The 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show by 4Kids came out in my teens and by that time I had long grown out of cartoons, I remember knowing about the show because I was a “gamer” and I was looking forward to the new Konami game and thought the new turtles looked cool. I was also growing out of gaming pretty much at that point in life so I never played the game. Around the summer 2004 I got back into cartoons thanks to Teen Titans and re-watching Batman: TAS re-sparking my interest in cartoons. That’s when I started watching TMNT 2k3 in Miguzi, Cartoon Network’s old block. I watched it for a little bit before Cartoon Network took it off. I later started watching the show on Fox Box or 4Kids TV or whatever it was called and I watched the season that was airing at the time and I loved it. Like the original show, It wasn’t until later that I got to watch the whole show. So here is my review and random thoughts on each season.
Season 1, there are a lot of things happening in the first episode, definitely not a good ‘pilot’ for new viewers but its not bad. Second episode was definitely an improvement. So umm how old is April supposed to be in the show? I’m guessing around 24 since I’m assuming to have that Science assistant job she’s already out of college. Also her work outfit is just her regular attire with a lab coat? Just looks odd to see a lab coat over a crop-top shirt. Aprils first meeting with the turtles was handled much better in the original show and it felt more natural than it did here. Weird seeing something that was actually done better in the original show. Now the third episode does feel like a pilot episode and establishes the status quo, don’t get me wrong the first three episodes are cool for fans but its not a good way to set up the series for new viewers unless it was aired back to back like short movie. I mean it takes three episodes to explain what was done in one episode in the original show.
How come Casey Jones isn’t shocked to see Raph, a giant turtle? He acknowledges it but its as if its not a big deal, same deal with the purple dragons and why did Raph just go ahead and give April the purse like that revealing himself? Its also weird how they made such a big deal about going to the surface and seeing people meet them and after the third episode they don’t seem to mind. Can’t say I like the meet up between Raph and Casey Jones it was done so much better in the first movie. Nonetheless I’m enjoying it a lot so far I just haven’t been meeting my expectations of how much I thought I’d enjoy it. I’ll try not to post until I finish the first season.
I was slightly disappointed with season 1, it wasn’t bad by any means but it didn’t leave me amazed like other seasons did and I expected it to. Nonetheless it was still great fun to watch through it and I never struggled through an episode. The Shredder episodes were definitely the highlights and sadly that kinda made the rest feel very fillerish or just made the Shredder arc feel like it was dragging. The non-shredder/dragons/character introduction episodes were just missing something. And I include the ones adapted from comics like the Jack Kirby episode in them. I was also surprised by how was similar to the first season of the original show it was with some plots/themes were definitely the same whether it was a coincidence or not the original show also did loosely adapt the comics in their own way as well.
As far as characters I think Mikey got way too much screentime and I think he got the most episodes which made me not like him as much. Raph also got a ton of time and episodes for himself and he too got tiring. Leo got about the right amount and sadly Donatello got shafted the most. April never felt right to me, I just never felt her connection to the turtles be that strong unlike other incarnations, I don’t know why but that made her appearances odd since I just didn’t feel like this April would be doing all this things for the turtles, I just never felt she was that connected to them. Casey Jones was a bit 50/50, he was pretty badass at times but he gets annoying when they play him as a straight meathead. As with April I didn’t feel Shredder had a big reason to hate so much on the turtles, well before their first fight at least, I could see it after that.
I thought I’d find cool trivia on TMNTpedia and the first few episodes did but it quickly changed into “This is likely the first time the turtles see a naked woman”, I kid you not, that’s exactly what it said and I gave up on it. I thought Shredder would be defeated until the last episode, neat that it happened before and that it ended on a cliffhanger. If I had seen this when it aired I would have thought the Utroms were Krangs, which I guess they are now?
Season 2, I enjoyed it much more than the first. I think it was definitely hard for younger fans especially with the show only airing on Saturdays to get into the show, I mean the last 2 episodes of the first season and the first 8 of this is basically a 10 part mini-series. I like the way the Shredder is being handled, I mean even though he does take a significant part of the season I still feel like he wasn’t overused and want to see more of him instead of getting tired of him. I hate the term filler since I usually enjoy episodes that fans label and dismiss as filler in other shows, however I definitely feel the “filler” episodes in 2k3 are of much lower quality than other episodes. Also I noticed that music is where 2k3 failed terribly at, I mean its not terrible and it gets the job done but its really not memorable either which is a shame, the original show didn’t have amazing music either but it was definitely memorable.
Now on to the characters, I feel the turtles were definitely written much better this season and all four got more or less the same screen time, Leo and Raph seemed to get a bit less but not much and Raph got plenty of time the first season, it was nice seeing Donnie play a larger role. Raph and Mikey’s personalities were definitely played less annoying than in the first season. I enjoyed April much more this time around as well as I now felt she had enough adventures to have a strong bond with the turtles unlike the first season which it just didn’t make much sense. I also find that I only like Casey Jones when he is wearing his mask, his bonehead personality can be downright annoying, maybe that’s why original toon Casey never took it off. I’d rather not see Casey Jones if we’re not going to see him in vigilante mode, I do enjoy some of the AprilxCasey romance, though its hit or miss the way they handle it. Like April I felt the Shredder had a much more personal vendetta against the turtles this time around as enough has happened between them. I thought it hurt Karai’s character that she is so loyal to Shredder, maybe my opinion will change after S3 but I hate how she was introduced as this independent character only for then to quickly fall into “oh I just obey Shredder because he is my master”.
Had I watched it when it aired without knowledge of the comics I definitely would have thought Chrell was supposed to be the 2k3 version of Krang and all the other Utroms were just Krangs species. I also hate superheroes existing in the 2k3 universe, I mean Silver Sentry is basically Superma. I don’t see how Shredder can be a problem when |Silver Sentry could easily take on most of the stuff the TMNT go through.
Season 3 and I enjoyed it as much as season 2, maybe a little bit more but not as much of a difference like I did with Season 2 over 1. At first I was going to rank it below but by the end it won me over, this season already has my two favorite episodes so far with ‘Hun on the Run’ and ‘Same as it never was’. I felt this season was very Shredder-lite, I mean he didn’t do much at all this season which is a shame, you just saw the shredder gathering Triceraton technology through out the season and never really went after the turtles, in fact in Season 2 Shredder didn’t go after the turtles as much as he did in S1 either. I felt the ending was a bit anti-climatic as well, the turtles just decide to go attack the Shredder? It felt a bit out of character for them, also the fact that they were defeated by the Shredder and only won because of the Utroms (I’m not counting their self sacrifice as defeating the shredder, it felt cheap). Counting the season was Shredder-lite and the season finale didn’t deliver I’m glad Chrell got a final battle in Turtles Forever, to give some better closure. Now that I’m talking about Turtles Forever, I don’t see why he had so much hatred for the turtles, I mean he was so insanely against them he wanted to kill them all the multiverse turtles even if it meant him as well, I always thought it worked if there was a better reason but so far from there’s nothing that makes me go “oh no wonder he went insane to kill all turtles at the cost of his life”, I can understand him hating them but not to the insane level the movie portrays it.
Now the characters this season I felt the turtles were definitely more balanced this time, S2 did it good but it was probably better this season. At least Mikey and Raph were definitely toned down, in fact I think Donatello got a lot of time which is great, now that I’m older I definitely think Donatello is easily the best turtle out of the four in most incarnations, though Raph will still be my favorite. I liked seeing April training martial arts and Casey did almost nothing this season which is a shame since he’s annoying when he’s just a character instead of actually part of the plot, I did like the way their romance was handled though. I wish Baxter wasn’t stuck being Shredders goon so long but oh well I did really like Dr. Chaplin and their interactions. Karai didn’t win me over this season either, I don’t like the way they’re handling her she just feels hypocritical instead of ‘confused/conflicted’ which is what they’re going for. As for Shredder this season finally made me realize they took a Lex Luthor “I’m a businessman who is evil” persona and I absolutely hate it, it does not fit him at all, It worked to modernize Lex Luthor from just an evil scientist but not Shredder. Now Agent Bishop disappointed me, especially when everyone holds him in such high regard, don’t get me wrong I liked him but I thought he’d be much more awesome. They played him as just another evil villain when I thought he’d be much more neutral, he’s only against the turtles for the benefit of humanity. Sure they acknowledge thats why he does things but they still could have made him more sympathetic. I also hate how strong they made him, how did he take out the Shredder Elite so easily? I would have liked if he was strong but not that strong.
Season 4, the only season I had already completely seen, I remembered it was amazing and I was afraid after having watched the first three seasons that it wasn’t going to be as good as I remembered it, I mean I used to compare 2k3 with Batman The Animated Series and I no longer felt that was good comparison. I was pleasantly surprised that I was wrong and S4 was still as good as I remembered, its easily the best season the show had and this is where the show peaked. This season definitely felt a lot like Batman TAS to me. The earlier seasons where much more action-y and sci-fi-ish in their story telling, not to say this season didn’t have action or sci-fi since it had plenty of it. It also makes me wish the first three seasons could have been done this style instead, I mean it’s not like I didn’t enjoy them since I did, but they weren’t as enjoyable. Even the updated intro is much better and the original intro had already grown on me quite a bit.
Characters this season and I’m skipping the turtles well except Leo, he was definitely a bit too angsty, when I first saw S4 I didn’t know what had happened with the Shredder so I just imagined it was much more epic than what actually happened so his angstyness made sense. However knowing what actually happened his angst did feel a bit over the top though I was very glad it was acknowledged by him that they did not defeat the Shredder because it’s true. They were defeated by him basically and it had been something that had bothered me so I’m happy it was mentioned. Karai was excellent this season as well, she won me over after not having liked her much before. Same with Agent Bishop, I felt he wasn’t portrayed as only a villain like last season but he just does things in a shady way. Baxter was also made better though I always liked him anyways. I also really enjoyed how Hun worked this season, though I had thought that Hun knew Shredder was an Utrom since the start of the second season. Only character I didn’t like much was the Ratking, I didn’t like that he was just a the Bishop clone/monster from last season.
Season 5, and while not as good as the previous one it’s definitely enjoyable, I don’t understand all the hate for it, well I can see where they are coming from but really I don’t see it that much of a difference. I mean yeah its very heavy on fantasy however how is that different from the earlier ones? The second season and third that are very heavy on sci-fi and we had already seen plenty of magic before anyways. I also don’t understand why people compare it to anime, yeah I guess the mystic power up and the final battle are similar but besides that the season is nothing like anime.
Now one thing I noticed is this doesn’t flow like a season very well, in fact it feels like a TV/DTV movie stretched out among 12 episodes instead of it being a 90 minute movie, in fact it’d be interesting if someone would edit it into a mini movie. Yeah earlier seasons also had plenty of connected episodes and on going story but they didn’t feel like small movies. The only episode that didn’t fit well in the story line was one; I actually thought once they got to NY there’d be more single episodes like that one. And while I normally hate the superhero episodes I really enjoyed that episode, first of all I always liked Nano and seeing him as a superhero was a great way to end his story, loved it. Because it kinda felt like a movie some episodes felt like they were doing a 5 minute segment of training into a full 22 minute episode. Oh and I didn’t like what the Mystics looked without their hats, they should have kept them Anyways to me this season felt very epic, the stakes were really raised, this is especially seen at the end when they all unite forces. Funny how Tengu Shredder keeps mentioning he is the “One true Shredder” counting Turtles Forever, and sadly I kinda feel that Turtles Forever was not as epic as this season was and that Utrom Shredder is not as powerful, I mean they made Tengu Shredder into a beast, I definitely won’t see Turtles Forever the same after this and I already had a problem with Chrell calling himself the one true shredder. In fact I think this season works perfectly as a series finale, the only thing not fully wrapped was Hun and maybe Bishop but they aren’t anything big. I was only bummed that we never besides quick references learn how Chrell assumed the mantle of Shredder, in fact that would have been the only thing that could have redeemed Chrell as a more powerful force.
Season 6 Fast Forward, and I definitely have mixed feelings about it, overall I was a bit disappointed but I wouldn’t say it’s the terrible mess people made it out to be. I’ll start with the things that don’t bother me which apparently are a lot of the complains people have and then I’ll go with the things I didn’t like as much and the things I did enjoy.
I don’t mind the future setting, I find it interesting when shows take a different route for the later/last season even if its often seen as “jumping the shark”, it especially worked here since to me the lost season felt like such an epic last battle that another season just continuing would have felt lackluster, with this being an entirely new setting and adventure it avoids that. The animation change is another thing I’m probably alone in but I find I also find interesting, yeah you definitely feel the change and it’s inferior, however I find it interesting seeing the characters I liked being drawn in a different way. It makes me want to see all the characters drawn in this new style, I have the same opinion in other shows like Captain N and X-MEN TAS that did this in the last season. I also really enjoyed the brighter colors. I also really enjoyed the theme song, while the original 2k3 theme grew on me and I now like it this one is much more fun, only line that really bothers me is Leo’s “I guess we’re here to stay!”, I always cringed when I heard it, it reminds me of something that Josey and the Pussy Cats in Outer Space or Gilligan’s Planet (Gilligan’s island) would have said in their intros.
My problem with Fast Forward is mostly that it was not written as well as the previous seasons, now every season had a fair share of mediocre episodes, but Fast Forward definitely has the most so far. Also what does not help it is I did not like most of the new rogues gallery they came up for the turtles, maybe they should’ve used some from The Next Mutation, I mean I give them props for not just using Future Shredder, Future Rat King, Future Garbage Man, etc but they might as well have to make the season more interesting. Unlike Batman Beyond that also tried avoiding making future versions of previous villains at least Batman Beyond did succeed with the new villains. I absolutely hated triple threat, even more than Garbage Man and he got three episodes! He was absolutely worthless. Same with Viral, what was the point of keeping her for more than one episode or having something to do with Sh’Okanabo? I also didn’t like Sh’Okanabo’s story arc or him being one of the main villains, his plan was too generic and maybe if they had not made him into a Symbiote (Venom/Carnage) like villain I would have liked him more. Darius Dunn wasn’t much better, he was just way too stereotypical for a villain, I guess he’d been alright if he hadn’t been such a focus or if they had tried to hide his plans a little better or written him better. I did not like the dark turtles either, and I love evil mutant turtles, heck I love generic “evil” versions of characters no matter how cheap it is to just make an evil version of the heroes; I’m a sucker for them. Street Phantoms weren’t too bad but I didn’t like them much either, heck why couldn’t they just have been a 2105 version of the Purple Dragons gang and it would have made them slightly more interesting. As unoriginal as it may have been a Future Shredder trying to take the mantle or having the mantle would have been far more interesting. Villains weren’t the only to blame, I thought I didn’t dislike Cody from the first time I had seen it, heck I normally like disliked characters such as Zack the fifth turtle and Jar Jar Binks, but Cody was just extremely unlikable. I also don’t understand why some people liked Serling, I did not like him much, his sacrifice was a bit sad even if it lasts for a few seconds, didn’t care he became Turtle X since I never cared for that anyways and he didn’t really appear as Turtle X much. Now for a robot that doesn’t seem to get much love but definitely deserves it:
“Allo Allo Allo! What’s all this then?”
Constable Biggles was awesome! Too bad he never got an episode to himself as I would have loved it. Agent Bishop was fun to see, though I wish they had played him a bit more grey in his ways and not entirely “I’m good now”, I mean even in 2k3 he was mostly trying to do good while doing bad stuff, it would have been neat if there was still some less that honorable things he was doing for the greater good. Loved seeing Baxter Stockman and him getting redeemed made me very happy. I realize he probably didn’t deserve to redeem himself after all he was always evil by heart but I always felt so bad for him I liked that he had a happy ending. Zixxth could have been written a bit better but I enjoyed him even if he did make the turtles seem a bit stupid. General Zukko would have been an interesting recurring villain too at least have a bigger role. Oh I almost forgot I also liked those bird warrior creature things.
The whole season just felt like they could have done much more with the future setting than they did, the writing did improve the second half of the season and was more enjoyable but the whole season wasn’t as well written as the previous ones were. I mean the future window was kind of a stupid way to have traveled into the future they could have thought of something better like the time scepter. Also for a show that tried to ridicule “Cowabunga”, “It’s Ninja Time” is far more annoying, and it’s used endlessly in the first half of the season. Also 2105 is not that far into the future for the world to be that advanced, I realize aliens came and likely helped humans modernize the city but still. I mean 2105 is not even 100 years into the future anymore like it was back in 2005, heck the videogame Helix 2 was made because of Halo 2 that came out around the same time, that especially dates the show unintentionally, there’s been like a bunch of Halo’s since then. So yeah its not as bad as people make it out but not as good as it could have been, writing was definitely not as tight and it hurt the season. I would have liked to have seen the Space Usagi episodes and maybe a few more episodes to wrap up FF but I’m definitely glad they went back to NY for the last season and all this time in the future really left me wanting to watch more stuff in the present.
Season 7 Back to the Sewers, and wow I really enjoyed this season, it’s not one of the best seasons the show had by any mean but it’s a solid one. I’m surprised by all the hate I see it gets. The worst episode was the Justice Force one but even then it wasn’t the worst Justice Force episode either, the videogame one was actually amusing to me so i had no problems with it. I thought the cyber world was awesome but it wasn’t used that much really, so even if you didn’t like it it wasn’t the whole season about it; In fact I would have liked to have seen more of it. I definitely think the season had pretty strong episodes. Overall a great season and while I would have loved to have seen more episodes the show had a great run and this season works as a final season well enough.
Like with Fast Forward I enjoyed seeing different designs, the pupils are nice but they seemed kind of odd on the 2k3 turtles. The designs are so different it could almost be a new TMNT cartoon, they are also very inspired by the 2007 film, in fact a kid who just watched the movie turned on 4K!ds and watched Fast Forward/Back to the Sewers could easily think it was in continuity with the movie. Now that |I think about it, those two seasons could really fit if a kid didn’t know the 2k3 is a different universe. I wasn’t a huge fan of April’s new look but I think my biggest problem with her was her clothes since I didn’t like them, also she didn’t change clothes (well yellow tracksuit) unlike past seasons where she had a limited but still a wardrobe, I would have liked to have seen her with her classic 2k3 outfit at least once though. I hated Casey Jones’ new mask though.
New opening was nice though it wasn’t my favorite, I remember when me and the TMNT fandom all got together to vote for the one we could all tolerate so the awful rap theme which was winning didn’t. Good times. And out of all the season 7 proposals we did get the best choice so we dodged a bullet there. The one about it being more like the old toon would have been nice however it really didn’t fit in the 2003 universe not to mention it couldn’t have been given justice with all the potential the OT mutants has in just one 13 episode season.
One thing I missed about these last two seasons was the monologue openings, at first I wasn’t a big fan of them and considered them filler but they grew on me. I liked Don being a bit angsty and getting focus in this season, I’ve come to really like Donatello. Oddly enough Leo has been mostly plain the past two seasons, he’s mainly just there, not a big problem but I did notice. Mikey beating Cyber Shredder was a nice touch even if he didn’t “die”, I think Raph was mostly reduced to one liners this season though. Serling being there was a bit pointless, I guess he was there to fulfill the mentor role since Splinter wasn’t but he didn’t really do that all that much either. I did like that at least it acknowledged that Fast Forward wasn’t forgotten and even though Splinter wasn’t there the whole season I didn’t miss him too much. Master Kahn had a strong first episode but after that he wasn’t much of a threat, that was a shame. I found Cyber Shredder a great way to bring Shredder back without it being Shredder. I actually liked the costume changes the turtles had and they would make good variant figures, I would have liked a bigger version of the “ninja” outfit and would have loved to own Foot Ninja Turtles. Yeah the skating clothes looked cheesy as hell but I found it amusing, like seeing the original toy line wacky costumes being animated. I felt they divided Splinter into too many bits counting they barely ever get splinter bits in the actual season, out of all the times they do only half the time they actually got a few while they said he was split up in thousands, why not just say “seven” pieces or something?
I have a theory, I think Back to the Sewers is just Fast Forward season 2 re-tooled to work in the present age. There are a ton of clues to make this pretty obvious in my opinion. Serling came back because he’s not a character that had a counterpart in the present so he was needed. Episode titles from FFs2 share some names with BTTS. Karai has no role in the season because she was no longer alive in 2105 which is why we get Master Kahn and Cyber Shredder works perfectly for the future, in fact Fast Forward season 2 would have started similarly, the turtles try to go back in time but Viral stops them traps Splinter in Cyber Space just the turtles remain in the future, Viral finds the old Foot file and Cyber Shredder is born. The whole entering the Cyber World makes more sense being plausible in the future than in the present anyway. April’s role of helping Don is just Cody’s role and we even see April use the Turtle X mode that Cody had. It also makes sense counting how quickly the season came out shortly after the direction was decided, they tried to save as much of the work of FFs2 as possible into BTTS which too bad we didn’t see Space Usagi in Back to the Sewers.
I saw Mayhem in Mutant Island and was surprised it wasn’t flash animated like I thought it was. It was definitely a fun little story, I mean that’s what you have to see it as since that’s what it is. I also saw a few of the flash shorts they used to air on Fox Box, I think there are around 12.
In the end my last thoughts…For the heroes my opinion on them overall are the same as what I’ve posted as I finished the seasons, Mikey was too immature and made him annoying, Raph too much of a tough guy. Leo didn’t do as much counting he was the leader and Donnie did the most, Casey Jones too much of a meat head etc. Overall though I did like the turtles personalities in the show and all the turtles had great moments, would have liked a slightly less dumb Casey and Raph/Mikey turned down a bit. April had a rough start but I liked her and I wish she had gotten more screen time. Splinter nagged a bit too much but I liked him he was also surprisingly active in this show since he’d basically be there for the turtles for any major battle. How many times does the layer got trashed or totally destroyed? It happened all the time even if some of them really “didn’t” happen, it even surpasses the batcave getting blown up in every Batman movie.
For villains this show had a great group of them, especially counting they didn’t use the iconic OT villains either. The main original villains like Hun and Bishop were great and the regular TMNT villains like Baxter were used well. Though Purple Dragons/Foot/Baxter did seem a bit overused especially since all three were connected to each other most of the time, not much of a downside since they were the best villains but it would have been nice to see more of the others. I loved all the Shredders the show had, though I’ll admit I wanted a real human Oroku Saki as the Shredder having Karai/Utrom/Tengu/Cyber was hella fun and because of it I didn’t hate it that we never got one. Karai could have been written better though and Stockman would have been nice to see him working by himself at one point he lasted way too long with the foot.
I’ll rank the seasons but its actually kinda hard, especially since there are some seasons I like but I’d rank them lower (specifically talking about S5 and 7 which I enjoyed), the only season I didn’t like as much was Fast Forward and even then it wasn’t that bad so here goes: S4; S3; S2; S1; S5; S7; S6.