ROCKS 15A: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles season 1

Discussion in 'Other Cartoons & Collectables' started by LiamABC, Apr 13, 2018.

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  1. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    WELCOME EVERYBODY TO THE FIRST DISCUSSION IN THE FIFTEENTH STRAND OF "R.O.C.K.S." - REWATCHING OLD CLASSIC KIDS SHOWS! A big thanks to everyone that are joining us through all of this.

    We're going back to the 80s again now, with one of the biggest shows of the period - the 1987 cartoon of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (And as I'm from the UK, I had to fight the instinct to type "Hero" instead of "Ninja"!)

    As usual, we're starting with the opening episodes, which constitute the entire first season, being as it is one big 5-part adventure. The individual episodes are called:

    - Turtle Tracks
    - Enter The Shredder
    - A Thing About Rats
    - Hot Rodding Teenagers From Dimension X
    - Shredder & Splintered

    Also for the next few weeks we will also be covering the TMNT movies in Movie Club.

    Just a friendly reminder to everyone that, whilst fans are obviously welcome to passionately discuss and give their views on these episodes, please remember to keep things on a friendly footing and respect your fellow posters.
    Also, please do not post where or how to find the full episode online. And do not post asking others to PM it to you. You are however allowed to watch the show in whatever manner you want.
     
  2. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist TC.org Staff

    After "ThunderCats", the 1987 TMNT TV show is probably one of my favorite animated shows ever! :)

    Turtle Tracks
    A great pilot episode! Not only is the animation top notch, but the story is very interesting. April's first meeting with the Turtles and Splinter, Splinter's backstory, as well as Shredder's first appearance are all handled brilliantly. Even though there is a fair bit of humor in the episode, the story never loses its seriousness. The voice cast all are at the top of their game, especially James Avery (Uncle Phil) as Shredder (he was also the voice of Turbo on "Rambo : The Force of Freedom" animated show). It was a clever move by the makers to turn the Foot Soldiers into robots. That way the Turtles can really pulverize them without any objections from the parents groups.

    Enter The Shredder
    Another great episode. I'd go as far as to say that this and the previous episodes are probably the best in the entire series. It was interesting to see the Turtles without their masks. Such little details (the Turtles taking off their masks when sleeping) add depth to the show. This was something that was shown in some ThunderCats episodes (e.g Spitting Image), while in others we see Panthro sleeping with his spiky costume!

    The best thing about this one is probably how scary the villains are. It also always saddens me knowing that they are going to be turned into clowns as the series progresses. I remember the sequence where Bebop and Rocksteady are about to undergo transformation was particularly quite scary to my 7 year old senses. Krang was pretty creepy too!

    A Thing About Rats
    After the previous two stellar episodes, I felt that this was a bit of a letdown, storywise. It's not that bad, but it could have been better. Baxter Stockman could have benefitted from a bit more character development rather than just being used as an excuse to bring the Mousers to the plot. I actually liked the designs of the Mousers very much. It was also a nice touch to have Krang sabotage Shredder's plans by helping MIchaelangelo.

    Hot Rodding Teenagers From Dimension X

    This was probably the weakest episode of the 5 and my least favorite. Nothing too great about any aspect of it. The teenagers and their cars look like something out of "SilverHawks".

    Shredder & Splintered
    A great comeback from the rather bland previous episode! It's great that the focus of the story returns back to the Turtles and their search for a cure for Splinter. There are so many great scenes in this episode:
    - the fight between the Turtles and Bebop and Rocksteady
    - Krang's new body and its molecular amplification unit. When Shredder activates it, his exclamations of "It's alive!" are very "Frankenstein-y".
    - the fight between Splinter and Shredder. The latter's use of holograms reminded me of the final mirror hall fight in "Enter the Dragon".
    - the debut of the Turtle Blimp
    - the hell-like Dimension X
    - the final fight in the Technodrome.

    A great start to a now iconic show!
     
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  3. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I am a huge TRMNT fan it's always been one of my favourite cartoons. All versions of the TMNT series.
    Like @Wilycub I have similar thoughts on these episodes.
    Turtle Tracks- Great pilot that introduced all the main characters.
    Enter The Shredder- Really added more to the characters and story.
    A Thing About Rats- Very good episode that is a nice nod tot he original comic.
    Hotrodding Teenagers From Dimension X- An okay episode but definitely the weakest of the bunch. But it did add some interesting knowledge about Dimension X and Krang's forces.
    Shredder and Splintered- My favourite of these episodes. The fight with Shredder and Splinter is great as is the Turtles with Bebop and Rocksteady.

    The cartoon was how I was introduced to TMNT. A few years ago I got and read all of the older reprints of the original Eastman and Laird comics and for the teenagers and adults who read the darker more adult comic it would have been interesting to see what they thought of the animated debut of the comic characters.
    Some notable changes.
    Splinter and the TMNT's origin.
    Splinter was now a mutated Hamato Yoshi.
    The alien brain was no longer a peaceful Utron but a an evil warlord called Krang from Dimension X.
    The Foot Clan Ninjas were now Robotic Foot Soldiers.
    Baxter Stockman was now white instead of being African American.
    April's appearance was greatly changed from the comic. Instead of being more Latino looking she was now a brunette in a yellow jumpsuit and a reporter for Channel 6. I read that her design change was done by the Japanese animation company and heavily influence by Funiko from the Lupin III anime series.
     
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  4. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    I remember this show very well from the 1980s, like anyone around at the time! Although I didn't see this opening story until 2014! However, I did have the comics, and they told it pretty much exactly the same, maybe the odd line omitted here and there but nothing major.
    First off, the voice cast - almost every one of the main cast, I know from something else as well.

    Cam Clarke (Leonardo, Rocksteady) was also Dogtanian, as well as Rigodon in the Willy Fog series.
    Barry Gordon (Donatello, Bebop) was also Razor/Jake in SWAT Kats.
    Rob Paulsen (Raphael) was also Rude Dog.
    Peter Renaday (Splinter, Vernon) was Mandrake in Defenders Of The Earth, and Valiant's father in The Legend Of Prince Valiant
    James Avery (Shredder) was also in The Legend Of Prince Valiant as Sir Bryant
    Pat Fraley (Krang) was Bravestarr
    The only main cast members I don't know from other cartoons are Townsend Coleman (Michelangelo) and Renae Jacobs (April).

    This opening 5-parter gave me back a bit of faith when I saw it for the first time. I loved this show as a kid, but saw a few episodes again when I was 20 and cringed. I looked at it and thought, "I used to love this?" - which is probably why it took me over a decade to finally watch these opening episodes, but I was glad I did. It's a lot better than most of the episodes that came later.
    One slight quibble I have with it is that while there is a distinct sequence to these five episodes, each taking place on consecutive days, it doesn't feel as continuous as it might be, never a whiff of a cliffhanger between any of them. Oh well, I guess the same charge could be levelled at the establishing story to both Thundercats and Defenders Of The Earth, and I've never pointed the finger there, so I'll not make a fuss.
    One other oddity is that at times it feels more like Raphael is the leader as opposed to Leonardo.

    OK, onto the specifics of the individual episodes.
    Turtle Tracks - as with your standard superhero movie formula, we start not with the heroes but with the person who is our eyes and ears in their world, April. She is our foot in their door, she asks the questions we need to know the answers to. The story is well told. It's fairly straight, just introducing the characters with plenty of action and not much real plot. I like how they keep Shredder in the shadows in this first episode, again typical "hide the villain at the beginning for greater mystery", used to good effect in the Bond films, not to mention Dr Claw in Inspector Gadget, and in a different way even Mumm-Ra! And yes, making the Foot Soldiers robotic meant they could actually destroy them. It's like in Defenders Of The Earth, where numerous Ice Robots got blasted, smashed or melted during the show, but it never happened to the Men Of Frost.

    Enter The Shredder - our first proper view of Shredder, and a formidable looking villain he is too. All those blades make him look like someone you wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of. We also get our first proper look at the Technodrome, and this is perhaps the one big disappointment in animation terms. The very first shot of it should convey its enormous size, but its first shot is in a medium long shot of it moving beneath the earth. We have absolutely no reference point for its size. It could be 200 feet or just 20 feet for all we know. That aside, there's good moments. I like the ending when April is reading them the story of the tortoise and the hare, their favourite fable! Also Rocksteady and Bebop make their animal debuts here. We get a scope of their strength but also their comical henchman nature.

    A Thing About Rats - introducing Baxter Stockman. It's here that the continuous feel to the show gets a little less, as I mentioned above. This part and the next one don't really further the story in any way. Also, Baxter himself was a little too downtrodden. A mad scientist on the side of evil should have the feel of being an evil genius. If Rocksteady and Bebop can be likened to Monkian & Jackalman (either way around I guess), then Baxter is arguably the Vultureman of this group. Shredder at a pinch could also be likened to Slithe, although how much you want to compare Krang to Mumm-Ra I'll leave to you. The most interesting thing about this episode is Krang's decision to help Michelangelo stop the mousers at the end. Of course he has his own motives for doing so, as he wants Shredder to fail so he'll be forced to build his body!

    Hotrodding Teenagers From Dimension X - agreed that this episode is the weak point of the story, it's the most gratuitous. They could probably have cut this part, and the previous one, and just made an even better 3-parter, more continuous too. We learn a bit more about what goes on in Dimension X, and even Krang's embarrassment at not having his old body, although surely his generals knew this already? As for the Neutrinos, they are just gratuitous comic guest stars, like the Sun Imps in Visionaries or Kremzeek in Transformers. The most significant part about this episode is the debut of the Turtle Van.

    Shredder & Splintered - a worthy conclusion to the story, the retro-mutagen gun which could cure Splinter to human form but return the turtles back to their normal selves is a great concept to place in the hands of the villain. This has many memorable scenes, mainly the fight between Splinter and Shredder, very Obi-Wan v Darth Vader (and not for the last time!), and the Turtles v Rocksteady & Bebop, one sequence I remember well from the comics. Also when Krang finally gets his body, and is able to grow to enormous proportions - now that is well done. The final conflict, where Splinter destroys the retro-mutagen gun to save the turtles, is also great.

    All in all, a good start to such a legendary show. Not surprising that it was good, as it was written by David Wise, the main writer of Defenders Of The Earth (he wrote about a third of the episodes for that show), and also quite a few Transformers episodes.
     
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  5. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist TC.org Staff

    Believe it or not but the VHS that I had when I was young did exactly that! I don't remember who recorded it for me or from where he recorded it, but it omitted episodes 3 and 4 and edited together episodes 1, 2 and 5 and the flow of the story was MUCH better!
     
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  6. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Wow! Whoever did that tape for you either knew what he was about or had a really happy accident!

    We've discussed this idea on other threads in ROCKS. Notably, Defenders Of The Earth had a few 5-parters, only one of which was a true 5-parter, the Prince Kro-Tan one. The Necklace Of Oros had 4 out of 5 as furthering the story, but part 3 could be taken out with zero loss to the overall flow. The Book Of Enigmas could put parts 2, 3 & 4 in any order and it wouldn't make any difference whatsoever, as the five adventures are all different, linked solely by the presence of the book. Curiously, they also had "The Story Begins", which is episodes 1, 2, 11, 4 & 5 edited together. Yes, episode 11 instead of episode 3, and what makes it even weirder is that episode 11 & 12 were a 2-parter! But as it stood, they were able to use episode 11 without needing episode 12 due to the ending of the first part being a victory for the heroes but the villains just making preparations for a new plan on the same vein. Actually, if I was going to say which episodes open the story of this show, I'd say episodes 1-2, 5, then 10-12. I wouldn't put episode 10 in there ordinarily, but it has to come before episode 11 and episode 12 is the best approximation there is to the heroes discovering the location of Ice Station Earth. (We did 1, 2 and 5 as the establishing episodes in ROCKS about 18mths ago.)

    DuckTales had a few too. The 5-parter that introduced Bubba in season 2, you could definitely cut out the second part which served no purpose in furthering the story. I can't remember how well integrated the one introducing Fenton was, but I think it was a little better. And of course the opening story was a 5-parter, but again not full of cliffhangers. Each adventure was separate, but it was building towards one big ending, so fair enough.
     
  7. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    Another big difference between the comic and cartoon is the difference of the turtles appearance.
    As we see in the episode April has difficulty at first telling each turtle apart.
    Thankfully they did not go with the original comic design as that would have made telling them apart even more difficult. As in the comics they did not have different coloured masks or initials on their belts. Instead they just all wore red masks.

    Speaking of the red masks that colour choice is linked to the TMNT comic origin.
    Eastman and Laird created the TMNT as a tribute/spin off to Frank Miller's Daredevil comic.
    The incident which blinded Murdock is linked tot eh TMNT by the truck that was in the accident spilled the ooze canister which went into the drain which would mutate Splinter and the Turtles.
    Like Daredevil and Elektra the Turtles were red.
    Splinter is named after Daredvil's master Stick.
    And of course the Foot Clan and named after the evil ninja clan Daredvil fights The Hand.

    @LiamABC I also have the comic adaption of these episodes.

    I think I seen some of these episodes growing up but I definitely remember watching and recording some of The Eye of Sarnoth episodes that really got me into the series.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
  8. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Actually that's another example - as with the 5-part opener, the 4-part Eye Of Sarnoth storyline has distinct episode breaks, and no cliffhangers to speak of.
     
  9. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    Speaking of The Eye of Sarnoth. The comic series followed the first two episodes of the cartoon then the plot was abandoned until much later on it the series when the Eye and it's significance would take a vastly different and more epic rout from the cartoon series.
     
  10. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    I think that must have been after I stopped getting the comics. Yes, I do remember issues #6-7 were just copying the first episode of the saga, "The Incredible Shrinking Turtles" (issues #4-5 were the previous episode, "Return Of The Shredder", although technically that was nothing to do with the Eye of Sarnoth, that was just a means of opening the second season and getting Shredder back to Earth).
     
  11. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I seemed to stop getting the TMNT comic around issues 30 or so.
    The comics are well worth re-reading.
    I don't want to give to much away but in the comic The Eye of Sarnath whilst still a powerful object like in the cartoon is actually an eye.
    The alien being it belongs to comes looking for it and...the TMNT end up fighting in a massive space battle along with some other characters they met in earlier issues.
     

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