Monday, August 8, 2011

Blast from the Past #383: Feb. 23, 2004: comments on second draft of Ep. 66 "The Darkness Within"

Feb. 23, 2004: comments on second draft of Ep. 66 "The Darkness Within"
From: Peter Laird
To: Lloyd Goldfine


Here are my comments on the second draft of Ep. 66 script "The Darkness Within". I just noticed when I went online a few minutes ago (7PM Thursday) that there was a new file called Ep. 66 Final Draft... I obviously haven't read that one yet, but I am going to send this email anyway. 

1.) Re: the following:

Some fears can be friends who fights by your side, making your reflexes sharper "

I think "fights" should be "fight".

2.) Re: the following:

What is it?
No time now …  I’ll explain on the way!
WIDE ON – There is a [BEAT] then suddenly the BattleShell <SCREECHES> out of the warehouse, fishtailing as it <SKIDS> through a turn."

A minor point, but... as much as the Turtles like Angel, I seriously doubt they would drop everything and rush out into public (or at least in the BattleShell) just because Angel says to, saying that she'll "explain on the way". I think it would work better if her last line there is something like "Trouble... BIG trouble --!"... and then in the next scene inside the Battleshell as it roars out of the warehouse, we come in halfway through her explanation of her brother's disappearance. 

3.) Re: the following:

"ANGLE ON – Michelangelo takes a closer look at the coin.
It’s dated 1611.  Hey, your brother found buried treasure.  You guys are gonna be rich!
CLOSE ON – Angel twirls her finger in the air in mock celebration.
(lackluster) Whoop-di-do.  My bro said there were plenty more where this came from and he went back to get them …  That was three days ago.  Since then, nothing!"

How odd. I get that Angel is more concerned about her brother than about gold coins, but given that she is (at least in my understanding of her character) a lower-income street kid, her "lackluster" attitude towards the possibility of stumbling upon great wealth seems totally out of character.

4.) Re: the following:

What did the police say?
They said they were too busy dealing with the fallout from the invasion to look for some punk on a treasure hunt."

Something about this doesn't ring true, depending on whether or not Angel showed the police the gold coin (and the "treasure hunt" remark seems to imply that she did). I find it hard to believe that Angel could go to the cops and describe the situation -- "my brother was part of a construction crew working on Wall Street, and he found a bunch of old gold coins -- and here's one of them -- and now he's disappeared" -- and not generate SOME kind of interest on the part of the cops. I would think that at the very least, they would suspect it was some kind of looting, which they would certainly frown upon and look into.
I think it might be just as -- if not more so -- believable that Angel didn't even go to the police, instead heading right to the Turtles, given that -- as a former gang member -- I doubt she has a lot of faith or trust IN the police.
It also just occurred to me that it would probably make sense that Angel -- tough and self-sufficient kid that she is -- would have at least gone to check out the construction site on Wall Street, to see if she could find her brother, and maybe have only gotten as far as the front door before getting spooked by its creepy nature... and THEN seeking out help from the Turtles.

5.) Why the change to "Volpeheart"? Is there some meaning there? 
In my last notes I suggested that we do an anagram of "Lovecraft" for the name of the building and the guy who built it. I couldn't find a program to do this for me, but I played around with pen and paper a little, and came up with the following (with the word "Von" before them to get that old Dutch feeling, of course):

-- Von Flocravet
-- Von Orfclavet
-- Von Croftvale
-- Von Creftvoal
-- Von Voctrefal
-- Von Floctrave
-- Von Floctaver
-- Von Volctrafe
-- Von Fractolve
-- Von Revolfact
-- Von Ravelfoct
-- Von Rovalfect
-- Von Rofalvect
-- Von Refalvoct
-- Von Fearclovt
-- Von Fearcvolt
-- Von Varocleft
-- Von Varecloft
-- Von Farvoclet

Any of those do anything for you? I'm sure there are more possibilities.

6.) Re: the following:

"FOLLOW – Michelangelo somersaults, then grabs onto the ledge, his arms wrapping around a grotesque gargoyle water spout.
CLOSE SIDE ON – Michelangelo is face to face with the gargoyle.
(calls down) Hey, Raph.  I think I’ve found you a girlfriend."

Instead of the lame "girlfriend" jab, how about instead something like:

"CLOSE SIDE ON – Michelangelo is face to face with the gargoyle. He gives it an appraising look.
Hmmm... you and my brother Raph -- separated at birth!"

7.) Re: the following:

"68. ANGEL
Direct with no delayin’ yo!  What the?!"

"What the" indeed! What the heck does "Direct with no delayin'" mean, if anything?

8.) Re: the following:

Who are you?!  What were those things down there?!  Can they be real?!"

The "Can they be real?!" question from Don puzzles me -- it doesn't sound much like something he'd say, especially since he had just witnessed their reality with his own senses while fighting them. I'd eliminate that line.

9.) Re: the following:

"75. OLD MAN
Silence!  You brainless idiots lost your right to ask questions the moment you entered this building!  If you wish to know more, follow me."

What a strange pair of lines. First the old guy says they lost the right to ask questions the moment they entered the building... but then his very next line has him telling them if they want to ask questions (i.e. "know more") they have to follow him!

10.) Re: the following:

"DOWN ON – The familiar island of Manhattan surrounded by the bay, only instead of New York, there’s a thick green forest.
86. OLD MAN (V.O.)
At the turn of the last millennium, there came to Earth a massive meteorite "

Hmm... "massive"? My idea of a "massive" meteorite would be one that would wipe out the dinosaurs. And this one is small enough so that it can be contained within a building. Maybe another word instead of "massive"... perhaps "strange"? Or maybe the old man could say "At the turn of the last millenia" -- no, wait, that just seems way too complicated a way to say "a thousand years ago". So how about this: "One thousand years ago, a strange stone fell from the Heavens... and brought with it a bit of Hell." Can we say Hell?

11.) Re: the following:

"107. ANGEL
A’ight.  You can count on me."

Uk... one of most loathed bits of current slang -- "A'ight" for "All right". Bleh. Let's lose it.

12.) Re: the following:

"ANGLE ON - One by one the turtles wave to Angel as they slip through the gap in the door."

"The Turtles WAVE..."? Uh... WHY?

13.) Re: the following:

"O.T.S. - The turtles enter a huge domed cavern, the size of a covered sports stadium, it’s walls and ceiling made up of individual stone cells, like a pomegranate.
This thing must take up a whole city block!
CLOSE ON – Leonardo investigates the front wall of one of the cells.
What are these?  Back up a bit.
WIDER – Leonardo <SLASHES> the cell wall with his katana, as bones and printed papers <SPILL> out.
CLOSE ON – Donatello picks up one of the pieces of paper.
This is a civil war bond!  This guy must be a hundred-and-fifty years old!"

A couple of things here... first, are these "cells" sealed with something other than stone? I ask this because if it IS stone, Leo shouldn't be able to "slash" them open. Maybe they are sealed with some kind of weird congealed slime or something.
And, not to be too picky, but isn't Don making a pretty big leap of logic? Just because this skeleton is sealed up in the same cell with a Civil War-era bond doesn't necessarily mean that they came from the same time. I think something needs to be added here, if only  where Don says something like "This guy COULD be a hundred-and-fifty years old!" Or maybe he shouldn't say anything -- I mean, we already know (from the old man's story) that this thing has been operating here for hundreds and hundreds of years.

14.) Re: the following:

Come on guys, we’ve fought Triceraton attack ships off the shoulder of Orion.  How bad can a little concentrated evil be?"

Cute "Blade Runner" reference there with the "off the shoulder of Orion", but really not appropriate. I suggest something a little different, like "We've fought Triceratons, underground mutants, even the Shredder himself. How bad can a little concentrated evil be?"

15.) Re: the following:

"WIDE DOWN ON – The turtles stand in a circle facing outwards, ready to meet the tentacles, which encroach, ever closer.
There’s no way we can take it one on one."

Not only is this a weirdly defeatist line from Leo, does it really make any sense at all? What exactly is he saying when he says "Take it one on one"? That each Turtle should attack one at a time? Or that all the Turtles should attack each tentacle simultaneously? I would suggest that neither Leo's line or Raphael's line which follows is really needed.

16.) Re: the following:

"CLOSE ON – A tentacle <LASHES> out at Michelangelo, quickly wrapping itself around him and begins to drag him.
WIDER – Raphael, Donatello and Leonardo grab Michelangelo and begin to pull, but the tentacle yanks him free, dragging him into the mass of tentacles which cover him."

Poor, nearly slapstick action staging here -- why would ALL three other Turtles just grab Mike and pull? Why doesn't Raph try to stab the tentacle and/or Leo try to sever it with his swords, while Don grabs and pulls on Mikey?

17.) Re: the following:

I took it’s offer!"

This is just one of about half a dozen improper spelling of the possessive form of "it" in this script.

18.) Would Don's "bad dream" work better if it featured April instead of Angel?

19.) Re: the following:

"ANGLE ON – Leonardo pulls out his ShellCell and turns to Donatello.
Donny, is it possible to pick up a signal that’s being transmitted from inside here, then connect to it.
Sure.  No problem.
CLOSE ON – Donatello takes the ShellCell and <PUNCHES> a few buttons on it.
Got it.  I’ll just echo it back.
PUSH IN ON – One of the cells as it emits an <O.C. CELL PHONE RING>."

Far be it from me to question the use of high tech gadgets, but this seems a bit off. First, why is it Leo making the suggestion, instead of Don? Second, I looked back through the script and could not find any reference to Angel's brother having a cel phone, nor any reference to Angel saying anything about him having a cel phone -- so how does Leo make this leap of logic? Third, IF they knew Angel's brother had a cel phone on him, why wouldn't they have immediately thought of this idea when they entered the "chamber of cells" instead of fussing about how many cells there were and how hard it was going to be to find Angel's brother in all of them?
My suggestion would be to have Angel mention the cel phone earlier, then in the first "chamber of cells" scene, have Don suggest that the first thing they should do is try to call Angel's brother's cel phone number (which, during their trip to the building in the BattleShell, Don would have gotten from Angel and programmed into his ShellCel) -- but  ALSO have him give the caveat that this MIGHT not work if (a) the phone isn't turned on, and (b) if its battery has run down. But BEFORE he can put this plan into action, they are attacked by the tentacles, etc. THEN after they are all freed, Leo can tell Don to try the cel phone thing, and try it QUICK! Of course, it works, and the cel phone rings and they find Angel's brother.
And here's another question -- do we really want Angel's brother to know about the Turtles? I think it would be just as easy for him to be unconscious when they rescue him, and one of the Turtles can carry him out.

20.) Re: the following:

"181. ANGEL
Are you alright?"

"Alright" is not a word.

21.) Re: the following:

"CLOSE ON – Leonardo antics back, then freezes.
186. CREATURE (O.C.)
Stop!  I sense your power …  You are strong …  But I can give you more …  People will bow before you …  You will be a king …
Sorry, not interested."

I find this bit with the Creature speaking to Leo to be very goofy. And unnecessary.

22.) Re: the following:

"CLOSE ON – Leonardo sees the meteorite and next to it, the crystal tipped spear.  He grabs the spear and turns."

Convenient that the spear appears AT THAT MOMENT. And how nice that the creature keeps the one weapon that can destroy it RIGHT NEXT TO ITSELF! Poor plotting. I mean, if the creature had that kind of easy access to the spear, wouldn't it have destroyed it long ago... or at least BURIED it under tons of rock or sealed it up in layer upon layer of hardened slime?
Here's my suggestion: Let's give the Old Man a heroic moment of true redemption. I'm inspired to think of this by the line he says to Angel a few pages back, referring to the Turtles:

"182. OLD MAN
Your friends are battling the creature, their bravery is astonishing."

The incredible bravery and self-sacrifice of the Turtles stirs something in his withered soul that has lain dormant for longer than he can remember. This is when he is able to finally shake off -- at least for this critical moment -- the hold the creature has had upon him all these years... and he then goes to a secret panel or vault or some clever hiding place and gets... the spear! (Maybe it would be even cooler if the spear is actually disguised as part of a pole lamp or curtain rod or something.) Then, in one last moment of courage, he goes into the labyrinth where the Turtles are desperately fighting for their lives and uses the spear against the meteorite. (He could either leap at the meteorite with the spear -- and be annihilated right then -- OR throw the spear at the meteorite and then fall into dust shortly thereafter.

23.) It just occurred to me that it might be fun to make a reference earlier in the script, when the Turtles pull up at the building in the Battleshell, that this is one of the place in the city where the BattleShell might "fit in" -- as Wall Street is no stranger to the presence of armored cars.

24.) Re: the following:

"The BattleShell passes by a STOCK BROKER, then a telephone booth, then <DRIVES> out of frame.
PUSH IN ON – The telephone in the booth is <RINGING and RINGING>.  The Stock Broker steps into the booth, looks curiously at the phone, then picks up the receiver.
Hello?  Hello?
200. CREATURE (O.C.)
(via telephone)
I have waited for you …  Now you have come to me …  I will give you anything …  I will give you the world!
CLOSE ON - The Stock Broker closes his eyes for a [BEAT] …  then opens them to reveal they are now fiery red, with black slits for pupils as he starts to <LAUGH>."

I have to say that while I like the creepiness of this scene, it really doesn't make ANY sense whatsoever, given the backstory of meteorite/creature/spear we have laid out, and completely guts the Turtles' -- and the Old Man's -- victory over the creature. Also, we have not set up in ANY way that this creature uses the telephone to suck greedy people in.
Here's an alternative that might make a little more sense, and not only preserve most of the creepiness of the "twist" ending, but also most of our heroes' victory over the evil of the creature:

Start back at the final scene where the old man throws the spear at the meteorite. I suggest that the meteorite should shatter into many pieces... ONE of which lands at Don's feet. Don -- innately curious -- picks it up and carries it out of the building with him. He either discards it outside the building OR (perhaps better) as they take off in the Battleshell, Raph or Mike notice he has the fragment, and, disgusted/creeped out by it, Raph or Mike grabs the chunk and throws it out of the BattleShell's window.
Then, either (a) the fragment bounces to a stop on the sidewalk or (b) hits the STOCK BROKER (in a nonfatal place, of course). The Stock Broker picks it up, curious... and we see a tiny TENTACLE snake out of the meteorite fragment and STAB the Stock Broker's hand with one of its spines as we hear its whispery seductive voice... then we pan up to the Stock Broker's face to show the scary RED EYES!!!


  1. I appreciate the detailed analysis. Sometimes the minor things can stick out.
    I do wonder if the vision of Raphael as Shredder was a nod to the dreadful Image run or was just appropriate for the plot.
    Angel was one character I couldn't get into. She reminded of a street smart female Zack, who irritated me as a kid.

  2. 18.) Would Don's "bad dream" work better if it featured April instead of Angel?

    Of course!! Donny has a very close friendship with April and something more. But April was not present at this episode.