As with most guys my age, I had my obsession period with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I had a bunch of the action figures (the pizza thrower was awesome and my biggest regret in life is giving the ok to my parents to give it away), all of the video games, a handful of VHS tapes, comics, clothes, maybe even bed sheets, a lot of shit. However I have absolutely no memory of the We Wish You a Turtle Christmas holiday special so even the guy who owned more than one pair of turtles underwear had to draw the line somewhere it seems.
I can’t say for sure if 10-year-old me would have tolerated this. I’d like to believe he wouldn’t have because 29-year-old certainly had trouble getting through all 21 minutes of this thing.
As far as I can tell, the same company released a few terrible Ninja Turtles videos that were heavily music focused. The production values for all of them are god awful, the costumes are laughable and the acting is atrocious. I haven’t yet watched any of the others but if this is any indication, they should all be avoided at any cost and everyone involved should be ashamed. I watched this on Youtube and the idea that it was originally created to be sold in stores as an actual product is depressing.
The special opens as you would perhaps expect a Ninja Turtles Christmas special to open – with the four turtles in their sewer hideout decorating a Christmas tree. What you might not expect is for all of them to suddenly adopt Jamaican accents in order to sing a terrible rendition of Deck the Halls. Oh yeah, that shit happens. The song is terrible as you would expect but what I really want to address here are the actual turtle costumes. They’re the worst. They are a half step above what you would find in a thrift store for Halloween. You can even see the shells shaking in a few of the shots and I’m pretty sure I once saw a human neck between the separations in the outfit.
What really does it though is the heads, or more specifically the mouths. No effort was made at all to have the mouths match the words being said/sung. They are either flapping incessantly with no rhyme or reason, or in some cases they just remain shut even though there are clearly things being said. Also any times where they aren’t saying anything, their mouths just stay hanging open and they all look like fucking dopes. It’s actually pretty hilarious how low the standards for this thing clearly were.
So after that terrible opening number, the turtles realize that nobody got a gift for Splinter and they have to go up to the surface to buy him a gift before the stores all close. They don’t put on disguises or anything, they just go up to the surface as blatant giant mutant turtles as though this won’t be an issue. Don’t they normally try and keep their identities a secret? Why are they being so non-chalant about all of this? If they tried to be at least discreet it would be one thing but they keep drawing attention to themselves with all this god damn singing. We have a terrible duo of songs about going up to shop and buying gifts, the second complete with rad 90’s skateboarders and a bunch of kids who should be terrified about this but seem pretty into it. Except for one part where there’s a group of kids using garbage cans and lids as percussion instruments and one of them looks so uninterested that she has to be prodded by the kid sitting next to her before she can put on the fakest smile you’ll ever see. Also in the close-ups I’m pretty sure the mask for Leo’s costume is damaged. It really looks like a part of the material is chipped away or something I’m not sure but it looks terrible.
Once they hit the surface we are immediately treated to Mikey singing opera for a couple of minutes. Why would kids want to hear this? Kids don’t like opera, there’s no jokes being told and it goes on for-fucking-ever. Also didn’t they just finish saying that there are only a couple of hours left before all the malls are closed for Christmas shopping? So shouldn’t they stop dicking around and actually get what they came up there for? “Sorry Splinter we got caught up singing all these shitty songs and then it was like 1 AM and nobody was open. What’s that? Yeah we really do need to learn to shut our fucking mouths and focus.”
At this point you are probably asking one question – if this special is almost entirely music focused, do the Turtles eventually bust out a rap? Ooooo yes they do indeed. Immediately after the opera fiasco is over, we are treated to arguably an even bigger fiasco with “Wrap Rap”. Get it? Because they are indulging in the form of music known as rap, but if you add a “w” to the word it becomes “wrap” which is what you do with presents at Christmas time. So I hope you can see why that song title is so hilarious. I don’t think anyone will be very surprised to hear that the Turtles rap skills are quite poor, though their wrap skills do seem pretty respectable.
After this, we are exposed to what is easily the worst part of an overall terrible show – a full rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas, sung by a raspy voiced Splinter whose puppet looks like he’s been run over by a truck repeatedly. They really do go through all 12 days and it takes like five fucking minutes. It’s all shit like 3 comic books and a pizza with pepperoni and the whole thing is just baffling. Were they really so pressed for time that they had to allow the whole song to play out? Do they know how impatient children are? Why would they ever want to sit through all of this?! It’s excruciating! And it seems to recycle the same footage constantly to boot! It’s the laziest display of filmmaking you will ever see in your life.
Afterwards Splinter lays down some Christmas meaning on us, saying it’s not about the gifts but about the love you receive from family or something like that I’m not sure. Generic Christmas schmaltzy shit. He does seem to fuck up one of his lines at one point, so that was easily my favourite moment of this whole thing.
But we’re not quite out of the woods yet! There’s one last song to suffer through and it’s actually where the title comes from – We Wish You a Turtles Christmas. It’s really bad and mostly consists of the title and repeating the names of the turtles over and over again. And some stupid shit about pizza. Once again there are a bunch of kids joining them on this song, showing that the turtles really don’t give a shit about their identities or hideout being a secret. How in the fuck did these kids even get in here? Did they already know the location or did the turtles go and snag them off the streets and force them to come perform in their shitty song? Most likely I’m thinking about it too much because oh my god this is boring and awful!
Thankfully after this song the credits start to roll however would you believe that We Wish You a Turtle Christmas is playing over them?! We literally just heard this song! What are you doing?! If you aren’t going to bother writing another song for the credits then at the very least use one of the songs we didn’t just finish listening to! However you may wish for the song to return after it ends because after that, we are forced to listen to “hilarious” dialogue between the turtles as they talk about pointless shit like buying shoes and also the songs they really liked from their own special. There’s something pretty insulting about a terrible special trying to convince you it was actually full of awesome moments and that it wasn’t in fact the worst thing you’ve ever seen. Also these credits are long. I’m surprised everyone involved was ok with revealing they took part in this. The credits should just be one screen reading “We’d rather not say.”
So that’s We Wish You a Turtle Christmas. It’s fucking abysmal. It’s not even really so bad it’s good, it’s just painful. There are some unintentional laughs to be had from the terrible costumes and puppet work, but mostly this is just boring with songs that go on forever and are not at all entertaining to listen to. The whole thing feels like they had about 80 bucks and an afternoon to make a Christmas special and this is the best they could do. I can’t accept that this is the result of honest effort. Sooooooo yeah, probably don’t bother with this one.