Nostalgia: My Childhood Returns to Haunt Me
Posted by Ben Erlichman on July 14, 2011
This post isn’t about ghosts or goblins or freaky things chasing me through my dreams (which happens with decent regularity, usually dinosaurs from Jurassic Park). No, this is about society’s decision to reboot everything about my childhood and bring it to the forefront once again, specifically on the big screen.
When I was growing up, I latched on to four legendary heroes that appeared every Saturday morning on my favorite cartoon: Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo, and Raphael. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
These lean, mean, green, fighting machines were true heroes: infallible, incredible, undefeatable. Their epics sprawled all over the world, into other dimensions, and even across time itself.
To pay homage to their awesomeness, Hollywood saw fit to attempt several reboots of the concept, including the 2007 edition that, in my opinion, made them look like a bunch of frogs hopping from building to building in the previews. To be fair, I haven’t seen the movie, but I didn’t go out of my way to try to see it either. It doesn’t look too impressive.
I consider myself a TMNT-America* purist: I loved the original series, played most of the video games, and collected dozens of action figures. (*The turtles originated in some comics form Japan which I’ve never seen or read, and thus I’m a fan of the totally Americanized version). I enjoyed the first two TMNT movies (featuring live-action puppets and dudes in turtle suits), and the third one… well, they made a third one. I even have a green arm band with Raphael’s face and red bandana on it that I wear when working out or doing athletic things because, hey, Turtle Power.
But now, TMNT is getting ANOTHER reboot. According to imdb.com, we can expect a 2012 TMNT television series featuring Sean Astin as the voice of the angstiest turtle, Raphael.
Really? Samwise Gamgee is going to voice the turtle with the baddest attitude around? I think I died a little bit inside when I found that out. What’s more, there are murmurings, “whispers in the dark” if you will, that there will be another TMNT movie in 2014. I guess we’ll see how all of this plays out, huh?
Unlike the turtles’ legacy, which as of now seems to have lost a bit of its original luster due to recent installments, there is hope for our favorite team of five (six?) interstellar heroes whose powers were originally derived from ancient animals that somehow got turned into gigantic robots in primary colors (plus pink and black): The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.
I devoured every episode of that show. I collected the action figures again (though fewer of them) and now, I have two AWESOME Power Rangers T-shirts from Hot Topic, courtesy of my mother, who loves me very much.
If you recall, the Rangers started as five high school-aged friends whose names I still remember without having to look them up online: Jason (Red), Billy (Blue), Zach (Black–yes, he was the black guy, and also the Black Ranger, but hey, it was the nineties), Kimberly (Pink), and Trini (Yellow–another racial stereotype, perhaps? The Asian girl is the Yellow Ranger?) Those were the original five Rangers. Then along came Tommy, who played the evil (but conflicted) Green Ranger. He eventually joined the Rangers once they broke their arch-nemesis Rita Repulsa’s spell over him.
Then, somehow, the Green Ranger’s powers ran out (I think it had something to do with a green candle that ran out of wax?) and Tommy was temporarily off the show until Zordon made him the new White Ranger (who instead of riding a giant dragon around rode a giant saber-toothed cat, which was cool, but not as cool.)
After the first movie, though, stuff started getting too weird for me, and I watched the show clear up to Power Rangers in space, which is when they started traveling the galaxy picking fights with aliens, sort of like Star Trek, but with murderous intentions.
All told, the Rangers, it seems, have come full circle. Haim Saban, the guy who owned Power Rangers initially when it came to America (again from Japan), has bought it back from Disney (which explains how it got so goofy) for $100 million and will air 20 new episodes with competitor Nickelodeon. When Saban owned Power Rangers initially, it was awesome. It was the stuff dreams were made of. Then it fell by the wayside. I haven’t seen the reboot, but hopefully it does justice to the original series? Who knows?
I don’t have time or space to go into the dozens of other remakes and reinterpretations of cartoons (like GI Joe, Spiderman, X-Men, etc.), but suffice it to say that only one series of reboots has consistently exceeded my expectations thus far: Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies. But that’s a whole other topic for a different post.
What are some of your favorite old TV shows that have gotten remade in the last 10-20 years? Were the remakes good, bad, ugly, or otherwise? Do share, please.
Tune in next week for an interview with Arpit Mehta, who self-published a book of his own poetry.
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