*Checks around for Peter Laird*
Is he here? He’s not? *Breathes deep* Okay, let’s do this. Hello everyone, Uncanny Fox here, ready to continue my look at the Power Rangers crossover episodes with a review of that time the Power Rangers teamed up with the Ninja Turtles. Yeah, that happened. That’s the good news. The bad news, is that it was the Ninja Turtles from The Next Mutation.
*Checks for Laird again*
Still not here? *Exhales in relief* I have to be careful not to say the name of the show too many times. It’ll bring him here, descending from the sky with a katana in his hands like Sephiroth to impale anyone who dare mention it. Anywho, I’ll have plenty of time to talk about In Space next week, so for now I’m going to risk my life by discussing… The Show That Shall Not Be Named.
In 1997, between the failure of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III and the success of the 2003 series, the owners of the franchise sought to revive the brand by collaborating with Saban Entertainment on a live action series, taking the name from an unproduced fourth movie. Toted in some promotional material as a sequel to the ’87 cartoon, it instead seemed to be in a continuity all its own, albeit with some elements of the films, such as the Turtles living in a train station and Splinter having a bit of his ear cut off. On the other hand, Shredder was still alive, Casey and April were nowhere to be found, and there were plenty of new enemies, such as the demonic Dragon Lord, a crazy hunter played by Scott McNeil (the voice of pretty much all your favorite characters from Beast Wars, Wolverine in X-Men: Evolution, and Piccolo in the early dub of Dragonball Z), and a yeti gangster. All of this is true.
But that’s not what… this show is remembered for. I think you know what I’m talking about. No, the most noteworthy departure from the Turtles mythos is the introduction of a fifth, female Turtle named Venus de Milo.
*Checks for Laird one more time before continuing*
Venus was exposed to the same ooze the brothers (who aren’t really brothers in this version, apparently the producers wanted to set up a love triangle between Leo, Raph and Venus. Not sure how them being brothers stopped that, you could just as easily have the boys be related while she’s not) were, and was washed over to Chinatown. She was trained in the “mystical arts of the Shinobi” (which is just the Japanese word for “Ninja.” Meaning she technically would be learning the same stuff the others did) and served as a sort of “person who grew up in ancient/foreign society struggling to fit in 90’s America” role.
Now, this wasn’t a bad idea in itself, having a fifth Turtle who grew up separated from the others could lead to some interesting stories about what the others would be like had they been raised under a different master. And ninja magic is awesome. The problem was how Venus was written, serving as little else than a source of cheap comedy and overpowered Deus-ex-Machinas, such as mind-wiping Shredder in her first episode by simply repeating his name over and over. That, and most fans would argue that if the producers wanted to have a strong female presence in the show, they could have just used April.
Nonetheless, both the character and the show were poorly received due to cheesy writing and bad special effects (though to be fair, the Turtle suits are still better than the ones in III. Faint praise, I know), ending up cancelled after half a season due to poor ratings (and the last episode was a freaking clip show). Venus de Milo would never appear again in any other Turtles media, although her psychic abilities were more or less given to April in the ’12 show. A contributing factor in that is how divisive she proved to be with the series’ creators; Kevin Eastman either likes her or is indifferent, and Peter Laird apparently left Kevin Monroe specific instructions to not even joke about including her in TMNT. Heck, I’m taking a huge risk just saying her name. I wonder if there’s a limit, like Beetlejuice or Candyman?
Now, if I can go off topic for a moment, there’s actually a personal story from this show. Having been diagnosed with Asperger’s at an early age, I struggled with paying attention and controlling my emotions in class. To encourage good behavior, my parents came up with a reward system: a pair of lamented cards with smiley faces on them, one for the morning and one for the afternoon. If I was well-behaved throughout a certain half of the day, I would get a card to take home with me. And for each card I brought home (two in total), I could watch a show that was on TV (now back in my day Sonny, we had cartoons and stuff on TV after school at a set time, instead of just the dang news and Dr. Oz. Wasn’t like them kids nowadays watchin’ the Netflix anytime they want to on my lawn).
These two shows were Power Rangers and The Next Mutation. Since Power Rangers was basically my religion back then, that won out on the days I only brought one card back home, leaving Next Mutation for the top rung of the times I earned two. So yes, my reward for not freaking out in school was getting to watch this terrible Ninja Turtles show. In my defense, I was young and didn’t know better.
Back to the subject at hand, the show sucked and the ratings were down. So, in an effort to bring them up, Saban made a crossover episode between the Turtles and the then-current Power Rangers In Space early in that show’s run, leading us to the subject of this week’s review. Let’s take a look at “Shell Shocked,” the crossover between Power Rangers In Space and… the TMNT show I just talked about. Oh, and even though this crossover was set up in the previous episode, I’m just sticking to this one where the majority of it takes place.
The episode begins with a previously on segment detailing how Astronema came up with the idea to recruit the Turtles, followed by a cold open of the Heroes in a Half Shell up on the surface, investigating the strange summoning they received in the episode prior. Suddenly, Astronema (complete with dark purple hair, skin-tight leather and Predator gauntlets) and her cronies teleport down in front of them, and the Princess of Evil explains that she was the one who called them forth.
Venus recognizes her (this will make what we find out next all the more perplexing), and Mikey tries to flirt, but the literally pinheaded minion Elgar shoves him back as Astronema tells them that they’re going to help her destroy the Power Rangers. Raph walks up, kicks Elgar aside and tells her that the Rangers aren’t real, only characters in a comic book. No, that’s the Big Bad Beetleborgs. Plus, how come Venus knows Astronema is real, but you don’t know the Rangers are? I get that they live on the other side of the US, but giant monster attacks being thwarted by teenagers in multicolored spandex would make headlines all over the country. The Turtles may live in a sewer, but they still have TV. Although this issue isn’t exclusive to the Turtles, as later reviews will show…
Leo asks why they would want to destroy the Rangers anyway, and Astronema hammily replies that they now work for her… right before blasting them with mind-control energy to bend them to her will.
We then cut to the In Space intro, which rocks so hard it hurts. Or it would, if it wasn’t completely awesome. Everything about it, from the epic guitar riffs to Ron Wasserman’s gravelly vocals, is pure win. I especially like the countdown at the beginning, it really builds up the excitement for the rest of the song. It’s easily one of my all-time favorite Power Rangers themes.
The episode then picks back up on the Astro Megaship (think the Millennium Falcon if it could turn into a giant robot) in orbit around the Earth. In the hangar, the Rangers are checking out Andros’s Galaxy Glider (basically a rocket board from Back to the Future or Sonic Riders) as he’s giving it a brief tune-up. He pushes it back into the Launch Bay as he explains that the Gliders are for protecting the Megaship from attacks that the ship’s onboard defenses can’t deal with.
The ship’s AI, DECA, alerts the Rangers to a monster draining Angel Grove’s power supply, prompting the team to slide down the jump tubes leading to the Launch Bay, morph, and fly out of the Megaship on their Gliders as Andros talks them through riding them one more time.
They ride through the CGI Megaranger footage and over the city streets, arriving at the Power Plant. There they find the monster (an used one from Ohranger, the source footage for Zeo), who’s happily sucking away at city’s power supply as if he were Max Shreck’s capacitor. Luckily the Rangers dive down to cut his energy binge short, and Andros whips out his Spiral Saber to take him on mano-a-mano as everyone else sort of hangs back for a bit.
It’s worth noting that this is still early on in the season, as Andros is just getting used to working with others as a team. And as the show established in episodes prior, he’s not much of a team player, a first for the series that would be continued with the likes of Eric in Time Force. It’s only natural for him to try and rush the monster by himself, even though he doesn’t really get anywhere before the others step in. And at least he doesn’t give a big speech about the importance of teamwork before running off on his own, isn’t that right Jayden?
The others soon provide back-up, with the girls giving some aerial fire from their personal weapons. The Power Monster retaliates with an energy ball, knocking the Rangers back before making a lame pun about how they “got a charge out of that.” Even in the more serious seasons of Power Rangers, the show is still Power Rangers.
He readies another blast, but this one gets deflected by the Turtles, who teleport just in the nick of time to help. Leo tells the monster that “if he wants Rangers, he’ll have to go through Turtles,” and the monster is surprised that mutants exist. Yeah, there’s going to be tons of them come the year 3000.
Andros is confused as well (dude, you’re an alien, this shouldn’t come as a shock to you), but the others recognize them as the famous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Wait, how do the Rangers know who the Turtles are, despite their whole thing being living in a sewer and hidden from the rest of the world, but the Turtles not know the Rangers exist, despite them operating in the light of day and having giant robot battles that regularly make the front page? Maybe Dimietria knew about them and told the Rangers before she left for Eltar at the end of Turbo? But that still doesn’t change the fact that the Turtles should have known the Rangers existed…
Nonetheless, the Turtles charge into battle, catching the confused monster off-guard as the Rangers watch and Andros gives a Neo-esqe “Whoa.” Eventually, the monster tries his energy ball again, only this time Leo blocks it with his sword (he has just one in this version) and kicks it to Raph like a soccer ball (that’s not how energy works. I get that Venus has some kind of Ninja magic thing going on, but there’s no excuse for the rest of you), who in turn tosses it to Mikey, who balances it on his head long enough for Donnie to knock it over to Venus, who gives it a flying kick from above back at the monster, destroying him.
The Rangers run over to the Turtles and thank them for the assist, with Cassie surprised that the Turtles are real. So, they thought they were a myth. I still don’t know how they even heard of them in the first place… Anywho, Mikey tries flirting with Ashely, much to Andros’s annoyance. He’s somewhat suspicious as the others ask how the Turtles got to Angel Grove, or how they knew the Rangers needed help in the first place, but the Turtles shrug the questions off.
Donnie asks about the Megaship, which raises Andros’s red flags all the way up, and the Red Ranger jumps in after Mickey asks about giving them a lift back to New York. But despite his reservations, the Rangers agree to let the Turtles aboard as a “Thank You” for helping them out, and they all teleport up, unaware that their new friends are working for the enemy…
Up on the Megaship, the Rangers are giving the Turtles the grand tour, explaining to Donnie how they form the Megazord while Leo synthesizes a mini-pizza. I heard that goes great with a cup of Earl Grey Tea, hot. Donnie then takes Ashely aside and asks about DECA.
Meanwhile, Andros watches from the monitor in the Engine room and grows ever more suspicious of their new guests. Cassie walks in with Raph and Venus, explaining that the ship has the universe’s only Mega Accelerator. Raph asks how fast the ship can go, but DECA explains that such info is classified. Because she has to protect any spaceship’s deepest secret: how fast it can make the Kessel Run.
Alpha 6 (the updated and formerly street next model who replaced Alpha 5 in Turbo) gets on the loudspeakers to announce that the Megaship has reached New York (not sure why they needed to go into orbit for that), prompting Raph and Venus to head to the bridge to meet up with the others. Andros stops Cassie and wonders aloud why the Turtles are asking so many questions about the ship, but Cassie points out that not everyone grew up around spaceships. Sure, we know that the Turtles are secretly working for Astronema, but the Rangers don’t, and on the surface their questions are fairly innocent.
We then cut to an actually-kinda-scary first-person view of someone wandering the halls of the ship, past DECA and making their way towards the Main Computer Control. DECA peeks over as the stranger lifts the panel and starts tinkering with the wires inside.
She calls Andros and tells him what’s going on, and the Red Ranger drops everything and rushes off to stop them. But he’s too late, as whoever is doing this stars cutting wires, much to DECA’s objection. Andros finally arrives, and we see that it’s the Turtles who are messing with the computer, or as they put it, “giving her a better attitude.” DECA boasts that she’s “been certified Turtlefied” in a jive voice (apparently the Turtles got ahold of Alpha’s old personality chip), and Leo draws his sword in an attempt to take Andros prisoner.
The Red Ranger’s not going without a fight, however, and he takes on the Turtles, downing them with ease before making off to warn the others as the Turtles give chase.
Meanwhile, the ship suddenly switches course, much to the surprise of Alpha and the girls on the bridge. It turns out that the hijacked DECA has steered the ship away from Earth and lowered the defenses. Raph and Venus then announce that they’re the ones behind this, with the former announcing that the Megaship is now officially a “Green Machine.” Uh, it’s still blue, guys…
To make matters worse, Astronema, Elgar and a pair of Quantrons (easily the coolest grunts in Power Rangers history. Just look at those skull masks, and the V shaped shoulder pads…), teleport onto the bridge and move to take control. A fight breaks out, with more Quans coming out of an elevator and Alpha being taken prisoner. Ashely and Cassie are forced to flee, with the Turtles and Quantrons chasing after them.
Elsewhere, Carlos and TJ note that something fishy’s going on around here, right before they meet up with another squad of Quads. The Rangers put up a fight, but the baddies prove too strong.
Up on the bridge, Astronema squees over how clean the ship is before telling DECA to set a course for the Teonta Galaxy (where the main villain of the season dwells, more on him in a bit) and declares that no one be allowed to command the ship but her.
After a commercial break, Dark Specter (whose costume was actually recycled from the monster Malagore in Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie), the Bid Bad of this season and by extension all the ones before it, contacts Astronema for a report on her progress in destroying the Rangers. She cheerfully tells him that she’s not only taken them prisoner, but she’s also delivering him their ship on a silver platter so he can destroy them with their own Megazord.
Leo interrupts to point out that there is still one Rangers left unaccounted for, but Astonema shushes him (by covering up his nose, not his mouth) long enough for Dark Specter to order the Rangers brought to him and cut off the transmission. Once he’s gone, Astronema orders the Turtles to find Andros, or else she’ll throw them into the nearest black hole, a threat that comes up a lot in this season. Seriously, every time a villain fails or gets out of line, they’re going in the nearest black hole. I’m just surprised she didn’t toss Elgar in there five minutes into his arrival on her ship.
Elsewhere, the rest of the Rangers are tied up, as a Quantron gloats that they lost. Interestingly enough, this is actually one of the only times in the franchise that we hear a grunt talk. Most of the time it’s just grunting, the Putties’ “Boo-Ba-Lo-Bah,” or in the Quantrons’ case this weird computerized whiring. But as he walks away, TJ notices a pair of wire clippers floating towards them. It’s Andros, using his Jedi mind powers to cut the others loose.
He manages to do so just before the Quantrons have a chance to notice something going on. TJ lands a kick on the leader, sending him tripping toward his buddies and giving himself and the others an opening to escape to the jump tubes.
Back on the bridge, Astronema sees the Rangers fighting their way out on the nearby vidscreen and orders Elgar and the Turtles to hurry over and stop them.
The Turtles give chase, only to trip all over themselves as the Rangers make it to the hangar and slide down the tubes to their gliders. Leo suggests they jump in after them, but the others aren’t hearing it. Uh guys, you slide down manholes back home all the time, now you’ve got claustrophobia?
The Rangers take off in the Megashuttle (I guess the jump tubes lead there too), hitting Warp Speed to get away and come up with a plan to get the Megaship back.
And without the Megashuttle, there can be no Megazord, as Elgar points out to Astronema on the bridge. She orders the Turtles to go after them, and they reply by taking the controls of the Megaship and making a U-turn to follow the shuttle.
The chase leads to some kind of space nebula, as the Turtles get a clear sight of the Shuttle and Astronema orders them to lock all weapons on it. Uh, I’m sure if you destroy it, you definitely won’t be able to form the Megazord…
In the Megashuttle, Andros explains that the nebula is a Polarized Magnetic Field, and by flying through it they can jam the Megaship’s sensors. They go for it, and Astronema asks Mikey what the Field is. Wouldn’t she know? She’s lived in space her whole life just like Andros has. I do like Mikey’s response though, “You’re asking a turtle, who lives in a sewer, to explain a cosmic event?” Especially going to the idiot of the group for your answers. You could at least go to Donnie with that question.
Nonetheless, Astronema orders the Turtles to veer away, leading to another rough U-turn. But as they do so, some of the reverse-polarized energy hits the ship, which in turn hits the Turtles, somehow canceling out Astronema’s mind control and causing them to pass out.
When they wake up, they’re their old selves again, and not too keen on following Astonema’s orders anymore. Undeterred by this, the Princess of Evil orders DECA to self-destruct the Megaship, and teleports out with her remaining minions before Donnie and Mikey can pounce on them.
The Turtles celebrate getting their own spaceship, right before realizing that said spaceship is set to blow. Faced with certain destruction, they do what any brave heroes do… panic like a bunch of little kids. That’s right, I keep forgetting that these are the Turtles In Time Turtles.
Meanwhile, the Rangers land on the moon, now totally free of evil aliens (and I just noticed it also has vegetation in addition to a breathable atmosphere. Oh Power Rangers, never change), where they are greeted by Astronema and her cronies. She tells them that they left without saying goodbye, so she’ll say it for them. Which she does, right before sending her Quantrons to rip them to shreds.
Back in space, the Megaship is spinning out of control as the Turtles rush to the Computer Control from before and Donnie scrambles to undo what he did to it while under Astronema’s control. He can’t remember which wire he switched, until Venus does a Vulcan Mind Meld with him to jog his memory. It works, and he re-routes the wire just as DECA nearly finishes her countdown.
The battle on the moon continues, as Astronema breathes in the fight for a moment before tossing a boomerang into the crowded melee, hitting Ranger and Quantron alike. Uh, you do know that took out some of your people, right?
Anywho, a downed Andros reaches for his dropped Spiral Saber, only for Leo to pick it up. He and the rest of the Turtles stare the Rangers down for a tense moment… until he hands it back to the Red Ranger and declares that “the Green Machine has gone clean.” Uh, I’m pretty sure Green technology is already clean, but thanks for the reassurance.
Astronema orders her remaining Quantrons to attack, prompting a big fight set to rocking music (which kind of sounds like a cross between the In Space theme and the old ’80s Ninja Turtles one) in which the Rangers and the Turtles team-up to take on the robots. Cassie and Mikey go to work on a squad of them, while Donnie knocks a few down with his staff, until he gets outmatched and TJ makes a save. Elsewhere, Raph saves Ashely with a “Shellquake,” Venus and Carlos double team more Quans, one robot gets knocked out of the fight until Astronema shoves him back in (a good laugh), and Leo and Andros work together to deal with the rest.
When all is said and done, there’s a large pile of Quantrons in front of Astronema, who vows revenge before teleporting away. Now alone, the Turtles explain to the Rangers how the mind control was broken and Mikey flirts with Cassie and Ashley some more before Leo and Andros share a handshake and everyone celebrates their new friendship. Venus points out that it’s a long “spacewalk” (that’s another one of her Ninja Magic skills) back to New York, and TJ offers them a ride home.
After another commercial break, the two teams say their goodbyes, with Leo saying that the whole experience was a chance to “get out of the sewer and see the universe.” Except they didn’t really see much of it at all, they got to another galaxy. Anyway, the Rangers tell the Turtles to pop in anytime they want to see more of space, and the Turtles respond by inviting them into the sewer anytime they want to visit. Ashely and Cassie seem less than thrilled about that.
In any case, Donnie apologizes to DECA about reprogramming her, and she assures him that computers don’t hold grudges… right before she shocks him in the shell, which gets a laugh out of everyone. Mikey then makes one final request to the Rangers before he and his family leaves… take the Galaxy Gliders out for a spin, and the episode ends with the Turtles doing exactly that.
The preview of the next episode plays out (Andros fights Ecliptor, who was oddly absent in this episode despite being Astronema’s right hand man, on his homeworld and Bulk gets attacked by a space monster in an egg), then we get the credits and a series of bloopers from the moon fight, which include Cassie hitting her foot on a Quantron and cursing in Japanese, the Rangers and Turtles doing the Hokey-Pokey (which is really just some footage being looped and reversed), and the Rangers working up the nerve to go into the jump tubes.
So, now that we’ve finished talking about the story, on to Pros and Cons:
- The idea of the Power Rangers teaming up with the Ninja Turtles, even if it is a crappy version.
- The Turtles not knowing the Rangers exist, despite the fact they should be making national headlines by this point.
- The fact that this crossover involves The Next Mutation.
- The Turtles’ bad puns almost make Icenator look reasonable. Almost.
This was… a strange one. There’s nothing really wrong with the story on the surface (heh) but there’s a ton of little details that don’t really make much sense (such as the aforementioned “Rangers aren’t real” bit, Donnie reprogramming DECA by cutting a few wires, etc). And while I’ll always appreciate a good attempt to build an expanded universe, it’s kind of sad that Power Rangers chose to do this with shows that ultimately failed. Such as the case with the tragedy known as Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation. Maybe Boom Studios and IDW can collaborate on a crossover comic someday (Boom was able to get DC to work with them for the Justice League crossover, so anything’s possible), and give us a far better Power Rangers/TMNT team-up, but for now this peanut butter cup is a dud.
Nonetheless, this wasn’t the only crossover In Space had, far from it. But unlike most of the episodes I’ll be reviewing here, they didn’t exactly feature full teams, but rather one representative of the previous season and Mighty Morphin’/Zeo, respectively. And next week, we’re going to… wait, what’s that noise?
*Fox looks above his head to the frightening sight of Peter Laird, dressed in a Japanese kimono, diving down from above with a katana pointed downward*
Fox: [Panicking] Oh crap, I think I said it too many times…
Laird: [Yelling] DIIIIEEEEE!
Fox: [Panicking] Ohcrapohcrapohcrap!
*He dives out of his chair, causing Peter Laird to stab his sword at Fox’s keyboard*
Fox: Hey man, cool it! It’s not like I like Next Mutation!
*Laird glares at Fox with glowing red eyes. He then advances toward him, katana in hand*
Laird: [Growling] Next Mutation!
Fox: [Nervous] Uh, easy there Mr. Laird… [Pulls out a TMNT comic] Care to sign an autograph?
*Laird slices the comic in Fox’s hand*
Fox: [Upset] What do you want me to say? “Venus sucks?” Okay, Venus sucks!
Laird: [Growling] Venus! Venus!
*He starts swinging his sword around wildly, smashing and cutting everything in sight like he’s Kylo Ren*
Laird: [Roaring] VENUS! VENUS!
Fox: [Panicking] Oh crap! Oh crap! [Turns back to his computer and starts typing frantically] Next week, we’re looking at two more In Space crossovers with Justin and Adam. ‘Till then, I’ve been The Uncanny Fox. Live long, stay gold, and SEND HELP! I’M TOO YOUNG TO GO OUT LIKE THIS!
*Laird swings at Fox’s head some more, but he manages to dodge the strikes*
Laird: [Enraged] VENUS!!!!
Fox: [Running away] Ohcrapohcrapohcrap!