I think anyone that grew up in my era spent the tail end of their childhood or pre-teen days with some sort of interest in the Power Rangers. Of course the folks who were just kids when I was a pre-teen probably see the Rangers as their Transformers and GI Joe all rolled up into one, but I digress. The original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers connected with most of the children of the 80’s as the last little bit of our youth.

Considering that the Power Rangers hit in the mid 1990’s, it’s not much of a surprise. I really didn’t notice the Rangers much until the appearance of Lord Zedd (His toy reviewed HERE) and it was the actual debut mini-movie of him that got me interested in the Americanized Sentai at all. Sure, I had seen episodes here or there, but the show was ridiculously stupid for my slightly older, refined, tastes.

With the Green Ranger saga and eventually the introduction of more coherent story arcs, the Power Rangers captured parts of our imagination. Fans loved the Kimberly/Tommy budding love, Lord Zedd’s awesomeness, Goldar’s underrated potential and every guy I know had the hots for the Pink Ranger. I never cared much for the original Black, Yellow and Red Rangers, so when they were replaced I was more into the show, though many fans have a different take.

Eventually though, all of the Rangers were replaced, the Zords, costumes and even villains were shuffled around. I lost interest and so did such a huge chunk of the audience. Some cast and costume changes were inevitable, but the entire show? This is because the original Sentai shows followed a similar format where each new season had a new cast and crew. One of the things I’ve always wondered is why Saban didn’t just fund his own Sentai show. Saban paid for extra footage to be shot, had replica suits made and often had the original suits sent to the LA studios, so why not continue with the existing cast and plot?

I suppose keeping the cast could be an issue, as even from the beginning actors were told that they were replaceable, leading to the original Trini to be recast before the official pilot ever hit the air. Still, Saban obviously was on to something and knew that Tommy and Kimberly (and to a lesser extent Billy) were important to the show. When Kim left, so did most of my interest. Constantly changing costumes and villains didn’t freshen up the show, it watered it down.

I’m not saying they couldn’t get new costumes, or even reuse some old Sentai footage… But why not keep the regular costumes, then have them like “power up” to the new costumes (aka stock footage) from time to time? And you can replace characters, but why replace the WHOLE cast at once? Just kills any momentum flat. Each time the show is redone it just seems like a great waste of money and effort. Imagine if the Ninja Turtles changed colors every year or if the GI Joe team suddenly changed (Sgt. Savage?!), it wouldn’t work.

All of the storylines seemed to be redone, the main character arcs became stereotypical and to many, the interest just waned. I’ve never understood how the budgets have seemingly went up with each subsequent season and yet they still feel the need to use old Sentai show footage instead of just commissioning their own costumes. I mean, they can fight the Putties (or whatever) every week but they can’t fight a monster more than once? Reuse that stuff once and a while and make a compelling story and people will care more!

It’s just never made a lot of sense to me that Bulk & Skull would be deemed important enough to stick around, even though their proposed spin-off “Hotel Bulkmeier”, never got off the ground, but the core costumes and villains couldn’t? Sure it would have cost more to fund a full fledged or even 90% American produced Power Rangers show, but a large majority of the later shows used a ton of American footage anyway, so what’s the difference? Especially when you consider the kind of dough that Power Rangers was raking in at it’s peak.

People connect better to long term characters and storylines, even stupid kids… Yet despite some foggy continuance through the years, there has never been much interest from Saban in establishing a Power Rangers that doesn’t change everything each season. I suspect that’s why more people remember the original Power Rangers so fondly and people from my generation can’t name a single member of the later Rangers.

Or maybe we just all grew up. For what it’s worth, there is a huge Power Rangers fandom out there, comparable to Transformers, GI Joe or dare I say, Star Wars. They know all the actors, the ins and outs and have a knowledge and depth of the universe far more than I do… Yet the biggest attraction to the Power Rangers is still to those first few seasons, when there was an effort to establish something that wasn’t so replaceable. Back then it wasn’t a formula, it was fresh. I truly believe that is why so many people remember it fondly.

Do you think Power Rangers could have been a better show, had they made some attempt to keep the cast, costumes and produce more original stuff? Or is it just a stupid kid’s show that’s better off left without establishing an individual mythos?

7 Responses to Romancing The Morpher – A Look Back At The Power Rangers

  • russ says:

    Dude, the mid 90s DEFINED lack of originality; by then, everything was all about just recycling previous stuff.

    It's like franchise makers just completely gave up and ran out of ideas at that time. To an extent I think we missed nothing in general as time continued.

  • Tarman13 says:

    I remember the Original Show and I'm 46 years old now, Hell, I still Remember the character's name JASON, BILLY, ZACH, TOMMY, KIMBERLY & TRINI I was probably in my early 30's when the Original Show hit the air. and NOW kinda creepy that i still know their names. I remember their names and the TOYS–

    Bendai Made the HORRID figures with Super Possible features and accessories and the ZOIDS. Parents were fighting over the Figures like the Cabbage Pack Kids years ago and the Figures were'nt all that great. but their KIDS wanted them never-the-less. The ones that caught my attention were the MORPHING ONES– you know, when you move their arms up the Heads change with the Helmets on or off.

    Remember the RITA REPOSA figure that TOYS R US were supposed to get them and they even had a wait-List that TOYS R US were to call you when the Figures arrives– she was even on the Card back of the MORPHING RANGERS. well that was very short-lived that STUPID BENDAI decided to scrub the RITA REPOSA figure due to their strict policy rule the FEMALE figures DON'T SELL!!!

    Even to this day I still Hate that company– :C

    Now after what– 20 years later, Bendai still makes the Power Rangers Figures… Slightly better but still NO RITA REPOSA!!! Go suck an egg Bendai!!!

  • Haha, well I think a lot of the issues is who is in charge of the Bandai division in America. I always thought it would have been easier to import a bunch of their old Sentai figure molds. I think they may have for a few, but not for the bulk of the toys. I never did really understand that.

  • Not entirely off, that's for sure. One of the things I've always found interesting about the 90's was there was such an emphasis on how much anything for the 80's wasn't good anymore. Almost all the good properties died by the end of the 80's and early 1990's because it seemed that consumers didn't like anything that wasn't new and jazzed up.

    Which meant we got a lot of watered down retreads instead of original ideas or continuing with things how they had originally been done.

    Yet by 2005, Retro was huge again and anything that happened in the 80's was looked back upon fondly. It's just a shame that same sentiment couldn't have remained alive during the 1990's.

  • russ says:

    it's one of many reasons I hate the '90s so incredibly much. A lot of people seem to think the '80s and '90s were very similar, and I must respectfully disagree. I've often said about the '90s that they were "a truly pathetic excuse of a follow-up to the '80s".

    Um….I wouldn't refer to anything at all from the '90s as "new and jazzed up"; more like simplistic versions of everything…and not simplistic in a good way, just simplistic. It's one of the reasons "old-fashioned" became popular again; simplicity just for the sake of it blew, and the '90s proved that.

  • To me it seemed like there was a ton of products and shows being relaunched, but doing so in a as I said before, "new and jazzed up" fashion. You liked GI Joe? Well now you're gonna get GI JOE… EXTREME!

    The 90's had tons of EXTREME! and ULTIMATE! and stuff like that, focusing on bright colors, loud noises and attempting to distance itself from older properties. At least, that's how I saw it.

    Thanks for the comments.

  • Synthalus says:

    I agree that the majority of the attitude, music and culture of the 90's sucked.
    The 80's were definably the best, but the 90's still had very good series!
    To name a bunch 90's cartoons that were awesome imo:
    Gargoyles, Animals of Farthing Wood, Batman: The Animated Series, Biker Mice from Mars, Bucky O'Hare, Exo-squad, Pirates of Dark Water, Reboot, Beast Wars, Simpsons, Skeleton Warriors, Swat Kats, Tale Spin, X-Men, Spider-man.

    I was around 14 when Power Rangers started to air and I watched it on and off. I liked Beetleborgs too. They weren't the greatest shows but not much else was on tv anyway. I do like the designs of the first Power Rangers a lot and that's why I collect some of them.

    I also watched some of the original "Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger" and I gotta say it was so much more enjoyable. They show the rangers fighting in the city a lot where they protect the citizens from the monsters from time to time.

    I have an old 1" Rita Repulsa pvc figure. I think that's the only one that was ever made.
    Seemingly this year we will finally get an action figure of her after waiting for 18 years.

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