How does the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series do?
Just like everyone else, I was very skeptical with the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. We all know the cartoons these days are not as good as how it was when we were young, and face it, the TMNT from our childhood really is one of the best. The only reason I gave the series a shot is because I bought the figure prematurely, so I kind of doesn’t have a choice. However, I’m glad I did. Not only is this the best TMNT franchise ever, it is also my favorite cartoon series currently on TV.
The new series has the same basic premise as all TMNT series. Splinter with his four mutant turtles sons living in the sewer, a girl named April, and a villain named Shredder…etc. While the basic are still there, the new series successfully add elements from different TMNT incarnations, and tweak them to work better with the world established within this series. Everything you known and loved from other TMNT media might make appearances in this series. And the best thing is, you can never guess who and how characters you used to know are going to appear in this series. For example, The Rat King was first introduced into the series as Dr. Victor Falco, who has the ability to read others’ thoughts. However, a few episodes later, Dr. Falco reappears as the Rat King after an accident. He’s not the only character who follows this trend. The Pulverizer was first introduced as a geeky fan boy for the Turtles, and he was later turned into the Mutagen Man. It’s great that the writers surprise us like this, and it makes me wonder if any of the existing characters will become another classic character later in the series or not. Maybe Raphael’s pet turtle will turn into Slash or Tokka?
And yes, you read that right. Raphael has a pet turtle named Spike. Aside from the wonderful plots, the characters are the key to why we love the series. The turtles are all the same we known and loved from before, but this time their characteristics are emphasized. We all know Raphael is a tough guy, but he’s actually the most fragile of the four. The pet turtle serves the purpose of showing us how soft Raphael really is on the inside. Things like this allows me to see how individual they really are, and not a team of slightly differently turtles. There are also other character traits including Donatello’s crush on April, and Leo’s terrible puns. There’re also some great character-driven storylines to further distinguish the characters. Episodes such as “Baxter’s Gambit” and “Mousers Attack” are all great episodes that show us just how different these turtles are to each others, and how fun it is to watch them interact.
Also, for the first time ever, the turtles have obvious physical differences other than the eye masks. Raphael seems buffer than other turtles, and has a chip on his shell. Donny is the tallest with a gap tooth, and Mikey is the shortest with freckles. With all the external and internal characteristics, the turtles are in their best yet.
The new version of April is great. Instead of a 20 something year-old reporter, this version of April is a 16- year-old girl hanging out with the turtles, and that makes a much better sense. I always wonder why a 20-something woman will hang out with a bunch of teenagers, I began to question why the original doesn’t come up with a young April in the first place. Also, this April is not the damsel in distress that we known her to be, but a promising Kunoichi learning under Splinter.
Mentioning Splinter, he is a real badass in the version, unlike the 1987 cartoon. I still remember watching an old cartoon where Splinter and April are under attack by the Mousers, and they have to wait for the turtles to rescue them. He seemed like such a wimp, and as a kid I ponder how he is the Sensei that taught the turtles ninjutsu. Now I understand.
The first half of season 1 serves as introduction to the world and characters. The second half paints us a bigger picture with what Kraangs are doing in our world, and the unholy alliance between The Foot and the Kraangs. The plot is not resolved yet by the season finale, but it does give us a substantial threat and a reason to come back for more. The individual character journey is a strong aspect for the season as well. We have the rivalry between Shredder and Splinter, including a daughter who’s still alive. We also have Leo’s journey to become a better leader, Donny’s love for April and may more. The only turtle that doesn’t have much character development this season is Mikey, and that’s because he’s too awesome being the funniest character ever.
My biggest problem with the series is the schedule. Nickelodeon has a strange air time for the show that sometimes we have a new episode every week for a month, and sometime we don’t get a new episode for two months. The show usually airs on Saturday mornings, but sometime we get it on Friday nights. I was really confused with the schedule, and it results in me missing episodes, or not wanting to watch the show. I hope Nickelodeon has a better schedule for upcoming seasons, otherwise their viewership is going to take some serious hit.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle has a wonderful freshman year. While there might be small problems here and there, the show is still great for fans old and new. I strongly urge those who’re skeptical to try this show with an open mind, I promise it will be a present encounter.