Power Rangers: A Retrospective, or The Consequences of Fighting a Pillar

Words by: Mandy Tu

My first fictional role model was Dana Mitchell, the Pink Lightspeed Rescue Power Ranger. She was a paramedic; studying to be a doctor; she was the captain’s daughter; the heart of the Rescue team and she held the affections of the Red Ranger, Carter Grayson. She also totally rocked the pink shirt/jean skirt/black boots look. There were few enough episodes in the series which centered on her, but all that did was make the episodes wherein she dominated all the better.

Power Rangers was a major part of my childhood. Lazy holiday afternoons consisted of banding up with one of my father’s tuition students, designating Ranger colours to one another, and fighting the one wooden pillar that stood in the centre of our living room. Despite our efforts, the pillar (i.e. the monster) was indestructable, and kept us amused and occupied for many a long day. As it was, our greatest dream was to become Power Rangers.

Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue was the first ever Power Ranger series my brother and I came across, and therefore it remains our favourite. However, that did not stop us from branching out to watching as much of the other series as we could get; a couple of episodes of In Space had us rooting for the romantic relationship between Andros and Ashley; and a couple of episodes of Lost Galaxy had us laughing at how Leo effortlessly tears up his red vest in the opening sequence. We heard rumours—legends—of what happened in the other series, and were constantly on the search for other Ranger episodes. (This was the days before the Internet, when VCDs were sold in little packets on the wayside in downtown Burma.)

Ever since Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers hit screens in  1995, the world was taken by storm by these multicoloured spandex-wearing heroes, who fought monsters and operated giant robotic machinery. Kimberly Hart (original Pink Ranger, played by Amy Jo Johnson) became young boys’ first crushes, all the while leaving room to aspire to become Tommy Oliver (played by Jason David Frank). And as the years progressed, the show progressed: the Zordon storyline was tied up at the epic finale of Power Rangers In Space; but as ratings were higher than ever, Power Rangers Lost Galaxy followed. Time Force saw one of the strongest female characters on the show: Jen Scotts, Pink Ranger, whose farewell with Wesley Collins, Red Ranger, was almost as heartbreaking as the goodbye between the Tenth Doctor and Rose. (Hey, they have time travel too! And they BOTH said I love you—you know, before one of them traveled back into the future). Powers changed. Blue was a female ranger while yellow was a male ranger (Power Rangers Ninja Storm); Wild Force had a white ranger instead of a pink one, all the while having a Silver Ranger as the additional sixth Ranger. Again to Lightspeed—the Titanium Ranger merits mention due to his being an original American Ranger, as opposed to the rest being from the original Japanese Super Sentai footage.

Despite the changes, the underlying themes of the Power Rangers series are teamwork, drive, courage, being true to oneself, helping others, kindness, overcoming prejudices—things that seem to be overlooked by everyone who has never properly sat down and watched an episode. Sure, there are over-the-top fight sequences (although some of them really are fantastic and truly well shot); cheesy lines; explosions going off behind the Rangers every time they morph, and the monsters waiting until the morphing sequences are over before they shout, “Destroy them!”; how miraculously the Rangers become impervious to flame and attack when they are feeling particularly riled up; and how every fight seems to end in a major robot battle sequence. But hey, they’re all cool and Power Rangers would not be Power Rangers without them.

And now, with the new Power Rangers film on the horizon, set to hit our screens in January 2017, it’s time to hark back to an era that has made an entire generation of people who they are (you know who you are, even if you’re too scared to admit it). The new film is called Saban’s Power Rangers and will feature a new team harnessing the Mighty Morphin’ powers. I would be lying if I said this didn’t irk me at all, because what it does is throw out the history of the first Rangers, but I am willing to see what they will do with the material. Perhaps it’ll exceed my expectations. Or, like the third Hobbit film, it will rile me up beyond words until I have to restrain myself from throwing Maltesers at the screen. Who knows.

Until then, my Ranger friends, may the Power protect you all.