Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles To Meet Classic 1980’s Turtles In An Upcoming Episode
Ciro Nieli, Executive Producer of Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series gives some insights of upcoming episodes and plans for the characters. Included is the return of the Mutagen Man, and the 2013 turtles will meet the turtles of the 1980’s. Article from USAtoday.com
Ciro Nieli grew up with Donatello being his favorite member of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but as an executive producer of the new NickelodeonTMNT animated series, he’d yell “Cowabunga!” for any of them.
“They’ve taken on a new meaning for me,” Nieli says. “I’m single right now and I have no children. I’m at that age where a lot of my friends are married and have kids. They go, ‘Who’s your favorite Turtle?’ And I go, ‘That’s (expletive) rude. I’m not going to single one of them out. Then the other ones won’t feel loved.’
“They’ve all had kids, and now all of a sudden I have four teenagers. It’s literally that demanding, but I love all of them. And every day I see myself a little bit more in one of them than the others.”
Just like 10-year-old Cieli was first introduced to them in the 1980s, kids today are watching the newTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon (airing Friday nights at 7 p.m. ET/PT) and being introduced to katana-slinging leader Leonardo (voiced by Jason Biggs), nunchucks-swinging fun guy Michelangelo (Greg Cipes), bo-staffed gadget man Donatello (Rob Paulsen) and sai-wielding brawler Raphael (Sean Astin).
There have been many different ways to enjoy the Turtles in the nearly 30 years since the first 1984 comic book by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, from video games to live-action movies. Yet it’s beginning to look like a new golden age for the pizza-loving heroes, with new LEGO sets, action figures, an upcoming movie produced by filmmaker Michael Bay starring Megan Fox, and Nieli’s animated show, which has already been handed a third season when it hasn’t even finished its first yet.
“The imagination is fertile in the Ninja Turtle world and it’s just wide open. And the characters are a reflection of that,” Nieli says.
With so much coming up, Nieli gives five upcoming aspects of the animated series that will make you want to embrace Turtle power sooner than later.
Big things for Baxter Stockman
So far in the Turtles series, the off-kilter and insane villain Baxter Stockman (Phil LaMarr) has mostly been doing grunt work for bad guy the Shredder and getting yelled at a lot. But Friday’s episode focuses on Baxter and shows some of the inner machinations of the criminal mastermind.
Fans will begin to see how he interacts with other villains and the Turtles when he puts together a scheme along the lines of longtime X-Men foe Arcade, Nieli says. “He’s kind of sick of being pushed around and decides to trap them all and torture him.
“Sometimes when you get stuck in the actual canon of the ninja revenge story and the family feuds with the Foot Clan and Hamato Yoshi and Oroku Saki, it can get real heavy,” he adds. “And then you have this other shade, which is the alien threat with the Kraang. It’s nice to have a character as odd and obtuse as Baxter — you see him lashing and doing something, and you forget about those guys. It makes the world bigger.”
The scale gets more epic closing in on the season finale
Nieli feels TMNT ups its game every episode in terms of visuals and scale, but also in terms of story. Getting closer to the end of the season, viewers will learn more about Turtle confidant April O’Neil (Mae Whitman) and the story line with the Kraang pays off a little more.
“Fans can guess there’s a lot in there that needs to come to a point. The trick is not letting that point burst,” the executive producer says. “There’s a million things we can do, but we have to temper ourselves so we can have a good series overall and not just a good season.”
And there will be explosions. “I always try to end episodes with an explosion,” Nieli admits. “Sometimes we can’t afford it and they get dust clouds, and I get disappointed and sad. It’s kind of a fail. A perfect show ends with a boom.”
The grand return of the Mutagen Man
One of the luxuries Nieli has with the show is a few decades’ worth of material, and that means having goop and guts in a jar with arms and legs is going to take on an awesome new life.
The toy version of the oozy baddie Mutagen Man was always a favorite of Nieli’s, he says. “All of us have one sitting on our desks and it’s just a matter of time: ‘Well, when are we going to do Mutagen Man?’
“It was just important to figure out a special way to do it so that he didn’t just show up like, OK, monster of the week is Mutagen Man. We definitely wanted to have a little bit more of an investment in him as an integral character in that universe and ultimately the responsibility of the Turtles as heroes.”
Mutagen Man, who plays a big role in the second season but will appear near the end of the first, had a distinctive look from the old ’80s cartoon and toy, and theTMNT producers didn’t want to get too wacky with a new design.
“We could have done anything,” Nieli says. “I think we just put things in a better place, but in general he’s very recognizable.”
Making plans for an old Turtles reunion
The second season of TMNT will feature a one-hour special with special cameos by the original voice actors from the 1987 cartoon in their old roles, including Cam Clarke (Leonardo), Townsend Coleman (Michelangelo), Barry Gordon (Donatello) and Paulsen (Raphael).
It’ll be a story point, too, that brings classic and current Turtles together.
“We all have a nostalgia for these characters in all their incarnations, and any time we can serve it up, we take the chance,” Nieli says. “The trick is finding a way to do it where it doesn’t feel wedged in, where you don’t even see it coming.
“I really like doing that stuff because I do have respect for the old stuff,” he adds. “I try not to geek out but it’s more like you just feel some pride in what you’ve been able to be responsible for. Like, yep, there they are — Turtle reunion. It’s not as cool as a Zeppelin reunion, but being able to bring something together, I’m thrilled I get to do that.
Maintaining what’s great about the Turtles
Nieli sums up the appeal of TMNT as being like a Saturday when he was a kid: full of cartoon action, kung-fu moves from Shaw Brothers movies, and monsters like you’d see in an old Universal or Hammer horror flick.
And while they may be considered part of the superhero genre, the Turtles are a little bit different — and a lot more affable — than the likes of Superman.
They stepped outside of the genre, Nieli says, “and it was a rule that I didn’t think could be broken. We’re so used to characters like Batman or these really perfect archetypes. They’re almost like statues or totems or this ideal. And then the Turtles came along and broke all that. They were more part of a peer group and you could relate to them so much easier.”