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[TV Review] ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Episode 4.01 – “Beyond the Known Universe”

Previously on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles“…

Our heroes in a half shell are royally screwed.  Between a double-invasion of Earth by two warring alien species (the Kraang and the Triceratons), the murder of Splinter (Hoon Lee) by their arch-nemesis The Shredder (Kevin Michael Richardson), and the fact that the Triceraton ultimately destroyed the entire planet with a black hole super-weapon, things were not rosy in the slightest for our heroes at the end of last season.  Lucky for our reptilian quartet (Leonardo, Ralphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo), plus April O’Neil and Casey Jones, they were rescued at the last second by a spaceship-piloting robot named The Fugitoid and rocketed away to a safe distance.  Talk about a mouthful!

Full disclosure: I absolutely LOVE this series.  I probably love it almost as much as my kids do and their love for it is practically unconditional.  Part of it has to do with its wonderful talent for riffing on genres and properties I love without winking or pandering to the audience.  Mostly though, it’s just the fact that it is well-written and a ton of fun.  I could go on and on about my favorite moments from previous seasons and perhaps I will at some point, but for now, we’ll stick to the new season at hand.

So what’s going on with the Turtles now as they rocket through space with The Fugitoid (David Tennant)?  And who exactly is this Fugitoid?  To answer the latter first, he is an alien scientist named Dr. Honeycutt, whose brain has been placed in the body of a robot and he now answers to the name “The Fugitoid”.  His mission is to help his Utrom friend Bishop stop the never-ending conflict between the Triceratons and the Kraang, but most of all, he wants to undo the destruction of Earth.  So, with his newfound Earth friends (the Turtles, Casey, and April) in tow, he has traveled back in time to do just that.  Their goal is to track down the elements needed to build the black hole weapon before the Triceratons themselves do.

Armed with new appropriately-science fiction’d up ninja gear and spacesuits, Leonardo (Seth Green), Donatello (Rob Paulsen), Raphael (Sean Astin), Michelangelo (Greg Cipes), April O’Neil (Mae Whitman), and Casey Jones (Josh Peck) are completely out of their element and lost on a journey through worlds they do not understand.  A short trip to a Mos Eisley-esque spaceport proves just that, as they manage to bungle every single last interaction they have with any alien species they come across.  They almost manage to piss off an alien crime lord named Lord Dregg (Peter Stormare), who I’m guessing will be a recurring thorn in their side this season.

As a season premiere, this episode works very well.  All of the cards are laid out on the table in a quick and easy-tu-understand fashion in the recap, the new opening credits sequence is great, and the new locales thus far are a breath of fresh air.  Many franchises I am fond of have gone to space in their fourth outings and this is following suit.  Unlike many of those, however, I have faith that the crackerjack creative team behind this series will knock this new sci-fi setting out of the park.

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