Since RangerCrew has reviewed the Power Rangers DVD boxes and the VR Troopers Volume One DVD, I don't see a point for me to do it (Unless you guys request it). I decided to do a review on Saban's Ninja Turtles the Next Mutation, which aired from 1997-1998 and was filmed in Canada. With the new Ninja Turtles animated series and movies coming soon, it is interesting that Saban Brands chose to release this now. There were only 26 episodes. Rumor is that it did fine in ratings but Fox Kids chose to cancel it anyway. This volume has the first 13 episodes. Since Shout! Factory is not letting people post episode captures, I can't add more pictures.
The menu is straight forward (it is better than the Liongate DVDs of Power Rangers Super Samurai that take forever to go through the Previews---it doesn't let you skip to the menu in the first few minutes) with no previews at the beginning. What is interesting is that the menu plays a song other than the theme song and sounds a lot like the Big Bad Beetleborgs theme song. The Closed Captioning is actually much better than the ones on the MMPR DVD Box set and the VR Troopers Volume One, both from Shout! Factory. Brian Ward, who put together the Box Sets for Power Rangers for Shout! Factory says the closed captioning was given in by Saban.
Story: We all know the story: little pet turtles that got in mutagen ooze and became giant humanoid mutants trained in the ways of ninja by Splinter, the rat. The first episode doesn't really go over this, it expects you to sort of be familiar with it. They live in the train station from the second and third movies and Shredder is still around (but is not Super Shredder from the second movie). Everything is turned on its head when Splinter is taken into the dream world and is sick outside. The Dragon Lord and his group known as the Rank is trying to escape from a mirror. The keeper of the mirror has trained his adopted daughter, Mei Pei Chi, who is also a mutant turtle. Splinter must have not picked her up and she ended up in China Town and then grew up in China.
So after a 5-parter, it is established that the Dragon Lord escapes the mirror and sets up shop in a castle. Dragon Lord, himself, has horrible mouth movements, looks like a reject turtle and isn't that much of a villain. He is pretty much in the same realm of Master Vile and Dark Specter, where he is touted as a Big Bad but is more like a one-note villain. What his evil plot? He wants to eat the Turtles! Pretty disgusting. And we not only him but other villains through the other episodes like the ape-like yeti gangster Silver; Simon Bonesteel, a crazy game hunter; and Dr. Quease, an evil scientist that Dontello first admired but no longer the case. There is also Vam-Mi, but she doesn't appear until Episode 14 so hence not in this set. Also interesting is "Mutant Reflections" aired after the "Unchain My Heart" four-parter but is in this set. "Turtles Night Out" aired before "Meet Dr. Quease" but is placed four episodes after it on the second DVD. "Truce or Consequences" which aired before the "Unchain My Heart" saga is not in this set. "All in the Family" aired before but is put after "Meet Dr. Quease." These are probably the Production Order. Which is funny because MMPR is put in the Airing Order instead of Production Order.
Venus De Milo is a female turtle who only appears in this series. One of the TMNT creators hated her because Fox Kids had Saban add her and she was not related to the Turtles so had the idea that they could make more turtles and the turtles basically were one of their kind. Venus is a Shinobi, meaning a Ninja that has magic. She can astral project, bring out energy from her hands, mediate and other tricks. She is very reserved and is a mediator, which is contrast to the rambunctious turtles. She doesn't like to be called 'babe' and so forth. I actually like her, even though the whole fish out of water mispronouncing slang terms a bit tiring, it definitely creates a big conflict and interesting plot point of the female/male dynamic.
I was a Ninja Turtles fan before Power Rangers so I have to say that this series is fun and Ninja Turtle fans should pick it up! Should Power Rangers fans pick it up? Well, it is not exactly like the other Tokusatsu series that it has a Monster of the Day or has something be destroyed at the end of each episode. It is still fun, quotable and even though the puppetry is laughable and not top notch, the writing and voice acting is pretty good.