This show tells the adventures of four turtles who were transformed into humanoids by a strange ooze and were trained as ninja by a human martial arts master, Hamato Yoshi, who was changed into a humanoid rat, Splinter, by the same substance. Together with the intrepid reporter, April O'Neil, they fight against the threats against the world, like Shredder and Krang. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
The show was re-named "Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles" for its UK transmission, because it was thought that the connotations of the word "ninja" were too violent. See more »
In many of the earlier episodes, a specific turtle's line would come out of the wrong character's mouth (i.e., Leonardo speaking with Raphael's voice). See more »
Ooooh yuck! It looks like what the water looks like after my bath!
Hey. When was the las time THAT happened?
Ooh what year is this?
I think it's the year my bath is due!
See more »
The gold standard by which action cartoons should be judged.
Many die-hard TMNT fans will tell you that the cartoons are juvenile and overrun with corny jokes, corny plotlines, and references to pizza. They'll proclaim that the original Mirage comics are the "true" incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
They're mostly right, but the first season of the cartoon (a 5-part miniseries, originally shown in the space of one week on syndicated TV in 1987) knocks the block off the comics and off all other action cartoons ever written. It retains the dark, edgy feel of the comics, but contains enough humor to avoid seeming stern or self-absorbed.
The miniseries details the origins of the TMNT and their master, Splinter the rat--it seems Splinter was originally Hamato Yoshi, an instructor in the Foot Clan of ninjitsu in Japan, until he was double-crossed by one Oroku Saki and banished. Yoshi then fled to New York City and lived in the sewers with the rats and four pet turtles. One day, Yoshi found the turtles covered with a powerful mutagen which turned the turtles into humanoid turtles and Yoshi into a humanoid rat. Knowing that they would be considered freaks by society, Yoshi trained them in ninjitsu. Yoshi named the turtles after his favorite Renaissance painters: Leonardo, Raphael, Michaelangelo and Donatello.
While skulking through the sewers, the turtles rescue April O'Neil, a TV news reporter who has run afoul of an army of street thugs while investigating a series of break-ins committed by ninjas at high-tech scientific equipment companies. Upon meeting her saviors, April promptly faints, and the turtles take her back to their lair. When April comes to, Splinter tells her their origins. April, however, is unimpressed and thinks the turtles are responsible for all the break-ins she's been covering. The turtles persuade April to hold off on any impulse reporting and let them find the crooks for her.
The turtles and April investigate these robberies and discover that they were perpetrated by an army of robots wearing the colors of the Foot Clan, leading Splinter to conclude that Oroku Saki is the leader of the whole operation. Splinter gets captured by Saki's robots and taken away. The turtles hunt down Saki in his base--a mobile underground fortress called the Technodrome--and discover that Saki, who now calls himself the Shredder, is indeed responsible for the crimes the turtles have been investigating. Not only that, it was Saki who dropped the mutagen in the sewers, thinking it would destroy Yoshi. Shredder makes a bid for the turtles to join him, but they refuse, and then proceed to kick the butts of his henchmen.
In later episodes, it is revealed that Shredder is in league with an alien warlord named Krang from dimension X, and that Krang wants to bring his troops from dimension X to conquer Earth. The turtles manage to foil Shredder and Krang's ambitions by causing the Technodrome to suck itself into dimension X. April is able to document the turtles' battles with Shredder and Krang and convince some of the skeptics of the turtles' heroism.
So, there you have it. This is the cartoon origin of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and it's about 100 times better than the comics origin (and the movie origin, which was loosely based upon the comics).
The miniseries is available on laserdisc (extremely rare!) and on a collection of 3 VHS tapes titled "Heroes in a Half Shell," "Hot Rodding Teenages" and "The Shredder is Splintered." A somewhat condensed and edited version is available on the VHS tape "The Epic Begins," but it's worth the extra cash to buy the 3 VHS tapes and get the full, uncut miniseries.
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