Turtle Tunes is an obscure Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video that just…exists for some reason. How obscure are we talking? Well, it’s virtually impossible to find any behind-the-scenes information on it besides the obvious: it was produced by something called “Christopher Films” (and if you Google that, the first result you get is…a list of movies directed by Christopher Nolan). “Christopher Films” has only one other title they take credit for, that being–as you probably guessed by now–the “so bad it’s good” Ninja Turtles holiday special We Wish You a Turtle Christmas. And if you’ve watched that, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting here.
The “plot” is that the Ninja Turtles have somehow convinced April O’Neil to put her entire career in jeopardy by allowing them to create a TV pilot for her network. For April’s sake, I hope she’s fibbing to the stupid green bastards and has just given them a public access channel timeslot without them knowing it. Anyway, the Turtles decide they must “call the kids” to get some help for their project, and normally I would make a dark joke about them wanting cheap child labor, except that these children are bossy brats who seem to take over the Turtles’ creative vision. So it’s like typical Hollywood executive meddling, if the executives weren’t old enough to drive yet.
From there, it’s a lot of songs, most of which using public domain numbers for their melodies with new lyrics, which is, by absolute coincidence I’m sure, identical to what Barney & Friends was doing at the time. So “Yankee Doodle Dandy” becomes “Leonardo Had a Boat” and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” is “I Love to Skateboard ‘Round the Fountain” and shit like that. Speaking of that skateboard song, I love how Mikey just gives up on actually skateboarding like only seconds into the song and is like “fuck it, I’m not doing this. I could get myself killed!” It’s almost as if the person playing him was worried about potentially getting injured because skateboarding in that thing was probably fucking impossible.
Now there are some musical numbers that are completely original, including the gripping ballad “Don’t Talk to Strangers.” This teaches the viewers at home a valuable lesson about strangers…if someone you don’t know who happens to be dressed like a ninja approaches you at Central Park, do not communicate with them since “you don’t know what they want from you.” Though if we’re being real here, I’m going to assume that they want ninja things. That ninja was probably lost and just asking for directions to his “secret” ninja layer. Poor guy. Still, it’s a very powerful message about protecting children from abduction, making Turtle Tunes the Sound of Freedom of its day, and just as alienating.
This video is ridiculously short, only going past the 20 minute mark because of credits that go on forever. More notably, the ending reveals that Splinter has died since the events of We Wish You a Turtle Christmas, with his ghost momentarily haunting them. Also, April straight up lies to the Turtles and tells them the studio “loved” their pilot, which she probably said between bottles of scotch she was shoving down her throat to help her feel better after being fired.
Turtle Tunes has all of the same production “quirks” that Turtle Christmas had. For whatever reason, the Turtles seem to have Jamaican accents. Their voices are inconsistent. Often they appear to be suffering from lockjaw. Sometimes you can actually see holes in the backs of their mouths. These guys must be going through so much pain, but they remain all smiles, since the show must go on.
For the life of me I can’t find how exactly “Christopher Films” got the licensing rights to make this duo of VHS tapes. It seems the production company was created specifically for them (no matter what IMDB tells you, as they wrongly credit them with projects from the fucking 1960s). Also, both of these videos have the exact same end credits, meaning Turtle Christmas credits “the ninja” despite there being no ninja in that title, and Turtle Tunes references “the santa” (no, really, that’s what they call him) despite the jolly old mean being nowhere in sight. If I had to guess, “Christopher Films” was trying to turn the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in a preschool series they could eventually produce more stuff for, but unsurprisingly, that wasn’t meant to be.
Have a great night, y’all! And DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS WHO ARE DRESSED LIKE NINJAS!