This is an opinion piece and does not reflect the thoughts or feelings of the other writers or the owner of this website.
A few weeks ago, we revealed the latest DVD release for Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As noted at the time, there was some disappointment in regards to how Nickelodeon chose to approach this release – disappointment which echoed the frustration that many fans and collectors are experiencing when it comes to Nickelodeon’s handling of physical media in general. When it comes right down to it, their approach to DVD releases leaves a lot to be desired, with many of their products now being released only as print on demand, and other popular titles (such as TMNT) being completely mishandled.
Although it is nice to see that we will be getting both the first and second seasons in one DVD set, it’s also a bit annoying. Fans who previously bought the first season on DVD have been complaining about this new set, not because it offers more bang for their buck, but because there is apparently no option to purchase the second season alone. This means that fans who already own the first season will have to purchase it a second time in order to also get the second season in their collection.
Well, unless you have a Region 2 DVD player, that is. That’s right, they have apparently decided to release Season 2 on its own in European markets, but they are not willing to do this in the North American market (arguably the largest market for the Ninja Turtles). If anyone wants to explain the logic behind that decision, go right ahead; the comments section is down below, and I eagerly await an explanation.
The problem with this approach is that it immediately devalues the previous release. Whatever value the first season had on DVD, it now has far less value simply because it has been packaged with the only release for the second season. When fans see that they have the option to either get the first season or the first and second season on DVD, which will they most likely choose? Chances are that the first release is going to be all but forgotten.
In addition to this problem, these season set releases are essentially just repackaged collections of their single disc releases. They don’t really add anything new to the TMNT DVD season sets, they just put the same old releases in one box. Considering that the single disc releases tend to be the most up-to-date and provide the newest episodes for fans to enjoy, it begs the question: why should anyone even bother purchasing these season sets when they can get the exact same content by simply purchasing the single disc releases as they come out?
When it comes to other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles properties owned by Nickelodeon, they have a similarly bad track record thus far. Earlier this year, we announced that they would be re-releasing some of the original DVD sets for the 2003 series. Even at the time of this announcement, we expressed disappointment that these would basically just be repackaged collections of a few select episodes instead of season sets, which fans have been eagerly awaiting after the series was originally mishandled by the previous rights owner. Since then, Nickelodeon has made it clear that they have no intention to produce any season sets for this series in the near future, although they have announced a few more re-releases.
Of course, none of this even addresses the massive elephant in the room: the lack of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Blu-ray. When it comes to the original 1987 series and the 2003 series, it’s forgivable to focus on DVD sets, given that each show was produced in 480p. However, Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is being produced in 1080p, and currently the show is only available on DVD and VOD. In other words, the only way to enjoy the show as it was meant to be seen is to purchase it via VOD, an option that many collectors have no interest in. To make matters worse, it actually costs more for the first season on DVD than it does to purchase it via VOD.
Some may claim that this is just a sign of the changing times, and that physical media is clearly a dying format. Whether this is true or not, it doesn’t forgive the refusal to release an HD television series like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on a high definition format. Considering how much space is available on a Blu-ray (50 GBs), it would be easy to release a one or two disc set with an entire season and a few special features included. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t an option, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to become an option any time soon.
Nickelodeon has been dropping the ball with their media releases for years, and it would appear that they have yet to learn anything from their many mistakes. The physical media market may be a niche one, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth fighting for. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nickelodeon is having a difficult time selling these TMNT DVDs, because they aren’t putting much effort into them. This is completely disrespectful, especially considering how popular the series is and how well it has done for the company. Unfortunately, chances are that Nick will end up using their own obvious failures as a reason to refuse putting any extra effort into their home video releases.
At the end of the day, that is the problem with Nickelodeon’s TMNT DVDs: They won’t give fans what they want, and the reason they won’t do that is because fans aren’t buying the poorly crafted pre-existing product that they don’t want. Given the popularity of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy lines, it’s clear that the fans still want physical representations of their favorite heroes in a half shell. Sadly, it doesn’t look like this mistreatment of the turtles is going to change any time soon, and if this latest release is any indication, it would appear that we’ve got even more ridiculous DVD sets to look forward to in the coming years.
Will Nickelodeon ever learn their lesson? Will shellheads ever get a proper Blu-ray release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Will the 2003 series ever be fully released and represented on the home video market? These are all questions which remain unanswered, and at this rate, it would appear that the answer to all of these questions is eventually going to be “No.”
What do you think? Are we being too harsh, or are we being too lenient? Let us know your thoughts on this subject in the comments below.