Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Search For Splinter DVD Review
People have been telling me for years to check out the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, but it’s been difficult to track down the long out of print DVDs. Once Nickelodeon picked up the license for the property and produced the smash-hit 2012 TMNT revival, fans hoped that the 2003 series would get a re-release. That day has finally arrived, with Nick offering up two volumes of the show with three episodes each. Here we’re taking a look at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Search For Splinter, available on DVD June 9th.
The first episode on the disk, “Things Change”, sees the turtles’ underground sewer lair attacked by robotic Mousers. When the mechanized menaces chew through the steel and concrete of the lair, it causes a collapse that separates the four brothers from their sensei. While attempting to track their master down, the gang runs into the Purple Dragon street thugs, stopping some petty crime along the way. There really isn’t a whole lot to this episode, and before long the turtles are reunited with Splinter, who has already picked out a new, upgraded sewer lair to call home. This was the very first episode of the 2003 series, which was a bit surprising to me – there are no character introductions or references to the turtles’ origins at all. The show basically just assumes you know who everyone is and jumps right into it.
“The Search For Splinter, Part 1” is the first half of a two-part season finale, so it’s a bit weird jumping right from the beginning of the season to the end. We meet one of the Guardians, who the turtles believe know where Splinter is (apparently he’s missing again here). Mikey throws a tracker on his sword, which leads the group to the TCRI building. As Leo mentions, the canister of ooze that the turtles were created from bore the initials TCRI, so they hope to find not only their sensei but also answers about their past. April and Casey Jones help distract the security downstairs, while the four brothers infiltrate the building from the roof. Things go awry, however, when a ventilation shaft knocks Mikey and Donnie clear off the roof in a cliffhanger ending. There are some funny moments throughout this episode showcasing Casey’s dimwitted personality and anger issues; the sight of him beating a toaster with his trademark bat and screaming for tech support was pretty hilarious. “Give me a toasta, or give me death!”
In “The Search for Splinter, Part 2”, the turtles finally manage to make it inside the TCRI building, and realize things are definitely not what they seem. Tracking the security team to a decidedly alien-looking hideout, the brothers bear witness as the creatures shed their humanoid skin, revealing their true form – gross-looking aliens with the appearance of a human brain. The Turtles are soon discovered by the alien creatures, who call themselves Utroms, leading to a large-scale battle in the depths of TCRI. The episode closes with the brothers accidentally stepping onto some sort of teleporter, and being transported somewhere unknown while one of the Utrom leaders looks on in a frenzied panic.
Nickelodeon’s re-release of 2003’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series is off to a solid start with The Search For Splinter. The picture and audio quality are good for what it is (video is standard-definition full screen), and the assortment of episodes in this collection are exciting and engaging, with plenty of action and humor. I do think it was a strange decision to have such a large gap between the first and second episode on this disk – viewers will likely feel confused watching the Turtles interact with characters that have not been introduced to the audience. Perhaps the storyline will feel more coherent after watching the second compilation of episodes, NYC Showdown, which also releases June 9th. Also, I feel as though Nick could have thrown more than three episodes on the disk, and hopefully a full season set is on the horizon (I’m really not a fan of stringing together random compilation DVDs to watch a full season). Overall though, this is a fun DVD release that any TMNT fan will want to pick up; I’m definitely looking forward to more releases so I can catch up!