2012 saw the rebooting of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise on the Nickelodeon network. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ultimate Showdown is the last twelve episodes of the first season gathered onto two discs.
When Splinter (Hoon Lee, Banshee) falls under mind control he becomes the turtles’ most dangerous enemy yet.
“The Alien Agenda”
April O’Neil (Mae Whitman, Parenthood) thinks she’s just going to turn in her science project and have a normal day. But her project has attracted the Kraang’s attention and thus the turtles must come to the rescue.
A wanna-be hero who has no natural abilities means the turtles must do double duty as babysitters.
Another showdown with the Kraang.
Donatello’s pet cockroach (Rob Paulsen, Animaniacs) becomes mutated and consequently wants to destroy the turtles.
When Baxter (Phil LaMarr, MADtv) traps the turtles they must pair up with an unusual set of allies.
“Enemy of My Enemy”
Karai (Kelly Hu, Warehouse 13) wants to become the turtles’ ally against the Kraang.
The turtles must stop the Kraang from poisoning the world’s water supply.
“The Pulverizer Returns”
Dealing with The Pulverizer (Roger Craig Smith, Regular Show) again, the turtles have to keep him safe and stop Shredder from creating even more mutants.
Michaelangelo (Greg Cipes, Teen Titans) fights his brothers when they becomes slaves to a wasp.
“Operation: Break Out”
Donatello tries to get April’s dad out of a Kraang prison alone, not realizing until it’s too late a dangerous mutant is also inside.
“Showdown [Parts 1 and 2]”
The turtles gear up for a showdown with the Kraang, who have plans for April. Meanwhile Splinter and Shredder (Kevin Michael Richardson, The Cleveland Show) have their own battle which leaves Splinter shaken.
The turtles continue to be loveable goofballs who happen to kick butt. These last twelve episodes see the foursome battling the same enemies they have all season: the Foot Clan, the Kraang, Shredder and his mutants. But by the end of the season the Kraang and Shredder have banded together, providing a more worthy challenge for the turtles. There’s also some character development, which bodes well for season two. Leonardo (Jason Biggs, American Reunion) learns that being the leader means being willing to make any sacrifice, even the ultimate one. Michelangelo proves his training makes him as competent as his brothers. Donatello deals with April finding out about his crush and Raphael (Sean Astin, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) tries to appreciate his brothers more.
One of the things to admire about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ultimate Showdown is the video transfer. A standard 1.78:1 aspect ratio it nonetheless attempts to blends four different types of animation: CGI, hand-drawn, comic book and graphic novel. The graphic novel shots are by far my favorite though I have to tip my hat to the team which works with the water and smoke in the CGI segments. They are beautifully done. The palette is the unifying factor across the differing animations and works well, with a darker look to emphasize the underground nature of the turtles as well as the nighttime during which most of the scenes occur. I do wish the purple and blue of Donatello and Leonardo’s masks were a bit more well-defined during the night shots but overall I’ve learned to embrace the visual style of the show. The Dolby 5.1 audio track continues to go above and beyond, providing the fullness the Foley and music cues need to feel as though they are all-encompassing. No issues to report there.
Special features include some storyboard comparison animatics, volumes three to six of the animated comic book Tales From the Lair, and a paper comic book with some random turtle adventures as well as word scrambles and hidden pictures to engage readers.
The more I watch these Turtles, the more I can see their show gaining traction. Fans will not be disappointed with a purchase. If you’re a newbie you may want to check out some of the earlier episodes first as the show does build upon its own mythology and certain events and characters will be confusing without a proper backstory.