It shouldn’t come as a surprise that everyone’s favourite group of kickass reptilian ninjas are coming back to TV (even though the movie version seems to have come to a grinding halt). With Nickelodeon now at the helm of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, it seems that while the humour is, in some ways, reminiscent of the original TMNT animated TV series from 1987, it also appears to be very different in a graphic, stylistically modern way. And it also seems to be moving ever closer to the tougher, darker turtles from its graphic novel roots.
Over the years, the Turtles have undergone a number of incarnations. And while they have all been fairly consistent over the various versions, there have been a few differences as well – from art style to character development to their mutation origin to the death of Shredder (the list goes on!).
If you grew up watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, chances are that your childhood was spent watching the 1987 TMNT. Much more lighthearted than the original comic book series, it appealed to families and younger children. Even the live-action movie versions in the 1990s shared that lighter, more humorous appeal.
Following the original animated series came the thankfully short-lived live-action version, Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation. Even Saban, known for its live-action shows (like Power Rangers) couldn’t make this work. It’s common that people either pretend they didn’t know it existed, or really didn’t know.
2003 saw the second animated version come to life, with Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael becoming more complex individual characters. Along with their more serious traits, the show itself had much more action. Which led to 2007’s TMNT – an animated movie that took place after Shredder’s defeat. This was a movie meant for the kids who had grown up watching the Ninja Turtles in their childhood, and again the characters were more fully developed. Darker and grittier, it proved that the turtles could be taken seriously even outside of the comic version. But it was also meant for an older audience than the TV shows were.
This year’s incarnation marks the third animated TV series for these sewer-dwelling ninjas. Though this time the masked vigilantes won’t be as serious as their 2007 movie versions, the trailer below looks to show more bad ass turtles than previous TV counterparts. Executive producer Ciro Neili explained in a EW interview:
“I tried to boil it down and get to really what’s at the core of it”, he said. “Which is this sense of brothers and camaraderie. Everything grew out of that. It’s like a band. You want a Beatles thing.”
I for one am excited to see a blend of silly humour and a darker, tougher tone working together. And with talents such as Jason Biggs (Leonardo), Sean Astin (Raphael), Rob Paulsen (Donatello), Greg Cipes (Michelangelo), and Mae Whitman (April O’Neil) cast, it looks to be coming together great. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is set to premiere on September 29, 2012.