If you were alive at any time between 1987 and now, chances are you've heard of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Even before that, the popular characters starred in their own comic book created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, an oversized black-and-white funnybook that enjoyed its own enormous level of success. Essentially, TMNT was a true kitchen table project; two independent creators poking fun at a darkening industry, unaware that these creations would grow beyond their wildest dreams. Spawning an endless supply of merchandise, a video game series and several feature films, Eastman and Laird's humble creation proved to be one of the most lucrative franchises of the late 80s and early 90s.
Hard to believe it's taken more than eight years, but this DVD release of the tenth and final season will finally give TMNT fans a certain amount of closure. Most long-running cartoons from the era get two or three volumes on DVD and eventually sputter out (even the good ones, like Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs), leaving hardcore fans frustrated and the casually nostalgic indifferent. Aside from TMNT, some of the only exceptions off the top of my head include Batman: The Animated Series, Transformers and G.I. Joe. Though Lionsgate's individual volume releases have been hit or miss during the last eight years (and quite confusing in their organization), it shows great resolve to finally close out a series that experienced plenty of ups and downs during the course of a decade, both in popularity and quality.
This tenth and final season includes just eight episodes (as did the last few volumes)...but what's more is that two missing episodes from the fifth season ("Once Upon A Time Machine" and "Planet of the Turtleoids") have been included for good measure. Story-wise, these eight episodes are similar in tone to those from the last two seasons: Shredder and Krang are background characters, everything's a little darker and that
Carter kid is still hanging around. Oddly enough, four of these episodes ("The Beginning of the End", "The Return of Dregg", "Mobster from Dimension X", and "The Day the Earth Disappeared") were also included allll the way back on the first season DVD as extras...so really, you're only getting six "new" episodes here. It's still not a bad deal for less than a large anchovy and chocolate pizza.
Season 10 Episode List:
"The Return of Dregg" • "The Beginning of the End"
"The Power of Three" • "A Turtle in Time" • "Turtles to the Second Power"
"Mobster from Dimension X" • "The Day the Earth Disappeared" • "Divide & Conquer"
Video & Audio Quality
Presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratios, these episodes look fairly decent for their age. Colors are generally strong and black levels are usually solid, but a mild amount of digital combing and compression artifacts can be seen along the way. For better or worse, this is pretty much on par with past volumes of TMNT on DVD...although I'd imagine that most fans might shell out more for a better product.
The audio, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, fares slightly better. Dialogue is crisp and doesn't fight for attention with the frequent music cues. Overall, it's about what you'd expect from a 1990s animated series. Optional subtitles are not included, but each episode includes Closed Captioning support.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
Seen below, the anamorphic menu designs are basic and easy to navigate. Each 23-minute episode has been divided into several chapters, though no chapter selection screens are present. This one-disc set is housed in one of those annoying eco-cases with holes in it. No inserts of any kind are inside, but we do
get a matching slipcover and a crapload of trailers, warning screens and logos before the main menu.
As mentioned earlier, Lionsgate has repented for past sins by including two Bonus Episodes
from the fifth season, which for some reason never made it to the original DVD release. These include "Once Upon a Time Machine" and the two-part, prime time 1991 season finale (!) "Planet of the Turtleoids". While it's true that these aren't exactly series highlights---and, obviously enough, it's not like they were originally withheld for content or legal reasons---it's great to finally have 'em on DVD. Even better, they're kind of comforting in a way, due to the lighter tone and familiar presence of Shredder, Krang and company.
Also included are three Artist Interviews featuring Curt Walstead (storyboard artist from 1994-96), Paul Scarzo (storyboard conformist, 1991-96) and Scott Heming (storyboard conformist, 1991-96). They're pretty laid-back but enjoyable chats, with each artist sharing a little about their background and first impressions of the show, and of course a few production experiences. These are presented in 480p and run for just over 20 minutes total...but, like the episodes, do not include optional subtitles.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was quite a unique and enjoyable series for its time, though most fans will agree it was running on fumes during the last few seasons. The show's trademark humor was gradually dialed back big-time for heavier doses of action, seriousness and even a red sky for some reason...but if you've made it this far, chances are you'll want to pick up this tenth and final season on DVD. Lionsgate doesn't exactly knock this one out of the park, but the inclusion of two "missing" fifth season episodes and a few bonus interviews makes this a pretty solid deal for the asking price. Recommended.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey from Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects, teaches art classes and runs a website or two. In his limited free time, Randy also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs and writing in third person.