Well, technically it arrived in a box from Amazon.com. One of the shittiest things about breaking up right before Christmas was having to return all the gifts I bought for my boyfriend (actually, the shittiest part was having to unwrap them first, then return them–do you know how depressing that was?), but hey, at least I got some money back…which I spent on myself. I’m considering it a consolation prize.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Classic Series Collection brings together all ten seasons–193 episodes in all–of the classic Fred Wolf TMNT cartoon, packaged in what is one of the coolest-designed DVD box sets I’ve ever seen–a replica TurtleVan! I’ve been lusting after this baby since it was announced back in August (that post is here), and know that a couple of you guys in The League also got this for Christmas, which means you made me insta-jealous, which means I decided I couldn’t live another day without having this in my life. It is my childhood, after all.
There’s a ton of reviews for this box set all over the internet, so I won’t bother adding to that noise with one of my own (I’m pretty biased anyway–you know I have nothing but unconditional love for my four green heroes). Instead I’m going to reminisce a little and tell you about the day the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles entered my life. It seems like such a trivial thing, but it’s one I will never forget.
It was the fall of 1988. I was in second grade. I used to get babysat by a woman who lived across the street from my parents, who had two kids around my age. She also watched a bunch of other kids from around the neighborhood and there was a good mix of boys and girls, with a few different grades between us. We were together as a group every school morning before the bus came and every afternoon until around six, or whenever our parents got home from work and were able to pick us up. That’s a lot of time to spend around other kids, and as you might imagine, we didn’t always get along. One of the things we frequently fought over that had the power to determine if we were going to get along on any given day was the TV: what to watch.
One afternoon, Jonathan, a boy who lived down the street from me and who was a few years younger, practically had a meltdown when the other kids wouldn’t let him put on his favorite show. Two of the kids (I won’t name names) were bigger and meaner than the rest of us, not to mention spoiled-rotten shitheads who always got their way. They said the show was stupid and teased Jonathan relentlessly for liking it, to the point that it made him cry. I had no idea what show Jonathan wanted to watch so badly (nor did I really care) and I never liked getting involved with Shithead #1 and Shithead #2, having been the subject of their ridicule more than a few times myself. In those situations I’d normally just go with the flow, to stay in The Shitheads’ good graces and hope to avoid becoming the target. But something about the whole thing just pissed me off that day. Jonathan was such a nice, sweet boy, and I knew The Shitheads were teasing him just to be dicks, not because there was anything else on TV they really wanted to watch. He was younger, smaller, and totally defenseless, and I felt bad for him. So I stood up for the little guy.
Well, you can imagine how they treated me after that–but hey, Jonathan got to watch his show. And I got stuck watching it with him. The Shitheads rounded up the other “cool” kids (of which I was no longer a part of) to go outside and play a game, declaring I wasn’t allowed to join them. But as it turned out, I soon wouldn’t care about their stupid game, or trying to impress The Shitheads ever again…because I had just been introduced to the greatest, most mind-meltingly cool show I had ever seen.
The show, of course, was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. To this day I still remember the exact episode: Enter the Fly. I can’t say for sure what exactly drew me in. Maybe it was the sheer absurdity/awesomeness of what I was witnessing–four green, wisecracking, pizza-loving turtles ninja-fighting against a giant mutated fly (not to mention flying a blimp). Maybe it was the seriousness of this particular episode’s plot, and how I in my eight-year-old innocence really thought April might die! But what’s more likely is that I fell in love, as so many kids my age did, with the personalities of the Turtles themselves. Leonardo’s bravery, Donatello’s genius, Raphael’s wit, Michaelangelo’s heart. I know it sounds cheesy, but the Turtles as we know them in that cartoon represent everything we wanted for ourselves as kids. Despite being outcasts, they were cool and likeable. They were smart. They were funny. They had these incredible abilities. They were the best of friends. They saved the day. In short, they were “The Good Guys.” They stood for something. All of this is apparent just from watching any single episode.
On that particular day, having gone through what I did, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were there for me in a way that nobody and nothing else was. I didn’t care that I had just alienated myself from the group or possibly jeopardized my neighborhood social status forever. I had done something I felt was the right thing to do and The Turtles were on my side for it. This all seems like a bunch of stupid kid stuff, I know, but when you’re eight years old, these things matter.
Things were never the same between me and The Shitheads again. That day was something of a turning point for me. It’s the day I decided I didn’t care how uncool I was for liking something that made me so happy. Did I know that single episode would lead to a life-long obsession with all things TMNT? No. I just knew watching the show made me feel good, and I couldn’t wait to find out all there was to know about these four green guys. On that day, and on many days since, I have made new friends because of TMNT. I learned to draw because of TMNT. I learned to try new things because of TMNT. I had a happier childhood because of TMNT.
Seeing this show for the very first time was the beginning of a passion that has brought nothing but good things into my life. And that’s the highest praise I could possibly give it.