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Old 05-13-2022, 02:41 PM   #1
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Why are the seasons 3 and 4 of the FW series so huge?

They're like 40+ episodes each. Nearly half of the show's episodes are in these seasons.

I know that Turtlemania peaked in 1989-1990, but still, those 2 massive seasons are what make people less likely to marathon the FW series. Especially since a lot of the worst episodes are in the 4th season. Hell, the European Vacation episodes are technically part of it, but for some reason they didn't air until 1993, thus being erroneously considered part of season 7 by many. So basically, season 4 is 50+ episodes long. That's pretty crazy for a cartoon. Especially an episodic and formulaic cartoon series like 1987 TMNT.
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Old 05-13-2022, 03:06 PM   #2
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I think that was the peak of the after-school syndication run, with new episodes airing daily. It wasn't altogether uncommon back then for shows that aired daily to have very large episode orders. For example, the Filmation He-Man cartoon had 130 episodes split between only two Seasons. It felt like there were more Seasons because the show remained in syndicated reruns for nearly 5 years, but no, only two large Seasons.

I'd guess the TMNT situation was simply a mix between the rise in the Turtles' popularity combined with the fact of that's just how popular shows were made back then. I can see why the first two Seasons were smaller orders but once Turtlemania took off I can see why they'd want more episodes produced. Once the "fad" part cooled off, the Seasons went back to a more manageable size, especially once it became Saturday morning-exclusive later on.
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Old 05-13-2022, 03:10 PM   #3
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Season 3 in particular brought the episode count up to 65, which was the standard episode length for kids cartoons back then. 65 episodes is where it would have ended had it not been a huge hit.
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Old 05-13-2022, 03:15 PM   #4
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Well there is an easy answer for why season 3 is as long as it is, syndication. At the time there was a push to make as many cartoons at least 65 episodes long as quickly as possible, this is because you can air 5 episodes per week for exactly 13 weeks, which is more or less three months. Normally a show aims for 100 episodes to achieve syndication but 65 is enough and more typical for animation. It is why:
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold
  • Pepper Ann
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series
  • Peter Pan & the Pirates
  • Teen Titans
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series
And many more have exactly 65 episodes.

As for season 4? Who really knows? Maybe they decided to go for 100 and overshot it a bit? Maybe they initially intended to have a season that would air one episode per week for exactly a year? Maybe they weren't sure of how many episodes they had and wanted to be sure they had enough? Maybe they were afraid Mirage would license the property to someone else if they didn't have back up episodes they could air (which to be fair, kind of happened)?
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Old 05-13-2022, 04:19 PM   #5
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I'm glad that season 3 was as large as it was, gave us plenty of fantastic episodes and characters like Leatherhead, Rat King, Casey Jones, Usagi etc. It was by far the most iconic season of the whole show.

Season 4 was even bigger but of lower quality overall, though there were still alot of good episodes scattered throughout. As for why they're so big, it definetly seems obvious that the reason was to profit from the show as much as possible.

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Old 05-13-2022, 04:45 PM   #6
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You can definitely tell the show peaked in popularity around 1989-1990 when Seasons 3 and 4 aired.

Season 5 had a much shorter episode count in 1991, and Season 6 was the same in 1992. Then Season 7 only had 13 episodes which is a standard season length in 1993...followed by the 8 episodes seasons of Seasons 8-10.

Looking back it's surprising the show got renewed as long as it did. It could have ended right after Season 3, or 4, or 5-7. It went right up to 1996 where it was well after Batman: TAS debuted in 1992, and Spider-man and X-men were on FoxKids at the time.

Ironically enough TMNT ended 1 year before Pokemon came out in Japan in 1997. It's weird when you stop to realize how close all these kids cartoons aired in relation to each other when they they feel ancient by comparison.
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Old 05-13-2022, 05:00 PM   #7
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While I may be the guy who dares to say season 1 was bad and people really should be more critical of it, I do think it is the strongest season ("strong" being relative here of course, there was never really a point where the show was good) and being the shortest probably has a lot to do with that. Seasons 3 and 4 are arguably the absolute weakest ones in the entire show and being the longest may have something to do with that as well.

Despite having a story that hinges on contradictions and contrivances, as well as generally not being all that impressive to look at, season 1 still manages to make it so that each episode didn't feel pointless and there are a few moments in which it has good animation. While still just a sloppy mess when it comes down to it, needing only five episodes meant nobody had to struggle coming up with dozens of plots that were not allowed to be important and the budget could be spent where it could shine.
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Old 05-13-2022, 08:18 PM   #8
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Season 4 might be as large as it is because the show was still airing in syndication while on Saturday morning, and some new episodes were aired in syndication while most of them aired on Saturdays. The episodes with the original opening theme like "Once Upon a Time Machine" premiered in syndication, while the episodes with the 2nd theme like "The Dimension X Story" premiered on on CBS Saturdays. These episodes also never crossed over..the syndication episodes never aired on CBS Saturdays and vice versa. The only time they cross-aired was on USA network.
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Old 05-14-2022, 03:45 AM   #9
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Season 4 might be as large as it is because the show was still airing in syndication while on Saturday morning, and some new episodes were aired in syndication while most of them aired on Saturdays. The episodes with the original opening theme like "Once Upon a Time Machine" premiered in syndication, while the episodes with the 2nd theme like "The Dimension X Story" premiered on on CBS Saturdays. These episodes also never crossed over..the syndication episodes never aired on CBS Saturdays and vice versa. The only time they cross-aired was on USA network.
But they had their 65 episodes, so why not just scale back?
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Old 05-14-2022, 04:43 AM   #10
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For example, the Filmation He-Man cartoon had 130 episodes split between only two Seasons. It felt like there were more Seasons because the show remained in syndicated reruns for nearly 5 years, but no, only two large Seasons.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was followed up by She-Ra: Princess of Power. Then, there was a break until The New-Adventures of He-Man. That may explain why many people think "He-Man was always on the air with new episodes from September 1983 until December 1990".

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Old 05-14-2022, 08:29 AM   #11
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But they had their 65 episodes, so why not just scale back?
Probably because their popularity was at its height. Every season, I assumed it was the end. Episodes like Return of the Technodrome and the Big Blow Out seemed like final episodes at the time. But the toy shelves were still oozing with figures in 1990, plus the movie was released, and at least in my town, there was a line down the street at the movie theater.
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Old 05-14-2022, 10:44 AM   #12
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Seasons 1 and 2 both ended with the Turtles "having finally seen the last of Shredder and Krang". So their future may have been up in the air at the time. When that ended up not the case, the push was on in Season 3 to get to the magic 65 episode number count. As a result, things did suffer in terms of storytelling, voice casting and animation. The same happened to Real Ghostbusters which was airing both in syndication and Saturdays in 1986. Their problem was mainly with animation.

Season 4. Now that's interesting!! The extra syndicated episodes didn't air until Season 6 was airing in 1992. They were added in spurts; Turtles of The Jungle to Name that Toon; then later "Menace, Maestro, Please" to "Back To The Egg" the next go round (or randomly inserted into Season 3 repeats, I can't remember). The European episodes never aired here because by that time, my local channel had moved onto Goof Troop. I have no idea why they added new syndicated episodes, but maybe it was because not everyone got the CBS episodes.
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Old 05-14-2022, 09:59 PM   #13
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All of you pretty much summed it up well.

Yes, season 4 has some of the weakest episodes in the series. Plus, some really suffer animation wise. Season 5 also seems to have the least amount of action than any other season. In season 6, the action gets back a bit and in season 7... the Turtles actually start using their weapons again like in season 1!

Season 4 was also the season where the random mad scientist of the week episode became a thing. It's fine to take a break from Shredder and Krang occasionally, but most of those mad scientists were so generic and lame, and it's honestly embarrassing to see the Turtles struggling against them and being outsmarted as well. Those are guys they could knockout in 5 seconds ffs.

If you're going to do an episode without Shredder and Krang then at least have a cool and threatening villain like The Rat King or Leatherhead. Not a scrawny middle aged toy inventor named Weasel.
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Old 05-14-2022, 10:17 PM   #14
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All of you pretty much summed it up well.

Yes, season 4 has some of the weakest episodes in the series. Plus, some really suffer animation wise. Season 5 also seems to have the least amount of action than any other season. In season 6, the action gets back a bit and in season 7... the Turtles actually start using their weapons again like in season 1!

Season 4 was also the season where the random mad scientist of the week episode became a thing. It's fine to take a break from Shredder and Krang occasionally, but most of those mad scientists were so generic and lame, and it's honestly embarrassing to see the Turtles struggling against them and being outsmarted as well. Those are guys they could knockout in 5 seconds ffs.

If you're going to do an episode without Shredder and Krang then at least have a cool and threatening villain like The Rat King or Leatherhead. Not a scrawny middle aged toy inventor named Weasel.
Honestly, it probably would have been better if there was just one mad scientist and one mob boss. The end result is that there's a bunch of episodes where they fight generic scientists and mobsters who are all entirely interchangable with each other and who more often then not stop appearing after a couple of times, if they ever reapper at all. If they had just condensed every one of them into a single mad scientist villain, and a single mobster villain, they would have at least created an actual character and a recurring villain, whose appearances would overall have more weight since it's the same guy trying new schemes instead of just another inexplicable mad scientist showing up and doing something once before disappering forever.
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Old 05-15-2022, 12:41 PM   #15
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All of you pretty much summed it up well.

Yes, season 4 has some of the weakest episodes in the series. Plus, some really suffer animation wise. Season 5 also seems to have the least amount of action than any other season. In season 6, the action gets back a bit and in season 7... the Turtles actually start using their weapons again like in season 1!

Season 4 was also the season where the random mad scientist of the week episode became a thing. It's fine to take a break from Shredder and Krang occasionally, but most of those mad scientists were so generic and lame, and it's honestly embarrassing to see the Turtles struggling against them and being outsmarted as well. Those are guys they could knock out in 5 seconds ffs.

If you're going to do an episode without Shredder and Krang then at least have a cool and threatening villain like The Rat King or Leatherhead. Not a scrawny middle-aged toy inventor named Weasel.
Your analysis is perfect!!!! I actually liked a lot of the Season 4 Shredder and Krang episodes, and especially those where the Turtles went to Dimension X for most of the episode. Their plots at least were still good, for the most part; giant bugs aside. Speaking of Leatherhead and The Rat King: having them in what I assumed was the season finale with Splinter and the Turtles separating was neat, and their threat was still real, even if not finale-esque. Were-rats from Channel Six was neat too. Not all Turtle-centered vs. scientist or whatever episodes were all bad. I agree on the fighting; but I guess the whole brains of brawn thing was real due to kids playing Turtles all the time, complete with violence. Plus, it gave the regular villain VAs a break; since they certainly didn't get much of one in syndication.

Season 5 was a mixed bag, but it did ramp up the action where necessary, and Raphael and Leonardo handled a situation with no help from the other Turtles.

Season 6 had the least appearances of Shredder and Krang, appearing in 7 out of 16 episodes; meaning two weeks in a row of one shot villains in both timeslots. But yes, the action started amping up here.

Season 7 had the European episodes, love 'em or hate 'em. But had the most Shredder and Krang episodes, mainly due to James Avery stepping down as Shredder's VA. To quote Krang in Turtles Forever, "Mmm... go figure!!" But the action is good, we got to see certain heroes and villains one last time (Dirk deserved a second episode!!) and the finale was reminiscent of the first three seasons; especially given the twist in the first act.
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Old 05-15-2022, 01:40 PM   #16
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Your analysis is perfect!!!! I actually liked a lot of the Season 4 Shredder and Krang episodes, and especially those where the Turtles went to Dimension X for most of the episode. Their plots at least were still good, for the most part; giant bugs aside. Speaking of Leatherhead and The Rat King: having them in what I assumed was the season finale with Splinter and the Turtles separating was neat, and their threat was still real, even if not finale-esque. Were-rats from Channel Six was neat too. Not all Turtle-centered vs. scientist or whatever episodes were all bad. I agree on the fighting; but I guess the whole brains of brawn thing was real due to kids playing Turtles all the time, complete with violence. Plus, it gave the regular villain VAs a break; since they certainly didn't get much of one in syndication.

Season 5 was a mixed bag, but it did ramp up the action where necessary, and Raphael and Leonardo handled a situation with no help from the other Turtles.

Season 6 had the least appearances of Shredder and Krang, appearing in 7 out of 16 episodes; meaning two weeks in a row of one shot villains in both timeslots. But yes, the action started amping up here.

Season 7 had the European episodes, love 'em or hate 'em. But had the most Shredder and Krang episodes, mainly due to James Avery stepping down as Shredder's VA. To quote Krang in Turtles Forever, "Mmm... go figure!!" But the action is good, we got to see certain heroes and villains one last time (Dirk deserved a second episode!!) and the finale was reminiscent of the first three seasons; especially given the twist in the first act.
Wow I had never realised season 6 had the fewest episodes with Shredder and Krang. Only 6 out of 17, really?

Season 7 is great. I don't include Europe in it. Those episodes were made during season 4. But for some odd reason, they only aired 3 years later.

Season 4 and 5 are the most sanitised seasons of the series. Michelangelo's nunchuks get faded out and replaced by the grappling hook and the show becomes a little too self-aware and society starts to brocnr way too accepting of the Turtles.

Season 6 is from 1992... perhaps the action slowly returned due to falling ratings? That was the year where Turtlemania was starting to cool off wasn't it? 1991 was still pretty hot due to SOTO. There was no movie in 1992. In 1993, the 3rd film came out and it wasn't very liked.

Then in 1994, the Red Sky seasons begin. Clearly the show was trying to regain some of its popularity again.
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Old 05-15-2022, 07:46 PM   #17
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Once season 4 started on CBS, they aired two new episodes per week in an hour-long block (with Turtle Tips in between). Usually, the first half hour of the block was a "Shredder and Krang" episode, and the second episode was a "Mad Scientist" episode. Usually the second episode focused on a single Turtle as well. I think the reason there are so many lame Mad Scientist episodes in season 4 is thanks to the hour-long format and them trying not to make it the Shredder hour.

I think Season 8 finally changed it to a half hour block along with the Action Zone shows, but Shredder was written out of the show shortly after.
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Old 05-15-2022, 07:51 PM   #18
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Honestly, it probably would have been better if there was just one mad scientist and one mob boss. The end result is that there's a bunch of episodes where they fight generic scientists and mobsters who are all entirely interchangable with each other and who more often then not stop appearing after a couple of times, if they ever reapper at all. If they had just condensed every one of them into a single mad scientist villain, and a single mobster villain, they would have at least created an actual character and a recurring villain, whose appearances would overall have more weight since it's the same guy trying new schemes instead of just another inexplicable mad scientist showing up and doing something once before disappering forever.
I don't mind the mob boss episodes as much because mob bosses are usually dangerous enough to pose a credible threat. Plus, they offer something new to the Turtles to fight against.

Mas scientists though? Baxter is/was one already. And Krang and even Shredder both qualify as mad scientists as well. So it just feels redundant and lazy to have random one-shot generic mad scientists as well to replace Shredder and Krang.
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Old 05-16-2022, 04:40 AM   #19
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You know something funny? If all ten seasons were the standard 26 episodes, they would have reached the 65 episode line in the third season anyway, and the full series would have been about 70 episodes longer than it ended up being. So if the goal was to reach 65 episodes by the end of season 3, why not give season 2 an episode count of 26 and season 3 an episode count of 34? That would have been way more even. That or just straight up order 30 for each.
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Old 05-16-2022, 04:44 AM   #20
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Unless they were counting grams of a certain powdery substance, your average person working in TV on the executive end back in the '80s wasn't exactly meticulous about keeping numbers even.

Many inconsistencies about TV in the '80s can actually be explained thusly.
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