Family Home Entertainment has finally released the sixth volume of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, which unfortunately, doesnâ€™t contain as many classic and memorable episodes as their last offering. This volume features the fourth and final part of season 3, as well as the first episode of season 4. Season 3 was one of the TMNTâ€™s stronger seasons, and according to many fans, supposedly the last good season (though, the show did spike back upward in quality for seasons 7 through 10). While this set does not contain as many gems as Vol. 5, it does have a number of quality episodes, with the three-part season finale being the real highpoint.
The set starts out rather poorly with â€œthe Turtle Terminatorâ€, an episode spotlighting Irma, one of my least favorite supporting characters. Shredder builds a robot duplicate of her to destroy the Turtles. Itâ€™s pretty awful. â€œThe Great Boldiniâ€ isnâ€™t a fantastic episode, but it *does* feature the Rat King, so it canâ€™t be all that bad. A magician, secretly working for the mob boss Don Turtelli, steals a massive emerald from a museum. Zach, â€œthe 5th Turtleâ€, and his not-girlfriend, Caitlin, accompany the Turtles to the museum and try to get the gem back. The Rat King shows up at complete random toward the end. The episode wouldnâ€™t have been so bad if it hadnâ€™t been for the â€œfearsomeâ€ mobster using tickling as his M.O. â€œThe Missing Mapâ€ is yet another Zach-centric episode. This time around, he brings his brother Walt to visit the Turtles (and Walt steals a map that leads to the Shredder). I mean, seriously, how many people is this kid going to blow the location of the Turtlesâ€™ lair to? This is why kid sidekicks are never a good idea.
â€œThe Gangâ€™s All Hereâ€ is one of the more interesting offerings, as Michelangelo eats an anti-mutagen cookie from Shredder which turns him into a teenage human. Itâ€™s notable mostly for keeping continuity, and showing us more of the punk gang that Bebop and Rocksteady were shown associating with in the first season (before becoming minions of the Shredder). â€œThe Grybyxâ€ brings back the Neutrinos, the hot-rodding teenagers from Dimension X. The plot of an escaped adorable pet that can turn into a giant monster is rather lame, mostly because itâ€™s a plot device done in numerous cartoons. Seeing the Neutrinos again is cool, so long as you like them.
â€œShreddervilleâ€ is another stale, repetitive cartoon clichÃ©, I have to admit. It has the Turtles suddenly appearing in a future ruled by Shredder. This plot is so old it must be using a wheelchair. Though, that didnâ€™t stop it from being recycled in the new TMNT series, in the episode â€œSame as it Never Wasâ€ (admittedly, that episode wasnâ€™t so bad). Not a big fan of this one, particularly the â€œWhew! It was only a dream!â€ solution. â€œBye Bye Flyâ€ always freaked me out when I was a kid, mostly due to the fate of Baxter Stockman at the episodeâ€™s end. Of course, he survives to pester the TMNT in future seasons, but he seemed pretty dead in this story. Basically, Baxter finds a dimensional-hopping temple buried beneath New York and plans to use it as a staging ground to ambush the Shredder and the TMNT. One of my favorite Baxter episodes, even if the end is a little dark and unpleasant. I mean, câ€™mon, did Baxter really deserve to have so many horrible things happen to him throughout the course of the series? Itâ€™s like he was David Wiseâ€™s punching bag.
â€œThe Big Rip-Offâ€ is the first part of the three-part season finale. If youâ€™ve been paying attention during this season, one of the main themes is that the Technodrome is running out of power and Shredder is trying to replenish it. He actually succeeds this time around by using a plan that, wellâ€¦isnâ€™t terrible. Go figure. â€œThe Big Break-Inâ€ gets things going with the triumphant return of a fully functional Technodrome. Typically, the return of the Technodrome was always saved for the season finales, which felt like a great reward (the Technodrome was so badass). The Technodrome is heading across the countryside, using a device called the â€œminimizerâ€ to shrink military bases, weakening Americaâ€™s defenses against their attacks. â€œThe Big Blow Outâ€ is the best part of the finale, with the Technodrome doing some real damage. It lays siege to Manhattan, toppling buildings and even attacking the World Trade Center (oh those pre-9/11 days of innocence). Though the animation is as stiff as usual, it does feel more epic than most other episodes. You get your standard end-of-the-season Splinter/Shredder showdown, so thatâ€™s something to look forward to (however, it isnâ€™t one of their more exciting fights). I hear tell that this was actually intended to be the *series* finale, which might actually make sense, considering all the talk about â€œfinal showdownsâ€ and â€œlast battlesâ€ going on in this story. It certainly appears that way, too, with Shredder and Krangâ€™s defeat being ratherâ€¦final-looking.
â€œPlan 6 from Outer Spaceâ€ is the first episode of season 4 and sets up the â€œEuropean Vacationâ€ story arc forâ€¦season 7!? Yeah, something went wrong and the episodes got crammed into the beginning of the seventh season when they should have been the fourth. Pretty weird, too, since the season 7 episodes following the Euro arc are some of the better installments. Anyhow, the episode in question deals with the Shredder and Krang recovering from their spectacular defeat at the end of the last season. They return Bebop and Rocksteady to their human forms (through holographic illusion) and send them to steal the entire Channel 6 building. Instead, they get jobs there and unwittingly work their way up the corporate ladder. I really liked this one as it has lots of jokes at the expense of television production and features Bebop and Rocksteady in their human forms, which as a kid, I thought was somehow â€œspecialâ€ (like whenever Shredder took off his mask Iâ€™d go â€œOMG!â€ and freak out).
Though not as strong an offering as the previous set, Vol. 6 does have one of the best season finales in the entire series as well as a few other notable installments. Definitely worth getting to finish up season 3.