Shout! Factory // 1993 // 600 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 24th, 2012
The year is 1993. Upon an unsuspecting populace, a new show is about to drop that would forever alter the landscape of kids' television and lead to an epidemic of amateur-karate-inflicted wounds on younger siblings.
That is show is, of course, the original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, a series that blended shoddily-dubbed -- and largely nonsensical -- Japanese TV footage with a hammy plot about five American teenagers who spend every waking moment at the Angel Grove Recreation Center and Juice Bar. When the diabolical Rita Repulsa is freed from a space Dumpster (not kidding), she decides to conquer Earth. The only people who can stop her nefarious -- and futile -- plans are our spry post-adolescent heroes, who find themselves pressed into intergalactic space ninja duty by a giant authoritarian talking head.
Amy Jo Johnson. That's all I remembered about this show. Since it debuted while I was a sophomore in high school, and appealed to a demographic south of my age, I had only my raging hormones to occasionally draw me to the TV for a glimpse of the comely Pink Ranger leading an aerobics class in painted-on spandex. Everything else? A blur.
Thankfully, the good people at Shout! Factory have seen fit to release the first volume of the first season on DVD. And don't let that "first volume" stuff scare you off Morphin' fans: this three-disc set features 30 episodes!
Let's take a closer look at the players in this epic saga...
Jason the Red Ranger
In a show featuring killer space leprechauns and a monster with a traffic light and Napoleonic-era cannon on his head, the leader of the Rangers is surprisingly boring. He's got great hair and has cornered the market on red muscle shirts. Other than that, he's a milquetoast do-gooder subsequently emasculated by the arrival of the Green Ranger.
Zack the Black Ranger
The writers, flexing their creativity, opted to cast a young African-American male as the Black Ranger. In addition to his Rangering, Zack break-dances and plays basketball. Obviously.
Billy the Blue Ranger
He's the nerd of the group. Instead of using "yes" and "no," his vocabulary utilizes "affirmative" and "negative." He also wears overalls and doesn't know how to talk to girls. Frankly, I'm not sure if all this is supposed to leave me in awe of his intellect or saddened by the fact that this poor bastard appears to be suffering a series of small strokes through the course of each episode.
Trini the Yellow Ranger
They didn't cast the Asian girl as the Yellow Ranger, did they? Yes, they did. Thankfully, the oblivious youth of the early '90s were unaware of mild racist undertones. After all, no one seemed to notice that when Trini turned into the Yellow Ranger she put on thirty pounds of muscle and grew a crotch bulge.
Kimberly the Pink Ranger
Amy Jo! She's lithe, sassy, and (as an added bonus) happens to be the only genuine female Ranger of the bunch. Preoccupied with her crusade against the Angel Grove Industrial Waste Dump and her taxing aerobics classes at the teen center, she was immune to the Alpha machismo of Jason and Zack, and treated Billy like a cognitively impaired Dachshund. That is until the Green Ranger stormed into town and stole her affections away from me. Sixteen year-old me that is. Really.
Tommy the Green Ranger
In what would kick off a run of 15,000 Power Ranger episodes, Jason David Frank debuts halfway through this volume as Tommy the Green Ranger, initially a slave to Rita, but eventually a key member of the crew. The big winners? The citizens of Earth, because now there's an extra guy to savagely beat on the helpless Putties, the dumbest henchmen ever devised. The loser? Jason. He's displaced as the top dog and his Tyrannosaurus Rex robot with its gimpy little arms just doesn't compare to the Green Ranger's gigantic Mechagodzilla Zord.
Together, our heroes suffer through essentially the same episode, 30 times over. The moral lessons change (Toxic waste stinks! Teamwork is awesome! You know what else stinks? A fear of heights!) but the game-plan remains the same: the kids loiter around the juice bar until Rita dispatches her Putties, prompting them to turn into the Rangers and effortlessly defeat the invaders with a mixture of spin kicks and rabbit punches, prompting Rita to release her Monster of the Week, which is defeated once more by the Rangers when they use the Plot Device of the Week (usually a huge sword of some kind or a space crossbow), prompting Rita to use her sorcery to grow her monster into a skyscraper-dwarfing colossus, at which point the Rangers to summon their Zords in all of their environment-ravaging glory, culminating in an awkward battle between some interns in rubber suits.
Outside of Bayside High, you're not going to find a better time capsule of the excesses and ridiculousness of the early '90s than the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Laughably bad object lessons, batsh*t crazy Japanese creature designs, and inter-dimensional gender-swapping awaits!
Your brain cells will morph into cole slaw, but I'd be lying if I said I
didn't enjoy getting my Zord on.
Review content copyright © 2012 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (CC)
Running Time: 600 Minutes
Release Year: 1993
MPAA Rating: Not Rated