Power Rangers: My Journey
Part 1: Where it all began
By Ben Taylor
When Power Rangers first aired in England in October of 1993, I was vaguely aware of it. I was 15 or 16 at the time and was fully engaged in hobbies that didn’t have me watching TV and on top of those I was studying for exams. Fast forward to Sunday, July 21st, 2019 and I was on a 6 hour long car journey with Power Dorks Host Michael Lindenbaum and our good friend Jordan Johnson. Of that 6 hours, Jordan and I spent maybe 4, grilling Mike with questions about Power Rangers at the end of which I just said, “Well Maybe I’ll just watch it.” It’s now May 2020 and I’ve currently made my way through 12 seasons of Power Rangers (13 if you include the first season of Beast Morphers) and after a chat with Mike, we thought it might be fun if I recorded some of my thoughts on each season. Thus, I present my journey through Power Rangers starting with the very first season.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Season 1 (AKA a bloated winding mess that kickstarted a phenomenon)
While I’m finding my feet with these articles, it doesn’t help that the first series I’m going to write about is also the one that we are covering concurrently on the Podcast, so I’m not going to go into too much detail, as, to be honest, a lot of it would be rehashing my cohost’s or my thoughts. Don’t worry though, I’m not going to blanket it completely.
So this is it. The start of the Morphenomenon (don’t worry, hopefully that will be the last time I ever type that word) that is still going some 9,500 days later. Yeah I could have just said 27 years, but the other way sounds more fun.
I’m not going to describe story arcs and the like here, but talk more about my opinions on certain things and characters. So here is the first thing I will discuss, SIXTY EPISODES. Yes, I am aware that the original run of season one was supposed to end with Doomsday Part 2, the 40th episode bringing it more in line with other seasons, but even that is a little bloated. Everything you need to see in season 1 can be summed up in 15ish episodes, including a couple of filler episodes for new zords/combinations of zords to be developed and team bonding to be shown. This is one of the seasons where I actually dislike the filler, mainly because in other seasons things HAPPPEN in the filler outside of new zords getting thrown at the team like candy. There’s character development and consequence. In season 1 there was none of that. The characters were the exact same at the beginning and the end and YES, I know I’m asking a little much for a show from 1993 targeted at kids, but even Sesame Street had an episode where Big Bird learnt about dying!
The characters fit neatly into their tropes. Jason (Red Ranger) is the Martial Artist Savant, the muscle of the team. Zack (Black Ranger) is our streetwise Lothario, who loves to dance. Kimberly (Pink Ranger) was the popular pretty one, the “Face” of the team. I’m using “Face” to mean the one that specializes in social interactions, I’m aware that Red was the “Face of the franchise.” Billy (Blue Ranger) was our resident geek, social outcast, and the brains of the operation. Trini (Yellow Ranger) was… well… She was… there. Not much more than a translator for Billy’s technobabble, because Asian = smart in the 90’s I guess. We’ll call Trini the “Heart” of the team. And yes, it’s as lame as it was in Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
As I said before, 60 episodes later, the 5 “Teenagers with Attitudes” were the exact same at season’s end as they were at season’s start. After saving the world from the brink of death, battling insurmountable odds, having Zords scythed out from under them and so much more, the only difference was that Kimberly had a boyfriend, Tommy Oliver.
Tommy Oliver. I have been DREADING this section as I’m about to say bad things about Tommy on a Power Rangers site. I must be mad. Wait I have to reign this in. To be fair, in season 1 Tommy wasn’t that bad, and in truth, my problem isn’t with Tommy as a character per se. To paraphrase CM Punk’s infamous WWE Pipebomb, “I don’t hate you Tommy, I just hate this idea that you’re the best.” That is not really a thing is season 1, so let’s focus on some things that they did RIGHT with Tommy.
The arc that introduced Tommy, Green with Evil, was very well done. It established Tommy as a threat because he threatened each of our established rangers’ identities. He was just as good, if not better, at Martial Arts than Jason, he was more popular with the ladies than Zack, he stole Kimberly’s heart. Not only could the technology that Billy held is such high-esteem not stop him, he showed no regard for it when he gutted the command center. And Trini… Well… Trini didn’t have a “thing,” so I guess he threatened her by existing.
The other thing the show did right with Tommy were his powers. When he was no longer evil, his power set didn’t change. It showed that what made him a threat when he was evil, was that he had no restraint on how he used said powers. Compare that to say, the White Ranger in Dino Thunder, and Trent loses like 90% of the powers he used when he was evil, when he is freed from the Dinogem’s Influence and it’s shown in later episode he has them for 1 or 2 uses, but they are never mentioned again. Outside of losing the Sword of Darkness, Tommy’s power set remained the same. Anything he lost is something we saw him getting bequeathed by Rita.
Then there is the White Ranger. I want to leave some things to talk about on the podcast, but I will say this – that the White Ranger was the VERY START, the thing that instigated the 4 hours of questions on that car ride. On that day the conversation went a little something like this:
Ben: “Mike? You know how Zordon and Alpha created the White Ranger?”
Mike: (wearily) “Yeah…..”
B: “How long did it take?”
M: “Uhhh, not sure. Why?”
B: “Just wondering, because if they can make Rangers, Why not mass Produce them?”
M: (incredulous) ”What?”
B: “I mean imagine Rita being like “Ah, now we will send down a monster to Destroy the Power Rangers…. WHY ARE THERE 27 OF THEM?”
(Yes, I am aware that the White Ranger doesn’t appear till next season, but we were discussing Tommy and not alot about him changes other than his sword can talk; also I intend to talk about other characters in the next installment)
So to sum up, Mighty Morphin’ Season 1 is where it all starts. While season 1 is what kicked down the door to the cultural zeitgeist, firmly placed phrases like, “It’s Morphin’ time,” “Zords,” and “Go, go Power Rangers,” into the lexicon, and it introduces the very basis of Power Rangers lore it is, sadly, mostly bad.
So where does it stand on the top ten? Well, currently it’s number 1. By default. You know, being the only season I have covered.
SEASON POWER RANKINGS
1. Mighty Morphin Season 1
Thanks for reading. I’m pretty sure that I have said nothing, or had no opinions others haven’t had, but I really want to document my thoughts. I’m not sure how often these will come out. Probably a bit more swiftly at the beginning, as I get caught up to where I have watched, but after that, I’ll write as I finish seasons.
Also, I need a sign off and “May the Power protect you,” is too damn cliche, so I’ll use my podcast sign off:
Guys, Gals, and Non-aligned Pals, in the words of the Sixteenth president of the United states, Abraham Lincoln, “Be Excellent to each other and party on Non-gender specific honorifics!”
Till Next time!