The most recent SNL was arguably their oddest episode since the one in 1979 where a cranky Milton Berle hosted alongside free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman, with the quarantined cast doing sketches in isolation, from the privacy of their own homes. With its low-res webcam images and spotty sound, it had the feel of public access television, only starring famous people (and their even more famous guests) in a timeslot that’s been held for nearly half a century. But there was one sketch that didn’t involve peering into some performer’s living room or home office: a cartoon that offered a dark and sad look at the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles if they got older.
Granted, “Middle-Aged Ninja Turtles” doesn’t have the same ring to it. (Nor does it have the same number of consonants to get highlighted on this excellent Twitter account.) But failure was the general vibe of the sketch, which finds Michelangelo fighting his estranged wife for custody of the kids, Raphael frowning while checking his weight, and Donatello getting a call from his PCP about a suspicious lump on his spine.
“They came from mutagens in secret ooze/Now they do their own shopping at Whole Foods,” goes the opening credits song, which adds that “They used to be so cool/Now they drive their spoiled kids to school.” It’s a grim look at the boredom and melancholy of middle age, when bodies start failing, dreams recede into the past, and life becomes powerfully mundane. Even Shredder has died, albeit not from any of their hands; he simply got too old. The worst bit was saved for the song’s final line: “All of them are sober now/Turtle Power!”
Anyway, as the Stones said, what a drag it is getting old. In fact, since the Turtles first appeared in 1984, that means they’re probably in their 50s now. Of course, so are Keanu Reeves and Brad Pitt, so maybe age really is only a number. And at least they’re still young and teenaged on their fifth and latest animated show.