Here they come!

The Ninja Turtles, ready to kick assHaving premiered September 12th, 1997 on the Fox Kids Network, the live-action Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation television series chronicled the further adventures of the TMNT following their first three movie outings. It quickly reached #1 on the Fox Kids countdown, striking down both the Power Rangers (who the Turtles had actually fought in the Power Rangers in Space TV show) and Beetleborgs shows. There had been a new movie, new action figure line, and new comic book series all in the works based upon NT:TNM (all dead now, post-cancellation). Turtlemania Round Two would have to wait until the 4Kids cartoon series debuted in 2003.


Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation had been pulled from Fox Kids’ summer 1998 line up for undisclosed reasons. It did not return in the fall. April O'Neil and Casey Jones were said to have been planned to have been included in the Second Season that never was.



Here's the skinny from Molly Bode of The Official TMNT Website:

We were all very surprised when Fox took the Turtles off the air. They did not even have the decency to tell us they were doing it. The first we found out about it was when someone sent me e-mail that it was not listed in their TV Guide. The only thing I can think of is that they took it off the air because they do not own it. They make more money showing something that they own. FoxKids and Saban are in a partnership. Anything on FoxKids has to be produced by Saban. Fox owns more of Power Rangers than TMNT.


And details from Dan Berger, also of The Official TMNT Website:

It was #1 for just about every week it aired on Friday afternoon. It never did better than #9 or #10 on Saturday morning (prolly because they were all repeats from the Friday shows, so everyone had already seen the episode). The basic problem is business... since Pete and Kevin own the TMNT, Fox isn't making all the money off the show... so while the show did well, it didn't do "gang busters". My opinion is that Fox hoped that a new TMNT show would be HUGE and bring viewers to their channel... but the show was only a marginal success on Saturday, and so Fox decided to can the show and run one that they owned completely. This is VERY typical of networks these days. They make more money off of marginal successes that they own in comparison to decent or marginal successes that they pay a licensing fee to.

Ah, but is there hope? Read this:


I called up FOX about the Turtle show and they say that it's not on the Fall schedule. I asked was the show cancelled they said NO. The Turtles show was the number one show on FOX. Fox said that they do not have the rights to air the show. That's what fox said to me today.

Christopher "Savanti Romero" King, re: the San Diego Comic Con:

What everyone wants to know about NTTNM: You are not going to like it. Fox Kids network attended the con on Sunday August 16, I was the only attendant at the conference and thus have no witness to the proceedings except those that I describe as I enterpret them to you. The conference was about 15 minutes late starting, scheduled for 1200 to 1330 or 1:30 as civilians tell it. They mentioned their new line up of cartoons and live action shows. If you want more info just personaly email me. I spoke with the assistant executive producer of scheduling (he claimed to be the executive producer of the show NT:TNM as well) NINJA TURTLES THE NEXT MUTATION will NOT be aired on Fox network again. According to the exec NTTNM was the highest costly show to produce and towards the last weeks of airing the ratings actualy dropped tremendously opposed to what Mirage was posting on their site. He further mentioned that the sets had been torn down and they would have to fork out even more production money to set them back up.

Christopher asked a FOX network exec a pivotal question:

Q - "What is being done about the petitions and websites on the web to save the show?"
A -"It doesn't matter what you petition or post to the web, we aren't making a profit and will not air or produce any more shows. I personaly enjoyed working with the crew and writers of the show but Fox isn't coming out even or better. I personaly was hoping for another season."


So I went back and talked with Kevin about what was said. YOU'LL like this. Kevin said that the sets were not torn down, in fact he said they were moved to LA [from] Vancouver. He wouldn't say much more than he didn't think the show was doomed. He did mention something about an animated version and I have a cell of this posted at the site I will send an addy for later tonight.

To go directly to an animation cell of the proposed animated Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (Roseangelo’s web site), click here

Donatello quietly reflects "Hmm... to be with Venus or not, that is the question. Damn..."

"Bring it on, chump!" Leonardo and Venus in the Realm of Dreams

Splinter The Dragonlord and Wicke


EPISODES AIRED: #1 (9-12-97), #2 (9-19-97), #3 (9-26-97), #4 (10-3-97), #5 (10-10-97), #6 (10-17-97), #7 (10-24-97), #8 (10-31-97), #9 (11-7-97), #10 (11-14-97), #11 (11-21-97), #12 (11-22-97), #13 (2-6-98), #14 (2-13-98), #15 (2-20-98), #16 (2-27-98), #17 (4-6-98), #18 (4-24-98), #19, #20, #21, #22, #23, #24, #25, #26

After a nighttime excursion on his new motorcycle, Raphael is ambushed by Foot and forced to defend himself. Splinter and the other Ninja Turtles (currently all 17 years of age) come to his aid. Afterward, the Foot follow their trail to their sewer home, soon leading a failed invasion under orders from Oroku Saki, the Shredder. Meanwhile, in Shanghai, China, Chung I and his "daughter" Mei Pieh Chi (to be later nicknamed ‘Venus DeMilo’) witness a temporal disturbance. Chung I discovers the Realm of Dreams has become unstable, the result of the Dragonlord and his kind’s efforts to break free and invade reality. He meets Splinter in the Realm of Dreams and warns him of this before falling to the Dragonlord’s assault. Before dying, he sends Mei Pieh Chi to America to save Splinter and meet her fellow mutant turtles. She does this, literally suspending the Turtles head over heels as she enters their sewer lair. They have a long talk, after which we learn that the Turtles (Venus included) are not related, establishing that not only is Venus not the Turtles’ sister, but that the Turtles aren’t genetic brothers. When Venus sees the Dragonlord tormenting Splinter in the Realm of Dreams she leaves the Turtles’ sewer lair, soon running into an attack by the Foot. With Raphael’s help she defeats them. After reading a fallen Foot Soldier’s mind and learning of a preemptive strike being planned against the Turtles’ home, the Turtles strike first, surprisingly the Foot Clan in their headquarters. Venus, exerting her Shinobi prowess, mentally forced Oroku Saki to face himself, causing him to fall in a catatonic fit. The Foot, now without a leader, apparently disband. Their master still in an out-of-body state, the Turtles, with Venus’ help, enter the Realm of Dreams, where they meet the Dragonlord (and his companion, Wicke). He frees their master (whom he had been holding) and let them return to Earth. As they do, however, he effectively "hitches a ride" with them and is able to enter Earth with his Rank warriors. The Turtles scuffle with the Dragonlord and his Rank, fleeing after Venus uses her powers on the Dragonlord. A short time later the Dragonlord dispatches a number of his Rank, bearing an alchemical solution that would give them unparalleled fighting powers, to capture the zoo animals necessary to make more of the solution in question. The Turtles intercept the Rank and manage to steal a sample of the solution, which Donatello proceeds to analyze. Falling into a trap concocted by the Dragonlord, the Turtles are ambushed in a downtown aquarium. When the Turtles realize and state that the solution the Rank use to give them strength is a hoax, the Rank lose their power, enabling the Turtles to best them all. They duel the Dragonlord into near-submission before he escapes with Wicke back to their building headquarters. The Dragonlord then uses his magic to reach into the past and retrieve an enchanted staff in the hopes of using it against the Turtles. As Venus begins to teach the Turtles of her chi Shinobi powers, the Dragonlord uses the staff to reverse her Shinobi magic and lure her into an ambush. The Dragonlord and his Rank are cast back to their HQ when Venus manages to repel the staff’s powers. The Turtles then rescue a turtle from being sold on the black market by a maniacal hunter, Bonesteel. A New York mob run by a humanoid gorilla mobster named Silver then pull a bank heist that the Turtles foil. Then, when Michaelangelo starts a pirate radio station, the Turtles organize an animal rights rave at a building they use. Bonesteel shows up and, with the help of some local gangbangers, unsuccessfully attempt to take down the Turtles. While attending a seminar hosted by Doctor Cornelius Quease, a scientist studying mutation, the Turtles watch Quease being abducted by Rank. Don goes on a rescue mission to get him back, though he finds the doctor to now be working for the Dragonlord. Silver attempts to have his revenge against the Turtles through a winning lottery ticket scam, but his efforts fall short and his legs are broken. Wicke and the Dragonlord then unsuccessfully attempt to capture Michaelangelo as he continues to utilize his pirate radio station. After the Turtles elude another capture attempt by Bonesteel, Venus DeMilo finds herself targeted by the vampiress Vam Mi, who, after being resurrected from a slumber of 70 years by her followers in China, looks for her heart, whom Venus DeMilo’s deceased master, Chung I, had removed from her body prior to its entombment. When Bonesteel attempts another capture operation, the Turtles use the persistant hunter’s traps to seal Vam Mi and her followers temporarily, giving them enough time to get away. The Turtles then, without the consent of Splinter or Venus DeMilo, attempt to give the heart of Vam Mi back to the vampiress. When they discover that Vam Mi and her followers intend to kill Venus after recovering the heart, they cease their offer, and combat both Vam Mi and Bonesteel. The fight ends when Vam Mi and her two followers become exposed to the rays of sunrise, forcing them to then flee their attempted recovery of Vam Mi’s heart. The battle continues when Bonesteel takes Vam Mi’s heart, forcing a battle between Bonesteel, Vam Mi (who now only has 24 hours to get it back), and the Turtles. In the end, the Turtles recover the heart and lock it in a safe. Vam Mi, in frustration, summons the Elemental Vampire to retrieve her heart. She is taken to where the Turtles keep her heart in the sewers, but her attempt fails and she crumbles to dust as she is exposed to the rising sun. Her servants retrieve her ashes. Meeting up with Dr. Quease and the Dragonlord again, Donatello is turned on the others. Then, as a displaced Raph threatens to leave his companions, Venus and the others sway him back by reliving their experiences.


In a battle of mistaken foes, the Ninja Turtles were put under the spell of a Power Ranger villain, Astronoma, who used them to take control of the Power Rangers’ megaship. The Turtles then fought the Power Rangers, securing the ship. When the ship passed an anomaly, the Turtles were brought from their spell and turned against their seductress, then aiding the Power Rangers. In the end, the two parties parted on good terms and the Turtles were returned to New York, but not before playing with some Power Ranger toys. About as close as you can get to your stereotypical "two teams meet, one team thinks the other is the bad guys, they fight, and then join forces to fight a common evil" crossover, but fun to watch for its shear irony.


Take heart, the Turtles are back on the screen. Right? With the debut NT:TNM now long behind us, much about the series now becomes clear. While the show does try to stay true to the "harder edge" of the original TMNT movie as Mirage claimed it would, though only at times, much of the grittyness and stylized action scenes have been replaced with campy one-liners and goofiness ala the disastrous Batman and Robin movie. Members of the Foot Clan now refer to the Turtles as "toitles," and Shredder is now leaning dangerously close to his whining, pouting, and irritating cartoon counterpart. Cartoony sound effects are dubbed in for action scenes, providing painful reminders of how annoying unnecessary campiness can be. In short, NT:TNM is indeed done in the Power Rangers/Beetleborgs/VR Troopers style, and is clearly aimed at young kids. I hope this does not come off as being overly negetive, as the show did have a great deal to offer and can be very enjoyable. Despite the above, I do feel there is still enough of the original TMNT movie in the show to not simply write it off as a Power Rangers clone. If you enjoyed the movies at all you’d likely enjoy NT:TNM.


The Ninja Turtles take a moment

Venus DeMilo, AKA Mei Pieh Chi, preparing to use her Chi powers

We know enough about the new Ninja Turtles, but there was much secrecy surrounding the origin of Venus DeMilo (whose real name is Mei Pieh Chi), the long fabled "Female Turtle" for much time. Apparently, when the Turtles’ bowl crashed into the bottom of a Manhattan sewer in the origin story I’m sure we’re all well aware of, there was already a fifth turtle in the bowl. After they came into contact with the TGRI mutagen, the fifth turtle was washed away into Chinatown, where it was found by a martial arts master, Chung I. He then took the turtle to Shanghai, China and cared for it as it matured. Naming the female turtle Venus DeMilo, the master was later killed by the Dragonlord (not to be confused with the Warlord Komodo villain of the same title in the Image comic) almost twenty years later, leaving her with the benefits of his tutelege and the cryptic instructions to go to a certain Manhattan sewer in America.

Venus DeMilo poses for the cameraVenus (played by Nicole Parker) meets up with her New York fellow Turtles after her dying master, already possessing knowledge of the Ninja Turtles’ existence through the periodic dream encounters he’d shared with Splinter, gives her the above instructions and she runs into them. She evidently possesses mystical powers of a sort from her Shinobi strength, making her able to shoot "fireballs" from her hands and such.

A key point to note is that Venus is not the Turtles’ sister. This has been cemented by the second episode of NT:TNM, in which Leonardo clearly states that the Turtles are not related (hence, not genetic brothers)—Venus included. This leaves Venus DeMilo open as a potential love interest for the other Turtles.

Interestingly enough, it seems the Fox Kids Network forced Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird into including Venus in the series. Apparently vehemently opposed to the concept of a female Turtle, they ceded to Fox’s demands only in the interests of making the new show happen, which it otherwise wouldn’t have (at least on Fox). When inquired as to whether or not an Image Comics version of Venus would be introduced into the comic series, Erik Larsen noted Peter Laird’s frank response: "Over my dead body." It looks like Kevin has changed his mind about Venus, and it now seems that Venus was his brainchild from the beginning—he just didn’t want it widely known that he had gone back on his word about "no female Turtles."

Some interesting tidbits and facts about the new show:

For an extensive gallery of photos from the set of the NT:TNM series, check out the pic gallery at Mirage’s Official TMNT Website here.

Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation showed weekdays at 4:00 PM on Fox, but is now off the air. Currently only the first 5 episodes of NT:TNM are available for purchase in the United States, and only on VHS.


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