Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) – Episode 1 : Rise of the Turtles
My favorite cartoon when I was a kid was the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I had all the toys, I had VHS tapes of the show out the wazoo and I enrolled in a martial arts class at age six just because I wanted to be a ninja. My sensei made me do fifty pushups for taking too long in the bathroom once. I didn’t stay in the class long. That didn’t discourage me from watching the cartoons and playing with the action figures though. Nothing could put the kibosh on that.
I never read the comics of TMNT at any point until around 2006 when I was able to get my hands on some of the reprinted oversize editions that went back and colorized some of the original stories. I knew there were differences between the version I had grown up with and the original source material, but I never really had any idea of that until I got those books. Even then it was only a miniscule sampling of the original Turtle stories and I didn’t get to really delve into that world until around 2010 when IDW started reprinting those issues in omnibus style trade paperbacks. I really enjoyed reading those books and I think that it gave me an appreciation for h0w there can be several interpretations of the same property and have it work out for the better.
The 2012 volume of the TMNT animated franchise seems to be a melding of the ideas from the early nineties cartoon and the one that hit air back in the early 2000s. The show does not attempt to downplay the humorous elements of the franchise and yet at the same time it appears that they will be eschewing the original series’ tendencies for the villains to be downright laughable. The threats to the heroes will feel realistic and the heroes’ response will be utterly sardonic. The melding of tone works well in the hour long first episode which introduces us to the turtles, Splinter, a now teenaged April O’Neil and a race of alien brains known as the Krang. The first series had Krang as a singular character, displaced from his homeworld. This time around they seem to be going with the hive-mind idea and some of the dialog that comes as a result is hilarious. Going back to the humor I mentioned, the show has a handle on it and knows when to use it.
The element that most will find polarizing will be the animation style. It is 3D but there is a somewhat overlaid 2D style, that at times feels heavily manga inspired, that will put off some viewers. I think those who get caught up on the style would do well to look at what else it is doing that works in its favor. I know plenty of people who had a problem with the animation style of something like Teen Titans, and while the anime styling lost that show a number of fans, most would argue that it was easily on par with the rest of the DCAU at the time, regardless of how it was drawn. The stories they told and the voice acting on display made me a fan and I was one of the people initially turned off by the design style. Here, the voice acting is equally good. Rob Paulsen takes over as Donatello and feels right at home. Sean Astin is our new Raphael and he does it well. Greg Cipes, who voiced Beast Boy in Teen Titans, gives Michelangelo a different spin than I was expecting but does a great job nonetheless. Jason Biggs as Leonardo takes some getting used to, as the characterization is different than previous incarnations in a number of ways. That said, it works for the style they have chosen.
I think that this has a lot to offer for fans of the old show and is a great introduction to the kid-friendly aspect of the series for younger viewers. I’m not ashamed to admit I have the new action figures posed on top of my iMac right now. This could be a great show if hard-nosed fans don’t give it too much grief. I personally can’t wait for the next episode.
And now, in a shameless ploy for hits. I present sexy pictures of the adult actress and sexy nerd icon April O’Neil, because I know what people like:
If you are of mature age and want to see more of Ms. O’Neil, check her out on twitter @Undeux.