Many would assume that the original appeal of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stemmed only from the heroes themselves, but this couldn't be further from the truth. At heart, those toitles became pretty boring once you got used to their pizza eating and karate styling. For the toon to have lasted as long as it did, they certainly needed to beef things up. No, I'm not talking about that damn rat or leggy, yellow-clad news reporters. With TMNT, at least for me, it was all about the villains.
Shredder might've been the top card, and his mutant minions might've supplied most of the show's comic relief, but the real soul of the Technodrome was a bubbly pink alien brain named Krang. In terms of animated characters, they didn't come any more unique or creative as this guy -- the former warlord of another dimension, banished from his home and even his body, Krang added a delightful sci-fi edge to the show. Whether by cackling at his own jokes or creating lasers capable of blowing up the planet, Krang helped his surrounding characters lead much more interesting lives, however fictitious those lives may have been. Personally, I like think the whole show was based on some obscure true story. This is mainly because I don't like living in a world that doesn't really have its own Krang. He was a damn popular character, so I can't be alone.
Today, we're going to look at one of the more famous episodes in TMNT history, back before it degenerated completely into show after show of puns and general goofiness. Believe it or not, the first season was actually very well written, all things considered. There's an amazing continuity to it -- the characters referenced tiny things that happened five episodes prior, and for a cartoon that was more or less just a vehicle to sell ten trillion action figures, the writers were putting some serious effort into it. While the hardcore fans always complained about the changes made in the transition from the much darker comic series, I was just one of the elemementary schoolers who couldn't get enough of these afternoon adventures. This episode, titled 'The Shredder Is Splintered,' goes a long way in proving just how in-depth those first few seasons were. More importantly, it's where that cool, disembodied brain finally found a body to call his own.
Oh, I'll only be focusing on the Krang-centric bits of the story, basically because I'm in a very Krang-centric mood today. It happens a little more often than I care to admit. So, at this point, Shredder's been defeated by the Turtles a few times. His new mutant goons haven't been able to put a dent in their victory record, either. Even with the aid of Krang's varied alien doodads, Shredder's getting nowhere. He can't conquer Earth until he murders our heroes, and after weeks and weeks of Krang's incessant begging, Shred's finally agreed to supply him with a new body. I remember being thoroughly worried that this would put an end to the great 'pink brain' look, but the end results put my fears to rest. More on that in a few minutes.
Anyway, look at that picture above -- that's one of your star characters, folks. How anyone could deny that a show featuring a talking brain that leaves puddles of bodily fluids wherever it sits isn't fantastic is beyond me. Krang implores Shredder to add a microchip to his new body that'll grant him enough superpowers to finally take down the Turtles. In previous episodes, Shredder was more than a little concerned with Krang rebelling upon receipt of a new pair of legs, but since the situation's gotten so desperate, he's got no choice.
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For those new to the lore, yes, that's Shredder. With a helmet I've tried countless times to recreate out of cardboard and tin foil, Shredder waltzes over to the sheet-covered Krang Body and fits the chip inside. It's not as arduous a process as you might think -- he kinda just lodges it into the android body's shoulderblade. I'm not sure where Shredder - formerly a ninja who devoted his entire life to hand-to-hand combat studies - picked up all of this technical know-how, but for the sake of Krang getting some working hands again, I'll forgive the oversight.
By the way, these older episodes are nowhere near as goofy and comical as the zillions that came later -- obviously, they were still meant for kids, but there was enough maturity to at least pull it to a middle school level. Sadly, there wasn't enough maturity to pull it to the level where I'm not slightly embarrassed spending so much time writing about it in my mid 20s, but sticks and stones and all that shit. Point is, it was such a different show back then than even I remembered typically watching -- still fun and lighthearted, but if TMNT was live action with the same exact scripts, I guarantee you older guys and gals would've been just as into it. Duh. Live action talking pink brain. Who wouldn't be into that?
In the moment of truth, Shredder picks up the slimy thing and places Krang in the gastric section of his new threads. While Krang fits himself into place, Shred flicks one of the Technodrome's 40,000 oversized switches, causing an indoor lightning storm that's apparently meant to result in the brain becoming one with the android. "It's alive...IT'S ALIVE" sounds so much better coming from a voice artist desperately trying to fake a tinge of Japanese heritage, and finally, Krang wakens in his new form and prepares to take over the world. Or beat up Turtles. Or both. Something villainous.
Solidifying TMNT as one of the greatest shows to ever air, take a look at Krang's new body. A big fat bald guy in red panties, wearing sunglasses, with a friggin' talking brain in its stomach. Find me another character anywhere that even approaches that kind of offbeat appeal. He's a walking trainwreck - you can't help but look, over and over again, and you've got no recourse against being totally infatuated. The new body is more like a car for Krang -- it's got no mind of its own, with our brainy friend merely using a head-side control system to maneuver it around the Technodrome. Outside of bugs that intentionally land on bug-frying light bulbs, it's the most ridiculous and beautiful thing I think I've ever seen.
Krang's body is loaded with extras gizmos and weapons, too. His hand, for example, can switch off to a pair of violently silver shears. They seemed to neglect this aspect of his powers in later episodes, or maybe Krang just forgot that he could do that. Gloriously, the body's head mimics Krang's emotions perfectly -- when Krang screams, the android's mouth drop opens and starts fumbling into shiver territory. Shredder really pulled out all the stops with this thing. Though, I do tend to wonder if Krang's original blueprint called for his new body to look like a big fat naked guy. I know alien tastes can differ, but could that be chic on any planet?
It gets better, and by better I mean, 'more inane.' See, Krang's installed this giant television screen in the Technodrome that doubles as a portal to his homeworld of Dimension X. In said dimension, a legion of creatures made of rock await their old lord's orders. So, not only is Krang a big pink brain with eyes -- he's a big pink brain with eyes who commands a troop of rock monsters in military helmets. Just when you thought you'd pegged him down, Krang blasts back with more insanity. Dimension X, by the way, is more like a big red room than an actual dimension -- everyone kinda just floats around aimlessly, covered in darkroom lights with nothing to do but wait for Krang's phone calls. But you know, if I thought Krang might be calling, I'd wait by the phone too.
Leading this group of granite warriors is 'General Traag' -- basically the same as all the others, but at least he had a name. He's also the only rock creature to have his own action figure, which was appropriately blunt and heavy enough to break through a plate glass window. I speak from experience, unless I'm just lying. Either way, I threw it at my dog once, who responded by literally barking out 'roo raffe ree rah ronrussion!' It died soon after, I got a hamster the following week. Yeah, um, Traag and friends are waiting in Dimension X for Krang to send the order -- once he does, they'll come over to Earth and kill all of us. At least I'm pretty sure that's what was said -- hard to tell with that engaging moving crimson air all over the television set.
Almost forgot that this show was about Ninja Turtles -- there they are, ready to take down Krang. Unfortunately, Krang's new superchip allows him to alter his molecular structure. This means he can grow himself to heights previously reserved for volcanoes and basketball players. Krang's newly found size capabilities mean serious trouble for our green heroes, who were just about to enter the Technodrome for the, hah, 'final battle.' The toon had many final battles -- by my math, eight per episode. This would be their 3rd or 4th final battle, and while it ain't the first or the last, it's the only one where Krang is shown being 400 feet tall. That makes it special. Told you Krang kicked ass.
See? See what I mean? Where else are ya gonna find four mutant turtles who know karate getting chased by a Godzilla-sized bald, naked robot with a big pink talking brain in its stomach? Nowhere, positively nowhere. At least give TMNT credit for cornering some new markets.
Donatello magically deduces that Krang's size must be the result of an alien microchip hidden somewhere in his robot torso, so following suit with this particular episode's trend of being completely surreal, the Turtles unstitch Krang's shoulder and go inside his body. Fantastic. After searching through the various giant bolts and levers, they finally locate the unholy microchip. Once Donatello whacks it to pieces with his trusty broomstick, the Turtles make a narrow escape as Krang quickly reverts back to his almost kind of normal size. My fantasies lent an entirely different ending to this scene, but I doubt they could show it on television.
Still, the battle isn't quite over yet. There's still the small matter of those fifty-thousand rock soldiers from Dimension X waiting to assault Earth. Just as they arrive, the Turtles manage to hit one of the Technodrome's pitifully self-defeatist buttons, this specific one causing the portal to suck things in instead of the other way around. Within moments, all the stupid rock guys find themselves back in their shitty, boring red homeworld. That's not all, though -- the portal goes absolutely batshit, sucking in way more than General Traag's army...
Admittedly, it's a pretty piss poor showing for Krang's first appearance in his new body. You'd think they would've given the guy a small taste of victory, if only to convince all the kids watching that the villains actually had a chance of winning once in a while. Instead, all poor Krang gets is a few minutes to look menacing before being totally trashed. In this case, everything in the Technodrome gets pulled into the portal, and finally, so does the entire structure itself. The Turtles manage to flee, because in the context of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, turtles are extremely, extremely fast.
This leads to a little development that lasted for quite a stretch of episodes. That's the great thing about the first few seasons of the show -- there were actual storylines that weren't forgotten the next time you watched it. In an effort to switch things up and alternate some new characters into the mix, they threw the ol' Technodrome right into Dimension X...
See, told you. Would I lie?
Krang's happy with their new location, while Shredder insists that they go back to Earth. But that's the funny thing about Dimension X -- Krang's pretty much God there. He calls the shots, and calls them with the kind of style only a disgusting, disembodied brain could. After explaining to Shredder that he's the new boss, Krang revels in the opportunity to do, I dunno, whatever it is people do in Dimension X. I guess they mostly just float around and develop film.
By the next episode, Shredder's pestilent begging finally paid off. Krang ships him back to Earth, though without his goons and usual equipment. The next few shows revolved around Shredder attempting to take down the Green Menace with only his wits, and some help from a grungy professor who keeps calling him 'master.' To give you an idea of the entertainment provided by TMNT, the grungy professor is ultimately mutated into a human fly who raids warehouses for piles of sugar. Christ, I forgot how much I loved this show.
Oh, there's one more notable thingy about The Shredder Is Splintered...
We get to see Shredder without his trademark faceplate. I guess you really have to be into this shit to be excited about that, but hey, I'm really into this shit.
Overall: I've only reviewed a few eps of TMNT on the site over the years, but this is easily one of my faves from the entire series -- and that's a pretty lengthy series we're talking about. As the seasons progressed, the show went backwards, apparently deciding that its true calling was to entertain three-year-olds and three-year-olds only. My point? There's a new Ninja Turtles cartoon on now, and a lot of people seem to take issue with its lack of aliens and all the other crap that made the original famous. Don't be so hard on it, though -- in today's culture, animated programs really aren't just meant for kids anymore. The writers, producers and animators all realized the market of idiot adults, myself included, willing to sit through twenty-minute toy commercials as often as possible. TMNT's new show might be missing some of the vintage hallmarks, but at least they aren't limiting the heroes to toilet jokes and background cymbal crash sound effects, Be thankful for that, and going back a bit further - be thankful for Krang.
Now that that's over with, here's the real reason for today's article. This whole 'episode review' bullshit was just filler, I've got way more important things to show you. Keeping with the theme, it's got something to do with Krang. Actually, it's got a lot do with Krang. Actually, it's got a lot to do with making your very own Krang. That's right, folks -- you've considered it, thought about it, dreamed about it, and now, I'm going to tell you how to make it a REALITY. You want a Krang? You want your own Krang? Listen carefully, and follow my lead. Together, we will make a Krang...
WHAT YOU'LL NEED: A few pieces of PINK paper, another piece of paper that IS NOT PINK PAPER, scissors, Scotch tape, the soul of Da Vinci, and something spherical. Preferably something a teensy bit larger than an orange, but don't delve into grapefruit territory or this'll take all day. I used an old Christmas candle. Just the right size, and as an added bonus, it smells like the holidays. Wheeeee.
STEP ONE: Rip the pink paper into easily managed shreds. Crumble each shred into a vague 'ball shape.' Don't go nuts with the crumpling -- in the end, they should look not unlike bunches of radioactive popcorn. You'll need a fair amount of the pink balls, so crumple till you can't crumple no more.
STEP TWO: Using strands of Scotch tape of around 6-8 inches a piece, line the pink balls up and down the adhesive side. Attach them with gentility, or they'll keep falling off. When pink balls fall off Scotch tape, the world sheds a collective tear. More importantly, your Krang craft will come out all shitty.
STEP THREE: Simply attach each strand of taped pink balls around the sphere. Rinse and repeat steps two and three until the sphere is completely covered in crumply bumply pink paper. You may leave a small, obscured part of the sphere uncovered as a spot to etch your initials into. Tagging your artwork is important. Krang would agree.
When you've finished repeating steps two and three until the sphere is saturated, this is roughly how it should appear. Remember, Krang's a brain -- your top goal is to make the papery ballish sphere look as brainish as possible. Add some extra tape for stability, but try to leave the 'face' side of the sphere mostly free of Scotchy debris. Pink paper balls is enough of a stretch in itself -- Scotch tape really hurts the realism factor.
STEP FOUR: Use another piece of pink paper to draw Krang's trademark tentacles. Use the sheet of non-pink paper to handle his eyes and mouth. Carefully use scissors to cut the two-dimensional body parts out. If so desired, you may also use the scissors to reenact that Cheers scene where Frasier playfully runs around the bar holding a pair. It helps ease the tension before moving on to Step Five.
STEP FIVE: Bring Scotch tape back into the fold to attach Krang's eyes, mouth, and tentacles to the previously drab pink popcorn ball. YOU'VE DONE IT, YOU'VE MADE A KRANG! The figurine can be used as a door stopper if you've got very, very small doors, or as a paperweight if you've got very, very heavy paper. Don't place Krang next to an open flame, as he'll probably go on fire.
OPTIONAL STEP SIX: Draw, cut out, and attach whimsical novelty hats to Krang's forehead. Mine promotes a fictitious steakhouse. Yours doesn't need to. Your hat can say anything, or nothing at all! Hats are funny like that. And that's it - you're finished making KRANG! Celebrate with Swiss fondue and a robust '96 Merlot. Good job!
RETURN TO X-E!