Written by Robert J. Baden, Fanboy Comics Contributor
Tuesday, 16 October 2012 05:10
New on the Tube is a series devoted to reviewing relatively new television shows and determining how they may (or may not) appeal to their intended audiences, where the shows are going, and what can be done to make them better.
15-year-old turtles with ninjutsu skills decide to take on the world above their New York sewer home, but end up coming into conflict with groups and individuals who wish to do them harm. In the midst of it all, they befriend a teenaged girl named April, as well as learn more about their mysterious past and how certain elements have had a hand in their development since the very beginning. Full of impatience, dangerous martial abilities, and the will to change things for the better, they become “heroes in a half-shell.” The show airs on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. (Eastern) on Nickelodeon.
Previously on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Covering episodes #1 - #4
After celebrating 15 years of living in the sewers and abandoned subway stations, the turtles want to learn more about NYC and their place in it. After persuading Splinter, the quartet head up to the surface just in time to see April and her father being kidnapped by aliens using robot humanoids as a disguise. Burned from their failure to stop the kidnapping, the turtles stage a rescue mission against the Krangs, but only manage to save April before her father is swept away to another hiding spot. Further investigation into the Krangs' operations allow the turtles to be recorded in action, prompting them to try and seek out the individual in hopes of keeping their identity secret; however, the man who recorded them ends up being mutated himself into a spider-like creature that the turtles eventually defeat (as well as destroy the recording).
Later on, after dealing with a human who was freaked out by his appearance, Michelangelo tries to befriend a top-level martial artist, only to discover that he’s actually the top lieutenant of the Shredder. After a quick and daring battle in which the turtles take out the Foot’s forces, they retreat to their sewer domain in order to relax . . . with pizza.
Leonardo (Katana/Wakizashi wielder): The confident leader of the quartet, Leonardo prefers to think things through to excess, eagerly wanting to please Splinter with his foresight. He has a very hard time being spontaneous and is often schooled in his techniques by life lessons.
Donatello (Bo/Naginata wielder): The big brain of the group, this turtle prefers to deal with technology rather than his peers. He has a bit of a crush on April, though she doesn’t know it, and has helped prepare some amazing weapons for his brothers.
Michelangelo (Nunchaku/Kusarigama wielder): The party animal in all ways, especially in regards to his brothers. He’s ever-ready with a joke, but doesn’t appear to really think things through.
Raphael (Sai wielder): Turtle with a bad attitude, easily provoked into confrontations. He’s probably the toughest fighter of the group, but his inability to hold in his anger has created a lot of strife with his brothers.
Splinter (Sensei): Wise master who was mutated into a rat when exposed to the mutagen. He’s very much a loner, meditating and thinking often, and he blames himself for the loss of his previous family at the hands of the Shredder.
April O’Neil (Teenaged Girl): Daughter of a scientist, she was initially rescued by the turtles before becoming their friend. She has vowed to find out what happened to her father, but tends to hang out with the turtles more during their relaxation periods than their investigations.
While there are certainly some changes to this interpretation of the green machine, the basic premise is very much the same: they’re mutated turtles who know how to kick butt. This has always worked for them, and I’m glad to see that the new series has allowed for them to continue with the iconic trend.
Likewise, the interaction between the various brothers is much the same as it always has been, although there does appear to be a lot more joking in regards to Michelangelo’s character; everyone seems to pick on him, including Splinter. But, he’s always been the comic relief of the series, so it continues to work in my opinion.
I’m not too keen on the CGI of the series; it just doesn’t work for me like how the 2007 TMNT film’s CGI did. It doesn’t look as natural to me as the film, the movements don’t look right, and it just really seems “blech!” in my opinion. I think they would have done better with a traditionally animated style—it worked for the last two series, so why not this one?
The flashback sequences are also rather off-putting, not mixing well with the CGI of the rest of the show. The style reminds me a lot of Marvel’s motion animation series—which I wasn’t a big fan of, either—and it just doesn’t fit in well, despite the fact that it does make a point of differentiating so that it is easy to determine it’s not during the present.
The theme song is also not what I would have expected. I like how they kept the “heroes in a half-shell, turtle power” line, but the rest feels way too modern and rapish, not something that I would associate with TMNT.
Also, perhaps the most annoying part of the series thus far has been the speech patterns of the Krang. They’re obviously meant to be some sort of comedic relief in their interactions, but the speech just becomes so hard to parse that I’m just finding it a reason almost not to watch the show.
Now that Splinter knows about the Shredder’s forces seeking him and the turtles out, how will that interfere with the continual exploration of the mutagen situation with the Krangs? And, is there going to be a point when the Krangs and Shredder end up working together against the turtles? And, just what are the Krangs’ plans for Earth? They must be on the planet for some reason, and I doubt it is due to high levels of energon.