Here we are: The Nickelodeon era of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has officially begun… though I suppose if one counts IDW’s comics, it began a year ago. But this being the cartoon show on a major cable network with a prominent toyline attached… one can bet this is what people are going to think of when they bring to mind Nick’s TMNT.
And what did I think? Well, they only had a “preview” episode, part one of two, with both parts airing later today… for some reason. But based on this one episode? I’m really liking it! It’s fresh and different, but not so different that I feel alienated. They tweaked the Turtles’ backstory slightly, making Hamato Yoshi the original owner of the four, rather than just happening upon them. That’s cool, streamlines things a bit, and now I no longer feel bad for the kid who lost his pets. Plus, they brought back the Splinter = Yoshi idea, rather than merely being his pet. I used to prefer that, then the other grew on me, but I can go either way now.
They’ve tweaked other ideas, too, and better still? They make sense. The Turtles aren’t a well-oiled machine yet; each are capable, but don’t know how to work as a unit. Sure, seeing them move around like pros in 4Kids’ version was cool, but I like this as well. Similarly, we get to see their first-ever encounter with pizza:
They don’t experience it until they finally venture to the surface; again, it just makes sense.
The personalities are great, and it’s neat to see them actually feel young and inexperienced; this is most evident in Leonardo, who doesn’t seem to be the “mature, sensible, born-to-be-leader” type. Instead, it’s more of an aspiration for him, as he looks to a Captain Kirk-esque figure on television to give him some sense of what a leader should be. In addition, when the subject of who should be leader comes up, everyone nominates themselves– a sharp contrast from the original cartoon, where none of the others wanted to be leader.
There are plenty of other fun moments, such as Splinter “meditating on who should be leader” (at least they didn’t jerk us around on that one). Splinter is as wise and enigmatic as ever, but in a way which is more fun for the viewer than just having him watch soap operas while the boys are out.
Some of the cartoonish reaction shots and other Teen Titan-esque “anime” moments are a little over-the-top, but didn’t feel too abundant to me. Besides, I have a feeling internet feedback and time will probably see the edges sanded off of those moments.
All in all, based on the first part of the first episode: I love it so far, and look forward to more.