The Mighty Morphin
Power Rangers arrive on DVD in R1 at last.
I'm one of the people who have been waiting for a set like
having first watched the show as an adult with my oldest son when it
aired. I still remember flipping
stations after Sesame
one afternoon when I stumbled across it.
My pre-school aged son, Joseph, was instantly entranced by the
costumes and fast-paced action scenes.
His geeky father on the other hand, a life-long kaiju (Japanese
fan, was excited to see another show in the vein of his childhood
favorites Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot and Ultraman.
So we started watching the show. Every day.
And rearranging our schedules so that we wouldn't miss it. And taping it on VHS when we couldn't get out
of an appointment. Yes, we were
hooked. After a year or so Joe and I
were joined by a new addition to the family, my youngest son Alex. All told the three of us watched the show on
a fairly regular basis for about a decade.
My sons grew up with the Power Rangers, in all their various
Over the years before Mighty
Morphin Power Rangers started airing I had often wondered why more
children's shows weren't dubbed for American audiences.
After all, Ultraman was exciting and the kids
in my neighborhood watched it
religiously. It turns out that the
answer is because there's a larger cultural gap than one would expect. More than a few of the plots deal with
monsters and creatures that American audiences wouldn't recognize and
were more convoluted. So these shows,
though immensely popular in Japan,
were never imported to the continental US (some shows were dubbed or
for the Hawaiian market however.)
Enter Haim Saban.
While he was between business meetings in Tokyo he started flipping stations
encountered an episode of Super Sentai.
Recognizing that the show had a lot of potential for the US
realizing the limitations, he hit upon a brilliant idea:
why not keep the fighting scenes with masked
heroes and create a new story with American actors.
It was brilliant, but it took him eight years
to convince anyone to broadcast the show.
Finally, an exec at Fox agreed to finance a pilot, and that lead
to a 40
episode contract. When the show finally
aired, it was an immense hit and changed the face of children's
The first seasons of Mighty Morphin
Power Rangers were
adapted from the Japanese program Kyouryuu
Sentai Zyuranger (Dinosaur Squadron
BeastRanger). The original version
dealt with a 170 million year old wizard who, with the help of five
Holy Warriors of Justice, was battling an evil witch who had sold her
Satan and killed off the dinosaurs.
In the Americanized version, astronauts exploring the moon
find something that looks like a "space dumpster" and by opening it
Rita Repulsa, a witch who had been imprisoned for 10,000 years. Along with her newly freed henchmen she sets
her sights on conquering the Earth.
Luckily, Zordon, the being who locked Rita away all those years
was sent into a time warp while doing it, senses that she's free and
robot, Alpha-5 to recruit "five teenagers with attitudes" to defend the
Alpha selects a group hanging out at the local juice bar and
gym: Jason, a tough leader and Karate
instructor, Kimberly, a cheerful Valley-girl type, Trini, the quite and
young woman who also has brains, Zach, another martial arts enthusiast,
the intelligent bookworm who is more at home in a lab than fighting
monsters. This group is transported to
Zordon's hidden command center and the teens are given 'power morphers'
will transform them into strong fighters as well as allow them to each
a 'zord,' a large dinosaur-shaped robot.
When they need even more power, the zords can be joined together
a megazord, a very formidable fighting machine in the shape of a giant
That sets up the basic formula for this series as well as
the other Power Ranger seasons. The kids
will have some simple kid/teen problem to solve: overcoming
a fear, working together, making
friends, and the like. Meanwhile, on the
moon, Rita hatches a plan that involves sending a monster down to Angel
the city where the Rangers live along with a group of Putties, weak
soldiers made out of clay. They attack
the Rangers in their civilian forms, and when the teens get overwhelmed
this shouts out "It's morphin time!" and they all transform by yelling
name of their dinosaur zord.
Beating off the attack, the Rangers get a chance to work on
their problem a bit before the monster attacks again.
The Rangers win again, but this time Rita
casts a spell and makes the creature grow to a giant size.
The Rangers call upon their Zords, fight a
bit, form the Megazord, and finally save the Earth. Back in their
they solve their problem and usually end the show at the juice bar
nutritious, healthy, and tasty glass of fruit or vegetable juice. Yum, yum.
Yes, it's formulaic and the vast majority of episodes are
stand along monster-of-the-week shows, but that doesn't mean there
continuity. Most of the seasons have an
over reaching larger story arc and there are missions inside each
advance the plot. That goes a long way
to keeping the show interesting.
The first major plot change occurred because of changes in
the Japanese counterpart that no one realized were going to take place. One of the staff had the job of editing
of Kyouryuu Sentai Zyuranger to
extract the monster fights as well as any extra generic footage or
street scenes that could be incorporated into episodes of Power Rangers. After the show started airing it was
discovered that there weren't five Rangers in the original, a sixth was
part way through the series. This caused
a panic. They needed to cast another
actor and come up with some way to introduce him to the show. That led to the five-part Green
with Evil storyline that aired early
in the first season and introduced Tommy as the Green Ranger.
In the second season, Lord Zedd, Rita's superior, arrives
and throws her back into the space dumpster since she's been doing such
horrible job of conquering the Earth. He
ups the ante and starts to target the Green Ranger, eventually trapping
taking away all of his power, permanently!
I still remember how surprised my son was at that twist. (Don't worry, while Tommy is no longer the
Green Ranger, he still plays an active part in the series.) This season also sees the first change in the
Power Ranger line up. When three of the
actors held out for more money (it was the most popular children's show
after all) the production company decided to replace them instead of
salary. This resulted in Jason, Zack and
Trini leaving and three new Rangers joining the team, something that
happen on a fairly regular basis from here on out.
In the third season Rita's brother, Rito Repulsa, arrives on
the scene and destroys their zords and their power coins (which allow
morph). This starts a quest to find
Ninjor the being who created the power coins in the first place. At the end of season three, Rita and Rito's
father, Master Vile, shows up and uses the Orb of Doom to turn back
change the Rangers into children.
This leads to a 10-part miniseries (included in this
collection) Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers
where Zordon calls on Ranger from the planet Aquitar to aid earth. They help, but this the battle escalates
which results in a devastating loss for the Ranger.
This adventure leads into the next Power
Ranger series (they'd come up with a new series every season from now
on) Power Rangers Zeo!
In Zeo, a new threat faces Earth, the Machine Empire.
These evil robots are so villainous that Lord
Zedd and Rita Repulsa flee from the moon rather than face them. With a new Ranger (gold) new Zords, eventually
the introduction of super zeozords, the Rangers have a lot on their
the threat they face is mighty, and the return of their old foes, Lord
Rita means the outcome is anything but certain.
After Zeo concluded, the second film, Turbo: A Power
Rangers Movie was released and is part of the show's
continuity (as opposed to the first film which did not fit in with the
show). It's not included with this set,
but you will find the entire the fifth season, Power
Rangers Turbo. This
series sees the introduction of the first kid to be a Power Ranger,
played the Blue Ranger. Since he was so
young (and to match the Japanese footage) Zordon gave him the power to
into an adult when he morphed.
This is the series where the show started to go down
hill. The addition of a 12-year-old
character, forced on Saban by the Fox executives, was a dumb move, but
worse when the show introduced Alpha-6, a jive-talking robot. Every scene he's in is painful to watch. The villain for this season, Divatox, was way
too over-the-top too, which is saying something a lot.
On top of all of those problems, the entire Ranger line up
(with the exception of the young Justin) was replaced in favor of new
actors. Taken all together, this season
is one of the weakest in the franchise.
Things get much, much, better in the sixth season, Power
Rangers in Space. This is one of
the very best seasons of the show. The
outer space theme helps a lot, as does the more serious tone of the
the larger-than-life scope of the series.
The biggest improvement is that this season is a series has a
continuity. Each show leads into the
next one, and they bring back a lot of characters who made appearances
The plot is pretty epic too.
The space villain Dark Specter has captured Zordon and is
power. The Turbo Rangers take off in a
borrowed space shuttle to search for him and along the way encounter
Space Ranger Andros who gives them (eventually) Astro Morphers as well
turning their shuttle into the Astrozord.
But this has brought them to the attention of Dark Specter and
of Evil, Astronema. This season also
sees the introduction of my favorite Power ranger villains, the Psycho
Rangers. These five robotic evil Rangers
are more powerful than the Space Rangers but also practically insane. They're delightfully evil and make for some
of the best episodes in years.
This season also wraps up the original Mighty Morphin Power
Ranger story. Since the very first
episode there has been a thread of a story with Zordon fighting evil in
galaxy. Though the Power Rangers have
changed, zords have been created and destroyed and the main villains
go, up until this point the series has been telling one long story. It all comes to a dramatic and exciting close
in the final two-part episode Countdown to Destruction.
In this epic tale Dark Specter, with Zordon
almost drained of all of his energy, gathers together all of the evil
in the universe and launches an all out attack on everything. All of the Rangers from other planets are
attacked at once, and things go very badly for most of them. Earth is conquered. It
looks like the beginning of a dark era,
but there's still some fight left in the Power Rangers.
This was one of the best conclusions to a
children's show ever, an epic battle full of defeat, victory, and
sacrifice. It's a great way to end the
And that's what the creators thought they were doing when
the show was first plotted out. The
ratings on Power Rangers Turbo were
pretty wretched, and if Power Rangers in
Space didn't improve, the show was certain to be cancelled. The rating did go up however,
significantly. Instead of the show being
cancelled, more episodes were ordered. That
was a bit of a problem since everything had been wrapped up at the end
Power Rangers Lost
Galaxy is a bit different from what came before.
It's distinctly separate from the first six
Power Rangers seasons, except when it isn't.
It takes place in the far future, where a group of colonists
Earth in a space ship to look for an Earth-like planet.
Somehow Bulk, the comic relief first
introduced in the very first episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,
board too, which caused some head-scratching at my house.
An entirely new group of teens find five
Quasar Sabers that allow them to morph along with sentient zords, known
Galactabeasts. They use their newfound
power to defend the space ship from a series of space villains.
It was hard to get into this show, especially after the high
points of the last season. It's a so-so
season and the point where my boys decided the show had jumped the
shark. From here on out the various Power
seasons would all be stand alone stories (thought they'd have a team-up
adventure or two every year where an old group of Rangers would arrive
fight a villain, something that started with Lost Galaxy.
So, seeing chunks of this show again after a number of
years, how does it hold up? Very well
actually. The program was never great
drama, but it did fill a nice niche and it still does today. Power
Rangers is a cross between an action flick and the light tween
that the Disney Channel shows currently.
There's a good amount of flash and style, some great catch
just a tad of humor (which still falls as flat today as it did 20 years
ago.) For young kids, or adults who
truly embrace their inner nerd, it's still fun and a great view.
Having said that, it is hard to ignore the silly parts of
the show and make no mistake, there are a lot of goofy aspects. Due to the way the show was created, they had
to use the monsters from the Japanese show and a lot of those were
rather than being scary. Pudgy Pig is a
giant hog head in a helmet with arms and legs who eats everything in
said he'll eat the Earth entire food supply in 48 hours).
He's absolutely wonderful compared with the Pumpkin
Rapper, a guy with a pumpkin head who raps while he wraps vines around
opponents. Get it? He
raps and wraps and he's the Rapper.
Then there are some of the poor plot devices. When
three of the original Rangers left the
show over a pay dispute, they were written out in a particularly clumsy
manner. Using only recycled footage, the
show related how the trio were selected to represent Angel Grove in the
Peace Summit in Switzerland. Since peace is such an important thing, they
agree to go, rather than saving the world on a daily basis from an evil
witch. (And I'm not even mentioning the
fact that these cool kids hang out at a combo juice bar/gym.)
Still, things like that are what makes the show so fun.
Yeah it's goofy but it's also cool. The
whole show is about Giant monsters
battling teens in robots (and dinosaur robots in some seasons). How cool is that?!?
The first seven seasons arrive in two boxed set. The
first slipcase contains all three seasons
of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, while the second includes Power
Power Rangers Turbo, Power Rangers in Space, and Power Rangers Lost
Galaxy. All together the set consists of
an astounding 338 episodes on 37 DVDs with another three discs reserved
extras. It's a very impressive
The stereo soundtrack presents the show as it originally
aired, without as much fanfare and pizzazz as the show probably
serviceable. There aren't a lot of low
frequencies, which is too bad because the explosions would be more
if they had a bit more punch aurally.
That said, the dialog is clean and there aren't any common audio
The full frame image is actually pretty good. The
show has a bright design with a lot of
intense colors and these come across quite nicely.
The lines are tight and the level of detail
is fine. It's a solid looking show, even
when seen on a large screen display. The
only real complaint is that some of the Japanese footage isn't as crisp
rest of the show, but it's a minor complaint.
Time-Life and Shout! Factory have assembled a truly
impressive collection of bonus material for this set.
The discs with the shows themselves are bare
bones affairs, but there are a total of three DVDs devoted to extras,
which are crammed with newly created featurettes as well as rare and
seen Power Ranger specials.
The fun starts off with Morphin
Time, a 32-minute look at the creation of the show and the early
years. Various Rangers, directors, and
writers discuss the program and how phenomenally successful it was. Haim Saban tells how he came up with the idea
and relates how he had to shop the show around for eight-years in order
it picked up. (After the 8-week contract
was signed with Fox, all of the execs who saw the pilot hated it and
told, before it even aired, that it would be cancelled after the 40
run was over.)
There are some great anecdotes too about the filming and
promotion of the show too. Early on it
was decided that the Rangers would hold a press appearance at Universal
in LA and, since they were doing that, they scheduled an extra show for
public in a 400 seat theater. The day
before the appearance they moved them to the largest auditorium they
tens of thousands of people were requesting tickets.
They did 6 shows in a 6000 seat venue, and
still had to turn away tens of thousands of fans. It
was the first time that Universal Studios
closed, they were over capacity, and so many people continued to flood
all areas that the highway patrol had to close the freeway exits that
the amusement park. That in turn created
a traffic jam that stretched 10 miles.
Pretty impressive for just 5 teenagers with attitudes.
A Morphenomenal Cast
run 35-minutes and looks back at the actors who played the rangers with
Yost, Walter Emanuel Jones, Jason David Frank, Paul Schrier, Jason
others reminiscing about their co-workers.
They talked a lot about the grueling shooting schedule as well
popularity of the show. Since many of
the actors are still working in show biz, the comments are just about
positive. There is one mention made that
Austin St. John (the original Red Ranger) didn't get along Jason David
(the Green/White Ranger) but it's glossed over as is anything that
controversial. I wish the had talked
about the departure of three rangers at the end of season two, and
claims that he left the series because of harassment due to his sexual
orientation. Neither of these are
touched on though.
In addition to the new featurettes there are some vintage specials
that are very rarely seen. Lord
Zedd's Monster Heads (25-minutes) and
The Good, the Bad, and the Stupid
(52-minutes) are direct-to-video shows that consist of a series of
the show held together by a framing device.
Alpha's Magical Christmas runs
for 23-minutes and that's about 22-minutes too long.
It's another direct-to-video offering meant
that was thrown together. Basically,
Alpha-5 sings Christmas carols. That's
about it. Let us move along.
Something that even a lot of hard core fans probably haven't
seen is the video that you received if you joined the Power Rangers Fan
back in the early days. The half-hour
long reel features interviews with the original cast, and behind the
scenes footage. It was much better than I
The White Ranger Kata
is the second installment of the direct-to-video series MMPR
Karate Club. In this
40-minute lesson, White Ranger and real-life martial arts expert Jason
Frank teaches young kids a series of moves along with discussing the
There's also something that I didn't know was recorded:
Power Rangers Live stage show. At
the height of the original line-ups popularity a stage show was created
toured the country. The actors from the
show don't appear, they just recorded their dialog and only 'appeared'
costume with their masks on. I remember
when this was touring, and my oldest son was upset that it didn't
appear in a
city near us.
Next up is Tales of
the Giant Banana: A Look Back at Bulk and Skull (22-minutes)
actors Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy discussing their roles on the show,
ironically some of the longest running characters in program's run. Behind
The Mask: Celebrating the Stunt Team talks with some of the stunt
well as the stunt coordinator who filmed many of the more challenging
There's a look at a fan-run MMPR convention in A Convention
with Attitude: Power Morphicon too, but more interesting are a pair of
special that only aired once. 1998's Power
Playback: Power Rangers Funniest Moments is a clip show hosted by the
Blue Ranger, David Yost, and Power Rangers: The Lost Episode has Austin
John and Walter Emmanuel Jones presenting the original pilot for the
The on-disc extras are rounded out by a half-hour sneak-peek
to Power Rangers Zeo and a couple of promo spots.
But wait, that's not all!
There are also two booklets included with the set.
Both contain a brief introduction, episode
listings, character bios and more.
The only thing that's really missing are commentary tracks
from the stars. I would have enjoyed
hearing the cast reminisce a little bit more, especially those actors
weren't included in the featurettes. Of
course, if they weren't willing to appear on camera, I doubt that
they'd do a
I watched all of these when they originally aired (and spent
a small fortune on the toys for my sons).
Revisiting them I found them just as fun, goofy, exciting, and
as ever. If you have fond memories of
rushing home from school to see what monster Lord Zedd would send to
next, you'll have a great time with this set.
Add to that the solid A/V presentation and the absolutely
set of extras and this collection earns the coveted DVDTalk Collectors Series