Still in season three, Volume 5 of the Ninja Turtles animated series on DVD continues with plots of alternate characters. Leatherhead, Rat King, Usagi Yojimbo, Casey Jones, and a group of cheap knock-off frogs all make their appearances, likely more for marketing reasons than variety. There are twelve episodes in this volume, and while none of the episodes are groundbreaking, it's a decent effort from Lionsgate given the time frame between releases.
It's still ridiculous these are being released this way instead of in appropriate season box sets, but for fans, any DVD release is welcome. Specific episodes like "Pizza by the Shred," in which the Turtles' arch nemesis Shredder sets up a pizza shop to lure them in, remain memorable. The majority of the plots are ridiculous upon looking back, particularly one where the Turtles' mentor Splinter quips they have a sickness that "only affects mutant turtles." It's amazing what you can learn as a sewer rat.
The animation remains fair, though the carelessness during the creation of these episodes is still prevalent. Two particular episodes have a different voice actor for Shredder, and it's blatantly obvious. Goofs involving the wrong turtles talking are still common, and failed attempts at spin-offs are grating. The four "ninja frogs" from a Louisiana swamp should have never been put on screen, and their obvious attempt to mimic the TMNT is blatant (each with their own colored clothes and weapons).
Still, nostalgia runs deep. Raphael constantly running his mouth with smart-ass remarks never gets old. The oddball ways the writers found around direct violence to keep it kid-friendly is also worth watching for. It's amazing how all four turtles have weapons yet barely ever use them to take out an enemy.
For all of its absurdities and eventual brutal downfall toward the end (especially after Shredder left and Michelangelo was stuck with a grappling hook), the series remains enjoyable for its target audience. Even those weaned on the darker, edgier style of the current animated series on Fox can have a good time, along with their parents who grew up collecting the action figures (and won't admit still having them in their attic). This DVD volume continues the release of these familiar episodes with little flair aside from a digital presentation.
On par with all four releases before it, this DVD collection suffers from excessive compression. It's expected when you attempt to cram over 380 minutes of footage on one side of a disc. It makes you long for entire seasons on multiple DVDs so this doesn't happen. Compression artifacts are so severe at times, it can be impossible to pick up on images deep in the background. That said, typical animation pitfalls like aliasing are rarely evident. The prints themselves are occasionally faded, though there's little damage to speak of.
Presented in stereo with little to discuss, the audio is mildly scratchy and washed out. It's not a severe problem, and it's only noticeable if you're concentrating on it. There's no use of the separate channels to convey motion, and your subwoofer will have the day off.
Extras are missing in their entirety, including the few trailers on previous editions. The artwork is again reused for the menus and cover, though, this time, the lenticular cover shows Raphael brandishing his sai. It's slightly attractive, though the cardboard outer sleeve holding that flashy piece of marketing clashes with the rest of the set on a shelf. (No stars)
Even with three DVDs on store shelves containing episodes from season 3, we're still 11 shows short of the complete season set. The third season contained a ridiculous 47 episodes, and since season 4 shoved in 39 of them, it makes you wonder how long it's going to take to release this full series on DVD. The format will more than likely be obsolete by that point since there are over 70 episodes waiting for release a dozen at a time.