My most anticipated movie of the spring/summer, TMNT, which had a strong theatrical run in March, hits DVD/Blu-Ray/HD-DVD today. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a Special Edition, although I have yet to read the box myself. Readers of this blog undoubtedly know me as a huge TMNT fan--since the tender age of something like ten I had idolized the Turtles. They are my favorite "superhero" group, and through the years of reading the original Mirage comics, the Archie Adventure Series (with its overt environmentalist tones), the Image series, and losing faith in the comics after a few issues of the terrible "new" Mirage series (at least they killed Splinter--'bout freakin' time). And then, of course, the "live-action" film trilogy. The first one is probably the best, the second one slightly worse, and the third one is just forgettable.
And then the cartoons. The old FOX Kids show was hokey but fun. Then the series moved to CBS and became an even more blatant advertisement for the action figures that before. Finally, a good-in-theory, horrible-in-execution live-action series ("The Next Mutation") hit Fox again, but lasted like six episodes before being cancelled. Surely the inclusion of a new female turtle was a sore spot for Turtle fans, as it was for me. The costumes were actually kind of cool, but I'm not sure why a female mutant reptile would have...*gulp*...mammary glands underneith her plastron. Go figure.
Through all this, I've developed a somewhat immobile view of what the Turtles should be about, molded mostly from the original series, the Image series, and the Archie Adventure series. I think the most compelling part of the franchise is that the Turtles are four brothers, each with very different personalities, living in a world that they can't really be a part of. In my "alternate Turtle universe," Casey Jones would be a rogue vigilante with no real affiliation with the Turtles, through friendship or otherwise. I'd probably kill Splinter, because so often I see him as a real crutch toward any personal development for any of the brothers. There was feeling for his loss in the "future" issues of the Archie series, and the boys had branched out because of it. I also don't see them all living together. The eventual gulf between Raphael and Leonardo would take its toll, and Raphael would become a vigilante. The other three brothers, led by Leonardo, would take on New York dangers as a group. Rarely would the three sects (Turtles, Raphael, Casey Jones) ever intersect. April O'Neil? Don't see her in the story at all, in fact.
As for villains, Shredder was killed (two or three times) in the original series, and I wouldn't bring him back. I also wouldn't force the storyline into the realm of science fiction or the supernatural, as so often happened back in the original series. I'm not sure who the villains would be, but I see the Turtles living in modern New York, with all the pitfalls and real-life problems that city produces. New villains would have to be thought up.
Now, the reason I loved the new TMNT movie is that many of my own views seem realized for the first time. Raphael is, in fact, a rogue agent. The boys all have their own hobbies. Shredder is dead, and Karai has taken his place (in a sort of fitting way). The Foot are still in New York, but they're not central to the plot. The story is fairly supernatural, but the four brothers face conflict among themselves just as much as the ancient monsters they're supposed to be fighting. Splinter is, sadly, still alive, and April is kind of a Lara Croft-type archaeologist/ninja (which I don't understand). I don't really like Casey's role at all, either. Also, and this was odd to me, the story focused so much on the conflict between Raphael and Leonardo that it forgets that Donatello and Michaelangelo are still there. Those two brothers are kind of left behind...
But the story is progressing nicely. Hopefully future iterations of the CGI series become a little grimmer and less science fiction-y.