A Bizarre Power Rangers Retrospective

For Power Rangers, 2018 is the end of an era. The changing of the guard from Saban Brands to Hasbro comes 25 years after the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers came on the air.

After watching the final episode of Super Ninja Steel, it’s dawned on me that I never watched the first six seasons of the show. I’ve watched the Disney seasons twice, I’ve seen every other season of Power Rangers up until this point, and I’ve seen the entirety of Time Force during one of the ungodly hiatuses on Nickelodeon. But I’ve only seen a few episodes of Lightspeed Rescue and Wild Force as a child, watched Lost Galaxy up until Vortexx removed it from their schedule but never finished it, and again, I’ve never seen the original six seasons.

So, I made it my mission this December to undo that mistake. In chronological order, I’ve acquainted myself with the action I missed out on as a child. The following are some of my reactions to the first six seasons of Power Rangers, from the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, all the way to Rangers in Space.

 “OK, well that’s one way to make an origin story. At least I know Power Rangers never had good writing to begin with.”

“I really like this Rita fella. We really need more female bosses!”

“Holy shit! The Green Ranger just committed Grand Theft Megazord! Now he’s a giant! Now he’s fighting toe-to-toe with the Megazord! Goddamn! No wonder Tommy Oliver is the godfather of the Rangers!”

“Hey, who’s this Scorpina girl? She’s cute, I like her!”

“Hey, where did she go, and since when did Meat from Mortal Kombat start running things around here?”

“What’s with all these cast changes? It’s hard enough writing around stock footage, but this is just going to create more plot holes!”

“You rangers really need to take better care of your zords! One of these days, you’re going to lose them and not find anything to replace them with! Anyways, has anyone seen Scorpina?”

“Selina Kyle, is that you? Whoa, easy there! This is a children’s show!”

“What? Since when did Rita have a brother and a father? It’s starting to get crowded around here! At least Mystic Force and Megaforce had the common courtesy to kill their antagonists when they’re done with them.”

“Hang on, did they just make a movie, made it non-canon, and then recycle its plot into the TV series? How redundant!”

“Who is this now? I think Dr. Wily and Eggman might have forgotten some of their robots.”

“So, this is Power Rangers Turbo... I hate it already!”

“Well, I did ask for more female villains. Speaking of which, did anyone ever find Scorpina? No? …Damn.”

“For a show called "Power Rangers in Space", I was something expecting a little less… Earthy.”

“Well, this took a dark turn! Where were you guys during the Megaforce finale?”

“...Wait, that’s how it all ends? Um? ...Cool.”

In summary, not much has changed about the show over the last 25 years other than its budget. The writing is still inconsistent; some seasons are unquestionably better than others. I do get why the original cast was more popular than the newcomers. The newbies had little to no time to build a connection with the audience before they themselves got replaced. Having finished Lost Galaxy, I think that season did a much better job, especially since it was essentially an extended epilogue to the previous six.

I will admit the Disney seasons look lackluster compared to that of the Saban eras and, in retrospective, the writing in Operation Overdrive was far-fetched even by Power Rangers standards. That being said, the final two seasons – Jungle Fury and RPM – made the most of it. They were better paced, had the right mix of comedy and drama, made better use of the monster-of-the-week formula, and were more enjoyable than the Neo-Saban seasons. 

Samurai, Megaforce, Dino Charge, and Ninja Steel were too heavily reliant on formula, had terrible acting, and tried too hard to appeal to children. They felt more like edutainment shows at best and glorified toy commercials at worse than proper scripted television. Yes, Dino Charge was the best installment out of all of them, it had better writing, better pacing, memorable characters, and just a sense of high energy and fun that was lacking from the previous four seasons, but they still kept the needless gimmicks. 

Regardless of quality, Nickelodeon’s broadcast of the series was barely an improvement from that of ABC and Jetix. A better timeslot is moot when you force a show to produce a certain number of episodes, which are then broadcast in a very frustrating manner. A three-month hiatus in the middle of a season, rather than after it, when we only have to wait around two months for the next installment. 

Mind you, I live in Canada, so I have wait an even longer period of time for new episodes to premiere. I barely noticed this in the Disney era, when the show was imported to Disney's former Canuck buddies at Family Channel, and when I was too young to understand anything. Once the show returned to YTV, it was a different story. You see, after the end of Bionix, YTV became allergic to action programs and anime. Shows like these barely get any promotion, if any. It got to the point that, after parent company Corus Entertainment became the sole owner of Teletoon, they moved all of YTV's action shows and Japanese-based programming, including the live-action Power Rangers, to Teletoon's English network. And again, these shows didn't get any decent promotion. 

Sadly, Power Rangers will remain on Nickelodeon for at least the next three seasons, but that doesn’t mean Hasbro can’t make any radical changes to the show beyond a new logo. I welcome a change of pace from the staleness of the Neo-Saban era, for better or worse. Hell, after 25 years, I welcome a complete shake up to the established formula. When a franchise like Power Rangers appeals to people outside the younger demographic, it doesn't hurt to be more inclusive. 

In conclusion, after all of this, I can see why the franchise has endured for so long. If Power Rangers were made today, it would never last as long as it did. You gotta appreciate the nerve of some people to create a show that had just the right amount of cheesiness and awesomeness and respect the fact that people in the 90's were just that open-minded.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to watch Zyuranger.


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