Lionsgate // 1989 // 289 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 31st, 2006
Heroes in a half-shell.
Lionsgate has the fourth installment of its staggered release of the animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, the late-80s cartoon that touched off a firestorm of popularity that spawned endless action figures, an affinity for talking rats, and Vanilla Ice's theatrical debut. A whopping twelve episodes on one measly disc:
* "Ninja Sword of Nowhere"
Krang dispatches Shredder to the surface to track down an alien metal. Too bad for them, the turtles beat him to the punch -- though they don't know it yet. The metal is in the form of a sword, which they present to Splinter. But when Shredder gets a hold of it, he realizes he can use it to transport himself though an interdimensional portal. The turtles must retrieve the sword, spring their sensei from his imprisonment in limbo, and squash Shredder's plans.
* "20,000 Leaks Under the Sea"
Krang cooks up a plot to flood out the turtles by pumping ocean water into the sewers. He ends up flooding the entire city, and the turtles must find a way to reverse the deluge, while also battling Shredder, his cronies, and a gigantic octopus.
* "Take Me to Your Leader"
When Leonardo has a nightmare, he questions his ability to effectively lead the turtles. Distraught, he leaves the sewer, forcing the remaining team members to deal with Shredder and Krang's latest threat by themselves. Seizing some laser-thing, Shredder saps away the sun's heat, creating an ice age. Will Leo regain his self-confidence in time to lead the turtles to victory?
* "Four Musketurtles"
Leonardo gets screwed up in the head, and, after reading "The Three Musketeers," assumes the identity of a musketeer himself. Splinter advises the turtles to play along and let Leo come back to his senses on his own. So the turtles dress up in period-appropriate costumes (which happen to be made in giant-mutant-turtle-size) and continue their campaign against the forces of evil.
* "Cowabunga Shredhead"
Shredder absorbs Michelangelo's personality, and transforms into a righteous dude overnight. Despite having his blood enemy at his fingertips, Splinter punks out and lets Shredder off the hook. Still, it's a treat to see Shredder munching pizza with the turtles. If, you know, you enjoy that kind of thing.
* "Turtles Turtles Everywhere"
Krang commandeers a state-of-the-art garbage disposal robot (or something to that effect) and reprograms it to capture all nearby turtles, in hopes of finally nabbing the TMNT, but the robot goes haywire and drops hundreds and hundreds of turtles into the Technodrome, including an old sea turtle. It falls to our green heroes sot liberate their brethren and return the sea turtle to his home in the ocean.
* "Invasion of the Turtle-Snatchers"
Donatello and Rocksteady mysteriously vanish and find themselves on an alien landscape. The two enemies must work together to figure out what's going on, and elude the weird creatures that are menacing them. But the truth is far less sinister that the perception -- they've been abducted by a benevolent family of aliens.
* "Camera Bugged"
Krang and Shredder get a hold of yet another piece of alien technology. This time it's an extraterrestrial super-camera that can capture the people it takes pictures of. Of course Shredder envisions finally bagging the nuisance turtles. Can the turtles, April, Splinter, and the hapless tourist alien who brought the camera to Earth in the first place stop Shredder's evil plans? Yep.
* "Green with Jealousy"
Krang brews up a love potion that he laces the turtles' pizza with. His plan: the turtles will be so smitten with the first female they see, they'll be distracted from yet another lame-brained conquering initiative. The potion works and the turtles are at each other's throats to secure the love of...Irma?
* "Return of the Fly"
The young, nerdy-looking fly-man has returned to cause chaos, both with the turtles and with Shredder and Krang. Look for a brief cameo by the Rat King.
* "Casey Jones: Outlaw Hero"
A mysterious, hockey-mask wearing, baseball-swinging vigilant is prowling the streets, putting the hurt on the criminal element. The turtles intercept the well-intentioned, but slow-witted good guy to prevent him from creating more havoc. They ultimately come to blows, but are soon united against a common enemy: Krang, up from the depths, wandering around in a robot arachnid, intent on destroying the city. My favorite episode.
* "Mutagen Monster"
The Mutagen that morphed the turtles finds its way into a barnyard when Rocksteady and Bebop screw up a hijacking. The result of the contamination is tricked-out super-bull, with spikes growing out of its back and a sour attitude. The turtles rush to revert the bull to its native form, while fending off Shredder and his minions.
This is a great cartoon. The creativity is off the charts and the writing is surprisingly witty, more than holding its own 20 or so years later. There are a few morals shoehorned in the episodes, mostly dealing with trusting yourself and believing in your friends, but the emphasis is on entertainment. What are you expecting when your four protagonists are weapon-wielding turtles? The show never takes itself seriously and is always after the goofiest time possible. Tourist aliens? Shredder confessing he always wanted to be a writer before a ruthless conqueror? Attacking appliances? It's out there and oozing with fun. The Casey Jones intro episode is the show of note.
The episodes packaged here represent a chunk of consecutive episodes from the middle of the third season, transferred here in their original broadcast order. The disc is bare of features, except a handful of trailers. Amazingly, Lionsgate managed to cram 289 minutes of material onto one disc. The effect is a hazy, shoddy transfer with colors that can at least be described as "underperforming." The shows are great, but this treatment is totally bogus.
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 289 Minutes
Release Year: 1989
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site