The New ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Series Is Changing Things Up

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Those heroes in a half-shell are back in action with this energetic new cartoon — Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — perfect for anyone who grew up loving the original 1980s series as well as 2012’s CGI iteration.

“We wanted to have something strikingly different and unique,” executive producer Ant Ward says. “‘Fun’ was the marching order we gave ourselves.”

And the team has clearly stepped up to the challenge. Full of color and cheeky comedy, the 2-D, hand-drawn animated series still centers on sewer-dwelling superheroes Mikey, Ralph, Donnie and Leo, but it isn’t simply retreading old waters. Among the biggest tweaks?

The main baddie isn’t Shredder, but Baron Draxum (John Cena), and for the first time, the Turtles’ human pal April O’Neill (The Vampire Diaries’ Kat Graham) is African-American.

In addition, freshly created characters will be introduced (guest voices include Game of Thrones’ Lena Headey, rocker Johnny Rotten and Veep’s Timothy Simons), and the show will offer an updated origin story that paints the artistically named reptiles as comically slow to perfect their special powers.

“There is a lot of failing up for us to move forward to becoming the Turtles everybody knows,” says Omar Miller, who voices Raphael. Guess you could say they “cowa-bungle” a few missions!

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Series Premiere, Monday, Sept. 17, 6:30/5:30c, Nickelodeon