Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Same Old Turtles, Younger and CGI'd

Bringing back Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, again, is one of those signs that media conglomerates just aren’t interested in developing new properties. Sure, it’s more cost-efficient than doing something new, and yes, it’s possible that if one company don’t take a stab at developing a new platform for the property, the rights may revert to or be picked up by some other company or individual. And worse than not having it is losing it and seeing someone else succeed with it.

So what’s the deal with Nickelodeon's new incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? All the well-established bits are in place: The ooze, the mutations, the turtles’ personalities (Leo’s the leader, Mike’s the goofball, Don’s the brains, and Ralph’s the sarcastic one), their love of pizza, April O’Neil, the Krang are in robotic bodies, and Shredder and Splinter have an old score to settle.

There’s not a whole lot of variation on these elements. Everyone’s been de-aged a bit (the turtles and April are 15 years old) to appeal to a younger demographic, I suppose. I wonder if this is really an issue. When I was younger, I never really had a problem with characters in cartoons who were older than me, and kids don’t seem to have any problem liking clones like Cody and Rex in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, so I don’t know that a character's age is ever a real thing, or if producers and studio executives just think it is.

Perhaps what’s missing the most is the surfer slang that marked the earlier incarnations of the franchise. Gone are words like "gnarly" and "radical" and, most importantly, "cowabunga." There’s not a solid replacement for this—though the reportedly ad-libbed “Booyakasha!” is probably going to stick around—and I’m pretty sure that’s okay. While the surfer slang might’ve felt contemporary and cool in the late '80s and early '90s, it’d be a little out of place now, and I don’t know that internet parlance (“I can haz pizza?”) would necessarily fit either.

But today's first episode was a tad on the bland side. If you’re familiar with the turtles, their interactions will feel rote, with nothing to really differentiate them from earlier versions. And even if you’re not familiar with them, the struggles of a team attempting to work together will feel a tad old-hat as well. The turtles' first confrontation with the Krang-bots in the pinstripe suits was rife with those, “Why are you hitting me?!” and near-miss friendly fire incidents.

Even the plot—invading Krangs and Shredder on a mission of vengeance—is well-trodden. I get the need for these elements to be present, but neither feels very re-worked or special to this particular iteration. There’s still plenty of time for surprises, but in laying the groundwork, this pilot didn’t really do anything new.

So this new series is resting on the animation to help set it apart, and insofar as it’s a CGI series, the animation does set it apart from the earlier Turtles shows. I’m not a big fan of CGI animation on TV, but I found myself liking it here. One reason is that the characters sometimes take on a look of almost being papercraft-ish, and that’s when it really shines for me, and feels different from other CGI animation on TV. The backgrounds and buildings especially have this paper quality, and the show’s darker color palette gives it some real atmosphere.

I also like, and I imagine this will be a divisive opinion, the show’s use of little manga flourishes, including the omake-inspired round eyes, lines around heads, and even the “I’m angry!” symbol appearing on foreheads. It gives the animation, and the show as a whole, a little more personality.

While I may sound down on the premiere episode, I didn’t really hate it (I didn’t really like it either, though). Kind of like with CBS’s new Elementary series, the question that bears asking is, “Why do we need another version of X?” And Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, at least in its debut, didn’t make a compelling reason for existing (beyond selling ancillary merchandise, of course). I think it has the potential be successful and a fun show, but I don’t know that I see the potential for it be much more than that.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with being a fun show. Its target audience is just looking for fun while it munches on cereal in its pajamas, but with animation’s crossover appeal ever more visible, I don’t know that the series has much nostalgic value for those older fans who may be interested in seeing a revitalized childhood favorite.


Note: Next week, I'll fold Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into a new weekly animation round-up that includes Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Green Lantern: The Animated Series, and Young Justice. Here's this week's inaugural edition!

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April O'Neil sucks! If you agree check out: https://www.facebook.com/April-ONeil-SUCKS-176130602751019/
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This show is a absolute disgrace to TMNT i have watched the 2003 and 80's series. Both of those are 100000% better then this show and don liking april just no, thst is for casey. 1/10
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Show is great. Characters, humor, villains are all well written and fun. Easy to see why this has already been picked up for a second season. I'm 28 and am a big fan of all shows and films- not afraid to say this is the most fun and enjoyable iteration yet!
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Personally, and this is just my opinion, but I absolutely LOVE this show. The animation style is great. Reminds me of Teen Titans. In fact, the whole show gives off a Teen Titans vibe. I'd heard that some of the people responsible for TT were involved with this - I don't know for sure or not - but I definitely get that feel. The character designs are flawless and each turtle actually feels unique. Leonardo actually HAS a personality! Most series just stick him in as the Leader and don't really expand on him. In this series, they actually go the extra mile and make him this kinda lovable heroic dork who doesn't realize how lame he sounds. It's hilarious too. Its been a while since I've laughed out loud at a show targeted at children. I also love how they seamlessly blend elements from the old shows, comics, and movies all together in this new product so you're pleasing new fans and old followers alike. I'm looking forward to this show every week now - and my three year old nephew adores it.
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Greg Cipes from Teen Titans plays Michaelangelo
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I can see where this show kept elements from the original series and for good reason. They worked, and help build a great franchise. Overall though, it is a bit lacking. The cgi's turtles arent as bad as their last incarnation and I cant say i care much for the manga style elements. Plus aside from the turtles and other characters, background art really is non existent which really take away from the end product. its interesting to see another incarnation as Ive always enjoyed the TMNT run over the years. Plus it was very cool to hear a familiar voice for Donnie (even though he voiced Raph originally) . Overall, not too bad so far but I'd like to see a larger sampling to see how it pans out.
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I though it was Awesome. Finally something to look forward to Saturday mornings! TMNT 2012 is definitely worth checking out.
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I haven't seen this show yet. but I get the feeling I'm going to hate on it. The Turtles look like they were made of paper. Oh well, let's hope it's good.
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As a HUGE fan of the early turtles cartoon and movies (first 2 anyways) I must say this is awful. I finally got around to watching the dvr and could barely get through the first 15 mins. First, I couldn't get past the cgi that looks like a 10 year old created it. Second, the story isn't even close to the original (splinter was originally a human?). The only reason I am glad that this show returned is the new action figures to add to my collection. And everyone should grab them now cause I don't see this version of the show lasting very long...
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As it gets renewed for season 2. ::face palm::
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Staff
Splinter's origin gets changed each time though it's typically one or the other: In the comics and the movies, Splinter's a pet rat who gets mutated. In the first animated series, he's a human who becomes a rat, like here.
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First time ive ever seen a TV.com reviewer comment on(defend) his/her own review before. Interesting.
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Am I not supposed to...? I mixed it up with comments in essay-length pieces during the summer on Korra and Avengers.



I will say that I'm not interested in this being a limited exchange, with me giving thoughts and you all commenting. Those posts are just my thoughts, and I hope it spurs people to leave their own. Conversation is good so if you see me up on a byline, I'll likely be in the comments as well, replying and defending and agreeing.
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Many TV.com writers give only limited replies in comments, I think due more to time constraints than anything else. I think the more feedback, the better though, so right on Noel!
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Staff
Likewise: Is there more discussion in the forums, or are conversations largely segregated between forumists and postists? Will a civil war erupt between these two factions? Will Ken Burns make a 10-hour documentary about it?
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I'm going to earn my freelancer pay. ...That helps offset the taxes I end up paying on it, right?
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Very happy with what I saw. Can't wait to see more.
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I love ninja turtles, but I watched about 20 minutes of this and it was just such a huge let down. They made Non too much of a nerd, Mike was never that stupid and Leo was never that much of a suck up. I miss the old cartoon from the late 80's.
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I'm not a big ninja turtles fan, but this does look promising. I like how they got Rob Paulson (who voiced Raphael in the 80's cartoon) to voice Donatello in this one. I'm also surprised that they got some big names on this show. They got Jason Biggs (Jim from American Pie) to voice Leonardo and Sean Astin (Sam from Lord of the Rings) to voice Raphael.
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It makes me sad when the first thing people think of when they hear "Sean Astin" is Lord of the Rings.



RUDY! RUDY! RUDY!
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Turtles with Young Justice animation please.
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so far i liked it, im not a fan of the animation, but it was better than the animation from the last movie.
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Um....What the hell is that, no just no.
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I'll stick with the 80s Ninja Turtles.
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For a real review on the show go take a look at IGN.com. The point of a reboot when it comes to a franchise like this (or superheroes for that matter) is obviously because it'll make money but it also introduces that franchise to a new, younger audience. Its the reason why I sat down with my two sons, 9 and 4, who were too young to enjoy the older shows and movies. The animation is a fresh take without feeling too in your face and the throw back and respect to the previous incarnations (Mikey saying, "that was us." during Splinter's origin tale) was brilliantly respectful. Being someone who grew up on these four turtles, I loved the new take and will be watching it next Saturday and the Saturday after.
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Well, still glad you took the time to read a fake review (though I'm not sure what that means, really). and leave a comment about it, too.



And the point of introducing the franchise to a younger generation is so they'll want to buy the merchandise. The owners of TMNT (note that I say owners, not the day-to-day producers or writers) put this into development not out of some altruistic desire to tell new stories, but to sell a new generation of kids toys.



And while you say they're too young to enjoy the older shows and movies...are they? It's not like there's no access to the older iterations of them (they are all on DVD). They may be too young for the movie, but the first television series is certainly age appropriate if this one is.
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What this guy said! Thank you.
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Don't like the animation at all, or the show so far.
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"the question that bears asking is, 'Why do we need another version of X?'"



Not to particularly defend this show or any other one, but I do understand the need for new versions of old properties, particularly children's shows. Each generation has their own perspective and their own influences so reworking a property to fit a new generation's experience makes sense. But there is still the question of whether they actually added something or changed something that makes it fit with today's conflicts and ideals or speaks in a way that applies to a new audience.
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And it remains to be seen if they're actually adding anything. This pilot doesn't really seem interested in doing that, though.
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They look ugly, the animation isn't all that good, & it looks like crap (just like any other animated series that was once 2D but is now done using all of this CGI garbage).
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Thought it was kind of cool. It's evolved to reach a new and younger audience. I was able to sit there with my kid brother and watch it and we both enjoyed various things.
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liked it
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I didn't bother with this one, the material shown at Comic Con suggested it wouldn't be my speed. One of the major aspects about that was the over-the-top jokey material thrown in all over the place, not unlike the newest Spider-Man cartoon. I don't really see a lot of reference to that here, was that not the case?

The other thing that got under my skin was Don having a thing for April, that's kinda gross - they've been close friends in the past but not interspecies horndogging.

Final thing, Raph is the SARCASTIC one? Not the SUPER ANGRY VIOLENT OVER THE TOP one?
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His anger is pretty tempered here, more in line with sarcasm than anything else. He, is, however, likely the best fighter of the group.
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To be fair he didn't say Raph was the sarcastic one. He said Ralph was.

Hope this clears things up for you.
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Ha! Holy crap, I didn't notice that.

Thanks for the info Noel, I'm gonna stick with my "no thanks" on this show I guess.
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hey what about in the movie when they were watching April report the news in her pad... not much different than what happened here..
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I thought about when you said you weren't a fan of CGI animation on TV. I thought it was good/funny/decent. I also thought about the dialogue as well. Just sayin.
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I thought it was a good reworking of the series. It's hard to keep the story fresh when it's gone through at least five different iterations so far.



I had to laugh out loud at the Star Trek parody. It looked just like the old Filmation series.
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The Star Trek parody!! It slayed me.
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I'm watching it now. I'm 28 and I think I like it. At least the CGI is cool to me. Reminds me of paper mario or Toshiba story. I don't know why one if them has a gap in his teeth tho. Oh big plus is they're not aliens! You think the obvious question to why another TMNT series is the upcoming movie?
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Paper Mario's a good connection, actually, that I didn't think of despite going to a "papercraft" idea. There's a sense of three dimensional flatness in the episode that was about my only big saving grace with the CGI (which I something I tend to loathe).
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Is it me or is this show not on TV.com web site? I cannot seem to find it.
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It isn't. They're working on creating one.
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Thanks. I wonder when it will be up.
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I didn't watch, but my god, that looks like some terrible CGI.
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It's not as bad as it looks. Most of the time anyway.
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when they are fighting it looks real good, I think. When Leo is cutting the robot bodies down he looks bad ass
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Spoilers -- I watched it. April is just a kid and not an adult reporter? Series is cheesy compared to the original cartoon series that I remember. Multiple Krangs? I didn't like it. :(
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In the original comic there was multiple Krangs. Check out issue 3, they've been re releasing them in color through IDW comics. :)
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Kinda thought the SAME thing! More like a teen, though. But same diff.
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It is cheesy. It kind of works, though may not be to everyone's liking.



And the original may be cheese-tastic now...I should buy the complete boxed set and find out. Maybe I can write it off on my taxes.
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