Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation
|Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation|
|Based on||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
by Kevin Eastman
|Country of origin||United States
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||26|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Saban Entertainment
|Original channel||Fox Kids|
|Original run||September 12, 1997 – March 20, 1998|
Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation is an American live-action television series produced by Saban Entertainment, which ran on the Fox Kids network from 1997 to 1998. The short-lived series was based loosely from Mirage Studios' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As of September 16, 2011, the series is currently distributed by Saban Brands, as Saban has recently regained the rights to the show from Disney.
The series introduced many new elements to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles saga, including a female mutant turtle called Venus de Milo (named after the famous statue) and new central antagonists, an army of humanoid dragons known as "The Rank" led by the vicious Dragonlord.
The series was touted (in some of the promotional material) as a continuation of the 1987 TV series, but by the period of time it aired it became apparent that this was not the case. Instead, the series apparently followed the continuity of the live-action films. The Turtles lived in the same abandoned train station featured in the second and third films, and Splinter's ear is slashed as it was in the original film. However, the films and the series display differing styles, Shredder being alive (and no longer Super Shredder), and the absence of April O'Neil and Casey Jones. In a departure from other TMNT continuities, Leonardo states in the second episode that the Turtles are not blood-related, while other media either explicitly states that the Turtles are biological siblings or avoids the issue altogether.
Other notable differences were found in the Turtles' weapons; Leonardo carried one double-bladed ninjatō instead of two katana (though he was shown to own two in a few episodes); Raphael's twin sai could combine to make a staff; and because nunchaku are outlawed in several places, Michaelangelo's signature weapon in this series was a pair of tonfa. Similarly, the name of the series was amended in several countries to Hero Turtles: The Next Mutation under censorship ruling.
Turtles and allies
- Leonardo (portrayed by Gabe Khouth, voiced by Michael Dobson)
- Donatello (portrayed by Richard Yee, voiced by Jason Gray-Stanford)
- Michelangelo (portrayed by Jarred Blancard, voiced by Kirby Morrow)
- Raphael (portrayed by Mitchell A. Lee Yuen, voiced by Matt Hill)
- Splinter (portrayed by Fiona Scott, voiced by Stephen Mendel)
- Venus de Milo (portrayed by Nicole Parker, voiced by Lalainia Lindbjerg)
- Chung I (portrayed by Tseng Chang, voiced by Dale Wilson)
- Shredder (portrayed by Patrick Pon, voiced by Doug Parker) – The Shredder appeared in the five-part episode "East Meets West" when he and the Foot Ninjas discovered the Turtles' hideaway. When Venus de Milo came into view, she uses her shinobi abilities to defeat the Shredder presumed for good and the Foot was disbanded. His alias of Oroku Saki was later found on the streets when Dragon Lord's soldiers attack him in order to obtain a ninja amulet. After Dragon Lord's forces were busy fighting the Turtles, Oroku Saki was defeated and later seen in a deserted alley with the amulet in his possession where he has appeared to have unlocked the power of the ninja amulet and laughs maniacally. Yet the series was cancelled before another season revolving around this can be made.
- Dragon Lord (portrayed by Gerald Wong, voiced by Christopher Gaze) – Leader of the Rank and the King of all Dragons. He and his forces were trapped in an enchanted glass years ago and have now escaped. Dragon Lord was the first evil dragon, and his charisma lead to other dragons joining him, and thus the banishing of his entire race.
- Wick (portrayed by Adam Behr and Bill Terezakis, voiced by Lee Tockar) – A small dragon who is Dragon Lord's sidekick. He once drank a power potion he created by accident, temporarily gaining a deep, echoing, English voice along with new powers.
- Rank Lieutenant (portrayed by Andrew Kavadas) – The head of Dragon Lord's army. He is distinguished from the other by his violet hood.
- The Good Dragon - Member of the Rank, who has a heart of gold. He saved Venus from an attack from the Lieutenant, ultimately decided to exile himself back into the enchanted glass until Dragon Lord is defeated or he amasses an army of good dragons to rebel against him - "either way, I'll be back."
- Dr. Cornelius Quease (portrayed by Simon Webb) – A world renowned scientist and expert on mutation, and other fields. Donatello is a big fan of his, and once worked with him on a device that could have re-imprisoned the dragons. He attempts to create various weapons to defeat the turtles; however, Dragon Lord's ego and desire to consume the turtles usually causes them to backfire. He is also quite insane, and an egomaniac. The Dragon Lord refers to him as a "master of the new magic" AKA science. After joining the Dragon Lord, Quease adds a yellow labcoat to his outfit, along with red gloves.
- Silver (portrayed by Gary Chalk) – The last of the Yetis. Instead of living on top of the mountain, he makes his life by going into the crime business and starting a gang of humans who think of him as the smartest boss around. He can't spell, but is otherwise more sophisticated than his moronic henchmen.
- Monkey Thief Mick (portrayed by Michael Dobson) – One of Silver's henchmen.
- Monkey Thief Dick (portrayed by Ronnie Way) – One of Silver's henchmen.
- Simon Bonesteel (portrayed by Scott McNeil) – A deranged big game hunter who specializes in hunting endangered animals. He has collected things off of endangered animals like elephant ivories, baby seal pelts, dolphin hides, and mountain gorilla skulls. He considers the Ninja Turtles endangered species as well since there are only five of them. Bonesteel possesses a paranoid, anti-social personality and is known to give his weapons female names; he even talks to his weapons, and can be tricked with enough word play. In the four-part episode "Unchain My Heart," Simon Bonesteel is also known for hunting supernatural creatures when it came to Vam-Mi and her vampire henchmen; he twice tries forging alliance with them, succeeding with capture and threat of sunlight.
- Vam-Mi (portrayed by Kira Clavell, voiced by Saffron Henderson) – A 10,000-year-old female vampire from China. She was previously defeated by Chung I who tore out her heart plunging her into a long sleep. Her henchmen Bing and Chi Chu used a magic potion to awaken her; however, it was a blunder on Chi Chu's part out of missing her, since unless Vam-Mi's heart was returned within 96 hours, she would turn into sludge and never be awoken again. The Turtles used Vam-Mi's link to her heart to lure her into a trap, where they reduced her to dust with sunlight; Chi Chu and Bing collected the ashes, but decided against reviving her again.
- Bing (portrayed by Justin Soon, voiced by Colin Musback) – A male vampire and one of Vam-Mi's henchmen, his appears to be the age of a child.
- Chi Chu (portrayed by Lauren Attadia, voiced by Sherry Thorson) – A female vampire and one of Vam-Mi's henchmen, she appears to be the age of a child.
|1||"East Meets West, Part 1"||September 12, 1997|
|2||"East Meets West, Part 2"||September 19, 1997|
|3||"East Meets West, Part 3"||September 26, 1997|
|4||"East Meets West, Part 4"||October 3, 1997|
|5||"East Meets West, Part 5"||October 10, 1997|
|6||"The Staff of Bu-Ki"||October 17, 1997|
|7||"Silver and Gold"||October 24, 1997|
|8||"Meet Dr. Quease"||October 31, 1997|
|9||"All in the Family"||November 7, 1997|
|10||"Trusting Dr. Quease"||November 14, 1997|
|11||"Windfall"||November 21, 1997|
|12||"Turtles' Night Out"||November 28, 1997|
|13||"Mutant Reflections"||December 5, 1997|
|14||"Truce or Consequences"||December 12, 1997|
|15||"Sewer Crash"||December 19, 1997|
|16||"Going Ape"||January 9, 1998|
|17||"Enemy of My Enemy"||January 16, 1998|
|18||"King Wick"||January 23, 1998|
|19||"The Good Dragon"||January 30, 1998|
|20||"The Guest"||February 6, 1998|
|21||"Like Brothers"||February 13, 1998|
|22||"Unchain My Heart, Part 1"||February 20, 1998|
|23||"Unchain My Heart, Part 2"||February 27, 1998|
|24||"Unchain My Heart, Part 3"||March 6, 1998|
|25||"Unchain My Heart, Part 4"||March 13, 1998|
|26||"Who Needs Her"||March 20, 1998|
Power Rangers crossover
Outside of The Next Mutation, the Turtles also guest-starred alongside the Power Rangers in Power Rangers in Space. The end of the episode "Save Our Ship" leads directly into "Shell Shocked," where the Turtles are summoned and brainwashed by Astronema to fight the Rangers. Her control over them is later broken, and they team up with the Space Rangers to battle Astronema's forces. Before returning to New York, the Turtles have one request from the Rangers: space surfing on the Galaxy Gliders.
Venus de Milo
The show's most notable contribution to the Turtles mythos was a fifth mutant turtle, a female named Venus de Milo (initially named Mei Pieh Chi), was skilled in the mystical arts of the shinobi and wears a light blue mask that was braided in the back, giving the appearance of a ponytail. Venus was portrayed by Nicole Parker and voiced by Lalainia Lindbjerg.
Venus de Milo only appeared in The Next Mutation. In a 2007 interview, director Kevin Munroe elaborated on the instructions Peter Laird gave to him for TMNT. Munroe admitted that among those rules was, "there’s absolutely no mention of Venus de Milo, the female Turtle. You can’t even joke about that with Peter. It’s just one of those things that he hates with a passion."
The show was cancelled in the summer of 1998, despite solid ratings. The cancellation of the show marked the first time that the Turtles were off TV screens for a protracted period since the animated series debuted in 1987. A new animated series would eventually begin airing in 2003.
Home video releases
The five-part pilot episodes were released in a heavily edited VHS compilation shortly following the series premier.
The complete series of the "Hero Turtles" version was released on DVD in the UK by Jetix Films. The series in divided between two volumes, containing three discs each. Volume 1 was released in July 2007 and Volume 2 was released in February 2008. Some foreign territories have released the full-length form of episodes in their native languages, including Germany, France, Israel, Poland and Italy. Shout! Factory released the first volume of Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation on DVD on September 4, 2012. On December 4, 2012 Shout! Factory released the second volume on DVD.
- Ninja Turtles The Next Mutation Volume 1 (Episodes 1- 13)
- Ninja Turtles The Next Mutation Volume 2 (Episodes 14- 26 plus the two cross-over episodes from Power Rangers in Space)
In the United States of America, the show first aired from 1997 to 1998 on Friday afternoons on Fox Kids at 4:30 p.m.
In June 2013, the United States broadcast rights to Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation were held by The Hub, which aired the show on Saturday afternoons in 2013.
The series received mixed to negative reviews. Randy Miller III of DVD Talk said "It's far from the best incarnation of TMNT, but The Next Mutation has a goofy Power Rangers vibe that younger audiences might enjoy."
David Johnson of DVD Verdict said "The first thing that immediately jumps out at us is the live-action format. Taking a cue from the fun-to-ridiculous-to-boring feature films, Ninja Turtles dispenses with the usual animation and suits up the stunt guys in rubber get-ups and turns them loose. At first glance it's sort of cool, and certainly brings back memories of the days of Corey Feldman-voiced shenanigans. But the cheapness of the production eventually catches up with the show. The turtle costumes look odd, particularly the masks, which appear to be molded out of whatever Gumby is made of. The opponents, be they Foot Clan or others looks less like legitimate threats to turtle well-being and more like your neighbor's weird kid and his friends LARPing in the backyard. When a moderately-budgeted feature film series is unable to figure out how to make Splinter not look like a Muppet with rickets, it's no surprise this shoestring kids show can't stick the landing either."  Jacob Strickland of Review master described the show by saying "It's like having sex with a donkey on crack. And no I'm not overreacting." 
- "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles On TV". IGN. Retrieved 2010-08-15.
- "Programming Catalog: Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation". MarVista Entertainment. Retrieved September 16, 2011.
- "Cynopsis: Kids! 09/19/11". Cynopsis. September 19, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2011.
- Pickard, Michael (September 16, 2011). "MarVista picks up live Turtles". C21Media. Retrieved September 19, 2011.
- Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation at the Internet Movie Database
- [dead link]
- "Director Kevin Munroe on TMNT". Animated-Views.com. April 9, 2007. Retrieved April 17, 2007.
- "TMNT: The Rennaissance [sic] Reptiles Return". Kung Fu Magazine. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
- Lambert, David (June 8, 2012). "Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation – Saban's Live-Action Show Comes to DVD from Shout! Factory". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved June 8, 2012.
- Lambert, David (September 7, 2012). "Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation – Shout! Finishes the Live-Action '97 Series on DVD this December". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
- Allstetter, Rob (August 1997). "The Turtles Get a Gal". Wizard (72). p. 120.
- RTÉ Guide: 10–16. December 1998.
- "Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, Volume One : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Dvdtalk.com. Retrieved 2013-09-06.
- "DVD Verdict Review - Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, Volume 1". Dvdverdict.com. 2012-10-25. Retrieved 2013-09-06.
- "DVD Verdict Review - Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation,". Reviewmaster.com. 2011-09-25. Retrieved 2013-12-06.
- Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation at the Internet Movie Database
- NextMutation.com, unofficial Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation site with forum.
- TVShowsOnDVD.com, vote for Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation to be released onto DVD.
- NinjaTurtles.com, the official TMNT website.
- Henshin! Talk, a message board to discuss Superhero shows.
- View episodes