“Okay Obi-Wan-Chinobi, what’s with the magical disturbance?”
Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation works only as a nostalgia piece. This is touted as “The only live-action series based on the iconic Ninja Turtles franchise.” This is true and may be due to any number of reasons: the addition of the controversial female turtle, the lower production values when compared to the live-action movies or the failure of the series to reach beyond a child audience. Whichever reason, the fact remains this only lasted one season.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, aka TMNT, simply lack the grace and fluidity of the martial arts masters they are on their way to being when confined to a human operating out of a rubber suit. Back in 1997 the suit was designed as best as it could be, but it still pales in comparison to the potential animation offers the fearsome foursome. The turtles need the power of animation or an amazing amount of CGI work coupled with the best green-screen artists out there in order to truly bring them to life like they deserve. Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation is unable to offer either.
Not to mention this was and remains targeted at kids, a fact punctuated by the Looney Tunes-esque sound effects, over-the-top physical humor, and the Wile E. Coyote style of violence. Occasional lines of dialogue reference adult things, such as when one character says, “Surely you jest” and the response is, “Don’t call me Shirley.” However Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation hasn’t aged well enough to capture an adult audience. The characters’ mouths move out of sync, at the time the fight scenes were as good as they could be but are almost laughably clunky now, and the graphics are pretty primitive.
* “East Meets West, Part 1”
While the Turtles are still focused on fighting Shredder (Patrick P. Pon) a new enemy is rising. But the Dragon Lord’s (Christopher Gaze, Gerald Wong) arrival will also mean the arrival of a new ally.
* “East Meets West, Part 2”
Another Turtle, dubbed “Venus de Milo” (Lalainia Lindbjerg, Shishir Ioncalla), arrives to help the Turtles get Splinter (Fiona Scott, Stephen Mendel) back.
* “East Meets West, Part 3”
The Turtles want to celebrate their retrieval of Splinter but the Dragon Lord and his army come through a portal into our world and disrupt the party.
* “East Meets West, Part 4”
The Dragon Lord is on a quest for the Serum of Invincibility and the Turtles have differing opinions on how to handle the problem.
* “East Meets West, Part 5”
The Turtles learn a crucial weakness of the Rank.
* “Staff of Buki”
The Dragon Lord goes through time to steal the Staff of Buki, a weapon which will destroy Venus.
* “Silver and Gold”
When Michealangelo (Jarred Blancard, Kirby Morrow) runs into a talking ape fleeing from the police it brings home a question the Turtles have long struggled with: When do they go from reactive to proactive?
Now to be fair I actually do know people who watched the show and loved it…they were also 12 years old. To see the show now is to see all the flaws inherent. Unless you’re a serious die-hard Turtle fan skip Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation: East Meets West.
The technical specs only serve to further relegate this set to the nostalgic realm. The video transfer is a 1.33:1 low-res transfer with a lack of crispness and somewhat muddied palette dating the transfer. The audio isn’t any better, though it’s at least a Dolby Digital 2.0 track as opposed to Mono, so small graces. However the dialogue in particular exists outside the physical space. It’s not a completely clean track but it is serviceable. There are no special features.
Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation: East Meets West doesn’t warrant a purchase outside of one particular motivation, which is simply nostalgia. If you loved the show for the short time it was on the air go ahead and eat this up.