I was too old and, at the age of thirteen (where I thought I knew absolutely everything), far too cool for the first incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so I never understood the big deal about them at the time, but like the Power Rangers, the Care Bears, and Strawberry Shortcake, the Turtles continue to delight each subsequent generation. Having stood the test of time, it is only fitting that the original cartoon series, which premiered two decades (!!) ago and ran for an impressive ten years and close to 200 episodes, is given a DVD release.
The "heroes in a half shell" fight to save the universe from the evil Shredder and his bumbling band of henchmen while at the same time celebrating with their favorite pizza dinner and managing to sound like cast members of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. They have human friends, like Zack, April, Irma, and Caitlin, who treat them just like the totally rad teenagers they are and often aid in their quest to save the earth from evil and injustice. Although it is difficult at times to tell them apart, their bandanna colors offer some help: Donatello's is purple, Leonardo's is blue, Michaelangelo's is orange, and Raphael's is red.
There are 12, 22-minute episodes included on this disc, and for fans of the original run of this series, Volume Six covers the end of the third season (for some reason, there is no season-by-season release of this show yet). Some episodes from this volume include:
Shredderville: What would the world be like without the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? This episode explores that troubling question, pointing out that the world would turn into an awful place called "Shredderville," where their friends are subjected to the rule of the terrible leader. But is it real or just a dream?
The Turtle Terminator: April's friend Irma is kidnapped by two of Shredder's men, her spirit is turned into a robotic Turtle Terminator who looks just like her. The Turtle Terminator is out to find and destroy the Turtles, and unless they can distinguish her from the real Irma, their fate is uncertain.
The Great Boldini: Magic and a missing emerald is the focus of this episode. When The Great Boldini claims to be able to make the Turtellini Emerald disappear, it really disappears, setting the turtles out on a quest to recover it and find out the true identity of the thief.
The Grybyx: In a plot somewhat reminiscent of Gremlins, a cute creature turns into a huge monster when it eats...you guessed it – pizza! This creates a threat to everyone, and it remains to be seen whether the Grybyx can be turned back into its cute self before it destroys everything.
Watching this show is just a happy trip back in time. Remember the days when kids lived for Saturday morning cartoons? Before cartoons ran 24 hours a day, and before television shows were released onto DVD and you actually had to be in front of the television at a certain time, or you would miss your favorite show? I can remember feeling true pangs of anxiety at the thought of my grandfather's Sunday afternoon baseball game running too long and cutting into Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, meaning that it would be a whole week before it aired again. A few minutes into this volume of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series will bring back all sorts of memories for those of us who remember life before the on-demand age. Although this show eventually ran in syndication, making it more accessible to the masses, it has that undeniable Saturday morning cartoon feel that is a welcome trip down memory lane.
The wry humor of the Turtles ensures that adult fans who remembered this show as kids will continue to enjoy it in the present day. The plots are engrossing, and the dialogue is peppy and quite intellectual. There is a clear delineation between good and evil, making the Turtles the ones to root for.
The picture, presented in full screen, is one of the worst I've seen in a long time. It is grainy and dusty, and the colors look dated, due to a faded quality. Although some episodes are clearly better than others in this regard, the picture quality is disappointing, to say the least.
The sound, in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, is good but not great. It doesn't detract from the experience, but it doesn't add much either.
Fans have to go all the way back to the first volume of this series to see any extras; this volume contained four episodes from later in the series. On this disc, you're out of luck, but the run-time is over four hours, so the lack of extras isn't especially criminal.
An absolute must for fans of the series, as well as little fans who have yet to discover it. For families with both boys and girls, don't expect the girls to enjoy it as much, but that will help to balance out the many hours the boys have likely had to sit through the endless direct-to-DVD Barbie movies.