Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles DVD vol. 2: Mutant Mania

3 out of 5

Directed by: Various

Now that I’m used to the style and pacing of the series – now that I know what to expect, with four goofball teens molded in the never-serious vibe of the Bay movies and infused with cool, modern kid lingo and sass – I quite enjoy Rise of the TMNT.  And whether it’s due to that acceptance or because I think that the episodes on volume two, some taking place from deeper in the season, allow for less showy-offyness in the look and feel and a more comfortable writer’s room (with some carrying over plotlines!) and more confident voice acting… this is starting to feel more recognizable as an offshoot of the brand.  It’s not an abomination; it’s not as drastically different as it once felt.  It’s just stripped of any sense of seriousness.  And so Splinter’s goofball grandpa nature is dialed up into kooky old man; none of the turtles are allowed to really be that smart or that great at anything, but they stumble into successes that allow their kinda-sorta true-to-form personalities to come into play; and I even get how that extends to making Raph the leader: you can’t have a leader with this type of tone, so just tossing the brawler up front makes sense.

The best of this collection’s eps – the two part Evil League of Mutants; the excellently paced and excitingly animated Repo Mantis – lead the DVD, with differences in directors / writers showing how we’re gonna get some more simplistic episodes (Bug Busters) versus ones that juggle adult-friendly and kid-geared humor more effectively.

While volume 1 mostly followed airing order, volume 2 is troubling: it completely swaps the order, and jumps around in the season.  So if this is your introduction to the series, via these DVDs, characters appear in one episode and then are introduced in the next one, because it actually aired in a different sequence…  I really don’t understand this, and it makes the bit-by-bit release of these things even more obnoxious, so while I think this is a better spread of eps, overall, than volume 1, these sequencing decisions still knock it down some pegs.