Tuesday, November 06, 2018

The Heroes in a Half Shell Return in 'Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'

Nickelodeon's Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reimagines the iconic IP and returns to its comic book roots.

When the iconic characters of beloved series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stormed out of the sewers and back to TV in 2012, the CGI-animated series was a hit. So after five successful seasons and multiple Emmy nominations, Nickelodeon wasted no time developing the brand’s next iteration, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Now in 2D animation, 26 episodes were announced at Nick’s 2017 upfront months before the final episodes of the previous series had even aired.

“It was a very fast development process, but we came in with a clear vision that helped us expedite the production,” the show’s executive producer Ant Ward, who signed on after serving as a supervising producer on the last TMNT series, told Kidscreen.

As further testament to the power of the brand, Nick ordered a second 26-episode season in July before Rise of the TMNT premiered on September 17 in the US and began rolling out globally across Nickelodeon’s channels and branded blocks in 170-plus countries and territories.

With a younger, lighter tone for its 11-minute episodes, the action-comedy finds the turtle brothers in possession of new mystical powers as they set out on crime-fighting adventures in New York City with their human friend April O’Neil (voiced by The Vampire Diaries' Kat Graham).

Joining Ward as Executive Producer is renowned character designer and TMNT newbie Andy Suriano (DuckTales, Mickey Mouse shorts). Suriano says this series presents the turtles as more multi-dimensional characters.

“If you were to describe each of the turtles, traditionally Mikey is the funny one, Donatello is the smart one, Raphael is the angry one, and Leo is the leader. But last time I checked, leadership isn’t a character trait, so we purposely mixed things up and removed the mantle of leadership from Leo so we could explore his character in other ways,” says Suriano.

Despite the pressure of following up the last series so quickly, Ward says the previous series freed up the production to try new things.

“Because the last series did so well in paying homage to many of the other iterations of TMNT, we didn’t feel the need to retell or recall certain things. We could create new storylines, villains and canon,” he says.

Aesthetically, the new show’s 2D look harkens back to the original TMNT comic book series created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, and pulls from French comic books from the ’70s in its use of color.

“We looked into what Kevin [Eastman] was doing back in the day with his heavy, almost Frank Miller-esque use of blacks. We are also big fans of ’70s French and Belgian science-fiction/fantasy comics,” says Suriano. “In the show, you’ll see a lot of heavy blacks and holding lines, but in a brightly colored cityscape so it’s not too edgy or serious.”

Watch Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Nickelodeon!

Also, from Celeb Secrets:

Josh Brener on TMNT Revival: ‘The Fandom is Real’ (Exclusive)

We met up with Josh Brener – the voice of Donatello – at New York Comic Con to discuss the popular revival.

If you’re living under a rock, the iconic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series is back on television! Airing all over Nickelodeon, you can now catch your favorite gang of pizza-eating, Cowabonga spitting turtles in Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The first episode of the new revival aired on July 20, 2018 and follows the four turtle brothers – Raph, Leo, Donnie and Mikey – as they encounter new allies and villains and discover a magical world they never knew existed beneath the streets of New York City.

You might know funny man Josh Brener from some of his popular projects like Silicon Valley, but now he’s taken on the iconic role of Donatello! We caught up with the busy actor to learn more about the show and what fans can expect from his version of the lovable turtle.

CS: For those you don’t watch, what can they expect for this revival?

Josh: “Yeah, definitely! Our creators and executive producers have really put the focus on fun and making sure this isn’t only about the history of the turtles and where they’ve been, but also a new generation of fans and a new generation of turtles and sort of watching them start out and kind of mess everything up and just be disasters as they’re learning to become the Ninja Turtles which is a lot of fun to watch.”

CS: What drew you to this role? Were you fan?

Josh: “Oh yeah! Like the 8-year-old inside of me was screaming. I remember getting an email that was like “you’re going to go read for The Ninja Turtles” – it was like that’s crazy! Yeah, it’s just super exciting to be a part of something that I was so in love with as a kid and that so many people, it’s just awesome to come to Cons and just seeing how many people like are super into the Turtles!”

CS: The fandom is real when it comes to the Turtles!

Josh: “The fandom is real. So yeah it’s just cool to be a part of something that means that much to that many people.”

CS: Who was your favorite ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’?

Josh: “I actually was a Donatello fan which I remember taking a lot of heat for as a kid, like oh he just has a stick everyone else has swords and Katanas – and Donatello has like a piece of wood. And I remember getting made fun of but now I’m feeling pretty good about it. I stayed strong! I represented.”

CS: What’s the working process like for you and the rest of the cast?

Josh: “Yeah we actually record together pretty much every Monday afternoon! Which is super cool we all get to get in the booth together and riff and ad-lib and sort of play off each other and every now and then schedules make it so you have to record by yourself and that’s always kind of sad. But when we’re all together, it’s just a ton of fun!”

CS: So pizza is a big thing in this series…

Josh: “Correct!”

CS: Do you have a favorite type of pizza?

Josh: “Oh man! I’m human I love it. I enjoy pizza as much as Turtles who also love pizza. Trying to think because I’m in New York so it’s really scary to talk about pizza. I really remember loving Koronet here. I think it’s somewhere up near Columbia or something like that but there’s one of those giant slices of pizza on the Upper West Side and I think it’s called Koronet so if I had a gun to my head off hand just because I’m in New York it’s in my mind.”

CS: For you – what do you think you brought different to the role of Donatello?

Josh: “Donny’s still that like nerdy, tech kind of guy… inventions and so far but he’s not like a poindexter nerd in this version I don’t think. Like it’s not glasses taped up and a pocket protector, he’s very much like a nerd’s nerd, more like someone you would find here at Comic Con. Takes the nerddom seriously, a nerd’s nerd if you know what I mean.”

CS: Any secrets you can tell us about the making of this revival?

Josh: “Okay, what can I tell you? I don’t know if it’s a secret but it’s a thing that I think is super cool which is that we have this awesome cast of villains including John Cena and he’s both the coolest and nicest and scariest person that I’ve ever met. He’s such a.. he’s awesome! And then Lena Headey as you might know as Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones and plays this character Big Momma and John Michael Higgins and Reese Darby so we just have all these kind of awesome cool people. And then the other thing that is kind of exciting I think is that our director is Rob Paulson who is like the original Michelangelo and he’s played Donatello. He’s also Pinky of Pinky and the Brain so we have like really cool awesome people associated with this show which has been a lot of fun.”


More Nick: 'Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Global Roll Out Premiere Dates | Nickelodeon!

Originally published: Monday, November 05, 2018.
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