Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete First Season DVD Review
Nickelodeon’s revival of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series has turned out to be an incredible success, with second and third seasons of the show ordered within weeks of the initial episode airing. It’s easy to see why, as the Turtles’ recipe of action, humor and charm has managed to stay fully intact with this reincarnation. While the first season of TMNT has been available for some time now (split up across three DVDs), Nickelodeon has decided to finally release all 26 episodes in one collection. If you already own the previous DVD releases of Rise Of The Turtles, Enter Shredder, and Ultimate Showdown, then you basically already own this collection, as it’s simply those three DVDs with new packaging and a few extras. That said, if you’ve been looking to see what all the fuss is about regarding this fantastic new series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete First Season is a great way to jump in.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete First Season’s episodes have a great cast of voice talent. Featuring Jason Biggs (Leonardo), Rob Paulsen (Donatello – and the original Raphael from the 80s cartoon), Sean Astin (Raphael), Greg Cipes (Michelangelo), Roseanne Barr (Kraang Prime), Kelly Hu (Karai) and Corey Feldman (Slash – and Donatello from the 1989 TMNT movie), everyone here does a solid job and fills their roles well. Special mention needs to go to Hoon Lee and Kevin Michael Richardson, who are perfectly cast as the voices of Master Splinter and Shredder, respectively.
It’s quite obvious that the creators of Nick’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have a fondness for the source material. The show features plenty of callbacks to the 1987 original series while simultaneously keeping things fresh for a modern audience. There are some significant liberties taken with the canon though, such as April and Karai being de-aged to around 16 years old, as well as Krang no longer being a singular villain, but rather a race of enemy aliens known as The Kraang.
The Turtles’ personalities are thankfully left intact; Leo is still the strong, stoic leader, Raph is the hot-tempered muscle, Mikey is the comic relief little brother and Donnie is the brains of the operation. While the blocky CGI animation style may be a turn-off to some, it definitely grows on you, and the use of other artistic elements such as matte-painted backgrounds, comic-style storyboard flashbacks as well as subtle anime quirks make for a well-rounded visual presentation.
As far as special features, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete First Season contains all of the extras released with the three included DVDs previously, as well as a few small new extras. There’s 6 “Making Of” Animatics, a karaoke music video for the catchy theme song, six animated comic books, and 5 “Mutation of a Scene” storyboards. As for the new material, you get a small sample of the awesome Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History book, and access to a 10-minute behind-the-scenes featurette. This is the best extra released for the series thus far, interviewing the artists and producers behind the series and giving fans their first real bit of insight into the show’s creation. I would love to see this show get an eventual Blu-ray release, where they can pack in a ton of cool features like this. Hey, they did it for Korra, right?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete First Season is a convenient collection of all 26 stellar episodes of the series, and a great way to catch up on the show. It has a few small new extras in its package, but if you’ve already purchased the three DVDs comprising the first season, there’s not much incentive to add this to your collection. It’s also a bit disappointing that this collection doesn’t contain a code to unlock the season on digital streaming. That said, it’s a great holiday gift for kids who don’t yet own the entire first season, or adults who grew up on the original 80s series.