“Mikey Gets Shellacne” continues the previous episode’s focus of the teenage part of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Mikey contracts explosive acne after sprinkling blue mutagen over his pizza (possibly inspired by Michaelangelo voice actor Greg Cipes sprinking crushed up blue algae on top of his pizza). Unfortunately while “Mutagen Man Unleashed” nailed the teenage aspect, this episode was just…there. The main selling point of “Mikey Gets Shellacne” is the humor, and while the episode commits to the grossness of the zits and playing with alternate forms of animation, it doesn’t land as well as it should.
The zits develop throughout the episode, with them moving from the top of his head to his tongue, the rest of his body, his eyelids, and eventually massive boils breaking through his shell. It looks disgusting, and the animators make it worse/better by having them wobble and constantly threatening to burst open during the climactic fight. The problem is that the episode wants to play the zits almost popping as humorous, but the animation doesn’t quite reach that level of Sam Raimi gross-out humor it was aiming for (although I’m sure this played much better with a younger audience).
There’s also plenty of word play, but it ran the gamut from cheesy in a fun way (Raph is surprisingly good at coming up with zit based puns) to played out (Mikey constantly confusing the word “centrifuge” for “centerfudge”). There were some humorous highlights though; the shifts in animation styles are always fun and the opening scene (the turtles failing miserably at cooking breakfast by using ninja skills) was full of creative visual gags.
Although the episode was mostly set-up to be focused on Mikey getting to be comedic, it also worked as a stealth mythology episode, developing both Bradford and Karai’s plans. Chris Bradford, frustrated with his bulky body as Dogpound, copied a play from Ben Grimm and tried to get a scientist to change him back to his human form. However, during his fight with Mikey he once again accidentally covered himself in mutagen, causing himself to double mutate, this time into Rahzar. Silly Bradford, you should have known that The Thing never succeeds at turning back in to his human form!
Karai managed to succeed in her c-story and captured Stockman to help her control the Foot Bots. Fishface questions her decision though; Shredder commanded her to keep the Foot Clan in a holding pattern until he returned. Not only is this the second time this season that she’s disobeyed Shredder, but now she’s trying to control the Foot Bots for herself. While Mikey’s acne received top billing and the A-story, Karai’s move to possibly usurp her master may end up being the more important part that people remember.
Although good luck forgetting Mikey’s zit covered eyes; that’s going to haunt me for a long time.
I LOVE THE ’80s: Rahzar scrapes the wall with his claws like Freddie Kruger, Dogpound says Stockman would mutate in to a “lowly bug.”