Tuesday, December 29, 2015

TMNT (1987) Season 8 Review

Well, I've made it to the "red sky" seasons of the original 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon.  This is where things get EDGY!

Check out my TMNT (1987) Season 8 review at AIPT.

A bunch of good episodes in this rather short (8 episode) season.  A rather cruddy three-parter in the middle, but it's still more exciting than many of the seasons before it.

Next up are the Lord Dregg seasons and then I'll be done.  Let's see if I can't knock seasons 9 and 10 out in a timely fashion.


Killer Moth said...

I already said this in another comment recently, but, man, I wish I had David Wise's crystal ball, as "State of Shock" actually foreshadowed the Blackwater organization by a good three years (founded in 1997). Granted, Wise was going for the obvious Darkwing Duck/Megavolt connection, yet it's an impressive bit of prescience. Including Megavolt's use of "deviants," which, of course, would be Dregg's main insult for the Turtles (to say nothing about Tony Jay being cast in the role).

As Mark noted in earlier reviews, the series often spotlighted or affectionately nodded at B-movie sci-fi, which is an aspect the adult fan in me especially likes. Therefore, I was quite astonished to see Megavolt's final energized form to be quite similar to a Solarite from the 1961 Phantom Planet film. Especially as Planet only came back into modern prominence in MST3K's 9th season, 4 years later. If it was done intentionally, then I have to praise the storyboarders' research skills, if not Wise's.

While the HAVOC arc had its problems, I enjoyed it more than I thought, even if I didn't like how it took away from the "Shredder/Krang being re-established as legitimate threats" momentum necessarily. However, it worked well enough for the transitional part of the season and doing other foreshadowing or payoff hints, like Synapse being the mutated form of the leader of the car-jacking ring in "Get Shredder" (unless I'm really mistaken by off-model animation, which is always possible). Of course, it would have been better emotionally speaking if HAVOC had mutant characters we actually know and care about, like the Punk Frogs or Mondo Gecko or Scumbug or Leatherhead, but that's the way it goes. (Seizure's design was pretty awesome, though.)

I have to re-locate it, but on YouTube, I recall that Wise was interviewed at a con some long ago, and he went into detail about his final two seasons at CBS. Apparently, among other edicts, CBS mandated additional conflict for the Turtles, which could explain quite well the Turtles' defeatist attitude in "Wrath of the Rat King", April's doubting behavior in "State of Shock" or Mike's off-putting behavior in "HAVOC in the Streets." Best explanation anyone can find for these Season 8 character issues.

As for "Turtle Trek," I have mixed feelings, yet still enjoyed it, despite Wise hyper-rushing the Technodrome finale. (Then again, as per "Planet of the Turtleoids" and many other episodes, that's not new with him.) There was still much to like, such as Rodger Bumpass' restrained performance as Gargon and, as Mark detailed, the Rock Soldiers' final hurrah -- not unlike "Shredder Triumphant" with the Foot Soldiers -- the TMNT/Shredder clash in the first act and a final trip with Dimension X and its characters until Season 10. One of the problems with Saturday morning animation was the super-tight scheduling, as Turtle Trek is definitely one of those episodes that clearly could have benefited with a few extra minutes, yet not be dragged out for a two-parter.

Lastly, of all the ways I envisioned the Technodrome being destroyed for good after playing the Konami beat-em-ups endlessly, being dragged down into a chasm by a giant plant was definitely not my first choice. Ah, well. A classic No-Prize for anyone coming up with a good explanation on how Traag and his forces got it free from its black hole prison.

Excellent reviews, as always. Can't wait for the Season 9 review.

Anonymous said...

I was always baffled why these final seasons were only 8 episodes each. Like...what show gets renewed for a new season of only 8 episodes? And for 3 years in a row at that?

If they had gone with the standard 13 episode order a season, we likely would have gotten more Shredder/Krang episodes in Season 8...and maybe even a final episode for Baxter and Leatherhead like Rat King got, who knows.

In any case Baxter and Rat King got good final episodes or resolutions (Baxter trapped in limbo forever, Rat King arrested and brought to justice). I suppose Leatherhead returned to the Florida swamp, let's hope the Punk Frogs have learned how to fight him by now.

In any case I was 11-12 years old when these seasons were airing and as a kid I was amazed by them. The whole "darker and more action" is exactly what 11-12 year old me wanted back then, so this rebranding really did work for those of us who were still watching the show at the time. I remember thinking it was just like Batman.

Little did I know I would actually get my wish for "real" when the 4kids 2k3 series started around 6 years later, and then we finally got our "B:TAS" of TMNT cartoons. I think I was 16 by then, jesus christ I am getting old.

Chris Arndt said...

Gotta be honest.

They were hocking so few toys as it is and featuring mobsters as bad guys I never noticed they stopped

Alex M said...

After three years of reading and enjoying all the content on TMNT Entity, the time has finally come to jump into the fray and say something. And what better way to do so than with a comment that will constitute nothing short of blasphemy is the eyes of most fans of the ’87 toon (but I’m thinking Mark will be okay with it): season 8, with the exception of the first season, is unequivocally my favorite of the whole series. And yes, this is coming from someone who religiously watched reruns of season 3 after school in the 1st grade (1990).

Why do I love season 8 so much? Principally for reasons that Mark already touched on: the serialized storylines, the increased competency and ferocity of the villains, the superior quality of the art and animation. It’s by no means perfect, but by and large, everything really came together for this season.

I do feel the need to expound on the art and animation, because frankly, the look of this season is gorgeous. This is, I believe, the most consistent, error free season of the show, and it really does elevate it. I like the redesigns of the turtles, and the supporting cast, while still fundamentally the same, looks a little crisper, a little more detailed. The animation is also very well done, though I don’t think the battles are quite as energetic as season 1; Leo’s first duel with Shredder is particularly sluggish and unconvincing.

I also want to give special mention to State of Shock. As a one-off amidst seven other episodes that were part of larger storylines, I was expecting filler. Instead, it treated us to a fairly well crafted story with some interesting twists and turns. We even got the great Tony Jay guest starring as the villain. My only real complaint was the cheesy insectoid design of Megavolt's upgraded armor.

My few quibbles are as follows. First, as Mark already said, the HAVOC storyline really stole time from Shredder and company, who, being in their final season as regulars, really deserved to have all eight episodes to themselves. Honestly, I actually enjoyed the HAVOC episodes when I watched them alone, but I still would have preferred more of the outgoing bad guys.

Second, while Turtle Trek is a great episode on its own, it was a little underwhelming as a finale for Shredder et al. Upon finally finding the Technodrome, the turtles wrap everything up in about two minutes. Admittedly, this isn’t the first time this has happened; the undisputed classic Shredder & Splintered does the same thing. But it still left me less than satisfied.

Somehow, this little comment has grown to 450 words, so its time to sign off. In case this ends up being my only comment: Thanks Mark, for your incredible devotion to this franchise and for your many insightful reviews of every form of TMNT media known to man!