Walter Jones Zack Taylor
Amy Jo Johnson Kimberley Hart
David Yost Billy Cranston
Thuy Trang Trini Kwan
Austin St John Jason Lee
Paul Scrier Farcas ‘Bulk’ Bulkmeyer
Jason Narvy Eugene ‘Skull’ Skullovich
David Fielding Zordon of Eltar
First aired: 28th August 1993
Plot: Two astronauts on the moon find a receptacle that they can only describe as a dumpster. They open it and accidentally free cosmic villainess Rita Repulsa and her less than intimidating cohorts, Goldar, Squatt, Finster and Baboo.
On Earth, more specifically the California town of Angel Grove, a group of 5 friends (Jason, Zack, Kimberley, Trini and Billy) are practicing gymnastics and martial arts in a gym/juice bar/rec centre, when local reprobates Bulk and Skull arrive to sexually harass Kimberley and Trini. After having their arses handed to them, they join Jason’s karate class, only to be further embarassed. The ground begins to shake for some reason (seriously, it’s never really established why) causing gym owner Ernie to pour some drinks over Bulk and Skull.
Elsewhere, in a remote building, disembodied head Zordon has learned of Rita’s escape a and orders annoying robot Alpha 5 to teleport help. This help happens to be the 5 from earlier who are teleported to him. Zordon explains what has happened and that they have been recruited to form a fighting unit to oppose Rita. They are given smartphone sized devices that are called morphers and promised that they contain great power harnessed from the creatures they call dinosaurs. Zack and Kimberley aren’t interested, Trini has no reaction (seriously, barely speaks) Billy is amazed by all the technology there, only Jason is convinced, but goes with his group when they all leave. Rita sees all this and sends a squad of Putty Patrollers, clay men brought to life by Finster’s machinery.
The patrollers attack and with the exception of the in-over-his-head Billy, they make a good show of fighting back, but they are out numbered and out gunned. Jason takes out his morpher, so do the others and we all call out the creatures that Zordon told them of.
“Mastodon, Pterodactyl, Triceratops, Sabretooth Tiger, Tyrannosaurus.” They are transformed into post human soldiers, clad in the colours they were already wearing. (Nice and coincidental) They are quickly sent to the heart of the city, where Goldar has grown to skyscraper size and looks ready to start destroying things. (So we are just ignoring the putty patrolled then?) In response the team call upon the giant robots they have been given and we see the Zords for the first time. Jason’s red Tyrannosaurus, Billy’s blue Triceratops, Kimberley’s pink Pterodactyl, Zack’s black Mastodon and Trini’s yellow Sabretooth Tiger. These robots combine into a MegaZord and scare off Goldar, who wasn’t really expecting opponents who could fight back. He returns to Rita’s new palace on the moon, to lick his wounds.
The team go back to Zordon and he gives them the three rules.
1: Do not use the power for personal gain.
2: Do not escalate the battle before Rita does.
3: Keep their identities a secret. (Weird that one, since Rita learns them almost immediately)
The team agree and the story of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers has begun.
Notes: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers began life as Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, the 16th Sentai series, which was a Tokusatsu (special effects) show on Japanese television. Zyuranger ran from February 1992 to February 1993. The action scenes (featuring masked, or monster suited actors) were lifted from that show while the rest was new footage filmed in California and new dialogue for the action scenes to link together to create new stories. So if this show seems to lack originality, that’s because there isn’t any in it. If you are looking for sense, logic or narrative cohesion, you are to be honest out of luck, but I am getting ahead of myself.
There is good here, the five teens all have distinct (if broad) personalities, Jason is earnest in that Captain America sort of way. Kimberley is a ‘Valley girl’ that was often seen in TV in this era. Billy is a shy and awkward genius that clearly doesn’t really ‘get’ a lot of regular life things. Zack is and outgoing ladies man that seems to be trying to hard so you don’t see his insecurity. To be honest only Trini is left as a bit of a blank slate. She actually seems like a Silver Age comic character, Trini is just ‘the girl’ on the team. Light characterisation sure, but this is 20 minutes of a kids TV show. The action scenes are as bonkers as you would expect and there’s a kind of frenzied energy to it that coats over some of the weaknesses and there some comedy here and there. It sets its stall out really well and there’s very little to know that the 20 minutes doesn’t actually give you.
But that doesn’t outway the rest of it. There’s so much bizarre techno-babble, I thought I was watching Star Trek Voyager. Such as Zordon is trapped in a TimeWarp, meaning what exactly? Or Zordon mentions that the power coins get their powers from creatures called Dinosaurs. Okay that’s vague hand-wavy stuff, but only two of the creatures are actually dinosaurs. Pterodactyls were around at the same time, so that’s fair enough, but Sabretooth Tigers and Mastodons were just prehistoric mammals, separated from dinosaurs by millions of years. Some stuff should be just accepted like the right five people being all friends and in the same place, rather than four of them and the fifth being somewhere else, or six and one isn’t chosen or a hundred other combinations, or that they are already colour co-ordinated, but that doesn’t make two mammals into dinosaurs.
Also there is a sinister element to it. Zordon recruits child soldiers to wage a war he started 10,000 years ago and parcels out information when he wants to and sends kids to war, while he remains safe in his tube giving orders, including instruction that isolates these children from their parents. That’s some Professor X level s**t there.
Between that, the poor dialogue and ridiculous villain voices for Rita and Goldarr, it’s just a bit of a hazy hodge podge. The fact that it’s aimed at children, well that doesn’t excuse it being bad.
Notes from SuperSam
The fighting stuff was cool, but I really liked the funny stuff, like Bulk and Skull.
Does it work? It does what it needs to do, the world, it’s characters and format are all introduced quite effectively.
Does much need fixing? Not really, it’s already a solid going concern.
Does it stand up? God no, not even with the rosy tint of nostalgia.
Did I want to watch the next one? No, I really didn’t.
Did I enjoy it? I watched it with SuperSam, so that’s were I got my enjoyment from.
Overall: 2 out of 5
This is not good TV, it is however, in it’s own way entertaining TV.