After a very popular comic series, the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" exploded into a kids Tv toy craze with their hit cartoon, which was one of the most popular and well-known cartoons of the late 80s and early 90s.Turtles toys were flying off the shelves at Christmas time at this period. The cartoon was so popular it helped the turtles reach the silver screen in 1990, in a live action medium that did really well at the cinema box office.
The "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' franchise was on a hot streak. It's a cartoon which has probably one of the most intriquing titles ever, and a really original idea, and may i say, wacky idea, of 4 mutated turtles "Leonardo, Raphael, Michaelangelo & Donatello" who live in a New York sewer with a mutant rat named "Splinter", who was once a human named "Yoshi", trains them in Ninjitsu, to defend against the evil of a warble-talking pink brain alien named "Krang" and his accomplice in all things naughty is "Shredder", who has a bitter past with with Splinter. Bring in a human TV reporter named " April 'O Neill" who accepts the turtles, and helps them get one over their villains. How can you forget it, if you saw it as a kid!
Krang & Shredder, whose domain was a heavy weapon fortress called the "Technodrome". The "Technodrome" was a circular, metallic, tank-like giant with advanced weapons and they planned to conquer the Earth. Krang & Shredder soon made their own mutants, Bebop(a warthog mutant) and Rocksteady(a rhino mutant), but are unbaringly and annoyingly stupid for Krang & Shredder! That wasn't all, Krang had his own army of "Rock Soldiers" or "Stone Warriors" from "Dimension X", where he comes from, and Shredder had his robotic "Foot Soldiers" or "Foot Clan" to help them. For a short while, a scientist that was taken advantage of named "Baxter Stockman", tried to stop the turtles with Shredder, using his inventions.
The Krang, Shredder, Bebop & Rocksteady villains were successful creations, and it shows, because they appeared in most of the 193 episodes, until they were surprisingly dropped as main villains by the '95 season, and didn't appear at all in the '95 season, but appeared in a few episodes in the '96 Season.
A season was made every year, between 1987-1996. The number of episodes in each season varied drastically. From 5 episodes in one year, to 39 episodes in another. So, there was real hard work for the makers to get episodes finished in time, plus there was many different writers who undertook the writing for 1 whole episode. So not every episode was written by the same writer, even if 1 of them wrote the best episodes and some were weaker. To thank though, for the cartoon ever to have been made in the first place. Thank Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the creative minds behind both the comics and cartoon.
As before mentioned, the Shredder, Krang, Bebop & Rocksteady villains were dropped by Season 95. At this time, the turtles were given a makeover to perhaps renew interest in the franchise, along with a new regular villain, an alien called " Lord Dregg". The episodes were darker than what we were used to, and are also called the "Red Sky" episodes (94-96 Seasons). The turtles also suffered from severe mutations that would turn them into big hulks and lose their intelligence temporarily. In my view, interest in the turtles in the UK started dwindling by the turn of 1992, and it can be hard to maintain ratings because it was a very long-running cartoon. As a matter of a fact, after the cartoon ended in 1996, the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" cartoon, on-going for 9 years, was at least, one of the world's longest running cartoons ever...until "The Simpsons" beat it.
The animation was never really the strongest attribute of the cartoon, i admit. There was some really bad mistakes or bloopers in the cartoon like unexplained voice-changing(rare), voice swapping (happenend too much), colours on clothes changing etc. It wasn't exactly the best animation of that era.However, it was a nice and bright colourful cartoon, and what i liked best was sometimes, the backgrounds of New York which were very well done, bringing atmosphere and detail to the TMNT world.
On a negative front, some grown-ups slated the cartoon, for showing kids violence, but not any kind of violence, but martial arts, and that really annoyed someone out there, particularly that the turtles were ninjas, but fighters who would only act in self-defense. Despite that, this led to the word "ninja" being cut out from the cartoon title in the UK, and replaced with "Hero". So the TMNT theme song singers, had to perform the "Hero version", with different visual scenes for the intro. The strangest thing though, was the demonisation of Michaelangelo's ninchukas. Michaelangelo's ninchukas were not in the UK theme song intro, unlike the US one. However, the unfair discrimination of the ninchukas, became universial when Michealangelo stopped using them by Season 4(1990) and used a grappling hook instead. This is confusing, considering it would be far more dangerous for kids to use sword blades like Leonardo, or Sai's like Raphael but THEY were never censored!
In closing , the original "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" cartoon is my No.1 cartoon, and this was the best of the cartoons that sparked toy crazes amongst kids, because it had the quality to go with it.
NOTE ABOUT REVIEWS: When all episodes are reviewed in a season, there will be a "Season Overview" which will give the season an overall rating out of 5, and a "Chart" page, where you can see how the episodes compare against each other.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987-1996)