Friday, September 14, 2018

SepTMNTber - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003)

I'll admit, this show passed me by when it came out.  At the time, I was in the Air Force and working on my own creative projects and didn't have time to watch much in the way of cartoons, and what I did see was generally on Cartoon Network.  Still I caught some of the network shows.  I watched the new He-Man cartoon and a lot of the shows designed by Jeff Matsuda (The Batman, Jackie Chan Adventures), and my personal favorite of the lot, X-Men Evolution.  But somehow this new Turtles series just eluded me.

With the rest of SepTMNTber, I had to give it a watch and I decided to go the route of my Villain Retrospects and check out the first three episodes, just to get a taste of it without going down the Turtle hole, as it were.  And what I discovered is that I really missed out on a good show.

But first, let's talk about that horrible theme song.  For some reason they went against the trend of the early 2000's and had an actual intro song instead of some techno or orchestral music.  I think that was a huge mistake, especially as it had to compare to the far superior theme to the original cartoon.  I mean, why not just update that song?  Why not incorporate parts of it at the very least?  Instead we get "Turtles count it off!" whatever that means.  There's 4 Turtles, we get it, jeez.

Next, I'm looking at the art style, which definitely fits in with the more angular designs and darker colors of its era.   I love the fact that the Turtles took after their original toy designs and got different colored skin and shells.  It's such a cool touch that I wished could have been in the original.  Their white eyes remind me a bit too much of Batman, but it makes sense.  Batman's influence doesn't end there as so much of the show is bathed in black shadows, which suits the Turtles well since, you know, they're ninjas.

The Turtles all fit their respective attitudes, with Raph retaining the angry, rebellions personality, which has him fighting with Leo a lot.  Maybe someone that read the comics could tell me - was Raph always like this, or was it something they came up with for the first movie and everything else just kept it going?  Splinter remains almost the same as his previous incarnation except keeping the origin from the movie (or comics, I need to pick them up someday, but not for SepTMNTber).

April does go back to her comic role as Baxter Stockman's lab assistant, but her introduction to the Turtles remains the same - saved in the sewers, faints, etc.  She's lost the yellow jumpsuit but retains the red hair.  Baxter gets an update from the original cartoon, now he's confident to the point of arrogance, which I certainly prefer.  Shredder makes a few brief appearances in the three episodes I saw, but never in his bladed armor, only wearing a robe and issuing orders to his minions.

Voice work is pretty good, though I don't recognize any of them actors besides Michael Sinterniklaas, who plays Dean in the Venture Bros.  Overall, I think this entry in the Turtles' history shows great promise and I do plan to watch more of it.  I loved the art style, and that there seems to be an overarching story instead of just standalone episodes.  I wish I had caught it as it had come out because I missed a fantastic show that would have kept me hooked.

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