Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Enter Shredder (2012 animated series vol. 2)

5 out of 5

Developed by: Ciro Nieli, J. R. Ventimilia, Joshua Sternin

The 2012 Nick TMNT series was beloved by yours truly from the moment it premiered, on up through every one of its seasons, until its unfortunate (but amazing) concluding episodes.  I watched as it aired, and rewatched on DVD, but haven’t revisited it in a while since.  Rise showed up, and I resisted for a bit – because it was so, so different – but finally relenting to a viewing and it turns out it’s not bad, but it seems like it’s on its way out after only a year or so; it did not make the same kind of impact or impression as 2012.

Revisting it now, the reason for that is insanely clear: Rise can be funny and has energy, but 2012 was actually smart.  It wasn’t kid funny, it was legit funny, and featured fantastic timing, wonderfully choreographed action, and writing that rather brilliantly updated the classic characters and concepts while maintaining plenty of old-school credibility in its adaptations.  Not only does it shine in comparison, then, but just as a standalone show, this thing was a gem, and watching it in sequence, even the growth across the first season is notable: backgrounds grow more detailed; the camerawork more daring; the writing a little more leftfield and mature.

‘Enter Shredder’ – our second DVD volume of episodes – also does the holy work of making ultimate badguy Shredder scary and a legitimate threat.  To be fair, in preceding animated series, the only one that didn’t do this well was the Fred Wolf one, but it’s still rewarding for a modern cartoon to write both the good and badguy sides of the coin effectively.  Across these episodes, we get a couple more ‘mutant of the week’ style shows, with Doctor Rockwell and Leatherhead appearing, but also circling around Shredder’s soon-to-be or current allies – Xever, Dogpound, Baxter Stockman…  Every episode is fun, and, in retrospect, builds on the overall story, which is nice, and not something that I immediately noticed when watching these week to week.

The DVD extras are slim, but they exist, in the form of some cinematic comic books, plus the usual animatic comparisons.  The comics are weird, and a little clunky, but they’re not just stills from the show or anything, they’re actual drawn panels, with original (I think) dialogue, so that’s a nice bit of effort.  That, plus two hours of excellent TV (covering key plot points / characters from the show) definitely makes this a five star collection.