TMNT – “Meet Mondo Gecko” Review
“I’ve always wanted to lick my own eyeballs” – Michelangelo
Michelangelo is beyond bored, but his brothers aren’t providing the most exciting entertainment. Fortunately, Casey Jones is ready for some fun, so the two head out for some rooftop skateboarding. However, their good time is interrupted by the appearance of a new mutant: Mondo Gecko. After joking around with his new friends, Mondo explains his story, and the three head out for some more fun, despite Casey’s bad feeling about the lizard.
During the festivities, however, the three friends run across Hun and his Purple Dragons. Mikey dispatches the three goons, but Hun takes down Casey before sending Mondo plummeting off the side of a building. Mikey swings in just in time, but even combined he and Casey can’t defeat Hun; fortunately for the two, Hun slips on a skateboard and falls from the ledge. After the fray, Mondo tries to take some of the Purple Dragons’ cash, and Casey takes off, refusing to work with a criminal.
Worried about their friends, the other turtles and April head out to search. Meanwhile, Mikey heads back to Mondo’s home, where he lives and works for a mysterious “Mr. X.” Unfortunately, a trap is sprung, and Mr. X turns out to be Fish Face. Capturing Michelangelo, Fish Face wants to use him in a skate race, and tosses the turtle into a cell with a captured Casey. Not taking kindly to Fish Face’s plan and trying to make amends, Mondo Gecko attempts to free his new friends, only to become the next competitor in “the race.”
The trial begins with the three skaters facing off against Fish Face in his dangerous obstacle course. After dodging electrified trash can lids and pools of piranhas, arrows, boulders, and hydraulic walls try to crush them. With the finish line quickly approaching, Mikey and Mondo build up speed and take the win from Fish Face. Before the mutant can retaliate, the others arrive and put an end to the underground skating once and for all. Now the turtles have another new friend ready to help when they need him.
For about a year now, fans have known Mondo Gecko was on the way, and for a quite a while, they knew he would be voiced by Robbie Rist (Michelangelo from the 1990s TMNT live-action films). Both were exciting choices, especially having another old VA from the franchise involved again. As expected, Mr. Rist did not disappoint. He brought a lot of what made the original live-action Michelangelo so fun and funny to this new character, including a favorite catchphrase. (A nice added touch was having Mikey say it at the end of the episode.) The use of a VA from the franchise in this manner is in many ways better than what was done with the 1987-2012 TMNT crossover episode in season two. Like Corey Feldman as Slash, Robbie Rist got a chance to be his character, provide a story, and exist on screen next to his former turtle, which made Mondo more likable and interesting than the 15 seconds of airtime the 1987 turtles received. Now, if Mondo Gecko joins the Mighty Mutanimals, things will be even better (and hopefully Josh Pais and Brian Tochi will be making debuts at some point as well).
The only drawback to this episode was that it felt out of place. As mentioned before, when these big, important stories are being developed and have so many working parts, episodes like this one where nothing really happens and you can’t see the reason for its inclusion become a bit frustrating (especially when next week will take Karai’s story to the next level). So why in a season where every episode carries behind it a sort of gravitas for the larger story is time spent on what could amount to a throwaway episode – at least for right now.
Overall, it was a lot of fun. Mondo Gecko is a great character, and he should be given the chance at future episodes. If he can learn a thing or two from Slash or Mikey, then certainly he’ll become a decent fighter and an even better ally.