Friday, April 29, 2016

Initial Thoughts-Earths Last Stand.

Hey Turtle fans, welcome to initial thoughts of the TMNT.

This is a show where I can give my thoughts about the current episodes while I am catching up on a backlog of retrospective reviews. This can help me get my thoughts out on the episodes that are currently airing as means of catching up with the series, but still enabling me to give a more thorough look at the episode later.

These are my initial thoughts on the finale to the Turtles in Space arc: 'Earth's Last Stand'.

I have to say I really did enjoy this episode. It closed some open plot threads, introduced some concepts or possibilities that would come to light in future episodes, and also opens the door for a new arc. Maybe more than that.

In regards to Leo's behavior, I didn't find it out of character for him to lash out at the Fugatoid and attempt to take out the Triceraton's on his own. Leo has a determination driven character.

  • He is determined to save the Earth and Splinter. 
  • He is determined to protect his family from any danger. 
  • He is determined to see the mission completed. 

And sometimes he's so driven to succeed that he does act recklessly, even to the point of flying in the face of his own morals. As this season has progressed Leonardo has become increasingly more stressed by the task that he feels has been placed on his young shoulders. Over the past six month's he has had to lead his make-shift family into dangerous situations in order to obtain the pieces of the 'Heart of Darkness' before the Triceraton's do. He has faced off against alien threats that have tried to hinder their goal of saving the Earth and lost the pieces of the 'Heart of Darkness' to the enemy. Leo's greatest fear is his fear of failure, particularly failing his family. So he was already wound up rather tightly by this point.

I didn't find it all that surprising that the Fugatoid was the inventor of the 'Heart of Darkness'.

After all, in every incarnation he has appeared in, he has created or at the very least is involved in the creation of a device that he intends to be used for the purpose of good. But other people such as the Federation, Krang, or the Triceraton's see it as something they can use for their own selfish ends. The Fugatoid's involvement in the creation of the Heart of Darkness was notably hinted at in 'Arena of Carnage' when Emporer Zanraman was telling Honeycutt that he would spare the lives of the Turtles if he built the Heart of Darkness for him.

Still when Professor Honeycutt admits that he was the one who built the 'Heart of Darkness' and willingly sold it to the Kraang. The whole thing felt like one big slap in the face for the whole group, but for Leo especially. So it was only natural that he would accuse Fugatoid of being the cause of Earth's destruction.

All the Turtles and co were naturally shocked to hear this and yes they do lose trust for the Fugatoid following this. But Donnie, April, and Mikey also try to act as the voices of reason by pointing out that the professor had helped them numerous times and that he was trying to make amends for his past.

Moving forward in the episode to Leo's battle with the Triceraton's in the scout ship was intense and very well animated. Including the suspense of seeing Leonardo's helmet cracking and seeing Donnie use his space bo as a defibrillator in order to revive him. Though realistically the Ulixes would have had to rescue Leo when his helmet was beginning to crack in order to really save him.

I know Leo is the noble turtle and part of his nobility is him placing his families lives before his own.But I think the show should take a break with the death/ near death scenes with Leo and Splinter. While they do add to the drama, they have been done quite a few times over these last four season. Leo is particular has a fairly lengthy list of self-sacrifice and near death moments. And you can only drive a character death into the ground so many times before they become as pointless as funerals for superheroes.

However, this one near death held a lot of weight to it because of how his family reacted. One of the common themes in this series is the theme of family, and how the Turtles & Co must work together to stop the forces of evil as a family, not as individuals. Raph's angry comment of how a leader is supposed to lead a team really hits home in that moment. as it shows that the six of them are aware that they all they really have, and both Raph and Donnie are sick tired of seeing Leo needlessly putting himself at risk. Because whatever affects Leo, affects them all.

Meanwhile in the battle, there is a good chunk of footage from Annihilation: Earth. While this helps us figure out where things stand in the history of events leading up to the activation of the Black Hole Generator, it still felt like it was excessive padding that could have been used to focus on other events. Or if the footage needed to be used, have another point of view of it. Such as Mikey's reaction when he saw the stealth ship his brothers used to try and rescue him getting blown up, and then Raph pointing out they were okay because Donnie had conveniently picked up a transporter

Eventually, the battle features eight Turtles on the ground. With both the Turtles that went into outer space and the temporal copies of themselves on Earth. For the sake of confusion, I will call the Space Turtles: Team-A and the Temporal Copies: Team-B.

I'm not going to go into issues about what was right or wrong about the both Team-A and Team-B encountering each other. Because there aren't any set rules in regards to time travel aside from time being affected in some form.

But I can point to a story I enjoyed called The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. The story follows a shepherd boy named Santiago, who longs to see the world. He receives a reoccurring dream telling him that he shall find a great treasure. After selling his sheep he takes a journey to find this great treasure. But when he finally finds his treasure he finds it meaningless because he realizes that he was by far richer in taking the journey, then he would have been if he had simply known where the treasure had been to begin with.

Much like Santiago, the Turtle's journey to save the Earth had made them far stronger than they would have been if they had simply won the first time around. By failing to stop the Triceraton's the first time, Team-A got a firsthand look at what sort of horror the 'Heart of Darkness' could unleash. So when they were able to go back in time, they possessed the knowledge of the stakes they were up against and what they would lose if they failed. As history needed to set up for the eventual attack on earth, it was inevitable that the Turtles would fail at truly destroying the Heart of Darkness before it fell into the hands of the Triceraton Empire. But it's because of this journey they were able to depend on one another, gain reliable knowledge, allies, and skills in while space. And gaining the means of the Heart of Darknesses destruction though the noble sacrifice of someone they have come to trust over their journey.

Which leads us leads us into the final moment of the episode where the Fugatoid's ship arrived taking Team-B into space. There are naturally lots of insights and questions regarding this. But Peter Di Cicco, one of the writers for the TMNT series did sum things up rather well with three plausibilities on his Tumblr feed. 

1. Time Loop closes: Team-B goes back in time and in doing so merges with Team-A closing the time loop.

2. Stable Time Loop: Team-B goes into space and vanishes as their timeline ceases to exist following the destruction of the Back Hole Generator.

3. The Turtles simply are on an adventure through space: Team-B doesn't go back in time because they don't need to. The Turtles are simply journeying through space without the added pressure of having to save the Earth within a set period of time. Thus opening up possibilities for fan authors to work with, and cleanly creating a door for a plausible spin-off allowing the setting of space to expand. 

All three of these moments are left to be taken by personal point of view and not as absolute cannon. So it just simply falls to what makes the most sense.

So all in all, I liked this episode and thought it was a good episode to close out the space arc. However, I do agree that more could have been done with this episode just as making at least two episodes long. I look forward to seeing what will happen going forward with this season particularly since the next episode is titled City at War. Not to mention the hinted at Humans vs. Mutants and Dark April events that also shall come out of this season. 

And now I must ask you, dear reader:

  • What were your thoughts on this episode?
  • What plausibility for the Team -B characters makes the most sense to you?
  • How would you have done this episode differently if you were writing?
  • And what are you hoping to see in final twelve episodes of season 4?

As always, I'm Venka Le Fay. Thank you for reading. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

I monster

Hello and welcome to another installment of TMNT 2012 reviews. This time I will be looking at Episode 13- I Monster. Dr. Falco is back and he tries garner vengeance against the Turtles by turning Master  Splinter against them. 

Our episode begins with Dr. Falco grumbling to himself about how he is going to make all the people who didn't recognize his genius pay once his neuro-chemical is complete. A couple of rats chew through an electrical cable causing the lab to catch fire and Dr. Falco is injured. However he manages to get help by psychically communicating with the fleeing rats. 
In the Turtle's lair, the Turtles are undergoing a teamwork exercise where they have to take out Splinter as a team. Once they have their plan, the Turtles attack Splinter. Splinter beats Raph, Donnie, and Mikey effortlessly. Leo is able to land a successful blow, but he's so shocked by it he leaves himself open for Splinter to counter. The other Turtles are excited that Leo had managed to land a strike on Splinter, Leo however says that it's a sign they are improving as a team.  Mikey then supposes that they may no longer need Splinter to train them. 

Elsewhere Dr. Falco now known as the Rat King states that he has come to realize a truth. Humans are the true plague of the city and together with his brothers he intends to reclaim what should be rightfully theirs by unleashing hoards of rats upon the city. However he feels that isn't enough as the Turtles are still a threat, but he is able to sense Splinter and starts to seduce the Ninja Master into serving him.  This causes Splinter to cry out in pain. 
The Turtles run to the Dojo to see whats wrong. Unfortunately before Splinter can fully inform them of what is going on April calls and informs the Turtles she's in danger causing them to rush to her rescue. They soon find her clinging to the top of a utility pole that is surrounded by an army of rats. Donatello points out that something must be controlling every rat in the city, which everyone quickly realizes includes Splinter.  
The Rat King continues to torment Splinter by showing images of the loss of his home and family, cast out of society to live the life of a rat. And how even now his adopted sons are ceasing to need him. Splinter tries to fight it, but it's a battle he's emotionally losing. 

The Turtles return to the Lair to find Splinter asleep. So they get the bright idea about by having Mikey poke him with Donnie's bo staff to see if he's okay. Splinter fortunately wakes up and informs his sons that Dr. Falco has returned and now calls himself the Rat King. And he will not rest until he succeeds in poisoning Splinter's mind. Through the connection he has with the Rat King he was able to learn he is located in an abandoned utility junction in Harold Square. The Turtles rush off to go find him, while April stays behind to look after Splinter. 
The Turtles arrive at the Rat Kings lair when April calls and informs him that Splinter had left. Splinter appears to them showing the Turtles that Falco had succeeded in controlling him forcing the Turtles to fight their fatherly master and are defeated. The Turtles try once again to take down their Sensei, and are defeated.  

Splinter pins down Leonardo and is about to kill him when Leo holds up the photo of Splinter as a human to help him remember. This distracts the Ninja Master enough for Raph, Donnie, and Mikey to tackle Splinter to the ground. Leo tries to reach his teacher by calling him "Father" for the first time in show. 
The Rat King holds onto the control he has over Splinter and tells him his place is with him. Splinter knocks aside the Turtles, but Splinter manages to brake the control that the Rat King has over him defeating the vile man who is carried away by his horde of rats.
Once everyone gets back to the Lair, Splinter expresses how proud he is to his sons. But also warns them while he knows everything they have learned, he still hasn't taught them everything he has learned. 

Overall Rating
5-Epic Awesomeness
4-Good Story
3-Wouldn’t kick it out of bed for eating beans, but wouldn’t recommend it to a new comer.
2-If you never see it, you’re not missing anything.
1-I’ve seen bad fan-fictions that were better than this.

Wow! Just...Wow! This has got to be the best episode to date. And it introduces another iconic character of the Ninja Turtles Mythos...The Rat King. And also the first episode to center around Splinter. 

This episode makes some nods to the 2003 series through an episode of the same title that centers around the Rat King.  But in most incarnations we never get a clear reason as for how the Rat King came to be. 

In the Mirage Comics the Rat King is a mysterious man who is sheltering himself in an abandoned industrial park. When the Turtles come there to train with their friend Casey Jones, the Rat King fights them off thinking them to be monsters who are there to take his territory. He is defeated by Leonardo and sent on a fatal fall into the bowels of a silo. In a later issue the Rat King appears in dreams to a wounded Splinter and debates philosophically with him.

In the 1987 version the rat king was a homeless man who lived in a dilapidated portion of the sewers.  And would frequently hash out plans to establish his rodent controlled empire believing rats superior to humans. While a minor enemy of the Turtles, the Rat King occasionally serves as an anti-hero finding it more useful to have the Turtles as allies then as enemies.

In the 2003 version the Rat King started out as failed clone of Bishop known as the Slayer. The Slayer was a clone of Bishop infused with the DNA from Aliens, The Turtles, and Splinter. Created to be a prototype bio-mechanical super soldier. His real appearance as the Rat King occurs in the Episode titled "I Monster" Which plays out much in the same manner of his Mirage counter part. Only in this version the Rat King survives the fall into the silo. 

In this version the writers have taken an already established minor villain and it's obvious what Falco is to become when we see him surrounded by rats in the opening sequence. 

In Danslaforet's review of this episode she pointed out that it brought the term humanity to question. And I agree, it does question who truly deserves the title of monster? And what does it mean to be human? Almost any TMNT/Anime/ Comic Book fan would say it is our character that defines the difference between humans and monsters.  There are those who appear human, but lack any compassion for others or decency. And then there is the flip side where a person appears monstrous but truly has the best intentions in all that they do.  

For example In "Monkey Brains" when we are introduced to Falco we are lead to believe that he was a very respectable man. However as the story progresses we learn that he is very devious and doesn't care who comes to harm so long as he achieves his own goals. In the beginning sequence when he is recreating the neuro-chemical he calls the rats surrounding him disgusting. After the accident however, he chooses to view humanity is plague and rats  the true victims.

It was appropriate to see him dressed as a plague doctor in this version. I know to be fair the black plague was actually caused by the rat flea and not rat's themselves. But rats were the carriers which has lead to them being viewed as disgusting in the eyes of humans. And much like humans try to cleanse their homes and cities from rot and disease. Falco feels he need to cleanse the city of those who took everything from him and his "Brothers". 

In the end it s the choices that Falco and Splinter makes that determine who is truly a monster and who is truly human.

Falco is a man who is chooses to become a monster because he finds he is not garnering the respect he desires. So he makes the choice of betraying his friend and colleague using him as an experiment to gain psychic power for his own personal gain. And later he chooses to see humanity as the evil that has taken everything from him. 

Splinter on the other hand had also been human and like the Rat King he had lost all that mattered to him. His home, his family, and so on. Yet when he loses his humanity he also is confronted with four infant turtles who need him to look after them and protect them. If he had been another person he would have left the four turtles to whatever fate befell them. But Splinter chooses to take the four Turtles and raise them as his own sons because they were his responsibility. Though doing so does mean he must exile himself from the world of men to protect his sons from the dangers that exist beyond their subterranean home. Yet despite his initial reluctance he still allows his sons to try and find their place in the world. 

In turn his sons see Splinter as a strong an fearless individual so it's hard for them to see him with a vulnerable side. When Mikey makes that comment about them not needing Splinter to teach them any more, he didn't mean any harm by it but it did have a negative effect on the Rat-man as it causes doubts and fears that his sons may no longer need him allowing Falco to take hold of his mind. 

For the Turtles having to face off against their father was difficult for them to undertake.  Because they are defending themselves against someone they care about as well as trying to save the said person they cared about at the same time.  The moment where Leo holds out the photo of Hamato Yoshi with his late wife and daughter was touching to me, and the also the moment where Leo says "Father, we need you." got love points from me as well. While it maybe true that the Turtles will need Splinter less and less as a teacher as things progress, they will always need him as a father. 

My only honest complaints with this episode would be with Mikey's childishness through out the episode. Particularly when he's ranting on and on about how the Rat King has named himself. I understand he's the name guy, he likes to come up with names for things. But really I didn't find his constant complaining about how he could have come up with a better name then the Rat King as necessary.  

Check back next time for my review on Episode 14 New Girl In Town. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

It Came From the Depths

Hey everyone and welcome to another review of TMNT 2012. This time I will be reviewing Episode 12: It Came From the Depths. In this episode the Turtles encounter a mutant alligator who has stolen something from the Kraang. 

The episode begins with a small army of Kraang Droids are chasing after a large creature which seems to be carrying a purple crystal. During the fight the creature is wounded but it manages to evade the Kraang by hiding in the sewers.  
Some period of time later the Turtles are watching TV in the lair when they see a news report about an alligator-like creature in the sewers complete with a video of a utility crew getting attacked. Not wanting media crews and other people inadvertently coming upon their lair while searching for the creature, the Turtles check out the tunnel they saw in the news program. 
When they arrive at the tunnel they see the mutant alligator battling the Kraang who are demanding he reveal the location of something known as the Power Cell. The Alligator holds his own against the Kraang until they attack him with electrified batons. Realizing that the new mutant was in trouble, Mikey wants to save him. The others aren't as eager to help because they don't know anything about him and he possibly could be even more of a threat then the Kraang. 

Mikey still insists on helping him, so the four Ninja Turtles fight and defeat the Kraang. However the Orange Masked Turtle also insists on bringing the wounded and unconscious mutant home with them as well. Once they bring him to their lair, Donnie insists that the mutant gator should be chained up so it doesn't attack them. True to Donnie's words the Mutant Alligator attacks the Turtles by grabbing Donnie's face and shakes him like a rag doll. 
Splinter comes into the common room to see what the commotion was about. When the Turtles explain the situation, Splinter feels Michelangelo was right to bring the mutant to their lair. But he also agrees the mutant alligator should be chained up for their own safety.

Leo, Raph, and Donnie leave the lair to look for the Power Cell while Mikey stays behind to try and communicate with the mutant gator. When he awakens the alligator who Micky dubs Leatherhead, is not happy about being in an unknown location. Mikey is fortunately able to calm mutant gator down enough to have a decent conversation with him. Leatherhead explains that there are times he loses control of his mind. And when he does manage to come back to himself again he is always horrified by what he had done. So he deserves to be chained up like a monster. Mikey insightful comments that perhaps he thinks of himself as a monster because everyone has always treated him like one. 
In the mean time the other Turtles were looking through the area where they found Leatherhead for clues as to where to find the Power Cell. This leads them through a passage way that can only be reached through an under water tunnel. It's here the Turtles discover a glowing pinkish-purple crystal.

When they return home with it they are shocked to learn Mikey had released Leatherhead. The younger turtle insists it's okay, but when Donnie tries to ask about the Power Cell the mutant alligator goes into berserker mode once again. Splinter hears the commotion and chases Leatherhead out of the lair. 
A confused and betrayed Michelangelo runs after Leatherhead and finds the mutant gator in a derelict subway car. When the young turtle confronts him, Leatherhead once again explains there is a force inside him that he can't control. That is why he must live in solitude. When the other Turtles arrive, Leatherhead explains that he was once an exotic pet of a kindhearted boy. Until the boys parents discovered him and flushed him down the toilet. He was found by the Kraang and subject to their torturous experimentation which mutated him into his present self. Six months ago he managed to escape and stole the Power Cell which is used to enable the Kraang to travel back and forth from Dimention X.

While they talk the Kraang arrive demanding the Power Cell. During the struggle, Donnie says he could attach the Power Cell to the motor. But he'll need time. Leatherhead offers to buy them time by taking on the Kraang himself. Donnie installs the Power Cell causing the subway car to blast off into a Dr. Who style warp hole and arriving at the city sewage plant. 

Overall Rating
5-Epic Awesomeness
4-Good Story
3-Wouldn’t kick it out of bed for eating beans, but wouldn’t recommend it to a new comer.
2-If you never see it, you’re not missing anything.
1-I’ve seen bad fan-fictions that were better than this.

This is certainly one of the better episodes of the season so far, and it introduces everyone's favorite mutant crocodilian, Leatherhead. This incarnations version is similar to the 2003 version of the Turtles first encounter with Leatherhead which was loosely adapted from the Mirage version. However that where the similarities end in this version. 

In the 2003 incarnation, Leatherhead was found by the Utroms a benevolent and vastly intelligent alien race. And over the years that the Utroms had cared for him he had come to see them as a family. Unfortunately when they returned to their planet, they left him behind. 

In this incarnation the Kraang are an amalgamation of the Utroms from the 2003 series and Krang from the OT series. Which essentially means they are evil and numerous. Instead of being cared for, the Kraang subject Leatherhead to various horrific experiments making him into the kindhearted, but bi-polar mutant that we know and love. 
And he would certainly prove to be a useful ally for the Turtles as the series progresses. 

Now on to the characters starting with Mikey. 

I agree with Dansleforet's views about Michelangelo's friendship with Leatherhead. Mikey was the perfect candidate to approach and befriend him. 

The other Turtles were correct to be apprehensive about Leatherhead as majority of the other new Mutants they have faced have turned out to be enemies. So this did cause some understandable reluctance when it came to befriending new mutants. However Mikey's optimism enabled him to see Leatherhead, not as an enemy but as a fellow mutant who needed help. As Dans put it...he wasn't restrained by the past and there for didn't judge LH just because he was protecting himself. Mikey just saw him for who he is...a kind hearted soul trapped in the body of a monster with no one he can turn to. In this series there seems to be a running string with Mikey liking to come up with names for new mutants and for some of the things Donnie invents.  While occasionally this comes off as somewhat childish...and in the case of some villains insulting. I feel it is meant more as a kindness...a way to offer them a way of offering a sense of being as someone adjusts to their new mutant form. 

Admittedly, while Mikey is not the brightest crayon in the box. He is smarter then his brothers really do give him credit for, and occasionally his random waves of thought do translate to wisdom. 

Now on to Leatherhead, unlike most incarnations he actually starts out nameless in this version. Leatherhead's plight is that through the heartbreaking back story he has been given in this series, he has grown to see himself as a monster who has no right to have friends or any one to care for him. Simply because he knows people will hate him for the forces in himself that he can't control. And in a way he shares the same plight as the Turtles, because they hide from a world that would never truly to understand them as people. 

Thanks for reading, check back later for my review on Episode 13- I Monster.  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Mousers Attack

Hello and welcome to another review of TMNT 2012. This time I am looking at Episode 11 Mousers Attack! When Aprils phone is stolen by the "Purple Dragons" the Turtles find themselves facing off against Baxter Stockman's iconic creation, the Mousers.

The episode begins with the Turtles undergoing a training session when Leo and Raph get into an argument and start fighting. Splinter breaks up the fight and tells his two eldest sons that competition is motivational, but not if it turns them against each other. He then tells the two of them they are to pair up and spar against Donatello and Michelangelo so they can focus on working together and not competing with each other.
Leonardo gloatingly points out that didn't seem like a fair match. Which irritates the younger two Turtles before the two of them are promptly trounced by their older brothers.

In the mean time the Dogpound informs the Shredder that the "Purple Dragons" have agreed to give the Foot an 80% pay cut. Fishface (Xever) snarls that he would have tracked down the Turtles and their Master if he wasn't forced to stay in an aquarium tank. This causes Dogpound to tease Fishface about his predicament. Shredder does agree that Fishface is useless as he is, but warns Dogpound that if he doesn't find useful information about the whereabouts of Hamato Yoshi and his students, then Xever wouldn't be the only one missing limbs. 
In the mean time Leo is tries to reassure his younger brothers that just because they are not the best fighters on the team, it doesn't mean they are less important. However he still sees Raph and himself as better earning Donnie and Mikey the title of the "B Team".

A distraught April arrives and informs the Turtles that she had just been mugged by the Purple Dragons and her phone was stolen. The Turtles at once say they will get her phone back for her. April insists it's just a phone and they didn't need to go through all the trouble.

Splinter agrees and points out that even the most insignificant battle has the risk of serious consequences. Raphael however insists the Purple Dragons are not that threatening and that it would be simple for them to get their phone back. The four Turtles arrive at the Purple Dragons hide out to reclaim April's phone

Before the Turtles can retrieve the phone however, it begins to feel like an earthquake is taking place. A hole forms in the ground before several bipedal robots climb out of it and start loading up their mouths with the stolen goods. In the confusion Fong snatches April's phone and runs off with it 
Leo tells the "B Team" to go after Fong and get the phone, while he and Raph take care of the robots. After destroying the remaining bots, Leo and Raph jump down the hole the bots came from to learn whose controlling them. Tsoi and Sid follow the Turtles for the same reason
Else where Fong approaches Dogpound and tells him that one of his guys swiped a phone, and the Turtles said it belonged to a friend of theirs. Donnie and Mikey are hesitant because they know they can't take Dogpound on their own. Donnie however states that if they immediately contact their older brothers, they would only be proving they are nothing more then the "B Team". They would find a way to get the phone back themselves using stealth

Leo and Raph in the meantime arrive to find Baxter Stockman controlling the bots. He tells them that he called them MOUSERS, which stood for "Mobile Offensive Underground Search Excavation and Retrieval Sentries". Stockmen then sprays the two Turtles with a red mist substance. They at first think its poisonous acid, but quickly realize the spray did nothing to them. Stockman however commands the MOUSERS to attack the Turtles. The "A Team" effortlessly destroy the bots, unfortunately for them Stockman has developed a extremely large army of MOUSERS. Finding there are too many to take out on their own and they decide to run for it. Stockman gloatingly yells that they can run, but they can't escape his MOUSERS, before he is knocked out by Tsoi and Sid.
The "A Team" continue trying to run from the MOUSERS. Leo suggests they call Donnie since he would obviously have some idea as to how to stop the killer robots. Raph is reluctant about calling their younger brothers to come help them. The two alpha turtles try washing off chemical, unfortunately they still find themselves at the MOUSERS mercy.

In the mean time Donnie is thinking up plans for how they would be able to get back April's phone (with Mikey naming them) when Leo calls. Leo doesn't want to admit that they do need their brothers help, so he tells Donnie he was just wanting to know if they needed assistance in anyway. Donnie informs him they already have something planned to get April's phone back from Fong and that they had followed him to a defunct futon factory on 5th st.

Fong has trouble getting into April's phone because it's encrypted. Tsoi and Sid arrive with Baxter Stockmen and inform Dogpound that he had created the robots that had been stealing their loot. Dogpound tells the two Purple Dragons to dispose of him until Stockman informs him that his MOUSERS are going after two of the Ninja Turtles at that very moment. Dogpound shows Stockman April's phone and tells him to hack its encryption or else
Leo and Raph continue to fight the bi-pedal robots,unfortunately they are beginning to tire due to the MOUSERS sheer numbers.

At the Futon factory, Baxter sets up a decryption program when the lights suddenly go out and Mikey snatches the phone. Unfortunately Dogpound catches Donnie and Mikey and chains them up. 
Donnie tries to inform Dogpound and Stockmen that the phone is useless to them, because it there is nothing on it that would interest the Foot Clan. Dogpound states that if it doesn't have any information about where their home or their Master is located then he would get the answers out of them. However if it does have information they want, there is no point in keeping them alive. 
Raph finally admits they need Donnie's help and tells Leo to make the call. Dogpound unfortunately hears Donnie's T-Phone go off and confiscates both Donnie and Mikey's phones intending to check them next. Donnie orders the phones to self-destruct which causes them to short out on command. 
Leo and Raph realize their brothers must be in trouble and rush to the futon factory to save them. Stockman is surprised that Leo and Raph were able to escape his MOUSERS until a group of them fall into the warehouse with them. Leo frees Donnie and Mikey and tosses April's phone to Mikey who races around screaming while being chased by Dogpound. In the meantime Raph, Leo, and Donnie try deal with the MOUSERS. Donnie finds a gama-camera in one of the robots and realizes that Stockmen must have tagged both Leo and Raph with radio-isotopes. He informs his brothers that the radio-isotopes would wear off over time, but if someone else were to be tagged they would give off a stronger signal.
Raph throws some Shuriken which causes the container of radio-isotopes to spray both Stockman and Dogpound causing the MOUSERS to chase them instead. Dogpound picks up April's phone and attempts to run off with it. However Donatello throws a tanto knife which breaks the phone.

Raph tells Donnie and Mikey that he is dubbing them the "A- Team". April is happy the Turtles's got her phone back, but isn't happy with the fact it's in pieces. Donnie however gives her one of the T-Phones which promptly shorts out when Mikey tells her not say "T-Phone Self-Destruct." 
In the mean time Dogpound brings Stockman to the Shredder. The Shredder tells Stockman that for his interference he should by all accounts pay with his life, however there is a project where his services are required.

Overall Rating

5-Epic Awesomeness
4-Good Story
3-Wouldn’t kick it out of bed for eating beans, but wouldn’t recommend it to a new comer.
2-If you never see it, you’re not missing anything.
1-I’ve seen bad fan-fictions that were better than this.

When compared to the previous episode, this one came across as more lighthearted. And it also felt like a step backwards in some ways. That doesn't mean this was a bad episode, it was actually very enjoyable.

What I found to be a large step backwards in this case, is that the elder Turtles see themselves as more superior then their younger siblings because they are better fighters. Even though Donnie and Mikey have both proven themselves to be just as an effective part of the team as anyone else in previous episodes.

Donnie was the one who took out Metalhead and Falco. In "Metalhead" and "Monkey Brains".
Mikey had managed to defeat Christ Bradford with Bradfords own secret kata in "New Friend, Old Enemy" As well as catching the Shredders arm with his Kusari Gama when the Shredder was about to kill Raph in the Gauntlet.

However the Turtles are slowly growing into the cohesive team we know and love so there is bound to be contention with the older and younger turtles. And while it would have been good to have an underdog story where both Donnie and Mikey come out on top, proving themselves as just as capable and effective as Leo and Raph. I agree with Dansleforet that the success of either team was not the point of the story. The entire point of the story is each of the Turtles has their own gifts and flaws to add to the team, and its those things make them complete.

Leo is the one who is naturally gifted and most dedicated at Ninjitsu. But also a perfectionist.

Raph is the strongest fighter of the group and most impulsive

Donnie is the brains of the group, but also the most insecure. Like Leo he likes perfection in what he does, but he also has a habit of getting stressed or frustrated when things don't go exactly right.

Mikey is a wild card so while the does have more natural talent then his brothers, he doesn't focus so he comes off as an odd ball at the best of times.

That's all I have to say about episode 11, check back again for my review on Episode 12: It Came From the Depths.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Are we too entitled?

Hello, Venka Le Fay here.

With season four of Nickelodeon’s Ninja Turtles only just started and a new film coming this summer, I feel I need to address the complaints about both versions. We as the fans of TMNT are very passionate about the Ninja Four, particularly with how we personally see them. And whenever a new incarnation, season, or episode is aired there are naturally fans who don’t like it and generally, the dislike is for a good reason. Complaints of the episode being rushed, or the situation was not you were expecting, or they took a step back with a certain character. Those are complaints that are understandable as they do occur quite often, particularly in shows that have multiple writers and directors. And there are sound reasons for why these problems occur.

But every forum also has an elitist group of fans, and we all know this particular kind. They are the people in the fan-forums who are quick to find the littlest flaw…the first thing they don’t like in an episode or the overall presentation. And the immediate response is to complain about how that flaw is what ruins the whole thing for them. Or they begin whining about how they are going to give up on the show because it’s not playing out the way ‘they’ want it to.

While some of these people do leave a show or fandom for good. There are others who claim they are leaving a fandom, but still stick around as though hoping a favored series would somehow manage to fit their standards. And then, there are others who return after a matter of weeks or months only to complain about why a recently shown episode was justification as to why they left in the first place. Despite the fact, they may or may not have seen the said episode, nor do they have intention too. Instead of watching the episode, they cherry-pick through the discussions and opinions about the episode. And then proceed to regurgitate this vitriol into their arguments, along with a smattering of how the writers and the people involved in producing this series do not know what they are doing. So that got me wondering, are we as the older fans…are we becoming too entitled?

Now, to be honest, entitlement occurs in any sort of fandom be it Turtles, My Little Pony, and even some anime. But how entitled is ‘too entitled?’ I mean first off, I do understand the reasoning behind it. After all, we are the fans; we grew up with shows like Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, G.I. Joe. These are stories and characters we have loved as children…and as adults, we fondly look back at these shows and remember them for what they were, particularly with what they were to us. So naturally when we hear one of these shows is going to be recreated for a new audience. We become interested because the nostalgia factor this has been instilled through our love for these franchises. And at the same time apprehensive about how this version of the franchise would differ from what we remember growing up. And for some of the more passionate, any sort of change is viewed as insulting.

To truly understand how far a thirty-year juggernaut such as TMNT has come, you need to look at each of the televised versions of this franchise.

The original 1980’s cartoon is commonly what people consider the start of the whole TMNT fanbase. Yeah, there is the original Mirage comic, but that was aimed more at an older niche audience. Heck Eastmen and Laired were doubtful the story would even sell when they originally came up with the concept. But as children, our first taste of the Turtles was the original Fred Wolf series.

Like many cartoons of that day and age, every episode was largely a twenty-minute toy commercial. But the show itself had bright colors, there was humor, there was action, the stories were easy to follow, and it was certainly a product of its time. But that didn’t mean it was the greatest thing ever, in fact, it didn’t even take itself seriously because it knew who its audience was. And looking back at the OT series today it doesn’t hold up that well because of how cheesy and dated it is.

It was only years later that 4Kids brought about a new incarnation of TMNT that was loosely adapted from the Mirage Comics. If you weren’t introduced to the Turtles through the OT or the Archie comics, then this was the series that brought you into the fandom. While this series did have its complaints about the voice acting, the way much of the series centered on Leo, and the latter three seasons of this series being less than enthralling. This was still a well-liked incarnation. The stories and characters were more serious when compared to the original series, the villains weren’t just a bunch of clownish idiots, and the stories were well contained within each season. And while it did push the envelope at times when it came to violence, you could tell where they felt they had to draw a line between kid-friendly violence and parental guidance. And other times they simply just dropped a story and moved on to another one despite the fact that there were situations that could have led to a deeper emotional development.

There was even a made for TV movie that featured the 4Kids Turtles and the Fred Wolf Turtles meeting each other that was created as both a special for the 25th anniversary of the franchise and a closing episode to the 4Kids series itself. Turtles Forever as it was titled was given a mixed view, with much of the complaints being how incompetent and out of character, the Fred Wolf Turtles were being depicted.

There was only one televised version of TMNT I never watched, and that was Next Mutation. This was a live-action variation of TMNT produced by Saban. While I did find the concept of there being a female turtle interesting, and some of the characters were being voiced by actors from one of my favorite anime at the time. The overall design and the way the characters acted didn’t really appeal to me and what I have heard about it did nothing to make me any more interested in watching it. A good majority of the fans still view it as one of the worst versions of TMNT to ever exist. Personally, I feel I didn't miss anything by giving this incarnation a skip. I just simply acknowledged that this version was not for me and that is all there is to it. 

And now today we do have Nick version aka the 2012 Incarnation. The producers and staff of this series are familiar with the source material. And they do give nods to the older fan base by giving references and Easter eggs that center around the other incarnations as well as other franchise, such as Aliens, and Nightmare on Elm St. They still make an effort to make this series their own version, and not a complete rehash of a previous incarnation. 

However, a number of the older fans bring in a number of complaints regarding the overall set up of an episode. Taking issue with some of the more experimental concepts. And then who make a huge stink over something as minor as a characters design, simply because the character is different from a way they had been presented in the past.

The way the nick show is presented, most of the stories are covered and resolved a 22-minute time frame. While you can tell a decent story within that frame of time. But, with a show as action-packed and detailed as Ninja Turtles, the constrained time frame appears to hurt the series more then it offers. 

To give a basic run down of the episode writing process for the Nick show,Peter Di Cicco one of the shows writers supplied this:
"The writing process is pretty intense because we’re generally working on around five different stories in different stages of drafts, not including the 26+ episodes in various stages of production. But for each episode, the stages are laid out into the premise, outline, 1st draft, 2nd draft, and record draft, which is the final version that gets recorded by the actors and given to the storyboard artists to start boarding. 
One of the great challenges I personally have as a writer is timing the script so that it will work in under 22 minutes (I think if you account for the main title, we only have 21 minutes of actual show time now). And one thing you have to understand about television (at least, basic cable) is shows have to deliver precisely on time. They can’t be even 30 seconds over or under. 
Once we see the show in animatic form, stuff almost always ends up getting cut or rewritten for time. Sometimes it actually helps the pacing, sometimes you just need to lose things. You’d be amazed how much a minute or even just 30 seconds of screen time can be."

With TV shows, there are two basic formats. Individual story based, and Arc story based.

Individual story episodes tend to revolve around a situation that needs to be covered within the allotted time frame. While arc stories are a plot line that flows over a number if different episodes. This is not to say that the individual story format can't allow an arc plot, it is possible to have one be addressed in an indivual story, until it is able to come into focus as an individual setting.   

This series has also taken risks in concepts such as the relationship between Donatello and April. The 4Kids version did slightly hint at the concept to Donnie having a crush on April during the early episodes of series. However, this concept really goes nowhere and is largely dropped altogether. So this incarnation brings in the polarizing concept of having Donnie litterally fall in love with April. Fans have liked and enjoyed this concept because it’s different...unfortunately, fans have also hated it for that exact same reason. And even when Casey was introduced that didn’t help improve people’s views on it. Instead, the reaction was that a triangle would make the love aspect even more unbearable.
As much as I like the current version of TMNT both the Nick Series and the current film series, I have my problems with both versions as well. But do we as the adult fans, honestly need to feel like we are owed some magnum opus by whoever owns the rights to Ninja Turtles at the time, simply because we've embraced this franchise for so long?

The answer is 'No...we don't." While the older fans are the ones who have made this franchice last as long as it has. It's not the first generation, first gen-second wave, and second generations that the current incarnations of TMNT are aimed at. They are aimed at the current third generation and beyond that because thats where the heart of the Turtles truely lies. In the kids who love this series for what it is, just as we loved this series when we were young. To quote Angry Video Game Nerd:
'...Look at all the ideas that have lasted over the years like Batman and Superman, there are so many different versions because the idea struck a chord with people. Maybe that’s the best way to look at’s stupid and kinda manipulative but it’s not the final word in the franchise, it’s just another version. There will be tons of different varieties to come in the future. All of them silly, over the top moments, but thats part of what we loved about them in the first place. Just say the title “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” It’ a goofy idea and always will be."

This statement couldn't be any more true. TMNT has existed for thirty years so far, and it has enough of a presence to exist for another thirty, maybe longer. And just because one version don't connect with you, doesn't mean another wouldn't. All that really matters is what you are able to take away from it. Who knows maybe then next incarnation could be yours.
As Nostalgia Critic said in his review:

It’s not the untouched perfection that makes it last. It’s the constant changing interpretation of other artists.

So here’s a challenge to you dear reader, if you find yourself complaining about how an episode was done. Ask yourself…how would I write this episode? How would I write this series if I was writing it for someone like me? Yeah, it would be glorified fanfiction, but it would be your work and it would be your personal vision of how you see this series.

This is Venka le Fay, signing off.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Panic in the Sewers

Hello and welcome back to another installment of TMNT 2012 Reviews. This time we will be looking at Episode 10- Panic in the Sewers. Determined to kill the Turtles and their Master at any cost, the Shredder plans to release a chemical into the sewer system that will incinerate their subterranean home. 

The episode starts with the Turtles out on a foggy street when the Shredder appears to them and proceeds to kill them one by one. However this horrific event turns out to be a nightmare Splinter is having
When he sees his sons about to go out on patrol for the evening, Splinter forbids them from doing so on the grounds that in their recent encounter with the Shredder they barely escaped with their lives. To make sure they are better prepared to face someone like the Shredder he wants them to remain in the lair and train non-stop 
Weeks pass with Splinter militantly training his son's. Unfortunately the weeks of constant training with little rest has taken it's toll on the exhausted Turtles. When his students implore him to allow them to have a break, Splinter points out that the Shredder isn't going to rest until they are all dead. However seeing that there is no getting around it he allows the Turtles to have a chance to rest so they resume their training later. 
During their break Leo watches his favorite show, Mikey throws water balloons at his brothers, and Donnie is building an "All Terrain Patrol Buggy with Detachable Sidecars."

In the meantime April tries to dig up some information on what the Shredder is planning, by tricking the Purple Dragons into accepting a pizza that has a listening device taped to the bottom of it. 
Leo is leading his brothers in a training exercise, when April informs them she has a recording of the Purple Dragon's saying they would learn about a plan to kill the Turtles that night. 
Knowing their home is threatened the foursome go topside even though it's broad daylight to learn about what the Shredder is planning. Mikey expresses that the present situation makes him feel scared which Leo calmly reassures his brothers that it's okay to be afraid. 

Unfortunately they are spotted by the mutated Chris Bradford who Mikey later nicknames Dogpound. Unfortunately the mutated man mutt proves too difficult for the Turtles to deal with forcing them to make a strategic retreat.  
Returning home to their lair, the Turtles start to contemplate if they should prepare to evacuate their subterranean sanctuary. April however refuses to let them give up and suggests that she learn about the Shredder's plans. All the Turtles and Splinter are reluctant about letting her put herself at risk, particularly since she's only been training as a kunoichi for a few weeks. April still implores that she truly is the only chance they have, in order to learn about what the Shredder plans to do. 
That evening April tries the pizza with a listening device tactic again, unfortunately the Foot aren't as gullible as the Purple Dragons. Undaunted April tricks a home owner into letting her into his house so she can access the fire escape and sneaks into the Shredder's Lair. Unfortunately the Turtles get into an argument and miss important details about what the Shredder was planning. 
April tells her companions that she's going to sneak a ride, unfortunately Dogpound hears her and takes her hostage. Leo starts to go into a panic attack because their only human ally has just been captured, but Raph is fortunately able to calm him down.

The group race after the van in the Patrol Buggy, despite the fact Donnie insists it's not ready. Reading the name of the chemical off the back of a tanker truck that Dogpound hijacks Donnie realizes the Shredder intended to pour Chlorosulfonic Acid into the sewer system. He at once informs his brothers that particular chemical doesn't react well with water and could incinerate the entire sewer system including the lair in a mater of seconds.  
Seeing the Turtles were following them, Fong splits off in the van while Dogpound continues on with the tanker. Leo sends Raph and Donnie after the van to rescue April while he and Mikey stop the chemical from being dumped. 
Unfortunately despite Leo and Mikey's best efforts the chemical is released. In a last ditch effort, Leo tells Mikey to throw a water balloon at the truck which cause it to explode.  
At the Lair, Splinter apologies to his son's about letting his anxieties about the Shredder fuel their own fears. But they were fortunately able to over come that fear and so he will let them off training for the rest of the day...unless Michelangelo throws the water balloon he's holding.  
Overall Rating
5-Epic Awesomeness
4-Good Story
3-Wouldn’t kick it out of bed for eating beans, but wouldn’t recommend it to a new comer.
2-If you never see it, you’re not missing anything.
1-I’ve seen bad fan-fictions that were better than this.

It's good to see the story take a turn from the lightheartedness to the dark serious side of the series.  Not only did this episode have suspense, but all the members had a role to play. 

It's clear that the Turtles were clearly stressed by their first battle with the Shredder, Leo in particular. None of them had been prepared to contend with him making it the first fight where they had actually felt they were all in serious mortal danger and the experience itself was distressing to all of them.

As a fanfic writer I often like the concept of giving characters fears or having moments where they are rocked to their very core. Because if said fears are done well they can offer a new point of view to who a character is as a person. And how they deal with said fear or situation also gives them new depth. 

For example one of my most popular fanfic's is titled "Hostage". In said fic Donnie is abducted by the Foot and subjected to various tortures at the hands of the Shredder in an effort to get him  to reveal where the lair is located. This plot isn't new as there are other stories that use the same concept in some form or another. 

However there is a depth of fear not only with Donnie but also with his brothers that I do attempt to flesh out. With Donnie's predicament he's frightened and he acknowledges that he is, but he still holds a sense of bravado because he doesn't want the Shredder to feel he has the upper hand.  While back at home the rest of the family are dealing with Donnie's disappearance in various ways. 

Then in a sequel story "Broken", I have Donnie dealing with his experience and how it has effected him. As well as the impact his experience is also having on his family.

The same is done in this episode with the impact of their first encounter with Shredder acknowledged in spades. As there was large amount of character development brought on by this episode. Let's start with Splinter as he has a central role in this episode. 

In previous episodes Splinter has explained that he and Shredder had once been close friends. However it was their love for Tang Shen that drove a wedge between them and as a result both Tang Shen and Splinter's infant daughter Miwa had been tragically lost. And as much as Splinter morns the losses in his life, he also makes a point to say that the Turtles are something of value to him. After all they are not just his students, they are his sons...his family. 

It's interesting to have Splinter experience the nightmare about the Shredder. While it would be natural to have the Turtles all experience nightmares involving the the Shredder, particularly Leo.  Splinter seems to channel the fears of each of his sons, as well as his own fears of losing his new family into one single entity and thus making the Shredder come across as more demonic then he actually is.  And by that result transform him from fatherly teacher into military commander. This is almost in the same vain as  Leo turning from older brother and leader into Drill Sargent during the first half of season 4 of the 2003 series.

Because of this fear he forces the Turtles to stay in the lair and train until he felt they were strong enough to truly face the Shredder. After all the first few excursions his sons have taken to the surface has not only put them in a war to save the Earth from a race Aliens from another dimension. It has also attracted the Shredder's attention. And that is not adding the stress that humans learning about their existence could cause. 

Next with Leo. In the last episode the "Leader in Blue" was very close to having his life cut short and that did have some a tremendous impact on his psyche. I also share views with Dansleforet about  expecting Leo to be withdrawn maybe moody and possibly doubtful about how effective he is as a leader. After all he was over confident about his abilities and was unable to spare his brothers from being hurt by the Shredder. 

However he also knew his brothers needed someone they could look up to not just as a leader, but as a brother and a friend. He does stand up to Splinter when he knows that his brothers are exhausted from the constant training. And he takes it upon himself as a leader and big brother to over see their training when Splinter is not.

It seems training is truly the way Leo deals with stress because it helps keep his mind focused and he comes out stronger because of it. But much like his favorite show foreshadowed he inevitably gets an anxiety attack, but a simple reminder from his brothers that he is their leader and they need him is all he needs to come back to himself. 

With Raph he is seemingly normal, with the exception of him being even quicker to rise to his temper then usual. He is as frightened and stressed as the rest of them, but he is too proud to admit it for obvious reasons. 

However he has trouble dealing with his feelings so his natural go to places are caring for Spike or lashing out at one of his brothers. But he is able to show his considerate side when he steps up and helps Leo calm down by quoting a line from Leo's favorite show. As much as he complains about Space Heroes, he knew exactly what his brother needed to hear at that very moment.  

Now moving on to Donnie and Mikey. Neither of them had much development in this episode, but they also had their important moments. 

Mikey was the first one who openly admitted that he was frightened. Frightened by how powerful the Shredder was compared to them and scared about what Shredder was planning. But this admission breaks the ice for Leo to tell him as well as all of his brothers that being scared was perfectly normal and there was nothing to be ashamed of.  Then when Dogpound attacks them, both Donnie & Mikey share a sentiment about being afraid knowing it was perfectly understandable and not considered a weakness. 

Both of them have interesting ways of medicating themselves when it comes to stress. With Mikey, he tries to lighten the mood by pulling pranks on everyone. That way if he gets any of his brothers to laugh he knows he's succeeded in helping to alleviate the pall of tension that is hanging over their heads. However with Donnie he eases his anxiety by throwing himself into a project as something he can focus on rather then focusing on the distress he is under. This is a tactic I'm personally familiar with, as an artist I have found simple acts such as drawing or coloring can help relieve any tension that I'm feeling at a given time.

 As for April, it was also great to see her put her training as a kunoichi to good use. She has developed her skill well, but compared to the Turtles there is still much she needs to learn. But she has become good friends with the Turtles, and she views them as a psudo-family to her. If the Turtles evacuate the lair and by that regard the city, she would not only be losing her friends but the only family she truly has at this time. And by that regard the only real hope she has of finding and rescuing her father. These are all things she's not ready to give up without a fight. 

While her actions were still impulsive, she is still the only person who was able to get the Turtles the information they wanted. Regardless of whether she was ready to encounter someone like the Shredder. 

When April was kidnapped I thought Donnie would the be one having panic attacks and lashing out at everyone.  However when April says she's going to hitch a ride with the Foot Clan, Dogpound overhears Leo's voice on her phone and realizes she's an ally of the Turtles. Given the threat upon their home and family, and now their only human ally (and love interest of one of his brothers) is now a prisoner of the Foot Clan.  It really begins to send him over the edge to the point he does get a panic attack. 

The villains were despicable as always, particularly Dogpound. He is still completely evil and loyal to the Shredder, however it seems in his current form as an eleven foot tall mutant dog he cannot perform martial arts as easily as he once did. But he is still a formidable opponent and created a difficult challenge for all the Turtles together.   

Fishface on the other hand is given the shorter end of the stick as far as mutations. As he has literally become a fish and is forced to reside in an aquarium tank embedded in the floor of the Shredder's lair. Fortunately he will be getting some robotic legs sometime soon so we will see how effective he'd be as a fighter then. But then again, Fishface may be more lethal in water so hopefully their won't be any underwater battles between him and the Turtles any time soon. 

As for the Shredder. I thought his method of taking out the Turtles by incinerating the cities sewer system was rather cowardly. We all know that the Shredder is less then honorable and in his desires for vengeance the few hundred or so casualties that could result from his actions are more then likely the furthest thing from his mind. Especially when he can leave the country at any given time. 

That's all I have to say about this episode, check back for my review of Episode 11-Mousers Attack.