Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) Review – Return of the Shredder
The first season of the classic cartoon is the best version of the idea of the cartoon.
It’s filled with mutant turtles, fighting, alien brains in robot suits and ninja masters. The Shredder and his gang of morons would scheme together to take out the turtles in an action packed mini-series that would wrap up nicely with a terrible pizza in the lair. This is the version people think of when they think of the cartoon. They think of how weird everything in the world can be.
Some of these things happen in the first episode of Season 2, “Return of the Shredder.” There are mutant turtles, and alien brains, but the first entry back in the series feels like an unneeded grounding of the universe.
We return to see the turtles carrying on their normal life. A couple of thieves come to rob the same grocery store the turtles shop at. After they ditch the trench coats, the turtles save the day, pay for groceries, and leave the scene before the cops arrive.
We head back to Dimension X to check in on Shredder, Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady. It’s rare for cartoons around this time to show any continuation, so that alone gives it bonus points. Shredder wants to head back to Earth. He knows he can take out the turtles because he has a plan! Krang obliges, but Bebop, Rocksteady, and the foot clan won’t be helping him.
The best part of this episode is seeing how scary Shredder can be.
He can’t hide behind anyone in this, so anyone who comes across him gets beat in to submission. He takes over the “Slash for Cash” dojo and has the students run his errands. Of course, errands means robbing stores. When confronted in a park by two thugs holding,
This is where the quality drops off. In the first season, any time I could find a plot hole it was almost immediately shot down with a 4th wall breaking one liner.
In this, we’re led to believe the people in the city can’t tell the difference between 4 mutated turtles and a corrupt street gang in turtle t-shirts. The same grocer who was rescued by the turtles now gets fooled by a henchman with business cards that say “Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang.”
We get the return of Baxter Stockman, who’s been spending his time in a Mental Asylum. We’re also introduced to April’s valley girl friend Irma and April’s boss’ girlfriend. The city has a Spider-Man complex with TMNT, but the girlfriend brings it to the next level. The city is undecided, but April’s boss wants to expose them as criminals. It’s a unnecessary turn in the universe.
While the story leaves a lot to be desired, the character’s personalities are starting to show more.
Michelangelo jokes more and loves a good time. April is finally taking sides with the turtles when they need defending. She’s much stronger and much more willing to help. This is also the first time she’s talking to them directly while reporting on the news.
However, the overall quality dips significantly. Turtle bandanas are the wrong color, animations are wonky, and designs need work. At one point Baxter goes to trap Splinter and the animation bumps around until Splinter ends up in a cage. April is powerful enough to hold a grappling hook while 4 giant turtles slide down. Although what is most disappointing is that after seeing Dimension X and being introduced to this strange world of mutant creatures and aliens, the first villains we get on return are humans. Boring thug humans wearing paper bags. It’s a disappointing return to a well beloved franchise.