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[TV Review] ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Special – “Half Shell Heroes: Blast to the Past”

While the regular season appears to have taken a break until early next year, Nickelodeon aired a special episode this week in its usual timeslot.  It appears to be a backdoor pilot for a potential sister series geared at a younger age group and based on the Playmates line of toys for the series.  Done in 2D animation instead of the show’s regular 3D animated look, it’s a pretty damn cute curiosity of a TV special and surprisingly just as smart as its existing, more mature counterpart.

Granted it plays a lot broader in its writing and humor, but you can tell that the heart inherent in the existing show has carried over.  The voice cast has as well and I can tell you that it’s actually kind of amusing hearing these character’s voices coming from cuter, more pint-sized counterparts.  It’s rather adorable.  Yes, even Tiger Claw, Bebop and Rocksteady!

The story here is that the Turtles get their hands on a special crystal that the aforementioned Shredder goons were attempting to steal.  They succeed in defeating the Foot Clan minions and return to their lair.  Now it’s Turtle-relaxing time!  Mikey plops down to play video games with Ice Cream Kitty and the other Turtles gather around Donnie as he susses out the nature of the mysterious crystal.  They also learn that Donnie has built a new transforming Turtle vehicle and using the crystal to power it, they decide to take it for a test run.  Not the best idea.

Long story short, while being pursued by Bebop and Rocksteady, the six of them all all transported back in time to the Prehistoric era…when dinosaurs ruled the Earth!  Shenanigans ensue, of course, both between the Turtles and their goofball adversarial duo and between all six and the dinos roaming about the land.  Then, to make matters worse, Triceratons arrive.

Under the command of General Zera (Kate Mulgrew, keeping the Star Trek theme going*), the Triceratons unleash they robo-dinobots (including a pack of Roboraptors and a huge Robospinosaurus) on our protagonists.  Not only must they band together with Bebop and Rocksteady to survive, but they must tame living dinosaurs as pets to even the odds.  It’s pulp, adorable fun and things are left open for a sequel (this time set in a post-apocalyptic future) that I would certainly watch, if made.  If you have little kids that might be interested in Ninja Turtles, but might also not quite be ready for the current series, this is absolutely for them.


* – Michael Dorn (Worf from “Star Trek: The Next Generation“) voices the Triceraton commanding officer on the regular series.

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