Friday, June 10, 2016

Turtle Tracks - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 1

You know, it’s been a while since I’ve talked about anything related to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Let’s change that, shall we?

By now, the newest movie has come out. The word of mouth has been a little mixed from fans. I know it’s not a good film, so I’ll just wait this time. Besides, there are other movies to look forward to. A long time ago, I said I wasn’t going to comment much on the original tv show. It was mostly because I had no access to the original series at that time. I am a fan the franchise, but I’m not going to go out and get everything with them in it. Besides, I think I had enough TMNT toys from back in the day to fill some sort of chest. Too bad I don’t have them now.

This kind of changed a couple of years ago when I found the DVD to TMNT’s first season. TMNT’s first season is a short one. It only consisted of five episodes and it was first aired in syndication in 1987. I guess the episode run for the season was so short so they could see how it would do, I’m not sure. Of course, I wasn’t watching the show at that time. I didn’t start to watch the show until it aired on CBS. I do remember seeing these batch of episodes on VHS. The whole season was also cut to be a feature length movie and I used to rent that at Jitney Jungle. It didn’t include the third episode for some reason though.

The season pretty much where it all began with the Turtles. We get their origin and their first meeting with April O’Neill. She’s gets accosted while reporting on the Foot Clan, Splinter’s old ninja clan, and they save her. By they way, Splinter is Hamato Yoshi here instead of being Yoshi’s pet rat. As the mutagen changed the turtles, it turned him into a rat. Afterwards, they get involved with saving her from the Foot Clan which is being led by the Oroku Saki, the Shredder. He’s also in league with Krang, an alien from Dimension X who wants to rule the Earth. The rest of the season involves the Turtles trying to stop Shredder and Krang from doing this.

Yes, I know it all...

I really enjoyed this when I revisited it back in the spring. It may even be one of the best seasons of the show. I really can’t say that since it’s been a long time since I’ve seen other episodes, but this was pretty good. It started everything off so well. The stories were pretty cool and I liked that it's all one little arc. So much got introduced in this miniseries. We got the origin, Shredder, Krang, the Neutrinos (eh…), Beebop, Rocksteady, and a white Baxter Stockman. He’s actually black in the comics. Why did they change his race in the first place? Oh well, it’s not like I liked the character.

The turtles are in fine form here. They all have their distinct personalities unlike the Turtles Forever movie from a few years ago. They’re more light-hearted than the comics, but this was a kids’ show after all. I liked them all here. Splinter was also a cool mentor and a cool character in his own right. He even had a nice role involving that retro-mutation gun. While April was the stereotypical reporter/damsel in distress, I did like her sometimes. Then, we had the villains. Shredder was pretty cool in this first season when he was actually threatening. The same goes for Krang since he had the tech and the army towards the end.

The animation was pretty good for the most part. It was handled by Toei Animation for this season only. For a cartoon from the 80’s, it still works well. The character designs were good for our main characters. The action was also pretty good too. Here, the turtles actually got to throw down and kick some butt. I know that the action was toned down and made more slapstick-ish in later seasons, so soak in what you can. The voice acting from the main cast was also pretty good. Everyone sounded good and fit their character. I never knew that James Avery (Uncle Phil from Fresh Prince of Bel Air) voiced the Shredder until a few years ago. The music is also cool in all of its 80’s-ness. The theme song still kicks some butt.

Since I haven’t read the early comics, I can’t tell how correct they were in terms of source material. I only know of the differences through some research. I know Raphael is the sarcastic one here instead of the angry guy from the comics. It’s a change that still works for the show since he says the funniest stuff. Then, there’s Splinter’s backstory change. Hamato Yoshi’s end from the comics was pretty bloody, so I get why they made Splinter Yoshi here. April’s a scientist in the comics, the Foot Soldiers are men instead of robots, and I don’t know where to start with Krang. Still, these changes don’t hurt the show especially when you view it as a separate, lighter entity.


Not a lot of bad to say, so here is some more of that awesome intro.

To tell you the truth, there really aren’t that many problems to the season. I wouldn’t say it’s all perfect from beginning to end though. The animation could sometimes be a little lackluster. Some background characters wouldn’t look too good. You’d also have some weird goofs in the animation. One notable example is during the first episode where five turtles suddenly show up. I will say that the animation goofs are pretty funny. I’m also not a big fan of the Neutrinos. They weren’t annoying (I actually like that episode a lot), but they didn’t help things.

The episode with Baxter Stockman is probably my least favorite of the five. It’s not a bad one but when compared to the others, it does come a little short in my mind. Other than those things and probably a couple of others, I don’t have anything bad to say about the season. It did change some things from the comics, but I can accept it for what it is. It’s a Saturday morning cartoon aimed for kids. If they were going to put this on at that time, they had to keep it safe. Luckily, it had a lot more going for it than most cartoons did.


Since the season is only five episodes, I’ll skip the “Favorite Episodes” section this time.  I do recommend this especially if you’re a fan of cartoons. If you’re a fan of the TMNT, then why haven’t you seen this? This was pretty awesome. The DVD also has episodes from the show's Ninth Season, so you get a little more than you bargained for. If you’re watching the current series on Nickelodeon and haven’t seen this, then check out this series and see how it all started for the franchise. I don’t know if I’ll look at the rest of the series on here but you never know. Until then, Peace, God Bless, and someone pass me the pizza with the salami, anchovies, marshmallows, and onions right away!

Looks like they're about to dance or something...

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