Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season 3 (1989)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
Genres: Animated Action, Animated Comedy, Animated Television, Animation, Children's / Family, Sci-Fi Adventure, Superhero Show, TV Sci-Fi & Fantasy
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Movie Connections:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
> Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:... (1987)
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7.9 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Crispy
Added: February 23, 2015
After the second season assuaged my fears that I wasn't pissing on my childhood by popping in the DVDs of this old cartoon, I eagerly jumped into the massive, 47-episode third season.

By this point, the series was completely episodic, so there's not much in the way of an over-arching seasonal plot. All you need to know is that Krang's technodrome has been stranded at the Earth's core with its tanks on E. The grand majority of episodes deal with Shredder and his minions using subterranean modules to travel to the surface looking for fuel sources. Along the way, the turtles will meet new faces. Some good, some evil. Some will keep popping up, some are just one and done. Most importantly though, they've learned how to contain the episodes. Unlike the second season where an episode felt like a dropped plot line, episodes either have a solid ending or they'll go back in a later episode and reference the new character or situation. Fortunately, it's not like they're bogging down the show with new characters. I mean, the infamous Casey Jones is introduced in this season, and he only got two or three episodes, but it's enough to establish the character. Don't forget, this show's primary purpose was selling action figures, and this technique works very well towards that end.

Season three and the franchise has comfortably found it's niche. I mentioned in the last season's review that the series was moving away from comedy, and that's in full force here. Yeah, there are still fight scenes, but by and large the show is more worried about making you laugh. The fourth wall has been reduced to rubble, and a huge percentage of the dialogue is made up of sarcastic retorts. Sure, most fans will remember Raphael in this role, but I tell you, Krang was a close second. Speaking of the bad guys, Shredder, Rocksteady and Bebop have been reduced to complete incompetence. While I admit I would have preferred villains that actually posed a threat, this didn't ruin the show. It's just another factor shifting it away from action and towards comedy. By this point, they're far from the only villains however. Baxter the Fly was able to return from his inter-dimensional exile and the mutagen that created last season's Punk Frogs has also yielded the Cajun gator Leatherhead. There's also Don Turtelli, a gangster with a tickling fetish, and my personal favorite, the Rat King. Adding even more variety to the mix is that these criminals tend to form short-lived alliances to shake things up.

Unfortunately, as far as production goes, this is the worse season yet. The animation isn't as crisp as it used to be, and they've cut a lot of corners. Background animation is reduced to GIF-like loops and some static scenes just use a still-shot and aren't animated at all. It's a noticeable drop from seasons past. Hell, one episode is just a summation of the first two seasons. It's a little surprising considering Turtle Mania was in full swing by now. You'd think at this point they were making enough returns to warrant keeping it at a high quality. Also, there's more than a few episodes where the usual voice cast wasn't available and they had to call in for replacements. Simply put, they weren't up to par. In particular, Greg Berg's Donatello and Thom Pinto's Raphael totally missed the mark. Adding insult to injury, it seemed like the episodes with these pretenders tended to focus more on those characters. You would think they'd want to move them into the background and cover up the discrepancy.

Once again, twenty-eight year old me and four-year-old me were in perfect agreement. Just about every episode was an absolute ball, and I definitely enjoyed reliving my childhood. 8/10.
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