“They’re the world’s most fearsome fighting team. They’re heroes in a half-shell and they’re green. When the evil Shredder attacks these Turtle boys don’t cut him no slack! … Splinter taught them to be ninja teens. Leonardo leads, Donatello does machines, Raphael is cool but crude, Michelangelo is a party dude… Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, heroes in a half shell. Turtle power!”
What started as a low budget comic has grown into quite a sensation. The Turtles are everywhere. There are cartoons, books, comics, movies, and thousands of toys. They’ve been translated into just about every language in the world. The 1980’s and 1990’s were alive with Turtle power. With yet another film now in the works, the Turtles are about to make a comeback. While the characters might not have started with the 80’s cartoon series, that’s where it made its greatest leap in popularity. The show ran for over a decade, a rare record for cartoon shows of the era. Here Lionsgate has accumulated all 27 half hour episodes from the 7th season in this 25th anniversary set of 4 discs. Each disc represents a different Ninja Turtle. And like so many of those Playmate television commercials used to warn, they’re each sold separetly.The discs come in a larger box which contains a small action figure of that featured Turtle. Collect all 4 to get the complete season and all 4 turtle characters.
The Turtles were once just ordinary turtles until they fall into a sewer and discover a strange man living there. The five encounter a strange green glow that transforms them forever. The turtles are transformed into human-like turtles with great strength. The man becomes the rat, Master Splinter, who trains and guides the development of these 4 turtles. The names of the characters were taken from famous artists of the Renaissance. Leonardo was, of course, taken from Leonardo Da Vinci. He took blue as his color, wearing it as a mask and armbands. The colors are really there so you can tell the characters apart. Another distinguishing characteristic is the weapons they master. For Leonardo it’s the sword-like katonas. Leonardo is the responsible member of the group and generally acts as their leader. Michelangelo was named for the famous painter of the Sistine Chapel, among other great works of art. Leonardo wears orange. His weapons are the nunchaku. Michelangelo is the party animal of the group. Raphael was named after the famous Raffaello Santi, best known for his Vatican works, The Madonnas. He wears red and is the surfer cool member of the pack. His weapons are the same as Marvel’s Elektra. They both are masters of the tri-tipped sai. Finally, Donatello was named after the Florentine sculptor known for crafting crucifixes. He wears purple (obviously a Vikings fan). He’s the tech savvy guy in the group and manages the various gadgets. His weapon is a simple bo staff. Together they join forces to kick some serious bad guy butt. Splinter’s arch nemesis Shredder was the main villain, but the turtles would encounter everything from evil robots mutant insect people. It’s all in a day’s work for the young warriors, as long as they have a steady supply of pizza to keep up their strength. The show combined the qualities of an action adventure cartoon with some martial arts and a few morality tales along the way.
The first disc features Leonardo and contains episodes 1-6.
The second disc features Michelangelo and contains episodes 7-13.
The third features Donatello and contains episodes 14-20
The fourth features Raphael and contains the final episodes, 21-27.
Each episode is presented in a full frame aspect ratio. It’s really not fair to judge the video here. It was a simple cartoon made for television. There is a lot of compression artifact, and the picture is not all that sharp. Colors are still fair. Suffice it to say that you won’t be buying this stuff for the A/V quality.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 does barely what it needs to. You get the dialog and the music. Don’t expect much fidelity. Be happy with clarity.
The best feature is that each of the 4 sets comes with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure. They have several points of articulation. You need to collect the entire season to get all 4.
Each disc also contains a feature of its own on the disc:
Vol. 1 – A Look Back At The Most Turtleistic Toys: This 5 minute piece is really a long promo for the various Playmate toys. Let’s face it, the cartoon wasn’t much different. We get to see the process a toy goes through from concept to he shelves of your local We B Toys.
Vol 2 – Turtle Creation: This 10 minute feature includes interviews with the creators of The Turtles: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. They talk about the original comics and the inspirations for the characters. They talk about how they first met.
Vol 3 – The TV Sensation: This 10 minute piece looks at the transformation from comic to cartoon series on television. Obviously there were changes and the crew contrasts and compares the incarnations for us.
Vol 4 – Fanominal Sensation: Take a look at some of the rabid fan base. Meet a guy who has the characters tattooed on his arms. Collectors and worshippers, they’re all here.
The show and characters has evolved over the years. The truth is that this show has always been about marketing and toys. I’m not saying the cartoon isn’t good. At times it’s been quite good. I get a little tired of the surfer dude speech patterns, but I can see the appeal particularly for the young crowd. This set is the best of the cartoon releases to date. You’ll love the little action figures. That alone should get the fans screaming: “Cowabunga Dude”.