Tuesday, April 22, 2014

TMNT (1987) Season 4, Part 7: Review

And lo, I have completed season 4 of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon produced by Fred Wolf.  As it happens, this is the first season of the series to end without a proper season finale.  Bummer.

TMNT (1987) Season 4, Part 7 Review at Adventures in Poor Taste.

There are some real gems in this batch of episodes.  I absolutely love "Splinter Vanishes" for its Leatherhead/Rat King team-up and "The Foot Soldiers Are Revolting" remains one of the funniest episodes in the entire series.  "Big Bug Blunder" is a bit in the middle, but is memorable for bringing back Metalhead and Genghis Frog for another go.

The rest of the episodes aren't so hot and some are downright incomprehensible ("Beyond the Donatello Nebula" is a jigsaw puzzle of an episode thanks to errors at every step of production).  A shame they didn't air "The Foot Soldiers Are Revolting" as the season finale; it might have actually worked in that regard.  Instead, we get "Unidentified Flying Leonardo", where an ambiguously gay cowboy tries to solve world hunger and the Turtles kick the shit out of him because that would destroy capitalism.



Anonymous said...

I like to think the finale didn't end with the Technodrome pull from Dimension X because you have the two Hokum eps in season 5 with the Technodrome still there as well as the whole Euro Vacation eps with it in that location.

The episode with Shredder's brother is where they get the Technodrome free and I like to view that as the real season 5 opener.

Also for some reason the Hokum episodes use the original opening of the series instead of the second one, showing there was some real out of order production placement with these episodes. They made so many episodes in season 4 they weren't sure where to place everything or when it would air on TV.

Anonymous said...

Let's all thank god that the cartoon wasn't canceled at the end of Season 4, or the last episode of the entire series would have been about a random guy creating giant vegetables!

In any case though, I think they knew the show was going to be kept on the air for at least a few more seasons which is probably why they didn't make a big deal out of Season 4's conclusion. With Seasons 1, 2 and 3's finales they had no idea they would be picked up again, which is why those 3 finale's all feel like good "series conclusions" if they had to be. However with Season 4 they obviously knew it wouldn't be the last season.

Strangely enough Season 5 does end with the big, "Planet of the Turtleoids" two-parter so they did go back to a big ender next season.

Killer Moth said...

It's funny with the power of hindsight, especially in Foot Soldiers Are Revolting, comparing/contrasting Alpha-1 to another Foot Soldier leader, introduced a season later, Chrome Dome. Curiously enough, he would become one of Shredder's more successful minions, so naturally, he could only appear twice, because I don't know why. However, Alpha-1 still has his edge with his overall personality (not that Chrome Dome didn't have a personality, yet Alpha-1 clearly stole his intro episode with his -- and I say that as a major Chrome Dome fan). It's also a little depressing, as Revolting would be Michael Reaves' finale. While his episodes were a lot more hit and miss than I thought, when he hit, he hit hard, and even the misses have some quality to them (Big Bug Blunder for the aforementioned character returns). He tried well enough, and of all the series' recurring writers, I enjoy him, Francis Moss and even David Wise, when he was actually trying. At least Reaves went on a high note.

And we'll pretend Revolting is the true season 4 finale, instead, as "ignore stupid episode placements."

Meanwhile, Mark sums up a major reason as to why I do appreciate the Fred Wolf cartoon more than other TMNT media:

"This is the way I like to remember the Fred Wolf TMNT cartoon: All my favorite colorful plastic villains mixing and matching and teaming up to constantly menace the Ninja Turtles. Basically, I like to remember the Fred Wolf TMNT cartoon as being like my action figure playtime. The sad reality is that this show was more often than not preoccupied with generic mad scientists, gangsters or just using Shredder and Krang to the exclusion of all other threats; those colorful villains you collected in toy form rarely got invited to the party."

To go on a side tangent/rant, this is the reason why the 2003 series never truly clicked with me, despite liking it so much. Because while it was important to emphasize Mirage canon -- since, yes, the Fred Wolf version never truly did -- and maintaining a wonderfully unique level of mature storytelling, original series antagonists (excluding the trinity of Chaplin, Hun and Bishop) rang very flat to me, because they all lacked the colorful ness or unique ironies from the Fred Wolf/Playmates toy villains (because the series had to be "more real" or whatever). The series would try to correct that in the final seasons and Turtles Forever, yet it was too little and too late, plus it's hard to compare to the general awesomeness of Antrax, Chrome Dome and others. Why Armaggon or Chrome Dome, who could easily have fit the 2003 series in an aesthetic fashion didn't appear, vis-a-vis, the rise of Bishop's genetic tinkering or the Foot Mechs, I don't know. That's also why I initially liked the Outbreak story arc in Season 4, as we could have had some fun character nods with, say, the accident sewer mutants and a re-creation of Scumbug and Wyrm. Talk about a missed opportunity.

And, yes, same with the Fred Wolf series for the same missed opportunities and the endless parade of mad scientists and gangsters and why Season 4 was far more of a chore to watch, compared to others.

It's also why I feel somewhat disappointed in the Archie series. The early issues' Playmates toy-shilling were most enjoyable, until Steve Murphy had to overload or, more bluntly, kill the fun with his political diatribes. By the end, we still got Slash at his finest, the Cyber Turtles and a few other goodies, yet the damage was done.

And it's clear the 2012 series is trying to recreate that feeling, yet I need to see more episodes before I truly enjoy myself on that level, as it were.

Anyway, I said plenty, and enjoyed reading this review, as usual, and can't wait for the Season 5 one.

Chet said...

Too bad Leatherhead and Rat King were never partnered in any other medium besides the Fred Wolf cartoon. Then again, in other media both characters had such different personality traits that it would've have made any sense.

Yet, in the current Nickelodeon show it may just be possible, at least as antagonists. And how about the IDW comic...? There's still room for both or those baddies there!

Anonymous said...

The Leatherhead/Rat King partnership really didn't make any sense in this episode. Seeing how last time we saw them they were trying to kill each other.