Nickelodeon is bringing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back in an all-new half-hour animated series that kicks off this fall, and to help whet fans' appetites, they've released a series of clips featured at Comic-Con 2012 and the new rap-tastic version of the original series' familiar theme song.
After the initial Ninja Turtle-mania died down in the late '90s, there were several attempts at reviving the property, but the 2007 CGI-animated film and a handful of other animated endeavors (like the 2003 TMNT series and the 2009 Turtles Forever) failed to ignite the dying fires of the once-dominant franchise. Now, showrunner Ciro Nieli thinks he has discovered the right formula to bring the color-coded teenage fighting machines back into the spotlight, by making some small tweaks to the original concept. Nieli's goal is to make an old property feel new without completely rewriting the series' core elements.
By now, every TMNT fan has heard the Michael Bay produced live-action reboot plans to essentially throw the baby out with the bathwater. While Nickelodeon's new series plans to update the characters' design, fans of the series can rest assured that they'll still be four pet-store turtles made anthropomorphic through exposure to some iridescent green goo. Moreover, the series plans to offer updates on several other characters – not unlike the younger version of April O'Neil – by giving the design team free rein on the stylistic choices for familiar faces like the Rat King, Leatherhead, Metal Head and General Traag.
Check out two new clips from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles below:
Stylistically, the characters' blockier animation may take some getting used to, but the technique works well in setting this new series apart from earlier iterations. Beyond the character design, there is also a noticeable anime influence in many of the turtles' expressions – especially those where the scene plays up this series' more humorous, child-friendly tone. Most telling, however, is the way each turtle has identifiable markings or features that set them apart from the others. Gone are the days when the only distinguishable aspect was the color of the bandana, choice of weapon or voice. Here, each turtle has a particular facial or body feature that offers a nice, subtle variation on each of the teenaged warriors, and helps them feel more like a distinct character.
The training clip clearly shows that Splinter (Hoon Lee) has been updated. He appears to be much younger than he was in the '90s cartoon – likely allowing for him to engage in more fisticuffs alongside the four turtles. While the trailer and clips are lacking glimpses of key villains – though we see plenty of stock bad guys playing up the "mutant" angle – there is a pretty decent shot of the new Shredder (who is basically the same, but with a damaged right eye).
As with any other changes, the new theme song will probably have plenty of detractors. While it's no less cheesy (yet enjoyable) than the original series' intro, it does feel humorously out of touch with what might actually appeal to the key demographic. Listening to the theme, one can practically envision television producers snapping their fingers in time with the rhythm and using terms like "hip" and "fresh" to describe the updated song.
That being said, the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles looks like it will have plenty to offer young children and older fans of the nearly 30-year-old franchise.
You can view the second trailer for the new series below:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles premieres Saturday, September 29 @11am on Nickelodeon.