I spent a lot of time watching "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" when I was younger, especially in my pre-teen years. It's funny how you don't appreciate something at the time, but when you go back to watch it, you realize: Man, my generation had it made when it came to cartoons.
Sure, the animation was a bit gritty and sometimes the episodes were slow, but that's the way it was done at the time. And now I'm going to sound like an old man when I say that all of these "modern" cartoons seem like a frenetic jumble of bright colors and loud noises, without any real substance. Take me back to the days of "The Smurfs," "Snorks," "C.O.P.S." and "He-Man."
Upon rewatching the first three episodes of 1988 series "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," I was pleasantly whisked back to an easier, simpler time. Here are my top 10 rediscoveries upon rewatching:
1. The Theme Song Is Amazing
When I heard the "heroes in a half shell" part, which is voiced by some odd synthesizer instrument, I got chills, literally. Memories of eating a bag of chips after school while watching and singing along to it rushed before my eyes.
2. Guess Who Wrote And Performed The Theme Song?
I had to look it up -- where did this masterwork come from? Turns out it was none other than "Two and a Half Men" executive producer Chuck Lorre. I know, crazy!
3. The Animation Is Classic
Again, yes, it can be gritty at times, and more often than not the voice syncing is off, but c'mon, this was the 1980s. There's so much comfort to be found in the subtle mistakes you can point out.
4. April O'Neill Was Hot For a Cartoon
Who doesn't love a nosy investigative reporter? April O'Neill just didn't give a f**k -- to hell with her editor! And that yellow form-fitting jumpsuit was the coup de grace.
5. The Premise Of The Show Is So Random
Splinter the talking rat learns ninjutsu from his owner in Japan. When his owner is killed, his cage is broken in the scuffle. Splinter heads to New York City on a boat, and takes up residence in the sewers. He stumbles upon four baby turtles who've come into contact with radioactive green ooze, and as a result, he too is exposed. They all grow larger, and he takes it upon himself to teach the turtles ninjutsu. Together, they take on Shredder, a.k.a. the man who killed Splinter's owner. Truly random, truly terrific.
6. You Wouldn't Believe Who Voices Shredder
When I first heard Shredder's voice, it sounded awfully familiar. Like, really familiar. Then it was unmistakable: It's James Avery, otherwise known as Uncle Phil from "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."
7. This Was No Flash In The Pan
"TMNT" started off as a short miniseries (many people behind the scenes thought it was too ridiculous to catch on in North America), but then began it's multi-season run in 1988. It ran for almost 10 years, ending in 1996. If you're lucky, you can still catch it in syndication.
8. Some Sound Effects Are Totally Off (Very Endearing!)
As with the voice syncing, some sound effects are just plain off. The main standout for me was when the turtles eat pizza (which just so happens to be all the time). Instead of an "eating" noise, it makes a squishing sound, as if someone's walking in a swamp. Maybe the pizza is just really cheesy.
9. "Turtle Tips": PSAs Before There Were PSAs
Along with the social awareness that blossomed in the mid-90s, "TMNT" started airing "Turtle Tips" in between back-to-back episodes. They would focus on issues like environmental protection. Wouldn't it be great to have some more "Turtle Tips" now? Imagine the four turtles teaching us about the hazards of the internet?
10. Krang Is Possibly The Best Cartoon Villain Out There
How cool is the concept of a giant brain as a villain? Krang sits in a robot body (strangely, in the stomach area), and barks orders at the subservient Shredder. In reality, we know that Shredder could easily slice and dice Krang, but we know he won't. It's the very far-fetchedness of "TMNT" that makes it one of the most creative, enjoyable cartoons ever created for TV.
(Canadians, you're in luck! Teletoon Retro is bringing back "TMNT" -- it premieres Friday, April 6 at 10:30 p.m. ET, and will be airing Fridays at 10:30 p.m. ET, Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. ET, and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. ET.)
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