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Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Mutagen Mayhem DVD

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutagen Mayhem DVDNow that we’ve finished up with season 1 of the NickToons Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, it’s time to start on season 2, the first six episodes of which are collected in the “Mutagen Mayhem” DVD.

For the first time, we meet new old characters like Casey Jones (who begins appearing in the credits from the first episode of this season) and Rahzar (who is new and old in two different ways) as well as new new characters, like the Squirrelanoids (which are seriously the greatest squirrel based mutants since Doreen “Squirrel Girl” Green).

Oh, and the turtles have finished with Space Heroes and have discovered anime in the form of Super Robo Mecha Force Five!, a brutal parody of old school sentai shows like Voltron and Battle of the Planets/G-Force/Gatchaman. Depending on your knowledge and nostalgia level for those old shows, these are either brilliant or just plain mean. Or both.

All in all, the second season of this incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is off to a rollicking start.

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Ultimate Showdown DVD, Disc 2

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TMNT Ultimate Showdown DVD back coverHere we come to the finale of the two disc “Ultimate Showdown” set of episodes from the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. It also contains the final six (or seven, depending on how you count the finale) episodes of the first season, so it’s a finale there as well.

The first disc was reviewed here, and the rest of the first season can be found starting here, continuing here and here. So, let’s get to the episodes!

The Episodes

“Enemy of my Enemy”

Karai is messing with the turtles when it turns out that “alien invasion” thing they’re always talking about is going down right now (though, seriously, she’s already met Justin; how is one Kraang UFO that much more surprising?). She decides to temporarily team up with the turtles; or does she? The turtles aren’t sure, so they decide to betray her before she can betray them. Except she was totally serious about that team-up thing. Whoops.

Also, the Kraang flying saucer pilot is the best Kraang in the series; good thing he survives the saucer’s crash. Maybe.

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Ultimate Showdown DVD, Disc 1

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TMNT Ultimate Showdown DVD front coverThis is actually a two disc collection of the back half of season 1 of the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. I’m breaking them up into to two reviews, one for each disc, so that it doesn’t break the around six-ish episode streak of each review.

If you’d like to check out reviews of the rest of the first season, you can read the first seven episodes reviewed here, and the second six reviewed here, plus an extended review of the first two episodes (or one long episode, the series still isn’t clear on that) here. In fact, you should probably read that last linked article first, seeing as how it’s both the first chronologically and it also has breakdown of what this series is about.

You know, just in case the series title Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn’t clue you in that it’s about turtles, who are also ninjas, mutants and teenagers.

The Episodes

“I, Monster”

And we start off with one of the best episodes of the series, with the weird penchant for horror tropes and allusions finally given an episode where they fit like a glove. Dr. Falco (Jeffrey Combs) continues his experiments with the mutagen, but a lab accident turns him into the Rat King, with the ability to control all rats, and the turtles come to a horrifying realization; Splinter’s been taking it easy on them in training.

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History', by Andrew Farago.

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TMNT: The Ultimate Visual HistoryThis large, full-color book is published both for the 30th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book, which was first published by two comic-book fans at a comics convention in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in May 1984, and for the release of the fifth Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theatrical feature opening this Friday.

This is one of those “all you want to know about” books. It is not so much about the characters themselves as it is the official history of the TMNT phenomenon, or franchise, or whatever you want to call it. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the TMNT’s creators, are collectors as much as anything else, and this book is full of original sketches, the flyer for that 1984 comics convention, comic book covers, storyboards and cels from the TV animated series, posters and stills from the theatrical features, photos of all the TMNT merchandising items and so on.

Personally, I would have preferred more profiles of the anthropomorphic supporting characters besides Splinter the rat sensei, such as Bebop the warthog, Ninjara the vixen, or Dogpound and Fishface, who are not described because, with names like that, who needs to? Or plot synopses of the stories in the comic books, the TV series (or selected episodes; I suppose that asking for a synopsis of every TV episode would be too much), and the theatrical features.

Foreword by Peter Laird, San Rafael CA, Insight Editions, June 2014, hardcover $50.00 (192 pages).

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Enter Shredder DVD

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TMNT Enter Shredder DVDUnlike some other animated television series that will remain unnamed in this review, the newest animated incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is releasing DVDs that feature the episodes in order at regular intervals, approximately six at a time.

The upshot is that I can review each episode in order by nominally reviewing the DVDs; at this point, I can review all the way through the approximate first quarter of the second season from Nickelodeon. So I’m going to do that. Starting right now.

The Episodes

“Monkey Brains”

It probably says something that, despite introducing a new mutant in this episode, said mutant didn’t manage to even gain his own action figure. And this is TMNT we’re talking about; in the original animated series, the action figure came first half the time, then the episode (if at all). He doesn’t even have a mutant name; he’s just his old human name, Dr. Rockwell, or “the monkey” (despite technically being an ape). Monkeys and apes just aren’t very charismatic as anthros, especially when they can’t even talk.

However, it does introduce a recurring villain, Dr. Falco (who will eventually get an action figure under a different name, and is voiced by Jeffrey The Reanimator Combs) and the idea that April will begin training as a kunoichi under Splinter. And the main “lesson” of the episode, in which overthinking Donatello must learn to fight more instinctively against a villain who can read his thoughts, is a good character-based plot engine; his flowchart for hanging out with April is an amusing subplot.

Review: 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic' Keys of Friendship DVD (with bonus 'Rainbow Rocks' trailer)

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (5 votes)

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Keys of Friendship DVDThe smell of acrid smoke and horses’ breath …
- Iron Maiden, “The Trooper

The good folks behind My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic decided that what this show needs is season long story arcs. All the cool shows are doing it now. This DVD tries to collect the first real season long story arc, from season 4 of the show, and pretty much fails spectacularly to do that.

Technically, this story arc contains the two part opener for the fourth season, “Princess Twilight Sparkle” parts one and two, in which the ponies realize they need to be looking for six keys to unlock a magic box that a tree just grew. Wow, that sentence doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, but I swear, it’s what happened. Those two episodes are not featured here.

Then, five of the ponies have individual adventures, where they help someone out in a way that relates to their special Element of Harmony, beginning with Rarity and ending with Applejack, because Applejack always goes last. Two of those episodes are collected here, featuring Rarity and Fluttershy. Rainbow Dash’s episode is featured on another DVD I haven’t reviewed yet, and Applejack and Pinkie Pie are waiting for future DVD releases, despite the fact that Pinkie has the best by a long shot.

Finally, we have the season four finale, where the box is opened when Twilight Sparkle finally figures out how to get her key, amongst other things, and, I guess, “Castle-Mania” technically features Twilight trying and failing to research the box, so 10 out of 26 episodes. I don’t think we can call the other 16 episodes filler when they so outnumber the “arc” episodes, and they’re usually better anyway.

Review: 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic' Pinkie Pie Party DVD (with bonus Season 2 DVD review)

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Pinkie Pie Party DVDKick it!” – Beastie Boys, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)”

This is the fourth My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic five-episode DVD put out by Shout! Factory, and instead of attempting to create a theme for this one, the episodes collected all feature the character Pinkie Pie.

Pinkamena “Pinkie” Diane Pie is a hot pink Earth pony who lives in Sugarcube Corner, a sweets shop and bakery where she works; occasionally, with supervision, as a baker, but mostly as a party planner, which is her magical talent. That description makes her sound boring. She isn’t. As she represents the Element of Laughter, a distinction she won by making fun of some trees one time, she’s the show’s designated comedy relief, despite it already being a comedy cartoon. Basically, she’s the one who’s allowed to get away with jokes deemed too silly even for the average brightly colored cartoon pony.

Pinkie Pie’s episodes tend to be the funny ones.

Return to the Pridelands!

Here it is, straight from Variety this morning: “Disney is looking to get new mileage out of its Lion King franchise with a new animated series and TV movie planned for its Disney Channel and Disney Junior cablers. Disney Television Animation is producing The Lion Guard, a series that continues the storyline of the Mouse’s boffo 1994 hit feature. Lion Guard will bow next fall with a TV movie and transition to a regular series in early 2016. ‘We look forward to introducing a whole new generation of kids to both the Disney legacy characters and to new friends and heroes,’ said Nancy Kanter, exec VP of original programming and G.M. of Disney Junior Worldwide. The series incorporates strong environmental and conservation messages as it revolves around lion cub Kion’s role as a member of the Lion Guard group tasked with preserving his family’s natural habitat. Series will revive Lion King characters including Simba, Nala, Timon and Pumbaa. Ford Riley developed Lion Guard and is exec producer.” Keep watching this space for news of the premier!

image c. Walt Disney Television Animation

image c. Walt Disney Television Animation

Animation: 'Sonic Boom' first look

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Jerry Beck’s Animation Scoop has a first look at SEGA’s and OuiDO! Productions’ Sonic Boom CGI TV series, coming to the Cartoon Network (also French TV) later this year.

Sonic the Hedgehog is best-known as a SEGA computer game series, but this announcement – with a 2’50” trailer – shows what Sonic, Tails, and Dr. Eggman look like as fully animated CG characters.

Furries This Fall on Cartoon Network

Our friends over at Cartoon Brew have a new article up about Cartoon Network’s new series (that’s plural!) they have announced for their upcoming 2014/2015 fall season. And, notably, there are several new series in the group with more than a passing Furry interest. Featured in the article is the new series Over the Garden Wall. “Cartoon Network’s first event mini-series, an animated comedy/fantasy story about two brothers, Wirt and Greg, who are trapped in a mysterious world. In this ten-part mini-series, Wirt and Greg must travel across this strange land until they find their way home, aided by a wise old Woodsman who gives them directions and a bluebird named Beatrice.” Next up is We Bare Bears, “…a comedy about three bear siblings, named Grizzly, Panda and Ice Bear.

They Call Them Wearable Stuffed Animals

There have been one-piece pull-over pajama-style “animal costumes” for a while now — but this is the first time we’ve seen them advertised on kids’ TV! That’s just what Janimals did, advertising their “wearable stuffed animals” on the Hub Network. What’s more, they say they have sizes to fit “ages five to one-hundred-and-five!”. Check out the Janimals web site to see their full commercial and all of their available models.  As seen on TV!

image c. 2014 buyjanimals.com

image c. 2014 buyjanimals.com

Furries sought to appear on 'Dr. Phil'

Your rating: None Average: 2.7 (13 votes)

Okay, so an anon here totally called it, but CBS Television Distribution is calling for stories from people who are "Furry And Proud":

Are you interested in fictional animal characters with human personalities and proud of it? Do you like to dress up as your favorite animal character and go to Anthrocon, Further Confusion, or the ConFurence conventions? Do you have other friends in the furry world? Are there people in your life who don’t accept your furry side? Do you feel society should have a better understanding on what the furry world is all about? ONLY SUBMIT YOUR STORY IF YOU'RE WILLING TO APPEAR ON TV WITH DR. PHIL. Thanks for contacting the show!

My guess is that this will go the way of other such shows to feature furries.

Rootin’ Tootin’ Little Feline

Sheriff Callie’s Wild West is a new CGI animated TV series for preschool kids, coming soon to Disney Junior. Starring the voice of Mandy Moore (Tangled), it tells the story of Callie — a calico cat, the loyal and heroic sheriff of a little western town called Nice and Friendly Corners — and her friends and associates as they learn important little life lessons. There’s an article at Entertainment Weekly that includes a preview video of the show. Sheriff Callie’s Wild West is available now at WATCHDisneyJunior.com and the WATCH Disney Junior smartphone and tablet app. It debuts on the Disney Channel and Disney Junior in early 2014.


image c. 2013 Disney Junior

Review: 'My Little Pony: The Magic Begins', by Lauren Faust and Justin Eisinger

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (5 votes)

My Little Pony: The Magic Begins I feel that reviewing this is like preaching to the converted, but here goes.

If you have somehow missed out on the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic TV animation phenomenon so far, here is a good place to start. This book – and it is a cute little booklet, appropriate to the TV cartoon series; only 6.8” x 5” and brimming with color on glossy paper – is a graphic-novel adaptation of the two-part Friendship is Magic pilot episode broadcast on October 10 and 22, 2010. The story is by Lauren Faust, MLP:FIM’s creator, adapted into graphic-novel form by Justin Eisinger. Other credits are on the title page. This booklet consists of stills from the two TV cartoons with speech-balloon overlays; about as close to putting an animated cartoon onto paper as you can get. If you do not have a videotape or DVD of the first two episodes, this will enable you to have them.

IDW Publishing is the publisher of the MLP:FIM regular comic book, but this booklet is not a regular comic book. It is a cross between a standard American comic book and a Japanese tankōbon paperback, shrunk to about half-size, in glossy full-color on slick paper; more like the paperback photo-novels of Doctor Who, Star Blazers, or Star Trek episodes than a collection of comic-book issues.

“My Little Pony: The Magic Begins”, by Lauren Faust (author) and Justin Eisinger (adapter).
San Diego, CA, IDW Publishing, October 2013, trade paperback $7.99 (124 pages).

'Family Guy' kills off Brian Griffin

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (13 votes)

Brian Griffin Brian Griffin, the martini-drinking anthropomorphic dog from the animated series Family Guy, has been killed off. In the episode which aired on November 24, Brian was hit by a car and subsequently died from his injuries.

In the same episode (entitled Life of Brian), Stewie Griffin had dismantled his oft-used time machine, and was unable to reconstruct it to go back and save Brian. A month after Brian's funeral, the family get a new dog, Vinny, voiced by Tony Sirico.

Family Guy writer Steve Callaghan explained why they decided to kill off Brian:

Well, this was an idea that got pitched in the writers room and it sort of caught fire, and we thought it could be a fun way to shake things up. As soon as this idea came up, we started talking about what the next couple episodes could be and we got very excited about the way this change will affect the family dynamics and the characters.

Update: Some fans were, predictably, not happy with Brian's fate. The effectiveness of online petitions is debatable, but one has been set calling for Brian's return. As of now (Nov 26), it has just under 42,000 signatures.

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