The 10th and final season of the 1987-1996 animated series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles finds our titular “heroes in a half shell” battling it out once-and-for-all against the evil alien warlord, Lord Dregg. With the complete 10th season’s release from Lionsgate, fans can at last complete their collection of this beloved animated series on DVD. While I have quite recently watched the five-episode first season of Turtles a number of times, I admittedly have seen precious few of the episodes between the first and last seasons since they originally aired. As such, the developments that resulted in the series’ degradation from the terrific first season to the lackluster final season elude me.
However, artifacts of the numerous questionable writing decisions made in that intervening period remain. The season opens, in fact, with the Turtles attempting to rectify one such decision as they search for a cure for their so-called “super mutations,” which turn the Turtles into mindless marauding beasts and their non-specifically ethnic cohort Carter into a yellow superhero. For my taste, they couldn’t have expunged this facet of their characters fast enough if the super mutations came and went from the series in a flash. And unfortunately, the remainder of the season hinges on these super mutations to the extent that Lord Dregg’s plans for world domination rely on his harnessing the super mutation. What’s more, the inclusion of Dregg himself constitutes another unfortunate decision on the part of the writers, as he seems to me more akin to a Power Rangers villain than a Turtles villain. So I found the return of Shredder and Krang from Dimension X in this season to be a most welcome turn of events, even if they quickly become bit players in the overall narrative.
Additionally, this season suffers from some serious and rather amusing dating issues. By this, of course, I don’t mean that it somehow abstractly has trouble on the singles scene. No, merely that the season makes the era of its production well-known through some timely, rather than timeless, depictions of technology. To this end, season 10 writer Jeffrey Scott, working here in 1996, employs the Internet as a sort technological catch-all that can somehow do or tell you anything whatsoever. And I do mean anything!
Here are a couple examples: Tired of reporting on the Ninja Turtles and their exploits, April seeks to catch a wanted car thief. “The Internet is great for researching stories,” she exclaims to no one in particular, and how right she is, in the world of the Ninja Turtles at least. After all, the World Wide Web correctly predicts for her the precise location of the criminal’s next car theft. And if it were that easy to catch a criminal, it begs the question, why in the hell aren’t the police in this world using the Internet? And what about the Turtles? Saving the planet from Shredder or Dregg would be a breeze with this kind of technology on hand.
Furthermore, the Internet somehow also allows Carter to bounce a message off “the star” (meaning our Sun, I suppose) and contact friendly time travelers Landor and Merrick in the future. I don’t rightly recall this ever being a possibility, but I suspect that that particular functionality of the Internet didn’t catch on due to rampant unreliability. I mean, consider how often simple emails addressed to people in the present get lost! Surely, the bulk of the messages bounced off the star would end up in some trans-temporal spam folder.
Special features on the season 10 DVD include interviews with artists Curt Walstead, Paul Scarzo, and Scott Heming, as well as two (but technically, three) bonus episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Unlike the DVD of Turtles season one, which included half of season 10 as a sort of slapdash attempt at bulking up the special features, season 10’s bonus episodes actually compensate for a major oversight on Lionsgate’s part in their 2007 release of season five. To this end, Lionsgate failed to include the season five episodes, “Once Upon a Time Machine” and the prime time special “Planet of the Turtleoids” (Parts One and Two), on that season’s release. Potentially spurred by the significant volumes of fan protest surrounding this exclusion, the episodes have been included here that fans might at last own the complete series on DVD. Better late than never!