On Saturday morning, Nickelodeon premiered the first episode of the new TMNT series. Starting roughly from scratch, the series follows the boys as they venture to the first time since their mutation fifteen years ago.
The cast features Jason Biggs (American Pie) as Leonardo, Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings) as Raphael, Greg Cipes (Teen Titans) as Michelangelo, Rob Paulsen (Raphael in the original TMNT cartoon) as Donatello, Hoon Lee (Premium Rush) as Master Splinter, and Mae Whitman (Avatar: The Last Airbender) as April O'Neil.
Some of the changes to the series from previous others include April being 16-years-old, Splinter having previously started as the human Hamato Yoshi (who in most adaptations is the owner of the rat who would become Splinter) before his mutation along with a tragic past history with Shredder, Donatello and Michelangelo's weapons having blade extensions when necessary, and Donatello having a crush on April (a play on what apparently has been a brewing fandom for years). Additional touches include Raphael having a pet turtle and a few of Leonardo's leadership traits being inspired from watching a Star Trek-like TV show.
I really enjoyed the opening episode. There was a lot of good character development taking place and the storytelling was done very well. The animation works for the show, giving fluidity to the action sequences and playing with some of the anime-inspired comedy.
One thing I took away from the first episode that I liked was that Donatello was given some character depth with his crush for April. Furthermore, he was given heroic moments to shine when Leonardo twice allowed him to concentrate on rescuing her whie the others fended off the opposition forces.