TMNT (2012) 2.01: “The Mutation Situation”

Just in case you were wondering what I though of the episode, I’ve left my thoughts on it on my Tumblr page.   If y’all would like to comment on the episode, though, you can do so on the comment thread here.

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4 Responses to TMNT (2012) 2.01: “The Mutation Situation”

  1. Gareth says:

    As the rest of the internet seems to just joyously squeal “Yay! Turtles!”, it was pure catharsis to read your thoughts on this episode. I was actually pretty stunned by it. I must confess that I actually began really enjoying this show – I think the opening two-parter is still pretty stellar.
    Early on there were still little things that bothered me – the apparently callous attitude of the turtles, the objectification of April by Donnie, occassional lines of Splinter with strange implications and of course the inability of the turtles to take anything seriously. However I was pretty forgiving and willing to chalk this up to the show still trying to find its feet and the limitations of storytelling in a 22 minute CGI programme. As the first season wore on however and it became clear that no significant story was going to emerge, these little things became more and more pronounced and inexcusable.

    It’s really startling just how relaxed the writers are about having the turtles manipulate allies, betray others, objectify people, put innocents in harm’s way etc all without it ever being addressed in the narrative. And I refuse to accept “it’s a kid’s show” as a valid excuse. The writing for kid’s started to become very sophisticated in the ’90’s and it’s rarely looked back. Why do the writers seem to think that rather than simply pay homage to the 87 Fred Wolf TMNT show that they should emulate the quality of writing, with two dimensional cariactures for protagonists and events having no impact on characters from one episode to the next? Then again I don’t think I’d ever accuse the 87 turtles of being cruel like the 2012 incarnations.

    Kid’s TV shows don’t even have to be as dark as the 2003 TMNT show to be far superior to this. There’s a wonderful but poorly-known Transformers cartoon called Transformers Animated from 2007. Like TMNT 2012 it focuses on a small team of conflicting personalities, with a lot of emphasis on action and humour derived from these characters interacting with one another. But it also took time for drama and to develop an emotional core. Also there is token human female with a scientist father who was kidnapped by the villians for an entire season and loses her home, but in her case we actually get to see her struggling to come to terms with the losses she endures.

    But even by the standards of the first season of TMNT 2012, I thought “The Mutation Situation” really hit a new low, for all the reasons you stated in your post. I was pretty amazed that Leo, Raph and Donnie would have ideally concealed their role in Kirby’s mutation from April if Mikey hadn’t spilled the beans. I also got the distinct impression we were meant to be left with the sense of “Oh no, Donnie’s blown his chance with April!” as opposed to “Donnie and the others are at least partially responsible for April’s father enduring a living hell”. Can you imagine the 2003 Turtles reacting this way if they were responsible for something similar? Inconceivable.

  2. Pterobat says:

    Yep, this episode was a stinker.

    It just seems completely pointless to mutate Kirby, especially when the drama of it is handled so clumsily. The Kirby plot was allegedly important to the first season, but there was barely any interaction between father and daughter, no reason to care about the plotline except that we were told to. The same thing is true of the bat Kirby plotline, with the additional bonus of completely eliminating any reason to have cared about the previous season.

    April’s anger also seemed dull and perfunctory, like usual.

    The opener suffered badly from telling rather than showing. Kirby’s concern for April should have been conveyed in more than just dialogue.

    The main thing behind this series, at this point: I just don’t care. I don’t care enough to hate it, or even stop watching. I don’t care what happens to any character, even the ones I like in previous incarnations. I don’t care that we’re getting a whole lotta mutants. It’s just so incredibly boring. I don’t find it suspenseful, funny, cute, or charming.

  3. Ian says:

    Hello again, Gareth.

    Looking back, I don’t the turtles’ behavior in the Nick series is without precedent; on the contrary, at times I get the impression that this is yet another case of trying to emulate the Fred Wolf cartoon. The season 1 turtles, in particular, had their share of asshole behavior, from suggesting that they’d keep April at the lair forever to prevent them from revealing their secret (if they’re serious, they’re kidnappers; if they’re kidding, they’re needlessly worrying the person who’s known them for ten minutes and has every right to still be afraid of them) to slicing a table belonging to a street gambler for no damn reason to skipping on their bill to trashing April’s apartment to not apologizing at all for being partly responsible for its destruction via Mouser. If it’s more noticeable in the Nick show, I’d say that it’s because it’s more consistent about it, and because our standards for writing have changed–we expect better.

    (The 2003 toon also wasn’t above having the turtles act in this manner. The Fast Forward episode “Obsolete” also has the turtles trash Cody’s home with no indication that Cody had agreed to it beforehand.)

    Like you, I have no patience for the “it’s a kids’ show” defense, or its more contemptuous cousin, “the turtles are just being ‘real’ teenagers”, which is itself sometimes accompanied by “they’ll grow out of it”. The fact that it’s a show aimed at children makes it, if anything, more imperative that the writers be aware of what the story they are creating says, because kids who grow up believing that the turtles’ behavior is acceptable often grow up to become adults who think it’s acceptable. And so bit by bit, the parts of the world that suck continue sucking, when they could be getting better.

  4. Ian says:

    It just seems completely pointless to mutate Kirby, especially when the drama of it is handled so clumsily. The Kirby plot was allegedly important to the first season, but there was barely any interaction between father and daughter, no reason to care about the plotline except that we were told to. The same thing is true of the bat Kirby plotline, with the additional bonus of completely eliminating any reason to have cared about the previous season.

    Yes, Pterobat, exactly. With season 1 having, at best, the skeleton of an emotional arc, there’s no reason to believe that season 2 will be any better. Clips of the next episode have begun making the rounds, and the turtles show no signs of being in any way fazed by the events of the premiere. If they don’t care, why should we?

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