In late 1987, CBS executives took a chance on an obscure Ireland based animation studio’s decision to adapt an independent comic series to television format. Produced solely as a requirement put forward by Playmates Toys before producing a line of action figures for the comic’s characters, the original five episode miniseries was toned down significantly from the comic’s equal measures of gritty and silly elements into something more kid-friendly. Add in a nonsensical but catchy theme song, a few new villains, some lame jokes about pizza, and a handful “radical” eighties catchphrases, and the mini-series was ready.
Airing over the course of a single week in mid-December, a time normally dominated by Christmas movies, the show likely wasn’t expected to perform outstandingly well. Fortunately for children everywhere, the response to the show was overwhelmingly positive. An instant hit, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ballooned from the original 5-episode mini-series into a pop-culture phenomenon with almost two hundred episodes. Ten consecutive years on the air is impressive for any television show, especially a children’s Saturday morning cartoon show.
Even after the original series’s conclusion in 1996, the turtles remained popular with both old fans and younger children introduced to the series through reruns or video releases. Their continuing popularity and recognition as an animation classic paved the way for a second series running for another eight seasons. Though the new series had a slightly edgier feel, it still remained at heart a family friendly cartoon, mostly gaining this extra “edginess” by making the villains a bit less bumbling and the turtles themselves a bit more fleshed out emotionally. Overall, most fans of the old show tend to recognize the newer cartoons as a worthy successor.
teenage mutant ninja turtles,