Monday, March 5, 2012

Blast from the Past #487: August 14, 2005: Re: Turtles #120 ("Home Invasion") First draft

Subj: Re: Turtles #120 ("Home Invasion") First draft
Date: Sunday, August 14, 2005 3:19:06 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


Here are my notes on the ep 120 first draft.

1.) Re: the following:

"17. serling (vo)
Donatello!  How many times do have to tell you…"

I think that should read:

"17. serling (vo)
Donatello!  How many times do I have to tell you…"

2.) Re: the following:

"19. donatello
Don’t bust a servo, Serling.  I’m just tweaking this bad boy so it’ll make the chicken fries crispier."

"Bad boy" is slang that, in a pinch, Don MIGHT use, but it seems inappropriate here -- not only because it's Don (not Raph or Mike), but because he's referring to a kitchen appliance... hardly deserving the appellation "bad boy".

3.) Re: the following:

"As he twists a screw, a jet of flame suddenly shoots out.   WHOOSH!  Mikey reacts startled, as Donny quickly dials it back.  
20. michaelangelo
Whoa!  A little too crispy!  
After the flames have died down, we see that Serling was charred by the fire, and he looks steamed!  
21. serling
You soft-shelled idiot!  You nearly fried my circuits! "

The "jet of flame" bit seems way too 20th century (surely in 2015 they have better ways to fry chicken than with flames), but what really "fries my cicuits" about this one is that Serling is described as "charred". Huh? I thought he was made of metal, and a lot more resistant to damage than that.
Perhaps a better scenario -- if we must keep the "jet of flame" -- would be to have Serling holding something flammable (or "char"-able) which could be set on fire/charred/melted by the "jet of flame".

4.) Re: the following:

"22. donatello
Hey, if you can’t stand the heat…   
23. donatello/michaelangelo
(in unision)
Stay out of the kitchen bot!  
Donny and Mikey merrily high-five each other.  "

That's the kind of joke that I could see Mikey or Raph making, but not Don, especially given that he almost caused some serious damage -- or could have -- with his "jet of flame". Don isn't that casual about things like that. So I would suggest giving Mikey this gag alone.

5.) Re: the following:

"But once he’s in the bathroom, the lights brighten and SOOTHING ELEVTOR MUSIC begins to play.  As Raph watches in horror, four ROBOTIC ARMS extend out of the medicine cabinet.  
27. sani-lav (vo)
Welcome to the Sani-Lav 2150, for all your personal hygienic needs.  
28. raphael
You gotta be kiddin’ me!
Like a Swiss Army knife, the arms flip out various options – dental floss, Q-Tips, tweezers…"

I'm not sure if we have time to do this in this scene, but it might be cool if the Sani-Lav 2150 also incorporates a scanner beam that plays over Raph's body and analyzes what his particular body form/species might need in terms of "personal hygienic needs". In Raph's case, that might mean something like a shell waxing.

6.) Re: the following:

"PUSH IN on a blocky power substation at the edge of the city.  
int.  substaion control room – continuous
On the control panel, the gauges fluctuate, then suddenly shoot up into the red.  TWO TECHNICIANS view the gauges with alarm."

Might be cool if one or both of the technicians were aliens instead of humans.

7.) Re: the following:

"They rush to throw a series of switches, but the spike continues to grow!  SPARKS begin to shoot out of the control panel.  
35. tech #1
The suppressors can’t hold it!  
As they frantically try to control the surge, a strange HELIX SPIRAL of SPARKS whirls up.  For a brief instant, it forms a scary VIRTUAL FACE.  This is VIRAL!  "

Perhaps it would be better and more "futuristic" if the control panels/grids these techs are looking at are not hard screens, but a kind of holographic display. This could also make the appearance of Viral's face more realistic -- instead of appearing in a "shower of sparks" (sparks being kind of random things) it could infect and warp the holographic display (which is driven by software) to represent its face.

8.) Re: the following:

"43. michaelangelo
Does it include pizza?  "

Perhaps we could find something else other than "pizza" that Mike would hope the surprise included.

9.) Re: the following:

"46. donatello
Kickin’ graphics! "

"Kickin'" is too slangy for Don. Perhaps "Excellent" would be better.

10.) Re: the following:

"66. serling
Impossible!  I wired every inch of that system myself.  
67. donatello
Hey, you’re only human… or whatever you are.  
Suddenly, Serling whirls his mop like a Bo Staff and WHACKS Donny on the head!  
68. donatello
OW! "

Perhaps it would be better if Don's line "Hey, you’re only human… or whatever you are" was cut to read "Hey, you’re only human", and delivered with a wink to Cody or some other indication that Don obviously KNOWS that Serling ISN'T human. Then Serling could respond huffily with something like "No reason to insult me, Turtle..." -- and THEN he could start whacking on Don with the mop. Cody could say something like "Serling! It wasn't THAT much of an insult --!"... to which Serling could then respond "It's not that, sir -- I seem to have lost control of my motor functions!"

11.) Re: the following:

"Donny kicks Serling over, then back-flips over to the bathroom where he pries Cody loose from the robotic arms with his staff.  
75. donatello
Talk about a plaque attack!  You almost got flossed!"

REALLY silly lines here. I'd lose them.

12.) Re: the following:

"The turtles look up in alarm as Viral’s scary virtual face hovers over them.  
84. viral
(ominous LAUGH!)
85. Michaelangelo
Why do I get the feeling he’s laughing at us, not with us?  "

It seems a bit odd that the Turtles react to the appearance of this bizarre thing without wondering what it is.

13.) Re: the following:

"Leo rushes to Splinter who wobbles unsteadily on his feet.  His fur is comically frizzed out.  
89. splinter
Perhaps it would be wise to sit this one out. "

Splinter's line is dopey, given the obvious danger that they are in.

14.) Re: the following:

"But when they reach the dojo, the door is shut.  Donny urgently pounds on the door.  
91. donny
Hey, guys, open up!  You could be in danger!  
int.  dojo – conintuous
Leonardo is swatting away ninja stars with his blades as he hears Donny’s warning.  
92. leonardo
Gee, you think? "

"Gee, you think?" just doesn't sound like Leo.

15.) Re: the following:

"103. raphael
Mega-byte me, fuzz face! "

"Fuzz face"? Doesn't that usually refer to a character with hair/fur on it? Perhaps "sparky" would be better here.

16.) Re: the following:

"111. raphael
I love punchin’ cattle! "

I could be wrong, but I think the most common version of this phrase is "cow punching" -- so maybe it would be better if Raph said:

"I love cow punchin’!"

17.) Re: the following:

"114. leonardo
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!  "

Another "gag" line that doesn't sound like Leo... not to mention that it doesn't make any sense in context.

18.) Re: the following:

"134. viral
What?  You dare to mock me?  
135. mikey
We’re mock turtles.  Deal with it! "

I appreciate the Lewis Carroll reference, but why not make it a double-layered gag by having Mikey say instead:

"We’re mockin' turtles.  Deal with it! "

(I'm also reminded of the movie "A Hard Day's Night" when one of the Beatles -- can't remember which one -- is asked if they are "Mods" or "Rockers", and he replies "We're Mockers.")

19.) Re: the following:

"Trying to keep his balance, Leo clutches his stomach.  
160. leonardo
I’m gonna lose my linguini! "

Again, NOT a Leo line. This is more of a Raph or Mikey line.

20.) Re: the following:

"147. donatello
We need to get into the mainframe again.  
Cody looks skeptical as he activates his pockettab.  
148. cody
What good’s that gonna do?  You saw what happens when we tried to delete him!  
149. donatello
Watch and learn, young ninja.  We’re not going to delete him…  
Donny takes the controls and calls up a schematic of the city’s power grid.  
150. donatello (cont)
We’re going to systematically shut down the power grid.  "

A few things here. First, back in the end of act 2 Cody's "pockettab" froze up (apparently due to something Viral did). Why/how is it now operating? 
Also, I think Don shutting down the city's power grid using Cody's pockettab happens WAY too easily.

21.) Re: the following:

"152. donatello
And with any luck, we’ll be able to force him to retreat into this harmless old blender.  "

This is pretty dopey. WHY would Don think a highly sophisticated computer program like VIral could be trapped in a BLENDER? And then Don's later lines:

"Donny proudly holds out the blender.  
176. donatello
Yeah, I shut off the power and trapped old fuzz face in here.  
As they look at the blender, Cody pushes a few of the buttons.  Nothing happens.  
177. cody
Uh, Donny, I’m not so sure he’s in there…
Donny looks at it, puzzled.  
178. donatello
He’s gotta be!  Where else would he go?"

... make him sound like an idiot. (Not to mention the fact that Don doesn't say "Yeah" and "gotta"... and what's up with the repetition of "fuzz face"?) "Where else would he go"? Uh, how about the hundreds if not THOUSANDS of other electronic devices in Cody's building? It looks to me like all this nonsense is in here simply to set up a "the bad guy's in the blender" gag -- which, while it has a certain surreal appeal, just DOESN'T work here. It really makes Don suddenly seem like a dunce, especially when he says this ridiculous line:

"Donny looks up at the towering Viral bot and reacts.  Annoyed, he points to the blender.  
181. donatello
Dude!  You’re supposed to be in here!"

More thought needs to go into this. Here are a couple of suggestions:

1.) Instead of remotely shutting off the city's power grid, maybe Don can remotely link to the Hovershell -- something he figures Viral wouldn't be interested in at the moment -- and have it do something (ram, shoot missiles or lasers) to a nearby power junction which would turn the power off to Cody's building.

2.) Instead of the dopey blender bit, have Don's plan of shutting down the building's power APPEAR to have worked. But then, when Cody says something about how lucky they are that BATTERY-POWERED things like his pocekttab kept working even when the power to the building was shut off, Don could immediately go "Uh-oh..." as he realizes that there are OTHER battery-powered things in the building -- like freakin' battle robots!

22.) Re: the following:

"184. viral
(angry SCREAM!)
I’ll squash you like old spam!"

This is a VERY odd gag. I assume Viral MUST be talking about Spam the meat product (which is squashable), and NOT spam the unwanted email. But how does Viral know about Spam? And why OLD Spam? Isn't NEW Spam just as squashable? Perhaps something other than Spam is called for here.

23.) Re: the following:

"Then Viral flips out a GIANT SERRATED BLADE from another arm.  Mikey wraps his nun-chuks around it and yanks it off, leaving a sparking stump behind.  
188. michaelangelo
Like my disarming personality?  
Meanwhile, Donny drives his Bo Staff into the back of Viral’s leg which forces the big bot to drop to one knee.  
189. donatello
I can’t stand it! 
This allows Raph to vault up onto Viral’s back where he rips off circuit cover and plunges his Sais inside.  
190. raphael
You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours!  
When he pulls them out again, they have a tangle of wires hooked on them.  He twirls them like spaghetti forks, pulling more wires out.  
Viral waves a BUZZ SAW ARM at Raph, but he can’t reach him.  
191. viral
Get off my back!  
Then Leonardo steps in and slices the buzz saw arm off with his swords.  
192. leonardo
Buzz off!  "

Lots of painfully obvious and dopey word play from the Turtles here, the worst being Don's "I can't stand it!" -- which I stared at for a couple of minutes, not really believing what I was seeing. Please, let's keep this kind of stuff to an absolute minimum.

24.) Re: the following:

"When he throws the elevator door at them, they duck.  
200. leonardo
Let’s give him the shaft!  "

Oh. My. God.

25.) Re: the following:

"They turn and see Splinter entering.  His fur is still frizzed from the Taser shock.  Leonardo rushes up to him with concern. 
210. leonardo
Master, are you all right? 
211. michaelangelo
He’s just having a bad hair day. 
Splinter raises one finger as he philosophizes.  
212. splinter
It is not the outward appearance that matters, Michaelangelo.  It is what comes from the inside.  
Then, he touches Mikey’s arm with the finger.  ZAP!  Mikey is shocked with a jolt of residual energy.  
213. michaelangelo
Ouch!  You did that on purpose! 
As Mikey scowls and rubs his arm, Serling suppresses a laugh.  Ignoring Mikey’s protests, Splinter turns to Cody."

I really don't like any of this. It's very silly and pointless, and all apparently to continue the "Splinter's frizzy hair" gag (which wasn't all that hilarious to begin with).

26.) Re: the following:

"Inside, the vault is crammed with computer equipment.  Viral Bot sits amidst the gear and welds one of the joints on his broken robot body.  
220. viral
Trapped!  Trapped in this twisted form!  And it’s all because of those cursed Turtles.  "

There is nothing that I can see in this script which even remotely explains why VIral would be or COULD be trapped inside this robot body. Remember, Viral is SOFTWARE -- he (or I guess now she) is a PROGRAM. All Viral needs to get out of this body is some kind of link, hardwired or wireless. More thought is needed. One POSSIBLE explanation could be that SOMETHING that the Turtles do or casue to happen to Viral during the battle causes a snippet of his program to be erased or garbled -- and it's THAT piece of code which allows Viral to jump from one system to another.

-- Pete

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