The 1990s were littered with live action television shows that featured teenage martial artists that were forced to team up to battle evil monsters bent on destroying the earth. Power Rangers, VR Troopers, Beetle Borgs – we all had our favorite. You know the story: evil trapped for thousands of years is released by some accident. Now a team of young heroes must be brought together by an older, wiser (albeit weaker) master of the art. Sound about right? Nothing new here, but suppose some big wig in the children’s entertainment industry were to green light this show but only under one condition…it be a Ninja Turtles show.
A turd by any other name would smell so rank. What am I talking about? Is this the plot of the upcoming Michael Bay blasphemy? No. Is this some strange fan-fic? Not quite. No, this is something that you have either never heard of or chose to forget. I am speaking of Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation.
Let me make something clear, I know that the original Turtle cartoon is silly. The live action show is not even THAT type of silly; it is just poorly written. In trying to make the turtles goofy jokesters, they come off as moronic. These turtles are not fun to watch; they are just very stupid ninjas – and on top of it, they’re not even good ninjas. The four main turtles are clumsy, loud, and unagile. The only one that is good at being a ninja is Venus, a female Ninja Turtle put in the show instead of April O’Neil to give girls a strong female role model, whom most people don’t even acknowledge as one of the Ninja Turtles. The problem with the character is that she is very heavy-handedly made to seem flawless, which in itself becomes a major flaw.
Of all the complaints I have, I have to say the villains are the worst part of the show. Shredder is in it some, but for the most part, the show’s about an ancient dragon that just wants to eat the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I couldn’t make this stuff up. And that’s just in the first half of the season. The show gets a little better when it starts to get even more bizarre with a talking gangster ape that turns out to be the last Yeti. None of the villains have any kind of interesting motive or back story to make them compelling. They simply exist to give the turtles someone to punch.
All of these flaws and I still didn’t mention the subpar puppeteering that is responsible for the characters’ mouths hanging open most of the time, the exhausting five part pilot that is all about the Dragon Lord wanting to eat them, or the confusion about what continuity this show belongs to (Cartoon? Movie? Its own?), or the horrendous sound effects such as “boing,” “bonk,” and some sort of bicycle horn sound when people get hit. Every once in a while the show reminds you that it IS a TV show about Ninja Turtles and fan fondness for the turtles sneaks in for a brief moment. Raphael gets some really good one liners that feel like they are straight from the old cartoon (and very well may be).
As far as DVDs go it sucks. The title menu repeats an annoying song over and over until you make it stop. There are also no special features. I would love to have seen some behind the scenes puppeteering footage or some sort of commentary where someone responsible could apologize. If you are an absolute TMNT nut (like me) and have to have all things Turtles then you may want it just to have a conversation piece – but that is about it.