Friday, November 11, 2011

Blast from the Past #434: September 28, 2004: comments on second draft of Ep. 94 ("Prodigal Son")

Subj: comments on second draft of Ep. 94 ("Prodigal Son")
Date: Tuesday, September 28, 2004 10:18:01 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine


Here are my comments on Ep. 94 second draft.

1.) Although it is now somewhat improved, I'm still not loving the "Leo vs. two Shrednaughts" bit. I will say again that I do not want Leo to be "Super Leo" now -- he does have some new skills after his training with the Ancient One, but let's not forget that the important thing from his sojourn with the Ancient One was that his soul was healed.

2.) Re: the following:

We just received a report…  The two units stationed in the lair were destroyed.  We found signs of damage from double katana.  (PRON. “kah-tah-nah” all even in stress).
CLOSE ON- A wicked smile comes to Karai’s face.
Excellent.  I can finally eliminate Leonardo…  Deploy all available Foot Ninja.  Leave no part of this city un-searched.  I want him brought to me alive, if possible… not alive … just as good."

I get the feeling -- by the way she is described here (a "wicked smile") -- that if Karai had a handlebar mustache, she'd be twirling the ends of it. Why, when she just tried to wipe out the Turtles when she attacked the lair, does she now want Leo brought to her alive if possible? And why is the destruction of two Shrednaughts and their human pilots "excellent"? I would think she would be pissed that they were lost. And let's lose the "wicked smile" -- she should be DEAD SERIOUS.

3.) Re: the following:

Who else in New York is gonna have a footprint like this besides a mutant turtle…"

Leo doesn't say "gonna".

4.) Re: the following:

"*ANGLE DOWN WIDE ON- Leonardo studies more motorcycle tracks, which curve and lead under elevated (subway) tracks.
Leonardo looks up.
*LEONARDO’S POV- Above a train <SCREECHES> by.
… the D train … Uptown… 
Leonardo looks back down.  
PUSH IN ON- Leonardo looks surprised.
*LEONARDO’S POV- of Raphael’s helmet sitting on the ground.
Leonardo <RUSHES> to the helmet, PICKING IT UP off the ground.
Leonardo studies the helmet."

Maybe the writer intended something different, but the way this is written it seems like Raph's helmet magically appears on the ground while Leo glances away. Otherwise, why didn't he see it the FIRST time he was looking down?

5.) Re: the following:

"CLOSER- Leonardo <CROUCHES> ninja style as the three Foot Ninja <RUN> out of FRAME.
CLOSE ON- Leonardo’s eyes shift and look.
*LEONARDOS POV- Barely visible through overgrown vines, and greenery, is a door.
*Leonardo <LEAPS> toward the door.  He <STRUGGLES> to open the door, with a <CREAK> it opens. Leonardo looks across; the Foot Ninja are near.

PAN DOWN TO- Leonardo crouches by the slightly cracked door as the shadows of a few Foot Ninja pass by.  He then, securely <SHUTS> the door."

I think it's a mistake to have this little "hide and seek" thing between Leo and the Foot Ninjas happen so close to the site of the Turtles' future lair, as if he disappears in its vicinity while being tailed, that's a red flag for the Foot. I think he should lose them earlier and then take refuge in the pump station.
Also, Leo enters this place pretty easily... which makes me think that if it's that easy to get into, sitting in the middle of NYC it would be a favorite hangout for street people. Maybe we should make it harder to get into -- maybe Leo should find a subterranean entrance.

6.) Re: the following:

"*The Turtle Tunneler (ep. 93) comes through the wall and into the sewer – LEAVING the FRAME.  A moment later, the Shrednaught follows flying through the hole and into the sewer.
CLOSE ON- The underside of the TurtleTunneler.  A small square hatch is KICKED open REVEALING Michelangelo.  He CRADDLES Klunk, <DIVING> and <ROLLING> away from the moving vehicle.
CLOSE ON THE TURTLE TUNNELER– as a shot <BLASTS> the back wheel of the TurtleTunneler.
The airborne Shrednaught <FIRES> again from its mini-cannon."

What the -- ???!! A FLYING Shrednaught???!!! I don't think so.

7.) Re: the following:

Time to bring them home … if we only had one …"

As it is clearly Leo's intention to make the pump station the new lair (recall his previous "This place … has potential" line), I think we should lose the "if we only had one" line.

8.) It's still curious how nothing Leo does really connects to HOW he finds the other Turtles and Splinter. He meditates, has visions of the others escaping from the lair, then says "Time to bring them home"... and just goes and gets them. How did he find them? Doesn't make much sense.
And the more I think about it, the more this whole meditation/vision thing makes no sense. Other than possibly our saving some money by using clips from a previous episode, what does it accomplish for Leo to see how the others escaped the destruction of the lair? It doesn't show him where they ended up. I wonder if it might make more sense to use that time to show him using some advanced ninja tracking techniques to find his brothers.

9.) Re: the following:

You’re gonna have to go through me to get to him!"

Like Leo, Don does not say "gonna".

10.) Although it works for pacing purposes, doesn't it seem a BIT too coincidental that just seconds after Leo finds Don and Splinter in their hiding place, the Foot appear? Why now? Why this particular place? Maybe the attck should take place as Leo is leading them back to the pump station.

11.) Re: the following:

An exhausted RAPHAEL sits in the sand propped up against a support beam  (A band-aid stuck to his chin).  He drinks soda out of a cup with a straw <EMPTY NOISE>."

A band aid? Where'd he get that?

12.) Re: the following:

Hey Raph, don’t worry, just think of it like this…  Nothing is permanent.  Life is a constant state of change, and we’re all gonna be OK."

Leo STILL doesn't say "gonna".

13.) Re: the following:

I’m going to go get some food, and some supplies and medicine.  I’ll be back.
Splinter smiles, knowing what is on Leonardo’s mind.  HE PULLS LEONARDO CLOSER FOR A QUICK WORD …
(close/to Leo)
Yes, I see.  Your journey home is not complete…  Be careful, son.  She has progressed in her training."

What exactly does Splinter hear in Leo's comment that makes him think that Leo is going after Karai? I don't see anything there. And if somehow Splinter DOES figure out that Leo is going into the lion's den to confront a deadly foe, why does he SMILE? What's there to SMILE about?

14.) Re: the following:

"Karai <FLINGS> one end of the weapon toward Leonardo.
Leonardo leans back as the chain enters FRAME <WRAPPING> around one of his swords and <YANKING> it out of FRAME. <SHCHING>
The sword flies across the library hitting the ground with a slide.
Karai <CROUCHES> and <SPINS> <FLINGING> the weapon once again toward Leonardo.
Horizontal BG Pan as a <CUT> moves across frame.
Leonardo <STAGGERS> back gripping his arm in pain.
Karai <LAUGHING> <WHIPS> the chain toward Leonardo.
The chain enters frame <YANKING> away Leonardo’s other sword."

It seems somewhat preposterous that this chain weapon is SO effective against BOTH of Leo's swords.

15.) Re: the following:

Karai <WHIPS> the chain <DOWN> toward Leonardo. 
On the empty railing as the razor chain <CRASHES> down <CUTTING> and <TEARING> the railing to pieces."

Wow... is that a razor chain or a razor chain SAW?

16.) Re: the following:

"*Karai falls to the ground, beaten and weak.  She removes her Shredder helmet revealing just how frustrated and weak her face is."

So... she's weak? Seriously, has she not been doing her endurance training? It seems like she's going strong and then just gives up.

17.) Re: the following:

"*Leonardo <SWIPES> his sword.  (BG BLUR PAN)
Leonardo <LANDS> <CROUCHING> in an open window frame.  He faces Karai.
CLOSER ON- Leonardo’s eyes narrow.
Stay away from my family.
Leonardo <LEAPS> out the window and into the dark.
*ON- The statue of Oroku Saki.  With almost a flash a <CUT> appears at the neckline.  "

What's up with this "almost a flash" business? Seems dopey. 

18.) Re: the following:

"The head of the statue <FALLS> off the body and hits the ground in front of Karai with a heavy <THUD>…"

The way this is written, it appears that Karai was sitting right next to the statue, which seems kind of odd. Why not have the severed statue head it the ground and ROLL several feet toward her?

-- Pete


  1. Hi!

    I'm just writing to say that I'm going to use such material while rewriting Karai's Wikipedia article (I'm still writing it, I'll probably finish tommorow).

    And maybe sometime you clould also write about creating her for the comics too? She's obviously my fabourite TMNT character :)

    Thans for the blog, anyway!

  2. This episode could only appeal to children. All logic, plot and drama were thrown out in favor of Infallible Boy Scout God Leonardo vs Weak Insect Karai. The Fred Wolf series was far better in every single way than this episode.

  3. "Exodus said...
    This episode could only appeal to children. All logic, plot and drama were thrown out in favor of Infallible Boy Scout God Leonardo vs Weak Insect Karai. The Fred Wolf series was far better in every single way than this episode."

    An intriguing comment… but one which could be taken to mean that AS A WHOLE, the entire first TMNT animated series was better than this episode. That doesn't say much for the first TMNT animated series, if it takes the entire run of that series to be better than this one episode. Maybe that's not what you meant… but if so, it might behoove you to try for more clarity.

    But to address the issue that I perceive to be at the heart of your comment -- it was often difficult to get the writers of the 4Kids series to not make Leo (or ANY of the Turtles, in certain circumstances) into "super ninjas", able to do ANYTHING that the plots required of them. It got particularly sticky after Leo went off to study with the Ancient One. I think if you have been reading these blog posts, you've probably seen my many comments about keeping the Turtles' abilities within the realm of logic (at least as much as possible). PL