Tales Of Gotham & TMNT

After last week’s Thor Ragnarok review, I was going to tell you how Inhumans ended. The problem is I’m so far behind on Inhumans it’s not even funny. (Let me know if anyone really wants me to go Statler & Waldorf on the rest of it.) So instead I’ll write about comic book TV shows I actually enjoy: TMNT & Gotham!

Almost every arc of the shortened Tales Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles season could serve as the series finale depending on which aspects of the show you prioritize. “When Worlds Collide” is the coda to the series’ alien intrigues. The Usagi Yojimbo arc is the most independent, but still awesome. Sadly none of the villains ever screamed “We can’t stop these radical dudes!”

Nickelodeon spoiled the ending of the Mad Max-esque “Mutant Apocalypse” for me by placing the conclusion immediately after the intro on its site. Raphael has a leather suit similar to his Nightwatcher disguise from the 2007 movie, the mask & bulk of the 2014 movie design, & is bearded like Superman: At Earth’s End. Donatello’s mind is now inside an android as is wont to happen in assorted comics. Leonardo as Maximus Kong is reminiscent of the turtles’ unstable mutations from the penultimate season of the original cartoon that truly jumped the shark. Michelangelo is just slightly senile with hippie hair & he somehow designed Mira’s tattoo leading to paradise. Verminator-X the cyborg Manx is now Verminator Rex the cyborg honey badger but still more formidable than Logan’s Donald Pierce.  The Scale Tail Clan are iguanas presumably since Karai’s serpent mode already resembles him. Detonating a bomb in Casey Jone’s disembodied skull wearing a star-spangled mask sounds like he’d be honored. On one hand, this is a cool finale because it shows the turtles will carry on well into the post-apocalyptic future. It’s so far removed from the present, however, that it’s also hard to get invested in anything. The human supporting cast is dead. For all the depressing developments that’ve befallen the turtles, its happy ending is abruptly unearned. While the showrunners intended this to be the series finale, I’m glad it’s not the last batch I saw.

I like monsters, so I was extra disappointed by “The Curse Of Savanti Romero” arc. It drags on for far too many episodes. Regardless of time travel, there were too many obvious anachronisms. Dracula usurping power was obnoxious. Why do so many writers neglect to make Savanti Romero feel like a worthy nemesis? The turtles’ monster hunter disguises were a lame toy tie-in whereas the fun throwback Monsters + Mutants toy tie-in only appears in the opening sequence. Meanwhile Playmates couldin’t even bother releasing  Savanti Romero or Ice Cream Kitty, let alone attempting Renet. They didn’t even make make a Casey with the metal hockey mask, jumpsuit April, or the rest of the Dream Beavers.

The final finale aired is another crossover betwixt the current & original toons. The vibrant ’87 TMNT make their current counterparts look desaturated. There’s a missed opportunity for the older turtles to mention their Leatherhead is better attired. Classic Shredder’s & Krang’s goofiness is more concentrated in this arc, but it’s not as if the current series is a stranger to silliness. Instead of laughing at the 1987 cartoon like Turtles Forever, it’s laughing with it. The Foot Soldiers walk like bowlegged slouchers  just like the old toys.  I wouldn’t have minded another episode to fit in even more classic callbacks like the 80’s artifacts in the EDF vault.

At first I thought the title was in reference to wanted felons posters, but “Wanted: Bebop & Rocksteady” actually refers to a newspaper want ad specifically for a mutant warthog & rhino! They’re the true stars & heroes of this story. Modern Bebop looks much better in the ’87 style outfit complete with drill gun & a henchman’s union card. (Why doesn’t his latest toy have shell pauldrons for both shoulders?) To further confirm they’re the new Korrasami, Bebop & Rocksteady hug in a TCRI elevator. When Krang & Shredder cease their incessant insults to welcome them as partners, the background behind Bopsteady becomes concentric hearts. To get him to fight alongside the turtles, Bebop invokes Rocksteady’s mamma & soviet propaganda triumphantly flashes through his brain! Of course this only works as an ending if you’re a fan of the original cartoon. Even then it’s not really a conclusion for either set of turtles so much as it is for Rocksteady & Bebop, but those adorable mooks earned one.

I stand firm in writing it’s the best TMNT cartoon! A single series finale wouldn’t please everybody, so it’s a thoughtful gesture that its is multiple choice. I wish season five had the same amount of episodes as previous ones, but I’m thankful the show didn’t outlive its welcome. To cap TMNT off with a cherry on top, here’s the “I.C.K.” music video! Booyahkowabunga!

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world & those who don’t. Then there are the people that loathe Gotham, those that love it, & those that haven’t seen it. So 2/3 of them may be shocked that its fourth season is still highly engaging.

Gordon’s streak of not being involved with organized crime lasted a whopping two episodes! Then he’s ungrateful for Sofia Falcone’s help after he solicited it. She’s doing a bang-up job gaslighting paranoid Penguin by being so cunningly friendly. His instincts were right! R.I.P. Headhunter, the most affable but least effective mercenary. Cobblepot also has to suffer through the newly defrosted Riddler’s confounding nonspecific riddles & commedia dell’arte impressions. It’s his least favorite type of mockery!

The series finished off Ra’s al Ghul much faster than I expected. Alexander Siddig’s name is still in the credits though, so I presume we’ve not seen the last of him. It’d be ironic if he’s the only villain not resurrected. Regardless it was still the best live action version. The only thing (Green) Arrow’s edition has over it is its rendition (a rare third season highlight) of the iconic shirtless swordfight. Did Stabby Babs just inherit the League of Assassins? I was hoping she’d become Killer Moth or Gentlewoman Ghost (her silver ensemble is dapper if not ectoplasmic), but this could work too.

Pyg

“Damn it, Pyg! I’m a Jim, not a doctor!”

Rookie Professor Pyg is a character that doesn’t have decades of baggage but his relatively limited appearances mean fans have a concrete sense of who he is. While not a direct adaptation, fortunately Got Ham?’s iteration is much closer than Beware The Batman!  Body-horror is already covered by Dollmaker & many rogues do a variation of mind control, so going in a completely different direction helps him stand out. (He could still end up making Dollotrons at some point.) The show’s done cop killers before, but it’s an interesting wrinkle that he’s only targeting corrupt ones. So that’s basically everyone except Montoya & Allen. How he doesn’t think Gordon is dirty even after admitting to past misdeeds is a mystery. “Hog Day Afternoon” is a fantastic title for his debut! The series is explicitly emphasizing his Pygmalion inspiration by having him do that thing where he ruins the protagonist’s life in a misguided attempt to make them a better hero. (What’s the name of that trope?) Michael Cerveris, Tony-winning former star of Broadway’s Sweeney Todd, is inspired casting. This dude is hamtastic! I’m excited for his dance number! Pyg will make Gotham perfect!

Gotham continues to be a weirdly fascinating mix of stuff canon & non-canon to the Bat-mythos. Lee Thompkins working in a fight club for Magpie lookalike Cherry sounds bonkers, but it turns out she just needs the money to run her free clinic for The Narrows. (Asking The Wayne Foundation for an endowment would make too much sense.) Founding a medical clinic is the most Dr. Leslie Thompkins thing possible! This series has also been doing more to flesh out its slum, The Narrows, in a few episodes than (Green) Arrow’s done with The Glades in six seasons!

Solomon Grundy’s origin is pretty faithful to the comics. Slaughter Swamp contaminated with Indian Hill chemicals is a good way to link it into TV continuity without needing Professor Strange directly involved. It’s like a Bizarro Lazarus Pit. I love that he got his name from hobos playing a Victrola! Establishing Grundy as Butch instead of a random crimester somehow makes him better. Drew Powell has the perfect build to be Solomon Grundy with just makeup. His signature ring move is from Spawn The Eternal. (Green) Arrow’s Cyrus Gold comes up short for not following through on turning him into an albino zombie Hulk with swamp water for blood. If a Gotham/Riverdale crossover would be so spectacular it’d end television as a medium forever, can Solomon Grundy cross paths with Ms. Geraldine Grundy in Harley and Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica?

Also in keeping with how bizarre Batman actually is (the greatest lie ever told is that a billionaire dressed up as a bat to punch crime is serious business), Progeria Ivy gave herself a upgrade by stealing rare Chinese herbs from a local apothecary. This is similar to her original origin where she was empowered by a vase of ancient Egyptian herbs she stole. (Gotham: We do the pre-Crisis stuff!) At least she’s not reliant on Marc LeGrand or Dr. Jason Woodrue this time. This wacky cliffhanger made her disappear from the show, but she’ll be recast again upon her return. She’ll be one of the Peyton Lists (there’s two of them?); I think the one that was non-ice skating Golden Glider on The F-Lash.

“Stop Hitting Yourself” put nearly all its female characters into the same room for assorted crime hijinks. Unlike The Flash’s “Girls Night Out” it managed without any characters awkwardly repeating “#feminism” at a bachelorette party. (I’m enjoying how this season has been embracing outright comedy like its third episode, but I was not prepared for Katee Sackoff’s kooky British disguise voice!) Not needing a special occasion to put females in focus is the point of feminism. It’s come a long way since season one! The new “gilding the lily” is “festooning the baseball bat with hammerheads!”

If Diamond Select Toys continues doing action figures in half-season themed waves of three, I’m predicting/rooting for the following. Series five (“Mad City”) could feature  Tabitha Galavan, Jerome, & Mad Hatter. Series six  (“Heroes Rise”) would ironically be all villains: Firefly, Fish Mooney, & Ra’s al Ghul. Scarecrow, Professor Pyg, & Solomon Grundy could fill out series seven (“A Dark Knight”). I guess series eight should finally yield Dr. Thompkins, Poison “third time’s the charm?” Ivy, & Lucius Fox. Maybe they’ll throw in new versions of Ed as The Riddler, out of Arkham Babs, & Bruce as The Midnighter too?

Gotham says its Batsuit won’t have nipples, & that makes me sad.

Justice League review coming up next!

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