I never really got into Nickelodeon’s recent computer-animated version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I reviewed the pilot when it came out and while I didn’t get into it I didn’t think it was bad. (My favorite is still the one that aired on Fox in case you’re curious.) From what I’ve heard the show actually does get very good. There are strong stories, good character development, and I guess they smoothed out some of the rougher edges with the animation style, which was my big turn-off. It’s worth checking out, but I tried watching later episodes and it still didn’t click with me. But like I’ve said at the beginning, you’re welcome to not be interested in something simply because it’s good.
Now however we have Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Nickelodeon believing that you need to make a new show to create a new audience. And yet Sesame Street has had the same continuity since it began in the 1970s! They’ve just altered the format since HBO wants half-hour episodes instead of the regular hour long format I and many others grew up with. A topic for another time…maybe. And Nickelodeon is changing everything about the new show. Now I have heard about a number of these changes but I didn’t want to make a discussion topic out of it until I saw the actual product. Well, they just put out a teaser and while teasers are not a good way to properly gauge how good a show is, this really hasn’t helped anything.
Where do I start?
Okay, how about the few ideas I do admittedly like. It’s another story about the Turtles just starting out as crimefighters, although now that seems to be the goal rather than it just happening due to whatever else they were doing and their connection to the Foot Clan. That’s fine. I’m mixed on the “no longer biological brothers” because that wasn’t the worst sin of Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation either. Also, I don’t know if pet stores mix turtles of different families or not or how that all works. So each turtle is now a different species of turtle. There’s some potential there. I’m not much into the art style but it’s not bad and I can see fan artists especially wanting to try it out. I do have problems with the character models…and I think I’m out of the positives.
So, character models. I don’t like him. Raphael is now the Hulk. Splinter looks terrible. I don’t know why April had to be de-aged in the previous series but now she’s black. If they wanted to make a new character to diversify the color palette I wouldn’t mind. Other versions had their own characters and it makes up for the fact that the only canon black person is Baxter Stockman, one of the villains, outside of the occasional guest character. She may also turn out to be a good character, but it’s another example of concept versus character, and not the only time. More on that in a moment. Of course I’ve missed a ton of IDW’s run since I lost my job so I could be wrong. Otherwise I don’t really mind the new character models for Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Donatello.
It’s the personalities (from what I’ve heard more than what’s on display in the teaser, but that doesn’t help) that I have to come down against. New April doesn’t look as interesting as even the last de-aged April but I can’t really tell from just a teaser. New Raphael is supposed to be in charge now for no other reason than he’s the most popular. Nick, the most popular doesn’t have to be the leader. Leonardo is more of a wisecracker, which is supposed to be Mikey’s domain (outside of the original cartoon where Raph’s anger issues was replaced with being sarcastic), and he’s kind of a dork. Leo is supposed to be the one more in tune with his ninja practices and the “goody-two-shoes” of the team, with the positives and negatives that come with it. Donatello, who should be the dork (although not this badly) can’t fix the machine? Donatello? I know is supposed to be about this reality’s Turtles growing into the heroes they were meant to be but he should be starting off with being a tech whiz already. Or maybe I’m missing something here, but Donatello is supposed to be Wheeljack, circa G1 Transformers. I couldn’t get a handle on Michelangelo but I don’t like the teeth.
Then there’s the animation. Look, I came from the Filmation generation; I can overlook cheap animation if done right. But coming this fast of a show that was praised for it’s animation (if you like that style and I didn’t) this is a serious downgrade. Yeah, it’s better than, for example, Hammerman, but that doesn’t make it good. And they also seem less “ninja-like” than the original cartoon. That feels like a big mistake as well. It seems to be more “comical”, which is fine for Henry Danger and that cartoon spin-off (I actually watched an episode of The Adventures Of Kid Danger and wasn’t impressed–it’s like a exaggeration of the parent show…somehow) but it doesn’t fix the Ninja Turtles, which is why the original show lost some steam before CBS picked it up in my opinion.
The last Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn’t interest me but I could at least say it seems good. Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the other hand doesn’t look that good and diverts even further away from “multiversal continuity” to the point that it looks like an original concept with a Turtle paintjob. I may still give it a look when it airs but I’m more apprehensive about this version and I’m not a die-hard fan of the last version. I don’t think kids can’t latch on to a continuing series if it’s done right. Again, Sesame Street has never rebooted once, and that most kids first television show. If they ran out of stories to tell then I understand a reboot. But reboot something as good or better next time, Nickelodeon.