Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Newtralized review
Corey Feldman teams up with Danny Trejo to fight aliens on the latest episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Newtralizer is an amalgamation of amalgamations. He’s a mix of The Punisher and Judge Dredd that’s also a mix of an old rejected Ryan Brown toy design and a character Ciro Nieli created in elementary school. Throw in Danny Trejo and you’ve got a blend of everything violent that a twelve year old in the ’80s could want. The episode attempts to do the same thing by smashing together a bunch of action figures stories we’ve seen before; unfortunately, the accessories fell off and we’re left with a watered down do-over of better stories.
This is Newtralizer’s third appearance on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and even though Slash took precedence, this is still his biggest role to date (as well as gaining Danny Trejo a voice actor). He has the excessively violent aspect down, but he’s missing the justice of The Punisher and the satire of 2000 AD. His goal is to execute EVERYBODY, regardless of whether they’re Kraang, mutant, or human. Maybe he’s on a crusade to kill all Kraang (like Matt Murdock and the Turtles, I’m assuming Kraang stepped on Newtralizer’s family while killing the Castles), but he behaves more like a villain that wants to rule the world by destroying it. I assumed that he wanted to destroy New York City so the Kraang couldn’t convert the planet, but there’s not really any explanation of how an AT-ST could take out Manhattan or if that was even his plan.
The first issue of Punisher’s series involved him hanging off the side of an apartment building about to shoot a drug dealer at point blank range with a bazooka. That was a normal cover. 2000 AD’s Judge Dredd has acted as a ridiculously over the top (yet sadly relatable) fun house mirror of the U.S. There’s plenty to mine there, but outside of the designs and a desire for revenge, nothing carries over; we can only hope that in a future season we’ll get Danny Trejo telling the Turtles that he is the law.
This episode is also the third appearance of Slash, Raph’s former pet turtle named Spike. The first appearance featured the origin of Slash; he wants to be friends with Raph, but is too violent and has to leave to be on his own. The second appearance was during a jail breakout where Raph frees Slash and then Slash saves him; the two have a moment where they come to terms and move on in their own directions. It was rushed, but Slash had his redemption and his story was done. This episode mixes the two together; Slash fights the Turtles, is saved by Raph, has a change of heart, and realizes he has to be on his own. This could be building to a longer arc of Slash continuing to add white to his shades of grey and potentially go by Spike again, but for now that means it’s just an interlude between major character beats.
Casey and Raph’s story is a retread of April and the T. The series has shown that a human (or whatever April is) can’t keep up with the endurance of mutated turtles. They can parkour around rooftops for hours as a warm-up; April can’t. Raph can jump from building to building no problem; Casey can’t. Blah blah blah human character’s upset blah blah blah argument blah blah blah Ron Weasley leaves blah blah blah heroes in trouble blah blah blah Han Solo swoops in to blast Vader and save the day blah blah blah. The Sidekick with a Thousand Upset Faces has been done a thousand times and you don’t need me to go over the general beats. The only part worth noting is that the story winked at the trope by having Casey admit that he waited for the Turtles to be in trouble so he could make a heroic entrance. But even in this post-Community world where I’ll take scraps of meta-jokes wherever I can get them, that doesn’t make up for the fact that the build-up was blah blah blah.
It’s frustrating that I had to type “blah” so much because the parts of the episode should make an interesting whole. Raph has trouble connecting with others, so having Casey and Slash in an episode should have led to interesting friendship drama. There’s great material there, but nothing gets a chance to be expanded and worked with; it’s just the same beats repeated.
Oh, and Danny Trejo plays The Punisher as a giant mutant fire belly newt that’s also a Mega-City One Judge and fights aliens and ninjas. That’s like the pitcher aiming the ball exactly at a batter’s wheelhouse. That should be a home run, but somehow it ended up as a bunt. To continue (seventh-inning) stretching out this bad baseball analogy, the next episode is called “Pizza Face,” so they’ve got another swing (although I’m going to be a bit disappointed if there isn’t Nickelodeon synergy at work and Kel Mitchell doesn’t play the part).
I LOVE THE 80s: The 2012 version has really distanced themselves from the slang of the 80s cartoon, so it was pretty surprising to see a COWABUNGA SKATE shop in the background.
– “Kraang, over here. Move in the direction known as this way.” “That is what is known as awesome.”
– The International Object podcast had an episode recently where the hosts discussed what they believed in when they were eight; one of them mentioned the possibility of becoming a mutant ninja turtle, so I guess repeating plots about how humans can’t mutate in to turtles is a necessary lesson.
– What is with genre shows and adorable pets/sidekicks named Spike? Along with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles there are also Spikes on My Little Pony and Buffy/Angel.
Speaking of supporting Spikes, there was a character on the Dinosaurs sitcom named Spike that was voiced by Christopher Meloni who looks a lot like Elias Koteas who played Casey Jones in the first and third live action films which featured the voice of Corey Feldman who voices Spike on this show. Oh, and Spike from Dinosaurs was portrayed by David Greenaway who was a facial assistant for Raphael in the first Turtles film. Time is a flat shell.
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