Saturday, July 14, 2012

Blast from the Past #565: March 5, 2008: Re: Cyber April for show 164 and Re: TMNT166WeddingBellsandBytesDr1, and March 8, 2008: Re: TMNT166WeddingBellsandBytesDr2

Subj: Re: Cyber April for show 164
Date: Wednesday, March 5, 2008 11:54:55 AM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Sarah

In a message dated 3/4/08 3:51:54 PM, Sarah at 4Kids writes:

"Hello Peter-
 Please find attached for your approval the design of April in cyber gear for show 164.  Please let us know your thoughts as soon as possible.
 Thanks you-

I think it's fine except for the odd "50's sunglasses" look on her helmet/headgear. I'm attaching a .jpg graphic with a "quick and dirty" tweak showing how it might be changed. Version A is the original, version B is the one I modified.

-- Peter


Subj: Re:   TMNT166WeddingBellsandBytesDr1
Date: Wednesday, March 5, 2008 2:50:51 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine

P. Laird comments on Ep. 166 Wedding Bells and Bytes first draft

Before I get into my specific comments, I have to say I am greatly disappointed in this draft, especially the second half, which almost seems like it was not written by whoever wrote the first half. There are many problems, but the main one seems to be that this whole idea of "Shredder-in-Splinter" (and now Splinter-in-Shredder!!!) just CAN'T be let go of by whoever was in charge of the writing of this episode. Very disappointing, as it turns what could have been a fun and dramatic episode into something very silly.

1.) Re: the following:

Innumerous lines of programming code scoured…a myriad of bytes, nodes and diodes scrutinized!
CONTINUE PULL OUT to reveal Leo, Raph and Mikey all hovering over Don, looking at the same screen.
But now, exactly two thousand, six hundred and ninety three nanoscopic data bits later…"

Code, bytes and nodes all seem to work together, but "diodes" for some reason seems out of place. Perhaps it's because the first three seem to be all software-related, and the fourth is hardware.
Also, I have to say that "two thousand, six hundred and ninety three nanoscopic data bits" seems to be an AWFULLY small number of data bits to make up a whole Splinter... UNLESS Donatello is referring to the last few remaining data bits which were the hardest to find.

2.) Re: the following:


"All right", not "alright".

3.) Re: the following:

"There’s Sid, the Ancient One, the Ninja Tribunal, Karai and Chaplin, the Professor… "

Forgive me if this one was already asked and answered, but... Sid? And are the Turtles so friendly with Karai and Chaplin that they would invite them to the wedding? Somehow that doesn't seem right.
Also, I wonder if having the Ancient One and the Ninja Tribunal there is a bit much. I'm open to being convinced otherwise.

4.) Re: the following:

"Don sees a clearing up ahead, approaches it and peaks through some trees to see:"

"Peeks", not "peaks".

5.) Re: the following:

"The gang turns to find April peaking through the barn doors."

"Peeking", not "peaking".

6.) Re: the following:

But the electric current you sought to destroy me with simply transported my digital core back to cyberspace.
Suddenly, the Shredder lets loose an ELECTRIC BLAST that sends Leo crashing down and across the white runner.
There, I was able to absorb the massive flux of energy…
The Shredder lets loose another electric blast that jolts Mikey back into a row of chairs…
And reconstitute myself…
The Shredder lets loose yet another electric blast that sends Raph reeling into a back wall.
To become more powerful than ever!"

I'm not really loving this "Electro-Shredder". Do we REALLY need him to be able to do this?

7.) Re: the following:

What have you done with Master Splinter?!
The Shredder gives a sinister smile.
The same thing I did with that surge of electricity!  The rat is a part of me now!"

Oh, boy... this I am REALLY not loving.

8.) Re: the following:

"But Khan uses his speed to evade each attack and soon delivers a punishing strike right to Casey’s mid section with his STAFF - sending Casey reeling back into the Fugitoid…
Whose HEAD flies off and lands right in the middle of the battlefield like a soccer ball.
Oh, dear!"

Incredibly dopey.

9.) Re: the following:

We did not come equipped with weapons to engage in such a battle!  
You’re telling me!  Trans-dimensional customs is a beast!  I was lucky to sneak this through!
GEN fires a little PEA LASER BLASTER just as a BEVY of HEAVY LASER FIRE BLASTS overhead forcing everyone to fall back."

What the hell is Gen doing with a "PEA LASER BLASTER"? And... "trans-dimensional customs"? WTF??!!!

10.) Re: the following:

And how I absorbed his very essence!  Now I have access to all of his skills and memories!  I know everything he has ever taught you!  All of your strengths…and…  
Soon the Shredder has them cornered in between a wall of flames…
All of your weaknesses!"

Yeah -- really, REALLY not loving this, not at all.

11.) Re: the following:

I thought it was some glitch in the conversion process…but it wasn’t.  It’s how the Shredder tracked us here—how he was able to absorb Splinter.  
So how do we stop him?
OTS DON – we see the same data pulse images on screen as before.
The electromagnetic pulse code inside Splinter…it’s still emitting a signal.  A tachyon extraction beam set to his exact coordinates might be able to pull Splinter out of the Shredder and stun him long enough to beat him.  "

Uh-huh -- really, really, REALLY not loving this one little bit.

12.) Re: the following:

"The FUIGTOID’S HEAD is still getting kicked around like a soccer ball by all the fighting and is just about to be stomped on when suddenly…"

Still incredibly dopey.

13.) Re: the following:

"USAGI AND KARAI are back to back, HACKING and SLASHING every FOOT SOLDIER that gets within range… 
There are too many of them!
Then should our blades dull, we will use them to bludgeon!"

I think a Karai/Usagi interaction, however brief, could be very cool. This, however, is not cool at all. Usagi's line especially is really lame.

14.) Re: the following:

"The Shredder flails in pain as we see an electric outline of Splinter being ripped out of him and becoming once again organic."

Hate it.

15.) Re: the following:

Are you alright, Father?"

"All right", not "alright".

16.) Re: the following:

I have been inside him.  As he knew me…I now know him.  He has weaknesses.  
Splinter leaps to his feet and turns to Don.
Fire at my command, son.
Splinter ninja leaps over towards the Shredder, tossing Foot Ninja out of the way with ninja precision.  He’s getting closer and closer to the Shredder until it is just the two of them.
An annoyance to the last, rat!
CLOSE ON SPLINTER – he sneers and…
Unleashes a bevy of strikes!
The two exchange a lightning quick flurry of kicks and punches… 
But slowly the Shredder gains the advantage and kicks Master Splinter down to the ground.  
The Shredder then grabs him with one hand and picks him up and summons an ORB OF ELECTRICITY…
ON SPLINTER – the ORB reflects off of his eyes…this is what he’s been waiting for!  
<TO DON> Now, my son!  The orb!
ON DON nearby in Turtle X he raises the BLASTER.
CLOSE ON DON – his face twists with the memory of how, way back when, he decompiled his Father…
We FLASHBACK to the moment in TMNT154 when Splinter was first decompiled…
But Don suddenly snaps out of it and looks at Splinter."

This is really bad. The "I was inside him so I know his weaknesses", the "Spinter sneering", the "ORB OF ELECTRICITY", the fact that at this very crucial moment Donatello pauses to indulge in a guilt-ridden flashback.... good lord.

17.) Re: the following:

So, by the powers vested in my by, the twelfth galaxy subquadrant of Eleq-R’oHr, I now pronounce you man and wife! "

I believe that should be "me", not "my". Also, while I have bo particular objection to "the twelfth galaxy subquadrant of Eleq-R’oHr", I wonder if it might be better if we make a reference to something that has already been in the series, perhaps something incorporating "Peblak" and/or "D'Hoonib" (the city and planet where we first encountered the Fugitoid).
Actually, this thought just occurred to me -- will Casey and April's marriage be legal on Earth if the ceremony is performed by an alien robot with no Earthly legitimacy? I know this is a minor point, but bear with me... perhaps when it is first mentioned that the Fugitoid is "an ordained minister on the twelfth galaxy subquadrant of Eleq-R’oHr", somebody can bring up the issue of the legality of him officiating at a ceremony on Earth... to which the Fugitoid can reply that for that very reason he also has become -- perhaps through some mail-order deal -- a minister on Earth. (And if we want to inject further humor here, his "ordination" can be from something wacky like "The Church of the Risen Elvis" or something.)

-- Peter


Subj: Re:   TMNT166WeddingBellsandBytesDr2
Date: Saturday, March 8, 2008 12:23:54 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine

P. Laird comments on Ep. 166 Wedding Bells and Bytes second draft

This version is slightly better than the first, but it still has serious problems.

1.) Re: the following:

I designed the cybermat portal to convert matter into code, so by reversing the polarity of the default stasis application, code should be able to be converted back into matter. 
Sounds like you’ve got everything covered, Donny.
*ON MIKEY – scratching his head, thoroughly confused.
Yeah.  Especially the big words."

I have no problem with the setup for the "big words" gag, but for Don to say that code "should be" converted back into matter seems a bit off. I mean, he and the other Turtles have been doing this matter-to-code-to-matter thing regularly for a number of episodes now. Why would he now express uncertainty in the process?
I suggest a simple change (replacing "should be able to" with "can"), as follows:

I designed the cybermat portal to convert matter into code, so by reversing the polarity of the default stasis application, code can be converted back into matter. 
Sounds like you’ve got everything covered, Donny.
*ON MIKEY – scratching his head, thoroughly confused.
Yeah.  Especially the big words."

2.) Re: the following:

Come, my sons, let us celebrate our reunion.  And the union of Casey and April is a most special and appropriate place to do it."

VERY minor point, but perhaps changing "it" to "so" would make this line read a little better, as follows:

Come, my sons, let us celebrate our reunion.  And the union of Casey and April is a most special and appropriate place to do so."

3.) Re: the following:

"CLOSE ON SPLINTER – his eyes bright.
The trials and tribulations of cyberspace are finally behind us.
PUSH IN on the PUPIL of Splinter’s EYE…
Where we see the faint trace of STREAMING BINARY CODE filled with 1’s and 0’s fall past CAMERA.  
They PULSE with intermittent FLASHES of RED!"

This still drives me nuts. It seems like a holdover from previous drafts which had the goofy Splinter-morphing-into-Shredder bit as the focus.
I'm going to finish reading this daft to see if it works out, but if not I will return to this comment and make a further suggestion.

4.) Re: the following:

"*Mikey dashes over to try and block Casey from viewing April.  
Hey!  It’s bad luck to see the bride before the ceremony!
First ya gotta have a ceremony."

There's something about this that doesn't work. Raph's line is weird -- I mean, if the idea is that you can't see the bride before the ceremony, then if you first have the ceremony, then you can see the bride... right? I'm not opposed to a line here indicating impatience from Raph, it's just that this one doesn't make much sense.

5.) Re: the following:

"*And FLAME GRENADES soar in, landing on the floor and EXPLODING with a FIERY BURST.  
We need to get these people out of here—now! 
*With a few NINJA KICKS, Leo BASHES a LARGE HOLE in the side of the barn and begins guiding the guests out through it.
Let’s go!  Out of the barn!  Move! 
*Leo, Raph, and Mikey all help to corral April, Casey and all the wedding guests out through the hole."

There's something a little simplistic about this action. Think about it -- there are at least several guests at the wedding who wouldn't need Leo's help bashing a hole in the wall to get out. And why aren't there windows lower down in the barn which would (a) be a lot easier to get through than a wall, and (b) offer those inside a way to see what might be going on outside?
Not only that, but when you have "flame grenades" being tossed into the barn in which you are about to have a wedding, I think you MUST assume that there are probably some bad guys outside who are tossing them in. With that in mind, you don't just heedlessly rush out through the nearest convenient hole that's been bashed through a wall.

6.) Re: the following:

*All the wedding guests have escaped the burning barn only to find themselves facing a new quandary:
*An army of FOOT NINJA assembled outside and led by MASTER KHAN.
*The FOOT NINJA charge the bewildered wedding guests.
*RED HOT EMBERS fall from the barn’s infrastructure as Leo, Raph, and Mikey quickly place a barely conscious DON on the floor near the WEDDING CAKE and form a protective perimeter him.  "

This is pretty ridiculous, and not just because the wedding cake is in the barn where the wedding ceremony was about to take place. Think about it -- all of the other guests leave the now-burning barn... but the Turtles stay inside as "red hot embers" rain down, even laying a barely-concious Don on the floor (!) so they can fight the Shredder? They don't make any attempt to leave with the others, to get Don to safety? Very silly.

7.) Re: the following:

But the electric current you sought to destroy me with simply transported my digital core back into cyberspace.
*The Shredder suddenly lets loose a MASSIVE PUNCH that CLOBBERS Mikey back into a row of chairs…
Where I was able to absorb the massive flux of energy…
*The Shredder next unleashes a POWERFUL BACKHAND that sends Raph REELING BACK into a wall.
*LOW ANGLE ON THE SHREDDER as he clenches his fists with might.
And reconstitute myself to become more powerful than ever!"

I don't know about this "massive flux of energy" that the Shredder claims to have absorbed to make himself "more powerful than ever", but isn't it more to the point that the Shredder stole Donatello's designs for a reliable cybermat transport portal? That is, after all, what has allowed him to make his move into the "real" world in a stable form.

8.) Re: the following:

"*Only, they’re too late!  The fiery rubble CRASHES down right on the WEDDING CAKE where Don was!
*Mikey arrives at the debris and tosses away some pieces and looks down quizzically.
…isn’t here?
*REVERSE – sure enough, through the clutter of the burning debris, no Don.
Fools!  You only postpone the inevitable!  
*WIDE – the Shredder stomps towards the guys with bad intentions.
I will destroy you all!
*Leo, Raph and Mikey all strike ninja poses and leap back into battle with the Shredder.
*As the fight rages on outside, Don slowly limps towards the Farmhouse.  He passes April inside Serling fighting as Turtle X just as they clobber a horde of FOOT NINJA with a powerful backhand.  April takes notice of Don."

As Dana Carvey used to say, in his guise as Church Lady, "Well, isn't that conveeenient!" How has Don managed to sneak out of the barn without anyone noticing it?

9.) Re: the following:

But it wasn’t.  The Shredder infected Splinter with a line of code that activated like a beacon as soon as we made him organic.  And now it’s spreading!
*Don presses some buttons and we see the scanner LIGHT UP in response, as though it’s uploading a new program.
Unless we neutralize it, his entire body will shut down. "

This is the kind of stuff I really don't like. Not only doesn't it make a heck of a lot of sense, mixing the nature of cyberspace with "real space" in ways which don't work (at least for me), it also makes Don look like a total incompetent.

10.) Re: the following:

It’s working!  The code is being neutralized!   Splinter should come to in minutes! 
*Serling looks through the woods over to the battle raging outside the barn.
Oh, goody, just in time to be smashed to bits by the Shredder.
No, don’t you see?  The Shredder infected Splinter himself!  Which means this line of code has the same base properties as his digital core!
So if we were able to neutralize the code-- 
Then we should be able to neutralize the Shredder, as well!"

Total gobbledygook. The Shredder is PHYSICAL now. He is REAL. He no longer has a "digital core".

11.) Re: the following:

"*The Shredder rears back to strike, but suddenly--
Unhand my sons, you cyber scourge!"

That is, perhaps, the worst line ever written for Splinter.

12.) Re: the following:

"*Slowly, the Shredder is the blast spreads throughout the Shredder’s body…
*Slowly, reduced him to bits and bytes…
*Until only tiny pieces of electric static dust is left…
*Which soon simply scatters in with the wind."

There seems to be some word or words missing in the first line ("... the Shredder is the blast...), but that's not the real problem. The real problem is this casual, illogical mixing of cyberspace and real space. It is not working for me at all.

13.) Okay, as you can probably tell from the preceding comments, I have big problems with the whole mixing of cyberspace and real space thing. It just doesn't make any sense to me... especially in Splinter's case, as we have demonstrated time and time again throughout this season that Don's cybermat portal works PERFECTLY -- it can take your physical body and convert it into "data bits" and inject them into cyberspace, and then re-convert those data bits back into your physical body when you want to come out of cyberspace. It works so well that the Cyber Shredder actually went to great lengths to STEAL the design for Don's machine, as the Cyber Shredder's version of it was flawed and didn't work properly, resulting in those "cyber mutants" or whatever you want to call them which didn't survive long in the real world.
When we started down this cyberspace road some months ago, a real concern of mine was that we try to make this really quite preposterous notion (that our characters could move back and forth between the real wold and the digital world) work on a somewhat logical level, and, for the most part, we succeeded, I think. The only way it has worked for me is that we established that digital is digital, and real is real, and you are either one or the other -- you can't be both. That, and the fact that you need specific technology to make the transition -- it can't just happen ANYWHERE.
That is why, some weeks back, I suggested an alternative to the "Splinter morphing into Shredder" thing (which, as you know, I detest) which involved what I considered to be a somewhat logical scenario -- the Cyber Shredder "tweaks" one of Splinter's data bits in cyberspace, infecting it with code which when converted into physical reality through the miracle technology of Don's cybermat portal, it would turn into a tiny, but powerful, homing beacon... one which would allow the Cyber Shredder and his minions to track down the now-physical Splinter and the Turtles and ambush them. This, I thought, would be a way to get around the significant issue of Don's not being able to detect what the Cyber Shredder has done when Don finally gets all of Splinter's data bits together and re-converts him back to reality.
(I envision a scene something like this: In the sequence just before the main titles, when we see that Donatello has successfully  converted Splinter's data bits back into reality, and Spinter says the line "The trials and tribulations of cyberspace are finally behind us", the camera would push in towards Splinter's face, and get closer and closer and closer until you are in EXTREME close up of one of his ears, and you get in so close you can see clusters of  individual hairs like a grove of bamboo... and at the end of one of the hairs is a tiny, techy-looking thing, perhaps subtly pulsing with some kind of light (this is the tiny homing device which, due to it's extremely small size and subtle design, the Cyber Shredder was able to slip by Donatello's scans) ... and then we continue to push in on that and do a dissolve into a shot of a monitor screen with some kind of map graphic, and a light pulsating in the center of it... and pull out a bit further and show the Shredder's bladed fist gesturing as we hear his off-screen voice saying something appropriately Shredder-like and evil such as "I have you now!" or words to that effect... and then we go to main titles.)

Another reason that I am not at all enamored of the "Splinter-is-still-partly-digital" scenario in the draft as it now stands is that all of the stuff with Splinter wincing in pain, Don fussing over him with scanners and the like, Splinter going off to walk in the woods so the "country air" can cure him, and so on, is that it wastes a lot of time during which we could otherwise be doing some actual FUN and COOL stuff that this wedding gathering thing SCREAMS for... character bits with all of these wonderful and diverse characters, some of them interacting for the first time. Unfortunately, there is almost none of that... in large part, I think, because too much time is wasted with the "Splinter-is-still-partly-digital" nonsense.

On a related, but slightly different topic, I was disappointed that we have Karai at the wedding and fighting on the side of the "good guys", and there is nary a mention of how the Cyber Shredder reacts to that.
Which actually brings up something I hadn't really thought about until I just wrote that -- where, exactly, has Karai been all this time? If she still heads the Foot in New York, and the Cyber Shredder is trying to reclaim his power position therein, would they not have had some contact by now?

It seems that a lot of the thought behind the "Splinter-is-still-partly-digital" stuff is that it allows us a way to bloodlessly dispose of the Cyber Shredder at the end of this episode, wrapping up his arc quite neatly though some technobabble and a quickly-conceived and configured techno-gizmo that Don puts together on the spur of the moment. While I can see, somewhat, the appeal of this, the support structure for this aspect of the plot just doesn't work for me. So I raise the question -- is destroying the Cyber Shredder at the end of this episode really necessary? Or can we  have an ending wherein the Cyber Shredder is imprisoned in some way, either by the Turtles or by the other good guys, i.e. Silver Sentry and the Justice Force?

One other possibility (to which, I will admit, I have not given a lot of thought as of yet) would be to use the presence of Nano (who shows up with the other members of the Justice Force) to create a scenario wherein the Shredder would be destroyed. Perhaps the setup for this could be that on the way to the wedding, Don brought along his Cybermat portal (would it fit in the hauler?) so that he could continue his scans of Splinter, and also have the Cybermat on hand should any "adjustments" need to be made re: Splinter's digital-to-physical conversion. If we can buy this slightly clunky plot device, then later on, at the right moment of the pitched battle between the good guys and the bad guys, Nano could absorb/interface with the Cybermat in his inimitable way and convert it into a one-time-use weapon which, in an exciting climax, could be used to disintegrate the Cyber Shredder.

That's just one scenario, and I'm sure we could think up a few more which could work as well or better.

-- Peter


  1. Hello Mr. Laird! I can imagine that this might be starting to get annoying, but some footage from the new TMNT show has been released and a lot of fans like to hear your opinion on TMNT-related stuff. So here are some links to the new opening sequence and two new clips, and I hope you are willing to give your opinion on this :)

    Clip 1:

    Clip 2:

    Opening sequence:

    1. Looking at these clips, I am cautiously optimistic for this new series. The action seems to be well done, even if the animation sometimes appears a bit too frenetic, with a few odd and goofy stylizations. Some of the humor is actually funny.

      To use a line that I often used in the past when working on various TMNT projects, nothing I saw in those clips made me puke. -- PL

  2. I guess the Karai plot line was decided to be left on the cutting room floor. My guess as to why she was at the wedding: Her and Doctor Chaplin tried a life together without the foot, and romance turned her good. she almost looks like a totally different character in this show, so calm and peacful looking. Then, of course, in turtles forever, there she is, battling with the side of evil again. she switches sides at the drop of a coin, which makes her highly annoying in my opinion :).

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