Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – “Rise of the Turtles”

This is the premiere of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon on Nickelodeon.  In this episode, titled “Rise of the Turtles,” Splinter allows his teenage sons to visit the surface for the first time.

The Turtles are sparring.  Michelangelo is talking a lot of smack to Leonardo, when Leo quickly gets the best of him.  Raphael beats Donatello.  Raphael goes on to best Leonardo.  Splinter comes in and talks about the purpose of these exercises being self-improvement, then disciplines Raphael when he keeps bragging about winning.  The Turtles are celebrating their mutation day, which was 15 years ago.  Michelangelo asks to hear the story again.  When Splinter was human, he was leaving the pet store with four baby turtles.  He sees a strange man, and decides to follow him.  He gets into a fight with a group, in which the a canister was broken, mutating them.  Leonardo asks if it’s time to allow them to go to the surface.  In answering, Splinter presents a very confusing yes and no argument.  Eventually though, the Turtles are able to convince Splinter to let them go.  He gives them instructions on not talking to anyone, and staying in the shadows before they leave.  The Turtles get to the surface and are in awe of the city.  Raphael scares a pizza delivery boy, and he rides off, dropping a pizza.  Michelangelo takes the first bite, and loves it.  They all try it, and find it’s much better than their usual worms and alge.  After doing some workouts on the roofs, Donetello spots a girl and her father on the street, and falls in love with her.  A van pulls up, and people in suits pull up, and throw the father into a van.  Despite Leonardo’s objections, they go to save her.  They fights the men in suits, but aren’t very succesful, often getting into each other’s way.  The men in suits drive off with the girl and her father.  Leonardo and Raphael chase off after them.  Michelangelo is left to fight one more of the men in suits.  He gets lucky, and finds out that it’s actually a robot.  He then finds out that there’s a brain being in the robot’s stomach.  The brain jumps onto Michelangelo’s face.  Michelangelo finally gets the brain off his face, and it scurries away.  He tries to tell everyone else, but they don’t believe him.  Splinter takes responsibility for not training them to fight as a team.  He says perhaps in a year they can try again.  Donatello tells him about the girl, and convinces Splinter that they need to save the girl.  Splinter names Leonardo the leader, which angers Raphael. 

Back on the surface, they’re staking out a building that has the same logo as the van, but nothing happens.  As Raphael complains about Leo’s plan, a van shows up.  They confront the driver of the van, who pulls out a laser gun, and fires at them.  He drives off, and the Turtles chase after him.  They’re able to take out the van with a throwing star.  When they open the back door, a canister of ooze rolls out.  Raphael threatens the driver, named Snake, with the mutagen.  He tells him he’s working for a group called Krang, and they’re kidnapping scientists.  Due to Michelangelo’s hunger, he forgets to watch Snake, who then runs off.  They lose him, and Leonardo exclaims loudly to Raphael that they will return at midnight in the van.  Back home, Leonardo comes up with a plan, and Splinter tells him that no plan survives contact with the enemy, and it’s how he adapts that matters.  Splinter tells him about his last fight with the Shredder, in which his wife was killed, and daughter was taken from him.  The girl, April fakes an illness, trying to lure a guard in so they can escape, but she can’t do anything against the guard, so they’re stuck there.  Snake is with several Krangs, and the fan approaches.  it crashes into the front gate and explodes.  Some mutagen gets on Snake, and transforms him.  The Turtles use the distraction to sneak over a wall.  They sneak into the base, and find alien robots.  They defeat the alien robots, and Michelangelo vindicates himself.  While following power conduits, they run into April and her father.  Donatello tries to pick the lock while everyone else is fighting the robots.  Raphael grows tired of waiting, and just repeatedly stabs the lock.  It opens the door, but April and her father are taken out of a back door.  The Turtles follow, but run into the mutated Snake, now a plant like being.

Donatello goes after the helicopter with April while the others fight Snake-weed.  Donatello gets to the helicopter mid-flight, and is able to rescue April after she falls out, but they get away with her father.  Leonardo comes up with a plan to get rid of Snake by blowing up a power conduit.  However, it only appears that Snake is destroyed.  The Krangs say that they need to eliminate the Turtles because they threaten their plans.  They drop April off at her Aunt’s, and vow to find her father.  Splinter tells Leonardo that he is pleased with his actions.  There’s a story on the news about ninjas being in New York after a throwing star was recovered at the scene of the crime.  In Tokyo, the Shredder sees this, and thinks Splinter is forming an army.  He makes plans to travel to New York City.

Overall, I liked this episode.  Coming into it, my expectations weren’t very high.  The commercials that I had seen made it seem that this show would incredibly childish and silly.  But it wasn’t.  Well, it was a little silly, but not overly so.  Not more than it needed to be.  The silliness flowed from the natural progression of the story, and from the characterization of Michelangelo.  And really, I will commend them for wasting no time in establishing characterization.  Granted, it’s not like they really had any decisions to make regarding characterization.  TMNT has been around for decades, and while the details may change from one version to another, the characterization stays constant.  And that’s fine.  You’d have a lot of outrage if suddenly Raphael was sweet and peaceful, or Michelangelo is brooding and mean-spirited.  That wouldn’t work because it goes against everything you’ve known for years.  Kind of like how today’s image of elves and dwarves were set by Tolkien, and people would reject anything different.

I did find it odd that they started with the Krangs.  And these Krangs seem to be a hive mind.  Well, maybe not a completely a hive mind, but something close.  At least, that’s what I got out of it.  But, Shredder was also added in this episode.  Not a big role, but a simple introduction to the character, and the backstory that this series is going to use.

I suggest you check out this episode.  Nickelodeon is replaying it tonight at 6pm, and I imagine that it may be available soon on their website.

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