Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, Vol.1
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Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo are four genetically mutated turtles who have grown into human-sized, ninja-powered crime-fighters living in the sewers of New York City. Under the tutelage of Master Splinter, these four teens have spent their formative years fighting their nemesis, Shredder, and his evil army. But the turtles world we have come to know and love is about to change. If you thought Shredder was bad, wait until you meet the newest TMNT foe: Dragon Lord! It will take all the power of the turtles to combat this new villain . . . lucky for them, they will have help from a new ninja turtle, a FEMALE turtle named Venus De Milo!
See all the exciting showdowns in the only live-action series based on the iconic Ninja Turtles franchise!
The only live-action series in the popular franchise, Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation ran on Fox Kids for only one season, 1997-98. It's not hard to understand why it proved so short-lived. Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo are portrayed by acrobats in rubber suits and masks that inevitably bring to mind The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Rodin, and other low-budget monster movies. The masks prevent the performers from speaking their lines, so a separate cast provides the over-the-top voices. The dialogue runs to a mixture of New York-accented "Dude!" comments and fortune cookie speeches: "You have betrayed your teaching and disgraced your ancestors." The villains, whether human or creature, speak in the inevitable Darth Vader basso. Next Mutation introduced the female turtle Venus De Milo. The protégée and adopted daughter of Splinter's old associate Chung I, Venus embodies pretty much every pseudo-Asian cliché in the book. At times, the filmmakers seem to be striving for the campy appeal of the old Batman TV series, but Next Mutation lacks the requisite take-no-prisoners silliness. The combatants obviously pull their punches in the repetitive fight scenes, robbing them of any excitement. The original comics by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird relied on exaggerated poses and expressions that worked for drawn panels and animation, but don't translate to live action. The result is an inane mishmash that only the most dedicated Ninja Turtles fan could love. (Rated TV Y7, suitable for ages 8 and older: cartoon-style violence, racial stereotypes) --Charles Solomon
(1. East Meets West, Part 1, 2. East Meets West, Part 2, 3. East Meets West, Part 3, 4. East Meets West, Part 4, 5. East Meets West, Part 5, 6. Staff of Buki, 7. Silver and Gold, 8. Meet Dr. Quease, 9. All in the Family, 10. Trusting Dr. Quease, 11. Windfall, 12. Turtles' Night Out, 13. Mutant Reflections)
Top customer reviews
Even being a cheaper version of Turtles, based on what we saw on the movies, the new characters, adventures and stories on this 2-Disc pack can make any fan happy!
Audio and video for this release are pretty good, and the image cover/design looks fantastic too.
13 episodes full of entertainment for Turtles fans!
PS: during the opening credits, the audio gets a bit louder than expected...but...who cares?! LOL
Since their first appearance in a May 1984 one-off comic book funded by monies from a tax return, the anthropomorphic bale* has appeared in three animated series, four feature films, an anime, numerous RPGs and video games, a live concert tour, and of course too many subsequent comic books to count! (Not to mention a rumored fifth film in 2014.)
Of all these incarnations, the most different (and, arguably, the least beloved) would be 'Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation,' a T.V. series that aired for only one season on Fox Kids in the late '90s. The first proper release of this series on home video in North America (in two volumes: the first releasing in September, the second to follow in early 2013) by Shout! Factory gives us occasion to look at this footnote of television history again (both literally and figuratively), and decide for ourselves where it fits in the TMNT universe (and in the broader media-scape).
For starters, the series is non-canonized, and thus officially, does not fit anywhere. Chronologically, it is supposed to take place after the events of the third live-action film. However, a myriad of discontinuities has been pointed out by fans, most notably the fact that The Shredder, who himself mutated into a "Super Shredder," and was ultimately defeated in the second film, is alive again, and is no longer in his mutated form.
In addition, several concepts were officially included as part of the 'Next Mutation' mythos that were incompatible with, if not diametrically opposed to, the larger TMNT establishment. Most famously or infamously, depending on one's point of view, was the character of a fifth, female turtle named Venus de Milo. Also, in a development stemming from her inclusion, Leonardo is given the occasion to state in an early episode that none of the turtles is biologically related. The writers of the show established this fact right away so as not to rule out a possible romantic relationship between Venus and one of the other four man-sized bipedal tortoises. (Thankfully, this romance never matriculated!)
The series is equally notable for all the new elements it brought in as well as for all the traditional elements it left out. As far as enemies go, Shredder and The Foot Clan, for all the fuss that was made about them, are given but a minute role to play. The new villainous duties fall on a roughly analogous bunch, Dragonlord and The Rank, along with a host of minor villains, most notably Silver (the last Yeti), Vam-Mi (an ancient, reawakened vampiress from the Far East) and Simon Bonesteel (a rare animal poacher who has grown rather eccentric (read: crazy!) from years of living his isolated lifestyle). And as far as allies go, fans will notice, with disappointment, the absence of April O'Neil and Casey Jones.
Besides the obvious backstory changes, the criticisms most heavily weighed on 'The Next Mutation' are the lack of production values, the alternately stiff acting/overacting and the ludicrous dubbing of some of the actors' voices (most notably, Vam-Mi's henchmen Bing and Chi Chu). My personal opinion (although I have not yet found a way to confirm it) is that 'The Next Mutation' was purposefully filmed (and subsequently produced) in an intentionally "pop art camp" style, similar to the 1960s Batman T.V. series. If so, this would go a long way in explaining why (1) the creative minds behind the show took it so seriously and (2) the public didn't get it. Ultimately, of course, the show flopped, and was cancelled after a sole season of 26 episodes; too bad, as the writers seemed to promise The Shredder a bigger role in season two, and had at least hinted at the inclusion of April and Casey.
After all is said and done, fan reaction to 'Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation' will always be divided. And the release of the series on DVD is certainly not going to change that. No: if anything, it is just going to add fuel to (both sides of) the fire! But it is important, I think, because it allows Turtles' fans to re-view the series (and younger fans to see it for the first time) and make up their own minds. Because--whether you love it or loath it--just like the rest of the TMNT universe, it's here to stay. And, unless something even more left-field comes along (which, I suppose, is conceivable), 'NT:TNM' remains the most unique manifestation of what may be the most unique cultural phenomenon of our lifetimes.
Until next time, "Cowabunga, dudes!"
*A group of turtles is called a bale.