THE STORY ·
"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ultimate Showdown" DVD Review
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
Release Date: October 1st, 2013
Synopsis: It's nonstop ninja action as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles face off against new enemies and old, including the Rat King, Cockroach, Baxter Stockman, and more! All this, leading to the ultimate showdown against the Kraang and the Shredder himself!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ultimate Showdown DVD Review
By James Harvey
The first season of Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comes to a close in this new two-disc DVD collection from Paramount Home Entertainment, and thankfully, the quality rarely wavers in the final twelve episodes included here. The show continues to reign as arguably one of the best animated shows on television today. It may not be as complex or layered as some (like Beware the Batman or The Legend of Korra), but it’s superbly written and flat-out fun.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ultimate Showdown finds our heroes heading toward a deadly confrontation which could mean the end of the world. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles face off against new enemies and old, including the Rat King, Cockroach Terminator, Baxter Stockman, and more! All this, leading to the ultimate showdown against the Kraang and the Shredder himself!
Despite a finale which left fans a bit mixed, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles proudly barrels through the last half of the first season and the result is very satisfactory. We get a few episodes that are a bit iffy in quality – namely the “Pulverizor” episodes – but we also get some amazing ones, too, such as “Enemy of My Enemy” and “Karai’s Vendetta,” along with the excellent “TCRI.” Those are some standout episodes among, overall, a pretty solid collection of episodes. The series continues to be easily accessible each episode, but the ongoing subplot ties this show together nicely. At the same time, there are piles of nods to the previous incarnations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ė references, jokes, and visual gags that should catch the long-time fanís 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, and maybe even the slick 2003 series.
The writing is just top-notch here Ė the jokes all work, whether itís the snappy dialogue or occasional visual gag. Itís 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. The dialogue is telling, but not overbearingly riddled with exposition, which helps as we get introduced to a few new characters in these final 12/13 episodes. It helps that this show basically gets to pick what worked from the previous incarnations and just run with it. Thankfully the creative folks “running with it” also happen to know what they’re doing, resulting in a real sense of family and camaraderie between the Turtles and Splinter, and a real feeling of threat from the villains in nearly every episode.
Itís 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 designs make each character feel unique to each other, but also instantly recognizable. Even without the color-coded masks, itís easy to tell exactly which Turtle is who. The designs match their personalities perfectly. In fact, be it mutants, robots, or aliens, no character feels out of place. 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 Ė the streets should be bustling more Ė but thatís a minor quibble. It’s noticeable when a scene goes from a very populated street, with citizens running in fear, to the Turtles driving through the very same street, sans a scared populace.
The episodes included in this release are “I, Monster”, “Alien Agenda”, “The Pulverizer”, “TCRI”, “Cockroach Terminator”, “Baxter’s Gambit”, “Enemy of My Enemy”, “Karai’s Vendetta”, “The Pulverizer Returns”, “Parasitica”, “Operation: Break Out” and “Showdown (Parts One and Two).” The serialized nature of these episodes, and the sense of continuity from each, is incredibly evident when watching these 12 episodes (really 13) back-toback. The introduction of new characters never seems forced, but a natural part of the story, with a good amount of them actually leading to a solid pay-off in the two-part finale episode. We get an excellent subplot involving Splinter’s back-story, which leads to an interesting (though predictable) revelation. There’s very little time wasted here, with even the disapponting “The Pulverizer” episode getting a pretty dark follow-up episode. As solid set of adventures worth checking out.
Moving on to the DVD release, Paramount Home Entertainment has scrambled together a nice two-disc collection here. There’s a small amount of extras, but on par with previous single-disc Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles releases, and the video/audio quality is thankfully unchanged.
The bonus features are light, but worth the little bit of time itíll take to watch them. We get more “Mutation of a Scene” featurettes, looking at a handful of episodes included in this set – “The Pulverizer,” “TCRI,” “Cockroach Terminator,” and “Baxter’s Gambit” – which breaks down scenes from the episodes from early boarding to the final product. Also includes are some more “Animated Comic BooksĒ and a trailer for the upcoming Activision game based on the animated series. More of the same, yes, but it’s still pretty good material that fans should be able to get some enjoyment out of.
Moving on to the audio and video quality, itís 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. Also, fixing the “Full Screen” listings from the previous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles DVD releases, Paramount Home Entertainment lists this DVD properly as “widescreen” on the back cover package art.
To wrap it all up, it’s another good DVD release for the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle series, and gives promise to a healthy home video life. As much as I was glad to see Paramount Home Entertainment release the final episodes in a two-disc DVD collection, I’m still hoping for a Blu-ray release. That being said, you can’t go wrong with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ultimate Showdown, especially if you picked up the two previous DVD titles. If we never get a Blu-ray release (which this show sorely needs), then these DVDs are just as welcome. Nickelodeon has created a genuinely great Ninja Turtles cartoon and it deserves a little bit of recognition. If you’re a fan of these four teenaged fighting machines, then I strong urge you to check out the masterfully-crafted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ultimate Showdown.