I really miss the days when I could run through the halls of my school yelling “IT’S MORPHIN’ TIME” at the top my lungs. High school was so much fun…
Who knew a wonky Japanese TV show called Super Sentai (that seemed more like a Godzilla off shoot than a series) could capture the hearts and minds of America’s youth during the early ‘90s. Since then, it has ingrained itself into American pop culture to the point that, even 20+ years later, the series still enjoys success to this day (with merchandising out the wazoo). I can throw a rock out my window right now and hit at least one person who’s watched (or at the very least heard of) the Power Rangers.
And why not? As many of you probably remember, Power Rangers fever was freakin’ awesome! This action packed series was as epic as it got for children and preteens. The production values were unrivaled for its time, the special effects were unbelievable and the story telling was that of a Shakespearian drama! At least, that’s how I remembered it. I also recall the day I saw Netflix had brought the series to their streaming service in all its glory. That Saturday morning was special, as I sat down to enjoy me a Mighty Morphin’ good time. Of course, after about the fourth or fifth episode I finally said to myself, “…’da f*ck am I watching here?” To be honest, the show DID NOT hold up as I remembered it. In fact, it’s pretty god awful if not downright silly. I think I could have watched this show on acid and it probably wouldn’t have made much difference. Then again, what did I expect from a ‘90s kids show?
But while I may not be able to sit through every episode, the show still has its charms. Some are actually still watchable, as the “classic” portion of the long-running series had some pretty great moments (I’ll explain how I categorize that in a bit). We’ve also heard recently that Lionsgate and Saban are partnering to bring a new film to theaters that will essentially “reboot” things and take it back to its roots.
So I thought it would be fun to rank my top five favorite permutations of the first few Power Ranger seasons (in light of the remake focusing on this time period).
#5 - Power Rangers Turbo (1997):
This is by far my least favorite of the series (and what I consider my cut off point of what you can call the “original” series). This featured the last appearances of the primary characters, whom turn over their powers to all new faces (including that stupid kid who joins the team during the movie of the same name). This marks the point where the last remnants of the classic show from ’92 died (and my interest with it).
#4 - Mighty Morphin’ Alien Rangers (1996):
After the Rangers are turned into children (did I mention how dumb this show sounds when trying to explain it?), aliens from a planet known as Aquitar are summoned to protect earth in their stead. While a season without the original cast sounds bad, this offshoot was actually pretty entertaining. It would also lead to the destruction of the power coins and set the stage for the next entry in our countdown.
#3 - Power Rangers Zeo (1996):
Here our team received a serious face life. Everything about the Ranger’s new costumes, powers and Zords were different. Gone were the traditional morphers and power coins, swapped for multi-colored crystals. This also marked a changing of the guard for the Ranger’s advisories, as the Machine Empire would replace Rita and company as the show’s main antagonists (not nearly as interesting as early villains like Lord Zed or Goldar in my opinion).
#2 & #1 – Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (1993) / Movie Tie-In (1995):
I’ve decided to combine these last two entries, as both versions are quite similar (aside from a few subtle differences). On the heels of their break-out success, the first live action film saw the Ranger’s get a real upgrade (acquiring new Ninja powers). While the show had already swapped out the old Zords by this point (and replaced Trini, Zack and Jason due to a contract dispute) the movie’s release still marked one of their hottest points. However, I don’t think anyone can argue that Mighty Morphin’ deserves the spotlight as THE definitive pick. So many great moments happened during its first few seasons. From weird eye-ball monsters to that kick-ass Sphinx guy, this version of the show was memorable to say the least.
Of course there is one other reason that most will remember the Mighty Morphin’ series as a stand-out: a dude called the Green Ranger. By far the most iconic, Tommy became the character guys wanted to be (move over Red Ranger) and the one that ‘tween girls fell in love with. Plus, who didn’t love the Dragonzord? It was basically the show admitting that “…yeah, we know it’s mecha-Godzilla and we don’t care.” Not to mention that between this and Ocarina of Time, I found a new appreciation for flutes in my younger years. Jason David Frank would later return as the equally cool White Power Ranger soon after (not the most racially sensitive name in the world I’ll admit).
So now I must say thank you to the Power Rangers for all the warm, fuzzy feelings I received from them over the years. I will remember you fondly (even if the reality doesn’t quite live up to the memory).