Sunday, April 29, 2012

Blast from the Past #526: January 3, 2006: Re: 140 ("DNA is Thicker than Water") First Draft

Subj: Re: 140 ("DNA is Thicker than Water") First Draft
Date: Tuesday, January 3, 2006 8:37:12 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


Here are my comments on the Ep. 140 first draft. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, expansion from an outline to a full-blown script has made the story's basic problems that much more visible.

1.) Re: the following:

BAH!  The only thing you have lead these losers to is FAILURE!  Time and again!  The only way your total incompetence could prove to be an asset is if, if you joined the Turtles!"

I think there is one too many "if"s in that last line.

2.) Re: the following:

"ON DARK RAPH – he <SWINGS> at Darius, but his arms stops midway.  He can’t strike!  Dark Raph looks at his arm, shocked!
DARIUS looks smug.
<smug chortle>. You think I would risk life and limb with you savages without some precautions?  Recall the hypnotic suggestion I had implanted in your oh-so-small minds. You can’t hurt me…
ON DARK TURTLES – they look up WORRIED as the SHADOW of the battle-suit looms over them.
…I on the other hand, CAN hurt you… "

Nothing wrong with this per se -- but I'm wondering if an equally good or maybe a little better bit would be to have the "hypnotic suggestion" thing be a little more extensive, allowing Darius to punish the Dark Turtles even if he doesn't have the protection of his battle suit with him. My idea is that the hypnotic suggestion allows Darius to not only STOP the Darks from hurting him, but also allows him to make them hurt themselves or each other. I think the image of a Dark Turtle repeatedly punching himself -- without being able to stop -- is kind of funny.

3.) Re: the following:

You have a simple choice to make.  Destroy the Turtles, or be destroyed!  Now get out, and if you dare come back mired in failure again, I promise you all a very brutal demise."

Given that (even though we don't SEE it in any of the episodes) Darius has other uses for the Darks than just going after the Turtles, it seems kind of silly for him to make this all-or-nothing command, at the very least because he has already seen several times that when the Darks and the Turtles fight, the Turtles come out on top. And given how he has fallen from grace and power, I think he would be cautious about wasting ANY resource he has now. So I would suggest that he not make it a "succeed or die" proposition, but rather a "succeed or face more severe punishment" thing.

4.) Re: the following:

Kay boys, we all know the rules of TAG!
CLOSER ON RAPH, LEO, DON, and CODY huddling and smiling as Raph points over his shoulder to Mikey. They <LAUGH> as Raph jokes.  
As usual, Mikey’s it <snicker>…TOOL!
ON MIKEY looking at them scornfully <MOCKING> their laughter.
ON RAPH, LEO, DON AND CODY – preparing to dart off!
(like “Let’s Play Ball”)
Now, let’s PLAY TAG!
The boys all <DART OFF> in different directions OFF CAMERA.
ON MIKEY – looking eager to tag someone out – he darts off!
Ready or not…here comes the Mike-man! 
ON COUCH – we see the ends of LEO’S TASSELS duck down behind it. "

"Kay"? Is it too difficult for Raph to say "Okay"? And... "TOOL"? What's the point? And maybe the "rules of tag" have changed since I was a kid, but I'd say the Turtles DON'T know the rules. As I recall, typically the group playing the game would have some kind of ritual to determine who was "it" -- drawing straws, doing "rock/paper/scissors", something like that -- NOT three out of four of the players huddling and determining that the fourth player was "it". And then, even MORE importantly, the player who was "it" had to COVER HIS EYES and COUNT TO TEN (or five, or whatever)! That was, he wouldn't see where people hid.
Actually, this game of tag seems WICKED childish and lame for the Turtles to be playing. Boring, too. And the more I think about it, after having read the rest of the script, really unnecessary. We should use this time instead to try to make Dark Leo's "defection" more realistic/believable.

5.) Re: the following:

"ON MIKEY/DARK MIKEY – charging.  Mikey jumps over Dark Mikey.  Dark Mikey stops - confused!  Dark Mikey turns around.
ON MIKEY – he smirks, waves, and extends his left arm OFF-CAM. 
Over here!
Mikey speaks out of the corner of his mouth (ala ventriloquism) as CAM PANS the length of Mikey’s left arm REVEALING he has EYES painted on his hand and is doing a Senor Wences-style DUMMY.
(in a high-pitched voice)
No…over here!
D. MIKEY looks BACK/FORTH between Mikey and his hand - CONFUSED. 
Aargh!  What manner of SORCERY IS this?"

Oh. My. God.

6.) Re: the following:

"ANGLE ON CODY as DARK DON leaps on his chest.  He <CRACKS> the DOME and reaches for CODY.  SUDDENLY DARK DON’S EYES WIDEN. 
WIDER TO REVEAL DARK LEO pulling DARK DON BY HIS TAIL. He gets him off Cody, <SWINGS> him around, and <TOSSES> him away. 
DARK DON LANDS on his back and looks up – SHOCKED!
ON DARK LEO – angry – he walks towards the grounded Dark Don.
I will stand for NO MORE brother! No more of this diseased life of mine!  I’m sick of the needless fighting!  Of Darius!  And mostly…of you lunatics!  Our partnership ends HERE and NOW!
ON THE RAPHS and MIKEYS – they stop fighting and look, shocked!
ON DON helping CODY up.  They both look up – totally shocked.
ON DARK LEO – he POINTS HIS SWORD at a stunned Dark Don.
Do not move, or there will be nothing left of you but a bad memory…"

I don't know... there's something about this scene, and most of the rest of the script, that bugs me. This "turning" of Dark Leo in the middle of this battle just doesn't play very believably. It's so abrupt, and being so abrupt and without apparent solid motivation, I doubt the Turtles would fall for it. 
I think this needs to be re-thought in a big way. I think it would work better, i.e. seem to be more convincing to the Turtles, if Dark Leo's "defection" was set up so that it APPEARS as if he doesn't know that Leo and/or the other Turtles are observing him. Here's one thought to ponder: Instead of the silly "parlor tag" in the beginning, the Turtles are engaging in a more strenuous and cool "ninja tag" outside, which involves lots of cool acrobatics and moving around a wider area. Now, unbeknownst to Leo and the other Turtles, the Dark Turtles are observing them, and have been waiting for just the right moment... which comes when Leo, who is either hiding for his brothers or searching for them, comes upon a scene which shocks and puzzles him: He sees the monstrous Dark Leo saving a group of kids/senior citizens/whatever from something -- maybe a runaway hover-sidewalk cleaner (could be anything, really) or a big sign which is crashing to the ground, etc.. The rescue also involves Dark Leo taking a significantly big physical hit (an extra bit to help convince Leo that SOMETHING has changed about this Dark Turtle). But the major point here is that because Dark Leo appears to be doing this without the knowledge that Leo is observing him, his actions and his later protestations about wanting to become a "good guy" are that much more believable and compelling.
Of course, we could include at the end of this scene a shot of one or more of the other Dark Turtles snickering evilly as it is made clear that it was THEY who had surreptitiously caused the accident that Dark Leo saved people from... all part of the plan!

7.) Re: the following:

SLO-MO SHOT - DARK LEO falls back and <SCREAMS IN PAIN>.  RESUME REG SPEED as Dark Leo lands, winces, and holds his right leg.
STAY ON DARK DON – he jumps in the TERRORPIN and <ZOOMS> to picks up DARK MIKEY/RAPH.  The 3 DARKS FLY AWAY.
CLOSE ON DARK LEO – on the floor, holding his leg.  PAN FROM HIS FACE to his INJURED LEG.  The injury looks bad.  It OOZES FLUID.
THE TMNT and TURTLE-X approach him.  They look sorry for him. 
Whoa!  That cut looks bad – real bad."

I'm somewhat confused about this whole "leg wound" bit. Is it for real? Or is it a minor injury which Dark Leo is exaggerating so he can later strike at the Turtles while they think he is still not fully functional? It's really not clear, but one thing that IS clear is the the Turtles would NOT be so stupid as to not check it out thoroughly through various tests, scans, etc., which would reveal whether it was a serious injury or not.

8.) Re: the following:

"CAM PULLS OUT TO REVEAL DARK LEO in a Hannibal style HARNESS AND CART.  His RIGHT LEG is BANDAGED.  Dark Leo comes to and STRUGGLES AND <SNARLS> to try and release himself."

By "Hannibal style HARNESS AND CART", I'm assuming that the writer means the type of restraints that Hannibal Lechter was put in when moved from his prison cell in the "Silence of the Lambs" movie... and if so, I think it's silly. Why not have a set up like the brig in the various "Star Trek" TV series -- a small, reinforced room with a protective force field as a doorway? It would make the Turtles' interactions with Dark Leo easier and not look so goofy.

9.) Re: the following:

"ON RAPH & CODY.  Raph holds a BOWL and a SPOONFUL OF SOUP to DARK LEO.  Dark Leo <TURNS HIS HEAD> refusing soup.  Raph continues to try to feed him.  Dark Leo suddenly SNAPS at the spoon.  Raph/Cody look at the spoon.  It’s MISSING ITS TOP HALF.  They are stunned as Dark Leo <SPITS OUT> half of the spoon."

This is just ridiculous. Why do the Turtles need to SPOON-FEED Dark Leo? He doesn't know how to feed himself? I suspect this and more silly stuff which follows is connected to Dark Leo being in his "Hannibal style HARNESS AND CART"... and I really think we need to get rid of that bit.

10.) Re: the following:

Thanks Raphie boy!"

I don't think Don calls Raph "Raphie boy", but Mike would.

11.) Re: the following:

"ON MIKEY AND LEO as 2 “TRICERATONS” run at them from each side.  Mikey and Leo lock arms, BACK TO BACK, and execute (2) 360 QUADRUPLE kicks (they leap and resemble a propeller as their legs spin together) <KNOCKING> both Tri’s back.  They land."

I hope somebody knows how to visualize this move, because I sure can't. Also, I hope that when visualized, it makes sense.

12.) Re: the following:

I’ve got a plan.  One that ensures my family is unharmed, and your family is not betrayed.  But, we’ll need to work together, for the first, and last time. "

Leo's plan, as it plays out later in the script, is kind of goofy. We're expected to believe that:

-- when the Dark Turtles show up at Cody's penthouse, break in and split up, Dark Leo and Leo have enough time to fight and "hogtie" each Dark Turtle before any of the three Dark Turtles can reach any of the Turtles' bedrooms

-- when Leo and Dark Leo fight with and subdue all three Dark Turtles, none of the Dark Turtles realize that Dark Leo is one of the two are are fighting them

-- while all this is going on, Splinter, Raph, Don and Mike sleep through it... some ninjas THEY are!

I won't get into how silly it is that the Dark Turtles are so quickly and easily beaten. I sure hope Leo starts carrying that bola around with him when they ever fight the Dark Turtles again!
I do think that it would make sense for Leo to enlist all the others' help in beating the Dark Turtles so that his plan will work.

13.) Re: the following:

"ON CLEARING WHERE DARK DON & DARK RAPH LAY TIED.  DARK MIKEY (NOW HOGTIED) lands between them. He does a silly smile.
You guys come here often?"

Dark Mike's line here is LAME.

-- Pete

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