On Friday at SDCC, things took a turn for the elementary school: it was PIZZA DAY! In Comic-Con speak, that meant it was time for Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles panel, and I was there up close for all the cool happenings to bring you a recap of all that went down:
After a video introduction highlighting season 3, moderator Andre Meadows (Black Nerd Comedy) came on stage and welcomed us to the panel. He was then joined by executive producers Ciro Neili and Brandon Auman, and cast members Seth Green (Leonardo), Rob Paulsen (Donatello), Greg Cipes (Michelangelo), Sean Astin (Raphael), Fred Tatasciore (Rocksteady), Eric Bauza (Tiger Claw), and Kevin Michael Richardson (Shredder).
Andre first spoke with Ciro and Brandon about maturity, and how it was one of the biggest themes throughout season three — especially pertaining to Leonardo and Raphael. They were a fan of the farmhouse storyline from the original comics, and were able to use it to have the team lick their wounds after being defeated by the Kraang. Brandon, a horror fan, was able to fit in references to some of his favorite movies (Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street) into some of the episodes using the farmhouse and woods as the perfect backdrop. They also talked about how season 3 saw the debut of the Mutanimals, and that during season 4 we can look forward to new members of that team — including Muck-Man and Mondo Gecko. And while these are obviously classic 80s characters, they’ll definitely have their own spin in this series’ iteration.
Andre noted prior to the discussion that he attended a recent voice recording session, and commended the cast on the hard work that goes into creating each episode. That gave way to a cast rundown, starting with Seth. He’s been a fan of the Turtles his whole life, and loved taking over as Leonardo. He’s know the rest of the cast for years and the great rapport was there because of that. He also said one of the hardest things about doing voice-work is that during the fighting scenes, they have to do the grunts and moans every time, they don’t just use a soundboard.
Sean liked the new dynamic that came about when Raph stepped up while Leo was injured, explaining that it was fun to see him grow as a character and learn to respect Leo more as leader. Sean was also a fan of the LOTR and Goonies references that Raph made during the season, and the EPs confirmed it was on purpose, which continued via his reunion with Corey Feldman, who played Spike.
Rob expressed his hope that “Apriltello” will continue into season four because the unique spin of the April-Donnie-Casey relationship was the type of thing that was never really covered in the previous series (Rob played Raphael in the original show). Greg enjoyed Michelangelo stepping up as leader during their trips to Dimension X, as he is the only one of them with the “know-how” to navigate it. They also brought up how Mikey is always the first to open up when introduced to a new mutant, and that’s because he has such a big heart (until you cross him or his brothers, of course.)
Moving over to the villains side, Fred expressed his own surprise upon finding out that Steranko was going to be Rocksteady. He enjoyed being able to bring some more comedy to the role, which was easy given the chemistry he has with JB Smoove (Be-Bop). Eric also said he was excited to join this universe and bring a new character into it, giving a shoutout to the fans that have embraced this new character. We also got some insight from Kevin, who said Shredder is so bent on vengeance and craves power more than anything that he’d sacrifice his “family” just to gain it.
But it wasn’t all conversation: as a special surprise to panel attendees, the cast did a read-through of a “mini-episode” of the show, where the team goes to Comic-Con to stop another of Shredder’s evil plans. As an added bonus, voice director Andrea Romano took the stage to give direction (Note: Andrea Romano has cast every cartoon I have loved since 1992. She is a hero of mine).
After the read-through, it was time to show what’s coming next for season 4. And see what’s next we surely did in a clip that not only introduced Zog the Triceraton to the TMNT universe — the Triceratons were a major part of the original comics — with Zog being voiced by Lance Henrikson, but revealed that the Kraang are STILL in New York after supposedly been defeated by the Turtles.
Other stuff to look forward to in season 4 include the Turtles in space, their new suits, and the nickname “The Metal Mutants.” New characters being introduced to the show are Lord Dregg (Peter Stormare), Mozar the Triceraton (Michael Dorn), Armaggon (Ron Perlman), Mona Lisa (Zelda Williams), and my personal favorite, Professor Honeycutt, also known as the Fugitoid. He will be played by the 10th Doctor himself, David Tennant. This had the biggest reaction from the crowd.
After the sneak peek, there was a very brief audience Q&A, where it was revealed that there will be an “anti-mutant” arc, and that the Kraang, while defeated, are not going away anytime soon.
So what do you think? Are you ready for what’s to come from our favorite foursome? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.
Image Credit: Brandatello/DeviantArt