Monday, February 20, 2012

Blast from the Past #475: July 22, 2005: Re: FW: 118 ("Future Shellshock") Outline

Subj: Re: FW: 118 ("Future Shellshock") Outline
Date: Friday, July 22, 2005 2:44:46 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine

In a message dated 7/21/05 8:40:45 PM, Lloyd writes:

"Howdy all -

Attached please find the first rough draft outline for TMNT episode 118
(aka TMNT 2105 episode ONE!).

We're anxious to get our writer started scripting over the weekend, so
it would be greatly appreciated if we could have your comments by end of
day tomorrow (EST).

Feel free to call with any questions, comments, concerns, curses, etc.

Thanks mucho,



Here are my comments on the Ep.118 outline.

1.) Re: the following:

"Splinter sighs: "Fifteen years of ninja training and it all boils down to Ultimate Sumo Makeover vs. Zombies From Saturn: The Director's Cut." "

This line is fine -- it just doesn't sound like it's coming from Splinter. Maybe Leo or Don should say it.

2.) Before I forget -- I think we need to do a little something in this season's shows -- not TOO much, but SOMETHING -- to show that they guys MISS their friends (Casey, April, the Professor, SIlver Sentry, Angel, etc.) and their environment from the past. In other words, while they are prepared to adapt to the future NYC (and they will adapt) , they're still not really HAPPY to be there.

3.) Re: the following:

"(NOTE: If there's room, I'd like to get a running gag out of Splinter not being able to tell the Turtles apart without their masks.)"

To my mind, this is a REALLY dumb, lazy gag -- after raising them for fifteen-plus years, Splinter SURELY knows how to tell one Turtle from another. He could tell them apart with his eyes closed! Now CODY -- that's another story. It might be funny when he meets them for the first time, he mixes up their names.

4.) Re: the following:

"Splinter urges his sons to remain in the shadows and observe... but overzealous Mikey leaps onto the truck, prepared to strike from above.  Just then, the Triceratons reach into the back of the vehicle and pull out... a stack of newspapers?!  Only they're not like any newspapers we've ever seen: they're like disposable, flexible laptop screens with scrolling strange alien writing and moving pictures!

The guys are so dumbstruck that they don't notice the Triceratons hop back into their vehicle and take off like a shot -- with Mikey on top!"

The description of the future "newspapers" is cool... but I'd like to suggest an addition -- these "videopapers" also have a daily VIDEOGAME built into them! Complete with an obvious "control pad" with buttons at the bottom of the front page. If it worked out, we could actually have Mikey notice this and -- given his videogame addiction -- he could get distracted by this, adding to the likelihood that he wouldn't notice that he should jump off the Triceratons' paper delivery vehicle. 

5.) Re: the following:

"The guys quickly lose the Hover Limo among what turn out to be holographic trees -- when a MASSIVE VEHICLE lands nearby and out leap two TRICERATONS. "

"Holographic trees" is an interesting idea -- but maybe misused in this context. I don't see WHY they should be there.

6.) Re: the following:

"Leo urges them to take to the rooftops but... where are the rooftops?!  The buildings are so tall now you can't even see the tops through the clouds!"

That seems more than a little preposterous... and if TRUE, seriously cuts down on one of the most fun action things the Turtles typically do -- run around on rooftops.

7.) Re: the following:

"PENTHOUSE - Stepping from the limo, the guys enter the most palatial apartment they've ever seen.  It's a testament to wealth and power, a technological marvel.  It's enough to make a Turtle swoon.  In fact, they all swoon, not from the sight, but from the lack of atmosphere up here.  Splinter and the Turtles promptly BLACK OUT..."

This is a good example of how ridiculous this whole atmosphere bit can become if we let it. Think about it -- the guys have just entered Cody's apartment -- and there's NO BREATHABLE AIR???!! That's just silly. I think it would work much better if Serling sees that the Turtles and Splinter are still having breathing problems from the strange atmosphere previous scene, and because of THAT he gives them the breathing devices.
Speaking of which -- it seems logical that ALL living beings should be outfitted with these Enviropacks if they intend to move freely throughout the city -- so Cody, Biggles et al should be wearing them. Maybe some thought should be given to slightly different designs for these things to indicate occupation, status, etc., keeping a few common practical elements but allowing for some freedom of design. For example, the Peacekeepers might have enviropacks that have a more military/police look to them, and so on.
Speaking of Peacekeepers -- is their another cool word we could use/invent for their name? "Peacekeeper", while a perfectly fine word, has already been used prominently in sci-fi (I'm thinking "Farscape" right now). How about "Pacifactors"?

8.) Re: the following:

"Cody shyly fesses up that he's read about the Turtles in his great grandfather's journal (prompting Don to remark, "I didn't know Casey could read, let alone write!")."

That kind of line sounds like something Mike or Raph would say, not Don.

9.) Re: the following:

"We go into a FLASHBACK as Cody explains that, dying for just a glimpse of his heroes in action, he tried inventing a "time window" that would let him observe them in their own time.  Only there was an accident and the Turtles sort of... fell through. "

Given that we desperately want to avoid "Wesley Crusher" syndrome, while making clear that Cody is an extremely bright kid, it occurred to me while reading this that it might be a great way to introduce the Utroms into this new future setting, and specifically one Utrom who I have featured in several issues of the TMNT comic -- the young and brilliant unconventional Glurin, who, in one of the TMNT comics, had been experimenting with Utrom transmat tech to construct a trans-dimensional viewer. Wouldn't it be cool if young Cody had an Utrom pal? I think it would. And maybe Glurin supplied Cody with some of the tech that he used to make his "time viewer". And maybe Glurin is the SECOND biggest Turtle fan (after Cody), one of the reasons being that the Turtles knew his father, Mr. Mortu!

10.) Re: the following:

"Cody proudly shows off his PERSONAL LAB, explaining that he "sort of owns a company... the biggest company... anywhere." "

While it is fine by me that O'Neiltech (should be one word, I think) is a BIG company, I see no compelling reason why it should be "the biggest company... anywhere". In fact, there are several good reasons why it SHOULDN'T be, not the least being that if it WERE "the biggest company... anywhere", Cody -- as owner -- would be the center of insanely intense scrutiny by the press, and that could make his interactions with the Turtles and Splinter problematic to say the least.

11.) Re: the following:

"Observing a monitor, Cody suddenly panics.  It looks like the "time window" he accidentally opened is starting to close. "

I think we need to get this straight. Cody didn't "accidentally" open a time WINDOW (i.e. for VIEWING the past)  -- he DELIBERATELY did that -- but he DID accidentally open up a time PORTAL (through which things from the past can come).
Also, I don't think Cody should "suddenly panic" while "observing a monitor" -- I think it would be better if he is aware all this time that the portal is still open, and also that he himself isn't really sure how much longer it will be there -- but his best guess is not very long. Also, HE shouldn't be the one who pushes the idea of the Turtles' returning to the past -- it should be the Turtles who press him on this. After all, they don't really want to be here, and they are (at least at this point in time, they might mellow some later) ticked off at this little brat for bringing them here against their will.

12.) Re: the following:

"Serling explains that he was instructed to retrieve "the Turtles".  The Master didn't specify how many. "

There is an opportunity for humor here, but this is not it. It's ridiculous to think that Serling would not know how many Turtles there are if his Master is such a huge fan of them.

13.) Re: the following:

In any case, they need to get moving and find Mikey!  But before they do... “Can we borrow those old masks?”

There might be some fun in having some comments about how funky the old masks smell. I also thought it might be fun if -- as temporary cover -- Serling gives Splinter one of Cody's bathrobes to wear (maybe at Cody's order) because the ancient Spliinter robe on display is literally falling apart. Some fun might be had here if the bathrobe was ALMOST the right size ( I suspect that Cody is a little taller than Splinter?). Maybe Cody has even had images of the Turtles woven into the bathrobe! (A sneaky little fun comment about merchandising.)

14.) It just occurred to me that there might be a fun way to get flashes of the old episodes into this season -- Cody could have a very high tech "holodeck" type thing which he puts at the Turtles' disposal... and in one episode Don might program it with a battle training program featuring -- THE SHREDDER and the FOOT and KARAI! And if we really wanted to push it, we could even do an episode where somehow these villains escape the "holodeck" and wreak havoc, or the Turtles get trapped in the holodeck's imaginary world with the "safeties" off! The fans would love it, I think.

15.) Re: the following:

" They pile in, waiting for Cody to drive... but he's still afraid to leave the house.  "I could get in trouble.""

If we are really going to do this bit about Cody never leaving the apartment, we should have a REALLY good reason for it. What "trouble" is he going to get into? Is he traumatized because his parents went out and got killed in a flying car accident? Is he agoraphobic? Is he just painfully shy? This gag will only work if we have a solid base for it. Right now, I don't even see a halfway decent reason for it, and the story works fine without it.

16.) Re: the following: 

"Cody neglected to mention that he doesn't know how to drive.  Donny takes the wheel as they nearly crash into Constable Biggles, forcing him to spill his alien sushi all over himself and worse, his beloved paperwork. "

The "doesn't know how to drive" gag is pretty tired, and pretty DOPEY, considering that this kid has the resources and smarts to practice driving in a SIMULATOR, even if he never does it in the "real" world. Maybe that could be the gag instead of not knowing how to drive -- Cody knows how to drive, but all his experience has been simulated and this is his first trip in the the chaotic and messy "real world". So he can get around okay, but with a lot of close calls that could rattle the Turtles in amusing ways.

17.) Re: the following:

"MEANWHILE, IN THE ALLEY - Mikey enters, finding the Alien Street Vendor is gone.  Instead, THE STREET PHANTOMS, a multi-species street gang led by JAMMER-HEAD, "decloak" and seemingly materialize out of nowhere, surrounding Mikey.  "

I think we should try to make the effect for these guys significantly differently than our cloaked Foot Tech Ninjas from past episodes. One thought I had is that when these guys decloak, they start to appear from one body part and then it's like they are on a screen which is unrolling (or extending) until you see their whole bodies (and the reverse for cloaking). Or maybe they flash briefly in a negative version of themselves before they cloak or decloak.

18.) Re: the following:

"The guys turn to Cody.  Can he create another window?  Yes.  Absolutely.  In theory.  As soon as he can figure out what caused the accident that created the first one.  Looks like they're gonna be stuck in the future for a little while.  "Oh well," says Mikey, "At least we still have our old lair."

Then suddenly... Metal <GROANS>, granite <CRASHES> around them.  The guys haul shell outta their just in the nick of time as THE ENTIRE LAIR COLLAPSES!"

It's a funny visual gag, but why does the lair collapse RIGHT AT THAT MOMENT? This is the kind of slapstick humor that I'm not crazy about -- things happening with no rhyme or reason other than "it's funny!". I think we need SOME kind of explanation, even if it's some pseudoscientific claptrap from Don or Cody (i.e. "It appears the temporal displacement field weakened the main support structures of the lair").
Actually, it might be funny if Mikey does something like pats one of the beams before he says his line... and THAT'S the "straw that broke the camel's back", that small impact pushing the damaged lair over the edge.

19.) Re: the following:

"Suddenly the Speeder <CRASHES> into a floating billboard.  "...or how to drive."

And with the Shell Speeder embedded into the face of an alien spokesmodel we FADE OUT.  "

This is a dopey gag ripped off from the credit/intro sequence from "Futurama" -- let's lose it. A near miss/scrape would be better in my opinion.
Also, while I SUSPECT that calling the vehicle they are in the "Shell Speeder" is a shorthand way for us to understand that this will be -- or will serve as the basis for -- a "Turtleized" vehicle in later episodes, we should all recognize that there is no way at this point in the season that they could possibly have a "Shell Speeder" per se. Right?

-- Pete

P.S. What is your take on my earlier comment about the name "Darius Dun"?


  1. Hey Peter, i just wanted to show you some drawings i did, heavily inspired by TMNT. TMNT was my favorite everything back when i was a kid and i still, im very fond of them.
    I attend the Danish School of Design, where i have been doing these drawings in the lunch breaks:


    1. "RuneFeb 20, 2012 01:07 PM
      Hey Peter, i just wanted to show you some drawings i did, heavily inspired by TMNT. TMNT was my favorite everything back when i was a kid and i still, im very fond of them.
      I attend the Danish School of Design, where i have been doing these drawings in the lunch breaks:


      I did enjoy your stuff… reminds me of Gary Larson ("The Far Side") somewhat, though there is a touch of that cartoonist Rodrigues (never knew what his first name was) who used to do cartoons for the "National Lampoon" magazine.

      I think my favorite one is the samurai with the fly swatter. -- PL

    2. Hey Peter, thanks!
      Means alot

  2. I am disappointed they didn't go with your suggestions of Glurin being Cody's Utrom pal. That would have been cool to see. Any idea why they didn't do it?

    1. Scott, I don't remember why that idea wasn't used. Possibly, the reason will appear in one of my future posts, if I find it in one of these old emails. -- PL

  3. Why is it when you mention the possible Holo-Shredder episode, my mind immediately goes to the episodes of Star Trek: TNG where Moriarty is unintentionally made so intelligent he realizes he isn't a real person, but a hologram. I could see Donnie (or Cody) doing just that, creating a Holo-Shredder that is so much like the genuine article that it actually tries to take over the holo-grid, and through it New Manhattan. The time hoping episode we eventually got with Shredder was fine, but this idea had some real potential.
    -Kevin "Jester" McGill

  4. I really hated the fact that we NEVER saw the Utrom's in the future. about all we got was a glimpse of one randomly floating in the background. Mortu would have undoubtedly still been around, after all. Possibly Traximus as well..And what happened to the foot? Could have been a fun story to see that they had actually gone straight and started working as body guards or I think happened in the comics.

    I actually like the idea of holographic baddies from the past going amuck better than the old 'malfunction in the holodeck' idea... although one of my favorite episodes is 'Timeing is Everything', just because of the time travel aspect. Wish there was more of that..would have been fun to see how Cody reacted to being in the past and observing first hand...