Though Judge Paul Pritchard will never condone animal cruelty, he's prepared to turn a blind eye should anyone wish to flush this particular incarnation of the Turtles down the toilet.
Our reviews of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Volume 3 (published February 1st, 2006), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Volume 4 (published May 31st, 2006), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season 9 (published August 21st, 2011), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition (published August 14th, 2009), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition (Blu-Ray) (published August 17th, 2009), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Enter Shredder (published July 13th, 2013), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rise of the Turtles (published March 23rd, 2013), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Classic Series (published November 26th, 2012), and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ultimate Showdown (published October 19th, 2013) are also available.
With the 1987 release of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon series, a previously cult comic book went supernova and, for a while at least, the world went Turtle mad. Running for a total of ten seasons the show was, for a time, the longest-running animated series in the history of American television.
Facts of the Case
Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello, led by their master Splinter continue to take their fight to the evil Shredder and universe conquering alien Krang in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season 6, which contains all 16 episodes of the original series spread over two discs.
The years, it would seem, have not been particularly kind to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Not only did franchise relaunch T.M.N.T. fail to replicate the success enjoyed by the Turtles in their heyday, despite being a cracking movie in my opinion, but watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season 6 for the first time in over a decade, reveals a show that never once lives up to the childhood memories.
A mere four episodes into my turtle marathon and I was already dreading the prospect of sitting through twelve more. Yet I carried on, probably more out of a sense of duty than choice, but also out of hope, a hope that I could salvage something from the show I loved so dearly when I was but a young whippersnapper. Despite not reading enough of the original Eastman and Laird comics to speak with much authority, I am aware they possessed a dark tone that was totally expunged when the time for a Saturday morning cartoon take on the Turtles came around. This results in bad guys who are played purely for comic value, heroes who soon become annoying with their pithy one-liners, and fight scenes that are pathetic for an action-oriented cartoon and totally inexcusable for one based around ninjas.
While the last two paragraphs have seen me kick sand in the face of the Turtles, while I gently weep as I mourn my childhood heroes fall from grace, I find I have no choice but to put them out of their misery and deal the killing blow by exposing their main weakness: the writing. Lazy, uninspired, and formulaic are three words I wager will be going through the minds of many viewers revisiting this series; not even Master Splinter, the disease spreading vermin that he is, has the skill to defend such an attack. Every episode seems to follow exactly the same four steps:
Step 1: The show will begin with the Turtles playing/training/watching TV. Splinter will spoil their fun by giving a speech on "the way of the ninja," even managing to apply his ninja teachings to TV repair.
Step 2: Shredder and Krang, along with mentally deficient mutants Bebop and Rocksteady, will plan their escape from the Technodrome, which this season is stuck at the bottom of the ocean. Their plans will almost certainly involve transporting a "villain of the week" from Dimension X.
Step 3: The Turtles will attempt to thwart the Shredder/Krang plot and, initially, fail.
Step 4: Finally, and often in completely contrived ways, Splinter's teachings from earlier in the show will offer the Turtles the solution they need to send the villains packing.
That's it, over and over; it is as consistent as gravity.
The 1.33:1 transfer is really quite poor, with a dull, flat image. I'm sure a lot of this is down to the age of the source material, but at times it really didn't look a whole lot better than the VHS releases from the nineties. The stereo soundtrack is just as unimpressive. In the interests of being fair, I should also stress this is probably as good as the series will ever look.
While I can at least find reasoning for the poor audio/video on the disc, I find the lack of any extras (bar trailers for other shows coming to DVD, which I'm afraid don't count) totally inexcusable. The Turtles were a worldwide phenomenon, from comics, cartoons, and movies, to toys, videogames, and beyond, there was no market too big or small for the Turtles. That we don't get anything on the history of the franchise or the work that went into the show is a real letdown.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season 6 is pretty much beyond redemption and I really can't find anything to defend the show, instead I'll argue in defense of the Turtles themselves. As the 2007 movie T.M.N.T. showed, the Turtles are a great concept that, when handled carefully, has the potential to keep on running. Similarly the 2003 cartoon series is far superior to the original run. With less reliance on wisecracks, it has a darker tone, is edgier, and, get this, actually has the Turtles showing their ninja prowess with far more cinematic set pieces.
I found no pleasure whatsoever in writing this review. From the sloppy writing to the ropey animation, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season 6 is almost unbearable to watch. I'd really like to be able to recommend this DVD, arguing that the nostalgia factor makes it a worthwhile purchase, but I cannot in good conscience suggest anyone spend his or her hard-earned money on this.
Hard as it is for me to say it, I've no choice but to find the Turtles guilty. If you want me I'll be crying on my Turtle pillow while listening to Vanilla Ice's "Ninja Rap."
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