Review: Nickelodeon 1 Hour TMNT Premiere!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Heroes in a half shell, Turtle power!   Saturday September 29th, 2012 the NEW Nickelodeon TMNT show did an hour long showing with two episodes from the new series.  And if you knew about it, there was a sneak peek of that first episode on Friday September 28th.  What an awesome time for TMNT fan, and one crazy adventure for me to just try and see the new series.  Let me tell you my story...

Everyone who knows me knows that I have been waiting for this new cartoon series even more than wanting the movie to come out.  I find tv series to be longer, more fun for everyone as we have weeks of new stuff to talk about, just so much more character growth and adventures.  So Nickelodeon has had my full attention and I wanted nothing more than to be home and watch this series when it first aired.  Though my plans were to never happen as a road trip would throw some twists at me that I could not prevent.

The plan was simple, leave LA and visit a few places along the trip home.   San Francisco, Portland, Mount Rushmore, Wall Drugs and then I’ll be home for Turtles.  Though we ended up in Portland a day longer than planned.  Mount Rushmore took more time than planned as well as we did a few other things in that area.  I still felt safe we had a few days extra planned in just in case this was to happen.  Though it’s Thursday evening and we had a 20 hour drive ahead of us.  Only plan now was to go to Wall Drugs and just drive all night to get home.   We leave Mount Rushmore, and start the drive getting through Rapid City onto the expressway and bam the car breaks down.   No shop is open, which meant the car would be repaired on Friday and there was no way to get home in time for Turtles!  So I got a hotel room for two nights thinking - at least I can watch Turtles there!   But Nickelodeon was blocked on our tvs at the hotel!!!!

With the help of the hotel staff, we found that the only TV in the building that had Nickelodeon was the breakfast room.  With the help of the awesome staff at the Country Inn & Suites in Rapid City, SD I was able to get it so the breakfast room would have Nickelodeon playing so that I could watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on September 29th!  Oh for people to know we did try other things like finding streaming website we found one that worked early on Friday, but Friday evening when the first episode was airing the streaming site was down so I listened to it over a really bad connection with my mom’s cell phone.  I went around asking friends to record and send it, one friend was able to send me the Friday night show but once we found out the staff was helping us watch the show on Saturday, I did not have that friend record that one for me too.  It just felt like a crazy adventure just to watch Ninja Turtles.

For those who missed the first two episode the story line is about the Turtles turning 15 and asking permission to visit the streets for their first time.  Splinter is overprotective of his students but agrees to their adventure, they head topside find pizza and of course find their first fight which was to try and save a young girl and her father from being kidnapped.  While working on saving the girl they find an ooze canister that contains the same mutagen that changed them giving them even more reason to search into this.  The Turtles go on a big mission into this alien base and find that they’re only able to rescue the girl, April O’Neil.  They promise her that they will help her find and save her father.

This was a two parter, and was really well done.  The animation was fun and flowed nicely, character designs are different and may take time to get use too.  For me I find it funny that April and her father remind me of Penny and her father from the movie Bolt.  Splinter is really tall.  The white on his face does not trouble me as much as I thought it would.  Did not take time to think about the three toes on the Turtles.  The Kraangs were a neat design that reminds one of my friends of a young Judge Frollo from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame.  And I really do think I’m going to like the character of Snake Weed.   A man with a real reason to hate the Turtles.

Leonardo in this show is clearly the student who wants to be the leader the most.  He follows things as needed and tries to be respectful to his teacher.  He admires a captain in a tv series that looks like the old Star Trek cartoons.  When training he speaks Japanese and does try to figure things out, though he’s still a kid and has a lot to learn.  The voice, done by Jason Biggs is good though does not really catch me as anything really special.  He’s not my favorite sounding Leonardo, but he’s not the worse either.  I enjoy the voice works of actors like Cam Clarke, Brian Tochi and Michael Sinterniklaas as Leonardo more.  Though there’s still time for the voice to grow on me.

Raphael is great in this series, his personality is strong.  He wants to be the leader as well, since he knows he’s the strongest Turtle.  He’s got a temper which is a good part of Raph’s known personality.  Though he’s got a pet Turtle which he can open up too.  I really enjoy that Raph liked scaring the pizza delivery guy.  It shows Raph’s mean side.  Sean Astin really has Raph’s voice down great, and is bringing life to him to where I can really respect his work.  He’s up there with Greg Abbey and Josh Pais.  I love it that he is a part of TMNT now, and feel that it is the right casting for the show.

Donatello is smart, clever and curious.  Which is just who Donatello is known as.  As most versions show Don, he’s not the best fighter.  Though no one learns at the same pace as everyone around them.  Don’s brains is more at computers and gadgets, not fighting.  He’s the first of the Turtles to get a crush on April and it’s a bigger crush than any of the past versions of TMNT.  Hoping this blows over in time.  Don is voiced by Rob Paulsen, which I’m still getting use too.  Rob was Raphael in the original cartoon series and while I can see this new voice with Donatello when it replays in my head I hear Barry Gordon’s voice.  Hoping I can adjust more to this change up.  During the show though it does not distract me, as Rob is a great actor and is really pulling us into the character.  I’ve always liked the voices of Barry Gordon, Adam Carl, Jason Gray-Stanford and Sam Regal as the voice of Donatello.  This new twist with Rob being Donny, is the biggest change in his voice done for any series.

Michelangelo is my favorite Turtle, so watching him here I have to take into thought on how Michelangelo plays off.  Right now it seems he’s being used as most versions of TMNT uses him, the comic relief.  It would not be TMNT, if that’s not how he’s first shown.  Though right away they show he’s got a bit of a creative side as he found how to make them a cake.  He’s got the normal hyper Mikey personality and I love how he bounces off of the others.  I also do like that he’s the shortest Turtle.  Mike’s voice is one I have to get use too, as he sounds so much like Beast Boy from Teen Titans to me.  Which is to be excepted as he is voiced by Greg Cipes.  This voice is starting to work for me though for right now I am still more of a fan of Townsend Coleman, Robbie Rist and Wayne Grayson.  Only two episodes in, so I know there’s still time for me to get use to these changes here.

There was many things about this two parter I really did enjoy that gave us the feel of other versions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The opening going straight into a training scene with that music was a nod to the 4Kids series is just one of the many examples I saw during the show.  Like Mikey saying “that was us” during the origin story is from the original live action film.  Though my favorite nod is one to the original cartoon series that I have no seen anyone else mention in their reviews.  The first Turtle to spot see Krang was Michaelangelo in the old toon, and here again Michelangelo is the Turtle to see a Kraang for the first time.  And both times, his brothers do not believe him.  What a wonderful nod to us old school fans.  Something so well mixed in with their own twists, but still clear enough to match.

Like all areas of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles there are flaws right away.  The empty streets of New York City, the city that never sleeps.  I’ve gone through New York at night many times, and while yes not all streets are busy at night time most streets have more than one or two people on them.  A few cars driving by and activities going on all around.  So for the Turtles to come up to empty streets only, it did not feel like they were in good old NYC.  And of course the lack of knowledge of food, they read comics and watch TV... so food ads including pizza would be seen on TV.  And Splinter was once human, so how could he bring himself to eating that stuff?  I’m waiting for a scene that will follow up on why they did not know what pizza was, and Splinter’s reasons for not teaching them of real food.

I do like that when the Turtles saw April in danger they helped, that’s part of what the Turtles do.  I love that April’s dad is Kirby.  I like that it was going out to help April which gets the news attention that there’s Ninjas in New York City.  That is how it was in the original cartoon, they help April and Shredder learns of them.  Now the Shredder is on the hunt for the Turtles in the new Nickelodeon series and the Turtles got no clue of this new threat out to take them out.  I think that the layout of the story was paced nicely.  Just think if they added more people on the streets and the Turtles having an idea of what pizza was from TV, the plot holes would of been filled in just a tiny bit more.

I would love to do a favorite moments write up, though I have to say these two episodes have so many great moments it is hard to pick a favorite.  From them finding pizza, Mikey learning about the Kraangs, to Leonardo’s love for his tv show which even looks like old cel animation.  They did such a wonderful job that I can not wait for the rest of this season.  And this is only the beginning.

I want to thank Ciro Nieli and everyone else at Nickelodeon for bringing us this fun new series.  For making it new and interesting while keeping the character we know and enjoy as close to who we know them for, with just enough twist so that we can have surprises.  I want to thank each of the voice actors for putting their hearts into the series and giving such a wonderful performance.  While I am still getting use to the new sound and look, all of your efforts is making it easy to just get lost into the adventures.

I’ll like to end this with one last strange fact about my adventure in seeing the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cartoon... something that hit me later that day....  I do not feel that it was a mistake for me to see the show in Rapid City, SD.  As I was driving home a memory hit me, a memory that brings me back to October 21st, 2009 I was driving home from leaving Portland.  I just stopped at Wall Drugs and got back on the road, Phoenix was on the phone to keep me company for the drive.  Phoenix was the one to tell me when the news hit “Viacom bought the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”.. I was on I 90 when I got the news.   Now, September 29th, 2012 the premiere date for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Nickelodeon... where did I have to pass through to head home?  I was on I 90 driving in SD.  It just... felt weird to know that I was in the same state... the same road... even went to Wall Drugs....  for two major dates in recent TMNT history.

Did you watch the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cartoon on Saturday?  Or seen reruns since it aired?  If so please share your thoughts, reviews and questions down below!

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