TV Review: ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Season 1, Episodes 1 and 2: ‘Rise of the Turtles Part 1’ and ‘Part 2’
A brand new cartoon series featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles debuted Saturday, September 29 on Nickelodeon; this is the third animated series to feature the characters, the fourth television series and the eighth continuity for the lean, green fighting machine, as they sometimes like to be called.
After that many continuities, what can this series bring new to the table, storywise? This is the first animated series to use CGI rather than traditional animation, so it did bring that to the table. But did it avoid the problems that other TV CGI series face?
Story and characters
At this point, “The Rise of the Turtles” is one extra-long episode; however, the first half was aired on Friday night as a sneak preview, and it worked perfectly well as a standalone episode with a cliffhanger ending.
The story begins with mutant turtles Leonardo (voiced by Jason Biggs), Raphael (Sean Astin), Donatello (Rob Paulsen) and Michelangelo (Greg Cipes) on their fifteenth “mutation” day; after hearing their own origin story, they ask their adoptive rat father Splinter (Hoon Lee) if they can finally visit the surface world after a decade and a half of living in a sewer. He reluctantly agrees.
The four take to the surface, where they witness a teenage girl, April O’Neil (voiced by Mae Whitman), and her father being kidnapped by some “men in black” types. They attempt to rescue her, and fail badly, though Michelangelo does manage to discover that the kidnappers are actually robots with alien brains in their stomachs. Pretty much everything after that would be spoilers.
After 28 years of existence, we know the characters; Michelangelo is the goofy one, Raphael is the rebellious one, Leonardo is the leader and Donatello is smart. That has not changed, though in this version, Raphael has a pet non-mutant, non-ninja, non-teenaged turtle (I mean tortoise!) of his own, while Leonardo bases his leadership skills, surprisingly, on a Captain Kirk expy. Donatello, meanwhile, is instantly smitten with April, who is a teenager like the turtles. The writers seem to be setting up a sort of cross-species romance, there.
The show does seem to focus more on humor than previous incarnations; I know the last animated series got needlessly dark near the end. I do not remember the original show being so purposely humorous, but I was in grade school back then, and may have just been missing the jokes.
Read more: Retrospective: Still the world’s most awesome fighting team
Animation and character design
It is usually a very bad idea for a television show to go with CGI; the best example to illustrate the problem is another Nickelodeon show featuring anthropomorphic animals doing martial arts: Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. I do not have anything against the use of CGI over traditional animation in movies, but the process is very expensive, and TV is a bit cheaper. Compare the animation of the Kung Fu Panda movies to the television series, and you can easily see where the money goes in CGI.
Lucky for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there is no movie to compare it to (the CGI movie TMNT is not the inspiration), and the art compensates for the lack of budget. Movement is still stiff sometimes, but martial arts maneuvers are more stylized, making them bearable. The background is also rendered in a simple, comic book-inspired style – keeping the show within budget while giving it a unique, interesting visual look.
The show features short bursts of traditional looking animation, usually in flashbacks, though the episode of “Space Heroes” Leonardo watches hearkens back to Johnny Quest-style Hanna-Barbera cartoons. It also features obviously anime-inspired moments where hearts or teardrops are added to the scene; these will probably end up grating on my nerves.
The character designs themselves are top notch; each of the four turtles are differentiated beyond just the color of their bandanna and shade of green of their skin. Each are different heights and weights, from tall and skinny Donatello to short and compact Raphael. They also each have unique details; Donatello is missing a tooth, Raphael has a noticeable crack in his shell and Michelangelo has the reptilian equivalent of freckles. The best design belongs to Splinter, who has a truly beautiful facial design, though he looks to be tending toward the chubby side in the body.
The show does not really do anything to new or unique with the idea of anthropomorphic turtles fighting crime with the help of martial arts, but actually, thank goodness for that. If you like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you will like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
About the authorcrossaffliction (Brendan Kachel) — read stories — contact (login required)
a reporter and Red Fox from Hooker, Oklahoma, interested in movies, horror, stand up comedy
Formerly Wichita's only furry comic.
Nickelodeon just ruined your childhood: http://ow.ly/e8DUg
Maybe it’s the 80’s child in me, or the fact I’ve grown up on everything Ninja Turtles. Ugh, I mean Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, saying just “Ninja Turtles” puts me in a state of heavy contempt for the project Michael Bay is currently working on. Either way, TMNT and I go way back, so anytime a new project is announced I get nervous. What if I don’t like it? What if it doesn’t like me? What if they completely and utterly destroy my entire childhood?
Last night I decided to catch the first two episodes of Nickelodeon’s new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle television show, courtesy of their website, with the intention of hoping my entire reality would not come to a halt. I gritted my teeth and pushed play, watching both episodes and taking in everything before coming to a decision. This is something that took me a second try at starting the first episode from the beginning and not having a conclusion too early. Here it is.
This review is a tough one to get my true and honest opinions out without going all over the place. At the time of writing it, I am unsure of how it will read, but hopefully well. Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an interesting cartoon and take on the TMNT’s to say the least.
STORYLINE/PLOT/THE JIST OF IT ALL
Very similar, yet different enough to notice to the older generation, the story is that of four turtles introduced to a mutagen and have grown into humanoid creatures. The bottom line of it all, story wise, stays pretty consistent with the overall history, with some minor changes. This is where it is important to decide, as a long time fan, if you are willing to accept change and some liberties in what we already know.
Breaking down what is the same. The basic origin story stays almost right on, including Splinters. This I was very happy with, I know how they became what they are today and don’t have to re-think everything I’ve come to know over the years. Kudos to Nickelodeon there.
Splinter is still tied to The Shredder, with basically the same back-story as well, which is very pleasing. So, hopefully, we can expect to see a similar foot clan in future episodes. Another great thing, each of the turtles have the same feel they have always had. Donatello is the smart one, Leo the leader, Ralph the bad ass, and Mike the fun one. For the most part, these characters are whom we are used to.
For the most part.
Nickelodeon took some liberties in this series. April O’Neal for example. A teenage girl the turtles are going to help get her father back after he was kidnapped. Go ahead; let that soak in a bit. I’ll wait. Did you re-read it twice? No longer do we get a savvy adult news reporter, but a teen. On top of that, there seems to be some inter-species romance brewing from Donatello toward April. This is a show geared toward kids, why do we really need this? It’s not cute, and it’s no funny.
In a way, it’s kind of sick if you think about. A mutated talking turtle, even though only 15 years of being mutated himself, in love with a teenage human girl? I did the research today, and I found that a turtle that is 15, in human years, is only 5. Kick that fun fact around. I could very well accept April now being a teenage girl if the smitten stuff was not present. However, with it, I have distaste in my mouth.
Another liberty taken, this one more positive, is that Krang is now not just a single character but a full species. I really enjoyed this update, showing us that an entire race of this brain creature does exist. I can really dig that. Story wise, the show was pretty much on par, exceeding my expectations.
ANIMATION/THE LOOK AND FEEL/CGI FRIDAY’S
Nickelodeon made a bold move by deciding to deliver this incarnation of the TMNT in CGI. Unfortunately, this isn’t even on par with the CGI used for the last movie that in it wasn’t all that good. I got more of a feel of clay animation as the figures where blocky and moved with little finesse.
The turtle’s limbs looked more like Stretch Armstrong toys than a anything, causing me to lose focus when critiquing it in my head. As for the background and surrounding areas they are void of real content. Seriously, you are in New York, where are the other people? Where is the environment? The budget just isn’t there to make it look good.
A MAJOR annoyance I had while watching this was the use of anime type expressions. I could not stand them at anytime they happened. It’s hard to explain what I am talking about; you need to just watch the show to see. This may be one of the single most destructive downfalls of this show, when combined with some audio stuff I will cover soon. I could look past the CGI downfall and enjoy the show if this lame attempt at capturing the popularity of a fad was removed. I’m sure if any anime junkies are reading this, they disagree, but if they are I just want to say… thanks for helping keep this crappy fad alive and killing the true art of animation. Jerk.
I did find a positive in the animation though. They did take time to give each turtle their own look and feel. Not just skin color either, but also the actual bodies show individual flaws. A very nice touch to someone like me, who is looking for what they spent time on and delivered.
I refuse to go into detail about a television cartoon’s sounds. It’s the normal “TV sounds” except for one minor thing. During the “action” or when they do “Anime Expressions” the sounds. All of a sudden it feels like I’m watching a cheap knockoff anime or a poorly crafted video game. Once again, stop trying to cash in on a fad that is annoying and hopefully has very little shelf life left.
FINAL THOUGHTS/THE OVERALL OPINION/THE WAY I SEE IT
Nickelodeon’s Teenage mutant Ninja Turtles is a good way to introduce a new generation of kids to our beloved heroes of the 80’s and 90’s. They seem to be trying to hard to please everyone by including the anime crap, and going an un-needed route with the love story. But overall, I can dig this show as something to fill time until Michael Bay destroys our opinions of the turtles forever and kills their entire legacy. Some work needs to be done and I hope it is. Just having the show as a cash cow is not cool when the show is very close to millions of us from another generation.
The above was from my review on http://www.halkum.com
It feels like this was trying to go back to the 80's flashy colour and humor style of show. Yes the last incarnation was dark, but so was the comic. In fact the original stories were incredibly dark at times. I liked the fact that that one followed the comic story lines and actually used some of the dialogue if you paid close enough attention. This one I'm not so sure about. Of course, I'm still going to be sitting down watching it every week regardless if it's good. Yay addiction!
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