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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles "Enter: Shredder" DVD Review
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
Release Date: July 9th, 2013

Synopsis: Get lean, mean, and green with the Turtles team! Join Leo, Donnie, Raph and Mikey as they take to the streets of NYC, where every turn yields a new enemy. Get ready for non-stop battles against Kraang-droids, mechanical Mousers, a mutant alligator, and even the evil Shredder himself.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles "Enter: Shredder" DVD Review
By James Harvey

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back in this second DVD release collecting seven episodes from the new Nickelodeon CG-animated series and, rest assured, the quality remains on par with the first release.

Picking up where the first DVD left off, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Enter Shredder continues to dive into the weird world of the Ninja Turtles, throwing everything from mutants to ninjas to aliens at them. Bringing viewers up to the mid-season finale, the show moves us ever so closer to to the first season’s endgame. The show is clearly following it’s own path, obvious by the assorted ongoing B-plots laced throughout the series. At the same time, there are piles of nods to the previous incarnations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – references, jokes, and visual gags that should catch the long-time fan’s eye. For fans looking for a light-hearted fun take on the mythos, I guarantee there is no better take than this right here, so far. In fact, this show easily surpasses the quality of the original 1980s series, without question. Probably even the 2003 series, too.

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To get it out there immediately, the episode “The Gauntlet” is a must-watch episode for Ninja Turtles fans. Even if you don’t watch this series, catch this episode. It’s utterly fantastic, superbly written, and features a crazy great fight sequence between the Turtles and Shredder. Can’t miss!

So where was I? Oh yes – the series! The writing is just top-notch here – the jokes all work, whether it’s the snappy dialogue or occasional visual gag. It’s successful because of the exceptional character work and pace put into the series. The characters are quickly defined, but not rushed, regardless of their status as hero or villain. We get the bare essentials right away, but then we’re given time to learn more beats about each character. The dialogue is telling, but not overbearingly riddled with exposition, and we get choice scenes here and there. The designs make each character feel unique to each other, but also instantly recognizable. Even without the color-coded masks, it’s easy to tell exactly which Turtle is who. Shredder looks menacing, for example, and Karai has this great punk look to her. The designs match their personalities perfectly. And now that the first batch of episodes has established the core Turtles, the world-building begins with new villains and an ever-growing subplot involving April and the Kraangs.

It’s easy to tell that Nickelodeon has pumped a fair amount of money into this series. It looks like it has a considerable budget, the fluid animation and facial movements an obvious mark. The stylized take on New York looks fantastic, the background at times coming off as CG-enhanced comic or graffiti art (and I mean that in a good way). The streets do look a bit bare sometimes – the streets should be bustling more – but that’s a minor quibble. Characters fit in with their surroundings, designs are stylish and help extenuate personalities (even with the robots, believe it or not), and everything blends together without any hiccups. Nothing really feels jarring or out of place. Even some of the more crazier looking designs.

The episodes included in this release are “Monkey Brains,” “Never Say Xever,” the previously-mentioned “The Gauntlet,” “Panic in the Sewers,” “Mousers Attack!,” “It Came from the Depths,” and “New Girl in Town.” Every episode here is good, though some obviously better than others. In fact, the weakest one of the whole bunch is “Monkey Brains,” and even that wasn’t a terrible episode. When the show hits high, it hits hard. “The Gauntlet,” “New Girl in Town,” even “It Came from the Depths” are so superbly done. “New Girl in town” is another episode fans might want to keep an eye out for, as it introduces Karai into the series’ mythos. Still, each episode is really enjoyable and just fun. I know I’ve said that over and over, but it’s true – the key word here is “fun.” Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a fun, fun cartoon.

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Moving on to the DVD release, things are what you’d expect for a first single-volume DVD release of an animated all-ages show. Seven episodes packed with a light batch of extras and some pretty packaging. It might sound weak, yes, but for the price you’ll pay? It’s pretty good.

The bonus features are light, but worth a the fifteen or so minutes of time it’ll take to watch them. “Animated Comic Books” feature a two-part Tales from the Turtle Liar yarn, which you go through via the arrow buttons on your player remote. It’s fun stuff that’s not really required reading, but adds a little bit to the overall experience. After that we get a nice “Mutation of a Scene” featurette which breaks down the fight from “New Girl In Town.” Watch the sequence evolve from early boarding to the final product. It’s a pretty interesting watch, something I’d like to see more of. A little bonus poster is also tossed in with the DVD packaging.

Moving on to the audio and video quality, it’s a fantastic release across the board. Given this is a DVD release, the audio and video is as top-notch as one can expect in the standard definition format. Audio is center-focused but crystal clear. Whether a wisecrack from one of the Turtles or a punch in the face, you should be able to hear it all. There is some color-banding to be seen here and there, but the widescreen video is also pretty excellent overall. Much like the first DVD collection, the packaging lists this DVD as a “Full Screen” (traditionally a 1.33:1 aspect ratio) release despite the video dimensions actually being widescreen (1.78:1 aspect ratio). No idea why (unless 1.78:1 is the new “Full Screen”).

Overall, a fantastic animated series and a good DVD release? I’d say so. It’s worth picking up, both for the low $10 sticker price and for the fact that Paramount Home Video likely won’t be doing season collections. With the next volume release, a two-disc DVD affair, collecting the rest of the first season episodes, it’s pretty obvious how Paramount plans to handle this series from here on out. So, basically, pick this up. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Enter Shredder continues to bring the best of the Ninja Turtles forward for a series that’s fun, exciting, action-packed, and truly all-ages. The animation is fantastic, the writing slick, the characters likable, and the action awesomely choreographed. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Enter Shredder comes Recommended to pick up on DVD.

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