Last weekend as I watched all the bad reviews for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie roll in I couldn't help but feel a hard knot of sadness over it all.
It would be awesome if the new movie were any good and launched the franchise, yet again, into prominence so we could get more great TMNT content to consume. As a kid who grew up watching the original cartoon in the ’80s and ’90s, I want to share my love of the Turtles with my nieces and nephews and the other kids in my life.
But this is the third or fourth time the Powers That Be have tried to revive TMNT and each time it's worse and worse.
It's just sad.
What's even worse is that as much as I liked the Turtles, there were other cartoons I loved even more. Why aren't those gems getting endless reboots, live action movies with dubious "talent," and another chance at a toy-laden TV show on Cartoon Network or The Hub?
It's clear that this turtle thing has run its course.
Hollywood, get creative (for some value of creative) and look to other ’80s and ’90s cartoon properties for inspiration.
Here are my suggestions. Who's with me?
Dear Disney, get on this right now. Seriously, drop everything else that's in development (except Star Wars) and get on rebooting this amazing cartoon right now.
For those of you who didn't watch Gargoyles, please go read the Wikipedia entry and discover the amazingness that is this show. There are many things that made it amazing, let me list the top four.
1. Elisa Maza. A mixed Black/Native American New York City police detective who is one of the only humans that knows about the Gargoyles and is their first and most steadfast ally. Elisa is the absolute best because she is smart, tough without falling into the badass chick stereotype, has strong family ties, takes shit from no one, and when presented with information or situations unfamiliar to her, doesn't waste time going through the OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE WHAT I AM SEEING/HEARING I AM GOING TO DENY IT FOR FIVE EPISODES phase. She's the best kind of TV role model because she's not presented as perfect and nor does she have annoying stereotype flaws. In general, the show was really great about showing a multicultural New York and a multicultural world.
2. "Star Trek" voice actors. Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis (Riker and Troi) provide the voices for two prominent characters (Xanatos and Demona). And I guess for this reason and because the show runners are huge geeks, someone made it a mission to get every "Star Trek" actor they could find on for guest spots. And boy did they. Brent Spiner, Kate Mulgrew, Michael Dorn, Avery Brooks, Colm Meaney, Nichelle Nichols, and LeVar Burton. There were also other geek-friendly actors on the show as well, including Matt Frewer, John Rhys-Davies, Clancy Brown, and Paul Winfield.
3. Epic storylines that tied the show to a larger mythology based on folk tales and myths from around the world and Shakespeare. Before HBO and other cable giants had people expecting season- and series-long plot arcs from everything, "Gargoyles" was showing how this could be done without confusing people who happened to show up in the middle.
4. Writing that treated the audience as intelligent. Pretty much that.
This show not only needs to be brought back (with the original show runners), it also needs a live-action film -- one that is NOT white-washed.
Maybe millennials aren't as cynical and jaded as Gen Xers are or were or pretended to be in the ’90s. But you can't tell me that the high school dynamics on display in Daria don't repeat themselves over and over again with every generation. That's why we need Daria back. Not that the existing cartoon isn't just as relevant today as it was when we were teens. But I'd love to see Lawndale High updated and a Daria who had to grow up in a post-9/11 world.
And we also need this spoof movie to be a real thing. Right now.
In a kid culture that's still mired in princesses, I don't know why no one has worked to get She-Ra back on the air. He-Man got both a terrible live action movie and a reboot in the 2000s, where's the love for Adam's long-lost and much more awesome sister? Even the story of She-Ra is so much more appealing.
Kidnapped as a baby, she was raised by an evil, totalitarian occupying force and trained to be an enforcer. However, once she's told the truth of her origins and deprogrammed from thinking of her adopted father as a bringer of order, she joins the resistance movement and fights to liberate the planet.
And she does this even though she could just go back to the planet of her birth and live the cushy life of a princess/weekend warrior like her brother.
Plus, she had a pegacorn: a Pegasus/Unicorn. How badass is that?
And let's not just have a cartoon reboot, let's get a great (female) screenwriter together with a seasoned (female) director and cast Natalie Dormer or Gina Torres as Adora and just watch the magic happen.
So those are my top picks. Which cartoons would you like to see get the attention and dollars they threw at TMNT?