Street Sharks – They Bite, They Fight!

I’ve not been feeling the love for posting cartoon reviews recently, but revisiting a random video prompted me to give this show from the nineties a look. Imagine someone doing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but knocking the Ninja Turtles part off the end. Meet the Street Sharks, a toy-based cartoon show from 1994, with not the best reputation, but I’ll see whether that’s deserved or not. This is a review of the first three episodes (Sharkbait, Sharkbite and Sharkstorm), presented as a mini-series.

In a laboratory, the evil scientist (he’s bald and has an eyepatch, so he must be evil) called Dr. Luther Paradigm mixes up DNA of aquatic life and legendary villains like Genghis Khan and Thomas Blood to create a pair of evil mutants based on a lobster (a green one, at that) and a swordfish. His moralistic partner Robert Bolton, who has broken into the lab by climbing a fence and cutting razor wire, turns up to talk him out of it, but it’s a very weak effort, so when he’s walking off Paradigm injects him with some of the concoction and he turns into… something. We don’t get to see what, but he leaves behind his jacket and watch, which Paradigm quickly cribs.

Paradigm turns up for work the next day and denies knowing where Bolton is, but then tells his feckless female assistant that Bolton wants to meet his four sons at an abandoned warehouse, which is of course bullshit and a shocking lack of commitment to an original alibi. The assistant even says as much, but still calls them up to get them to go there. The sons are, like, totally rad surfer dudes. They go, so I blame her for everything that happens after that.

Paradigm and his sea creature mutants capture the boys and hit them with the gene-slammer too, but nothing happens beyond them passing out. The bodies get dumped and wash up in the park, where they go for a burger. Then the mutations trigger, turning them into humanoid sharks. The hot dog vendor takes a hike, as he should, because they’re still hungry and they start eating his cart. I’m not sure that’s how shark digestive systems work. They’d be shitting wood and plastic.

The police come after them, so they make an exit via the pond, but end up “swimming” through the roads, with top fin showing. Again, that means they’re eating cement and earth while on the move, and where’s that going. There’s a momentary consideration of “We used to be a jock and a scientist and now we’ve got three inches between each of our teeth!”, but they quickly get over it when they get hungry. A friend of theirs from dad’s workplace comes to pick them up, but they’ve got the police and the army and Paradigm and his goons after them while wrecking every inch of (the admittedly shitty) Fission City they reside in.

With them captured, Paradigm bluffs his way into examining them and puts the blame for their current state on their absent dad. Lena, the assistant who made the call in the first place, helps them escape their restraints. The Sharks threaten to eat and then cut up Paradigm, but run when security arrive, eating their way through the walls. Bends, the friend, seemingly has a secret base under the hockey arena already set up for them to work out of. He also becomes a captive of Paradigm, though, prompting a rescue where his intended fate of being crossed with a piranha goes to the bad doctor instead, who doesn’t really mutate as much as just getting a massive set of teeth and a fish mouth. Now he’s “one of them” he’s got his motivation for revenge against them to match their revenge against him.

Well, what does this show have going for it? The animation is fine, if unspectacular. The writing has good intentions and a not entirely terrible premise with the hunt for the missing father and the sons getting powered up inadvertently to fight the villain. The execution is lacking. The actors play the characters about on the mark as they should.

On the other hand, the character development is lacking, without enough definition between the four protagonists. Other than their forms and clothing they’re interchangeable. There’s also a lack of pathos as well. The Ninja Turtles had catchphrases and quirks like eating pizza, but they also had the concern of their enemy being the person responsible for their creation in his own revenge plot, plus wanting to return Splinter to being Yoshi if they could, and if you did anything to April you were in trouble. These characters are either on or off, with no variance in mood or one being angry and one being more reserved. There’s a lot of finger clicking as well to make up for lack of explanation, so the good guys have resources without any hard work to get them. Donatello had to work in the background to create the Party Wagon and the Turtle Blimp before he unveiled them. Far smarter and logical, and less rushed too.

So, those are the Street Sharks, proof again that you can have some decent toys and an animation studio behind you to promote them, but that’s no guarantee of a hit.

Really, they should have just let this guy have thirty minutes for a few weeks to promote them instead!