Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (abbreviated to NT:TNM) or Saban's Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation is a live-action television show that ran from 1997 - 1998 on Fox Kids. It was produced by Saban Entertainment. The Turtles made a special appearance on Power Rangers in Space: in the episode Shell Shocked but were first introduced at the end of the episode Save Our Ship. The short-lived series was based loosely from Mirage Studios' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The series introduced many new elements to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles saga, including new central antagonists, an army of humanoid dragons known as "The Rank" led by the vicious Dragonlord. It 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 turned apparent that this was not the case. Instead, the series apparently followed the continuity of the first three 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, most fans tend to regard the films and the series as two separate entities, citing differing styles, The Shredder being alive (and no longer Super Shredder), the absence of April O'Neil and Casey Jones.
In the second episode, Leonardo states that the turtles are not biologically related, which is indeed different, as other forms of TMNT media either avoid the issue altogether or explicitly state that they are blood relatives.
The most prominent new element was the inclusion of a female mutant turtle called Venus de Milo; named after the famous statue. 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
The show never caught on and was canceled after one season of 26 episodes. The characters of April O'Neil and Casey Jones were said to appear in the canceled 2nd season.
Episodes can be viewed here.
- Leonardo: Gabe Khouth
- Voice of Leonardo: Michael Dobson
- Donatello: Ricard Yaw
- Voice of Donatello: Jason Gray-Stanford
- Raphael: Mitchell A. Lee Yuen
- Voice of Raphael: Matt Hill
- Michaelangelo: Jarreed Blancard
- Voice of Michaelangelo: Kirby Morrow
- Mei Pieh Chi/Venus de Milo:Nicole N. Parker
- Voice of Venus: Lalainia Lindbjerg
- Master Splinter: Fiona Scotty
- Voice of Splinter: Stephen Mendel
- Chung I: Chong Tseng
- The Space Rangers (only in Power Rangers in Space)
- Dragonlord: Gerald Wong
- Voice of Dragon Lord: Christopher Gaze
- The Rank
- Silver: Gary Chalk
- Shredder: Patrick Pon
- Foot Clan
- Dr. Quease: Simon Webb
- Bonesteel: Scott McNeil
- Wick: Adam Behr, Bill Terezakis
- Voice of Wick: Lee Tockar
- Monkey Thief Mick: Michael Dobson
- Monkey Thief Dick: Ronnie Way
- Rank Lieutenant: Andrew Kavadas
- VamMi: Kira Clavell
- Voice of Vam-Mi: Saffron Henderson
- Bing: Justin Soon
- Chi Chu: Lauren Attadia
- Voice of Chi Chu: Sherry Thorson
- Astronema (Only in Power Rangers in Space)
- Ecliptor (Only in Power Rangers in Space)
- Elgar (Only in Power Rangers in Space)
- Quantrons (Only in Power Rangers in Space)
Venus de MiloEdit
The most interesting contribution the show made to the Turtle's mythos is a fifth mutant turtle, Venus de Milo (initially named Mei Pieh Chi). Venus, a female, is shown as being an adept of the mystic arts of the Shinobi and wears a light blue mask that was braided in the back, giving the appearance of a ponytail. Her fighting style sometimes resembles Kung Fu more than Ninjutsu. Venus is a controversial character and many fans didn't like her. Venus was portrayed by Nicole Parker and voiced by Lalainia Lindbjerg.
At the time, many fans believed that Venus was created by Fox and Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were forced to use her. Others say that Kevin Eastman created the character because he has a positive opinion of her. Either way, Peter Laird does not like Venus and removed her profile from the official site, but it has since been restored.
Power Rangers crossoverEdit
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.
The show was cancelled in the summer of 1998. 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.
There appears to be some debate over what led to the cancellation of the show. While some say that the ratings were lower than the network wished for the show, others say the ratings were on target, but production costs for the show were too high. There is also thought that Fox canceled NT:TNM for another show entirely, but as yet, there has been no confirmation as to what the true reasoning behind the show's abrupt end truly is.
DVD ReleaseEditThe complete series of the heavily-edited "Hero Turtles" version has been released on DVD in the UK by Jetix Films. The series in divided between 2 Volumes, containing 3 discs each. Volume 1 was released in July 2007 and Volume 2 was released in February 2008. At the moment there is still no plan for any US release. However, some foreign territories have released the full-length form of episodes only in their native languages, including Germany, France, Israel, Poland and Italy.
In 2012, Shout! Factory obtained the license to release DVDs on many of Saban Entertainments' productions, including Next Mutation, in the United States. The first 13 episodes was released March 2012 listed as "Volume One". Later, in October of the same year, the "Volume Two" was released with the last 13 episodes and include as "Bonus Features" the official music video of the series and the Power Rangers in Space crossover episodes "Save Our Ship" and "Shell-Shocked".
Second Season Edit
According to TV.Com's NT:TNM page, had there been a second season, April and Casey were to return to the Ninja Turtles universe, and Shredder would have returned either to join forces with Dragon Lord or be at war with him. There would have also been a storyline involving the government discovering the turtles, and hunting them down, possibly ending with the death of a family member, most likely Splinter.
- This series featured two vehicles; a jeep and a motorcycle. Mikey drove the jeep while Raph drove the motorcycle.
- On the closing credits (and a promo ad for the series), you'll see the TMNT playing as a band (Raph and Leo on guitars with Don on bass and Mikey on drums).
- The show was shot and produced in Canada. In fact, in the episode "Going Ape", there is a sign pointing to Ontario.
- In initial promotional footage for the series, Leonardo's headband color was changed to yellow.
- The story of The Next Mutation was later continued in the "Turtle Tracks" letter column of the official website.