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Old 02-22-2021, 11:11 PM   #1
neatoman
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How much Creative Control did David Wise have?

When he was still alive, David Wise had an unfortunate tendancy to spread false information, in particular about what ideas on TMNT season 1 were his ideas. We know for a fact that many of his claims were false because some are contradicted by the comics, such as the claim that he was the first person to depict April as a major character or that he came up with the Turtles' personalities. Others are contradicted by what we know about the toyline, like how he claimed to have created Bebop and Rocksteady, even though we know they were designed for the toyline and Fred Wolf himself made that clear. Sometimes his word goes against the claims of others who worked on the show, like how he claimed to come up with Cowabunga as the catchphrase whereas the voice actors claim it was adlibbed. And others are just too bizarre to be trusted, like his claim that Krang as an alien brain creature who created the mutagen and needs a robotic body was entirely inspired by some old movie, and that the Utroms only inspired the stomach cavity placement by the end of his creation, which is totally ass-backwards considering what he was working with.

Of course, David Wise was still the writer of the first season. There is no way that it wasn't, to some extent at least, his creation. The problem is just that because he wasn't honest, we can't know for sure how much was actually his ideas. As far as I can deduce, what were most likely all actually his ideas amount to this:
  • The Neutrinos.
  • The Channel six crew.
  • Bebop and Rocksteady's origins as humans (though probably nothing else about them, like their names or appearence).
  • Most of the events and plot connections in the first season, but not most of the key concepts and certainly not anything that was established in the comics.
  • Whatever characters that debuted in his episodes but never had any toys or got toys like three or four batches later.

The way I figured, if it's in line with the first three batches of toys and their descriptions, it was probably decided upon before David Wise got around to it. So for example, Bebop and Rocksteady were in the first batch so they were going to be in the show regardless of Wise's involvement, but the descriptions don't reference them starting out as humans meaning Wise could have been responsible for that. The descriptions also state that Splinter started out as human and that the Foot Ninja are robots, so this was likely decided upon before he got on board.

The second part of this is questioning wheter or not it even makes sense as a purely creative decision. One of his claims is that he created the Technodrome out of a need to explain the robotic ninja and in turn Krang to explain where it came from. Now even ignoring that the Technodrome was obviously always meant to be a playset (just look at the damn thing), the creative process described doesn't quite make sense. The robots could just be created in a factory if that was the first idea and the other two are directly tied to the origin of the main characters, not to mention how it would have been easier to work in the opposite direction, create the alien and then his tools.

Of course, David Wise himself is no longer around to confess and the only way we'll know for sure now is if documentation makes it way to the public. Which is sad, if he had only told the truth when he was alive we would have a much clearer picture of how the show ended up the way it did without the need for some document leak.

Anyway, the bottomline, what do I think the first season of the show would have been if David Wise had full creative control? Honestly, a child friendly mishmash of the first seven issues, a very loose but still more recognisable adaptation than what it ended up being. Not because he had any appreciation for the material, but because it would have been easier for him than to write what he actually did.
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Old 02-24-2021, 04:01 PM   #2
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According to the original Ninja Turtles website, all episodes of Season 1 were written by David Wise and Patti Howeth, while Yoshikatsu Kasai directed. So, there were at least three persons involved.

http://mutantooze.org/ninjaturtles/c...de/cart001.htm
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Old 02-24-2021, 04:24 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Original TMNT Cartoon Fan View Post
According to the original Ninja Turtles website, all episodes of Season 1 were written by David Wise and Patti Howeth, while Yoshikatsu Kasai directed. So, there were at least three persons involved.

http://mutantooze.org/ninjaturtles/c...de/cart001.htm
Yes, we know David Wise scripted the show, there's no question that he had a signifigant role in shaping it. The question is how much did he shape it and what were actually his ideas. The problem in answering that question is that his word, which is what have to go by, is not trustworthy as it contains several blatant lies.

So ok, imagine this. David Wise claimed he created Bebop and Rocksteady, as in from their inception. While it is true that he probably added detail, we know for a fact that they had already been created for the toyline, meaning his statement is a lie. Other statements, while not having any evidence against them, make very little sense. Why would David Wise create an alien brain creature in need of a robotic body in a creative process not inspired by the Utroms and then retrofit the basics of the Utroms onto said character, when the reverse, to simply use the Utroms as the basis for a new character, would be way more likely?

Given these oddities, it's hard to trust anything he said about the creative process. To check where he was being honest would require to ask other people involved if they remember or have any documentation, which wouldn't have been necessary if Wise had been honest.
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Old 02-24-2021, 09:32 PM   #4
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That's a very good question, neatoman, and one I think nobody is ever going to definitively unravel. Your question is also timely just because it's similar to a more famous discussion on what exactly Stan Lee did at Marvel (I'll be reading the book True Believer by Abe Riesman, and while well-researched that book will ALSO not be definitive).

Yeah, Bebop and Rocksteady began as two of many nameless toy proposals from Kevin and Peter. David Wise did name them. Hey! Something not a lot of people know: Bebop's animated design was also lifted somewhat from a character by Dave Gibbons for 2000AD, from 1983 or earlier.

April being a reporter was from Wise, and definitely inspired by Lois Lane. It was also matter of expedience because she could then always tell the turtles new information, and also get into trouble. The cartoon April was also very much inspired by David Wise's love of Lupin III. See the movie Castle of Cagliostro and some of the final Miyazaki-directed Lupin episodes. David Wise was able to tell the animators to make April look like Fujiko.

Hey! David Wise loved Castle of Cagliostro so much, if you watch one of his Batman Animated Series episodes, "The Clock King," he told animators to copy the climax on the hands of a clock.

A lot of this you just kind of need to learn in an interview, and be able to discern when someone's telling of events is accurate. The main reason for David Wise making the claims he did is this: the Fred Wolf animation offices and Mirage Studios had a souring of relationship very early on. That's too bad to think about, especially considering they still worked together (in some minimal capacity) for close to a decade! But Fred Wolf was rude to Peter Laird early on, and then Peter would say comments like, "I could write or oversee a better cartoon than what they're doing." These comments got back to David Wise, who might have been a combination of offended at the comments and also had some loyalty to the Fred Wolf production. So David Wise would snipe his own comments to the effect of, "Well I made Ninja Turtles popular." It's especially unfortunate, because in another world David Wise and Peter Laird could have bonded over a love for the same things, especially Star Trek.

A few final bits:
-I'm not entirely sure about the technodrome comments. I think Wise was trying to express the fact that Playmates wanted the playset, but didn't really care how it was used. They actually sent him a note saying that the turtles should defeat the villains and then live in it. Say what you will about him later putting down the comics, Wise understood that kids like the idea of the turtles living in the sewers.

-Yeah, I had heard David Wise say he came up with "cowabunga" after he had written Michelangelo surfing in the first episode. I think it is fairly certain that Fred Wolf liked that moment a lot, and asked for it to be worked into many more episodes. Of course "cowabunga" came from surfer lingo, and THAT came from the Howdy Doody show.

-On those Krang comments you mention, yes he is WRONG. If you do watch the show, however, you can tell Wise had a love for old sci-fi movies and shows. He saw a connection between the long name, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," and the utroms and many other things to old sci-fi that Kevin and Peter were not really considering. That's why the turtles are always watching monster flicks. Also, David Wise would be one of the few people to be aware that there was a "Dimension X" sci-fi radio program shortly before he was born. I also wonder about that sorta-Ghidorah painting in their lair. David Wise had friends at Toho, and once got to visit a Godzilla set!

-Patti Howeth and David Wise were married at the time. Something that I just didn't know for years, but they intended to work on the stories together and then she did not. David Wise's account of that is probably accurate.
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Old 02-24-2021, 09:39 PM   #5
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It's especially unfortunate, because in another world David Wise and Peter Laird could have bonded over a love for the same things, especially Star Trek.
You said it so well!

Thanks for the other tid-bits like the Dave Gibbons reference. It's rare than anybody's idea is ever truly "original," as opposed to being a hodge-podge of shout-outs to other established works or concepts.
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Old 02-25-2021, 08:08 AM   #6
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If David Wise had full creative control (as in, a series director for a full season), I think the show would have been much tighter story wise. David Wise wrote every episode of Season 1 and 7, and the big key episodes of most other seasons. It generally seemed he had a direction he wanted to take the show in.

The thing is since it was the 80's and early 90's, when cartoons were not expected to have continuity or series long plots, it was basically written as an episodic show with the bare minimum of continuing plot threads. I also notice his episodes tend to have more action in them than most other writers, at least confined to 80's cartoon television broadcast standards.
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Old 02-25-2021, 08:30 AM   #7
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I formed my opinion on David Wise as a 'hack' writer because of some comparison between his shows but over the last few years I've learned he was actually quite talented despite script recycling, he wasn't just phoning it in. I can respect him.
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Old 02-25-2021, 09:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RossMay View Post
That's a very good question, neatoman, and one I think nobody is ever going to definitively unravel. Your question is also timely just because it's similar to a more famous discussion on what exactly Stan Lee did at Marvel (I'll be reading the book True Believer by Abe Riesman, and while well-researched that book will ALSO not be definitive).

Yeah, Bebop and Rocksteady began as two of many nameless toy proposals from Kevin and Peter. David Wise did name them. Hey! Something not a lot of people know: Bebop's animated design was also lifted somewhat from a character by Dave Gibbons for 2000AD, from 1983 or earlier.

April being a reporter was from Wise, and definitely inspired by Lois Lane. It was also matter of expedience because she could then always tell the turtles new information, and also get into trouble. The cartoon April was also very much inspired by David Wise's love of Lupin III. See the movie Castle of Cagliostro and some of the final Miyazaki-directed Lupin episodes. David Wise was able to tell the animators to make April look like Fujiko.

Hey! David Wise loved Castle of Cagliostro so much, if you watch one of his Batman Animated Series episodes, "The Clock King," he told animators to copy the climax on the hands of a clock.

A lot of this you just kind of need to learn in an interview, and be able to discern when someone's telling of events is accurate. The main reason for David Wise making the claims he did is this: the Fred Wolf animation offices and Mirage Studios had a souring of relationship very early on. That's too bad to think about, especially considering they still worked together (in some minimal capacity) for close to a decade! But Fred Wolf was rude to Peter Laird early on, and then Peter would say comments like, "I could write or oversee a better cartoon than what they're doing." These comments got back to David Wise, who might have been a combination of offended at the comments and also had some loyalty to the Fred Wolf production. So David Wise would snipe his own comments to the effect of, "Well I made Ninja Turtles popular." It's especially unfortunate, because in another world David Wise and Peter Laird could have bonded over a love for the same things, especially Star Trek.

A few final bits:
-I'm not entirely sure about the technodrome comments. I think Wise was trying to express the fact that Playmates wanted the playset, but didn't really care how it was used. They actually sent him a note saying that the turtles should defeat the villains and then live in it. Say what you will about him later putting down the comics, Wise understood that kids like the idea of the turtles living in the sewers.

-Yeah, I had heard David Wise say he came up with "cowabunga" after he had written Michelangelo surfing in the first episode. I think it is fairly certain that Fred Wolf liked that moment a lot, and asked for it to be worked into many more episodes. Of course "cowabunga" came from surfer lingo, and THAT came from the Howdy Doody show.

-On those Krang comments you mention, yes he is WRONG. If you do watch the show, however, you can tell Wise had a love for old sci-fi movies and shows. He saw a connection between the long name, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," and the utroms and many other things to old sci-fi that Kevin and Peter were not really considering. That's why the turtles are always watching monster flicks. Also, David Wise would be one of the few people to be aware that there was a "Dimension X" sci-fi radio program shortly before he was born. I also wonder about that sorta-Ghidorah painting in their lair. David Wise had friends at Toho, and once got to visit a Godzilla set!

-Patti Howeth and David Wise were married at the time. Something that I just didn't know for years, but they intended to work on the stories together and then she did not. David Wise's account of that is probably accurate.
I am glad you typed all this. It gives a better understanding of David Wise and can explained some of the emotion behind OP's comment.
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Old 02-25-2021, 05:55 PM   #9
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Thanks, folks.

I don't know if I've mentioned here, but I do a lot of similar research that's more Ghostbusters related for a podcast, Reitman for the Job. If you have any interest, have a listen!

https://reitmanforthejob.podbean.com/
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Old 02-27-2021, 04:37 PM   #10
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But... Cowabunga was his idea? He said that he took the idea from a Peanuts comic strip.
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