We had a general review of Saban’s Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, the live action TMNT show at the end of the 90s which was meant to be seen as a sequel to the live action movies. As you’ll see the show has its flaws but it has plenty of redeeming features and needs a little more positivity online so here are Episode reviews / overviews of the 26 episode season we got, including the special crossover.
East Meets West (5 part pilot “movie”) – Change the script a little bit and give it a higher budget and this could have been the fourth Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live action movie in the 90s. Yeah it wouldn’t necessarily been a classic like the first but I would have liked it as a kid and it would have been among the same quality of the two sequels since it doesn’t stray too far from the sequels in tone.
You have Shredder as the villain, they slowly introduce Venus and defeat the Shredder. Then the new villain the Dragonlord who is also introduced pretty well they are defeated at first but in the end they defeat him. The final battle would have to be a bit more epic since its a bit anti-climatic here (with a reason since he’d be the villain in the series). Pretty good way to start the show though it does feature most of the shows complains.
Staff of Bu-Ki – In this the Dragonlord after being defeated blames it on the Shinobi, Venus, so he wants to get rid of her before she becomes more powerful and to get revenge on the Shinobi clan. He steals a weapon that can turn her power against her. Its a decent plot, nothing too special really happens that is either good or bad.
Silver & Gold – An alright episode that introduces an awesome villain. Silver the Ape Gangster is very cool, basically a gansgster yet he’s a gorilla which no one questions. How awesome is that? Its a basic plot nothing special but like I mentioned an alright episode that introduces a pretty neat character to TMNT.
Meet Dr. Quease – This episode is kind of cool; Donatello wants to meet his favorite scientist Dr. Quease who is then kidnapped by the Dragonlord. Donatello goes to save him only to find out he was more than happy to work with him. Dr. Quease is a bit like Baxter Stockman, he didn’t mind turning on his rescuer for the sake of science. Only thing I didn’t like about the episode is the turtles defeated the Dragonlord in a silly way, which is consistent with the two TMNT movie sequels and the original cartoon but in this show they actually hadn’t done it and this kinda makes the Dragonlord into a less threatening villain as he had been portrayed in previous episodes. But Dr. Quease was another good character created here.
All in the family – This episode introduces Simon Bonesteel who could have been a pretty good character, he poaches extinct animals. He even ends up being a threat to the turtles while fighting. However they gave him this crazy/easily confused personality which ruins the good things, what was worse is that after he is defeated by the turtles in a good way, he appears again only to be defeated by “getting confused” by the turtles….ugh, other than that the character is still kinda good even with his horrible personality.
Trusting Dr. Quease – This episode had a great idea but it was poorly implemented. I liked how Donatello wanted to give Dr. Quease the benefit of a doubt for being a fellow Scientist. There’s a lot of stuff they don’t explain very well though. I also hated how they trap the Dragonlord in a silly way.. This is the second time they do this so now and it just cheapens the villain.
Windfall – A second episode with Silver who I as I mentioned I really like, the plot is a bit silly but I loved the Dick Tracy get ups and I like how Silver only deals with the turtles when it interferes with his business, he doesn’t really care what they do if they don’t.
Turtles Night Out – This episode had a few things I liked like Mikey’s pirate radio show, the rave, the clockwork orange inspired gang. It also had Bonesteel which he wasn’t great but wasn’t too bad either as described before.
Mutant Reflections – Dr. Quease makes clones of the turtles. Pretty basic episode; It’s very cliche to have a hero vs evil version of the heroes but I’m a sucker for them so I enjoyed it. Bring on the clones I say! Dragonlord appears very briefly like the past Dr. Quease episode, but just to give an order. This episode made me wonder if his lab is located inside the Dragonlord’s lair or if its in a totally different place.
Truce Or Consequence – It was nice to see Mikeys pirate radio station again, it’s an interesting concept that would be cool to see again. This is also the first Dragonlord in a while, since his past appearances were minor roles in Dr. Quease episodes. Nothing special, just an alright episode.
Sewer Crash – Another Silver episode in which he hypnotizes Donatello and gets him to do crimes for him. This one was actually pretty funny, got me laughing a few times. And it shows us how The Next Mutation was able to come up with interesting rogues.
Going Ape – This episode was very entertaining. Raphael, trying to avoid Bonesteel goes inside a house where an ape from a zoo that had escaped is living. The Dragonlord also sent his dragons to go after one of the turtles that was alone, in this case Raph and therefore everyone is in the house. Its a silly episode mostly but all the chaos is quite entertaining as well as the unusual alliances that are formed since basically all of them are enemies against each other. Also we got to see more of the Dragons besides just the Dragonlords goons.
Enemy of My Enemy – The return of Shredder. This episode is is pretty awesome. Even with the cheesy parts are easily put aside with just having Shredder back. We see him recovering his mind from the “reawakening” he got in the first 5 episodes. He knows he IS the Shredder though he’s fallen so low. Splinter after saving his life tries to get him in a new path. Which doesn’t work since Saki is regaining more his Shredder persona slowly. He ends up fighting Splinter and leaves. Meanwhile the Dragonlord wants a pendant that Oroku Saki stole from Yoshi to defeat the turtles. The Dragons attack him and we see Saki defeating a bunch of dragons before finally being taken down. Then the turtles show up and help Saki, however the dragons are winning until Saki comes to fight against the dragons and they are defeated. Splinter recovers his masters pendant only to have Saki take it. The last shot we see Saki finally back to his former glory teasing his return.
King Wick – The concept is that Wick, who is umm..The Dragonlord’s pet/advisor(?), uses alchemy becomes a Super Dragon and defeats the Dragonlord and proclaims to be the new king. Seems like a lame plot but it was very good. They actually portray Wick as a real threat. It was cool to see The Rank defy him since they wanted to serve only the Dragonlord, they do when he first proclaims himself and later as well. Leo is dealing with being a leader. By the end he loses his powers after Leo reverses them and the Dragonlord gets his throne back.
The Good Dragon – This episode is about a good Dragon, it is portrayed very well as you don’t know if he is truly good or not. It was awesome seeing him defeat other dragons and eventually he realizes he needs to go back to the mirror world but that he’ll return with other dragons like him. A good episode as the title, the Dragon is a cool character and would have liked to see him again. Too bad they didn’t even give him a name…
Same thing with the Dragon that leads The Rank. You can tell him apart from the other dragons on episodes because of the purple hood but they never say his name. That would have added more to both characters to distinguish them.
The Guest – This episode features Andre the blind man from the first episode who is friends with Splinter since he can’t see. I liked him and kinda wish he had been more of a recurring character. Oh well the plot is basic, he’s been evicted and moves to the turtles lair. He accidentally takes Dr. Quease’s special staff when they bump into each other and he gets The Rank to go retrieve it. This episode is better than how it sounds now that I’m reading it..
Like Brothers – This is a clip show, however unlike most clip shows this one is kind of interesting since it has a theme. It deals with the rivalry of Leo/Raph and all the clips are from them not getting a long etc. The episode also features plenty of new footage mostly of them fighting and not with words. This episode seems to take place after Unchain My Heart since one of the flashbacks is from Unchain My Heart, they probably didn’t want to have two flashback episodes back to back though which is why it aired before.
Unchain My Heart – (4 part episode) Vam-mi was an interesting villain they introduced. I really liked how Bonesteel was actually somewhat of a threat during these episodes, he was written pretty much how I wanted him to be written in his first episode. Too bad Vam-mi was killed and in a pretty horrific way too, but I’m sure they would have brought her back since at the end her two minions decided to stay in NY. A nice four parter though more episodic than East meets West and overall a nice arc for Venus.
Who Needs her – Another clip show however this one deals with only Venus, some choices were good while others could have used better scenes from East meets West and Unchain my heart. Its only a clip show for about half the episode since it features about half the episode of original footage. Splinter in pajamas was funny and the Dragonlord saying turtle soup was awesome as it’s a favorite phrase of mine. This episode actually works as a finale to the series since it’s like a tribute to Venus before she disappears forever.
Shell shocked (Power Rangers in Space crossover episode) – This episode is pretty bad and technically a Power Rangers episode and not a Ninja Turtles one. In fact it was the only episode I knew about The Next Mutation pretty much before I watched the entire series. So I expected the turtles to be more like they were here when I watched it and was happy they weren’t. All the turtles act way out of character and even for Mikey it is just too silly. It also features many weird things that even make you question its continuity, like why did Venus know Astronema? How were the turtles able to fend off against a laser attack? How did they teleport in the beginning? And how are the turtles able to fight a Power Ranger monster easily? Not to mention the voice actors are different and not improvements. This creates a whole set of problems since it means that all of the Power Rangers continuity takes place in this TMNT universe. Some good things include that these are the best fight scenes in all of The Next Mutation for the fact that the Power Rangers fight coordinators had more experience than the ones on Ninja Turtles: TNM. This is the only time they actually say Cowabunga! and both the heroes and villains make references to meeting again which sadly hasn’t happened besides that weird flash game.
It should be noted that the crossover technically begins with “Save our Ship” from Power Rangers in Space but its only a 30 second tease for the next episode. You can see that I’m not a fan of this crossover in general since it’s poorly written and that both the TMNT and PR universes are too different for a crossover, it only hurts each others universe. With that said, I still love this episode for the sole fact that Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers were my childhood. Both of the biggest things in my childhood actually crossed over and that is awesome! Seeing the turtles and the Power Rangers sharing a screen is pretty cool. As awful as this episode is the whole fact that they are together is enough fanservice for it to bring a smile to my face.