In this installment of The Nostalgia Factory, I will be taking a stroll down my own memory lane as I take a look at the long-running television series about teenagers with attitude and a hell of a double life. Yes, I am talking about the Power Rangers. In the 1990s, FOX decided to adapt the Japanese series, using stock footage from the original to save on costly rehearsals and re-shoots.
In the end the story goes like this (click the image to view the intro at YouTube):
When the evil Rita Rupulsa and her cohorts are freed from their prison, she decides to avenge this “injustice” by conquering Earth. Meanwhile, interdimensional being Zordon and his android assistant Alpha-5 teleport “five teenagers with attitude” to their Command Center to become the greatest team of superheroes, the Power Rangers. In the Angel Grove Youth Center, a group of teenagers is engaged in many after-school activities: practicing Martial Arts, weightlifting, gymnastics, and just plain ol’ chilling out, when an earthquake shakes the place and all of the teens flee, except for five. They are teleported to the Command Center where Zordon gives them the Power Morphers that can transform Zach Taylor (Walter Jones) into the Black Ranger, Kimberly Hart (Amy Jo Johnson) into the Pink Ranger, Billy Cranston (David Yost) into the Blue Ranger, Trini Kwan (Thuy Trang) into the Yellow Ranger, and Jason Lee Scott (Austin St. John) into the Red Ranger, and they are commanded to protect the planet against the evil witch.
Anytime they are called into duty they must first battle the Putties (Rita’s henchmen) as civilians and, later, when the big ugly monster comes out, they take out their morphers with the cry: “It’s morphin’ time!” After that they do the usual role call of “Mastodon! Pterodactyl! Triceratops! Saber-Toothed Tiger! Tyrannosaurus!” Then, presto! You’ve got five costumed teens with serious butt-kicking abilities. If they cannot defeat said monster with their sidearm or sword, then they call on their advanced weapons: the Black Ranger’s Power Axe, the Pink Ranger’s Power Bow, the Blue Ranger’s Power Lance, the Yellow Ranger’s Power Daggers, and the Red Ranger’s Power Sword. They put them together to form the Power Blaster and fire it at the monster, thereby killing it.
If Rita chooses, she sends her magic staff to make the monster grow to huge proportions and then the Rangers have to call on their personal attack vehicles called Zords. The Black Ranger’s Mastodon, the Pink Ranger’s Pterodactyl, the Blue Ranger’s Triceratops, the Yellow Ranger’s Saber-Toothed Tiger, and the Red Ranger’s Tyrannosaurus all combine to form one of two modes. In the tank mode, they become a land-roving attack vehicle that fires off energy beams, and in the Megazord mode, they combine in the following pattern: Legs are Triceratops and Saber-Toothed Tiger, Arms, Back, and Shield are Mastodon; Torso and Head are Tyrannosaurus; and Chestplate is Pterodactyl. After the Megazord is complete, it battles the monster and defeats it with the use of its Super Sword attack. Then the kids de-morph and head back to Angel Grove and deal with their local bullies, Bulk and Scull (Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy, respectively) and all the other challenges of being a teenager.
This trend continues for about half a season. Then things get interesting when a new kid comes to Angel Grove High. Tommy Oliver (Jason David Frank) catches both Kimberly and Rita’s eyes. With her evil powers, Rita converts Tommy into her evil Green Ranger to battle the other Rangers. After a five episode arc in which they introduce the Green Ranger’s arsenal of the Dragon Dagger and the Dragonzord, Tommy breaks free of Rita’s influence and joins the others in their fights. Now they add Tommy’s call to the roster — “Dragonzord!” — and Tommy’s legendary career as a Power Ranger begins.
After that the Rangers get a new threat. Rita is replaced by Lord Zedd and the Rangers face off against more lethal monsters. After a while, Tommy’s Green Ranger powers diminish and fade out. So Zordon and Alpha-5 give Tommy a new more powerful form, the White Ranger, with an all new arsenal: the sword Saba and the Tigerzord. And so, the team is back together and ready to meet and defeat Zedd’s forces.
During this time they meet some new friends, Rocky DeSantos (Steve Cardenas), Aisha Campbell (Karan Ashley), and Adam Park (Johnny Young Bosch). It would be these three who would be the replacement Rangers. Rocky takes over as the Red Ranger, Aisha takes up the Yellow Ranger role, and Adam becomes the new Black Ranger as Jason (Austin), Trini (Thuy), and Zach (Walter) leave the show. So the team has a new lineup: Tommy, Adam, Kimberly, Billy, Aisha, and Rocky, more than ready to take on evil. At this time the Zords get an upgrade, transforming them into the Thunderzords. The Mastodon upgrades to the Lion Thunderzord, the Pterodactyl to the Firebird Thunderzord, the Triceratops to the Unicorn Thunderzord, the Saber-Toothed Tiger to the Griffin Thunderzord, and the Tyrannosaurus to the Red Dragon Thunderzord, which when combined make the Thunder Megazord to combat the joint forces of Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa.
After a while Rita’s brother Rito Revolto comes and destroys the Zords. So the Rangers are forced to seek out the mysterious Ninjor, the creator of the Power Coins, who gives them new powers and new costumes, the Ninja Ranger powers. These new powers come with new animal designations. Tommy becomes the White Falcon, Adam the Black Frog, Kimberly the Pink Crane, Billy the Blue Wolf, Aisha the Yellow Bear, and Rocky the Red Ape. They also get control of the Ninja Zords (Frog, Crane, Wolf, Bear, and Ape) that combine into the Ninja Megazord which, when combined with the Falconzord, forms the Ninja Mega Falconzord for greater damage. They also get a new roll call: “[Name of respective color goes here] Ranger Power!” morphs them into their Ranger outfits.
Later on they get control of the Shogun Zords and the Shogun Megazord after Lord Zedd steals the data for the Ninja Megazord with the help of a girl named Katherine Hillard (Catherine Sutherland), who later repents her evil ways and helps the Rangers in their battles when Kimberly’s time as a Ranger comes to an end. Kat is then chosen to become the second Pink Ranger, and yet again the roster changes: Tommy, Adam, Kat, Billy, Aisha, and Rocky. These six would remain as the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers until the arrival of Rita’s father, Master Vile, who puts and end to this chapter of the Power Rangers saga by turning back time and de-aging the teens to kids, thereby setting the events in place for the next part of the series: Mighty Morphin’ Alien Rangers.
The series spawned a huge line of merchandise: action figures, playsets, costumes, coloring books, poster books, stickers, VHS compilations of episodes, clothing lines, sneakers, accessories… basically anything and everything that could be associated with the series.
It also had a spin-off movie entitled Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie. Although the movie stars the same general cast (Frank, Bosch, Johnson, Yost, Ashley, Cardenas, Narvy, and Schrier), it is actually set in an alternate universe. The suits look more padded, the Command Center is more tricked out, and the Zords look more CGI’ed than usual. Either way, it was a huge event and the kids, myself included, loved it.
Next time I will take a look at the next installment in the series, the mini-series event: Mighty Morphin’ Alien Rangers.