REVIEW: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - David Tennant Takes The Half-Shell Heroes On A Trip Through Time

The first episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Beyond The Known Universe - premiered on Nickelodeon in the USA this morning. The story picked up to find the Turtles in outer space and introduced David Tennant as the cyborg Fugitoid. The review below contains spoilers if you have not yet seen the episode. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
S4 E1 - Beyond The Known Universe
David Tennant talking about time travel, alien language translators, nebulas and neutron stars? It all sounds quite familiar, doesn’t it? Sadly for Doctor Who fans it doesn’t signal a step back into the TARDIS, but instead it's David’s introduction into the universe of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Season 4 opener, premiering on Nickelodeon earlier today, fulfils all the promises of taking the Half-Shell Heroes off into adventures like never before.

At the climax of season 3, the Turtles, along with April O’Neil and Casey Jones, found themselves the sole survivors of the destruction of Earth, as the Triceratons’ plan to wipe out the Kraang for good came to fruition.  However, they don’t have long to mourn the planet or, indeed, their mentor Splinter, whom they witnessed being cut down by Shredder. Their mysterious rescuer manages to pull a timey-wimey trick, giving them six months to save the world and everyone on it – all they need to do is prevent the Triceratons from finding the fragments of the Black Hole Weapon scattered throughout the galaxy. The quest sets up the story arc that will occupy at least half of this season and promises to see the Turtles hopping through time, space and dimensions to achieve their goal.

Fortunately the new backdrop for the adventures doesn’t take away from any of the Turtles’ basic personalities – as a trip to a space port shows they’re all perfectly capable of getting into trouble in their own particular ways, as are April and Casey. It’s a nice nod to the classic series to see April donning the all-in-one yellow suit, perhaps a signpost to the much anticipated 2015 / 1980s crossover episode that will be arriving later in the season. The episode also introduces a new Big Bad for the season, the insectoid Lord Dregg, dramatically voiced by Peter Stormare, who vows to wipe out our heroes after an unfortunate clash at the space port.

So what of the enigmatic Fugitoid? It’s established so far that he is a cyborg, a robot body housing a human brain, his name is Professor Zayton Honeycutt and he is a friend to the Utrons. Hopefully more of his back story will continue to unfold as the season progresses, adding another layer of intrigue to the story arc. What is clear though is that Fugitoid will step into the role of the Turtles’ mentor in the absence of Shredder, to keep them focused on the right path and prevent them from being led astray by their adolescent temperaments. The showrunners have already expressed their joy at getting David Tennant to voice the character and it’s clear that they’re going to have some fun with the Doctor Who references – Fugitoid even has his own version of the Doctor’s “Don’t wander off” rule! David Tennant seems to be having fun with the role too, giving the cyborg a rapid-fire quicksilver personality which, while reminiscent of his other infamous time traveller, is also quite distinct.

In all it’s been a brave move to move the Turtles from their familiar world to somewhere so dramatically different for much of the season so it’s a relief to have a first episode that promises such great things and new challenges for the heroes to show what they are made of.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stars Seth Green as Leonardo, Rob Paulsen as Donatello, Sean Astin as Raphael and Greg Cipes as Michaelangelo with Mae Whitman as April and Josh Peck as Casey Jones. Guest cast for episode 1 include David Tennant and Peter Stormare.

Episode 2 - The Moons Of Thalos 3 - premieres at 11.00am ET/PT on Sunday 1st November on Nickelodeon in the USA.