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Heroes In A Half Shell: Turtles Get Animated

Heroes In A Half Shell

Turtles In Animation

There have been three animated series based on the Turtles. Within this blog I’ll be talking about all of the turtles cartoon series, as well as the 2007 CGI film, and Turtles Forever. I’ll also be talking about the NEW Nickelodeon series!!! I will NOT be talking about the abomination that is Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, as it was a live action series, and not very good.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)

The classic Turtles cartoon, that was so different from the comics everyone knew and loved. However this cartoon brought the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into the mainstream. I honestly don’t even know how I started watching TMNT 87 as a kid. It was after Thundercats, Transformers, and all the cartoons I was watching. I do remember having most if not all the Burger King VHS Tapes.

Sadly I only remember watching the first two seasons as a kid. I do remember loving the show, and absolutely embracing Turtles Mania. I really need to go back and watch the entire series. The voice acting was amazing in the series, and the stories were amazingly compelling, fun, and definitely kept a kid’s attention. The theme song is very well remembered, and it’s one of the best cartoon theme songs ever!

The Characters:

I’m only gonna talk about the main cast of characters that was in the 5 part mini series, that kicked of the cartoon. The reason for only talking about these characters is that while I remember most of the others, they are not immediately fresh in my mind.

Leo:

Voiced By: Cam Clarke

Leo is the Leader, and he has the catchphrases to match! A character that always has to think stuff out logically. What I enjoy about Leo is when he’s ready for battle there is no stopping him. His Katana’s were awesome, and they were used so well. Leo also is a rule follower for the most part, this helps and hinders the team at times. Where it helps is that they have to actually come yp with a plan, before taking acrtion. Where it hinders them is that sometimes Leo’s plans are as half baked as Freddy Jones’s plans! I do absolutely love Cam’s voice for Leo, I think it fits the character very well.

Donny:

Voiced By: Barry Gordon

In the four years I’ve been podcasting, and the three nearly four years the GCRN has been online, if people don’t know that my two favorite colors are Black and Purple… well now you know. So Donny having a purple bandanna was right up my alley. I was even Donatello for Halloween one year, because of this cartoon. Barry Gordon voicing Donny was so awesome, because I saw his voice being lent to a villain type in Snorks, and now a hero in Turtles! Donny is the brains of the team, he is always tinkering with stuiff, and building new things for the fearless foursome to use in battle. He made the Turtle Van (YES TURTLE VAN!!! NOT PARTYWAGON DAMNIT!!!) out of spare parts. He also came up with the Turtle Blimp, and a bunch of other stuff. Donny is the kinda guy who loves saying one liners, and is very laid back. I think that Barry Gordon’s voice fit the character very well. Out of the four turtles Donny is my number one favorite.

Mikey:

Voiced By: Townsend Coleman

Mikey is the goofy guy in the crew. He is very outgoing, and always wants to party. He has nuggets of awesome ideas every now and then, he is an aazing fighter, and can hold his own. Mikey loves his pizza, just as his brothers do, but Mikey takes loving pizza to a whole new level. The voice Townsend Coleman does for Mikey sooo fits in with the rest of the team. COWABNGA!

Raph:

Voiced By: Rob Paulsen

Raph in this serious has attitude, but no real anger issues. He’s more snarky, and cynical with his humor. He does love to fight, and has a very sharp wit. Rob Paulsen does an amazing job with the comedic one liners, and his voice for Raphael is just awesome. The attitude the Raph has balances out all the other personalities of the Turtles, and I love his fighting style!

Raph rounds out the team of Turtles, and the fearsome foursome are all very well rounded. Each has his own personality, and I love that about them.

Splinter:

Voiced By: Peter Reneday

Splinter is the Turtles’ Master Sensai, formerly Hamato Yoshi, Splinter now lives the life of a rat. Something that he has embraced very well. In the five part mini series we see that Splinter could be turned back into his human form, but the cost is too high. Splinter loves Sushi, and gives out great advice and teachings to his Turtles.

April O’Neil:

Voiced By: Renae Jacobs

April O’Neil hard hitting news reporter for Channel 6. Renae Jacobs gives April’s voice life. April gets involved with the Turtles, when they have to save her from The Shredder’s goons in the sewer. April is a no nonsense woman, who wants a real life, but her reporter instincts take over when she wants a story.

Vernon:

Voiced By: Peter Reneday

Vernon is a cowardly co worker of Aprils’ he constantly wants her job.

Verne Thompson:

Voiced By: Pat Fraley

Verne is the head of the Channel 6 TV Station. We normally see him when April is at the station. He has a great voice done by Pat Fraley, and he’s always fed yp with April’s unusual story getting antics.

The Foot Soldiers:

“Dudes… nuts.. they’re robots… Robots? Let’s Rock!”

The Foot Soldiers are Shredder’s robot army. They have no real character development. They are just tin cans that fight decently, and cause a distraction for the Turtles.

Baxter Stockman:

Voiced By: Pat Fraley

Vaxter Stockman is the genius that created the mousers. He is a timid geeky guy, who seems to disappear from the series.

Bebop and Rocksteady:

Bebop Voiced By: Barry Gordon

Rocksteady Voiced By: Cam Clarke

Bebop and Rocksteady are the mutants The Shredder created to combat the Turtles. Originally they were two of the punks that attacked April in the sewer. Neither of them are very bright, but they do have their moments. I always liked Rocksteady out of the two.

Krang:

Voiced By: Pat Fraley

Krang is the evil supreme lord of Dimension X. Before Shredder builds him a new bosy, Krang is a brain without a body. I love the voice Pat Fraley came up with for him. Once Shredder builds Krang’s body the warlord seems to be unstoppable. Krang and the Dimension X angle adds a science fiction feel to the series.

The Shredder:

Voiced By: James Avery

The Shredder is Oroku Saki. The ninja who betrayed Hamto Yoshi in Japan. He is also the one responsible for the Turtles and Splinter’s mutation. As a kid I had no idea who voiced Shredder at the time. After I hadn’t been watching cartoons I saw the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. It took me awhile to realize that Uncle Phil aka James Avery was the voice of Shredder! So freakin awesome. Shredder’s ultimate plans seem to have nothing to do with world domination. He just wants to destroy his mortal enemy Hamto Yoshi and his Turtles.

Thankfully after many years The entire series is coming to DVD!!!!! It releases November 13, 2012. You can pre-order it Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Classic Series Collection.

The soundtrack behind the voices and sound effects was awesome in this series, and damnit it needs to be released!!!! Sadly it never has……

There was no Turtles cartoon between 1996 and 2002. Then in 2003 we had the next incarnation!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003)

OK admittedly in 2003 when this was airing I was very skeptical. However over time I grew to love the series. As of this writing I can barely remember the show. It has been years since I’ve seen it. However I have found several episodes on youtube, and rewatching it is pretty damn fun.

The storytelling is abslutely great. Everything flows very well. With this generation of cartoons they went to prologue events, then the title, then the rest of the episode. I think this way of storytelling really amps up your excitement for what is about to come. I do remember when they hit the Fast Forward era I was a bit taken aback. It was a super jump the shark moment to me. That was when it was airing on TV. I’ll reserve judgment now until I can see the season again.

The following breakdown of the Seasons I grabbed from wikipedia, I have cited it in the source area. The reason why I did this is as I’ve said I barely remember each season.

During the show’s run, the format was changed several times. The original run of the first four seasons kept the Turtles in their native New York facing The Shredder, The Federation/Triceratons, and Bishop. After the fourth season the show received its first major format change in the “Ninja Tribunal” season.

“Ninja Tribunal” season

This season focused on a new threat presented by another version of the Shredder said to be the original legendary villain Oroku Saki from feudal Japan. The Turtles were then asked by the Ninja Tribunal (a group of warriors who seek to combat this ancient, “Tengu” Shredder) to train along side several human warriors to become strong enough to battle the Shredder. This involved the Turtles gaining new weapons, learning how to channel their chi into powerful projectiles, and finding their inner animal spirit. This season marked the end of the use of the original character designs and format.

Fast Forward season

This season featured a brand new direction as well as a completely redesigned look and feel. The season focused on the Turtles being transported 100 years into the future where they meet and befriend Cody Jones, a teenage descendant of April and Casey. Cody runs a successful and influential technology company and is its sole heir. The newly formatted show saw a brighter tone than its predecessor, and focused on shorter story lines. Some of the previous shows characters did return, however, including Bishop and Baxter Stockman.

Back To The Sewer season

This season was the last of the show’s run. It featured yet another redesign for the entire cast similar to the designs from TMNT and brought the Turtles back into present day New York. The season did feature some returning characters from the Fast Forward season. The main villain for the Turtles as they battle in a cybernetic reality is a cybernetic version of the Shredder.

Characters:

I’ll only be going over the characters I’ve seen in the first season of the cartoon, because as of this writing i have not seen past Season 1.

Leo

Voiced By: Mike Sinterniklaas

Leo is the leader. He in this incarnation is the hero who loves using catchphrases. Leo takes the “play by the rules” stance. He is very loyal and by the book. Just like in the 1987 version. He is also a quick thinker, and wants to do the right thing.

Donny

Voiced By: Sam Riegel

Just as in the 1987 series, Donny is a tech geek. I througly enjoy this version as I do the original 87 version. Sam Riegel does a great job bringing Donny to life.

Mikey

Voiced By: Wayne Grayson

Mikey in this version takes partying and joking around to a whole new level, but it is fun and he does learn when he makes mistakes. He loves pizza to the max! Wayne Grayson’s version of Mikey is very similar to Townsend Coleman’s version, moreso in the mannerisms and jokes that he tells.

Raph

Voiced by: Frank Frankson

Unlike Rob Paulsen’s version of Raph, Frank Frankson’s version plays up the anger level, as was seen in the TMNT live action films. I really enjoy this voice for Raph, and the whole feel of his character. Plus he has to teach Casey to be calm. Raph does learn to control his anger, and he is constantly making fun of Mikey. Well everyone is constantly making fun of Mikey.

Splinter

Voiced By: Darren Dunstan

Splinter in this series is similar to the 1990 film splinter. By that I mean the origin is the same. Instead of him being the mutated form of Hamato Yoshi, he was Yoshi’s pet rat. I loved seeing the backstory for him, and a slight retelling of what and how the mutation happened. Darren Dunstan does a great job of voicing the wise old master.

April O’Neil

Voiced By: Veronica Taylor

April in this series is not a reporter. She does retain the whole “her father has an antique shop” thing. Veronica Taylor’s voice for April is very awesome, and fits the character. As the series progresses we see that April is in fact a young woman, not a teenager. I would place her in the early 20’s. She and Casey have great chemistry! LOL

Casey Jones

Voiced By: Marc Thompson

This version of Casey is very similar to the film version. With the one exception that Raph and Casey bond, instead of Donny and Casey. Even the name calling carries over from the 1990 film. I see why this was done, because it was showing Raph that being angry is not the best thing all the time. I love the quirky chemistry between Casey and April. Marc Thompson did a great job voicing Casey.

Baxter Stockman

Voiced By: Scott Williams

Baxter didn’t just disappear as he did in the 1987 series. He stuck around for awhile. He steals Shredder’s money to advance his technology. This Baxter is very smart and snarky, always talking back to Saki. I like this about him, and glad they went with this type of personality.

The Purple Dragons

The Purple Dragons are the gang run by Hun, that follows Saki’s orders.

The Foot Ninjas

The Foot ninjas in this series seem to be humans and not roboyts. I like that. Because it doesn’t allow the Turtles to go all out when in battle. There are also tech foot ninjas that Stockman made. These tech foot ninjas give the Turtles a rough time.

Hun

Voiced By: Greg Carey

Hun is the head of the purple dragons, he technically is Saki/Shredder’s right hand man. He loves using intimidation and is a force to be reckoned with.

Karai

Voiced By: Karen Neill

Because I’ve never read the comics, I’m not sure if Karai shows up there. However in this cartoon she is a very loyal and honorable warrior. Her relationship with Leo is very unique, and even though she respects the turtles. She goes all out to avenge the Shredder’s supposed death.

The Shredder

Voiced By: Scottie Ray

This is by far the best, most devious Shredder out of all TMNT incarnations! The voice is killer, and his plans are very well thought out. Plus the look he is gicen is just amazing. On top of that if you didn’t know he was an alien known as the uTrom. Well that makes the devious villain even better. Because everything that he does has a purpose. HELL even trying to erase all versions of the Turtles everywhere. OMG.

The Storylines

Even though some of the seasonal changes were head scratching to me. So far in watching through Season 1 and the beginning of season 2, this series has amazing writing. The stories are very well thought out, and you never really know where  the show will go.

The music is absolutely amazing as well, it ties into every scene in every episode.

Now I’m gonna talk about the CGI animated film….

TMNT (2007)

I was very stoked about this film when it was announced. I was skeptical about the CGI angle, but after seeing it multiple times I really do love it. It is supposed to be in continuity with the live action film series. The alternative title was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4. Now I’m not going to go in depth with the turtles and master Splinter as I have above with the animated series. Simply because it is essentially the same character traits.

The general plot here is that the Turtles have been split up for years, Leo is off in Central America training, Donny is an IT support guy, Mikey is Cowabunga Carl a kids’ birthday party character, and Raph fights crime at night as the Night Watcher! April along with Casey run a artifact finding service. Because this movie takes place after the Turtles have defeated Shredder, he is nowhere in this film. Max Winters was one of April’s clients who wanted her to find statues. Essentially Winters is Yaotl the 3,000 year old cursed one. His plan is to revive his brothers, whom at the beginning are stone generals.

I really like the story of the film, it gives us more in deth look at the Turtles history. instead of retelling the origin story it continues where the other three films left off. I like this, because you don’t always need a retelling of the origin.

Here’s the Cast breakdown:

James Arnold Taylor as Leonardo

Mikey Kelley as Michelangelo

Mitchell Whitfield as Donatello

Nolan North as Raphael / Nightwatcher

Mako as Master Splinter

Sarah Michelle Gellar as April O’Neil

Chris Evans as Casey Jones

Patrick Stewart as Max Winters/Yaotl

Zhang Ziyi as Karai

John DiMaggio as Colonel Santino

Paula Mattioli as General Serpiente

Kevin Michael Richardson as General Aguila

Fred Tatasciore as General Gato

Frank Welker as General Mono

Kevin Smith as Diner Cook

Laurence Fishburne as Narrator

That is one helluva cast right there. I mean Picard a the villain, wow! I’m not sure I like SMG as April, felt too much like a Buffy voiceover performance. I have no qualms about the rest of the cast, they are all their own entity. As with all Turtles incarnations I loved the music that was used in this.

Now we find out that the Turtles are Forever!

Turtles Forever (2009)

This film effectively ends the 2003-2009 animated series.

The concept of this is amazing! My only real complaint is that they made all the 1987 Turtles into Mikey. Each of the 87 Turtles had their own personality damnit.  Another thing that bothered me at first was that they couldn’t or wouldn’t get the original 87 voice actors. I’ve since found out through TMNT sources that apparently this project was non union. So getting Paulsen and anyone else was virtually impossible.

The story here is that the 2003 Shredder/uTrom wants to find the Turtle Prime universe, so he can wipe out all incarnations of the TMNT. It’s a very well paced and thought out story. The 2003 Turtles are just tolerating the 1987 Turtles. They make a joke about how the 1987 Turtles only had to save April everyday. This was done in poor taste I think.

Cast

All 1987 characters are listed as ’88 in the film’s credits. Also note that none of the actors from the original cartoon reprises their roles due to union concerns (4Kids is a non-union corporation).

I do love seeing all generations of Turtles represented here. I think this is a very cool thing that was done. Sadly if it was done by anyone other then 4Kids it would have been so much better. In the 1987 voice department I mean. Even though that is a jarring complaint against this film, the story as I said is very well thought out, written, and performed.

Even though this is available on Digital Media and DVD, apparently it’s not the full version. Which sucks.

Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012)

So far this series is awesome, I have already blogged about the first two episodes. Back when I wrote: TMNT 2012: Eps 01-02 – Rise Of The Turtles I went in depth on the characters, the new voices and all that.

We are currently up to six episodes in the new series. So far I’m loving everything about it. We’ve gotten mini gilmpses of Shredder, but he hasn’t been fully revealed yet. The writers have paid homage to MetalHead, introduced the comics version of Baxter Stockman, and more. I love the combined animation styles of CHI and anime. For most of you know I’m not into anime at all, but the litle touches and nuances in this make it even greater. I can’t wait to see where they go with this new series!!!!!!!

Final Thoughts:

Overall the entire animated franchise of the TMNT is awesome. Sure there are head scratching moments in every version, but I love it all. Be sure to check out the next blog I’ll do on the TMNT which will be Heroes In A Half Shell: Lean, Green, And On The Screen talking about the live action Turtles films.

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