MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS Season One
They’re still mighty naff
RELEASED 26 JUNE 1993 | PG | DVD Creators Haim Saban, Shuki Levy Cast Machiko Soga, Austin St John, Jason David Frank, Walter Jones, Amy Jo Johnson, Thuy Trang
“Alpha, Rita’s escaped! Recruit a team of teenagers with attitude!” If you were a teenager in the 1990s, with or without attitude, you were already too old to watch Power Rangers. It doesn’t have any hidden depths or jokes for older viewers. Indeed, it’s pretty excruciating as adult viewing.
Power Rangers offers wacky “giant” rubber monsters to make Doctor Who’s Myrka look like Godzilla; cartoon characters to make Scooby-Doo look like Buffy; a mincing comic-relief robot that makes C-3PO look like RoboCop; and lurches in reality that make Mulholland Drive look like Coronation Street. Oh, it’s mad, but that’s not the same as good.
Five young teens – three boys, two girls – are summoned by an inter-dimensional being called Zordon. Bad news: Earth’s being attacked by a space sorceress called Rita Repulsa. She’s played by campily sexy Japanese actress Machiko Soga, with her voice screamingly overdubbed.
Rita’s cunning strategy is to send ludicrous monsters to attack our heroes’ home town, Angel Grove. Luckily Zordon lets the teens “morph” into kick-ass, colour-coded masked heroes, the Rangers. They fight Rita’s monsters by kicking and biffing them in unhealthily imitable ways, or else boarding robot dinosaurs and combining their powers.
The episodes are extremely formulaic, though some monsters are highlights through what-am-I-watching ridiculousness: there’s a balloon-like toad with a mohican, and a giant turtle that can replace his head with a cannon. When you can’t see the actors’ faces, you’re probably watching footage from Japan. Power Rangers was an exercise in localisation, splicing American actors with a Japanese TV franchise, Super Sentai.
It’s hard to sit through the episodes (this box set offers 60!), but you can navigate an easier path by picking out the multi-episode “tentpole” stories, which are livelier and come closer to actual drama – several such arcs involve the Green Ranger, initially introduced as a Rita-worshipping enemy character. Actor Jason David Frank would stay with the franchise for many years, while most of his co-stars would soon bail and be replaced.
We suspect many of the viewers grew out of Rangers fast too.
Notoriously, Trini morphs into the plainly male Yellow Ranger. Super Sentai typically only had one girl in their battle teams.