Thursday, January 14, 2016

TMNT (1987) Season 10 Review: The FINAL Season!

This is it, people!  The last season of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon!

Check my review of TMNT (1987) Season 10 at AIPT!

The series ends on a tremendous high note; I think only "Mobster from Dimension X" stuck out to me as being lame.  There's a lot of continuity between these episodes (it's practically a miniseries) and in addition to tying up all the loose ends, we get a legitimate finale.  With closure, even!

So after 193 episodes of watching and 3 years of writing, I'm finally done.

Now I can get married and have kids and go skydiving and do all those other things I was putting off until I'd finished watching the damn 1980s Ninja Turtles cartoon.


Sam said...

Y'know, as beloved as TMNT is, especially the 1987 TV incarnation, I am surprised it took this long for someone to do a comprehensive look at the series. But by God, you did it and you did a fantastic job.

Anonymous said...

Good work.

Killer Moth said...

Congratulations! It's been a long time coming.

To go on Mark's intro about the CBS programming aspects, it was becoming a dark time for non-edutainment Big Three Saturday morning animation generally by then. In 1991, NBC, realizing how much money they'd save, gutted the budget across the board for the 1991-1992 season and then went full live-action tween/teen drama the following year and stayed that way. My CBS affiliate apparently didn't do what Mark said, as I had no interruptions, animation-wise for Season 10, but my ABC affiliate did go there for news in 1992-1993 and stayed that for a long while (though, I do recall Recess being shown, so the ban did eventually end by 1999/2000). Whenever there were ads for ABC animation in the mid-90's, I was annoyed, to say the least. While I still had CBS, Fox Kids and eventually Kids WB, it wasn't the same without the other two. (And regionally speaking, I'm talking about Pittsburgh, PA, here.)

Anyway, by random chance, one Saturday morning in 1996, I tuned in to see the series after being away for so long and caught the end of "Power of Three" and I was hooked. "Shredder and Krang are back? Cliffhangers? I'm sold!" By that time, I had major burnout with the series -- I watched all or most of Seasons 1-7 -- or my younger self was fickle for other series, so I basically skipped on the Red Sky seasons. However, the Season 10 three-parter intrigued me enough and it felt like a true homecoming. I watched the rest of the season, so I can say I didn't skip out on the finale when it first aired. And, yes, there is something quite satisfying in that.

It's also why I'm most grateful for the DVDs, as per this passage:

"Rewatching the whole show in order, I realized just how much of it I MISSED during the original broadcast; I wonder if I’d even seen half of the show when I was a kid. The new material was exciting and the old material was nostalgic and after three years of writing these articles, I guess I kind of thought I’d never run out of episodes."

And now, 20 years later, non-edutainment Big Three Saturday morning animation is dead, as of late 2014 when the husk that was Kids WB, Vortexx finally passed away. However, the spirit won't leave us, as long as there are fans, DVDs and modern series taking up character revivals, as Dregg is currently doing over on the Nicktoon.

And 20 years after this date, we'll still continue to discuss long hours into morning those "little quality control malfunctions and inane nonsense," which is part of the Fred Wolf series' charm, as I've come to realize, too. For example, after watching the trailer for the upcoming TMNT 2 film, I'll gladly take "stupid but fun" than "stupid but serious," which was the first film's grave mistake, IMO. After recent re-viewings, I now really appreciate the series' lack of pretentiousness and did what it was supposed to do, whatever that was, or close enough. Either way, the series must have done something right and earn that proper finale, for the reasons Mark described.

Mark said it all for the Final 8, so I'll skip any more commentary beyond looking for the Next Mutation reviews, as I actually am warming up to the series. Hell, the final arc with Vam Mi was actually better than anything Mirage did in terms of vampires. Blasphemy, I realize.

Anonymous said...

One thing I like is that all the major villains are wrapped up after 10 seasons. Let's review:

- Shredder/Krang are stranded in Dimension X. The Technodrome is completely destroyed and abandoned. Krang's Android body is destroyed, so they're all by themselves with no Foot Soldiers either.

- Bebop/Rocksteady are still lost in Dimension X too, since we last saw them in the Season 8 finale. I wonder if Shredder/Krang abandoned them somewhere. I think the Archie comics had a better "farewell" for Bebop/Rocksteady though as they got to live on that animal planet in peace.

- Dregg is dead. Hi-tech is floating through space, Mung thinks he went insane.

- Baxter Stockman is trapped in dimension limbo for all eternity (poor guy)

- Rat King was finally captured and arrested in Season 8. Considering Rat King was the most recurring villain of the series, I'm glad he got closure.

- Leatherhead likely returned to the Florida Swamp after Season 7, as said, let's hope the Punk Frogs learned how to fight him by now.

- Groundchuck/Dirtbag were arrested again on the Turtleoid Planet.

- All the one-shot villains from the last few seasons (Beserko, Titanus, Alex Winter, the Seasons 9-10 aliens, etc.) were pretty much done away with.

- I'm pretty sure the last appearance of the gangsters, Big Louie, Pinky Mcfingers, Don Turtelli, and Mad Dogg Mcmutt ended with them either being arrested or pretty much disposed of fighting each other.

About the only character who never had a big finale was General Traag, which is kind of disappointing. Would have loved to see one final assault on Traag and the Rock Soldiers. Other than him maybe Tempestra too. There's also Slash, unless he found his Pinky and went back on that spaceship traveling through Dimension X again.

I like how the NES game TMNT II handles Traag, with him literally blowing up into pieces after you beat him as a boss. As a kid I always wondered if he would "die" the same way in the show, given we saw Rock Soldiers blow up like Foot Soldiers in a few episodes they probably could have gotten away with it.

Anonymous said...

Even though the show got a generous 193 episodes, its kind of disappointing it stopped just 7 episodes short of the "200 episode" milestone. If the last few seasons had 13 episodes each instead of 8 episodes each, we would have hit 200 episodes. There aren't many shows that hit 200 episodes, TMNT was almost there too.

Lastly, Lord Dregg is a really underrated villain. I think most of my love for him is Tony Jay's excellent voice, but he got a lot of flak back in the day for "replacing Shredder/Krang" in the show, but he really did prove to be such a huge threat with an actual character arc.

As for the other OT appearances, I like to think "Turtles Forever" takes place during the Season 3 era, as the Technodrome is underground, Channel 6 building is still standing, April is in her old outfit, etc. Plus the writers wanted to choose the most recognizable original toon era for the crossover movie, and Season 3 was the main season everyone remembers the most after the first.

Apparently there's going to be another Nick/Fred Wolf Turtles crossover during Season 4 this year in the Nick cartoon, so we can look forward to seeing the original cartoon Turtles yet again. And Rob Paulsen gets to reprise Raph again, which is great. Pat Farley is also confirmed to return as Krang which is fantastic. I don't think Shredder is in the special though since nothing has been said about him, but OT Shredder had so many different voices over the years I suppose it doesn't matter. The guy who played him in Turtles Forever was a pretty good Shredder voice too.

Man, who would of thought we'd get canon continuation of the 80's Turtles over 20+ years after the show was canceled? Crazy.

Killer Moth said...

Forgot to link this before, but Jeffrey Scott does have the original script for Mobster on his website for public viewing/downloading:

That's the only one, alas. Would have loved to see his Divide and Conquer script or any other episode, instead.

One passage to address and then I'm done for now:

"Krang and Shredder in this episode get along really well. Like, they’re best buddies. Shredder frees himself and rescues Krang, who is dying from being drained of his life energy. Shredder immediately sets about acquiring the equipment so he can give Krang a “life energy transfusion” (it’s a kid’s cartoon). Krang weakly moans, “I haven’t much time” and Shredder, in an awkwardly soothing tone, assures him, “Be silent. I know what to do.”

"Awwww. They really DO care about each other."

As much as I like the Shredder/Krang backstabbing dynamic from the prior seasons, I quite enjoyed the obvious character shift or development shown here. Wise has said that he never liked whenever the villains bickered -- which is really ironic as he established the bickering all the way back in Season 1 -- but he could never prove his thesis until Red Sky, and Scott does indeed push that forward. Yet another reason to be appreciative of the Red Sky change.

As for the time-traveling to Turtle Trek, it was totally worth it to see a Red Sky designed Foot Soldier. Even though, they got their last hurrah in Season 7, I still missed them. Of course, I hadn't seen Trek when I first saw "Turtle In Time" in 96, so I went, "The Turtles actually destroyed the Technodrome? How the hell did I miss that?"

Anonymous said...

Heh, 1995-1996 is when the internet was becoming mainstream for the first time. Its amusing to see April using 1996 era search engines and complimenting "the internet." Reminds me of the old Season 3 episodes with the floppy discs, and how floppy discs in kids cartoons had the data to save the world or take over the U.S. military. They say cartoons represent the time period.

Funny how the TurtleComs were essentially cell phones, but back in 1987 a portable device where you can see the person calling was some far off future thing from the year 2005. Yet the Turtle still used VHS tapes on their old antenna 80's TV to watch monster movies in most episodes. You really feel like you're transported back to the 80's and 90's when you watch the show.

Even more amusing because the original cartoon had robots with setinent AI made by humans (like Rex-1 and the other robots in the show), as well as other futuristic technology we still don't have today. Watching the old toon now is like a weird mix of retro 80's and 90's tech combined with futurist tech from sci-fi.

Adam said...

I have to admit, I never noticed the Fred Wolf toon seems to have adapted Mirage Baxter into the last season until you pointed it out. I recognized the similarities to the Utrom Transmat, but I just figured that was coincidence. Amazing!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I speculate what the OT would have been like if it continued (like if Next Mutation never happened), but then you have to realize Pokemon took America by storm in 1998...only 2 years after the original cartoon ended.

If it was Power Rangers that originally stole TMNT's thunder back in 1992-1993 then Pokemon would have completely eradicated what was left by 1998.

The 2k3 series started in February 2003...which was actually only six years after the original cartoon ended in 1996. Its strange because as a kid it felt like the gap with no new TMNT cartoon on the air was so long yet it was only 6 years. Time moves much slower as a kid, I mean 6 years ago we were in 2009...and 2009 doesn't seem that long ago, does it? Yet 2003 back to 1996 feels like an eternity in comparison.

TMNT was never really "dead" for long, especially since we had the Image comics, Next Mutation and then the start of Volume 1 all in that span. Funny how TMNT still lingered on even during those "dead years" between new stuff.

Unknown said...

Anyone (more specificly you Mark) know when the episode happened where Michelangelo has a second (or third) mutation that turns him into this long necked dinosaur thing with lazer cannons in his bicepts. Then it turns out it was all just a computer simulation. I don't remember anything else about it. Season 9/10? Episode name? Stills from mutated Mikey?

Mark Pellegrini said...


That's from the very beginning of "The Return of Dregg". No screenshots on my part; sorry.

Unknown said...

Thanks Mark!

Unknown said...

A true dead year is when there are no toys