tmnt turtle shell

Some Questions About the First Episode of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”

You know I love ninja turtles. My daughters love ninja turtles. They watch the new cartoons, but for some reason, keep asking to watch my DVD of the first five episodes of the 80’s version. Specifically the one where where “April calls them the wrong names” (the first episode). So I’ve had a chance to review the pilot of a phenom a few times.

Now, when you’re eight years old, logic has no place. Suspension of disbelief is high in younglings.  You’re not going to question things because you simply don’t know a lot about the world. Maybe things that don’t make sense are there for comic relief — it’s hard to tell the difference. Plus it’s a cartoon. Cartoons never need to make sense. That’s why we have movies like “Rock-a-Doodle” and “Rover Dangerfield”.

But then you grow up, and a hundred, perfectly logical questions come to mind, like:

What is April’s plan when she tells her crew that they’re going to hang out in front of the tech company waiting for the ninjas to appear. Is she even going to try hiding somewhere? Or sit there on a stool like Atticus outside the prison, waiting for something to happen? Why does she think this tech company is next on the list? There must be, like, a hundred in New York City. Whatever insider information she got, it must have paid off because his gang of lowest-bidder goons go after her. Too bad she couldn’t have let the audience in on it.

Why does Shredder send his street gang after April instead of footbots. Granted, you may have wanted it to look like a random mugging, but I know which one would be more efficient. Geez, even the movie wasn’t this stupid.

When the Bebop and Rocksteady’s gang follows April into the sewers, how are the turtles RIGHT WHERE THEY NEED TO BE? The sewers in New York City must be the length of the distance to the moon! They had no idea who April was or why she was there. Were they just close by, doing training exercises? Did they hear the commotion and run to the fray? Do they patrol the sewers regularly, waiting for innocent reporters who are somehow thin enough to slide into a curb sewer grate despite a hefty rack?

When they go hunting for clues about the “mysterious street gang” that attacked April, they find a matchbook with “the clue that will lead them to the heart of the evil ninja empire” and decide to go up to the surface. This sounds like it’s the first time ever, after fifteen years of seclusion and lack of sunlight, they attempt to foray into the world they’ve hidden from there entire lives. And the only thing needed to motivate them is a little matchbook and a hot reporter who’s not even the same species. The only catalyst is the awareness that there’s pizza on the surface. And it’s not like it’s the first time they’ve ever set their eyes on pizza.

Did someone build this table?  Does Donatello have carpentry skills too?

What was the point of all those ninja stores? Ninja shoe repair? Ninja dry cleaners? Was this like a chain? Did the Shredder have something to do with this? Was this a commentary on fashionability of ninjas? I think we were supposed to understand that all these stores were fronts for the Shredder, but what was his plan? Just monitor them? Who was responsible for maintaining them? It’s like in Austin Powers where Dr. Evil is told his businesses are worth more than any money he seeks.

Who ordered the sashimi pizza? In the ninja pizzeria, they order one sashimi pizza and three whipped cream pizzas. The whipped cream pizzas, I understand (this was a thing the turtles did). But this is one commercial break away from Donatello saying “How can you eat raw fish?” about Splinter’s sushi. So I’m assuming it wasn’t him, although all the turtles seemed to share the same sentiment. In the same line, that’s one pizza for each of them? That’s almost 1,000 calories a piece! They are athletic training, so that may not be abnormal.

What happened to all the cool ninja/tech weapons they used in the rooftop fight? They had homing ninja stars, a tractor beam fan, laser guns. Do they ever use them ever again? No, it’s just Shredder using whatever the chemical or gem of the week, and Bebop and Rocksteady firing their Stormtrooper-brand ray guns.

And what is this he’s holding?  A flail?

Who was that ugly secretary for “Manhattan Security Systems”? Was she an employee hired through normal channels? Did the Shredder hire her? Did she have an interview? Was she just a hired thug like Bebop and Rocksteady’s gang? Did she know what was going on? (I mean, that the foot soldiers were robots) Did she drown when the building flooded? Did she die when the building collapsed? Were there any other humans in that giant skyscraper besides her? If she didn’t die, did she get another job afterwards?

Daniela Morello – Missing, presumed dead

How did Shredder get those cameras everywhere? It seems like every time the plot needs him to “see” something, there’s a camera right where he needs it. Even in the sewer where HIS NEMESIS HAMATO YOSHI LIVES. He has the ability to put cameras there, but not to send a hundred billion foot soldiers into? Or a bomb? Or set up a laptop gun? How did Shredder know where Yoshi was in the first place, to put cameras there? AND to put the mutagen there? Did he just pour some down into a random grate and hope for the best?

For that matter, why does Hamato Yoshi live in the sewers, instead of the streets like a normal homeless person? Was there something about the real world that just wasn’t to his liking? So much that he thought living on the river bank of human feces was a better option? Has anyone tested this guy’s mental stability? Granted, it’s a legitimate destination, but still… sewers and subways are only where the most desperate homeless go. Usually to avoid the vampire/werewolf war on the surface.

Sweet mana from heaven!  Human urine and garbage water!

And furthermore, what exactly was Shredder’s plan with the mutagen? Let’s say he knows where Yoshi is. Let’s say he’s got this mutagen from Krang, from Dimension X, this super awesome chemical weapon. So… what does he expect to have happen? Does he know what the mutagen is supposed to do? That it combines animal and human DNA to create humanoid creatures with animal strengths and characteristics? He knows enough to make a “mutant of the week” in each episode, so it’s hard to believe he doesn’t. Does he expect Yoshi to die? Because he sure didn’t, and I’d be pissed as hell at Krang for selling me something that did other than the expected purpose. Instead of suffering an agonizing death a la Ebola virus, he gains the reflexes and heightened senses of one of Earth’s greatest survivors. And what was the point? Shredder already succeeded in dishonoring him and gaining control of the Foot Clan for life? Was he expecting Yoshi’s comeback tour?

Where do the turtles get the money to pay for their pizza? They make six or seven entire pies over the course of this one episode. They’re good guys so I assume they’re not thieves. So what? Do they scrounge the money that falls in sewer grates? And they don’t always buy delivery. Where do they get the ingredients to make it? They need at least cheese, bread/dough/flour+yeast+water, and tomatoes. Where does that come from? Does it fall off the grocery truck? Do they take tips for saving the populace of New York City? (“This ain’t exactly the March of Dimes here.”) Where does Splinter’s sushi come from? I’m pretty any fish living near the sewer is not terribly sanitary.

Last but not least, what was the deal with that bat mutant? I know it’s not the same episode, but I had to mention it here. TMNTPedia says his name’s Scrag but that’s news to me. He pops up a few times in various episodes, sometimes mutated, sometimes not. Was he supposed to be Wingnut? He’s part of R & B’s gang, but never gets any lines or roles. He seems to be the utility mutant — the guy you need when you’re testing a retromutagen ray. I’d think he’d be a smarter addition than the two bumbling gang-bangers.  In my perfect universe, he’s with Ace Duck sitting on the couch with a beer, laughing each time Donatello calls something “highly unstable.”

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Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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