Maybe it’s the nostalgia. Maybe it’s the lighthearted nature of this adventure. Maybe it’s because this series was actually aimed at an older age group. Whatever the reason, “Wanted: Bebop and Rocksteady” was a blast! While we’ve seen the interdimensional crossover before, the addition of 1987 Krang and Shredder to the mix was really fun. It was entertaining to see the show team riff on the original series while still honoring it. They didn’t update the characters to reflect our current time. They were joyously stuck in the past, flaws front and center, with our current heroes ready to call them out on how ridiculous they are. Yet despite the general silliness, Shredder and Krang still proved to be a real threat, even validating the current versions of Bebop and Rocksteady in the process. It all came together in the end, with a big team up between the 2014 Turtles, the 87 Turtles, The Mighty Mutanimals, April and Casey, and Karai, Shinigami, and their Foot Clan.
The adventure begins when Shredder and Krang from the 1987 dimension travel to the 2014 dimension in order to escape their Turtles and take over the world! Since they left their Bebop and Rocksteady at home, they put out a help wanted ad looking for minions. Of course, the current Bebop and Rocksteady answer, dressed in their best interview attire (Bebop added a bow tie and Rocksteady put on a tie that looks like it would be worn by Soviet Donkey Kong!). The whole set up is ingenious and hilarious. Bebop and Rocksteady meet Shredder and Krang in a diner. It looks like it’s broad daylight outside and there are multiple patrons in the diner. The civilians all looked shocked when B & R enter, but they were apparently ok with a guy clad in ninja armor and a disembodied brain sitting in two booster seats. Bebop gave Krang professional head shots, while Rocksteady gave a resume written in crayon. It’s all just so silly, and really sets up the tone of the episode.
Shredder even challenges B&R and his look when they overcome him is priceless. His ego is shattered, but he still thinks of himself as the big bad. The fight with the 87 Turtles comes next, and B&R demolish them too. They rely on all the familiar tropes of the original cartoon; knocking over a stack of cardboard boxes, spinning your enemy on the playground roundabout, blasting your enemy with the water from a fire hydrant. Except this time, they all fail. These Turtles were heroes in their own dimension, but things work differently here. Here, they’re totally incompetent. They’re actively afraid of using their weapons, their fighting is more prank than combat, and their style is transparent to enemies like the 2014 B&R, who despite their usual aloofness, have seen their fair share of combat. Even their attempts at escape are predictable and watching Bebop and Rocksteady foil them is amusing.
Eventually the current Turtles rescue the old Turtles, after escaping capture themselves. The new mission, stop Bebop and Rocksteady from stealing some Kraang energy crystals and a microchip needed to open a portal to Dimension X. Despite the help of the Mutanimals and Karai and Shinigami, our heroes are unable to stop the warthog and rhino and their new army of classic Footbots. And despite insulting the pair at every turn, Shredder and Krang actually warm up to B&R, ultimately thanking them for their success, and giving them the acknowledgement they’ve always wanted.
Unfortunately, their success has made it possible for Shredder and Krang to enact their ultimate plan; open a portal to Dimension X and destroy the world! After some thought (and the realization that Rocksteady just really loves Soviet Russia?!) our new super villains decide they want to be new heroes instead! Rocksteady takes out Krang’s body, setting off a chain reaction that stops the portal! What follows is a triumphant beatdown of the villains from all the heroes, with many catchphrases being tossed about.
Nick’s first foray into TMNT has proven to be an excellent series and “Wanted: Bebop and Rocksteady” distills down all the reasons why. There’s slick action, humor, heart, and lots of references to other Turtle properties. I loved lines like, “You can’t kill us! This is a kids show!” and the brief spot of both Donatello’s playing the alphabetical insult game was a small but excellent nod. I also loved the complete version of the Ice Cream Kitty music video, first shown at NYCC last year (note: was this on Nick when it aired? I buy episodes on Amazon Prime, so I’m unclear if that was aired or just a special feature).
“Wanted: Bebop and Rocksteady” was a solid series finale. It brought all the characters back for one final romp, paid homage to the history of the property, and just generally had a lot of fun with itself. It’s going to be difficult saying goodbye to this series. They found such a great balance of adventure, action, and character growth. I’m glad that they went out with a (rocket to the Technodrome) bang.