19 May 2013

DVD Review: "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (1987): Volume One

Rated: For Ages 5 and Up (back of DVD case) / TV-Y7 (US TV rating)
Starring: Cam Clarke, Townsend Coleman, and Renae Jacobs
Released: 1987 (first season) & 1996 (bonus episodes) (original TV airing) / April 20, 2004 (DVD)
Synopsis: After a mutating agent fell into some sewers, Japanese martial artist Hamato Yoshi's four pet turtles became Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Yoshi himself became an oversized rat, who the turtles dubbed Splinter, but that didn't keep him from teaching his new larger-than-life friends the way of the warrior! In this set, they befriend Channel Six's reporter April O'Neil, and fight against Splinter's old enemy Saki alongside some unlikely allies.  Also contains four episodes from the series' tenth (and final) season, which was rarely seen on US television.

Plots: 5/5
It's rare for me to watch even a normal-length movie in one sitting, so, the fact that I devoured all nine episodes on this disc in less than forty-eight hours is really saying something.  I did feel that the first few episodes were lacking in action and intensity, but the story did have to be set up.

Production Values: 4.25/5
Even a non-TMNT fan would notice a marked difference between the first season and the final season when it comes to animation.  Though there may be a stylistic variation between them, they're equally good, though some rough spots were noticeable.  Also, some of the voice acting, mostly with the minor characters, was a little grating, and the music could be slightly cheesy at times.  A few typos in the closed captions were also present.  Those factors only slightly detract from what was otherwise a quality presentation.

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: None.
  • Nudity: April wears an outfit in the first season that shows a little cleavage, but it is only seen when she appears close-up.
  • Language: Nothing worse than usage of euphemisms such as "heck" or name-calling, i.e., "fools," "imbecile," etc.
  • Drugs: None.
  • Violence: Plenty of comic-book-style-violence, though few fatalities are present.  Lots of explosions, hits, kicks, and use of weapons, though there is absolutely zero blood or gore.
  • Frightening/Intense Sequences: Some of the villains are scary-looking.  Two of the bonus episodes feature one or more of the Turtles turning into hideous monsters.  One bonus episode shows the entire Earth in peril.  A few of the plots may hit a nerve in light of recent terrorist attacks and natural disasters.
  • Other: A small about of bathroom humor that will likely make its target audience--young males--laugh.
 Conclusion: A purchase of a TMNT DVD at a yard sale last September led to me being a fan of not only the Turtles, but animated superhero shows in general.  Since then, I've been watching everything from Superman: The Animated Series to Disney XD's Avengers cartoon.  Though Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael are all a different breed of crime-fighter, their animated adventures are just as fun and exciting as anything based on a DVD or Marvel comic.
Some may be asking: Is this original series better than the 2003 one from 4Kids?  To be honest, I can't say.  They're both really good; they just take a different approach to the same material.  Having not read the comics, I'm unsure which one is truer to the original source material, though the promotional material for the 2003 series claims it is.  Maybe venturing further into both series would give me a better idea, which is what I plan to do; stay tuned.

Score: 4.5/5

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