DVD Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Volume 3

The third season for the animated Ninja Turtles has some truly classic moments, and it's obvious this is where the show gained some legs. The animation mistakes are rare (they were prevalent in earlier seasons), the humor stronger, and some great new characters added. This DVD set includes a dozen episodes from this season. Other episodes will likely be included in future volumes.

This is not a set that comes close to perfection though. A few episodes are stretches, and show that the writers were already reaching for ideas. Attack of the 50 foot Irma is not high on any fans best-of list and the blatant Short Circuit knock off Attack of Big Macc is tough to defend. Arguably the biggest offender is Turtles at the Earth's Core. The cute dinosaurs aimed solely at the youngest possible demographic are just terrible.

The rest of this set offers some memorable moments. Here is where the series became self referential, brining up plot lines from previous editions (Donatello's line "I wish I had the moon boots from episode 6" for example) and even ribbing itself a little (Krang's "It moves the story along quicker" when asked by Shredder how he illogically had a device ready). That's the type of thing that helps TMNT appeal to a wider audience, and why it has a dedicated fan base behind it.

For a new generation of kids, this edition of the franchise will be tough. The newer series offers darker storylines, and a harder edge. These four playful turtles are brightly colored, softer, and rarely actually hit anyone with their trademark weapons. They're great characters and always have been. For those who know only the latest edition, this may not be such a wise selection.

Those who did grow up on this show will love revisiting it. It's probably not as good as you thought it was when you were five, but you'll still smile at some of the humor and enjoy the extended action. It's hard not be involved in such light fun. (*** out of *****)

While the previous two releases were not the greatest looking animated DVDs out there, it's hard to imagine what the excuse could be for this mess. The compression used to cram 12 episodes on a single disc destroys the picture quality. It's bad enough that fans should be calling distributor Lion's Gate and asking for a recall. There isn't a single episode or sequence that looks clean. It's a shame too since the show looks to be in great shape otherwise. The print is flawless aside from the usual animation pitfalls. (*)

Audio is standard 2.0 mono. Use of the stereo channels is minimal at best. This isn't any better than watching it on basic cable years ago. It's clear and the sometimes high pitched soundtrack holds together without sounding strained. (***)

The only extras are trailers that are tough to skip each time the disc loads. Oddly, you can't access them from the menu (which uses art from the previous season DVD). They need to find someone from the show to offer a little insight. (No stars)

These sets are continually dropping in quality, and this is not just a compression complaint. The first season offered a nice slipcase cover, embossed, and loads of gloss. Volume 3 offers weak new art and unimaginative design. It's also annoying to release seasons in separate sets like this, especially since the episodes are only a half hour.

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