My Personal Review On The Power Rangers Franchise: Toei's Big Time Entry Into The American Market!
After writing on Super Sentai as the longest consecutive running franchise by Toei, it's time to write on Toei's and Saban's co-production called Power Rangers. The whole Power Rangers franchise was Toei's big time entry with America when they and Saban both cooperated in creating Power Rangers. Localization of the show happened because of several cultural differences on JEFusion's fanpage.
The Saban era
The timing for Power Rangers could have never been more perfect than 1993. I guess there were a lot of series both Toei and Saban considered that could have been used but I'd say the marketing was right with remaking and localizing Zyuranger into something for the American audience thus the co-production between Toei and Saban was born. My Wild Mass Guess behind creating a show based on Super Sentai was all because of cultural differences. Zyuranger might be considered a "very weird show" so the first testing ground was on teenagers with attitude. The more I think about it, Zyuranger may not be a show that would easily click with Americans so they decided to try and mix several ideas. They got some ideas from Takeyuki Suzuki's era of Super Sentai like teenagers with attitude, a helper android in Alpha Five and well Zordon was more of an American concept. Later on, Zordon would receive some form of tribute with Moak (Gingaman) and Mr. Voice (Boukenger).
The story deviates greatly from Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger and villains were all renamed for American audiences. Considering it's the very first Power Rangers entry ever, reliance on stock footage was heavily used so dubbing Soga Machiko's scenes as Rita Repulsa were used. The show lasted for a good 40 episodes. It was meant to come to an end but due to the monster hit that it was (you know, let the cash flow in for both companies) and differences between American and Japan, both Toei and Saban agreed to arranging for the creation of Zyu2 footage. As they ran out of Zyu2 footage and the use of Dairanger footage, more combat scenes were soon filmed by Saban's company but still combined some stock footage whenever they felt like it like zord fights for instance. The third season also featured the use of Kakuranger footage while filming their own footage. Other stuff that you may notice is how often male yellow rangers in Japan ended up having a female counterpart in the U.S. was due to cultural reasons. This show was later dubbed in Japan.
In three seasons, at least 150 episodes were filmed. Later, some episodes in this series were horribly remastered by Disney.
Rather than change the cast that time, they proceeded to use Ohranger footage but deviated from its story. Power Rangers Zeo became a hit to the audiences. Personally, I think Zeo tends to get overrated by its fans. Ohranger was not popular at all in Japan during its run. The reverse happened during Zeo. The show featured the continuing adventures of the old crew (except with the addition of Tanya Sloan) against the Machine Empire. For one, I dropped this season and I don't think I'd ever rewatch it again.
Power Rangers Turbo was first introduced through the Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie based on Carrranger. So I wonder why did the producers name it into Turbo? The set itself also features the first kid ranger in Justin, something that I saw first before I learned of Kou's existence in Dairanger. Midseason, some changes were made like Judd Lynn writes the second half (shades of Toshiki Inoue replacing Tyuyoshi Kida) with an entirely new cast minus Justin. The same old cast minus Justin would soon end up continuing their adventures in a concluding saga. Like MMPR Season 2 and 3, this show featured a different group of footsoldiers from its original source.
Just for starters, Megaranger is not a space-themed but computer themed season and it ended the Zordon Arc. Most of the cast of Turbo's second half were added into this cast to be led by Andros. The new main villain known as the Dark Specter shows up, giving orders to everyone to form the "United Alliance of Evil". The series took a more serious turn with some Changeman elements. Andros' sister was like Shiima who was raised to be evil, Ecliptor is a noble villain who serves as Andros' rival who also protects Astronema's happiness and Dark Specter serves as the show's version of Star King Bazoo. The series concluded the Zordon arc but not Power Rangers.
I guess Gingaman would exist as that "another weird show". Lost Galaxy on the other hand tried to do something new like fly away from Earth (literally) while doing some of the Suzuki elements of Super Sentai. The show started off with an entirely fresh new cast, started to follow the Super Sentai format of yearly cast change and annual crossovers (which was done since Ohranger ended) and it just started to be serious. Some changes were made with the U.S. exclusive villain Trakeena (who looks like a cross between Changeman's Ahames and some American horror movie insectoid villain) deviating from Gingaman. Maybe the show can be best called as Power Rangers based on Gingaman but may have been partly inspired by Flashman. I felt this series began the testing ground of how Super Sentai will be done post-Timeranger.
Lightspeed Rescue deviated from Gogo-Five minus the rescue theme. So while the show tries to be lighter, it also takes some elements from other seasons that were never used for Power Rangers. My favorite example is how Chad Lee deviates from Nagare Tatsumi and instead, becomes a spiritual successor or the blue rangers of Hirohisa Soda's era like Ryuta Nanbara or Ken Hoshikawa. They had more or less a real rescue office with Captain Mitchell and Angela Fairweather. I felt like the producers here must have been inspired by the Rescue Police Trilogy (Winspector, Solbrain, Exceedraft) from Toei. I have a feeling I might like this show better than the Rescue Police Trilogy were there were no main villains per season.
Going side by side with Gaoranger was Power Rangers Time Force. Unlike Timeranger, the show started toning some things down to maintain some balance. Some of the things Time Force is more positive than Timeranger might be Wesley had a better approach with his father, Jennifer may be strict but she doesn't slap her teammates or Lucas doesn't have to struggle with the Osiris Syndrome. Plus, mercifully speaking, Captain Alex Collins is not a douchebag like Captain Ryuya. Ransik as a U.S. exclusive villain might be meant to deliver some anti-racist messages on how wrong attitudes can create villains too. Ransik appears to be another version of Jiban's Dr. Giba (born from a laboratory accident) but he showed that at times, humans can be more cruel than he is while he's a hammy villain portrayed by Vernon Wells.
Gaoranger was half-Disney and half-Saban. This season was criticized for the rather inadequate acting but I can name a few good things about this show. I felt like Cole's existence as a jungle boy fit more with the theme than Kakeru's being a vet. Though I'll admit, Gaoranger is better in the acting department and Wild Force can get criticized for it. I thought some of the stuff here really dragged it down like Forever Red. I thought Master Org was also a pretty nightmarish villain who demonstrated how evil the heart of humanity can get. He goes from the human Viktor Adler then ends up becoming the second Master Org, survives betrayal and just goes to do everything to betray his humanity.
Power Rangers Ninja Storm for me is a decent 38 episode show and I haven't seen much of Hurricanger to fully credit it. I'm afraid that this show gets underrated for stupid reasons. Ninja Storm (well according to Shogo anyway) was an unpopular season. I thought it was pretty decent season one way or another. On the other hand, is it me or is Tori Hanson really that overshadowed by the more popular Nanami Nono?!
Power Rangers Dino Thunder was a sequel of sorts to Mighty Morphin' with the return of Tommy Oliver. This was also the first show to directly promote Super Sentai in that episode called "Lost and Found in Translation". The show itself gets to be a fan favorite but I've heard from Henshin Grid that Connor isn't popular for being obnoxious. The series itself was more or less made for the American audiences. Abaranger can be said to be too "Japanese-y" which is one of the shallow reasons why I prefer it over this show. =P
Power Rangers SPD may have gotten its name from the fact that SPD meant Special Police Dekaranger from its source. This was the first entry of Bruce Kalish who had a pretty good resume but ended up getting hit or miss. Like Shoji Yonemura with Kamen Rider Kabuto, Kalish had this as a hit but was also hit by executive meddling. Some stuff were changed like the addition of the Troobian Empire where Vulgar from the Dekaranger movie becomes its recurring villain Emperor Grumm instead of Abrella. So I just wonder, why didn't they take the rest of the Gas Drinkers for the Troobian Empire? The show was later dubbed in Japan dubbed by the Dekaranger cast. Watching both shows can show certain cultural differences like Syd's development vs. Umeko's development or Jack's development vs. Ban's development. The Battlizer was later used in Magiranger vs. Dekaranger for some reason.
Like Lightspeed Rescue, Power Rangers Mystice Force didn't use the sibling theme but this was also the beginning of Disney's shorter seasons lasting up to only 32 episodes. I haven't seen much of this but from what I read, I think Vida Roca might be better than Houka Ozu and Nick Russell is no whiny brat like Kai. I'm yet to jump into a real judgment though. This was dubbed in Japan as well.
Perhaps another botched anniversary season isn't it? I keep hearing how almost nobody likes Operation Overdrive. It's because of that fact I'll admit I had unfair biases towards the show favoring Boukenger without fully analyzing anything. Perhaps the only real edge Boukenger has is the acting done by the cast but other than that, the writing may not be all that different, . The bad acting, bad dialogue and overuse of explosions was seen throughout the series.
I haven't seen Jungle Fury from start to end to comment though. But from PR Sentai Universe, the show also suffered some bad acting but was appreciated to have better writing for the characters and a decent second half. I just think that some changes were made because Gekiranger was just too serious for its time.
Compared to the comedic Go-onger, Power Rangers RPM deviated from its source becoming a more serious series. It's the first to present an artificial intelligence virus called Venjix. The world becomes the territory of Venjix, the rangers live in the dome city of Corinth where they hope to get rid of the virus. The series really had potential but was cut down short to 32 episodes! I mean, it could have tried to have at least 39 or 40 episodes. Disney's executive meddling anyone? The concept was partly redone in Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters which was skipped in favor of Kyoryuger.
Return of Saban era
Power Rangers Samurai was Saban's comeback but rather than try some newer stuff, Jonathan Tzachor himself is really way more disappointing. A lot of stuff ended up as mere copy/paste making the whole series as if it was just a fanmade series or illegal reproduction than a legitimate series. Also airing on Nickelodeon may have caused it to be split into two seasons which was very annoying. Now there's another stupid reason to overrate Shinkenger. The split was so painful to the point, hopefully Power Rangers will get another television network to air them!
Power Rangers Megaforce/Super Megaforce was a bad idea. It may sound cool on paper to cram Goseiger and Gokaiger but the results were horrendous. I thought most of the cast were okay. The problem isn't Andrew Gray but the way Troy was written. The problem isn't Ciara Hanna but the way Gia was written. I think it could have been better to skip Goseiger for Gokaiger anyone? I could still criticize how a lot of the non-Zyuranger suits were slipped in rather than film their own footage like they did in the past. Like some Super Sentai/Power Rangers fans can recognize the suits but what about the kids? This show felt like a whole cheap knockout of Mighty Morphin' and just about everything was so bad that I understand why some Power Rangers fans don't like this series. Eye candy didn't save this show either. From what I heard, Tzachor got fired after this.
The current ongoing series is Power Rangers Dino Charge. I really think skipping Go-Busters for Kyoryuger is not a bad idea. Go-Busters had terrible, terrible toy sales so it may not work out. Kyoryuger had decent toy sales to keep Super Sentai going. In this era, Judd Lynn returns to ensure some quality in the Power Rangers series. So far, Dino Charge shows signs of Power Rangers recovering. But looking at the next Power Rangers series, it's best to brace for the possibility that soon Power Rangers may get too stuntman reliant soon. For some positives, Dino Charge doesn't try to force unnecessary humor, samba and does go back to Lynn's tradition of do it yourself footage more than too much reliance on stock footage by Tzachor.
Hopefully, the Neo-Saban era can meet recovery or two, they can find another TV station that's better than Nickelodeon. I did enjoy Nickelodeon shows but as said, Nickelodeon isn't the best place for Power Rangers either.