Ahead of its official launch in September, Nickelodeon has released the first episode of new Turtles ‘toon, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Turtles. The series opener, Mystic Mayhem, is available to watch on Nick’s YouTube channel, but is it worth 22 minutes of your time or is the series the dumpster fire that some fans claim it will be?
Well, having watched the first episode I can safely say it’s good. In fact, I really enjoyed it.
All of the fans who have said ‘it’s not my Turtles – I’ll never watch it‘ (before they’ve even watched an episode), need to chill out a bit and pop the first episode on. After giving it a whirl they might realise that the arrival Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles does not signal the age of the apocalypse.
If I was a kid watching this first episode (and remember, that’s who it’s aimed at), I know for sure that within an hour of watching it I’d pop it on again. I’d then want to rush out to the nearest toy shop to see if any of the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys were available.
Am I saying it’s as good as previous Turtles ‘toons? No – but it’s certainly no worse and I know it will get young audiences excited about Turtles in the way I was excited about Turtles when I was a kid.
There are elements of the Turtles mythology that have been altered for this new take on the TMNT, with a few tweaks to the characters too. Some of these work, some not so much.
For example, in this version of the Turtles, Splinter seems to be an uninterested doddering old fool – certainly not the wise and sharp ninja master we’ve all come to love. Maybe this will work within the context of the show, maybe it won’t, but I’m not worried about this change as it’ll either stick, it’ll alter over time or it will be ignored in later revamps.
Likewise, for this new series Raphael is the leader of the group, taking on the role traditionally reserved for Leonardo. While this seems odd at this stage of the series, I have a feeling this will alter over time as we work closer to the more established mythology.
So, yes, there are changes, but we’ve had changes before – the inclusion of Venus, the fifth Turtle in The Next Mutation being a prime example. If the changes work out then they work out, and if they don’t then the status quo will resume eventually.
Of course, some of the changes are very welcome. In this first episode the Turtles get new weapons, with Leo getting a sword that allows him to open up portals! It’s pretty cool.
On first appearance these new weapons seem like they will be a lot of fun and have the potential to offer up some great visual moments in later episodes. Plus, it’s good to give the Turtles new weapons to shake things up a little.
Another change is in the villain; for the moment this is going to be a Shredder-less series, so a new villain has been drafted in to take his place as the Turtles’ chief adversary. That villain is Baron Draxum – who not only sounds good (he’s voiced by John Cena) he also looks pretty striking too!
Speaking of visuals, the animation on display in this ‘toon is a heck of a lot of fun and is reminiscent of the work of Genndy Tartakovsky. It’s also nice to see the Turtles back in 2D – an animation style that is less popular these days, but for me is much more expressive than 3D.
Right, I’ve talked about the old & new, time to actually speak about the episode itself. So, what does Mystic Mayhem offer up as a season opener?
Well, in addition to all of the above, Mystic Mayhem presents a story which sees the Turtles and April O’Neil cross paths with Baron Draxum in order to rescue a mutant, teleporting dog. The situation descends into a fight, with the Turtles handed their asses and shown to not be the trained ninjas we’ve come to expect.
It is also established that Draxum is responsible for mutations and he has a way to spread mutations rather rapidly. This ability to spread mutations – via mutant mosquitoes – will allow for the creation of new characters in future episodes and no doubt some rather wacky villains.
As a season opener, Mystic Mayhem does what it needs to do, by setting up the Turtles, introducing the chief villain and establishing the tone of the series – which has comedy and action a-plenty. All-in-all, based on the strength of Mystic Mayhem I’m sold on the show.
Will Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles become my favourite Turtles series? No, I don’t expect it will – that spot is currently reserved for Nick’s previous series – but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy this one too.
We’re now four Turtles cartoons in, to what I have no doubt will be a long and varied legacy for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in animation. So far, based on Mystic Mayhem, I’d say we’ve been fortunate to have four very good Turtles ‘toons and that is cause for celebration.
If you want to watch the first episode of Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles then check out the video below, courtesy of Nickelodeon. Now when are those action figures going to hit stores?!