Saturday, July 7, 2012

Blast from the Past #561: February 5, 2008: oops, February 6, 2008L Re: TMNT163VirtualRealityCheckDr1, and February 8, 2008: Re: TMNT154CityUnderSiegeDr1

Subj: oops
Date: Tuesday, February 5, 2008 9:04:28 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


I feel that I may have unintentionally offended you during our conference call today, and if so, I apologize. I'm referring to when I responded with the word "repulsion" when asked how I felt about the idea of combining our "Shredder Wars" idea with this new idea of having the 4Kids Turtles meet the Fred Wolf Turtles.

  It was an unfortunate choice of words, and I confess that I had not thought very much about this new concept, and hadn't really considered where we might go with it. If I had kept my mouth shut for a few seconds, I would have heard what you said next -- that the "old TMNT meet new TMNT" business might not necessarily be the core story idea in this project. 

I guess my immediate reaction was that this admittedly pretty silly idea (new TMNT meet old TMNT) would ruin what I had considered a pretty cool and dramatic idea (the War of the Shredders). Now that I have had some time to reflect, I see that this may not be the case. And in any event, we haven't really had any significant time to throw ideas at each other... who knows what we'll come up with?

  I am looking forward to brainstorming this with you, Lloyd. Sorry if my leaping to conclusions hurt your feelings.

-- Pete


Subj: Re: TMNT163VirtualRealityCheckDr1
Date: Wednesday, February 6, 2008 12:50:09 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine

P. Laird comments on Ep. 163 Virtual Reality Check first draft

  1.) Re: the following:

APRIL is at the corner of equipment.  But, it’s acting up … overheating … <SPARKING> … <GLOWING> red …
But, I’m worried.  There’s an equipment malfunction!  The system’s crashing!  The hardware’s overheating!  You guys had better get out of Cyberspace and fast.  I’m opening a Cyber Portal.
April works to open a CYBER PORTAL for the turtles."

Hmmm... because -- as we find out later -- all of this April stuff is actually part of a virtual reality ruse that the Shredder has cooked up to trick the Turtles, I wonder if having any scenes set in the lair BEFORE the Turtles come back from cyberspace (or at least THINK they do) is a mistake. I wonder if, instead, any communication from April which indicates that anything is happening back in the lair comes to the Turtles via some kind of comm device -- in other words, what the viewer sees is what the Turtles see, so we don't break that fourth wall.

Maybe I'm not articulating that clearly... let me try again. If the viewer who is watching this episode sees April and Casey in the lair, separate and distinct from what the Turtles are seeing, then logically what the viewer is seeing must actually be happening. It's really only from the Turtles' point of view -- from within cyberspace -- that any of that stuff (the portal breaking down, the fire starting, etc.) is taking place. In essence, it's only in their minds... they are seeing what the Shredder want them to see.

  It would be simple enough to accomplish what I am suggesting -- just keep all the April stuff on the comm device, and don't show any scene from the perspective of being back at the lair, UNTIL the Turtles actually return there. That way, we can remain internally consistent.

2.) Re: the following:

Michelangelo FALLS down the side of the building!
ANGLE ON – RAPHAEL’S HANDS grab the end of a coiled firehouse attached to the wall near a stair well that opens on the roof.
FOLLOW – RAPHAEL LEAPS off the side of the building as … 
LEONARDO braces himself holding the fire hose letting it play out like rope and …
THE FIRE HOSE <UNCOILS> and <UNCOILS> and suddenly reaches the end and GOES <TAUT> and …
LEONARDO digs his feet in against the raised lip of the rooftop’s edge as the fire hose goes <TAUT> helping control it as …
ON – THE SIDE OF THE BUILDING – RAPHAEL falls down holding the fire hose and it goes <TAUT> and he SWINGS in an ARC …
MICHELANGELO is falling when suddenly …
… Raphael comes ARCING through FRAME grabbing Michelangelo …
… and the arc of the fire hose keeps swinging and the two turtles run up the side of the building …
ON THE ROOFTOP – Raphael and Michelangelo come LEAPING up over the edge of the roof."

This kind of thing drives me crazy -- there is NO WAY this would work. You would have to imagine that somehow, Raph is falling FASTER than Mike to be able to pull off this type of rescue, and physics would not allow it. However... we could turn this to our advantage as just another indication -- like Mike's claim that "the building moved" -- that something is not right. One of the Turtles (Leo, probably) could even make a comment to the effect that "I wish Donatello were here to confirm this... but that shouldn't have been possible!"

3.) Re: the following:

I will not let you stop my plans this time!  Not while I still control Cyber Space!"

  This is a bit much. The Shredder does not "control Cyber Space".

  4.) Re: the following:

MICHELANGELO looks worried … he closes his eyes and grimaces readying himself for impact and …
<WHOOSH!>  THE THREE TURTLES go into the massive rock face … 
<WHOOSH!> THE THREE TURTLES come riding out the other side of the rock face …
CLOSER ON – RAPHAEL grins ear to ear.  Michelangelo’s eyes are still closed.  He opens them.
Wow.  I knew we could do a lot in Cyber Space … but ride through mountains.
WIDER STILL – They keep riding …
You know, if we can do that, we don’t need to be riding at all.
Come again?
We can do anything.  Just think hard enough … and we’ll be there.
Both Leonardo and Raphael look at Michelangelo.
It’s worth a shot.  Let’s do it.
They CLOSE their eyes and start FOCUSING and suddenly, they’re GONE!
If you pathetic turtles can do that, I can do it as well."

This "wish it and it will be so" bit really bothers me. If, in fact, it were so simple to do this in cyberspace, the Turtles would have been defeated by the Cyber Shredder long ago -- all he would have to do is wish them dead... or vice versa, the Turtles could have done that to HIM. As I have said before, this kind of thing is a dramatic dead end. There are, after all, rules to how things operate in cyberspace -- they're different from the rules of reality, sure, but they're still RULES.

  5.) Re: the following:

Donny, whatever you do, don’t finish your work on the equipment.  The Shredder is using you!
Oh shell … I … I just finished.
WIDER/PAN OVER TO – THE CYBER SHREDDER stands in the room with them.
The Cyber Shredder <CRACKLES> with energy …
Khan!  Open a Cyber Portal so that I may now return to the real world.
(via communicator)
Already on it, my lord.  You should be seeing the portal now."

  I think more needs to be done to make it clear exactly what is going on here -- which is to say (thank you, Lloyd, for your inventive idea!) that the Shredder is tricking Donatello into showing him how to build (or re-build, in this case) a real-world portal which can bring cyber-entities into reality. 

In other words, the Shredder has manipulated the Turtles' perceptions so that they -- while still in cyberspace -- THINK they are back in the real world fixing their broken physical portal. But they are still in cyberspace, and they are being observed by the CyberShredder, who is transmitting this information (about how to successfully build a physical portal to cyberspace) back to Master Khan and the Foot Techs, so THEY can build a physical portal for the Shredder (one that will work, unlike his last try at it).

I think it might be cool to have one or more of the characters in the lair be the "eyes and ears" of the CyberShredder, the "mole" who is sending all this data to Master Khan and the Foot Techs. Perhaps it is Serling -- and maybe, at the climactic moment, we see him transform into the "real" form of the "mole". Maybe it's the CyberShredder himself -- that might be pretty cool, to see Serling start sprouting Shredder-type blades and such as he morphs into the CyberShredder.

-- Peter


Subj: Re: TMNT154CityUnderSiegeDr1
Date: Friday, February 8, 2008 1:32:18 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine

P. Laird comments on Ep. 164 City Under Siege first draft 02-08-08

  Overall, I think this episode needs some SIGNIFICANT reworking. It's probably salvageable, but it's going to take some doing.

  1.) Re: the following:

It's good to be back on the streets again.  My streets.  I'd almost forgotten what it was to feel the mashing of flesh and the cracking of bone under my fists.  To feel alive.
ON HUN – Several Dragons lie unconscious at his feet.  He reacts with simmering anger:
I don't know who you think you are, but this is Purple Dragon turf.  And the penalty for trespassing is death.
THE ASSAILANT – just stands there.  He raises a hand and beckons Hun to make a move.
HUN – CHARGES the Mystery Man.
<attack cry!>
The MELEE plays out in SILHOUETTE, as Hun attacks the Mystery Man.  Hun unleashes a series of nasty kicks and punches... but the Man easily blocks and dodges.
Playtime over, the Man goes on the offensive.  He PUMMELS Hun relentlessly with a devastating combination of blows... and sends him SLAMMING into a dumpster, DENTING it.
Hun slumps to the ground, defeated.  He looks up...
Who... who are you?"

  Two things here. First -- and this is kind of a small thing, but I have to mention it -- this new Shredder is supposed to be a "real world" version of the cyberspace Shredder, who was originally a scan of the Shredder we knew from the first few years of the 2K3 series... and THAT Shredder was the Utrom Shredder, essentially a small evil alien riding in a robot body/suit. How, then, is it possible for this Shredder to remember the feel of "the mashing of flesh and the cracking of bone under my fists", when in fact that Shredder didn't really HAVE fists (being an Utrom)? Maybe I'm being too picayune here... maybe the Utrom exoskeleton that that Shredder wore was sophisticated enough to transmit those kinds of feelings to the operator... but I felt i had to mention it as it rang somewhat false to me.

The second thing is much more egregious. All this stuff with Hun not knowing who he is fighting seems completely ridiculous to me -- logic and common sense being sacrificed for the sake of a "surprise reveal" which isn't really much of a surprise. Unless they are fighting in complete darkness (which would make no sense -- how are the Purple Dragons supposed to see the person they are supposed to be attacking?), SURELY Hun would recognize the very familiar silhouette and shape of the Shredder.

I just had this thought regarding my first point -- does this Shredder recognize that he is a "copy" of the original.. and if so, should this have an effect on him?

  2.) Re: the following:

So... when do we leave?
Don arches an eyebrow.
You're not nervous?
Are you kidding?  I've spent years on this side of the screen.  I can't wait to see what it's like on the inside."

I think it's fine that Don is taking April into cyberspace with him -- but I also think it would be good if we could show that there is a specific REASON why, now, he is doing so. What is that reason? Are the other Turtles unavailable? Has April been pestering him to let her help find Splinter's data bits? What?

3.) Re: the following:

"DONATELLO – leads April to the CYBER PORTAL.
April... Step into my parlor."

  "Said the spider to the fly..."? This "parlor" line from Don seems a bit weird.

  4.) Re: the following:

"April and Don APPEAR in the fantastic DIGITAL REALM.  April looks around, amazed.  Information packets ZOOM past in all directions, and ENERGY PULSES around them.  She grins:
I've a feeling we're not on the Upper East Side anymore.
We're everywhere and nowhere at the same time.  This place has it all... including a Cyber Shredder.  So keep your eyes peeled."

April's line -- perhaps the billionth repackaging of a now extremely tired line from the "Wizard of Oz" movie -- needs to be changed to something a little less obvious and more interesting.

Also, Don's line about the Cyber-Shreder gave me pause -- I thought the Turtles witnessed the CyberShredder leaving cyberspace through his new portal in a previous episode, or did I imagine that? It does bring up an interesting point, though -- we have been assuming that when the Turtles digitize themselves to be able to enter cyberspace, and then (for lack of a better word) un-digitize themselves so they can return to the real world, they don't leave behind in cyberspace digital copies of themselves... yes? So is this the case with the Shredder as well... or is there still that digital version of the Shredder roaming through cyberspace?

And Don's line -- "We're everywhere and nowhere at the same time" -- while somewhat poetic, doesn't make much sense, especially given that we have taken some pains in previous episodes to establish that although things do work differently in cyberspace than in the real world, it still has a geography where some things are close by and other things are very far away. I would either lose that line (as it doesn't really need to be there) or tweak it somehow.

  5.) Re: the following:

"Don checks his SCANNER; the map DISPLAYS the location of a cluster of DATA BITS.
There's a nice fat cluster of data bits straight up this code-road.  Hang on!"

  I'm sure there are clusters of "data bits" all over cyberspace -- in fact, you probably can't throw a cyber-stick there without hitting some. I think we should be more specific here -- instead of just "data bits", let's say "Splinter data bits". And I think we should lose the "nice fat" part -- sounds odd.

6.) Re: the following:

You attack his left.  He blocks and counterattacks to the center, the chudan.  You block, feint to the low-line, the gedan, then go jodan, high.  He’s waiting for that, blocks, and comes back with a strike to the right quarter.  But you’re ready with the sidestep, go after him with a reverse punch to his left again to draw the trap, and boom!  Wide open.  You got him right where you want him."

  This is an interesting -- if possibly slightly boring (to young kids) -- lecture by Leo. But the last line is a bit off, grammatically speaking -- Leo would not say "you got him". He'd say "you've got him".

  7.) Re: the following:

"INCLUDE BOTH – Suddenly they hear the distant <CHIMES> of an ice cream truck.  That perks Mikey up:
And right now the flow is telling me it's time for a little ice cream break.  Whaddya say, Leo?"

Hmmm... a bit later in this script, instead of an "ice cream truck", Leo and Mike are inside an automat. Either way, how are they supposed to get ice creams without disguises? This isn't the world of "Fast Forward" anymore, remember.

  8.) Re: the following:

Meanwhile, across town, RAPHAEL and CASEY JONES blow off steam with a game of "Rooftop Golf."  Casey prepares to hit a GREEN golf ball with a club:"

I respond negatively to this scene for two reasons -- first, I have a visceral dislike for the stupid and completely irresponsible nature of this "game"; and two, the scene as is is WAY too long. And given that the real reason for this scene is just to get Raph and Casey up and out on the rooftops, I'm sure we can come up with another way to get them there.

  9.) Re: the following:

My exile to the cyber realm has shown me another side to the city, a side that has grown dependent on computers and technology for every aspect of daily life.
THE SHREDDER – opens one of the server cases.
He who controls the mainframe controls the city.  And I shall bend it to my will!
He touches the computer, and BLUE ENERGY CORUSCATES from his hand into the system..."

  Having the Shredder talk about his "exile to the cyber realm" is a bit weird -- does he really feel he was "exiled" there? If so, by whom? It brings up an interesting question -- does this Shredder KNOW what he is (i.e. a digital copy of the original Shredder), and if so, how does that knowledge affect his actions?

On another note, I am a little bit leery of giving this new Shredder what seems to amount to some kind of superpower. Just because he originated in cyberspace, does that mean he has some kind of special techno superpower in the real world? Seems kind of goofy to me. A special understanding of the digital world/cyberspace? Yes. But some kind of superpower over computers? I don't think so.

Here's another thought: This new Shredder is a real-world "artifact" created via a portal which took the CyberShredder -- a digital scan of the original Utrom Shredder -- and transformed it into physical reality, correct? That, to me, means that THIS Shredder is just like the original in that it is a little alien in a robot body... NOT a human in Shredder armor. If I am correct, then perhaps what is REALLY happening here is that the Utrom inside the robot body is using the special techno-capability of the robot exoskeleton to interface with the computers.

  10.) Re: the following:

Leo and Mikey are alone in an AUTOMAT filled with VENDING MACHINES.  Mikey feeds a dollar into an ice cream machine.
Triple fudge explosion.  Come to papa...
Suddenly the lights FLICKER and the ice cream machine SHUTS DOWN.  Mikey BANGS on it, irritated:
Hey, this thing ate my dollar!
ON THE MACHINE – The LED readout displays gibberish... then starts BLINKING a single word: FOOT... FOOT... FOOT... FOOT...
MIKEY – scratches his head, confused.
"Foot?"  I want an ice cream, not a pair of shoes--
THE VENDING MACHINES – all start going crazy, SPITTING out snack cakes, bags of chips, fruit, candy bars, soda cans...
WIDER – The Turtles are BATTERED by the hailstorm of food and beverage.  Mikey seems to like it.
Whoa, jackpot!  <Ouch!>
LEO – draws a sword and BLOCKS several incoming snacks.
Something's wrong.  Come on!"

  While there is some humor in this situation, it reads unsettlingly like a scene from the old cartoon show. And unless we can come up with some quick and convincing rationale for how Leo and Mike can walk in off the street into an automat to get ice cream, I think we should ditch this scene.

11.) Re: the following:

"The train ROARS through the station at top speed!
It's out of control!
Thinking quickly, the guys time it... and GRAB onto the last car of the train as it streaks past!"

Hmmm... that kind of move is going to take some REALLY special "timing" so that their arms don't get ripped off.

12.) Re: the following:

Get to the emergency brake!  I'll knock out the third rail connector!
MIKEY – HANGS over the side... PRIES OPEN a set of doors... and JUMPS inside the vacant car.
LEO – makes it to the front motor car and draws his swords.  He reaches down and STABS one of them into the side of the car.  Using it as a handhold, he SWINGS down and HANGS ON, dangling just above the "SHOE" that SPARKS as it makes contact with the THIRD RAIL.
The tunnel BENDS... and another STATION comes INTO VIEW.  Worse, there's another TRAIN stopped there.
Leo's eyes widen: they're gonna crash!

The out-of-control train HURTLES toward the station...
LEO – HANGS ON to his sword handle, raises his other sword, and SLASHES at the shoe assembly.  SPARKS FLY!  A JOLT of electricity coruscates through him.  He HACKS at the shoes again, and again... until it BREAKS FREE!"

  This whole scene is absolutely freakin' ridiculous. Unless, that is, the intention is to kill off Leo.

13.) Re: the following:

"DON – looks on in horror.
It's the Shredder.  He's overwriting cyberspace with his own malicious code!
THE CODE WAVE – is bearing down on them.
Don manipulates the controls on his cyber wrist guard...
We gotta warn the others."

Don doesn't say "gotta". But more importantly -- "He's overwriting cyberspace with his own malicious code!"? WTF??!! I thought he was just messing with the NYC mainframe computer... not changing all of cyberspace!

  14.) Re: the following:

I'm gonna debug him, Ninja style."

  Don doesn't say "gonna".

  15.) Re: the following:

Tough little hombre...
Don does a FOREWARD FLIP and brings his staff down hard on the robot.  <CRUNCH!>  With a final SPASM it SHUTS DOWN.
Just then Leonardo and Michelangelo come BOUNDING into the Lair:
We got a problem."

  "Tough little hombre" sounds pretty weird coming from Don... and why is he having such a hard time dealing with a little Roomba-style cleaning robot that HE built?

Also, Leo would say "We've got", not "We got".

16.) Re: the following:

"Don looks at the grimly:"

  What, exactly, is a "grimly"? 

  (Sorry... couldn't resist.)

17.) Re: the following:

The networks need computers.  And the computers need electricity.  So... we black out the city.
Don lays some tech talk on them:
Most of our electricity comes from the outside, but there are generator plants in the city.  If we can shut one down it'll crash the whole system.
Leo gestures at them:
Donny, you take April and get those data bits.  Everyone else is with me.
Mikey has a disturbing thought.
Wait.  What if it's a trap?
Raph <CRACKS> his knuckles in anticipation.
Of course it's a trap.  I can't wait."

  Leo's great "plan" here sounds like a classic example of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater", or perhaps "killing the village to save it". And I'm sorry -- I love the Turtles and all, and they are capable of great things... but shutting off electric power to New York City? I'm not buying it. And how does shutting off one generator "crash the whole system"? That makes ZERO sense to me.

  Also, it sort of stretches credulity that the Turtles would be ready to sacrifice the entire city to save a few Splinter data bits. I mean -- sending the most tech-savvy characters (Donatello and April) off into cyberspace on a "Splinter data bit quest" when everything is going to hell in the city? That seems more than a little dopey.

I think this is a significant hole in the middle of this story, and in my opinion, we need to work out a more logical and compelling. It might help to try to think of a "scalpel" solution as opposed to a "sledgehammer" one.

(It might also help to remember that VERY IMPORTANT COMPUTERS (such as this purported "NYC mainframe") probably would have their own backup power sources for emergencies, rendering this "plan" pointless.)

And I have to say that -- much like variants on the "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore" line -- the whole "It could be a trap!" "A trap? Great!" bit is REALLY tired.

  18.) Re: the following:

Don't waste any time finding those data bits, guys.  If the power goes out while you're still in there..."

  I've already pointed out (in my last comment) that I think it is tactically foolish to send Don and April into cyberspace to look for Splinter data bits at this crucial moment, but I must also comment on how poorly phrased Leo's first line here is. My first reading of it made me think that what he was saying was "Don't bother spending any time finding those data bits!"... which -- while I think that actually he is RIGHT, and Don and April should stay in the real world and help out -- in the context of the script as is, it makes no sense at all. I believe the writer's intent was to emphasize that no EXTRA time should be spent looking for the data bits -- in other words, don't dawdle. But it certainly doesn't read that way.

  19.) Re: the following:

"Off her nod, they JUMP into the Cyber Portal.  <ZAP!>
Serling watches them go.
I'll just wait here, shall I?"

I see no point at all to Serling's line here.

  20.) Re: the following:

Shredder sure found the city's weak spot--"

It's "the Shredder", not just "Shredder".

  21.) Re: the following:

"DONATELLO can't resist an outburst:

  Actually, I'm pretty sure he can.

  22.) Re: the following:

Streets are too dangerous.
Then we go subterranean.
ANGLE – Leo slides off a MANHOLE COVER.  Raph, Mikey, and Casey DROP into the darkness, followed by Leo.
Leo, Raph, Mikey, and Casey move down the familiar underground passage.  As they go, they're unaware of a series of CAMERAS mounted the ceiling..."

  Right -- let's go subterranean, because there's nothing dangerous down THERE, right? Good lord...

And why, when the Turtles spend so much time in the underground (I mean, it's even described as "the familiar underground passage"!), are they "unaware" of the cameras? What is the point?

23.) Re: the following:

"Suddenly in a QUICK SERIES OF SHOTS, a dozen FOOT SOLDIERS emerge from hiding to SURROUND our heroes!  MASTER KHAN appears to be their leader.
THE TURTLES & CASEY draw their weapons.
You've had your fun, Khan!  Release the city!"

  I think that may be the worst couple of Leo lines ever.

  24.) Re: the following:

"LEO & MIKEY tumble across the floor.  As they recover:
He counters attacks to his left with thrusts to the midline.  Draw the strike and be ready to hit his right.
Mikey is unsure, but goes along.
Okay... got it."

  Okay, I was wrong... THESE are the worst Leo lines ever.

25.) Re: the following:

"THE SHREDDER looks at them, pleased.
That's more like it!  I want to crack some shells."


26.) Re: the following:

"LEO glances at Mikey:
Think ahead, Mikey.  "Physical chess," remember?"

This "Leo giving lessons to Mikey in the middle of a desperate fight" stuff just does NOT work. It is silly and klunky.

27.) Re: the following:

"MIKEY drops into his "Drooping Crane" pose, momentarily confusing Shredder.  In that instant Michelangelo strikes, NAILING Shredder and sending him over the rail..."

I find it hard to even BEGIN to describe how silly this is.

28.) Re: the following:

"The Shredder FALLS on top of the main generator.  Electricity ARCS over his metal armor... and there's a BLINDING EXPLOSION!
<electrocution cry!>
The lights GO OUT, plunging the building into DARKNESS.
The entire city BLACKS OUT.
EMERGENCY LIGHTS <SNAP ON>, bathing the room in an eerie light.  The Turtles and Casey look around... the Shredder, Master Khan, and the Foot are all GONE.  All that remains is SHREDDER'S MASK, partially MELTED, lying in the middle of the floor.
The power loss should have erased Shredder's influence from the network.  It's over.
THE GUYS JUMP DOWN AND gather around the mask.
Is this the end... or a new beginning?"

  Perhaps I was wrong again -- maybe THESE are the worst Leo lines ever.

  And once again -- it's "the Shredder", not just "Shredder".

  This ending is... bad. What, exactly, happened here? Was the Shredder destroyed? Is this season over?

  -- Peter


  1. I will probably comment on the rest later, but wanted to comment on the first paragraph first.

    I, for one, would have LOVED to see one more season revolving around the 'War of Shredders'. I loved the idea, and it's a real shame it'll never see the light of day. was there any work done on it? Maybe NIck would bring it to life as a dvd movie series or something..

  2. add on : That's the other thing i was curious about as well... I don't think there is a tiny utrom in this shredder..i got the feeling that he was more machine than anything else. he wasn't revived the same way as he was when the TCRI building imploded.

    speaking of which... wouldn't an easier plot have been to contact Karai and have her use whatever method she used last time to revive him? Still a fun season though :)