’80s Turtle Power!
Warning: Full spoilers for the episode follow.
Surprisingly, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ highly anticipated ’87 Turtles crossover had almost nothing to do with its current black hole generator storyline. In fact, it probably could have aired almost any time in the season (or the one before that, for that matter). And yet, on its own, “Trans-Dimensional Turtles”was absolutely great, offering loyal viewers a nostalgic break from the Triceraton storyline, while also serving as a solid standalone episode that old-time fans who don’t even watch the new TMNT could enjoy.
First off, I loved how this episode cut right to the chase and transported Nick’s Turtles to the 1987 Turtles’ world, even before the title sequence started. That alone foreshadowed a very different adventure for the space-faring green team — and, man, did their 2D designs rock. (Can we please get a whole series of just that down the line?) And just like last time, the old-school Turtles were voiced by original cast members Cam Clarke (“Leonardo”), Townsend Coleman (“Michelangelo”), Barry Gordon (“Donatello”) and of course Rob Paulsen (“Raphael” and present-day “Donnie”).
From the moment both sets of Turtles met, I was cracking up at all the little digs and jabs they all threw at each other, from Raph making fun of the initials on ’87 Turtles’ belts to ’87 Raph calling Donnie’s voice “weird” and Donnie shooting back, “Me sound weird? Heard yourself lately?” I also thought it was funny how, right off the bat, we got a sense of just how nonviolent the ’87 Turtles were compared to our Turtles, as evidenced by their first skirmish with ’87 Krang (voiced by, you guessed it, Pat Fraley).
I almost wish we could have spent more time in the 2D world — maybe see the old versions of April, Casey and Shredder — although it might have slowed down the pacing. And seeing as how this was only a 22-minute episode and not a two-parter, it made sense to quickly (and, to Raph’s point, nonsensically) transition back into the 3D world.
That said, it was nice seeing 3D New York City again, after spending most of this season in space. I also have to admit, the CG models for the ’87 Turtles and Krang were surreally good. I was particularly struck by the interior of Krang’s body, which was surprisingly detailed. But I think my favorite part about them was how rigidly they moved (e.g. no fancy flips or attacks), as opposed to the ever-fluid movements of our Turtles. But at least the ’87 Turtles could conjure up pizza any time they wanted.
It was also nice to see the return of Master Splinter, even if his presence here didn’t add much to the story other than feels. It did make me wonder though if Splinter put enough the pieces together to know his demise was on the horizon, at least in a previous timeline. It would be interesting if we got some indication of that in a future episode, once the world is presumably saved.
Meanwhile, the Krang plot here was simple but effective. Since the Turtles were back in the past, it made sense that Kraang Subprime (“No, Megan Fox!”) would be involved in some way, and it was fun seeing him again. I also got a kick out of the fact that Krang was once a three-dimensional being and “banished” to the two-dimensional world to wreak havoc on those Turtles — which explained why Subprime went along with Krang’s plan for as long as he did: because he had no idea Krang was trying to eradicate all three dimensions entirely.
Speaking of three dimensions, how badass was the reveal that the “Primary Turtle Dimension” was in fact the Eastman/Laird comic book, complete with silent black-and-white panels? Given the oh-so violent nature of these Turtles, I wasn’t surprised we didn’t spend much time here, but it was still a great twist and cool to see the comic book Turtles in action (or inaction, as the case may be). Hopefully we’ll get to see these different Turtle dimensions again at some point.