Monday, April 1, 2013

Blast from the Past #630: August 23, 2003: Re: TMNT - Outline 049, August 25, 2003: Comments on 1st draft eps 048, and August 27, 2003: Re: Your Big Big Big BRAWL!

Subj: Re: TMNT - Outline 049
Date: Saturday, August 23, 2003 1:42:09 AM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


Here are some comments on the outline for Ep. 49.

"THE BIG BRAWL" PART I Episode 49/OUTLINE First Draft

1.) After Splinter leaves the Turtles in the lair, there is this line:

"He’s never left them on their own before."

But in the "logline" to this outline, there is this:

"As he does every year, Splinter mysteriously goes off leaving his four boys at home."

2.) I'm really not crazy about the Turtles just jumping through the portal that Splinter has opened, for a number of reasons. First, the way it's described, they jump through mere seconds after Splinter has, so you would expect that unless there is some weird time dilation effect, they should be right behind him when they emerge on the other side. But they're not. In fact, Splinter is nowhere in sight. Why?

Second, and more importantly, I like the idea that they have to WORK at opening the portal on their own (in the fashion I described in a previous email), because it's a nice little bit which demonstrates that they are growing up, that they are in fact more responsible and resourceful than Splinter gives them credit for... that they are, in fact, probably ready to join in this interdimensional martial arts competition. If timing is a problem, I'd rather lose some fight scene time than lose this.

3.) In the last (first?) draft, I objected to the way the Gyogi accepts the appearance of the Turtles and treats them as already registered competitors in these games. It's still in this draft and it still makes no sense to me. And the bit with the Gyogi saying "By entering through the nexus portal, you are automatically enrolled into the competition" doesn't work for me. There a really rushed feeling to all of this, and I don't see why we need to do it this way.  In fact, though I like the visual aspect of the Gom-Tai, I think we could lose this whole thing -- there's really no special point to it, other than a cool action scene -- and just move forward to the battle between Splinter and D'Jinn. This would certainly free up some time.

And let's try to use the Gom-Tai later, somehow... maybe in the final "pyramid" competition.

4.) I don't know why this didn't occur to me when reading the previous draft, but it's very clear now -- the whole "Yoshi fights Drako" flashback as told by D'Jinn, interesting as it is, is actually irrelevant to the story we're telling here. Isn't the important part of this plot the fact the SPLINTER fought and beat Drako? Really, what does the Yoshi beating Drako thing do for us besides add another fight scene? I think we could drop the "Yoshi fights Drako" flashback entirely and never miss it. If we need to say that Splinter knows about the competition because he had first journeyed there with Yoshi, let's just say it, without going into great -- and time-consuming -- detail.

5.) I just realized that it would probably make sense -- given that there are sworn enemies competing here, like the Turtles and a Foot Elite, for example -- that someone (probably the Ultimate Daimyo) should say something about one rule of the competition being that all contestants leave their personal battles "at the door", as it were.

6.) There is something a little odd about the way the final contest in the pyramid is set up here. Why, out of 32 (!) total competitors, are FIVE of them our boys and their master? Doesn't that seem a little overly weighted towards our regular cast? I mean, out of all of these hundreds or thousands of competitors from all these different dimensions, it all boils down to 32 competitors going for the big prize -- and Splinter and the Turtles are FIVE out of those 32? And why 32? That seems like a HUGE number, production-wise, to have in this final competition. And here I thought my suggestion to have 16 final competitors was going to be objected to!

This doesn't make much sense to me. I would rather take some of the BIG time savings I've laid out with my previous suggestions and have the Turtles go through more contests (not necessarily completely shown -- it could be done in a montage style thing, or just in dialogue among the tired and sore Turtles as they gather in their assigned quarters to soak in a hot bath and talk about how things went for them during eliminations, that sort of thing), and end up with ONE Turtle (Leo, obviously) being the only one chosen, and MAYBE Splinter, leaving the other Turtles to root for Leo from the sidelines. Or, if it's really necessary for Mikey to unexpectedly win the contest, it could be him instead of Splinter.

The more I read the pyramid sequence, specifically the attack on Leo by Gorrath and Krall, the less sense it makes to me. These two assassins are basically ganging up on Leo, blatantly going against the rules of the competition... so where's the Gyogi in all of this? Doesn't he oversee these competitions to make sure all forms are followed? Remember, these fights are not taking place in secret -- they are happening in full view of all of the audience. Why wouldn't the fight be stopped then and there? I understand that the intent of the Leo/Usagi versus Gorath/Krall scene is to establish a relationship of honor and fairplay between Leo and Usagi as they unite against these two cheaters, but I wonder if we should have it if it doesn't make any logical sense. I could see this thing working if there is NO interaction between Leo and Usagi until they face each other as the last two combatants. Perhaps it would be better if they had had some kind of interaction BEFORE this contest started, perhaps while practicing for elimination bouts. I could see a cool scene where Leo and Usagi find themselves practicing sword moves (maybe with wooden swords) in an empty courtyard, and they engage in a good-natured but intense practice bout, taking each other's measure. Maybe even have some foreshadowing in their dialogue about the possibility that they could find themselves facing each other in the ultimate bout. OR...

... what if we take that whole scene with Gorrath and Krall versus Usagi and Leo, and move it to a point BEFORE the final pyramid battle? We could make their battle a special "dual elimination" bout, where one team of two fighters are chosen to fight another team of two. This way, Gorrath and Krall could still be slimy assassins and team up to kill Leo in plain sight, without the problem of the Gyogi stepping in and making sure everybody plays by the rules. We could still get across the idea that Leo and Usagi team up to defeat the slimy, dishonorable bad guys, and establish that they have great respect for each other. And if you think about it, this doesn't really add much time to the story -- it just moves that fight to an earlier point in the episode.

7.) Re: the following:

"The shadowy figure comes forward to reveal himself to be Drako looking evil and big and nasty.  "Soon, you will have what you want.  And, I shall have my revenge upon the rat and his sons." "

We know why Drako wants to wreak vengeance on Splinter, but why does Drako want revenge on the Turtles? He's never seen them before, maybe hasn't even ever heard of them before. 


I'm going to stop here now and continue later with comments about outline 50 and premise 51 in another email, as I am having some trouble trying to puzzle out the timeline of events in these two episodes -- specifically how long the competition takes versus how long the parallel events take (i.e. the first attack on the Daimyo, the healing of Leo, the fight between Don and Usagi and the assassins, etc.). Hopefully I can come to an understanding of what is going on, or SHOULD be going on.

I'm also working on an illustration of what I think the pyramid could look like, and have attached to this email a rough version of my concept. Ignore the rough edges in the computer rendering -- they are just an artifact of the program I used to do this quick design.

-- Peter


Subj: Comments on 1st draft eps 048
Date: Monday, August 25, 2003 1:37:41 AM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


        Here are my notes on ep. 48 first draft/"Return of the Justice Force!":

1.) Re: Gary's point about Mike throwing the comics every which way -- I don't really have a problem with that, as long as it's made clear that he's not trying to tear them apart, and that the comics are already pretty beat up, having been found by Mike in a dumpster, as is stated in the script.

2.) While I think it's fine to have an overweight comic book fan (as there are plenty of them, myself included), I'd like to not play to the stereotypes too much, and show a variety of fans in the scene at Steve's comic book shop, including girls. Yes, GIRLS!!!

3.) While I think the gag of Joey Lastic not being quite so elastic anymore works, I think it would work better if that only happens when he OVERDOES it. In other words, we can show him stretching out his head on his neck several feet, and then retracting it without a problem... but when he tries to stretch it out ten or fifteen feet, THEN he encounters difficulty. Also, keep in mind that EVENTUALLY his stretched-out body parts do return to their original shape -- it just takes a little more time than it used to.

4.) Re: the following:

"The Turtles and Casey watch helplessly from the rooftops as the Domeoids <ROCKET> away with Zippy and Joey Lastic.
They're getting away!
Don't worry.  I planted Turtle Trackers on them earlier.  Just in case."

First, I think it's a little presumptuous for Don to say "Don't worry" just because he's put Turtle Trackers on them -- how does he know what's going to happen to Zippy and Joey Lastic, and WHEN? They could very well be killed before the Turtles could use those Turtle Trackers to find them. He might better say something like "Not for long... I planted Turtle Trackers on them earlier, just in case."
Also, it's unclear WHO he's planted the Trackers on -- is it the Domeoids or the Justice Force members?

5.) Re: the following:

"A CHAINLINK FENCE - Leo pops a wheelie <ROARING> his cycle straight for a chainlink fence.  He <SMASHES> into the fence, bending down a section and leaping his cycle off.  The others follow, <ROARING> over the bent-down section of fence."

        This is almost as silly as the scene it replaces. Other than making for cool visuals, why is this headlong, non-stop rush necessary? These guys are ninjas, remember? Why are they making all this noise? Where's their STEALTH? I suggest that they park their bikes at the chainlink fence, quietly CUT their way through the fence, and continue their infiltration on foot, QUIETLY.

6.) Re: the following:

"FAVOR DONATELLO - An idea strikes him.
Then we'll just have to give off one of those signals…
FOLLOW CLOSE ON THE SILVER SENTRY ACTION FIGURE - flying over some Domeoids, swooping, looping and darting in between and all around them.  Their dome heads, pivot, sensing the motion."

I don't have a problem with this bit -- in fact it's pretty clever -- but where did Don get the toy? Has he been carrying it with his since they were in the comic shop? Is Don carrying his "bag of tricks" (the small duffel bag) that we've seen him use in past shows?

7.) Re: the following:

Our heroes sneak through the corridor past more Domeoids (the preview scene).  As they pass, we hold on the Domeoids.  One Domeoid's dome suddenly GLOWS BRIGHT, unseen by our heroes.
INCLUDE OUR HEROES - The Glowing Domeoid's head pivots to follows their movements as they enter the door to the main lab."

Why is this? Is there a reason that this particular Domeoid is not fooled by our heroes' subtrefuge while all the other Doneoids are? If so, what is that reason? As far as I could tell, it's never followed up on.

8.) Re: the following:

"STAINLESS STEVE - gestures for them to step aside.  He <HEADBUTTS> a dome, creating an EXPANDING SPIDER WEB CRACK in the glass.  Mist seeps out, gradually revealing Metal Head, who blinks his eyes open and stares ahead blankly as usual."

Metalhead is an ANDROID, so he would likely not be affected by some kind of paralyzing mist as the human Zippy Lad and Joey Lastic would. Perhaps his restraints are different -- some kind of electrically charged clamps or a force field or something.

That's it from me!

-- Pete


Subj: Re: Your Big Big Big BRAWL!
Date: Wednesday, August 27, 2003 1:59:32 AM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine

In a message dated 8/26/03 2:52:07 PM, Lloyd writes:

<< Hey Pete -

This is your reminder to:

a)       Write up your thoughts on how the Big Brawl actually works
b)       You also had a thought about redesigning the arena

Please, I BEG you to keep in mind my comments earlier today about how
already over-length and complicated this 3 parter is!  ;D

Thanks!  I look forward to reading your notes - - I'll expect them around
3:30 am as usual!



Here goes:

(a) My thoughts on how the "Big Brawl" works:

Attracting hundreds (perhaps thousands) of competitors, and held every two or three years in a dimensional nexus -- a point of overlapping subspace commonality (see, watching all the episodes of "Star Trek: The Next Generation", "Voyager", and Deep Space Nine" DID pay off!) which allows for relatively easy access (at least to those who know how) from any number of dimensions (and MAYBE time periods) -- the "Big Brawl" is essentially a sort of Olympics of martial arts, with some differences. One of the key differences is that the climax of the "Big Brawl" (which usually lasts for several weeks) is a final competition held on a stepped pyramid to determine the "best of the best". More on that in a minute.

The rules of entry are fairly simple. First, you have to know how to get to the nexus -- this requires special, secret knowledge. Second, to weed out the wannabes and those who have no place in these advanced competitions, you have to demonstrate significant martial arts skills when you sign up. This is done by facing off against what might be described as "generic fighters" -- these are beings of a uniform shape and appearance, perhaps artificial (who knows?) and unique to the nexus. These beings have serious martial arts skills, and if you can hold your own against them, in the required five-minute entry bout, you are allowed to enter the competitions. (If a generic fighter can put you down within that five minutes, you are out.)

Once entered, a contestant is allowed to participate in a maximum of three different categories. The sixteen categories of competition are basically defined by styles and types of weapons. For example, there is a competition to determine the best at using the bo staff (or its interdimensional equivalent). All of the entrants in this category will battle in an elimination-style set of fights, finally leading up to the top two beings in that discipline facing off against each other to determine who is the best. The winner garners acclaim, bragging rights, a good meal, and probably a cool trophy. 

These elimination bouts take up most of the time of the "Big Brawl", and when all the "best" in each category are determined, these sixteen winners participate in the climatic stepped pyramid fight. This pyramid has four levels: first a sixteen-sided level,  then an eight-sided level (octagon), then a four-sided level (square), and finally a circular level. This final competition begins as the sixteen fighters position themselves at doorways, one set in each side of the sixteen sides of the first level. At a signal from a Gyogi (the beings who oversee the fights and enforce the rules), the fighters all step through their doors (which are actually teleportals) and are instantly teleported to the eight fighting arenas of the first level, where they are randomly paired up in eight groups. The winners from each of these bouts steps through the next door, and are teleported to the four fighting arenas on the second (eight-sided) level, and so on, until the final two fighters face each other on the last, top level, and the winner of that bout is crowned the "Ultimate Champion" or some such. This is a position of high regard amongst all of these fighters.

The "Big Brawl" is not all about fighting, however. The nexus also houses eating places, shops, and entertainment venues which feature a wide and wild variety food and drink, wares, and entertainment from across the spectrum of dimensions. Fighters from many worlds mix and mingle and learn about and enjoy different cultures, and make many new friends.

One important thing to remember about the "Big Brawl" is that these are not fights to the death. A bout is won by disarming and/or rendering helpless your opponent. The occasional broken limb is tolerated (though frowned on), but even an accidental death is grounds for immediate banishment from the games. An important rule of the "Big Brawl" is that while sworn enemies are allowed to enter the competitions, they must leave all of their blood feuds "at the door", as it were. Anyone seen playing out vendettas is summarily ejected from the games and never allowed back. Honorable combat is the key in these games.


b) Lloyd, you said to me that "You also had a thought about redesigning the arena".

I'm not sure EXACTLY what that is about, but it might be what I suggested to accommodate your desire to inject some more variety and random action in the final pyramid bouts. This is that those previously mentioned "generic fighters" might be used to randomly appear in randomly chosen bouts during the pyramid battles, and they would be randomly motivated. For example: fighters A and B are teleported to the second level. Suddenly, three generics appear in their arena. Two of them team up with fighter A and one with fighter B. Or all three generics team up with fighter A -- or fighter B. Or one generic teams up with fighter A, one with fighter B, and the third generic becomes a "wild card" -- able to switch sides without notice, or even just fighting against its counterpart generics and not either fighter A or B. Or the three generics attack BOTH fighters A and B, and not each other. 

Hope this helps!

-- Pete

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