WANTED: BEBOP & ROCKSTEADY Brings Classic 80s Turtles Back to the Nick TMNT Universe

Epic crossover hits DVD in advance of TV airdate, seamlessly merges 3 episode arc into an hourlong mini-movie.

The next Nickelodeon TMNT DVD, Wanted: Bebop & Rocksteady, will release on September 12. The DVD includes that 3-episode arc as well as an additional episode, Lone Rat and Cubs.

Wanted: Bebop & Rocksteady

The series’ next story arc makes its debut on DVD in advance of its TV appearance. Wanted is another crossover between the current generation Turtles and the 80s toons, and a sequel of sorts to Season 4’s “Trans-Dimensional Turtles” episode.

(To simplify the confusing setup, I’ll refer to characters from the current TV series simply by their names, and differentiate the 80s versions).

In their bid to conquer all dimensions, the 80s versions of Shredder and Krang visit a parallel universe — the current TMNT show — to steal a MacGuffin weapon to, short version, to destroy our world. They hire the current iterations of Rocksteady and Bebop, who are unemployed and directionless after recent events, to aid their quest.

Naturally the 80s turtles soon show up on the trail of their villains, and get clobbered by the new and improved henchmen, completely unprepared to handle their firepower and brute force. The show pokes plenty of fun at the kid-friendly 80s turtles as wacky goofballs with no actual martial arts skills or fighting prowess.

There’s a lot to love here. The scenes which take place in the 80s universe look better than in previous appearances. The animation looks much more like hand-drawn cel animation than before, and is even framed in 4:3 — a nice touch.

As per the show’s usual incredible writing, there are in-jokes and references aplenty, such a Terminator-style teleportation and laser-grid hallway in the vein of Resident Evil. In a wild bit of fan service, Bebop and Rocksteady’s mission takes them to a classified warehouse full of archived 1987 objects that viewers will recognize as props from (and to) characters like Robocop and Freddy Krueger, while Rocksteady’s union membership card displays a blink-and-miss-it tribute to a pair of classic voice actors.

The interaction between the different generations of Turtles and villains is also fun stuff with a humorous touch, especially with the addition of 80s Shredder into the mix.

As its title suggests, this storyline puts more focus and pathos on Bebop and Rocksteady than usual. Unappreciated in their time, the pair thrive under their new 80s bosses, who pay them generously and make them feel valued. At first they’re happier than ever, but the cracks start to show once they realize they’re helping a pair of cruel morons to destroy the world. It’s another testament to the show’s writing that really treats the characters like characters.

Lone Rat and Cubs

This episode written by TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman is an origin story of sorts. It features Splinter telling the Turtles about a time when they were still babies; their struggle for survival, descent to the sewers, and first encounter with the Kraang. It’s a previously untold story, but incorporates familiar parts of TMNT lore in a way that’s both reverent and fresh.

Framed as Splinter telling first telling the young turtles a story from their infancy, this extended flashback features Splinter wheeling the baby turtles around in a shopping cart, Lone Wolf and Cub style, as they try to find a safe, permanent home. It’s a mild retcon of some things established back in the show’s first episode — most notably that this predates their original “first” meeting of the Kraang — but nothing worth getting upset about.

With cues and references to Battleship Potemkin’s Odessa Steps sequence, King Boxer/Kill Bill, and of course Lone Wolf and Cub, this episode is a great example of why Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a cinephile’s dream. These sequences had me grinning ear to ear. There’s also a very subtle but rather profound transition as Splinter’s attitude starts to shift from viewing the Turtles as weird pets to identifying their emerging personhood and treating them more like his children.

It’s great to have a Splinter-centered episode, especially since he’s not actively present in the show’s current storyline. I also love getting a story set in a lesser-explored time frame in TMNT lore. The multi-episode “Wanted” arc may be the headline of this DVD, but Lone Rat and Cubs has quickly become one of my favorite episodes of my favorite TV series.

The Package

Tales Of The TMNT: Wanted: Bebop and Rocksteady will release on Sept. 12 from Nickelodeon, and is unique in that it includes an as-yet unaired storyline. My copy came with an embossed slipcover. This DVD bears the “Tales of the TMNT” moniker that has been applied to this season, but don’t let that confuse you. It’s part of the incredible Nick show that has run the last few years.

The disc includes the equivalent of 4 episodes between the two story arcs. It’s cool to have the Wanted: Bebop & Rocksteady storyline in an uninterrupted format, though fans may be interested to know it’s only offered that way — the disc does not include individual versions of these three episodes.

This is a great DVD but as always I must voice my desire for proper Blu-rays of the show. This is a property with a huge audience of adult fans, and there’s a market for having these in more grown-up editions. Perhaps with the show’s imminent retooling after the current season, Nickelodeon’s home video folks will take this opportunity to fill this void with Blu-ray seasons or, better yet, a complete series set. We’ve waited long enough!

Special Features and Extras

Ice Cream Kitty “I.C.K.” Music Video (3:51)
Feat. Greg Cipes (Michelangelo) and DJ Hymn. Hilarious, terrible, and extremely catchy.

Sounds great, right? Well, we’re giving a copy of this DVD to one lucky Cinapse reader! Hit the link for entry details.


A/V Out.

Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have slight compression inherent to file formats. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.

More TMNT from this author:

TURTLEMANIA! More TMNT Articles From This Author:
Turtles Forever: Crisis On Infinite… Turtles?
TMNT: Half-Shell Heroes Blast To The Past — DVD Review
Kevin Eastman’s Live 1990 Movie Commentary
A Far Too Serious Sociological TMNT Think Piece
Ninja Rap: The Ninja Turtles’ Unlikely Hip-Hop Connection
Pick Of The Week: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
Turtle Power Director Interview with Randall Lobb
Turtle Power Documentary — DVD Review
TMNT: Out Of The Shadows — Blu-ray Review

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