Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blast from the Past #613: May 2, 2003: Re: Show #33/"Secret Origins Part 2", May 6, 2003: comments on Ep.27 ("Turtles in SPace Pt. 1) storyboards, Ep. 35 ("Reflections") outline, and Ep. 36, 37, and 38 premises/notes, and May 8, 2003: Re: Kirby

Subj: Re: Show #33/"Secret Origins Part 2"
Date: Friday, May 2, 2003 1:45:29 AM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


Not too many comments about this script, as follows:

1.) In Donatello's line 1, I would change "gotta" to "have to" (more Don-ish to my ears).

2.) In line 27, the Foot Ninja refers to the Turtles as "goblins". That's appropriate, but I wonder if we should also use (or replace "goblins" with) the word "kappa" which I believe is the word used for Japanese mythological turtle demons.
Also, in line 28, the Foot Captain refers to the Shredder as "Tonosama" -- is there some reason for this?

3.) In line 67, referring to a later scene beginning with line 134, the General says he's going to "call in the air strike". While I understand this would be visually dramatic, I think it's also too over the top and illogical -- to call in an air strike against one building in the middle of a crowded city that's not at war seems like too much. I might believe it if it were a missile or rocket (or group of same) launched from a helicopter hovering just above street level, but not from an airplane. I don't think we even need an airstrike anyway -- just bring up some kind of heavier ordnance or special weapon (experimental laser or sonic cannon, TOW missile, etc.).

4.) In line 98, Leo says to Splinter, re: the fight they hear far off, "... but distant, Sensei... five clicks to the north..." A few things bother me about this. First, Leo seems far too certain and accurate, and second, "clicks", while cool military-speak, doesn't seem like jargon Leo would use (and I think it's actually "kliks" -- a shortening/bastardizing of "kilometers" -- anyway). I would suggest a change as follows: "... but distant, Sensei... maybe five miles to the north..." Actually, in re-reading my comment here, I realized that's a HELL of a long way off to even be able to hear that kind of fight, through forests and uneven terrain. Maybe it should be two miles instead of five.

5.) As I mentioned in our long phone conversation yesterday, I think that when the Turtles, armed with their makeshift bamboo weapons, first engage -- and defeat -- the Foot Ninjas, they should take up their fallen foes weapons and get rid of their bamboo stuff. While I think it's clever and shows the resourcefulness of the Turtles that they make weapons from what's around them, I think it's more logical that they would grab some "real" weapons if they were available. As well, it would be cool to see the Turtles showing off their skills with weapons other than their traditional ones.

6.) In line 113 "Kowai" and in line 114 "onesan"  -- are these authentic and meaningful Japanese words? I have no idea.

7.) There's a line which has no number, but it falls between lines 151 and 52. In it, Soldier #1 says "Send back up!" That sounds to me more like "cop talk" and less like "soldier talk". Am I wrong? Would they more likely say something like "We need reinforcements!"? I also think this would be a perfect place for the classic war movie line when soldiers get wounded -- "Medic!!!"

8.) A minor point, but in line 162 I would add ellipsis so that Leo's line reads "Mr. Mortu? You're just the... man we need to see". (And I just noticed that the word "to" is missing from the original line.)

9.) Another minor point, but I would prefer that if in line 185 Mortu says "The Shredder is one of --", that back in line 165, he says "The Shredder is --" I guess I would prefer to not exactly repeat the same line.

10.) Leo calls the Shredder "scumbag" in line 175. This bothered me for some reason -- maybe it sounds more like a Raph epithet, and maybe I just flashed on the origin of the word (a used condom) and thought it somehow inappropriate. I think we could come up with something better.

Further down that page, there is a bit where Leo "tosses the Sword of Tengu aside with disgust." From the way this and the few previous lines are written, I assume the disgust he feels is from seeing the "cowardly" reaction of the Foot Ninja who leap into the forest of bamboo to avoid the power of the sword. This seems a bit illogical to me, as I think it's entirely sensible of those Foot Ninja to do what they did (something which, if memory serves, the Turtles themselves were doing a few pages earlier!). I think it might work better if the line went something like this:

"LEONARDO looks down at the glowing Sword of Tengu as it pulses with power in his hand. He closes his eyes for a few seconds in concentrated meditation... and the swords VANISHES from his hand, into nothingness."

This action, of course, refers to the fact that Leo -- using Splinter's hint -- earlier used the power of his mind to move the Sword of Tengu from the Shredder's hand to his own in a demonstration of mind over matter.

11.) In line 180, one of my pet grammar peeves! Mike should say "Don't try to explain" instead of "Don't try and explain".

12.) In line 182, I think it would sound more Raph-like if he said "See ya in a few hundred years" instead of "See ya in several hundred years".

13.) I would suggest adding "Wait --!" to the beginning of Leo's line 184.

That's it!

--- Pete


Subj: comments on Ep.27 ("Turtles in SPace Pt. 1) storyboards, Ep. 35 ("Reflections") outline, and Ep. 36, 37, and 38 premises/notes
Date: Tuesday, May 6, 2003 10:09:35 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


Herein are my comments on Ep.27 ("Turtles in Space Pt. 1) storyboards, Ep. 35 ("Reflections") outline, and Ep. 36, 37, and 38 premises/notes.


The storyboards are cool! I think these "Turtles in Space" episodes are going to be really great. Kudos to the storyboard artists, especially Edwin T. Nebres, who drew much of them -- beautiful! The only comment is a model issue, which I think is already addressed -- in some panels, the Fugitoid has "teeth", which we have removed from the design.
I did think that the "Utrom Abraham Lincoln" in the Profile, while clever, might be a LITTLE over the top. Should we use ol' Honest Abe or just some kind of generic leader-type?


Episode 35 ("Reflections") outline (second draft): Not much to say about this one. As "clip" shows go, I think it's quite good.


Episode 36 ("The Ultimate Ninja") premise:

1.) I'm not sure if this was in the original premise, and I didn't catch it, or if it's something new -- the fire escape in the lair. Is there one? I don't recall it. Seem a bit out of place.

2.) The John Wayne-style "l'il Missy" and "Adios, Ma'am" quips from Mikey to Splinter, which we agreed to change, are still in there.

3.) While we're still a ways off from the "Big Brawl" episodes, I make the following comments about it because it is brought up in connection with this episode. I agree we have to think quite a bit about what this interdimensional martial arts tournament should be like. My basic concept of it is a kind of Worlds' Fair crossed with the Olympics and focusing on Martial Arts. It should not be like "Mortal Combat" where death was the result of bouts (though death can occasionally happen, given that these are or can be intense battles). A basic rule of the organizers of this tournament is that only "non-powered" weapons can be used -- in other words, no guns, blasters, lasers, electro-whips, etc., and part of the reason for that is that as much as possible the organizers to not want to "pollute" different worlds (which are at different evolutionary stages) by introducing advanced technology to them. Leave your antigravity platforms, phaser rifles and laptop computers at the door!

Following along with the "Worlds' Fair" analogy, I think that in addition to the organized competitions in many different height/weight/number of limbs classes (and different types of weapons classes), there should be exhibitions, demonstrations, and a midway with vendors selling all kinds of food from many different worlds, as well as action figures of famous martial artists from those worlds, practice gear, etc.. 

Perhaps there is one final "King of the Ring" type match where the twelve top martial artists are put into the arena together, and the idea is the one who can beat the others to an object of some kind (a flag, a belt, etc.) and grab it wins the event. Perhaps it could be a stepped pyramid kind of thing... imagine a circular structure with gates spaced an equal distance apart on its first (outer) ring. The twelve competitors stand before each gate, and when the gong sounds to start the contest, the contestants step through the gates -- which are actually teleportals which randomly send pairs of the competitors to a chamber before a gate in the second ring of the structure, and the two have to battle it out to see who gets into the gate first. The one who succeeds goes on -- the other is out of the competition. And so on and so on until the last competitor makes it to the end. Let's see... start with twelve, then six are left, then three. Perhaps the winner of that last bout goes through the gate believing that he or she is going to grab the prize... but they are then faced with the last challenge -- a metamorph which can alter its appearance and skills to become a doppleganger of the last competitor -- or anyone else which might give it an advantage.

4.) I think the Ultimate Ninja might be able to get Leo to fight him through trickery, i.e. he gets Leo alone and shows him an article of clothing or a bandana, and tells Leo that unless he fights, the owner of that article of clothing will perish (we learn later that it's a scam -- the Ultimate Ninja didn't really have one of Leo's friends at his mercy, he just had something that looked like it belonged to one of those people).


Episode 37 ("Modern Love: The Return of Nano"):

1.) There is a note to do more "April-among-the-Turtles" shtick. I agree, and here are a few ideas:

-- The classic "underwear in the bathroom" culture shock scenario, or makeup, beauty creams, shampoos, etc. The Turtles aren't used to having a human -- let alone a woman -- around. (It just occurred to me that it might be fun to do a bit where April convinces Splinter to try a shampoo and conditioner treatment for his fur... and Sensei likes it! I can see a scene where one of the Turtles comes into the bathroom and there's Splinter in a tub full of bubbles, rubbing foamy shampoo into his fur.)

-- April trying to cook for the Turtles and Splinter, and either failing miserably for some reason, or succeeding -- whichever is funnier in context. Maybe she fails at her first try, then succeeds later.

-- April trying to read in quiet, or watch her favorite TV show, and coming into conflict with the Turtles, who want to be noisy or watch something else.

-- Does April want to redecorate?

-- Might be cool to show April getting martial arts lessons from Splinter, either with the Turtles or individually.

-- Just occurred to me -- where's her mail going? We should do a line about "I can't have it delivered to the sewer... I'd better get a Post Office Box!"

-- Also just occurred to me -- if April is planning to open another antique shop, she has to get new antiques (all the others were destroyed in the fire, I would assume). Perhaps an insurance settlement could help her pay for them. But where does she get them? Is this grist for ongoing story bits, where she is looking for stuff to fill her store? Actually, another note I scribbled on my printout of these premises is that it might be fun to create a story around April's experiences when she starts to look for a new place, an apartment or house... she could meet up with some kind of exciting weirdness, perhaps involving a strange homeowner/landlady or whatever. As it so happens, I was just going through one of my notepads and came across a scribbled note from 4/30/2000, just a name and a short description: "Masterson McGoober, Collector of the Weird" and "his ship, the Infinite Jest". Does this inspire any thoughts? (I like the dude's name because it reminds me of a wacky Jack Kirby moniker.)

-- Even though April does indeed leave for her own new place at some point (I think it will be in the second season), maybe one result of her staying with the Turtles is that they set aside a room for her which will be hers whenever she needs it.

-- Here's a question: Does April own a car? Did it get burned up in the fire? If she does have a car, should it be parked in the warehouse/garage alongside the Turtles' vehicles?

2.) I agree that it would be cool to make a couple of points to address the question of how the Turtles get their gizmos. One thing we could do is have someone -- maybe Don himself -- point out that they've had a lot of time to make stuff, living down in the sewers ("What else is a Mutant Turtle going to do with his spare time?"). Also, it would be cool to have April once again demonstrate HER computer programming skills by helping Don with one of his inventions.

3.) I'd prefer to have as few scenes as possible set in Smitty's Junkyard, and had a thought about where Nano takes and stashes Harry and Dr. Richards (do we have a first name for her yet?): Imagine Nano -- holding the terrified Dr. and Harry within his "exoskeleton body" -- enters an abandoned warehouse or other empty structure. Pan up to the ceiling, where we see the salvaged mobile home mentioned in the premise... but it's STUCK like a bug's cocoon to the CEILING, in a corner, held there securely by Nano-made clamps and wires and other holdfasts. Nano climbs up the wall like a spider, depositing his new "parents" in the mobile home. The reason for this is (a) it's visually unexpected and cool and creepy and (b) it's Nano's way of making sure his "parents" don't leave when he goes away (they have no way to get down safely).

4.) When Dr. Richards starts to "see Nano in a whole new light", I think we could get a lot of emotional mileage out of the "childless, driven career woman" thing.

5.) "Leo and the gang have Smitty's staked out..." Why? What do they intend to do?

6.) Some of the new abilities Nano should demonstrate:

-- He could have become better since we last saw him at taking things apart and reassembling them -- maybe he's more picky and careful with his choice of parts. As a result, his constructs are sleeker and more purposeful.

-- Maybe Nano is working on a more human-like, expressive face (still clearly mechanical, though).

-- Might be cool for Nano to find some realistic animatronic human or nonhuman figures, either thrown out (not sure anyone WOULD throw out such expensive things, but ya never know...), OR he could steal them from an amusement park or museum exhibit. The idea is that these kinds of things would give Nano a headstart on making a more human aspect for himself.


Episode 38 ("Return to the Underground"):

1.) There's a moment in the lair where Splinter looks up from a newspaper he is reading and tells the Turtles he is very proud of them. Sweet, but... why?

2.) I may be crazy, but for some reason when I was reading this I thought "LAVA SUB"!!! Could the new Tunneler also work as a submersible which could be used to go through magma?

3.) To make the cutting stuff on the Tunneler a little cooler and more unique, how about having Don adapt either Utrom or Triceraton blaster technology to the edges of the "digging blades", so that instead of an actual sharp metal edge, there is an "energy edge" which does the actual cutting? It could make the digging action of the Tunneler that much more visually exciting.

4.) The end of this episode works okay as is, but I wonder if we should put in another twist, and the one I'm thinking of is that although the Turtles have come back to fulfill their pledge to help these people (who, it's important to remember, are no longer monsters as long as they stay within the underground city), all or some of the people have discovered that there is a future for them within the old city -- they have been wandering around since the Turtles left and finding all manner of wonders there. Perhaps they have even started to forget who they once were.

I'm not sure this works, but it might be fun to consider. It might also be fun to consider, if we went in this direction, dropping the hint that this underground city is somehow becoming a destination for the outcasts of the world, who have begun straggling in by ones and twos, finding their way down into the depths (maybe many perishing in the desperate attempt), maybe "called" there in some mysterious fashion. (Could they be hitherto-unknown descendants -- perhaps human/underground dweller hybrids -- of the original Underground City dwellers?) This "City of the Forsaken" could possibly become a plot element later on down the road.

That's it for now!

-- Pete



Subj: Re: Kirby
Date: Thursday, May 8, 2003 11:10:30 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine

In a message dated 5/8/03 5:51:46 PM, Lloyd writes:

<< Hey Peter -

I was working my way through the Kirby show and I noticed that he calls the
device he made the "Gravity Equalizer" and not the "Gravitic Equalizer" as
it's called in the original comic.  I don't recall this change, and as I
know how attached you are to the original I wanted to know your feelings
about it.  I can easily have it changed if you prefer.>>


I appreciate your perceptiveness, but I think that's no big deal. I didn't notice it!

<<Also, while I have you here, did you watch the Kirby locked picture yet?

I have to say that the ending is a REAL DOWNER, and it kinda bothers me.  I know we talked about it, and Kirby's last line does speak to his situation
in life, but it really doesn't speak to his situation this particular story
(which is a rather light-hearted fantasy, all things considered).  I really
think it'd work better to find another quote from him (did you ever get that
Comics Journal Jack Kirby book I sent you?) that was a more appropriate
message to Don and the situation than what we currently have.  Let me know.
After viewing the episode I had to ask one last time!>>

I did watch the locked picture today -- I was really looking forward to this one. I got quite a thrill seeing so much of one of my favorite TMNT stories realized on screen. And while I am about 95% happy with it, I am also somewhat disappointed with the ending, though for a slightly different reason than yours. I don't recall exactly how it was in the final script and/or the storyboards, but I was surprised and a bit let down that the episode ends on Raph's "What's eatin' him?" line and not Kirby's "Life at best..." quote as in the comics (in the show, that quote comes when Don looks at the paper airplane in the cellar). Also, because there is no written text on the paper airplane/sketch page, the scene is kind of weird because it plays as if Kirby is speaking (which he is not), instead of Don reading what Kirby has written and the audience (and Don) hearing the words in Kirby's voice. If there is any way to get the text of the note onto the paper in that scene, I think we should do it. 

While the story is a downer in a sense, in another sense it's not. The only REAL downer, as I see it, is that Don had made a cool new friend and lost that friend all in one afternoon... and MAYBE also that Kirby can't get back to our world. I guess I always thought that there are two reasons that Kirby sacrifices his chance to get back to our world and lets Don go though the shrinking portal first: One, Kirby's a good guy with great nobility, and Two, if he had to be stuck somewhere with little or no chance of getting back to our world, this other dimension -- where he is now a hero in the eyes of the human-types that live there, and they've come right out and told him that he's welcome in their lands -- is definitely far from the worst place to be. And when you think about it -- he's a guy living by himself in a crummy little dingy basement one-room apartment!

Here's what I would prefer to see, if possible: The paper airplane flies out of the disappearing portal. Don picks it up, and looks at it. Cut there (before we see the drawing or hear Kirby speaking his written lines on that sketch), then go to the shots of Don coming back upstairs, Raph doing his "What's eatin' him?" line. Then a new shot of Don sitting down somewhere (preferably by himself in a separate room, but maybe we could get away with him sitting down on the living room floor as he had been earlier, or maybe at that table where we had seen him earlier welding/soldering something). And this is where we cut to the angle on the unfolded paper airplane, and see and hear Kirby's last note to Don. End.

Now... I can almost hear your voice saying we can't do any new animation, because of time constraints, or budget. I hope that's not the case, and this would be very little in the way of new animation, and as I pointed out we could probably use already created backgrounds, and only animate a couple of seconds of the figure of Don as he sits down and holds the paper.

As far as changing the content of those last lines from Kirby to Don, I would prefer to leave them as is, but if you want to offer a hint that MAYBE Kirby is not lost forever in that other dimension, perhaps Kirby could say something like "See ya around, pal!" or "Hope to see ya again someday!" or something like that after or before his "Take care of yourself!" line. Oh... I just thought of another subtle but perhaps cool way to imply that maybe it isn't hopeless -- if we COULD do another couple of seconds of animation (and this would not be terribly complex animation -- one figure against a static background) AFTER Don reads/hears the note from Kirby... we cut to a medium (waist up) shot of him sitting there... and then he just raises one eyebrow, maybe touches his chin (the classic "Thinker" pose) and maybe goes "Hmmm..." The idea here is that the viewer would be inclined to think, from this little hint, that clever boy Donatello is already thinking up some way to rescue Kirby from that other dimension (even if he isn't going to in the course of this series).

Dan Berger watched the episode with me and pointed out a possible goof-up in logic and continuity: As animated, the drawings that we actually SEE come to life and come off the page in Kirby's sketchbook don't leave any trace (the weird little winged fly thing, the stickman)... but later, when Kirby and Don are in the other dimension, we see that all of the other creatures that Kirby drew ARE still in the sketchbook, at least in the form of pencil drawings. It's probably too late, but I wonder if we can change those bits where the critters come off the page (and by the way, I LOVED the way they animated that -- peeling off the page -- and the way the "stickman" acted cracked me up) and instead of the drawing disappearing as the critter comes off the page, have it stay there, not in color, but as a black and white pencil drawing.
Dan also pointed out that Raph is wearing his elbow and knee pads... in the shower! (I can't recall right now -- is he also wearing his bandana?)

<<Lastly, I desperately need your notes for episode 34 1st draft script!  And
we'll be sending you a new draft of 33 tonight.  >>

I'm trying to find that file for ep. 34 first draft script, but all I can locate on my computer for ep. 34 is the outline. Please re-send it! (I also did NOT get ep. 33 new draft today.)

-- Pete


  1. One of the best episodes made, that Kirby episode was. As was the chapter it was based on.

  2. Thank you for both of those compliments! -- PL