Friday, October 5, 2012

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Debut on NICK "Rise Of The Turtles"

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) Episode One: "The Rise Of The Turtles"
Written by Stuart Cooper
Starring: Sean Astin, Jason Biggs, Rob Paulsen

Anyone reading this who knows me in real life will know that I’m a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan. I grew up during the time period when TMNT was at its absolute peak. I have fond memories of wondering around the isles at Toys R’ Us mystified by the endless stream of Turtles related toys and vehicles! Christmas 1991 I actually received the ninja turtle’s sewer base, the pizza shooter vehicle, and several action figures from the show. It was probably one of my most memorable Christmas’s ever. I also remember renting the VHS tapes of the episodes over and over and over again. So it’s no mystery that I love Ninja Turtles. But now that I’m an adult and my imagination has diminished a bit, could I still enjoy a new TMNT related product? The answer is yes. This past week NICK debuted their new incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I had been hearing about this new show for several months but hadn’t seen much footage. I saw the toys at my local Wal-Mart recently and was pretty impressed with what I saw (aside from Krang which we will get to). I basically went into this debut blind with low expectations, and I finished the viewing impressed. The show debuted in a one hour feature called “Rise of the Turtles”. The story would closely follow some ideas set up in the original series except slightly altered. Let’s dive right into it shall we!

The show begins with showing us each turtle practicing their skills in their underground sewer headquarters. The movements of the characters are very quick, and the animation is very smooth and colorful. The style of the turtles is definitely kiddy and kind of reminds me of that “Chibi” Japanese style animation where the characters heads get real big and their bodies stay the same. Takes some getting used to, but I understand there is no sense in redoing the show unless you make some changes. The turtles are voiced by some pretty notable celebrities…Sean Astin voices Raphael, Jason Biggs voices Leonardo, Greg Cipes plays Michelangelo and Rob Paulsen from THE ORIGINAL TMNT returns except this time he voices Donatello instead of Raphael. Pretty funny that he voices a different character this time around. Why wouldn’t you just recast him in the same role? Does it really make that much of a difference? These voice choices end up being pretty good and maintain those lovable turtle voices we all enjoy.

Splinter and April O’Neil are then introduced and while Splinter is pretty similar to his previous incarnations, April O’Neil appears to be a young teenage girl and not a reporter (at least that they’ve shown so far). It was also made clear that one of the turtles had the hots for April. This is something that was teased in the movies and older shows but never really addressed. I’m not sure how I feel about a martial artist radiation filled turtle wanting to be with a teenage girl…will be interesting to see if they follow up on that. The enemy in the episode comes in the form of zombified humans that appear to be under control of “The Krang”, notice I said the Krang and not just Krang…it’s because there is apparently an entire army of Krangs this time as oppose to one giant menacing Krang. This was really the only complaint I had. Krang in this version appears to be a race of robots with living beings inside their stomachs. While I realize the original came from a planet of other Krangs, they were never really villains in the series. This is fine I suppose, but I’ll be interested to see if they reveal some type of Master/leader Krang. The turtles basically spend the entire episode investigating these Krang beings and eventually we are shown a brief glimpse of Shredder who resembles Shao Kahn (Mortal Kombat) quite a bit. I’m pretty interested to see the turtles square off against him.

Overall I think the new show has promise. The turtles are still the goofy joke cracking heroes they were before, but this incarnation seems to offer a bit more serious aspect (I said A BIT, so don’t get too excited). What I’m referring to is one particular scene where the turtles capture a thug and threaten to torture him by pouring ooze on his face and turning him into a monster. I thought that was something the old cheesy turtles would have never done. So there is certainly a difference. The animation is smooth, the voices are spot on, and the original content is still ingrained. I think if you are a TMNT fan at heart you will enjoy the show and give it a chance. Oh and the new theme song is actually pretty catchy!