Ask most any guy my age what their favorite television show was when they were in elementary school and I be the most popular answer will be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The heroes in a half shell were on weekday afternoons and then eventually Saturday morning from 1987 to 1996. Their popularity was at its highest during the first three years or so but during their run they managed to rack up a total of 193 episodes. The show was a merchandising behemoth, just look at a list for the action figures alone! There were also clothes, toothbrushes, cereal bowls, pillows, and on and on. You name it, and the Turtles were on it. To a kid, they were a lot of fun and my days revolved around their television show, so when it was announced that the full series was getting released (housed in a replica Turtle Van, no less) I was all over it.
The DVDs have been receiving a steady release for awhile now, but they were always on the cheap. Not cheap in terms of price, but light on episodes and content. I have the first two volumes, but stopped there. The show is pretty much as a I remembered. It’s pretty silly and full of bad jokes but there are some worthwhile ones sprinkled in here and there. I remember the characters broke the fourth well quite regularly, but what I didn’t remember was how often the show seems to poke fun at itself. It’s probably something that disappoints those who want a show to take itself seriously, but come on, this is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! How could anyone take a show like that seriously? Livening things up are numerous cameos (got to sell more action figures) on both the side of the Turtles and as antagonists. I always liked the show’s take on Baxter Stockman, and the Rat King was also a personal favorite.
Those who have kept up with the show throughout the DVD releases are well aware of the fact that Lionsgate missed some episodes along the way, specifically “Planet of the Turtleoids and “Once Upon a Time Machine,” which have finally been released alongside season 10 as bonus features. The complete series collection is just a collection of all of the previously released discs, so it does not correct the continuity issues, but does include everything. This also means that if you’ve purchased every DVD along the way that this set probably isn’t for you, unless you really love the packaging.
The packaging is definitely the selling point for this set. The Turtle Van (or Party Wagon, as it was called on the packaging of the toy release) is a pretty solid likeness of the old toy. It’s missing the bells and whistles like guns and so forth, but does feature rolling wheels. The interior contains a green Styrofoam mold that the discs slide into. It can be a bit tricky to get the discs lined up properly so I wonder how well it will take care of them, but it works. There’s a booklet too with a full episode list by disc, but that’s it. One pet peeve of mine is the sticker on the front of the van features the Turtles as if they’re riding in it, but the side window stickers don’t.
If you’re looking for a great show, this isn’t it. This collection is strictly for the collector who can’t say “No” to things from his or her childhood. For what it is, it’s a cool set and I fully intend on watching each disc. I outgrew the Turtles before the show ended its original run so I’m kind of looking forward to watching more of the “Red Sky” episodes from the show’s final seasons that I missed out on. If you’re a fan like me that has yet to get the DVDs then this is a worthwhile set for you.