Friday, February 22, 2013

Blast from the Past #620: June 8, 2003: Ep. 40/"City At War" part 1 first draft outline, Ep. 39/"Return to the Underground", Random thoughts, Re: Prime Leader Zanramon, and storyboards for Ep.31 and outline for Ep. 41/"City at War -- Part2"

Subj: Ep. 40/"City At War" part 1 first draft outline
Date: Sunday, June 8, 2003 12:15:02 AM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


This outline seems to have some stuff in it that we've already discussed and I thought was going to be taken out. Back on April 30 I sent you the following in response to the first premise for this episode:

<<  Episode 39/"City at War" part 1: I like the fact that you want to adapt the "City at War" stories from the comics, but I think some basic things need to be readjusted.

          -- We originally broke up the Foot into the following factions, all of which were at odds with the others:

               -- Shredder's Elite Guard -- the smallest group, fanatically devoted to the Shredder, consummate martial artists

               -- Foot Soldiers -- the basic "grunts" of the Foot Clan, numerous, skilled, not very good planners

               -- Foot Scientists -- the tech division of the Foot, somewhat skilled in martial arts, but mostly talented in creating/developing high-tech weapons (they created the robots in the comic version of "City at War")... less numerous than Foot Soldiers, somewhat better at planning. For the TV show, the enhanced Foot Tech Ninja could be part of this crew.

               -- Foot Accountants -- don't laugh! These guys ran the daily financial operations of the Foot Clan in NYC, and are skilled at manipulating same and also any kind of organizational paperwork stuff. (They shut off the power to the Foot Scientists' lab facilities in the comics by manipulating billing records at the electric company!) They number about as many as the Foot Scientists, and are about as skilled in martial arts.

               -- Foot Mystics -- we actually didn't have these guys in the comics (though they WILL be showing up in some of the new Mirage TMNT comics; Steve Murphy has a cool story for the new Tales of the TMNT comic featuring a battle between Splinter and a Foot Mystic), but as they are a part of the show it would be cool to include them. They are perhaps less numerous than the Shredder Elite, but very skilled in the dark arts.

     The reason I have gone through all this is that I think it's important for the "City at War" storyline to keep one of the major threads, which is the idea that the Foot, now being leaderless, has fractured into these squabbling factions, and really needs a strong leader (in this case Karai) to come in and bring them all back together again. The Shredder Elite would never work with the basic Foot Soldiers in an alliance against the other Foot factions -- they are too fanatical.

     Also, while it's kind of a neat twist to make Karai a pawn of the Utrom known as the Shredder, I thinks it's also a mistake. I think Karai should be much like she is in the comics, a powerful character who brings unity (and the potential for conflict with the Turtles down the road) to the Foot. This is key because that also means that she can/should come into conflict later on with the Shredder, if we bring him back as I suspect we might. I think she could become a strong adversary for the Turtles in her own right.

     We need to be very careful to not forget another key ingredient of the "City at War" saga -- and that was how it pointed out quite clearly (and I remember we very deliberately did this) that as strong and powerful and capable as the Turtles are, they are completely out of their depth when they get involved in this huge war among the Foot factions. I feel there is a but too much "superhero-ing" in these "City at War" episodes, with the Turtles jumping in and fighting with the different groups in this conflict for no reason (apparently) other than to have fights. (For example, there's a scene where Leo has followed some Foot Soldiers to the "rundown place" where they are squatting in "filth and squalor", and for no reason that I can see he's about to "leap down and engage them" when he is held back by the other Turtles.) I really want to keep this to a minimum, and have them only get involved when they have to.

     It also affords us the opportunity to show some conflict AMONG the Turtles, to show that they don't all always think with a "group mind". Raphael -- and Mike, who has shown himself to have a desire to "do good" -- might feel more inclined to jump in and mix it up with the battling factions, and Leo could find himself leaning in that direction (i.e. not wanting to be passive) but also realizing that as leader that would be a bad decision. Don  might take a more passive attitude ("Not our problem!") and argue that not only are they "the Turtles) not capable of battling all these factions, but maybe they'd all be better off if these factions essentially killed each other off.>>

I know we had a long phone conversation after this, and I don't recall all of the details of it. In any event, I will now comment on THIS draft.

1.) Let's make a rule and give it to all of the writers: Except in unusual and exigent circumstances, Leonardo DOES NOT THROW HIS SWORDS!!! All of the Leo sword throwing stuff must go.

2.) The "Mysterious Figure" says to the "Gangster" "These bills have been cut in half." LITERALLY??!! Seems kind of goofy. Do the Gangsters expect the Foot to tape all of the bills back together when they get the other halves? Wouldn't it make more sense if it's just half the AMOUNT of money he was expecting?

3.) I find if hard to believe that a Shredder Elite and a bunch of Foot Ninjas would have a hard time fighting with a bunch of Gangsters.

4.) For the introduction of Karai, the scene with her just sitting in a chair next to the phone seems boring and static. She's a powerful and dynamic individual. I suggest something like having the phone of the table as described, but Karai is flipping/jumping/leaping around (maybe just seen as blurs or shadows) when the phone rings, and she could complete some dramatic leap and land next to the table, where she could pick up the phone.

5.) I'm not sure if this is too silly, but when I read the line about Karai's large and short assistants, I thought it might be neat if one was dressed in black and the other in white, and we called one "Yin" and the other "Yang".

6.) One of the "Point/Counterpoint" talking heads on the TV should be a woman.

7.) As pointed out before, the Foot should not be "squatting" in "filth and squalor".

8.) I REALLY don't like the "crazy Leo" we've got in this story, where he's willing to just jump in and start fighting with the Foot when they're not attacking him, his friends, or any other innocent bystander that I can see. This behavior is very un-Leo, far more Raph-like. Maybe it should be Raph who does all this stuff.

9.) I got very confused trying to figure out WHERE exactly all of the action in Act 4 is taking place. For example, the Turtles are "on the roof of the Foot building", then they see the van pull up "outside the building", then the next we see them they're "hiding in the rafters of the building" where they "look down on the scene" which is taking place OUTSIDE! Huh?

10. I thought we were going to have Baxter Stockman's head inside the Utrom exoskeleton's stomach cavity? If we need to have a Stockman head atop the Exoskeleton's shoulders, perhaps it could be a hologram (which would allow us some fun bits where various thrown things or weapons go THROUGH his head, with no effect).


12.) We really need to get rid of the "superhero" motivations expressed by Leo ("It's simple. We're going to take out the Mobsters, the Purple Dragons, and the Foot, one at a time.") and remember that that's NOT what the Turtles do, or even CAN do.

-- Pete



Subj: Ep. 39/"Return to the Underground"
Date: Sunday, June 8, 2003 12:51:46 AM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


Some notes on the "Return to the Underground" first draft.

1.) So as to make it a LITTLE more realistic that Don could build the Turtle Tunneler, how about having Casey and April helping Don build it? Casey could be helpful with the cutting/welding stuff, and April could help Don debug the computer systems which operate it. In fact... wasn't April helping in an earlier version of this story?


3.) "Crystal NETWORK" or "Crystal MATRIX"?

4.) Donatello's line 54, in response to Splinter ("The only fact I need, Sensei, is what I know in my heart.") seems really un-Donlike. In fact, that whole exchange with Splinter seems unnecessary.

5.) There's a bit near line 82 where Quarry snaps off one of the Tunneler's digger blades and use it to bang on the Tunneler. This to me makes the Tunneler seem pretty weak (these blades, after all, were made to be tunneling through rock). I suggest Quarry could pick up something else, a piece of metal from the trashed lab, to bash the Tunneler with.

6.) After line 112, "Don shines his flashlight up to the cavern ceiling". That's some flashlight!

-- Pete


Subj: Random thoughts
Date: Sunday, June 8, 2003 1:20:25 AM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


While reading the script for "Return to the Underground", I had the following more-or-less unconnected ideas float through my head:

1.) For the "Big Brawl" mulitparter, I thought it might be cool to have the interdimensional nexus in which it all takes place to be surrounded by a glowing, shifting wall or "energy curtain" -- beyond which is "null-space". If any physical object is pushed through this barrier, it instantly disintegrates. This could feature in some key action as peril for one or more of our heroes.

2.) Somewhat connected with the "Big Brawl" -- a cadre of self-appointed "Guardians of Dimensional Integrity" come after the Turtles and Splinter. They consider our heroes' travels to/from other dimensions to be "polluting" the purity of those dimensions.

3.) Stockman + Nano = ...? Imagine the evil genius of Baxter Stockman controlling the incredible powers of Nano.

4.) The Stickmen: I have this visual in my head of these very weird thin dudes, sort of like humanoid "walking stick"-type insects. The image that first occurred to me was of a tall, narrow lamppost... we're looking at it for a few seconds... then from behind it, a Stickman impossibly unfolds/appears, weapons in hand(s).

These may or maynot be useful... just thought I'd run them by you!

-- Pete


Subj: Re: Prime Leader Zanramon
Date: Sunday, June 8, 2003 1:34:32 AM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Carole

In a message dated 6/6/03 4:02:03 PM, Carole at 4Kids writes:

<< Hi Peter,

Is there a special pronunciation for the Prime Leader's name?  We record the
character on Monday, so I thought that I'd check on it today.
We don't say his name very much, but why not ask....



The way it's always sounded in my head is:

Zan (like "man")

Ra (like "rah", not "ray")

Mon (as in "MONster")

and the emphasis is on the first syllable "Zan".

How's that?

-- Peter


Subj: storyboards for Ep.31 and outline for Ep. 41/"City at War -- Part2"
Date: Sunday, June 8, 2003 11:37:59 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


Here are my comments on the storyboards for Ep.31 and outline for Ep. 41/"City at War -- Part2".

Believe it or not, I only have one comment on the storyboards, and that's about a design which struck me as odd. On pages 45 and 46, Commander Mozar is shown and described as having a "mech hand". I don't recall this from the model phase.


Outline for Ep. 41/"City at War -- Part2":

1.) Taking into account my comments on the first part of "City at War", much of the preview for this episode feels wrong.

2.) The way the Turtles leap into the battle in Act One instead of just leaving the Foot to battle the robot bothers me. I think they need more reason to get into this fight -- maybe the incident with the bus and its passengers getting into peril should come first.

3.) Hun has a plan to "take out the Mob and the Ninja stragglers". Would it make more sense for the Purple Dragons to team up with the Mob against the Foot? Also, to describe the Foot as "Ninja stragglers" doesn't seem right to me.

4.) I believe we had agreed that the name of April's new antique shop should be "Second Time Around" instead of "Third Time Around".
In any event, I don't think we even need April or Casey in this episode, especially the way they are awkwardly shoehorned into this outline. The whole thing with Mike coming to April's shop and getting her involved in the battle just seems weird and pointless. And April "swooning" and pretending to be a damsel in distress is just plain stupid, and points up how unnecessary her and Casey's involvement here is.

5.) "The Turtles decide to return to LEO'S WATER TOWER." I'm assuming this refers to the water tower in the last episode... but there's no set-up in that episode that this is any kind of special water tower which the Turtles can be hiding INSIDE, as they are seen to do here.

-- Pete


  1. i thought those tree monsters where pretty cool.. an alien idea we hadn't seen yet...

    neat that was one of yours :)

    1. Which "tree monsters" are you referring to, Neil? -- PL

    2. the ones from the big brawl....The first ones the turtles battle as soon as they enter, that enable them to enter the tournament.

  2. I think I had a little bit of a hand in how they ended up looking, but I can't remember if they were completely my idea or if I was inspired by a name or brief mention of such a character in a script or outline. -- PL