Haim Saban is a genius. During the eighties, the music he produced became embedded in the fabric of many a childhood – including my own – through shows like Inspector Gadget, M.A.S.K., and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, just to name a few. In the power vacuum left by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ declining popularity, Saban’s production company struck gold by importing Japanese TV shows and re-filming portions of them for American audiences. Their first? Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, an adaptation of the long-running Super Sentai series (literally: Fighting Squadron), featuring a group of teenagers “with attitude” that would fight the summoned, comical villains of Rita Repulsa, an evil witch on the moon. In a post-Captain Planet world, combining their powers (and their giant, animal-themed mechs) into a giant knight seemed incredibly logical. I spent many a recess running around the school’s playground, thrusting my hands in the air screaming ‘It’s Morphin’ Time!’. Sometimes, I still do.
Whether the Green Ranger mini-series or the White Ranger drama, my interest in the series lasted until just after the release of the first movie, which was created entirely for the American audience. My brother Rand, however, kept on truckin’ and is, hands-down, my go-to afficianado for all things Ranger. I’ve enlisted him to provide his ten favorite Power Rangers memories over the past twenty years, which reminds me, once again, how old I am.
Take it away!
1. Green With Evil. In these famous episodes, new kid Tommy shows up, becomes Rita Repulsa’s new evil Green Ranger and beats up the other Rangers, while Jason is sent to fight Goldar in another dimension. At the end, his Sword of Darkness is destroyed, the spell is lifted, and Tommy is kept on tap for another season to summon the Dragonzord.
2. The Mutiny. This three-part Season 2 premiere was so cool, they aired it in prime-time. It introduced the new villain Lord Zedd (still considered to be one of the best villains ever), as well as shiny new Zords.
3. White Light. Reintroduced Tommy as the White Ranger after fading away from the Green Ranger. Also, a new Megazord combination, and Rita Repulsa returns after being away half the season.
4. The Psycho Rangers. During Power Rangers in Space, this evil team showed up and gave the Rangers a beating not seen since Green With Evil. Fighting them took up a good chunk of the season, and required sharp wits and teamwork to bring them down…only for them to come back from the dead. Twice.
5. Countdown to Destruction. The epic finale of Power Rangers in Space where Zordon’s death vanquishes every villain from the first six post-Earth (well, Angel Grove really) seasons while the rest of the universe is conquered by evil in one fell swoop. This allows the series to move to new people in new cities with independent storylines.
6. The Rescue Mission. This episode from Power Rangers Lost Galaxy is a completely original episode, borrowing no Super Sentai footage, and having no Megazord fight, and it does it very well, being my favorite episode of the season.
7. Forever Red. For the Power Rangers 10th Anniversary, all of the Red Rangers were brought back for a mission to the moon to destroy Lord Zedd’s old Zord Serpenterra by fighting… villains using costumes from Big Bad Beetleborgs. The morph alone is awesome. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXbghYw2vaw
8. Tommy returns, again. In Power Rangers Dino Thunder, Tommy is now a teacher of paleontology, to coincide with the season’s dinosaur theme. A few episodes in, he becomes the Black Ranger, becoming a full-time Ranger for the first time in 17 years.
9. The betrayal of A-Squad in Power Rangers SPD. Early in the season, the top police squad disappears, leaving the reserve B-Squad (our heroes) to the defend the Earth from evil. Then for the finale, they show up again, having betrayed SPD to join the villain. It’s not a spell or anything, they voluntarily change sides. Did I mention the Red Ranger is a girl? That’s a first.
10. Power Rangers RPM. All of it. It takes the rather silly Engine Sentai Go-onger and turns it into a dark world where the Rangers defend the last safe city on Earth, mentored by a child prodigy who’s spent most of her childhood in a think tank, discusses the random explosions and the colorful spandex uniforms. Remember how awesome it was to see seven Zords combine into the Ultrazord? Try twelve.