Mark your calendars people, I don’t say that too often. But, with this episode, the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series has gone from being a series I didn’t like on principle to, possibly, one of my favorite television shows.
The writing is crisp and clean and smart, and (above all else) it’s hilarious. It doesn’t rely on over-the-top gags like the Fred Wolf series or the extreme narrative storytelling like the 2k3 series. Once I forgave it for being its own show with its own tone, I have absolutely fallen in love with it.
This episode, “Monkey Brains,” proved that the writers and creators have their heads on throughout every step of the creative process. To take what, in the wrong hands, could have been a disastrous concept (The Turtles versus a Psychic Monkey) and make it into 25 minutes of wonderful television is nothing short of a triumph.
There are tons of Star Trek (called “Space Heroes”) references, and I feel this show is ripe for having a companion book that details all the sight-gags. I know I’m missing a few every episode. Beyond that, from the teaser it’s hilarious, with Splinter teaching Donatello to “fight without thinking,” which is the point of the entire episode.
Speaking of which, the Splinter of this series (despite inexplicably looking with a badger) is fast becoming my favorite Splinter ever. He dispenses smart, funny advice to the Turtles every episode, and this is the first time you really see him training them.
The creators also showed some foresight with perhaps the coolest method of showing telepathic ability, ever. Their adversary can see the moves they’re planning to make, and can see kind of an echo of them before they are made, and are able to avoid them. It ingeniously done, and reminds me a little of the effect used in Chronicles of Riddick, but still seemed wholly original.
This episode also begins Splinter training April, which is something only ever done in the Archie series (to my knowledge). I love that she’s not just some damsel in distress in this series. She’s a great amalgam of all versions of her so far, and you can tell the writers really have a plan for her. I can’t wait to see what they do with Casey Jones in season 2.
There are too many funny lines in this episode for me to name. From Donatello’s flow chart for asking April out to April telling Splinter to “keep practicing” near the end, every line of this episode works and nothing seems lazy or forced.
Despite my (many) reservations, this series has earned its place in this Turtle-fan’s heart. I can’t wait for each new episode.
(But on that note, if they were going to make April a ninja, it would have been nice if they’d made her limbs able to bend in the toy. Just a thought, Playmates).
Never Look Back