Monday, January 02, 2012

Series Commentary: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Between my first commentary and my second, I watched a grand total of six seasons of Power Rangers. I'm going to post them as they were written, though without the six month wait, but not necessarily in the same order. The sixth season that I watched, in attempting to learn the role of the Mystic Mother, was Season 14, Mystic Force, which means that anything I've watched in the past year will likely be presented before that (hopefully I won't seem too much a fool to your more knowledgeable minds once you get to that commentary).

Why did I not do a commentary on each episode or each season? Frankly, because I do not want to be accused of mimicking somebody else’s project. Yes, it was Lewis Lovhaug, also known as Linkara, that inspired me to rewatch the show. Yes, I do have a review project in the works. The problem here is not making a work that could potentially be labeled a rip-off, as well as creating a work that could accidentally become a rip-off; that is, creating something that already exists just because I think it would be cool to do. As a result, I’ve laid down blueprints for a project that might not come into fruition until Season 19 is in mid-season. If I’m lucky, History of Power Rangers will have finished Episode 17 by then. Unless, of course, he changes S.O.P., in which case Episode 18 could well be ready.

What else, apart from the show? Yes, I did an April Fools’ review of Scorpion Rain. I have not seen any original tapes of Scorpion Rain, and if they do exist I would be very appreciative if somebody were to up them onto Youtube and advertise them. Yes, I’m watching Samurai. Yes, I’m wondering where Skull is, and whether the uniform actually helped him in conceiving Spike. I tried to work out a timeline where it could be conceivable that Kim was the mother, but the only way that would fit in continuity is if she never actually left for the Peace Conference or met somebody there. So I’m throwing off that idea. Sorry, Lewis. (Writer's note: I gave up on Samurai after this due to the site I was watching it on. Not that the first two episodes were published as 19 and 20, I'm giving it another try, but I have no comment beyond what I wrote here as of yet).

On to the commentary.

The more I think about the three Mighty Morphin seasons, the more I conclude that one season was not the best. Rather, these three seasons are equally the best for different reasons. The best characters by far are in the first season and a half. I don’t just mean they’re my favorites, I mean they’re the best written, with the most interesting plot, characterization, personal dilemmas, friendships, so on and so forth. The chemistry with these five actors is incredible, and Jason David Frank doesn’t hurt anything when he joins the team. In the second season, we get a slight step down with the characters as we bring in Rocky, Adam and Aisha. It really took me until well into season three for me to distinguish Rocky from Adam; that’s how much interesting plot there was for them. As a child, not knowing much about Asians, lamps, or that they weren’t all equally skilled in Martial Arts despite Rocky wearing a black belt, it took until Turbo.

In the third season, we lose even more beloved characters: Tommy’s beloved Kimberley, replaced by Katherine, my least favorite ranger of the six seasons I’ve read so far. It’s here where it becomes even more pronounced that the Season One rangers are pretty much forgotten- you go through close to a season with Tommy appearing as almost a supporting character. Not a pleasant feeling when none of the new characters are unique enough in their portrayal to form any kind of bond with them. Kat was unique, but I couldn’t stand her so her episodes were not a plus.

There was a more menacing air at times with Zedd, but it wasn’t constant. As time went on, there was even more chlidish humor with Zedd than without, mostly after the wedding, then the appearance of Rito. Still, Season 3 had the most intense story- but also the most humor, in ways that I feel hurt the story and kept it from being the best season as I had felt as a child when I focused only on the action.

Part of both the glory and the weakness of Season 3 was how much new footage was used (and the real reason the ninja rangers, alien rangers and Zeo rangers came into play). For those who aren’t aware, the morphed sequences (save the White Thunder Ranger) of the three Mighty Morphin seasons were all from Zyuranger, which is where the Z on the Mega Dragonzord and Ultrazord from Season 1 come in. The Thunderzords are from Dairanger, which makes me assume that the actual Zord summoning scene is a bit of SFX work by Saban, with the Ninja and Alien Rangers (along with the three sets of Zords in Season 3) are all from Kakuranger.

The reason I speak on the new footage though, is that it means more of an emphasis on the non-morphed, because there’s less effort made to match sentai footage. While the ninja scenes were created following the same formula as season 1, there was less morphed footage to use, which means there was more reason to use non-morphed footage. The reason I speak on it being a curse is because with more need for unique scenes, Power Rangers has consistently gone the route of a children’s show. This means Rito and Goldar, fitting into the roles you would see in Zeo. This is also related to Bulk and Skull‘s ups and downs, as writers of different seasons (even different episodes) seem to change between what we saw emerging in season 2, the same characters we saw in season 1, or the bumblers we saw in between.

Still, the first three seasons are the masterpiece. They’re fairly menacing, successful with their comedy, have epic non-morphed fights, generally very memorable characters (Rocky and Tanya being the major exceptions) and interesting stories. Even in the season I criticize for paying the least attention to Tommy and Billy, the two remaining season 1 Rangers, we get Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers, which focused a major plot around Tommy, Aisha, Rocky, Adam and Katherine going on spiritual journeys, with Billy existing as the only active Ranger- but without his powers. The one criticism I have for this miniseries (which is really part of Season 3) is that it doesn’t act as much in the role of a bridge between seasons as it could. Sure, we don’t want to give everything for the season premiere away, but Tommy’s wearing all white throughout this, learning from a falcon, very excellent characterization for the White Falcon Ranger. Except the writers knew we would never see the White Falcon Ranger again. How about some red- perhaps in the form of a gift, or in some memory of Jason; hell, even in the form of an injured Tommy showing blood? This is the most memorable journey for me; without rewatching, I honestly couldn’t tell you if Rocky or Adam had any Zeo hints, but I seriously doubt it.

That’s all for today. Next time, I’ll be covering the last two Earth seasons. Or something like that. The last two seasons with any of the original cast, other than Bulk and Skull.

Bill Silvia is a regular contributor at Fantasy & SciFi Lovin' News & Reviews. You can find more of his content at http://www.MiBreviews.com

2 comments:

Jamie (Mithril Wisdom) said...

Great commentary. I lost interest in MMPR once Jason, Trina and Zack left the group. Original MMPR cast for the win!

My favourite episode from the original series was The 2-part The Green Candle, where Tommy passes his power onto Jason. Seeing Jason as the Red Ranger with the Dragon Dagger would pretty epic.

The Man in Black said...

Yeah, it's too bad that Jason only used the Shield once and the Dragon dagger/Zord maybe three times, if that.