So the last few months, I had WAY too much time on my hands and decided to re-watch the first half of franchise on Netflix for nostalgia's sake. I wanted to summarize by thoughts on each season, gaining a new perspective as an adult as oppose to when I was following the series as a kid.
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (Season 1)
The most iconic and popular season out of franchise! It's not surprising considering how painfully nostalgic this season is. It's funny re-watching episodes like "Food Fight", "Peace, Love and Woe" and "Foul Play In The Sky" just brought me right back to being a 5 year old in awe of this series back in '93. While the series is 20+ years old, there's a surprising charm that still holds while I was rewatching this. Sure, this season is dated and it's funny looking back on how cheaply made the series was...yet there is a clever mix of camp, action and moral lessons that kids can relate to that made the show work for the most part. The original cast were really a great team. Despite the racial awkwardness of the black and yellow rangers, this team was the best of the best and even if the acting was pretty bad, the characters really worked. Jason was a strong leader, Zack was hilarious, Trini had a mature presence, Billy was a loveable nerd and Kimberly was the likable valley girl with the occasional vacuous behavior. Sure, they're all pretty much walking stereotypes at this point but the chemistry was good between the original 5 and you really can't help but pick favorites.
Of course, I can't talk about Season 1 without bringing up "Green With Evil". The 5 part saga that became a classic and really made the series a phenomenon. The introduction of Tommy as the Green Ranger is unforgettable for a reason. Jason David Frank MADE that character. These episodes had great action and tone not seen in a kid's show before. Sure, it's still pretty cheesy but also badass! That sword of darkness? The Dragon dagger with that classic summoning tune? The Dragonzord's arrival? Still got me excited while watching! Once Tommy became apart of the team at the end of the saga, it really became the series that we all know and love today. On the villains end, Rita Replusa is just as iconic as the heroes, especially considering when that timeless theme song plays you can't help but just smile at her declaration of taking over Earth after 10,000 years. Goldar is probably at his most awesome here, before the next seasons or so downplay his character. Here, he's an intimidating henchman for Rita who actually poses a threat for the team on many occasions, especially when Jason and Tommy have to fight him unmorphed in "Green With Evil" and "The Green Candle", respectively. Finster, Squat and Bamboo rounded off the gang as well as various appearances by Scorpina!
Zordon worked as an otherworldly mentor to the Rangers as well as Alpha as the technical support of the Command Center. All these elements were established well! If I had any real problems with the season is the length. 60 episodes is A LOT to seat through in one season! While there aren't real any outright terrible episodes this season I can think of, there are some weak ones ("Trick or Treat") and some episodes that feel almost the same ("Food Fight" and "A Pig Surprise"), ("Bad Reflections of You" and "Mighty Morphin' Mutants") and ("Gung Ho!" and "On Fins and Needles"). Kinda takes some enjoyment out when it feels like we've already seen that episode earlier in the season. Of course, that could be because of Saban using the new Zyuranger footage he got for the extra 20 episodes they made this season but it's funny how we never noticed this kind of repetitiveness as kids! Overall, this is a solid season for a kid's show that made the franchise what it is today and built a nice foundation for the writers to work with. Though, this is the franchise in it's most basic format before the franchise would become darker and more complex in the later Saban seasons.
1. Green With Evil, Parts 1-5
2. Doomsday, Parts 1-2
3. Return of an Old Friend, Parts 1 and 2
4. The Green Candle, Parts 1 and 2
5. Day of The Dumpster
Final Morph: B-
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (Season 2)
I'm surprised by how much I disliked this season! While Season 1 had it's moments of bad acting and over the top cheesiness, it was still a undeniably fun trip down memory lane with the right mix of harmless camp and great fights. But here....things just weren't so fun. Let's start with the beginning of the season which isn't bad, it's actually pretty great! Lord Zedd's introduction is definitely one of the most memorable villain entrances of the series. Seriously, a snake crawling all over him as his throne slowly reveals his creepy appearance while Goldar cringes in fear and the snake turning into his staff! How awesome is that for a kids' show!? "The Mutiny", Parts 1-3 is a good start to the season because of this and the fact the rangers (sans Tommy) get a new zord in the form of the Thunderzords. The Mega Thunderzord is one of my favorite zords with a cool summoning sequence, especially the Dragon Thunderzord. While we didn't get much plot development from the main cast, the season continued the storyine of Tommy losing his powers which was easily the best plot out of the first 2 seasons. Zedd finally succeeds in "Green No More", a fine 2 parter despite the lame Dark Rangers (seriously how cheap looking could those costumes be!?) Then "White Light", Part1 and 2 excellently reintroduces Tommy again as the White Ranger and the season once again got a chance to reinvent itself a bit. So far, Season 2 was building up to be a better season than the first...or so I thought.
First off, let me just discuss my biggest problem with this season: The EDITING! While Power Rangers is known for it's cheap editing between American footage and Japanese footage, this season is by far the worst when it comes to it, making a lot of episodes almost unwatchable! With Saban using footage from 2 different Sentai series, we get scenes of the rangers fighting monsters far away without even touching them most of the time, lazy American footage of the rangers fighting these monsters, not to mention the megazord fights where you can obvious see monsters fighting the original megazord.. It's just all so laughably bad and distracting! Then you have the terrible voice over work for Jason, Zack and especially Trini. I know about the money disputes between Austin, Thuy and Walter with Saban that lead to their exit and it's really sad considering how replacing half the cast really hurt the dynamic of the group. Not to mention, the editing that occurred once they left to bridge the gap between them and the new rangers. Wow! It's just Tommy suddenly back in green clothes and stock footage! Just....awful. Second, The introduction of Rocky, Adam and Aisha, don't get me wrong, they seemed like good allies for the rangers but then once they replaced Jason, Trini and Zack, the season just wasn't the same. These new rangers just seemed lackluster compared to others, especially the rangers they replaced! Aisha is definitely the best of the three, despite being a cardboard copy of Kimberly. At least I enjoyed her character at times and the episodes centered around her weren't half bad ("When There's Smoke, There's Fire" and "Forever Friends"). But Rocky and Adam? My god, these guys just take up space! Between Steve Cardenas and Johnny Young Bosch's acting, not to mention the writing for these characters was just weak. "Rock Just Wants To Have Fun", "Mirror of Regret" and "Goldar's Vice Versa" are just some episodes that bored me to tears. Don't get me wrong, they are both great fighters....but honestly, there's nothing else interesting about them. Sure, Adam is supposed to be shy and sweet but Rocky the class clown? Nope. Just didn't see it!
The second half also had some episodes I just didn't care for. "Rangers In Time", Parts 1 and 2, "Storybook Rangers", Parts 1 and 2, 'Wild West Rangers", Parts 1 and 2, "The Great Bookla Escape", etc. While I like Billy, "Blue Ranger Gone Bad" is probably the worst finale of the franchise, putting a typical episode as the conclusion of the season. Then you have the marriage between Rita and Zedd, which isn't terrible but it's disappointing that because of this, Zedd goes from being this emperor of evil badass to apart of a slapstick sitcom couple with Rita. Not that their marriage doesn't have it's funny moments, it just takes away from his initial intimidation. It's too bad parents complained about the him being too scary, oh well! Also, what's up with the multiple episodes of the rangers fighting previous monsters they destroyed!? I can name 3 out of the top of my head: "The Wedding", "Zedd's Monster Mash" and "Orchestral Maneuvers in The Park". There had to be others cause it got annoying after while! Was this Saban's way of saving money or were they desperately running out of Sentai footage? I'd say the later. I sound like I'm bashing this season but it wasn't all bad. There is definitely some good-great episodes here. Besides some great Tommy episodes as usual, "Missing Green" is a great Jason episode minus the horrible voice over, "Putty On The Brain" is fun, mindtrip episode for Billy and Zack, "Best Man For the Job" has to be one of the funniest episodes of the franchise, "Lights, Camera, Action" is z great episode showing the Rangers on a talk show reminiscing about previous fights and delivering a positive message to kids. But as a whole, this season wasn't strong at all. There were great moments sure, but the cheap recasting, poor editing and a good number of bad episodes just took me out of the season for the most part.
1. White Light, Parts 1 and 2
2. Lights, Camera, Action
3. Best Man For The Job
4. Missing Green
5. Return of The Green Ranger, Parts 1 and 2
Final Morph: D+
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers/Alien Rangers (Season 3/3.5)
A definite step up from Season 2! Season 3, while still having it's own faults, is still a pretty good season! Although it starts off with essentially a 3 part Masked Rider teaser in "A Friend In Need", the season gets off on a great start with "A Ninja Quest". A 4 parter that sees all the rangers' powers/zords destroyed for the first time in a memorable sequence with the introduction of Rito Revolto, Rita's brother and a mostly comedic villain who for the most part seems powerful enough but becomes too incompetent during the rest of the season. This leads to the next evolution of the series as the rangers get new powers (The ninja powers and coins), new zords (The Ninja Zords) and even a new ally (Ninjor). I always loved the ninja powers as well as the ninja suits outside of their ranger suits. Borrowing from the first MMPR movie, it introduced a secondary morphed form for the rangers which provided them with their own powers like teleporting, creating doubles of themselves, superspeed and other tricks. Their ninja forms always seemed more powerful than their ranger forms and wondered why they never used them more but hey, that's just me. The ninja fights themselves are awesome with the American production finally providing some amazing stunt choreography on par with their Sentai counterparts. Also borrowing from the first movie, we get the Tangas, big black birds who while not much above the Putties, do have a cool theme song whenever they fight the rangers.
This season also was the first to rely on story arcs and less on standalone episodes. Starting with "A Ranger Catastrophe", we are introduce to Katherine, a minion of Rita who disguises herself as a cat that Kimberly and Aisha look after. The way she's used to spy on the rangers is a fun plot, especially when the plot begins to center around Kimberly. Probably the best aspect of the season is the great character development for Kimberly and how the loss of her power coin leads to some of the series' best episodes/moments. "Changing of The Zords", is a great 3 parter filled with awesome moments from Kimberly taking a stand to protect a friend, Tommy's fight with Lord Zedd, Lord Zedd's appearance in the Command Center to the introduction of the Shogun Zords. It saw the series taking on a slightly more serious tone than usual, especially with a ranger's life at stake. I especially loved "A Different Shade of Pink", Parts 1-3 which provide more mature character development for Kimberly as well as Kat, by giving us some backstory on her, It's also the best send-off for any of the original rangers as Kimberly leaves to be a champion gymnast, leaving Kat as her successor. Although, it's hard watching Kimberly leave after seeing the character leave at the peak of her character. Also, I wonder what made Amy Jo so special that she got a nicely developed write off while thr other original 4 (not to mention, Aisha, I'll get to that later) got poor conclusions to their characters!? Anyway, once Kat is the new Pink Ranger, we kinda run into the same problem as last season. While Kat certainly has an interesting past and the writers do explore bits of her connection with Rita in some episodes ("Rita's Pita" and "Master Vile and the Metallic Armor"), for the most part, there isn't much to explore with the character after Kimberly's departure. Eventually, Kat would find more of her own identity in Zeo and some of Turbo but here, she becomes just as generically good as the Rangers were in the first season. At least it's still better than Rocky and Adam....Zzzzz!
The final stretch of the season introduces us to Rita and Rito's father, Master Vile. Who for the most part seems like a formidable villain, managing to disable the rangers' zords and has an end of the world party just to rub it in their noses.. Though the introduction of the...ummm....metallic armor is one of the lamest things I've ever seen!! Seriously, glitter as armor! Was this another cost saving issue for Saban? Couldn't they use the suits from the movie for this supposedly more powerful form of their powers!? Luckily the rangers don't use it so often but seriously.....WHAT. THE. F#$%!? Anyway, Master Vile eventually comes up with idea to turn the world's axis back and make the rangers kids (oh god, not this again!) Luckily, the rangers still remember their kids only they lose their powers because of it. But I never understood why the writers had to make the rangers kids...again! It didn't work the first time and here, it's only saved by the introduction of the Alien Rangers. Now I pretty split when it came to this whole mini-series. I like the extension of the PR mythology with their being power rangers from other worlds, which made sense in future seasons when other rangers outside of Zordon's era would appear. Yet....this saga just feels like a mixed bag of cool Alien Ranger action and mostly stalling until Zeo next season. The Zeo quests are interesting looks into the rangers' own individual heritages but this could easily have been done when they were adults as those child actors got grating at times. The Alien Rangers themselves are cool in introducing different kinds of rangers, but there's not much to them beside their constant need of water. Though, I liked the 2 part finale "Hogday Afternoon", which is one of the first times a finale started to feel like a finale. I just wish Aisha didn't leave off screen like the others, although, Tanya wasn't a bad replacement (more on that on Zeo). The season ends on a great cliffhanger and it does look like all is lost for the rangers. Overall, Season 3 is an improvement over Season 2's messiness. While there are some bad elements (metallic armor, kid rangers, etc.), it could very well be the best out of MMPR seasons in terms of story progression and evolution. But the last 10 episodes of the Alien Ranger Saga bring it down and why exactly did Master Vile decide to leave again?
1. Changing of The Zords, Parts 1-3
2. A Ninja Quest, Parts 1-4
3. A Different Shade of Pink, Parts 1-3
4. Hogday Afternoon, Parts 1 and 2
5. A Ranger Catastrophe, Parts 1 and 2
Final Morph: C+/C-
Edited 4 total times.