With the first season of the brand new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the books, it’s time to take a look at everything that’s been revealed, as well as all left unanswered. The new show opened with a bang, bringing the action of the 2003 series together with comedy reminiscent of – and, arguably, better than – the 1987 series. A brand new audience was introduced to a familiar cast of characters, with a few goodies thrown in for good measure.
The most surprising change to the new series was making April O’Neil a teenager. While her role in the other incarnations as “surface world mentor” didn’t change, the way she was presented added some credibility to her hanging out with a bunch of mutant teenage boys. She’s their age, helping to build a sense of youthful vigor that in turn promotes growth and development that the audience can see and react to as the season progresses. There was also the addition of her father, Kirby O’Neil, who was mentioned in several other versions, but had not been seen. Now that he was rescued from the Kraang and can interact with April and the turtles regularly, he will surely add an interesting new dynamic to the show.
This season also did its best to give new life to characters and weapons long lost to in the annals of TMNT lore. Beyond the main and secondary cast came the Rat King, Mutagen Man, Metalhead, and the Technodrome. By adding these simple little elements to the show, the writers were doing more than catering to the target demographics of the show and network. They were also saying thank you to the fans that have stuck with the franchise for nearly 30 years.
The season did have its downside, though. As previously mentioned, renewing the show so early for two more seasons sucked some of the energy away from the season finale, and perhaps from the first season as a whole. While the nature of the show dictates that the turtles always emerge victorious, knowing by episode four that all major plot points cannot be resolved for at least 70 more episodes makes the first season less about defeating the Kraang and Shredder and more about just setting up as many secondary and tertiary story lines as possible. The magnitude of the battle, the energy of the finale, and the success of victory are all reduced considerably because nothing can actually be resolved in the first 26 episodes (as evidenced by the stalemate in Splinter and Shredder’s battle, as well as the immediate resurrection of the Technodrome after its defeat).
With every question answered, and every new step this season, there are still those issues that need resolution. First, what happened to Leatherhead? He was sucked into Dimension X with General Traag, but the rock warrior made it back to Earth, so what happened to the alligator mutant? Second, why is April special? There was a lot of talk during the first season about her brain, and her being in tune with the universe. But that still doesn’t explain the physical reason. There has to be something more to it, especially considering she wasn’t mutated by the Kraang’s chemically altered water. Also, where will Karai’s loyalty fall? Or perhaps, when will she discover the truth? (Probably not until the end of season two.)
Ultimately, season one of the brand new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a wild success, both for Viacom and for the fans. It had so much to offer, was full of potential, and can only build to greater things. The cast and crew have recreated exactly what the franchise was, and it’s being introduced to a new generation. Where the show will go from here, only time will tell. But it will certainly be in a good direction that does the fans, the creators, and the turtles proud.