Reboots and revivals are rather normal for a property that has been active for more than 35 years, and they are typically eagerly anticipated projects. So it was expected when Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was revealed as the 2012 cartoon series was coming to a close.
The surprise, or more accurately the shock, was postponed until after the concert received some appalling reviews from the critics. Even if a lot of the criticism was not justified, it had an effect on both the artists and the fans.
The highly promising series was ultimately simply another untimely cancellation victim because it never really found a pleasant hunting ground. In this video, we will perform a complete autopsy and examine everything related to this programme. You are more than welcome to determine for yourself whether the negative reviews are fair and whether this movie belongs on your watchlist.
All that was new – the grand changes that the critics hate!
When someone watches a new version of a show that they have adored their entire lives, we entirely comprehend the concerns they may have. Having said that, we do not understand needless complaining if the adjustments are intriguing and exciting enough! Compared to the traditional method that the fans were used to, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles did include several groundbreaking improvements.
First of all, it was the first time that the Turtles’ various species were revealed; Michelangelo was a box turtle, Raphael was a snapping turtle, Donatello was a softshell turtle, and Leonardo was a red-eared slider turtle. The filmmakers also changed the relationships of the family, making Raphael the oldest and the pack leader while Leonardo was the disobedient one.
Although this was utterly out of character for the TMNT franchise, the story was never compromised. The Turtles’ initial encounter with April was established quickly in the episode as well. Again, this adjustment had no negative effects on the story at all. They simply began with the premise that they had known one other for some time.
The next big change that was seen in this show dealt with the overall theme. Some of the fans expected the tone to be tilted towards a serious narrative, and when it turned out to be more of a comedic variation, these people weren’t too pleased.
Now, it has to be said loud and clear here that a show can have some genuine comedic value without compromising on the quality. It doesn’t mean that there weren’t some serious moments, and some of the new villains that were added were certainly no joke!
The comparisons were drawn to the Teen Titans series, which also dealt with all the mixed reviews. Nevertheless, people still see it as one of the genre-defining superhero shows that dared to venture into unexplored territory. The light-hearted narrative, the fun-filled banter between the protagonists, and the nicely placed jokes in the narrative only made the show more entertaining, and Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rarely had a dull moment! Our heroes are fun-loving young people and they aren’t afraid to show their emotions.
Yes, you actually get to see them crying a lot – both tears of joy and sorrow! Besides, they also express a lot of love towards each other and the brotherly emotions are a part of the regular narrative. It always gives the feeling of a closely-knit family, who end up having a few adventures together. They encounter genuine threats from some terrifying villains, but ultimately, they always have each other’s back. For a show that was directed towards a young audience, it certainly showed a lot of maturity, and the warm feeling while you watched their bonhomie cannot be explained in words.
How the plot thickened!
Even the storyline in this series had an innovative touch. The narrative is premised in a magical New York City, under which there exists a mystical realm full of several supernatural creatures. It is a re-imagination of sorts from the conventional TMNT themes that we are used to.
Immediately after its release, some big names in business came down heavily on the show. Some points of criticism included things like how the show looked like anime, and how it was all about a group of young teenagers brawling and being dramatic.
Others felt that the show did not take things very seriously, and it was not respecting the legacy of the source material. However, there was also a loyal fanbase developing in support of the incredible artwork and the surprising innovation that added spark to the franchise.
While the new concept was testing the waters with mixed responses, a decisive review in 2018 based on the first few episodes did some serious damage. The following reviews were mostly derived from his thoughts, and it suddenly became cool to trash-talk about the show. It hyped up the backlash and some of the changes, such as the new version of Splinter or April, were dismissed without a fair trial.
The biggest challenge came in the availability of the show. One either had cable or was up-to-date with all the changes in timings, or one had to resort to obscure streaming services to view this show. Given that the show was actually targeted toward children, they missed the mark because the young folk hardly ever got to see it properly. Immediately after the first season, the show was shifted from the main channel, and soon after it was removed from all international airing schedules. The doubts among the fans regarding the possibility of a cancelation always loomed large, and finally, the worst fears turned out to be true.
Viacom CBS and Nickelodeon – bigger villains than Shredder!
If you consider all the things that the popular animated series Teen Titans achieved – Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could have achieved the same and more. There was, however, one major hindrance in their goals, which was the reluctance of Viacom CBS and Nickelodeon to support the show.
Toying around with the schedules certainly did no good for the show, and it was almost like the creators backed out fearing further criticism. The marketing around the show was so poor that fans kept wondering if it was canceled or paused, or still ongoing! Ultimately, it all came down to a rushed version of the final episodes, with a bit too much packed into a few minutes. A lot of the grand plans for the show were held back, and the fans never got to see what became of the ideas.
A lot of what happened to the show has to do with the grand merger of Viacom and CBS. As big an event as it was, it also meant a change of guard, and suddenly, different people were running the studio. In such situations, it is often the case that the older stuff is slowly killed off, and that is exactly what happened with Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Nickelodeon and Viacom CBS clearly made a mockery of their reputation and the treatment delivered to a gem of a show doesn’t do justice to their stature. As we discussed before, a team of some really creative people got together to make this show a success. The abysmal treatment of their fate was just disrespecting years of their efforts. If you watch some of the later episodes of the second season, you will still see some terrific work on the animation, and some mind-boggling detailing, and it all goes on to show that even after knowing the fate of the show, these people kept working as hard as before.
If the show was aired on the main channels despite the selective backlash from some of the so-called influential critics, the fortunes of the show could have been very different. The target audience never really got a chance to watch the show blissfully, but however little they did before the show was taken off the main channels, the children seemed to love the uniqueness.
Sometimes, a show doesn’t make enough money even if it is good enough, and the admirers have to swallow a tough pill for that because it is understandable that the creators are here for business! Unfortunately, even that wasn’t the case with Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the rumors suggested that some of the producers weren’t happy with the toy sales.
For those who are aware, the toys were not readily available everywhere and so it is a tough call taken too early. The action figures were hideous and were a far cry from how the characters looked on the show. Besides, if they invested heavily in merchandise like t-shirts and mugs, we can guarantee that they would have made tons of money!
Overall, it has to be said that canceling the show without any clarity and leaving the fans clueless is literally the worst thing that a network can do, and the producers have to take the blame for this one!
The cast and brains behind the show couldn’t have been better!
The whole saga behind the failure of the show has been depressing enough, so maybe it’s a good idea to cheer you up with some of the good stuff about the show. Let us turn the clock back to July 2016, when Nickelodeon Studios invited co-creators Andy Suriano and Ant Ward to pitch their ideas for the new TMNT show. They were both involved with the 2012 series, and were certainly veterans of the trade.
They had been working on this new concept ever since the previous show was nearing its end, and finally, the idea seemed exciting enough to be green-lighted. The developers were inspired by the movie Big Trouble in Little China, European comics and anime, and it all added up to their version of New York that you see.
Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles literally had the best of both worlds – in terms of the voice actors and developers, as well as the animation department. Flying Bark Productions, an Australian company, was handed the responsibility of dealing with a major bulk of the animation, and it is not too difficult to figure out what a fine job they did! A fresh and enthusiastic team of voice actors was drafted in, and it was the Midas touch that the show required.
Josh Brener as Donatello, Omar Miller as Raphael, Brandon Mychal Smith as Michelangelo, Kat Graham as April, and Ben Schwartz as Leonardo – it was a recipe for success. There were some pleasant surprises for the fans, with the guest appearance of John Cena and Lena Headey. Those who grew up watching the previous incarnations of TMNT were delighted to find Rob Paulson as the voice director and he also voiced Lieutenant Foot.
What was the show all about?
Now that we have been madly defending the show for quite some time, let us give you a quick peek into what made the show so special. Well, it’s the familiar story that you all know, but with a unique presentation that made things so much fun. Inside the sewers of New York City reside the mutant turtle brothers, young teenagers who are still mastering their powers. They haven’t yet embraced their superhero abilities, and they have plenty to deal with. The mutant turtles stumble across the secret realms, and they also tap into their ninja powers to get the better of their enemies.
The first season deals with the Foot Clan, and the exploits of an evil alchemist, Baron Draxum. It also has a nice build-up for the arrival of Shredder, the most terrifying villain in the series. The backstory provided is just perfect, and when he does appear in the second season to destroy the world, the fans are not overwhelmed with the magnitude of events. The series has everything from sound character development, to the young heroes gaining some maturity.
The emotional intelligence of the narrative is quite high, and the best part is just how good you feel after watching the show. Some stunning action scenes make for a few mouth-watering moments for the action fans, and even with all the jokes and humor, the serious parts are never tampered with. In a nutshell, this was a show handled by people who understood the concept behind TMNT, and unlike most of the criticism, it does stay true to its roots despite all the changes.
Marvelous Verdict: A Tale of misdirected criticism
Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wasn’t the first victim of unfair criticism, and it certainly won’t be the last! However, the sheer lack of confidence from the makers was probably the final nail in the coffin. You know the response is bad when even the producers are second guessing their efforts, and eventually, it all came down to a dead end.
Yes, we have already made it quite clear that the show was intentionally different from some of the past incarnations of the mutant turtles. But, change is not necessarily bad, and in this instance, the show did put on their creativity hats to bring us a few surprises. The narrative dives deeper into the things that you love about all these familiar protagonists, and they have a lot more personality and backstory added subtly in the storytelling.
For instance, the treatment done to April was quite impressive, especially because some of the previous versions didn’t quite know where to fit her into the team. It might be an overstatement, but we will say it – this has to be one of the best versions of April ever seen in the TMNT franchise! The team dynamic has been shaken up as well, but we aren’t complaining about having a new leader in Raphael.
The colorful cast of villains is an exciting addition to the show, and we do appreciate the new version of Shredder. The plot patiently takes its time to introduce him as a terrifying antagonist, and it was all a part of the numerous risks that the creators were willing to take. There are some intense action scenes to balance out all the comedy, and the gorgeous animation surely deserves a lot more appreciation than it received.
The new character designs look vibrant, and it is just unfortunate that the critics couldn’t see through the intentions of the creators. There was so much potential with all the new ideas that were thrown in, so much that the show could have accomplished if it wasn’t left hanging in uncertainty. In short, if you want a piece of a refreshing plot supported by all new character designs and group dynamics, this is the TNMT show you should opt for! We grew up watching the original TMNT, but we gave it a chance – and it was delightfully entertaining!
Is the upcoming movie going to be the saving grace?
For all those fans who were disappointed with the fate of this amazing show, there is a glimmer of hope. Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie is finally releasing on the 5th of August, and it is supposedly a continuation of the TV series. Nickelodeon Movies and Nickelodeon Animation Studio have teamed up with Netflix for this one, and it will probably be a great opportunity for them to redeem themselves for the injustice done to the series.
The story is all set to be premised on the aftermath of Shredder’s defeat, and a new threat arises in the form of the Krang – the alien species that the Turtles have to deal with next. Leonardo will have to rise to the occasion and assume leadership roles, where he will lead his brothers to fight this evil alien invasion. To make matters worse, the group also loses their magical powers, but they still band together to save the world. The trailer has promised loads of action, and even if you are among those who brushed off the TV series, you might want to take a closer look at this one.
Another thing that we already love about the upcoming movie is that the original cast from the TV series reprises their roles here. We cannot stress enough on what an amazing job they did, and it will be heartening to see them in action yet again. The animation that we see in the trailer is also a nice reminder of the vibrant TV series, and the makers have claimed that even the newcomers will be able to enjoy the movie just as well as those familiar with the previous series.
The direction is being handled by the Emmy-winning duo of Andy Suriano and Ant Ward, and since they were also developing the animated series as well, they will surely bring all that experience in the movie. Not everything gets a second chance to thrive, and we are hopeful that the upcoming movie will prove all those critics who dismissed the venture wrong!
A Few Final Words
It is quite easy to trash a show for meeting up to some conventional standards set for the franchise, but a closer scrutiny might change the mind of many! We strongly recommend that you guys check it out for yourself without any pre-conceived biasness, and let us know in the comments below about your honest opinions on the show. We can agree to disagree, but there should be a healthy space to discuss these things before the hard work of thousands is dismissed simply because of a few uptight critics! If only more people got the chance to watch this series, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could have been a success story people raved about!