ancient One/Turtle Tots story is in there. I'll paste in here the most germane section:

"We open with Splinter and Yoshi living in NYC.  Yoshi was a leader of the Utrom Guardians.  “Against my wishes!” grumbles the Ancient One bitterly.  
We briefly recap the death of Yoshi at Shredder’s hands, the advent of the Utrom ooze spill, the transformation of Splinter, and his sudden realization that he has become a) intelligent and self conscious and b) the father of four!
Not knowing quite what to do with himself, he packs up his family (the turtles are not wearing masks yet) and decides to journey to the only “family” he has left in the world.  He seeks out the Ancient One for guidance…
Splinter finds the Ancient One in his backyard garden, hanging up his wet laundry (including several brightly colored pieces of cloth)."

I'm not completely sure why the problems inherent in this premise didn't register with me at the time, but maybe they only became clear to me when I got the most fully realized outline. These problems are:

1.) When does Splinter make this big trip? The implication here is that it is pretty soon after he and the Turtles have mutated, and he does it because he doesn't know "quite what to do with himself". Doesn't it seem a bit off that at the same time that Splinter doesn't know what to do with himself, he has the presence of mind to undertake this long, complicated and perilous trip -- and not by himself, but with four infant or toddler Turtles tagging along? Especially when he undertakes this huge and dangerous trek with no guarantee that he will even be able to find the Ancient One, and even if he can, no guarantee that the Ancient One will have anything to do with him or his young charges. I guess it bothers me that Splinter would put the young Turtles in jeopardy in this manner -- it seems very irresponsible.

2.) Splinter supposedly makes this journey to be with "the only “family” he has left in the world", i.e. the Ancient One. This seems to me to be a bit of a stretch. If Splinter knows enough about the Ancient One to know where to find him and what his connection to Yoshi was, then he must also know that Yoshi and the Ancient One were estranged, and thus no longer "family" in the way which is implied here.

3.) All of the Turtles meet and hang out with the Ancient One in this episode. He even gives them their colored bandanas. Yet, when Leo went in search of the Ancient One in the fourth (?) season, he didn't recognize him. And when the rest of the Turtles met the Ancient One in the beginning of the fifth season, it was as if that was the first time they had met him. How do we reconcile this? To just say that all the Turtles FORGOT this significant trip and events in their young lives strains credulity, I think.

One thing that seems apparent is that we don't REALLY need the Turtle Tots to accompany Splinter on his trip to see the Ancient One. I mean, they don't really make a big difference to the plot and the action, do they? The only thing I can think of that they do to advance anything is when one of them does something that uncovers the secret entrance to the underground chamber, but that could be accomplished in many other ways. Yes, it's charming and cute to see them doing charming and cute l'il Turtle Tot things, but  not, I think, necessary.
I have a couple of suggestions:

1.) My preference would be that the Turtle Tots DON'T accompany Splinter on his trip to Japan to find the Ancient One. Instead, they would stay in their lair in NYC by themselves. This could be the first time that Splinter has left them alone like this, and that could be a fun story in and of itself. (What hijinks cold ensue without "dad" around?) If we had to do a bit where the Ancient One sees the Turtle Tots for whatever reason, we could have him use his secret mystic powers to open up a kind of scrying window (perhaps at Splinter's request -- he's anxious about the boys and wants to know how they are doing without him).
The Turtle Tots could already have bandanas in this solo story, but they would be all RED (a nice nod to the original comics), and Splinter could still return from his trip with the different-colored bandanas, a gift from the Ancient One.

2.) If you refuse to see my impeccable logic, and absolutely MUST have Splinter drag his poor little boys on the trip to Japan, I would need two things to happen: (a) that we somehow show and/or tell that the trip was HELL and Splinter regrets the rash and ill-thought-out decision to bring the Turtle Tots along, and (b) that the Ancient One somehow uses his special abilities to make the Turtle Tots FORGET that they ever met him. This, in turn, would require some expressions of surprise from the Turtles as Splinter is telling this story, because they don't remember ever meeting the Ancient One on that long ago trip (maybe they are made to forget the entire trip itself).

-- Pete


  1. The opening comments by Lloyd are my thought pretty much exact.Though as far as the red mask go that would mean Raph would not get one since that is his color. If that was done it might show Raph can't remember why he was bitter about the Ancient One or something.

    Out if curiosity did you like or not like the change over to four different colors of mask with Raphael maintaining the red mask? I personally have never been a fan of the four of them wearing the same color. Thanks again for sharing,sir.

    1. "Out if curiosity did you like or not like the change over to four different colors of mask with Raphael maintaining the red mask? I personally have never been a fan of the four of them wearing the same color."

      I had no problem when Playmates wanted to make the bandanas different colors -- it made complete sense as a way to help kids tell the Turtles apart. As for Raph getitng the red bandana, it didn't matter much to me. It would have been fine if any of the others got it instead of him. -- PL