So Lions Gate has released the 5th volume of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series on DVD. This volume contains the 3rd part of season 3 with the DVDs still marching along in proper chronological order (which, unfortunately, cannot be said for the DVDs of the new animated series, which jumped ship into Random Episode Land a long time ago).
Of the three DVDs containing portions of season 3, I have to say, this volume contains the best selection of episodes; 12 episodes total with at least 7 of them that are worth watching.
The disc starts out strong with â€œCorporate Raiders from Dimension Xâ€, one of the funniest episodes of the season. I loved the old showâ€™s portrayal of Casey Jones as an absolute psychopath and this episode will show you exactly what I mean. For example, he applies for a job at an office building dressed in a suit and tie and wearing his hockey mask. This is also a good episode to spotlight how the show knew it was totally ridiculous; Casey whips out his baseball bat at the slightest irk and starts wrecking things, to which his supervisor replies, â€œI like your style, have a promotion!â€. Awesome.
â€œPizza by the Shredâ€ features Shredder using a fake pizza delivery service to try and flush-out the turtles. It maintains some good continuity, as it features the Neutrino starship the turtles were left with waaayyy back in season 1. Also has the most random cameo from the Rat King ever. The Rat King was one of my favorite returning villains from the original series, as he was completely neutral; some times heâ€™d try to kill the turtles, some times heâ€™d help them, some times heâ€™d try to conquer the Earth and some times heâ€™d just steal a pizza because heâ€™s hungry. The Rat King featured in a total of 5 episodes in season 3-alone, 2 of which are on this disk.
â€œLeatherhead: Terror of the Swampâ€ showcases the title villain as well as the return of the Punk Frogs who first appeared in season 2. The animation in this episode is rather good, unfortunately, it contained the alternate voices for Donatello and the Shredder. Donâ€™s alternate voice actor isnâ€™t so bad, but Shredderâ€™s is just awful. Still, itâ€™s almost off-set by Jim Cummingsâ€™ terrific voice-over for Leatherhead. That guy does the best Cajun accent Iâ€™ve ever heard.
â€œUsagi Yojimboâ€ is the first of two crossovers with Stan Sakaiâ€™s independent comic book character of the same name. Anybody who watches the new TMNT show should recognize Usagi, as heâ€™s made numerous cameos in that series as well. â€œUsagi Come Homeâ€ is the last of the crossovers with Usagi and the best of the two. It features Usagi being tricked by Shredder into trying to hunt down and kill the turtles. A good spotlight for Stan Sakaiâ€™s character and a definite must-see for any fans of his comic. A shame he never got to appear in more episodes of the original series, especially since this episode leaves his story pretty open-ended.
â€œThe Making of Metalheadâ€ is an okay episode spotlighting another character more popular for his toy and video game appearances. Metalhead managed to appear in one episode of the new TMNT cartoon (â€œWhat a Crocâ€), though he was renamed â€œTurtlebotâ€ so he would not be confused with a completely different character named Metalhead. This episode also features Shredderâ€™s alternate voice again, which can be pretty annoying.
The disk ends on a strong note, with â€œLeatherhead meets the Rat Kingâ€. Returning villains in the show didnâ€™t get to meet each other very often, especially if they werenâ€™t Shredder, so this is a bit of a â€œspecialâ€ episode. Itâ€™s even more remarkable in that the two villains spend the episode fighting each other rather than team-up, defying the conventions of most cartoons.
There are a few lame-o episodes in the collection, like â€œMichaelangeloâ€™s Birthdayâ€. However, probably the stupidest episode included in the set is â€œSuper Bebop and Mighty Rocksteadyâ€, where Krang creates robot duplicates of the two brain-dead villains which are just as stupid as their flesh and blood counterparts. The episode then spirals into Shredder using a machine to make all the adults in New York act like whiney 6 year olds and the entire thing just gets real stupid real quick.
Still, the good episodes out-weigh the bad ones and thereâ€™s a lot of returning villains and supporting characters that show up through-out the disk. Itâ€™s the best volume of season 3 so far and you can get it at most places for only $10 bucks. The video quality isnâ€™t great, with the occasional color distortion at the top of the screen indicating these were transferred from VHS tapes. Having talked with a few people, though, this problem seems to occur mostly on region-free players and less in region-1 players, however that works. Still, it doesnâ€™t detract too heavily from the overall experience and for $10 bucks you canâ€™t go wrong.