This is the third stab at making an animated series about these radical reptiles. This lone DVD acts as a sampler of seven episodes taken from the middle of its first season, instead of the complete season set. (A common move from Nickelodeon.) These episodes introduce the characters well enough that it will make you curious to see more of what this series has to offer.
This is the first series presented as a 3D computer animation. The graphics are nicely rendered, but are sometimes hard to see since the movements, especially during fight scenes, are incredibly frantic. I certainly hope the fact that I find the pacing too fast isn’t a sign of old age arriving. The animators have clearly gone through a lot of trouble choreographing a fight that can sometimes have at least a couple dozen characters interacting (a very difficult thing to manage) and I’d appreciate it more if the speed didn’t make me feel like I need to feed the DVD Ritalin.
Fans of the original animated series will appreciate the familiar sound of Rob Paulsen providing a voice, although said fans may be a touch confused with the fact that he is now voicing Donatello. (He previously spent roughly a decade providing Raphael’s voice.) As another nod to longtime fans, the theme song is a remix of the original from the 1980s.
The turtles have the same character dynamic they always have; Leo leads, Don is the tech nerd, Raph is rude but strong, and Mikey is skilled but immature. The stories are sometimes goofy, but offer real dramatic character growth other times. The goofy moments do tend to dominate, though, as this series adopts the Anime-ish tendency to have non-diegetic graphics appear on screen to emphasize a joke (a trait also adopted by the recent Ultimate Spiderman cartoon series).
Since Nickelodeon acquired the rights to this franchise, expect many more of these types of episode sets to be released. I wouldn’t be shocked if TMNT episodes showed up on some of their compilation DVDs too. On top of that, this show’s villains and vehicles are all action figure-ready, so expect at least a few more holidays loaded with TMNT merchandise of all kinds.
16×9 Widescreen. As mentioned before, the visuals look nicely rendered and this DVD offers a nice picture quality.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. Spanish and French Stereo. Every sound is rich, clear and very well mixed together. The music moves through all the speakers, and the dialogue comes through clearly from the front speakers.
It’s nice to see a smaller TV release still receive some good features (although a full season release would still be preferred).
Animated Comics Books: There is absolutely nothing “animated” about these. A two-part series called “Tales from the Lair” is read by scrolling through the images using your DVD remote. Still a nice, unique feature to have instead of a boring photo gallery.
The Mutation of a Scene: This feature simultaneously shows scenes in three stages of production: the storyboard animatic, the first animation test, and the final product. A great feature for those who have not witnessed these stages before.
As an attempt to bring the Turtles to a new generation of child viewers, this is about as good as one can ask for. Although it really hasn’t been that long since the second series stopped airing, this show (which has been renewed for at least 3 seasons) makes for a nice segway into the upcoming feature film.