Monday, October 1, 2012
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Series Premiere Review
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a very important part of my childhood, I grew up watching the show. And no, I'm not talking about the 80's show, I'm talking about the 2003 series. Every Saturday morning I would get up to tune into the now deceased FoxBox. The characters, the storylines, and especially the Shredder, I loved watching all of that. Recently I've been watching some of it, it still holds up to this day. It's mature, has good writing, excellent stories, and was pretty dark and violent for a morning CW program. In 2009 the film Turtles Forever ended that incarnation of the franchise. It was a fun movie, but saddening at the fact that the show was over. (They never did get to do the season when the three Shredders meet, that would have been so awesome.) Three years later, we have a third animated incarnation. Admittedly, I was skeptical from the beginning. I didn't like the character looks, I didn't like that the Shredder would be modeled more off his 80's counterpart as opposed to the more menacing 03 one, and I especially didn't like the fact that it would show a more teenage side to the characters than the previous shows did. But, I forced myself to keep an open mind when checking out the premiere. The latest TMNT series looks to be nice way to introduce a new generation of fans. I don't like some of the directions, but overall, it looks like we have a solid series.
I had braced myself for some Ultimate Spider-Man-like comic relief. Thankfully, it isn't too played or a focus like said Spidey show. First off, the first part of Episode One was great. The New York backdrop and techno music really fit. The animation is CGI, like Iron Man: Armored Adventures. Only difference here is that it's actually good. The fights and moves are really well-defined. However, the thing that really caught me off guard was the theme song. Fans of the 80's show will love it, it's basically a modern day remake. Extremely catchy. Regarding the Turtles, they are younger than their 2003 counterparts, 15 years old to be exact. I don't like the more immature roles they have when compared to the previous show, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be. It wasn't until Episode 2 that they started to grow on me. As opposed to being in the later years, here we see them going aboveground for the first time and working together as team. It was annoying seeing how badly they did as a team in Episode One. Thankfully in the next one they are acting like the Ninja Turtles we all love. Working good as team, crazy maneuvers, and all the while quips. Granted, the humor is pretty funny sometimes. Nothing really too cringe-worthy surprisingly.
One controversial thing to me was making April a teenager. I can't stand when they change things to fit a target audience. Of course with the Turtles at such a young age, it makes sense in this case. Cute little crush Don has for April, but I don't think it's going to last, at least I hope not. It would be a slightly annoying sub-plot if it continued over the course of the season. (Although I do question her not asking about how the Turtles came to be and all that.) Fans of the 80's show will be glad to see that Krang is back...somewhat. These group of pink aliens (2003 fans know them as the Utroms) are called the 'Krang.' It's kinda strange seeing Master Splinter more human-like in appearance. Nothing bad, but he looks a little like a human with a rat mask. All eyes are on the Shredder, who makes an appearance at the end of Episode 2. Look, nothing can beat the 03 version of ol' Shred head. There he has a great design, is pure evil, and has a fantastic voice. Truly, one of the best cartoon villains out there. (Even when he's about to be exiled forever he boasts.) This Shredder is definitely more based on his 80's counterpart. Human, with a very similar costume design. I can't judge fully until I see more of him. So far not bad. (Though his voice has nothing on Scottie Ray's Shredder.)
Overall, this was a surprisingly good start to the new show. As a longtime fan of the incredible 2003 toon, I approve. It was the second episode when the series started to grow on me. The turtles have distinctive personalities, I do hope Don gets to showcase more of his science skills, he rarely did here in the premiere. Animation is really good and smooth, the fights are fluid. Master Splinter's flashback with the Shredder and also the story of the origin of our green friends was good. The Shredder has a lot to do before I can classify him as a grade A villain. In the end, this is a solid way of bringing in new fans for the TMNT franchise. I'll be watching. The premiere gets an 8/10, it's a pretty good new take on the Turtles for the most part. (Plus there's a Star Trek parody.)