Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Super Shredder

4 out of 5

Man, the final seasons on TMNT 2012 were so good, even when they weren’t.

Allow me to explain.

The ‘Super Shredder’ 2 DVD collection covers the end of season 4 – Shredd’s return as the titular movie-referencing mutantized version of the villain – and the beginning of season 5, which is the resurrection of Shreddy and the (attempted) rise of the demon Kavaxas.

The Super Shredder stuff really never works.  Yeah, four mutant turtles who have traveled to space and fought psychic rat controlling homeless dudes, but SS is a bit too cartoony to land as a legitimate threat.  And when he’s (spoiler…) removed from the equation, causing Tiger Claw to use Kavaxas to bring him back, the show tries to quickly build up a mythology around the demon that, again, doesn’t quite sell it.  Neither villain – personality, design-wise – are that interesting.  That, plus my constant issue with the CGI Turtles – that the city never seems actually populated by human beings, even when the world is going kablooey – comes to the fore here, again, as things threaten to do the kablooey and it’s hard to be concerned when said kablooey is just going to kabloo empty streets.

However… the affection for our boys, and the inherent understanding of what they “are” and represent, has never been stronger.  It’s not just the classic character inclusions, which is where the IDW comic fails, in my opinion – mistaking nostalgic references for content – it’s that they’ve managed to synthesize all of the years’ worth of input into an interpretation that is informed by, improves upon, and adds to it.  It’s a fine line to tread, and the show just got better, and better, and better with it as time went on.  The way they emotionally tie Shredder’s mutation decision into his feelings toward Karai, and how that’s reflective of the history between her and Splinter, give this even a lot of weight that wouldn’t normally be a consideration in a cartoon, i.e. Shredder would just wanna get swole to kill dem turtles.  Along the way, we poke fun at the crappy Michael Bay turtles movie – yes! – and loosely remake scenes from the live action Turtles film, and then execute some killer storyboarding that makes all of the action and consequences that much more legit.

Plus the brilliant Toka episode, some great character work for Tiger Claw, and in season 5, the Kravaxas bit takes some impressive twists and turns that, while maybe don’t do much to make the demon more complex (though, granted, he is a demon – ain’t too much complexity intended, perhaps), do layer the story arc and add in some great comedic and action beats.

No extras, just great episodes.