Tag Archives: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014

Hello, I’m a unicorn. Well, here it is. The big one. The return of the heroes in a half shell to the big screen. I’ve made it very clear in the past year that I’m a huge fan of the TMNT, so I was very nervous about my favorite fighting family’s newest film. I was not disappointed. Then again, I went in with dirt low expectations anyway, so that’s not too much of an accomplishment. There is a ton I have to say about it, so instead of breaking it down to the good, the bad, and the ugly, I’ll just list what stood out to me in the movie in no particular order. There will be spoilers. You have been warned.

The Comic Book Style Opening and Narration: The opening scene and narration, animated in a comic book-like style, was fantastic. It looks cool and is a great shout out to the original comic and style of flashback of the 2012 series.

April O’Neal: You may have well just called this April O’Neal the Movie. The first quarter of the film is wasted on April trying to get a scoop and the Turtles are barely there. It wouldn’t be so bad if she was an interesting character, but she was as interesting as watching painting dry and just would not leave. Meghan Fox just did not make a good April. She held a perpetual look of dull surprise, with her mouth hanging open more than Bella Swan and was gasping for breath so much that I was beginning to wonder if she was asthmatic. To top off all of that, the way the camera lingers on her, showing exactly why Meghan Fox was picked: to objectify her. No joke, there is a scene where a character crashes the truck that he was driving because he was so busy staring at her butt. The majority of Mikey’s jokes are about how he thinks she’s hot. There’s also the issue that the Turtles owe everything to her, right down to their names. She’s even the one who defeats the Shredder in the end. Not the Turtles or Splinter, who have trained as ninjas practically all their lives, it’s the April who ends up killing the Turtles’ arch nemesis. All things considered, since Shredder was the one who caused the death of her dad, he’s more her enemy than the Turtles’. This is because…

There is No Mention of Hamato Yoshi: One of the defining aspects of Splinter and Shredder’s characters is their intense rivalry. Whether by mutation or murder, the man, Hamato Yoshi is dead. Splinter his avenger and their rivalry is one of the bitterest in comic book history. In the movie’s origin, Splinter is simply a mutated and highly intelligent rat. Without any mention of Hamato Yoshi, the mutual hatred is gone, and so has a lot of the drama in their battle. While their battle in the movie is really well done, it lacks the dramatic weight of this rivalry and feels a lot less satisfying.

The Action Scenes Are Very Cool: Being a movie with Micheal Bay attached to it, many of the explosion laden action scenes are a ton of fun and where the movie really shines. After the somewhat boring first half, the movie really picks up at around the time the Turtles have in their battle on the Subway. It’s a definite step up from the opening plot where April wants to become a respectable reporter. This is where the movie goes from excruciatingly boring to silly and fun. The action scenes alone are almost worth slogging through the boring beginning.

There Are Many Pointless Characters: What was Verne doing here? All he does is flirt with April, drive the getaway car, and fight Eric Sacks. Two out of three of these actions would and should have been done by April herself. Nothing in the movie would have been lost if they had edited him out of the script. Well, maybe one thing, but we didn’t need another male gaze shot and more awkward flirtations with April anyway. Speaking of Eric Sacks, he ended taking the parts of Karai and Baxter Stockman because everyone kicked up an understandable fuss over him being the Shredder. That managed to void all three characters because why have Karai and Stockman when you could have Sacks and vise versa? What saddens me most is the fact that Karai goes from the complex and interesting Anti Villain from the two most recent animated series and the Mirage comics to the token dark sexy chick that does absolutely nothing. They left out all of the parts that makes her a great character–namely the conflict between her duty and what is right and the mutual respect between her and Leo–so she also could be edited out of the film or replaced by a lamp and nothing would have changed.

The Turtles Themselves: Shockingly, I didn’t hate them. With the exception of Donatello waving a neon sign saying IN CASE YOU DON’T GET IT, I’M A NERD in every other line of his dialogue, they actually stayed very true to themselves. Out of the five Ninja Turtles movies, these Turtles behaved the the most in character. I was the most nervous about Leonardo because writers have a tendency to make him a jerk just to make Raph look in the right for rebelling. To do this, they’d completely ignore all of Leo’s character development in order to martyr the preferred brother. When I came into the theater, I expected my favorite Turtle’s characterization to be skewered worse than Superman murdering Zod. I expected to rant about how we’ve seen Raph go from “Grr I’m a loner so don’t boss me around” to “teamwork is awesome” in practically every iteration of the character, and that I’m sick of it, but surprisingly it didn’t happen. They treated Leonardo with dignity and actually made Raph look in the wrong for whining about his brother being bossy. The arc is still there, but due to another issue that I’ll get to in a minute, it’s somewhat downplayed. When the brothers are onscreen, they behave just like that: brothers. There are even scenes that I though I’d hate from the trailer and the online footage that was actually quite good in the context of the film. One example is the elevator scene. In the scene, the Turtles are taking an elevator up to face the Shredder for the climax. Mikey starts clanging his nunchucks to the beat of the elevator beeps. Slowly but surely, the other Turtles join in with their own weapons and they do this until the doors open. When I first saw the scene online, I cringed because I thought it would be a major mood killer. In the film though, it worked because it had significance. It was the brothers realizing that they might not all make it out alive so they may as well have one last fun moment together.That being said, I wish we had more of the Turtles because they were easily the best parts of the film. Unfortunately, the movie wastes most of its time on April when it could be developing the Turtles’ relationships. I mentioned the ever popular loner Raphael character arc being in the movie, but barely there. It’s hinted at but nothing is done with it. In the end, he just starts a blubbering confession about his love for his brothers seemingly out of nowhere and suddenly decides that teamwork is awesome, especially is Leo is the leader. Because this personality trait is rarely touched upon in the movie, the confession lacks the dramatic weight it should have had. While Leo is well done, Raph deferring to his leadership doesn’t make much sense because Leo hasn’t really proved himself to be a good leader. He’s just leader now because that’s his character in every other iteration. I guess I’ll chalk that change up to the near death experiences.

Overall, is this worth a watch? Yes, but wait until it’s on cable. Out of the five theatrical movies, this one is probably the second best, but considering the competition is Vanilla Ice randomly rapping, the Turtles traveling back in time, and stone warriors hunting for thirteen monsters and messy characterizations, that isn’t saying much. The first movie is still by far the best, but this is enjoyable despite the Swiss cheese plot, terrible villain motivations, the loss of very important relationships between characters,  obviously re-shot scenes, the pointless characters, and way too much focus on April. When the Turtles were one screen, the movie got so much more fun and enjoyable. I even got past their and Splinters’ somewhat grotesque designs. They all behaved in character and were likable. I can only hope they focus on the Turtles more in the sequel. This is by no means a good movie, but once you slog through the first twenty minutes, it gets to be really entertaining. I guess the reason I’m not angry is because there is nothing particularly offensive to me. The low expectations I had didn’t hurt my opinion either. I knew it wasn’t going to be a masterpiece going in, so I just went along for the ride. I knew that, even if the movie was going to be bad, there was still plenty of other great Ninja Turtle stories out there. For example, the trailer to the season two finale of the current cartoon looks awesome. Seriously, if you haven’t checked it out, look it up. My theories for the future of the cartoon are as follows: 1. They’re adapting my favorite Turtles storyline, the What Goes Around Comes Around/Shredder Strikes Back arc with Leo in the Finale. I believe this because Leo is seen fighting the Foot alone, is barely interacting with his brothers in the trailer and April is essentially replacing him as the fourth member of the group. 2. Splinter will be captured be the Kraang. This is supported by scenes being shown of the Kraang attacking the lair. Whether or not he’s rescued by the end of the episode, I don’t know, but I doubt it. 3. The ending will be a bit of a downer, with the Turtles exiled to Northampton Massachusetts as per tradition. Leo is badly injured, and the Turtles are recover from a Pyrrhic victory. This is supported by the Ninja Turtles Panel at the San Diego Comic Con, where they mentioned that the Turtles will be leaving New York.  Of course, these is just my personal theories, and are probably wrong, but a girl can dream. Now, if you excuse me, I have a Tome of some sort that I need to find.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

Turtles Forever

Hello, I’m a unicorn. What would be the best way to end Turtles Month? How about with a TV special that celebrates all Ninja Turtles, past and present, that came out on their 25th birthday?

Shell Yeah! (owned by nickelodeon)

Shell Yeah! (owned by nickelodeon)

Turtles Forever is easily one of my favorite movies, for obvious reasons. Where else would you see the comics Turtles, the 80’s Turtles and the 2003 Turtles team up in one epic adventure. The basic plot is that the 1980s Ninja Turtles, Shredder, and Krang accidentally end up in the 2003 universe via dimensional hopping. While the two teams of Turtles try to figure out what is going on the 1980’s Shredder accidentally frees the Utrom Shredder, Ch’rell, from his exile. Upon finding out about the multiverse of Ninja Turtles, Ch’rell decides that he was going to destroy all the Turtles that have ever existed, even if it meant destroying reality itself. So, with an updated technodrome, he heads out to do just that by destroying Turtle Prime, aka the 1st appearance of Ninja Turtles, which I’ve covered in an earlier post. Let me just get it out there right now: this special is supercalifragilisticexpialadocious.

Uh oh readers beware: fangirling ahead. Abandon all hope ye who read on. Also, really? Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious?

Oh, go watch a Golden Girls rerun.

With pleasure. And I bet you ten chimichangas that you can’t go one paragraph without fangirling.

Okay, you’re on. I switch it up and start with the criticisms. First of all, due to union stuff too complicated to go into here, none of the original VAs could reprise their roles as the Turtles and side characters, and the replacements didn’t sound  anything the originals. That is, with the exception of Sebastian Arcelus, who sounds almost exactly like Rob Paulson. Also, the background music didn’t quite sound right because 4Kids didn’t want to pay royalties for the original compositions, instead choosing to have their own sound mixers create lamer tunes. The 1890’s Turtles personalities were exaggerated a bit for the sake of humor and could come off a bit mean spirited and out of character at points. There, I did it.

Nope.

Nope? What do mean nope? I went a paragraph without fangirling.

You complimented Sebastion Arcelus. That counts.

That does not count.

Yes it does, so pay up.

I hate you.

The feeling is mutual.

Yeah, yeah, whatever. Anyway, while the 80s Turtles may sometimes seem a bit out of character and the jokes mean spirited, it was still in good fun and all of the teasing is affectionate. It’s also made very clear that both teams needed each other in order to defeat the Shredder, with 80’s Don’s inventions saving the day as many times as the 03 Don, perhaps even more. They’re just portrayed as goofier, but equally competent. It’s obvious that the creators put a lot of love into the story and animation. Nearly everything in the  1980s universe is kept how it was in the original cartoon and the animation is fantastic in all three worlds. The 80’s universe looks exactly like the the original cartoon, right down to the background characters. In fact, if you have a keen eye when watching the streets you can see a train of cameos such as Irma, pre-mutated Bebop and Rocksteady, and the crazy gun toting grandma from the first season. In fact, there are a ton of cameos and references from Tokka, Rahzar, to Casey and April wearing the same outfits they wore in the 2007 movie as well as the comic Turtles saying dialogue word for word directly from the first issue. Also, this:

Behold a multiverse of accursed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! (owned by viacom)

Behold a multiverse of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! (owned by viacom)

Yes, each picture is a differentTurtles universe, and yes, there are more seen in the movie. This is just one screen shot of them delving deep into Turtles obscurity. They even dragged up the old anime OVA where the Turtles turned into giant robots.

But not Next Mutation.

What did I say about the show that shall not be named?

Next Mutation! Next Mutation! Next Mutation!

Fine, two can play at that game. X-Men Origins Wolver–

Fine! I’ll stop.

Ha! Anyway, another great thing about this geek fest is the humor. While the humor in the 2003 series was very hit or miss, this was extremely funny in a meta way. My favorite jokes had to be the 2003 characters’ reactions to the 80’s fourth wall jokes and the fact that the 80’s Turtles automatically knew to save April as soon as they entered their universe again. Those always get a laugh out of me no matter how many times I see them. The movie has so many jokes, cameos, and references that it takes at least three viewings to hear them all and at least another three viewings to see them all. This was obviously made by Turtles fans for Turtles fans.

Overall, watch it. Seriously, go watch it now. It is amazing. The story is epic in scope, the script is witty, and the animation is fantastic. What more can you ask for in a TV special? While the 80’s Turtles may seem a bit off, there’s nothing to get offended or angry about. Everyone is being poked fun at, but it doesn’t detract from the wonderful and epic crossover. Growing up a fan of all three franchises features in this movie, I can tell you that this is great for any Turtles fan. So what are you waiting for? Watch it now, and happy 30th birthday TMNT. May you have another thirty years of making us laugh, kicking shell, and inspiring generations of kids to be heroes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies, TV Series

TMNT 2007

Hello I’m a unicorn. *sigh* Shredder?

possible meme to use

Owned by IDW

Thanks.

If you’re trying to turn that into a meme, it seems kinda forced.

No, I–well–shut up! Anyway, oh deary me, this movie.  I’ll just get it out there right now: objectively, it’s not a bad movie. It’s actually quite good, but there are certain aspects of this film I loathe with a burning passion and you’ll see why in a minute. I think that my feelings will probably be best explained in bullet form, and separated into the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good:

  • The Animation: Say what you want about the movie, but it is beautifully animated. The city looks grimy and lived in, without being grim or dark. The film has a unique look and that works in it’s favor. The Turtles have never looked better when fighting or expressing a wide range of emotions.
  • The Voice Acting: It’s top notch. Every character has a distinct voice and they carry the story really well. The celebrity voice actors are kept to a minimum, preferring use actual voice actors, which is how animated movies should be done. Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played April in the movie, was almost unrecognizable. In my opinion, she would actually be an amazing April O’Neal in a live action film as opposed to Meghan Fox (I’ll get to that casting decision if I see the new movie). Anyway, with the exception of the extremely recognizable Mako as Splinter, I never saw people in a sound booth, I just saw the Turtles.
  • The Fight Scene Between Raph and Leo: It’s a beautifully animated and brutal culmination of all the tension between the brothers. There are parts that I hate about it, which I’ll get to later, but credit needs to be given where it’s due, and that was a fantastic fight scene.
  • The Themes and Message: The main story is about brothers who have been estranged coming together again. That is a beautiful concept and would make for a great plot for a Ninja Turtles film, but…

The Bad:

  • The Plot: So, here it goes: 3000 years ago, a great general and his family accidentally opened a portal to another world, unleashing 13 monsters, granting the general immortality, and turning his family to stone. Now that the conditions are right, the general wants to send these monsters back from whence they came and break the curse. What does this have to do with the Turtles? Nothing. They literally stumble upon this with sheer, dumb, bad luck. They don’t even meet the general until the very end of the film.The majority of the run time is the Turtles trying to become a team again after Leo left the group for reasons never explained in the film. Look, if you’re going to break up the Turtles, that’s fine, but please explain why they were broken up, because otherwise, the character arc just falls flat. For all I know, Leo was sent away because he couldn’t decide who will get the last slice of pizza. Also, Karai is in the movie, probably because she was a popular character in the 2003 show. She doesn’t do much, she’s just there.
  • Donny And Mikey: Well, they certainly existed in this film. Nothing much can be said about them. They were pretty much supporting characters in the Leo/Raph show, which brings us the one of the worst aspects of the film…

The Ugly:

  • Leo’s Characterization And That Line. You Know The One: Ugh. Leo saying that he’s better than Raph to his face has got to be as bad as or worse than Pa Kent saying that maybe Clark should have let a bus full of kids die. Do you know why I hate the line so much? It’s not because it didn’t make sense in the context of the movie, and it’s not because it gives Raph yet another reason to be the perfect martyr in the situation. It’s because Leo is the character I always looked up to and identified with. He is the character that I’ve always admired for his devotion to his family, his leadership skills, his ability to look for and seethe best in people and most of all, his humility. The Leo I know and love would never say anything like this, which is a part of the reason he’s my favorite. He never had to say that he was awesome, he just was. Whenever I got into an argument with my family, I’d take a step back and ask myself what Leo would do in this situation. Growing up, I never wanted to be like Superman or Captain America. I wanted to be like Leonardo the Ninja Turtle, so when I see this character treated so horribly in this movie, it hurts me. It hurts me that the writer, Kevin Monroe, was so interested in making Raph seem like some sort of martyr who has to learn how to control his anger for the thirtieth time that he forgets to give my childhood hero motivation for being a jerk. It hurts me that, in the end, Raph is vindicated, and they win not by Leo’s leadership and their camaraderie, but by Casey and April delivering a macguffin to them. Leo never proves himself to be a good leader, which makes all his character motivations and arc moot. Also, I’m sick of Raphael. I don’t hate him, I’m just tired of his character arc being done over and over in every cartoon, movie, and comic. He’s the low hanging fruit which writers pick. I’d like to see movie where Mikey or Donny get a major character arc, instead of Raph, once again, learning that his brothers are there for him no matter how much he angsts. It frustrates me that Leo is always the bossy bad guy who is only there to drum up some brotherly conflict with Raph while the other two Turtles fade to the background. One thing I loved about the 2003 show is that whenever Leo and Raph fought, which was fairly rare, they both had valid arguments. None of those conflicts as felt forced as the one in this movie, where Leo’s logic makes no sense and he’s being an arrogant idiot. It hurts and angers me to see my favorite Turtle, the one who I try to emulate and has affected everything about me right down to my favorite color, be reduced to a smug jerk for the sake of the contrived plot. This is what prevents me from enjoying the movie more than anything else. I can forgive the confusing plot, the vital information left out, and the other two Turtles fading into the background, but the treatment of one of my heroes is just awful.

Even though I ranted, overall, the movie is pretty decent. It’s definitely the second best out of the cinematic appearances, but considering that the competition is the one with Vanilla Ice and the one I reviewed last week, that’s not saying much. If you can get past the plot, the warping of Leo’s character and backstory for the sake of being foil for Raph and the lack of Donny and Mikey, it still is an entertaining Turtles flick, just not the masterpiece it was trying to be. If you adore Leonardo like I do, you might be angered by it, but otherwise, it still is worth checking out. So what are you waiting for? Watch it now, but seriously writers, just stop it with the Raph/Leo conflict, it’s been done to death. Follow IDW’s example and put some tension between Leo and Donnie, that would be cool to see. Next post, to round out Turtles Month, I’ll talk about the single greatest crossover in Saturday Morning Cartoon history, Turtles Forever, and I can give up ranting for the moment.

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

Hello, I’m a unicorn. PAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIN!!!!!!!!! Every synapses, every thought is filled with the white hot agony! Every part of my soul weeps in misery at this abomination against Ninja Turtles and film. This movie is atrocious, worse than the Spirit! There is no other word to describe it, it is just so bad.

How about terrible, abominable, dreadful, horrible…

I don’t care, Textbox! Let’s just get this over with. There are so many grievances, I’m just going to bullet point them, but first, I’ll start off with the bearable aspects of this film.

The Bearable:

  • Elias Koteas: He was as enjoyable as always, and easily the best part of the movie. Every minute he was on screen was a minute that was at least a little bit less painful.
  • The Fight Scenes: Out of the three live action movies, this had the best action sequences, mainly because, unlike the second film, they got to actually use their weapons. While they wasn’t nearly as gritty and brutal as the first and fourth films, the scenes were a nice reprieve from the rest of the stupidity.
  • Raph and Yoshi: Maybe because I have a soft spot in my heart for kids, but I enjoyed the interactions between a little boy  with anger issue named Yoshi and Raph. It was kind of cute.
  • The Concept: Ninja Turtles versus samurai in feudal Japan? Awesome! This concept could have been really freaking cool except…

The so awful I think my ears are bleeding and my IQ is dropping exponentially:

  • The execution: The plot is so generic that literally anyone could have been in the lead roles no one would be the wiser. The basic plot is that a samurai prince and April O’Neal switch places due to wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff and a magic scepter, so the Turtles rush after her. Hilarity ensues, the Turtles help in a rebellion against an evil Daimyo and mustache twirling British trader, and the typical time travel shenanigans occur. This is one of the more frustrating aspects of the film. The Turtles are no strangers to time travel, they even have an ally who is an apprentice time traveler/part time valley girl named Renee, and one of their biggest villains is Savanti Romero, who is basically a goat creature wannabe Time Lord. The movie even had the time scepter, which allows the heroes and villains to travel through time. Wouldn’t it have been cool if these Renee and Romero showed up? Or if they didn’t want that, why not explore the origins of the Foot Clan? That would have been fascinating, but nope! All we got was a generic and time travel plot, which would have been fine with the right amount of humor and clever dialogue, but…
  • The Humor is painful: There was not a single joke that made me laugh, which is sad because they tried, they really tried. Every time of dialogue for the Turtles was a joke or pop culture reference, but they didn’t fall flat, they were dropped from an airplane and run over by a steam roller. Basically, take every corny, dated joke from the first movie, and take away any of the clever humor and heartwarming dialogue between the brothers, and that’s every agonizing spoken line in this movie. Lame jokes would have been tolerable, if they knew when to shut up, but no. Nearly every moment they were on screen, they were talking with no sign shutting up and letting the audience just absorb the moment or enjoy a fight scene. They just kept talking until I was begging for a minute of reprieve from the stupidity.
  • The Costumes: Do you remember how awesome the costumes were in the first movie? How they looked like actual living creatures and not puppets? Well, here are your nightmares for the week:

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! These abominations owned by New Line Cinema

    At many points in the movie, you can even see the seams where the head attaches to the neck. Also, the Splinter puppet was only seen from the waist up and was just awful. But one of the most irritating parts is that the lips don’t match up to what they’re saying, so I kept imagining that they had just dubbed over the good jokes in post production. *Sigh*

  • The Time Travel Physics Make No Sense: Okay, so the rules are that to travel through time, there has to be an equal amount of matter displaced, and the travelers switch clothes when they arrive in the different time periods, but then they go around and break those rules willy nilly. I’m pretty sure that April and the samurai prince have different body masses, and for whatever reason, April was allowed to bring her walk man along, which breaks the two rules set in the movie. It’s the same with the Turtles, Mikey is the only one to put on pants, so only one of the replacement samurai arrives in pants, but the rest arrive in that undergarments that they were already wearing. What? Also, I’m pretty sure that, once again, the Turtles and samurai tourists also have differing body masses. There was another stupid rule that they had sixty hours to find April or else they’d be stuck there forever, because of timey wimey stuff and I don’t get why the rule was put into place because it never comes into play.

Overall, avoid this movie like the plague. The few decent parts are overshadowed by the agony of everything else. If you want to see a good Ninja Turtles movie, check out the first one, or next week’s movie. All I can hope is that this is the lowest of the low, and we can only get better from here.

What about Next Mutation?

What Next Mutation? I’ve never heard of that.

You mentioned it in your last post, and tweeted about it as you watched an episode.

Look, Textbox, the first rule of Next Mutation is that no one talks about Next Mutation. It. Never. Existed. Anyway, what are you waiting for, check out one of the good Ninja Turtles comics, movies, or TV shows, just avoid this mess of a movie.

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

TMNT 2012 Series So Far

Hello, I’m a unicorn. Here we go the lean, green ninja team, on the scene, cool teens doing ninja things, so extreme, out the sewers like laser beams, get rocked with the shell-shocked pizza kings… yeah the 2012 show decided borrow from the infamous ninja rap from Secret of the Ooze as well as being a remix of the eighties theme. If the 1980’s turtles is Adam Wests Batman and the 2003 series is Justice League Unlimited, this show would be the Teen Titans of the franchise. It even has a similar anime-esque style of animation. So for the end of Turtles month and the beginning of the new year, I decided to to take a look at the newest incaernation of everyone’s favorite crime fighting reptiles. When Nickelodeon bought the rights to the TMNT, I naively thought that the series was going to be a continuation of my beloved 2003 series. Instead, I got this. At first, I was nervous when I found out that it wasn’t going to be the case. I’m not crazy about CGI shows and prefer traditional animation, so when I saw the designs for the Turtles, I got scared.

Not my style at first, but it has grown on me.

I initially thought that they were too blocky and strange, but now they’ve grown on me, especially after seeing the promo video of a training session. Before the video, I expected to hate the show, the video, I got excited, in spite of myself.  When I started watching the show I was initially distracted by the goofy anime faces the Turtles would sometimes pull, and was wondering how the show would balance the choice in style and the serious matters that the 2003 series dealt with. But, I was again pleasantly surprised by how well the show combines comedy and tragedy. So, beware of spoilers  (seriously, there is a huge one), because I’m diving into the basic plot and characters.

Basic Plot: After the deaths of Tang Shen and his daughter, Miwa, at the hands of the Shredder, Hamato Yoshi moves to New York City. The day he purchases four small Turtles, a strange man bumps into him in the street. Sensing something off about the character, Yoshi follows the man into an alley. Here, he sees another man hand the stranger a canister full of strange mutagen. A rat gives away Yoshi’s position, and he is mutated with the Turtles in the ensuing fight. He then takes up the name of Splinter (again, not adequately explained why he changes his name) and trains the four Turtles in ninjutsu. On their fifteenth “mutation day” the four turtles head to the surface for the first time and encounter a teenage April O’Neal as she and her father are being kidnapped by and alien race known as the Kraang.  These were the same creatures who mutated the Turtles and they are plotting, you guessed it, to take over the world. And Textbox if you even think about quoting M. Bison in that Street Fighter movie, I swear I’ll…

*turns around dramatically* OF COURSE!

*sigh* It was inevitable, wasn’t it?

About as inevitable as Mikey eating pizza.

I thought so. You do realize that meme died in 2011, right?

You’re the one writing this.

Great, a meta joke. You know what?  I’m just going to ignore you now.

Fine!

Fine.

FINE!

Anyway, now that the Turtles know of the Kraang, they must prevent the invasion and terra-forming of Earth while also trying not to be killed by the Shredder, who still wants revenge on Hamato Yoshi..

The Characters:

Leonardo: As the theme song goes “Leonardo is the leader in blue, does anything it takes to get his ninja through.” This is probably the most fleshed out version of Leo I have ever seen, and he is  freaking adorable. He’s this universe’s equivalent of a Trekkie, who has the show memorized, wants to be just like the hilariously sociopathic Captain Ryan (think of him as hammier Captain Kirk), tries and fails to come up with a cool action phrases, always tries to deepen his voice when he wants to sound heroic, and has huge blue eyes and oooh, I just want to eat him up.

hqdefault

That picture, by the way, is from the episode where he has a crush on a girl ninja in the Foot Clan and goes to April for advice. D’awww… Erm–anyway, I love how Leonardo isn’t the level-headed and wise leader that the rest of his brothers automatically look to. He’s still learning and inexperienced. He gets frustrated when the rest of the Turtles don’t follow his orders and challenge him, and sometimes wishes he could have fun like the others. He, essentially, acts the same way an actual kid would act if he was under the constant pressure of leading an insubordinate team while having to save the world on a regular basis. Unlike the 2003 Leo, who shows the weight of leadership in a very subtle way, this Leo is more likely to voice his frustrations with the rest of the group, but not in a way that I want to tell him to suck it up and quit his whining. Honestly, I’m surprised that most of the franchise’s writers haven’t used this personality before. It seems so obvious that the sheltered teenage leader of a group of heroes would look up to and emulate a character on a television show and would be frustrated when his brothers disobey his orders. It’s a very clever take on a character many would consider boring.

Donatello: Here’s an interesting fact, this isn’t the fist Turtle that voice actor Rob Paulsen has played. In the eighties, Paulson also was the voice of Raphael, as well as nearly every character from your childhood. The guy is amazing, but I digress. Donatello is the super geeky brother, like pretty much every incarnation, but, unlike the other versions he doesn’t get much respect for his genius. Sure, his brothers find his skills impressive (when they can understand what he’s saying) but Donnie’s often the butt of Raph’s jokes. He, like Leo, is also adorable. You’ll notice that I use this adjective to describe the Turtles and April a lot. Out of the four brothers, he’s the clumsiest and not the best fighter, but his awkwardness makes him even more lovable, especially when April is involved. Donnie has a huge and obvious crush on her, which makes his attempts to court her even funnier. I wasn’t crazy about the crush at first, mainly because I was more used to Donnie and April respecting each other over a mutual love of science, but his unrelenting dorkiness and the humor used in the relationship made me root for him in spite of myself.

Raphael: Out of the four Turtles, he’s the one I wouldn’t use cute for an adjective. He certainly has his moments, especially when he’s scared for his brothers or when interacting with animals. Raph, the gruffest character, is surprisingly good with small creatures. Usually, he is the snarky one who will make fun of his brothers even when they are minding their own business. This incarnation is Raphael at his jerkiness, but he also has a lot of the best lines. Raph is the first to call out Leo when he says something that would otherwise be cheesy.  He constantly exasperates Leo by challenging his authority, even after he sees the burden his brother carries. Even though he and his brother tend to argue, the two tend to trust each other with serious issues that the others wouldn’t understand. For example, Raph keeps Leo and Karai’s relationship between the two of them until it put the rest of the team in danger. Also, like most incarnations, he has anger issues and a tendency to brood, but will always be there for his brothers.

Michelangelo: By most rights, I should hate this character. He is astonishingly stupid most of the time, hyperactive, and goofy, but there is such a charm and innocence to him that I don’t mind it when he does something so dumb that I wonder how he is still alive. I guess that a part of the reason I don’t mind it so much is because his brothers call him out on it when Mikey is an idiot, and that they tend not to give him any respect, even when he gets something right. It’s not like he’s stupid all the time. There are points where he has to be clever and can come up with a plan on his own. He usually just isn’t very focused.  It takes some really good writing to make a character free-spirited and goofy,  but not to a point where he is annoying. His innocence is what makes him so charming.

April O’Neal: She is the target of the Kraang because of some sort psychic ability that allows her to be more in tune with the universe. Like her other incarnations, April is tenacious, stubborn, and determined, especially when it comes to her missing dad.  She also acts as the Turtles connection to the outside world. She’s been captured more that the 2003 April, but mainly because she is specifically targeted by the villains. I don’t really mind that she was captured at least three times in the first season, because she is also being trained by Splinter and has begun to hold her own in a fight. I also don’t mind that she has been de-aged to a teenager as opposed to the usual twenty-something adult she usually is portrays. This way, she is more like a sister than the other incarnations. Like I said, I like Donnie’s crush on her because it is mostly meant as a joke, but I just don’t want a love triangle between him and Casey Jones. (No, I won’t talk about Casey yet, mainly because he has only appeared in two episodes so far and hasn’t interacted with the Turtles.) I really don’t like love triangles, but if they do it and do it well, I might make an exception. April, like the rest of the character on the show, is charming and fun to a point that I don’t mind her tendency to become a damsel in distress.

Splinter: This is probably the most fun and tragic version of Splinter.  He is very dignified, but also has the funniest lines in the show and constantly jokes with and trolls his sons. His sense of humor almost distracts you from the inherent sadness of the character. This is someone who has lost everything, from his wife, daughter, and home to even his own humanity. There are points, especially when he interacts with April, where the camera will linger on him just long enough to show that he isn’t as cheerful as he appears. Yet, even though he lost everything, he still adores his sons, and isn’t brooding or depressed.

Oroku Karai: This is a major spoiler entry, so if you plan on watching the show, you may want to skip it. You have been warned. Karai is Hamato Miwa, aka Splinter’s daughter who was raised by the Shredder to hate and blame her real father for her mom’s death. That is pretty heart-wrenching for her and especially Splinter. Imagine discovering that your previously believed dead child is alive and well, but hates you with every fiber of her being. Poor Splinter. On the other hand, since Karai and Shredder’s relationship is somewhat strained, she’ll be on Splinter’s side as soon as she truly believes that Oroku Saki is the murderer of her mother and that will take away the tension between the rest of the characters. Personality wise, she is the Catwoman to Leo’s Batman, always tempting him with the darkside and a lack of responsibility. She cares a lot less about loyalty to her “dad” and is willing to disobey him more than the 2003 version.  As of now, she is the only character in the series that would dare to taunt the Shredder, and that is admirable.

Shredder: At first, I didn’t like the Shredder’s voice, mainly because I was more used to the soft, threatening hiss of the 2003 series, so Kevin Michael Richardson’s deep, booming voice took me by surprise. Now that I’m used to it, I really like it. The Shredder is as intimidating, if not even more intimidating than the 2003. Whenever Shredder shows up, any lighthearted episode will quickly become much darker. The best example would be the episode “The Gauntlet” which starts out with a mutant pigeon and ends with the wounded Turtles barely escaping a battle with the Shredder with their lives. While the Turtles and Shredder don’t often interact, when they do, you’re going to need popcorn, because things are about to get good. The new Shredder is awesome, and I am embarrassed by any doubts I had in the beginning.

Bradford/Dogpound/Rahzar and Xever/Fishface: I’m lumping these two together because they are both Shredder’s second in command and an amalgamation of Bebop, Rocksteady, and Hun. Chris Bradford is a world famous martial artist and the Shredder’s protege. He also looks like Chuck Norris, and I find that hilarious. Xever is the sociopathic Leader of the Purple Dragons and the Shredder’s street connection. These two aren’t as interesting or as gleefully evil as Hun, but are certainly more competent that Bebop and Rocksteady.  They are the ones that the Turtles usually fight, and are extremely skilled, but are nearly always defeated by our heroes, even with just “a go-kart and a water balloon.” It’s a long story, and even Shredder was confused about that one. These characters are fine, just a little less memorable than the rest of the characters on the show.

The Kraang: These aliens are an amalgamation of the Utroms and Krang from the eighties. They’re trying to terraform planet Earth so that they can invade, and have a tenuous grasp of English at best. Their dialogue is hilariously redundant, but that doesn’t take away the threat that these aliens pose to the world.

The ones who are known as the Kraang feel the emotion known as annoyance at the one who is known as Kirin for the one known as Kirin mocking the one known as Textbox.

Thank you for that illustration on how they talk. Have a cookie.

Thanks. Can I talk now?

Nope. Anyway, the Kraang are fun villains and a creative take on the character–

But it’s kind of important.

In a minute, just let me finish this. Overall, Nickelodeon’s TMNT is a more that worthy successor to the 2003 series. It manages to blend lighthearted humor with drama and not be corny. I love the 2003 series, but there are moments when they took themselves a little too seriously and came off goofy and cringe worthy. This show knows how to switch from humor to drama smoothly and with minimal cheese. The animation is wonderful and stylistic.  There is an interesting blend of 2-d and 3-d that makes the show have a unique look. It really feels like I’m watching a comic book. I also love the designs for the villains. They all are creative and threatening. Seriously, look up Rahzar’s design, it is awesome. The anime faces take a little getting used to, but now I barely notice it. This show is a love letter to the franchise. There are so many in jokes, references and foreshadowing that you need to watch every episode at least three times in order to catch them all. So what are you waiting for? Watch it now. Booyakasha!

“Booyakasha?” Textbox asked incredulously. Kirin shrugged as she reread her article.

“It is Mikey’s catchphrase,” she replied as she corrected a misspelled would.

“It sounds weird when you say it,” Textbox muttered. Kirin rolled her eyes. and scrolled to the bottom of the page.

“It sounds weird when anyone says it. Now you wanted to tell me something?” she asked as she pressed the save button and closed the window.

“Yeah, you know how Scully and Mulder haven’t contacted us two months?” Kirin glanced up, intrigued by what the inter-dimensional voice in her head had to say. She got up from the rocking chair next to her bed and walked to the nightstand. Picking up the old Ipod  communication device Eli Freud had given her after the Graron attack, she turned it on and saw that there weren’t any messages on it.

“Yeah, what about them?” she asked curiously.

“You may want to call them.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Storylines, TV Series

2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series

Hello, I’m a unicorn. Turtles count it off! 1!2!3!4! Turtles! Mutant chain reaction! Turtles! Living under ground! Turtles! Ninjutsu action! Turtles! It’s a shell of a town!…Yeah, I never said the theme song was good. In case it isn’t obvious by now (if not, seriously, what blog have you been reading?), I love this version of the TMNT.

Wow, bold and italics?! You must be serious.

Yeah, yeah. Anyway, this show holds a special place in my heart for being my first introduction to the TMNT as well as my first meaningful introduction to Usagi Yojimbo. TMNT 2003 has affected me in everything from my taste in cartoons to my favorite color. More on that in a minute, but until then, I’ll break the show down into the main characters and overall commentary. I’m not discussing the origin, because it is pretty much the same as in my issue #1 review, so read that instead pretty please. The only difference is that Splinter did not want the Turtles to know about Master Yoshi, and didn’t want them fighting the Shredder. Also, I would like to warn that here there be spoilers, so read at your own risk.

Characters:

Leonardo: He is the unofficial leader of the group. I say unofficial because there are only one or two instances where he is actually called the leader. Usually the rest of the team naturally looks to him for orders because he is the most level headed. I loved this character from the start, mainly because, unlike the other show, they gave him a personality that doesn’t make you bored or want to punch him. He has flaws, and that made him more like a person than an ideal. He’s a perfectionist and doesn’t take failure very well. In fact, his character arc is the greatest in the show and probably the greatest in any cartoon I’ve ever seen. After the Turtles’ shell kicking by the Shredder at the end of the third season, Leo becomes obsessed with his training and distances himself from his brothers. In the episode “The Ancient One,” we learn that he behaves this way because he blames himself for not being able to defeat the Shredder. This arc was foreshadowed from the first season, most notably in the episodes “Monster Hunter” where he falls into a depression after being severely injured in battle and in the episode “The Darkness Within”, which I briefly summarized in my TMNT #45 review. Leo may be a complex character, but what little kid likes a character for his nuances? I loved him because he was ridiculously awesome. Skip to the eight minute mark in this link to get a taste of his awesomeness; it truly is a thing of beauty: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idLPN_lIWiE#t=8m6s. A few episodes later, Leo takes on the entire Foot Clan single-handedly, without a break, and, at his most exhausted, he faces the greatest warriors under the Shredder, the Foot Elite. Sure, he loses, but he was able do better on his own than the rest of his family working as a team. Then after he recovers, his family storms the Foot building. In the final showdown of the episode, Leo and the Shredder leap in the air, swords drawn. They both slice at each other, but when they land, guess who is the only one left standing. My personal favorite though, is in the episode “The Darkness Within,” where, after being tempted by an Old One and nearly joining his side, Leonardo snaps out of it and stabs the eldrich abomination and destroys the creature’s physical form, allowing himself, his friends, and his brothers to escape. Yes, he rejects and defeats a cosmic horror without losing his sanity. Leonardo is awesome, need I say more?

Donatello: Donnie is a genius, and the inventor of the group. Out of all the Turtles, he’s the most soft-spoken and gentle. Gentle, that is, until you threaten his family. Then, whether with his trusty bo staff, or some brilliant technological breakthrough, he can and will unleash a can of whoop-shell on anyone in a three mile radius. In one of the most famous episodes of the show, “Same as it Never Was,” Donnie is sent to an alternate dimension where his good nature is put to the test. After Donatello disappeared Shredder took over the world. Master Splinter is dead, and the only thing standing in Shredder’s way is the resistance, led by April and the three remaining Turtles. When our Donnie shows up, they decide to defeat the Shredder once and for all. Shockingly for a “kid’s show” every character dies except for Donnie and April.This is Donnie at his most awesome, especially his method for defeating the Shredder, but it is also the most horrifying in the context of the show. In “The Darkness Within,” it is revealed that Donnie’s deepest fear is that of losing his brothers. In this episode, he is forced to watch as what remains of his family is killed before his eyes. That’s harsh. The final season, Back to the Sewer, is Donnie’s moment to shine, and shine he does, even if the rest of the season isn’t perfect. Final Verdict: Donatello is awesome.

Raphael: He’s the hot head. Also, for whatever reason, he’s the only Turtle with a Brooklyn accent, but it fits him. He’s the tough guy who is the first to fight and the last to retreat. He suffers from anger issues, and has been known to lose control when fighting, especially when Mikey taunts him.  He actually meets his best friend, Casey Jones, after blowing up at Mikey. At the time, Casey was a psychopathic vigilante, and Raph, of all people, played the voice of reason. He and Leo have a subtle power play going on. He takes orders from Leo, but would be the first to criticize him or physically fight him. I really liked how, in this series, when Leo and Raph fought, they both had a point, instead of Raph being in the right and Leo being punch-able. For example, in the “City at War” story-line, he and Leo get into an argument over whether or not they should get involved in a gang war. Leo takes the position that they should because they are the ones who accidentally started it, and Raph thinks their involvement will only make things worse. This is one of my favorite story-lines because not only is it handling the repercussions of the Turtles’ actions maturely, but it also introduces one of my favorite characters, Karai, which I’ll get to in a minute. Raphael also has a softer side, which usually shines when he has to team up with a kid or blind old lady. The most shining moment of this happens in the episode “Tales of Leo.” Leo is thrown into a coma by the Shredder, and his family tells stories about his childhood in the hopes of bringing him back. After Raph tells his story, he actually starts crying. This is even more meaningful when you realize that this is one of the only times he cries in the series. Then, when Leo is moping about the battle, he is the one who snaps him out of it. Raphael may be the most likely to be fight with his brothers, but at the end of the day he will always be there when they need him.

Michelangelo: He’s the super athletic goofball of the group. Mikey is the first to crack jokes in battle, and the one his brothers pick on the most. He may have the most natural talent of the Turtles, but he is a fanboy who would much rather read comics than train, (something I can identify with). Mikey even briefly became his own superhero, Turtle Titan. He’s also the one who most easily gets under Raph’s skin, as seen in the episode, “The Big Brawl.” In that episode, all four Turtles enter a contest where they fight they greatest warriors in the multiverse. He and Raph are pitted against each other, and he defeats his brother without landing a single blow. He then goes on to win the tournament, defeating a warrior named Kluh. In a later episode, Mikey ends up in a rematch against Kluh and defeats him again while the safety spells aren’t working. That battle was glorious. Mikey also has a pet kitten named Klunk. I like kittens.

Splinter: Like most of his incarnations, he’s the wise, stern, protective master and former pet of Hamato Yoshi. This is one of the few versions where he actually refers to the Turtles as his sons and the Turtles refer to him as father. So, whatever you do, never, ever threaten his sons. Splinter will beat you up so badly the doctors won’t ever be able to tell your hands from your feet.

April O’Neal: She was a brilliant intern scientist working for Baxter Stockman until she discovers that Stockman works for the Shredder. Stockman sics his weapons on her, and that’s how she meets the Turtles. I always liked her scientific background more than her being a reporter, because, as a scientist, she’s smart enough not to be captured all the time! Seriously, unlike her eighties counterpart who got captured every other episode, she was only captured three times in series. Her brains mixed with her love interest, Casey Jones’s brawn is a lot of fun and the two characters have great chemistry. Speaking of Casey…

Casey Jones: He is a vigilante who fights the Purple Dragons after they burned down his dad’s shop as a child. He is the first to make friends with Raphael, and later marries April. Casey can go from a scary vigilante to a lovable goofball in the blink of an eye, and is the Turtles’ closest ally. Unlike the first series, which only had him as minor character, Casey is vital to the plot from the start. He is also awesome. One of his coolest moments happens in the episode “The Shredder Strikes Back.” The Turtles are cornered in April’s store by the Foot, and about to lose when Casey rides his motor cycle through the window and single-handedly takes down twelve or so ninja without breaking a sweat. Goongala!

Oroku Karai: Before I move onto the villains, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite anti heroes of the show, Karai, the Shredder’s adopted daughter. Out of all the characters, she is the most frustrating, but in a good way. Even though she was raised by Shredder, she has more of a sense of right and wrong. From the “City at War” story-line onward, she teeters between her loyalty to the man who cares for her and raised her as his own, and her own sense of honor. She is just so likable and interesting that you desperately want her to do the right thing, and you feel the Turtles’ disappointment every time she sides with the Shredder. Her relationship with Leo was always interesting because they never became love interests. They were fair-weather friends out of respect for one another’s skills. I always felt like Karai is what Leo could have been if Splinter had been evil. When the Turtles finally defeat the Shredder and Leo and Karai become enemies, you reluctantly root against her,  because Leo would react the same way if she had killed Splinter.

Oroku Sakai, Ch’rell, Duke Acureds, The Shredder: There are actually multiple Shredders in the series, but he is the main antagonist, so I’ll only talk about him. In this version, he is an alien war criminal from the race of  the Utroms. The Utrom were the ones who accidentally dumped the toxic waste on the Turtles and mutated them. I’ll admit, the idea of the Shredder being a brain-like alien is silly. Silly, at least, until you see him in action. The villain is dangerously competent and smart. If he leaves the Turtles to die in an explosion, he’s intelligent enough to go back and have his underlings make sure there are bodies. He’s also a deadly warrior that can bounce back from almost anything. In season one, he gets a water tower dropped on him and is (sort of) decapitated. In season two, he gets blown up, twice. Yes, twice. And is finally exiled at the end of the third series, but not after giving the Turtles a good beating. He then is killed once and for all in Turtles Forever.  Jeez, the guy has more lives than a cat.

Hun: He’s the leader of the Purple Dragon and the Shredder’s top lieutenant. Hun is a giant of Liefeldian proportions, and relishes in being evil and violent. He is the one character on the show with absolutely no redeeming qualities outside of his blind loyalty to the Shredder. Heck, even Baxter Stockman loves his mother. Hun is just an evil sadist, but boy, is he a fun one. The guy is a thug who relishes in beating the shell out of the Turtles. He always comes into a fight cocky and arrogant, but gets his butt kicked every time. In a way, you just have to admire his scrappiness. Every single time he is defeated, Hun faces the Turtles again with an arrogant smile. The guy just doesn’t know when to give up. Oh, and here’s an interesting fact, they were planning on having Hun and a minor villain named the Garbageman to have been conjoined twins who were separated by a seedy back-alley surgeon. Hun was kept and raised while poor Garbageman man was thrown in a dumpster and left for dead. The episode was meant to air, was scripted, and animation was started, but then it was decided that the episode was too dark.What the shell? I mean…just…wow. As much as I’d like to have seen such an incredibly dark episode on a “kid’s show,” isn’t that just a little too horrifying? This is the stuff of an R rated movie, so, in a way, I’m impressed that they got as far as animating the episode. Good for them…I guess.

Baxter Stockman: He’s a brilliant scientist who falls in with the Shredder. Every time he fails Shredder, he gets a limb removed until the man is reduced to nothing but a brain. The brain part was a little silly, but this character is just so magnificently arrogant that you don’t care. Even as he has limbs chopped off left and right, he still remains insufferable. This is the only man who will openly insult the Shredder. He wasn’t always bad though. In the episode banned for graphic content, “Insane in the Membrane,” we see that he truly cared for his mother before she died. It’s too bad that the censors decided that the episode was traumatizing to kids, because it has some genuinely sad and character developing moments. I accidentally bought it on DVD in first or second grade, and I watched it without batting an eye. Again, at that age, I was freaked out by a fake horror movie scene in a Disney channel original movie, but could take this.

Overall this show is–

Whoah, whoah, whoah, wait a second. You only talked about the first half of the series. There are seven seasons, and you only discussed seasons one through four.

*Sigh* Fine, but the first four seasons are the best out out of all of them. Rassum Frassum Executive meddling…

Season Five/Lost Episodes: This is actually a really good season that I don’t want to spoil. It was originally meant to be aired after season four, but, partially due to complaints about the dark tone of the other seasons, it was shelved in favor of Fast Forward. They later released the episodes, and I initially thought they were too weird. Tpon rewatching, though, I see that they were quite good, and a satisfying conclusion to the series. I highly recommend it.

Fast Forward: This season was okay. The Turtles are accidentally brought to the future by Casey and April’s wealthy and brilliant  great-grandson, named Cody. He’s a sheltered, lonely kid who’s only companion is his snarky robot butler. Cody isn’t a bad character, he just isn’t all that interesting. He is marked for death by his evil Uncle Darius. It’s up to the Turtles to thwart Darius’s evil plans. Um… I thought this was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, not the Perils of Penelope Pitstop. Anyway, this season is much weaker than the first five, but isn’t necessarily bad. Heck, I’ll recommend a few episodes right now. “Night of Sk’Okanabo,” “Obsolete,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Bad Blood,” and especially “DNA is Thicker Than Water” are all pretty good episodes.

Back To The Sewer: For whatever reason, this season is stuck in the 1990’s awe of this magical thing called the Internet. During their attempt to time travel back home (using the Internet??) Master Splinter’s data bits are scattered across the world wide web. It is up to Donnie to bring their father back while the rest of the team discovers that they were gone for a year. Now, in the first five seasons, the Turtles would have returned to a post apocalyptic nightmare, but since they were going for a lighter tone, the fact they returned after such a long absence has little bearing on the plot. They may as well have been gone for a week. This season is not very good, and the only reason to watch is to find out what happens to Master Splinter and see Casey and April get married. There are a few good episodes, but none are very memorable. It’s entertaining, but not up to the usual 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles caliber.

Overall–oh who am I kidding? I freaking love this show. Sure, the dialogue has its corny moments, sure, some plot points were silly, and sure they overused the word shell in the later seasons, but the awesomeness outweighs the corniness. I love the complexity of the characters, the action, the animation, the one liners, the witty script, and the fact that the Turtles are, above all else, family. 2003 TMNT never talked down to its audience, and knew how to balance mature subject matter with great action, funny dialogue, and lots of heart. This show is the Justice League Unlimited of TMNT franchise.  TMNT is the show that got me used to the multiple part format of comics and introduced me to my all-time favorite comic book series. Since the second grade, my favorite color is blue, for my favorite Turtle. This is the show that had me fall in love with the characters and mythos of that universe. What can I say, other than “I love being a Turtles fan.”

Leave a comment

Filed under TV Series

1980’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Show

Hello, I’m a unicorn. (sing to the tune of theme song) Eighties Mutant Ninja Turtles! Eighties Mutant Ninja Turtles! Eighties Mutant Ninja Turtles! Heroes in a half-shell, Turtle Power! Or, if you’re European– Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles! Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles…you get the picture. For my first TV show review, I’m going to discuss the 1980-1990’s TMNT animated series. Now be warned, out of the three TV series I’ll be discussing, this is my least favorite. This isn’t because the show is bad, far from it, I just think that the other two are better.

Yes, your precious 2003 series can do no wrong.

Yes it can, and I’ll get to that next post. Anyway, for this post, I’ll break it down to the basic plot and characters. Now remember, I’m not an expert on this series, so if I get anything wrong or you disagree with my sentiments, feel free to comment below.

The Plot: After being tricked into insulting their sensei by Oroku Saki, Hamato Yoshi is excommunicated from the Foot clan and forced to live in the sewers of New York. He finds four turtles in the sewer and keeps them as pets. One day, Yoshi discovers his four turtles are covered in a type of goo called mutagen. The mutagen had the effect of partially transforming the Turtles  into whatever creature they had last come into contact with, and since Yoshi was the last being to touch them,they became part human and he became a… rat. Wait, how did that work? Erm, anyway, you all know the story after this. Splinter (no, I don’t know why he decided to start calling himself Splinter) trains the Turtles in the art of ninjitsu and names them after Renaissance artists.

The Characters: Well, as the song goes, Leonardo leads, Donatello does machines(that’s a fact, jack). Raphael is cool, but rude (gimmie a break), Michelangelo’s a party dude (party!), but let’s look at these characters and the villains a little closer.

Leonardo: He’s the leader.

No, really? I hadn’t guessed.

Textbox, I think there’s a Golden Girls marathon on.

Really, where?

Why don’t you go find out?

Okie Dokie.

Whew, I think he’s gone. Where was I? Right, Leonardo. Out of all the Turtle’s, he’s the most serious and level headed, but wasn’t given much to work with other than that. I understand that, like Superman, Leo is a hard character to write. You have to make him intelligent without being Mr. Perfect. He’s a goody-two-shells and can sometimes come off as bland or go the other way and become sanctimonious. That’s kind of what happened here. He wasn’t given much of a character, because most of his personality centers around being a boy scout. Now, there were episodes that centered around him and tried to give him an arc, but the arcs were too short to actually mean something. In one episode, he fears that he is losing his edge and he does a little soul searching while the other three get in a mess of trouble. Leo realizes that he’s as competent as ever, and the credits roll. That’s it.

Donatello: He does machines (pull your minds out of the gutter). Donnie is the inventor of the group and a literal genius. The guy can turn just about any piece of junkyard material into a working and well oiled machine decades ahead of our time. He’s brilliant, no need for extra comment.

Raphael: He’s cool, but rude. That’s Raph in a nutshell. Instead of the brooding personality he has in most other incarnations, he’s snarky, and loves to break the fourth wall.

Oh, a kindred spirit.

Yep, and he’s actually one of the few changes in personality that I don’t mind. In most of his other incarnations, he’s brooding and grumpy, so it’s nice to see him be a little silly every once in a while.

Michelangelo: He’s a party dude. Here’s an interesting fact. For whatever reason, at the time the show was released in Europe, the censors really hated the idea of ninja and thought that Michelangelo’s nunchuku were too violent and decided to replace it with a grappling hook. The sword guy and the guy with over-sized forks were perfectly fine though. Anyway, Mikey is the most laid back and talks like a surfer.

Splinter:  He’s the strict and wise master who trained the Turtles and his personality has stayed pretty consistent throughout the different incarnations. My one issue is that in the first few episodes they make a big deal out of turning him human again, but seem to forget about it after that. Donny is a genius, and is more than capable of figuring out a cure when he puts his mind to it, yet they only bring this up once.

April O’Neal: Oh deary, this is the point where I start to rant. In the comics, movies, and other TV shows, April is a competent fighter in her own right, and has been trained by Splinter. In this show, she is demoted to the resident damsel in distress, in the same vein as Lois Lane. Sure, she’s likable and tenacious, but whenever she actually is in danger, she is completely helpless. This is insulting to her great character that she should be treated as an idiot that has to be rescued all the time. That is just bad and they should feel bad. Speaking of bad, let’s talk major villains.

Shredder: Uh-oh, time to rant again. In every other version, the Shredder is the Turtles’ worst nemesis and ridiculously competent. Every time the Shredder shows up, you’d better grab some popcorn, because you know that things are about to get good. In this version, he is reduced to the bumbling lieutenant of a whining brain. Yes, the Turtles’ greatest foe is reduced to a lackey. Even as a little kid, I thought he was a cry-baby. At that same age, I freaked out about going onto the Tower of Terror at Disney World. I even remember the point where I realized that he wasn’t a threat. Just after he and Krang (more on him in a minute) are trapped in an alternate dimension called Dimension X, he whines, “But I don’t want to conquer Dimension X, I want to conquer Earth.” Oh, and I forgot to mention that the voice of the Shredder is none other than Uncle Phil of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

Krang: He is the disembodied brain of a warlord in Dimension X who has been banished to Earth. He’s also the metaphorical brains of the operation. The Shredder answers to him and the two often bicker and whine like an old married couple. While this isn’t very threatening, I do find it pretty funny.

Bebop and Rocksteady: They’re the Shredder’s gangsters that volunteered to be mutated. Bebop was turned into a warthog human amalgamation, while Rocksteady became an anthropomorphic Rhinoceros. They’re the Shredder’s top henchmen even though they are complete morons. I honestly have no idea why the Shredder keeps them around; they’re more likely to louse up his plans than anything else. I don’t hate them, I just don’t understand why they were tolerated by Shredder.

Usagi Yojimbo: Okay, this is more of a fan-girl gripe than anything else, but really? Usagi Yojimbo? The character’s name is Miyamoto Usagi. Usagi Yojimbo is the name of the comic, not the person–er–rabbit. This is almost as bad as pronouncing Ra’s Al Ghul “Raaz Al Ghul” instead of “Raish Al Ghul”.

*Cough* Nolan Batman*cough* Arrow*cough*

Just because theysaid it that way doesn’t mean it’s right. Anyway, for what it is, I still enjoy this show. While eighties TMNT is arguably the most iconic version of the Turtles, it isn’t the best version. It is the Adam West’s Batman of the incarnations. It’s silly, but knows exactly what it wants to be. Eighties TMNT doesn’t ever take itself seriously and that works to its advantage. When you watch the show, you know you’re in for some crazy adventures and good jokes. Next post, I’ll look at the incarnation that isn’t just my favorite version of the Turtles, but also my all-time favorite TV show. In the meantime, sit back, grab some pizza, and watch some old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episodes! Cowabunga!

Leave a comment

Filed under TV Series