After 17 years (from 1992 to 2009), Jay Leno left the Tonight Show, marking the end of an era.
Oh wait, he’s coming back, isn’t he? Never mind.
Who cares about Jay Leno? I mean, What I really want to talk about, is something a lot more important: Power Rangers. Last year (2009), it is announced that there will not be a new season of Power Rangers in 2010, and that, marks the end of an era. Fourteen years (from 1995 to 2009) is a long time for any show. In fact, I’ve just took a stroke down the memory lane by watching the opening of all the Power Ranger series in 14 years. It took about 17 minutes. From the music and the way the characters look, you can see how the idea of what is cool has changed over the years. It’s quite interesting to see. Watch it here: Part 1 (Zordon Era), Part 2 (Post-Zordon), Part 3 (Disney Era).
When we first came to the United States, we watched quite a few kids TV shows. One reason is that they are scheduled to show after school let out (as in, between 3pm and 5pm), and the other is that they are easier to understand than, say, court drama. And one of such shows is Power Rangers. Okay, maybe those are not the real reasons. Maybe I just love Power Rangers because watching robots and alien monsters (both clearly men in rubber suits) beat the crap out of each other amused me to no end. But hey, this show taught me important English words such as “morph”, “sabre”, and a gazillion things that you can yell out when you think your weapon / armor / robot / victory is really awesome (“That was awesome!” “Cool!” “Right on!” “Yeah!” “All right!”).
The series that we watched the most episodes are Power Rangers In Space and Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy (because they came out in 1998 and 1999, respectively). Now here’s what I loved about them.
Power Rangers In Space
Ah, look at the video. Aren’t they a good-looking bunch (even the villain)? I liked the dynamics of this group. In the series before this one, the main story line consisted of teenagers given the power to protect the Earth. However, at the end of Power Rangers Turbo, the villains managed to destroy the Turbo Megazord (the Rangers’ robot), capture their wizard mentor Zordon, and blow up the Power Chamber, causing the Rangers to lose their power. The Rangers had to flee into space, where they encountered a Power Ranger from a different planet who gave them different morphers so they could have powers again. The four old Turbo Power Rangers plus the Astro Ranger from the different planet became the Space Rangers.
This series was unique in that instead of living on Earth (each going to school and having their own life and so on), they are living on a spaceship. This created many more opportunities for them to interact. Also, the spaceship allowed them to explorer the universe more. The fact that four of them were Turbo Rangers before, while another was from another planet also created interesting dynamics.
Also, the Rangers in this series had all suffered some kind of loss. The four old Turbo Rangers had lost their old power and Zords (robots) before. The Red Ranger (the one from another planet) had been forever looking for his sister, who was kidnapped when she was just a child. And also all of the Rangers were searching for their captured mentor Zordon. Although still mostly light-hearted (it’s Power Rangers after all), the series was less slapstick than previous series and took on a more serious undertone. This series also wrapped up a long story arc six years in the making. At the end of the series, most of the universe was taken over by the villains and several Zords were destroyed. The battle at the end spanned episodes and was epic. At the end, Zordon sacrificed himself to use his essence to wipe out the force of evil. At the end, the villains were defeated (after six years) so that’s definitely major pay-off. It was an awesome series.
Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy
Power Ranger In Space was more polished than the previous series, in my opinion. However, the series that followed it, Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy, looked even better. Maybe the cameras improved? Everything just looked a lot newer and sharper. Prior to this series, the cast changed gradually as the plot lines progressed and everything followed an overall story arc. But as mentioned before, this was wrapped up. Starting in Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy, each series had its own team of Rangers and a self-contained storyline.
To be honest, I do not remember the individual characters as much as I do with Power Rangers In Space, but this series had a more complex story and more twists. For example, the Pink Ranger Kendrix sacrificed herself to save the Space Ranger Cassie. Later Kendrix’s spirit saved Karone, who was the Red Ranger’s sister from the previous series that was kidnapped, raised, and brainwashed to become the Power Rangers In Space’s main villain Astronema. And Kendrix made Karone the new Pink Ranger. Also there was this mysterious ally, Magna Defender, who was really cool because he had his own costume, armor, music, and Zord. Magna Defender was an ancient warrior who was seeking revenge for his son. He was sealed away in a pit until he decided to take over the body of Mike, who fell in by accident, and was the Red Galaxy Ranger Leo’s brother. Later in one battle, he sacrificed himself to save the space colony. Mike was freed from his control and the spirit of Magna Defender officially passed the power to Mike. Okay, see? I told you it was complicated.
One of my favorite thing about this series was the fight scenes. The Rangers in this series all used sabers. That made the fight choreography a lot more interesting than, say, having people shoot lasers at each other.
Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue
Unfortunately, after those two strong series, Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue just didn’t do it for me. It was about this team of Rangers consisting of a fire-fighter, a life guard, and so on, that came to rescue when villains terrorized the city. I was fine with that premise, but the way the power was given to them just didn’t do it for me. Since the oldest series, the power sources were mythical. For example, the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers got their power from the five Power Coins. The Space Power Rangers used Astro Morphers whose power, presumably, was derived from something extraterrestrial. The Galaxy Rangers got their powers from five mystical swords, known as the Quasar Sabers. All of them derived the power from some kind of mystical source.
However, for the first time in the Power Rangers series, all these things were man-made. The robots, the morphers, the suits, and everything else were made by humans using advanced technology. And then a captain recruited some of the best people to become Power Rangers to fight crimes. I called them “the artificial rangers”. That really didn’t do it for me. People have different preferences, I guess, but that premise really killed it for me. Where’s the myth? Where’s the destiny? What’s so special about a team that’s chosen by some random guy? That just killed it for me. I stopped watching.
Of course, there are a lot more Power Rangers series after that. Some of them were considered good too, I think. But I got busier and no longer had time to watch TV in those hours. I still catch an episode or two every now and then, but since I am not that familiar with those characters, I am not as invested and don’t care for them as much.
And wow, that has got to be one of the most researched blog post on this blog. And it’s about Power Rangers, of all things. Oh well, who knew? 😀