By Patrick Tedder
For better or worse, I decided to relive my childhood by watching Haim Saban’s Might Morphin Power Rangers on Netflix. And, just as the Power Rangers wouldn’t give up, I would watch every episode, no matter how tedious, to completion.
What made the Power Rangers such a hit? For starters, there are a lot of episodes. The sheer quantity dominated key after-school time. It was practically impossible to turn on the TV and not see an episode when it was on syndicated television. In addition, the show was episodic. While it does progress to short story arcs, more often than not it didn’t matter which episode you caught, a key component for kids with busy afterschool schedules. Lastly, there’s the Godzilla effect.
Godzilla happens to be one of my favorite properties of all time. There’s a different kind of special effects wizardry at play with Japanese monster movies. Yes, sometimes they’re cheesy as hell, but often times, they can be good enough to make you wonder “how did they do that?” Lastly, the special effects are consistent. Instead of being jarred by the occasional effect that removes you from the show, Power Rangers bombards its audience with clever mixtures of reshoots to localize for its audience, while using a plethora of Japanese action scenes.
So how does the show fare after all these years? Honestly, much in the same way it did when it first aired. It’s no different than any longstanding comic book property where problems are solved with a good, old fashioned ass-kicking; good beats evil into submission, and our heroes can call it a day until evil comes back for more. It’s a cycle that doesn’t take much thought, and in 30 minute increments is easily palpable.
There’s also the diverse cast; two girls and three guys, each unique if not one-note personalities. Kimberly the Pink Ranger is into gymnastics, Billie the Blue Ranger is into science etc. The cherry on top is Bulk and Skull, the high school punks who act as constant, low-brow comic relief. We’re talking pies to the face, throwing up, and general buffoonery. Again, it’s not that it doesn’t make for some tedious episodes, but there’s enough substance to make for enough original combinations for story lines.
Due to the success of the show and also the realization that there really was only so much they could with each character before pushing their audience to the point of insanity, the show does switch things up with 2-3 episode story arcs. One of the most famous is that of the Green Ranger and later the White Ranger. Moving forward, whenever anything started to feel stale, the Power Rangers would get new weapons or Zords, their names for mechs. When even this approach started to hit a wall, the show would evolve to its next arc where the Power Rangers became Ninja Rangers. The formula continues today as they’ve gone through a dinosaur phase, truck phase, space phase and so much more. The premise remains the same, but who doesn’t appreciate a fresh coat of paint? The toy company certainly does.
What else is there to say? I suppose I could analyze individual episodes or arcs, but that would be counterintuitive to the show’s real nature. Should you watch it? Well … if you have no knowledge of the Power Rangers, I’d say check out a few episodes for general reference. If like me, this was a huge staple of being a kid, then you most certainly owe it to yourself to check it out. Otherwise, maybe you’ll want to start fresh and get excited for the new moving coming out later this year.