Nickelodeon has been the owner of the TMNT license for quite some time now, and they finally launched their new television series on September 29th, 2012. Turtles fans everywhere were worried. Whether you were a casual fan who only really knows the turtles from the 80’s cartoon and films or a hardcore fan whose been reading the comics before the Turtles were cool, we were all worried at how easily Nickelodeon could butcher this license. Kinda like Michael Bay producing the live action film adaptation. Did Nickelodeon deliver something old school fans and new fans would enjoy like they promised? Or did they give us an abominations Ninja Turtles should be ashamed of like The Next Mutation?
Well, the answer is hell yes, they delivered on their promise and maybe even some more. I was skeptical but I decided to give the premiere a chance. Nothing I really saw prior impressed me but I had to give it a chance. There is no franchise I love more than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! The show gets so much right that my fears about this show were not calmed but smacked to ground and beaten their in the first five minutes of the episode alone.
The premiere starts off with the Turtles having a sparring session. Mikey vs Leo, and Donny vs Raph. It’s apparent from the battle that their personalities are more spot on than ever and they each sport a unique design to them. The turtles are easier to tell apart than ever besides just their weapons. Their looks go with their personality. Michelangelo is the funny goof ball and sparring with the calm and level headed Leonardo. Mikey is waving around his nunchucks trying to disarm Leo with his goofiness but is easily disarmed by Leo’s flawless technique.
Meanwhile Raphael and Donatello fight. Raphael the hot head is confident of his fighting skill and strength while Donatello the genius tries to go on the offensive and intimidate with Raph with his bo staff skills. Donny is easily no match for Raphael. Donatello is disarmed by Raphael with ease and without even having to take out his Sais. Then it’s only Raph and Leo standing, the brothers of rivalry. Leonardo shows respect, Raphael cares nothing for that. They fight and they seem evenly matched. The fight is short but beautifully done and Raphael the powerhouse comes out on top to take Leonardo down.
At that moment I knew that I was in for a good episode. In those first few minutes you get a taste of what the show is about. Well written humor (yes, this show is funnier than you’d think), slick action scenes, and great animation. We’re then introduced to Master Splinter and he received the biggest face change. He’s very tall now, much younger and he has black hair for the first time ever. I wasn’t a fan of it at first but it grew on me and he makes up for having a great Japanese accent. I also was not a fan of how they originally made Splinter a human (it doesn’t make any sense why he’d turn into a rat), rather than being a rat who got mutated like the turtles but I guess they wanted to make a nod to the original 80’s cartoon. I could overlook it.
The rest of the episodes story is that Turtles are finally 15 years old and feel they are ready to experience the outside world as Ninjas. The turtles are overjoyed and experience the wonders of New York city. It’s done in such a fun and charming way it’s hard not to have a good time. The turtles are all just so damn likable There’s also a funny scene where they try pizza for the time and don’t be surprised to find yourself itching for a slice as well. During their journey through the city they see a young girl (April O’ Neil) and her father kidnapped by men dressed in suits. The turtles realize they cannot stand idly by and they decide they’re gonna save her. All of this leads into the main plot of the hour long premiere.
There are a lot of changes to the Turtles folklore and a lot of things they kept that overall comes together in a refreshing package. April O’ Neil who we’re introduced to in the first episode is a now teenager like the turtles. It makes more sense and it allows her to connect with the turtles more on their level. The utrom alien race are now referred to as “The Krang” which is a nod to the 80’s cartoon villain. This change didn’t bother me at all, I always thought the Utrom was a silly name but it’s still too soon to say if they are also known as The Utrom because we aren’t give any back story on them yet.
One thing I really loved about this show is the animation and the art style. I don’t understand why some people we’re talking crap about it but I love how colorful and cartoony everything looks. The lighting is gorgeous and has a cel shaded feel to it. It also mixes some 2D animation in and some of the backgrounds are matte painted. This show mixes so many styles together it creates it’s own distinct look. I feel like a lot of people stop talking negative about the animation after they saw the first action scene. This show bleeds style.
I was always a bigger fan of the darker comic book roots of the Ninja Turtles along with the first live action film. This show scraps all that darkness and makes it more kid friendly but it doesn’t feel childish or dumbed down. It’s a show anyone of any age could enjoy. The show has a lighter tone but is filled with gorgeous, violent, stylized action scenes and such well written humor you’d be hard pressed not to have a chuckle or two. I feel like this show managed to take everything good about every single iteration of the Turtles be it the 80’s show, 2003 show, live action movies, and comics and mash it together in this show while adding some new spice. It’s nice to get new refreshing animated stories about the Turtles. The animated world and the comic world of the of the Turtles have always been separate entities.
I am glad that the creators of this show care so much about this license, I feel like the people who made this show are true fans. It also excites me that this great show is going to introduce kids to a whole new era of Ninja Turtles. I foresee them blowing up once again and seeing merchandise at every corner more than you do now! TMNT is a fun franchise and each of the turtles have a personality anyone could connect to. If you’re still weary of this show, don’t be. Watch it, you may be thinking why you ever thought negative of it in the first place. This show not only pays homage to decades of the Ninja Turtles it respects the fan base.
Now if only Michael Bay and Paramount could learn a thing or two about respecting it’s fan base….
P.S.- Raphael all day!