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July 20, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Season Three (1995/96)


...having been wrought from a generation, which at a younger age, went salivatingly ga-ga over Godzilla & Gamera movies, Ultra Man & Johnny Sokko episodes, Infra-Man and Gigantor, this viewer often found it so easy to diss the occasional, wayward, stumbled upon, broadcast episode of this 'what-the-heck-is-it' TV oddity, called 'Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers'; after all, in the onset, the whole franchise seemed nothing more than an adolescent-geared hybrid knock-off of ideas and concepts previously explored...albeit in a somewhat more hallucinogenic meld (...jovially, I recall an episode of VH1's "I Love the '90's", where Dee Snider, of Twisted Sister, spoke of how his own kids 'got caught up in this mind**** of a show'). Given a viewing of sporadic episodes, here and there, this viewer vaguely caught onto the ideas, interlaced into the show's super-hero-istic forefront, whereby each episode would invoke a simple-to-understand level of drama amongst the dynamic martial arts monster fighting...sometimes even exuding poignant concepts on human values and social behavior...once again, emulating the old 'let's trick kids into learning' diversion...something which, despite being as equally deceptive, was much more apparent and obvious, back in the '70's, with the 'Schoolhouse Rock' thing, and instructively preached, epilogued portions of Saturday morning kids shows. And so, when afforded the opportunity to examine the crust of a whole season of the "...Rangers", this viewer's first reaction was...NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! The Agony!!! The Horror!!! The Torture!!!...

...and, ya' know?? A funny thing happened, on the way to the...to the...well, on the way to this viewer, powering up this Zord...
...for those uninitiated with the background and inception of the "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers", it goes a-sorta su'um like 'dis: Based upon the Japanese-produced 'Super Sensai' television series, the American incarnations (...of which there have, thus far, been 20-plus different variations) seamlessly splice the original costume elements, martial arts combat and monster/robot battle sequences, with domestically produced storylines and un-costumed alternate identity story lines, much more relatable to targeted young American audiences. The 'legendary' story of the Power Rangers themselves, begin about 10,000 years previous, when an ancient wizard named Zordon (David Fielding) engaged battle with Rita Repulsa (Soga Machiko/Barbara Goodson), an evil witch. Thanks to the inception of five magical coins, the long years of battle between the wizard and witch culminates with Rita being defeated, and imprisoned on the Earth's moon. Relegated to a time-space dimensional void, Zordon enlists the assistance of a robot companion, Alpha 5, to seek out five exceptional youths 'with attitude', with whom he can release extraordinary powers, via the magical coins...powers, which are to be used exclusively to defend the Earth, should Rita and her evil minions escape their bonds...which, of course, they do...
...the coins bequeathed upon the chosen teenagers...all clean-cut, clever, resourceful and morally dedicated residents of an 'Americana every-town' named Angel City...enable them to transform into colorfully garbed, highly martial arts-skilled fighters, and in time of need, not only enable them to call upon giant, dinosaur-themed, manned robots...called Zords...but also, to combine and meld these robots into one dynamically powered robot, called a MegaZord. With these astounding powers and abilities, the five youths are constantly called upon to do battle with Rita Repulsa and her equally martial arts-skilled minions & martial arts-skilled foot soldiers...all the while, in concealing their secret identities, trying to live normal lives...
...in this, the third hit season of the show (...after, in the previous season, having the team take on a sixth member, Tommy...as performed by Jason David Frank...an initially mesmerized and spellbound, albeit later rehabilitated rogue leader, originally sent in by Rita to break up and destroy the group...as well as Rita having combined forces with Lord Zedd, an equally evil, sinister and powerful beau), it is the beginning of the end; Rita's powerful, though dim-witted, wise-cracking brother, Rito...a dark, skeletal monstrosity...manages to decimate the Rangers, temporarily shoring them of their powers and destroying their powerful Zords. In desperation, Zordon sends the Rangers, albeit in their human form, on a treacherous quest to seek out the mystic, Ninjor (...who, when speaking, sounds not unlike a cross between Dudley Doo Right and Marvin the Martian), who originally conceived of the precious power coins, which gave the Rangers their original power. Now in the possession of new power coins, which have bequeathed onto the youths, the power of the Ninja (...as well as accompanying new Zords, based upon swift, cunning and powerful animals, instead of dinosaurs), the Rangers re-engaged their roles as protectors of the Earth, from the diabolically evil forces of Lord Zedd and Rita & Rito Repulsa. During this time, further battles are fought (...sometimes joined by Ninjor, himself), a beloved Power Rangers member leaves the world-defending fold...an air of betrayal, deception and ultimate redemption results in a new replacement member of the group...a new master nemesis plagues the hapless warriors...new and more powerful Zords are assumed, and in the end, the fate of the Power Rangers is put to the test, in a devastating encounter, which would change their lives...
...after having engaged an exhausting viewing of the 33 episodes, which encompasses this third (...and final, under this specified title) season, this viewer really has to admit to having a certain relative intrigue and appeal for the concept, ironically for much the same reasons why I might have originally heckled the franchise. 'Tis true, that 'Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers', in many ways...in the execution of the varied & melded ideas and inspirations...very much resembles some, if not all of the classic ideas and concepts of the same meld, which this viewer devotedly subscribed to, in his youth. In viewing the episodic proceedings, it was so easy to reflect back to those early golden years of 'gaiju' (...read: 'giant beast') and 'mecha' (...or, robot-themed) productions; it's understandable why these once cherished concepts, given a measure of evolution, were seen to find renewed appeal in the young audiences of today. However, the simplistic, albeit quite moving high drama of the depicted proceedings, definitely serve to enhance the fantastically eye-popping hyper-action & visuals. This viewer particularly could not help but be moved by the engaging and well-written unfolding drama, which focuses specifically upon the character of Kimberly (Amy Jo Johnson)...the Pink Ranger...and her subsequent passing of the torch to another, so to speak, as the result of choosing between continuing as a Ranger, or pursuing her dream as a talented gymnast. To varying degree, the sequence of events, which culminate in that decision, exude the level of simplistically-rendered high drama, which the franchise is very much known for. In addition, almost every episode manages to interweave some aspect of moral values and human behavior...both desired and undesired, with the subsequent created 'monster' sometimes reflecting that depicted aspect (...i.e., an episode about social hate, results in a monster that exemplifies...even outright spreads hate)...which the youth of today can readily identify with, and in the interim, learn from...
...heck, in all fairness, this viewer candidly finds himself no longer willing to 'diss' even the wildly post-modern psychedelic aspect of the visuals, as well...in having derived from a generation raised on the equally psychedelic renderings of of such imaginative sages as Sid & Marty Kroft, and the likes of H.R. Pufnstuf, Lidsville and The Bugaloos...which in themselves, were even more outrageously 'far out', than what might be found in this equally askewed show...with the best compatitive example being that of Rita Repulsa's extrovertedly sinister resemblance and behavior, to that of the equally animated 'H.R. Pufnstuf' character of Witchipoo...with her obedient, albeit dim-witted hench-minions, being definitely not that far removed, in such respect, as well...
...in the final analysis, having 'endured' (...nah, too harsh). Having 'suffered through' (...nah, also too harsh). Uh, well...yes, this viewer can quite readily and candidly admit saying, now 'having satisfyingly' navigated the 33-episode run of the "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers" third season episode run (...and as well as random, wayward episodes of seasons 1 and 2, over the years), that...well, quite frankly, I cannot help but express insatiable curiosity, as to the continued evolution of this series, and it's associated & constantly changing roster of quite engaging, pulpish characters (...heck, in all honesty, I might well check such things out, for myself...but mind you, for the sake of embarrassment, don't tell anyone...SHHHHH!!!). Overall, this is an amiable and equally measured balance of action-packed dynamics, outrageously eye-popping & mind-warping visuals, engagingly simplistic & applicable human drama...as well as a poignant lesson-learned factor, which most people...especially today's impressionable and constantly reaching youth...can embrace, and identify with. And as such, I rousingly say, "Go, Go, Power Rangers"...and keep on going, as you always have (...sheesh, there's that infectious theme song, again...which I won't be able to get outta my head, for days...sigh.....Wait, that's so cool!!!...).....

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