Review & Comparison! OS TMNT 3 to Nick TMNT

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This is the day I would normally write a review about the newest episode of Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I would go on about the plots, characters, favorite scenes, and if I like or don’t like the changes made to characters in the show.  These are normally fun write ups sharing my inside view of the Nickelodeon series.  And while I wish I could say these are weekly, they’re not.  Nickelodeon every now and then takes a break, making us fans hold our breath just a little bit longer in waiting for the next installment of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  So what do I do?  I re hatch the old series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Today I’ll do a review comparision of the third episode of the original series, comparing it to the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant NInja Turtles series.  Hope everyone enjoys this read.

 

I reviewed and compared the Nickelodeon theme song to the original series theme song.  So I’m not going to start there.  This review will all be about the episode itself.  This episode is “A Thing About Rats”, for me it’s very special as it is the first episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I ever watched.  In this episode we get to see the Mousers, meet Baxter Stockman, and Michaelangelo sees Krang for his first time.  Giving us lots to look at, and compare to the other versions of TMNT.

The episode starts off with the Turtles looking after Splinter.  He’s tired from their battle with Shredder, and the Turtles are mad at the Shredder for everything that has happened.  They decide to make Shredder pay for what he done by turning Splinter back into a human.  Leonardo asks April to stay with Splinter, as the Turtles head off to find the Technodrome.

This is a nice intro to the episode showing that it picks up right after “Enter the Shredder”.  Shredder may have lost that battle, but he left his mark and the Turtles are not just going to sit back and ignore this.  We get to see that Splinter took more than he really should've handled and it lasted into a second episode.  A short intro, but fitting and straight to the point onto why the Turtles have to find Shredder.  There has been few other series that have picked up on this where an injury last with one of the lead TMNT character for more than one episode.  The 4Kids series did this a lot, one of the biggest times for seeing the Turtles down would be episode 79. Cousin Sid.

The following scene has an underground city, dirt all around, it’s not caved in here and there does not seem to be any life.  The Technodrome crashes right through the buildings into the area as a long cylinder piece comes from the Technodrome connecting it’s way up towards the surface.  Passing the sewer pipes along it’s trail, into the bottom of what seems to be an old abandoned house.  Shredder emerges from the cylinder that connects the house to the Technodrome.

This is just the opening for this scene alone.  I always found it interesting.  Wondering about the story behind this lost underground city that the Technodrome just rolled right into.  It seems as if there should be a story there.  And I’m curious how Shredder knew of this abandoned house that he just crashed.  The lack of information on the location, reminds me a lot of how things are going in the Nickelodeon series right now.  Baxter Stockman had a large warehouse type building to hide in for “I think his name is Baxter Stockman”, we never learn how he got it if he’s an unemployed worker who’s putting his money into armor suits.  If this building was empty and he found it or if he chased people out of it with his T-Pod armor suit.  At least here we see the building was empty and Shredder just took it for his own needs.

Shredder opens up a device with buttons and releases a bunch of fly like computers that fly out of the house that he’s in.  As we go to the next scene showing Baxter’s hand releasing a rat into a maze. He explains to a man next to him what his Mousers do.  And how it can solve the Cities Rat problem.  At this time we see Shredder is watching as the events unfold on a screen in front of him as his little fly cameras are watching Baxter.  Shredder decides this could help with his rat problem as well.  Baxter asks the man if AJAX Pest Control would be interested in his invention.  The guy chases him out saying this would put him out of business.

This is a different version of Baxter Stockman than any other universe of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The very first appearance of Baxter in TMNT history can be found in Mirage Vol. 1 issue 2 released in October 1984.  Baxter was a black man, with a lot of success.  His Mousers were not being sold to pest control companies, but being displayed on the news.  He was a Genius and well known for it.  The original cartoon is the first version to give us a white man for Baxter, and the only two universes to copy this was the Archie Comics and the “Coming Out of Their Shells Tour”, the longer version which can be found on VHS.  They were based more on the original cartoon series.  Sadly after Chicago on the tour the character of Baxter was removed from the show.

In the 4Kids series we were given a Baxter who was much like the Mirage comic version, he was introduced in the second episode “A Better Mousetrap”  and became one of the longest lasting villains in the 4Kids series.  Another version of Baxter out there goes to IDW, a man working for Krang.  He is behind the Mutations of the Turtles and Splinter, the owner of the company that April works for and is now working on the Technodrome.

Currently most fans know of the newest version of Baxter Stockman which can be found on the Nickelodeon series in episodes like “I think his name is Baxter Stockman” and “Mousers Attack!”.  This version of Baxter seems to be a mix between the famous Baxter who had the wealth and power and the weak Baxter who was a bit of a joke in the original cartoon.

In this scene Baxter is unsure of himself.  He knows his invention works, but admits that he needs a company to back him.  And seems nervous asking this pest control place to back this invention.  It could be that Baxter himself has been turned down before by other pest control businesses for the same reason, which is the reading I got off of him.  He’s not a bad guy, but someone looking to make a living with his skills.  It’s a nice intro moment to show us how he really stands, and just his face to the public eye.

Once kicked out of AJAX Baxter meets the Shredder, who introduces himself as a man interested in reproducing the Mousers at a vass scale.  Baxter reply to this is “It’s about time that somebody discovered me”.  Down in the sewers the Turtles are searching for the Technodrome with no luck.  Back to Shredder and Baxter now at the abandoned house, Baxter is unimpressed by Shredder’s place and is questioning if he has a big company.  Shredder gives Baxter his orders as Bebop and Rocksteady show up dropping computer stuff in front of Baxter.  When Shredder leaves, Baxter observes that the Shredder must “Really have a thing about rats”.

Here we get to see how Baxter meets the Shredder and starts to work for him.  And to show a little bit of time passed so they could get to the base they use a scene to show what the Turtles are still up to.    Personally I like the idea of seeing how Baxter meets the Shredder.  It disappointed me in the 4Kids series we did not get to see this.  Dreamwave comics which was based on the 4Kids series did take a moment to share how Baxter got into the Foot Clan, though the comic did not last long and was not really known by a lot of TMNT fans.  Nickelodeon is taking after the original cartoon series, by letting us see the Shredder’s first meeting with Baxter and how he began working for the Foot Clan.

My biggest question here is, this is the first time we really see Shredder try to do anything above ground.  He had a full block of businesses from Pizza places to Laundromat.  So why didn’t he use one of the buildings there, to show that he is a big business to Baxter?  We know one of the buildings got washed away, but what happened to all the other buildings on the block?  One of the biggest questions of the series.

The Turtles are searching the sewers still for the Technodrome.  Deciding to look all around, they check up one of the ladders and find they’re below a subway.  While Shredder is in the Technodrome having the machines there copy the Mousers.  Shredder gets called away from his pet project by Krang, as Krang complains about how Shredder has not made him a new body.  Shredder says defeating the Turtles and Hamato Yoshi is more important than giving him a new body.  As Krang wishes failure upon the Shredder.  Shredder goes back to find they have twelve done already.  Instead of waiting for the first batch to be made, Shredder sends these twelve mousers out on the hunt for Hamato Yoshi.  The Turtles are still searching the sewers, with no sign of the Technodrome anywhere.

It feels as if the Turtles are just being fillers to let us know where they’re at.  Just showing they’re not in Shredder’s way.  This episode has been all about Shredder and how he’s getting to the point of having his mousers take on the Turtles and Splinter.  We get to see the Mousers being made.  We get to hear Krang whine to Shredder about not having his body.  And we get to see Shredder making his first rash decision with the mousers against the Turtles. At this time Bebop and Rocksteady are not as much of a joke to what they later became to the series.  As they’re doing their jobs right here and not messing up.

Back at the Turtle’s lair Splinter is starting to feel better, as April is deciding to check in at home.  She has not had a chance to do this since the Turtles entered her life.  Once April leaves Splinter goes to mediate and finds that his quiet does not last long as mousers break through the walls.  The mousers attack Splinter, as Splinter is trying to fight back it seems he’s being overwhelmed.  Just as the Turtles come in and save the day.  Once the Mousers are destroyed they find Baxter Stockman’s name on the foot and decide that they should all go to April’s apartment to find a lead to this Baxter, hoping that will lead them to the Shredder.

Mousers vs. Turtles has been something that Ninja Turtle fans have seen since the second issue of Mirage TMNT.  A fun fight against tiny machines that are out to kill.  The first time the mousers found the Turtles lair was in that comic as well, where Splinter was missing when the Turtles returned from their fight with Baxter.  The 4Kids series also had the Mousers find the Turtles lair, and was the very first fight the Turtles had before going above the streets to find the Purple Dragons in the episode “Things Change”.  So far the only world that has mousers, which has not attacked the Turtles lair yet is Nickelodeon’s TMNT.

Another thing that this episode has in common with the Nickelodeon series is Donatello not knowing who Baxter Stockman is.  Here we hear him question who is Baxter Stockman.  Mirage and 4Kids both made Baxter a well known scientist so Donatello knew of him.  Personally I am a fan of the well known Scientist part, for the reason that we can see where Baxter had the money to come up with a gadget like the Mouser.  Instead of coming out of nowhere with this sort of technology.  This is a personal opinion of course.  As I do feel there are great minds out there who can invent stuff without being known, but to invent the stuff they need to have money and access to things that are normally out of reach.  Mousers seems like one of those items to me that takes money to get where he was with it.

Shredder sees that all twelve of his mousers are out of order.  He’s upset about this, though knows that the Turtles will not be able to defeat twelve hundred mousers.  Meanwhile April is back in her apartment and getting cleaned up.  Glad to be out of the sewers, to her surprise the Turtles arrive at her door asking for her help in finding Baxter Stockman.  She sends Splinter to rest, and tells the Turtles to stay out of trouble.  At this point we see each of the Turtles getting into something at the house.  Michaelangelo with frozen pizzas, Donatello messing with her phone that has messages from work and Raphael making up a bubble bath.  When April comes out she sees the mess the Turtles made, gives them their information on Baxter and sends them out of her apartment.

When I was a kid I found this part funny.  Though now as a grown up, I got mixed feelings on it.  Michaelangelo has shown he knows about making pizzas down in the sewers.  So why would the Master of the whirling pizzas, not understand how to make a frozen pizza or to at least read the directions?  Donatello has been keeping the sewer running and is even going to introduce the Turtle Coms into the series soon.  So his confusion to an answering machine seems a bit simple for him to be baffled by.  A vacuum,  blow drier, or a lot of different things that could've been in the kitchen would've made more sense for Donny to be confused with.  The main thing about that was hearing April get in trouble with her boss for missing for so long.  Now Raphael, that one I understand.  He read the directions, took them wrong and made a mess.  Out of the Turtles, his trouble making is the thing that I could see happening.

This is the first time in TMNT history where the Turtles were bad house guests.  Though they have shown knowledgement from TV and comics in this series.  So they should have some awareness to what they’re doing.  They don’t behave like that in their own lair.  It reminds me of how in the 4Kids series they had the Turtles very street smart, but they made Casey Jones the bad house guest in “The way of invisibility”.  Thankfully this did not become a running gag in any of the series.

Baxter Stockman is done building the master control.  Shredder asks if he will stay to see the labor his work, as Baxter declines since he has not slept all night.  Shredder sends some Foot Soldiers to take out Baxter.  While the Turtles are heading to Baxter’s place, they are surprised with how upset April was with them.  Leonardo gets them to focus on the job at hand, in case Baxter has made anymore of these robots.

At this point, it could have gone any way for Baxter Stockman.  He was an innocent brought in to make his invention which was just to help with pest control.  Now sent home, with robots following to destroy him.  One would think that he could become a good guy and work with the Turtles after being put in such a dangerous spot.  This is the only version of Baxter, that did not make the mousers with ill intentions in mind.  He was not robbing banks or seeking revenge upon others who hurt him.  He was a brilliant mind who wanted to be known.  Which makes this Baxter the most different and unique Baxter to date.

Baxter pulls up in his van outside his place, as he heads in the Foot Soldiers come up behind him.  As he asks them what they want, the Turtles jump in and take out the Foot.  They tie up Baxter and ask him questions about the Mousers, getting Baxter to share where the Shredder is.  As they take this information they realize they need to travel fast and take Baxter’s van, which is filled with useful stuff.  Donatello realizes if Shredder has hundreds of mousers as Baxter says, that April and Splinter must be in danger.  The Turtles change their course to save April and Splinter.

This often troubles me, when the Turtles see someone in danger and instead of realizing this could be a chance to make peace they turn it into a bad spot.  They saved Baxter from Foot that were about to kill him, why would they tie him up?  This could've been the moment to say, your robots are being used for evil.  Will you do the right thing and work with us on stopping them, or are you going to be a part of the problem?  True I love Baxter as a villain in this series, but it’s just a big moment where you see how it’s handle and asked that “What if” question.

Two things to note here... one is what happened to Leonardo?  We see him getting into the back of the van but we don’t see him when Donatello is talking about the fact that these mousers can find Splinter and April.  The animators got lazy?  There is also a color mistake here when Donatello is saying “If there’s hundreds of them now”, he has an orange mask.

Back at April’s apartment she gets the mess cleaned up from the Turtles and realizes something is trying to break in through the walls.  April wakes up Splinter as they open a door and see the mousers, Splinter has her arm herself.  April and Splinter fight back as many mousers as they can.  The Turtles bust in through a balcony door and start to fight the mousers back, but when the money starts to shake they grab April and Splinter getting back to the ropes they came in on flinging away from the building to watch it cave in.  April comments that they don’t build them like they use too, as Raphael remarks that they gotta go find the Shredder.

I have a love hate thought with this scene here.  I love that April is fighting back and making differences.  Using her rolling pin and pan she’s hitting the mousers away from Splinter and her.  She’s making a difference and showing some real defense here.  An inspiration that April could've learned self defense.  Though what I don’t like is the detachment.  I know if I saw my home crash to the ground the way it did here, it should of been ‘my home...’.  True it’s nice to live, but things of important could've been in that apartment.  And what about all the others who lived there?  That building was not emptied out... people could've died.  It was all made light for a kid’s show but that was a serious moment in the series where innocents lost out due to their battles.

The Turtles get to the address that Baxter gave them.  Donatello shares that if Shredder’s master control is taken out, he could use the controller they took from Baxter to take control over the mousers.  The Turtles get ready to head in to stop Shredder’s control, but Michaelangelo suggests that one Turtle would have an easier time than three.  So Raphael wishes Mike luck.  And regretting his idea Michaelangelo heads into the building.  It does not take long before Mike is caught by Shredder.

This is one of many examples where Leonardo does not lead, or even take a chance at leading here.  Raph agreed to Mike’s idea and decided for them that Mike would go in alone.  Of course this fresh into the series the characters are not fully grown into who is who yet.  So who does what best is not decided.  If this was a later season they may have tried to send Leo in, since he’s the most skilled ninja of the group and Shredder is inside that building.  But for the purpose of what happened inside, Mike was the best choice for the writers to make things come out the way that they did for the show.  And of course as a kid I had no complaints whatsoever, I was just wondering how Mikey was going to get out of this fixing.

Shredder now sees that the other Turtles are here.  As Shredder works at giving the Mousers new orders, Michaelangelo works at trying to break free from being tied to a chair.  The Mousers start to go after the other Turtles, yet Mike is still tied to the chair as he’s trying to figure things out he’s told not to move.  Taken by surprise by the new voice.  Outside the Turtles are surrounded and realizing that Michaelangelo has not shut down the master control yet.  Mikey is freed by Krang as he’s told where the Master controls are he questions Krang.  Krang warns him his friends are in danger and to hurry.

I like this scene because you see how sneaky Krang is.  To get what he wants, he’s willing to save Michaelangelo and make sure that the Shredder loses.  Making it so Mike is the first turtle to see Krang.  What I don’t get is why Mike questions him on defense.  He has no clue that Krang could be working with Shredder or has any evil to him at all.  The way Mike goes on the defense it’s as if he’s judging by appearance, which is not cool.  That is what they did with Big Foot in the TMNT 2007 movie, were they right or wrong?  We don’t know.  In the Nickelodeon series Michelangelo is the one that sees through appearances with Leatherhead in “It Came From the Depths”, where he yells at the others for judging him when he was fighting the Kraang.  I never like it when characters are judged like that from the Turtles, since they are misunderstood for their own looks.  One would hope they don’t do that to others.  This was a lesson also taught in “Notes from the Underground” in the 4Kids series with the Monsters down there.  Of course we know Krang is evil, so it’s good for Mike to be on guard around him, but Mike just knows this is the guy who saved him from being tied up.

I do really like that this is another thing that Nickelodeon did a throw back too.  Michaelangelo was the first to see Krang in the original cartoon series, so it’s cool to see in “Rise of the Turtles” that Michelangelo would be the first one to see a Kraang.  That is one of my favorite touches in the first episode of Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Both times he is the first to see these brain creatures, and his brothers are left not believing him till they see it for themselves.

Outside the Turtles are surround with no way out, as Shredder is watching this and saying his goodbyes to the screen.  Michaelangelo bust through the door.  Shredder shoots at him, trying to take Mike out with his blaster.  Mike uses this to get Shredder to shoot the Master controls.  As Shredder is trying to shoot at Mike, he runs and head dives into the wall, breaking through as his escape.  The mousers stop attacking as April and the turtles are excited that Mike was successful on his mission.  Donatello gives new orders to the mousers sending them after the building.  Shredder makes his escape to the Technodrome taking off as the Mousers bring the house down.

I love that Mike did the blast your own control thing with the Shredder.  Bebop and Rocksteady we think we’ll see that kind of stupid move with, seeing as how they are written to be dumb.  Though Shredder is suppose to be a lot smarter, for me this is Shredder so caught up in the moment, that he does not realize how smart these Turtles can be.  He has not been fooled enough times.  So he makes a mistake, with no one to blame but himself.

Once the building is down the Turtles now think of Michaelangelo and goes running search the rubble left from the building.  Raphael finds Mike as he tosses in a joke.  As the battle is won, but the Technodrome got away.  Donatello is deciding to rig up the van to help them track the Technodrome.  As Mike decides to try and tell the others about the talking brain he saw.  When he admits that it’s weird Raph makes the closing joke of the episode.

It does trouble me even now that the Turtles did not wait till Mike was safe before sending mousers to destroy the building.  They put taking down the Shredder above Mike’s safety which is out of character for them.  It’s also cool to that Don is already talking about turning this van into what we come to know as the Turtle van.

There is some mess ups here at the end.  When the Turtles get into the van, April is driving, Mike’s in the middle and Raph is sitting next to him. In the back we have Leo with Don in the middle and Splinter behind Raph.   Though when Raph is making his final joke we have Mike driving, Don leading over the seat between them and Raph where he was.  But the voice is coming out of Donatello instead of Raphael.  If this was Nickelodeon’s series, it would be the right voice.  But this is the original show.  This scene looks like it’s reused from earlier in the show when they first took the van and Donatello was explaining how the Mousers would be going after Splinter.  So once again, these animation cels bring us the mistakes of this episode.

All in all this is one of my favorite episodes.  As I became a fan through this episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  It was in reruns when I first saw it, on Channel 20 in the Detroit, Michigan area.  The show was on at 3:30pm.  At the same time Chip & Dale was on channel 50.  After I learned of Ninja Turtles they stayed on channel 20 at that time for years, as I would race home from school to see it.  And this episode is the one that hooked me to the series.   Written by David Wise.  Introduction of Baxter Stockman.  April O’Neil showing she can do some self defense.  A wonderful episode with a few bloopers for some laughs.

Have you seen “A Thing About Rats” from the original TMNT Cartoon series?  What is your thoughts on this episode?  Please share reviews, comments, and questions below!

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Comments

Maybe the people in the other apartments heard the sounds, but left the building, frightened, while April and Splinter fought off the mousers.

Michele Ivey's picture

Have a hard time that people on the upper floors or even a few floors down would of heard them hitting the mousers around. That is just a scene that does not work for me... as I feel that there would be more than a "They don't build them like they use to" line at the end of the apartment building.