A new article series kicks off this week with Featured Writer R.J. Sills!
For anyone who has read my article “History of Power Rangers” here on JustUs Geeks, you can tell I have a knowledge of this franchise. Since I felt like a few seasons were not given justice, I wanted to write more than just a few words about each one. So I shall be taking a look at each Power Rangers season, one at a time. The series is called “Legacy Of Power”, and it is named after the 500th episode which took a look at itself up until that point. In each article I will be discussing the plot, characters, and my thoughts on the episodes. On that note, let me tell you about the season that started it all twenty-one years ago… Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Season One!
IT’S MORPHIN’ TIME!
In 1993, Haim Saban and Saban Entertainment took footage from Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger in Japan and made a television show for children about five teens saving the world with giant robot dinosaurs. It was a huge hit!
The first episode “Day Of The Dumpster” begins with a group of astronauts finding a container on the moon and opening it, which unleashes the evil space witch Rita Repulsa and her minions (Goldar, Squatt, Baboo, and Finster) from a 10,000 year imprisonment by the wizard Zordon. Before being sealed away, Rita puts Zordon in a time warp, which causes him to stay between dimensions. As Rita creates a new base of operations on the moon, Zordon is awakened on Earth because of the evil the planet now faces. He tells his robotic assistant Alpha 5 to find five “overbearing and emotional humans.” This means, much to Alpha’s dismay, five “teenagers with attitude.” At Ernie’s Juice Bar in the city of Angel Grove, California, Jason Lee Scott, Trini Kwan, Billy Cranston, Kimberly Ann Hart, and Zach Taylor are teleported to Zordon’s Command Center just outside of Angel Grove. Zordon explains to the teens the importance of their mission to defend the world. He gives them items known as Morphers, with Power Coins representing different dinosaurs housed within them. Jason is given the power of tyrannosaurus Red Ranger, Trini the saber-toothed tiger Yellow Ranger, Billy the triceratops Blue Ranger, Kimberly the pterodactyl Pink Ranger, and Zach the mastodon Black Ranger. The teens do not believe Zordon’s story, so they leave the Command Center and decide to walk back to the city. Rita sees the group leaving and sends a squadron of her clay Putties to attack them. After fighting to the best of their own abilities, they decide to morph and become the Power Rangers! Goldar comes down to fight the Rangers himself, and Rita uses her magic wand-staff to make Goldar grow into the size of a building. Zordon tells the team that they can summon their zords, which are giant robotic animals based on their individual dinosaurs. They then combine the five zords to form the Megazord, which is an enormous robot big enough to fight Goldar. The giant monkey-man retreats back to Rita’s base, letting the Rangers win their first battle. They return to the Command Center where they tell Zordon that they accept his offer to keep the planet safe from Rita and her monsters. He gives them three rules that a Power Ranger must always follow in order to keep his or her powers: never use one’s power for personal gain, never escalate a battle unless forced to do so, and one must always keep his or her identity a secret.
After the first episode, most episodes followed the same format: teens do something for the plot of the episode; Rita comes up with an idea, has Finster make a monster, and sends putties to deal with the Rangers until it is ready; after a civilian fight, the monster of the week shows up and the teens morph, cutting to dubbed over Japanese footage; Rita makes the monster grow, and a Megazord fight begins; and the end of the episode cuts back to Ernie’s with comic relief duo Bulk and Skull doing something funny. With this formula, most episodes do not need more than an explanation of the plot of each one.
Episode 2 (“High Five”) involves Trini having to overcome her fear of heights and Billy inventing the Communicators, which are watch-like devices that the Rangers can use to communicate with each other and Zordon, and even allow them to teleport to the Command Center at will. Episode 3 (“Teamwork”) shows Kim and Trini trying to get everyone to shut down a dump site that is causing mass pollution, and it also introduces the Power Weapons for the team. Jason’s Power Sword, Trini’s Power Daggers, Billy’s Power Lance, Kim’s Power Bow, and Zach’s Power Ax can combine to form the Power Cannon, giving them the power to defeat a monster! Episode 4 (“A Pressing Engagement”) is about Rita having Jason fight King Sphinx by himself, making the other four Rangers send him their power coins in the form of Power Crystals. This even lets them use the crystals in their zords for better control and more power in the machines. Episode 5 (“Different Drum”) shows Rita trying to destroy the Rangers with a music monster that specializes in accordion music. Episode 6 (“Food Fight”) has Rita use an evil pig monster to destroy the world’s food supply by eating everything in sight. The Rangers must defeat him by tricking him into eating spicy foods after he eats the power weapons to be able to defeat him. Episode 7 (“Big Sisters”) gives Kimberly and Trini a scare when their mischievous “little sister” goes missing thanks to Rita. This episode also introduces Billy’s latest invention, the Rad-Bug, a modified VW Beetle that can go 0-3000 in 2.8 seconds! Episode 8 (“I, Eye Guy”) shows Rita trying to kidnap a friend of Billy’s because he has invented a virtual reality machine. Episode 9 (“For Whom The Bell Tolls”) has Squatt stealing Trini’s doll and turning it into a life size version of itself, Mr. Ticklesneezer, but at the end it seems to have all been a dream that Trini had. In Episode 10 (“Happy Birthday Zach”), it’s Zach’s birthday and Rita plans to ruin his party! Episode 11 (“No Clowning Around”) has the Rangers at a carnival that is attacked by a monster that turns people into cardboard cutouts. In Episode 12 (“Power Ranger Punks”), Squatt creates a potion that turns Billy and Kimberly into Bulk and Skull-like bullies, but they pull off being bullies better than Bulk and Skull! In Episode 13 (“Peace, Love, and Woe”), Billy must use all five power coins to defeat Madam Woe and save his crush. In Episode 14 (“Foul Play In The Sky”), Kimberly must pilot her uncle’s plane when he was knocked out thanks to Rita, with Bulk and Skull in the back for added comedic relief. In Episode 15 (“Dark Warrior”), Rita wants an invisibility potion that Trini’s uncle has created, so she sends a camouflaged colored ninja monster after it. Episode 16 (“Switching Places”) has Billy and Kimberly switching bodies after his latest invention goes wrong.
Episodes 17 through 21 are entitled “Green With Evil”, and are one of the most famous story arcs in Power Rangers. The final round of a karate tournament Jason has entered has him facing new kid Tommy Oliver. Tommy is such a good opponent that the match ends in a draw. Rita sees this and decides to use the sixth power coin that she has had waiting for the perfect user. As Tommy is walking home he is ambushed by a group of Putties, easily defeating them, so Rita comes down to get Tommy herself. After putting her mind control spell on him, she gives him the Dragon Power Coin to become her evil Green Ranger! Zordon senses something is happening and sends Alpha away, as the Green Ranger arrives at the Command Center and begins destroying as much as he can, effectively disabling Zordon’s connection to this realm. The other Rangers realize something is amiss as they cannot contact Zordon nor the Command Center. Billy suggests taking the Rad-Bug and on arrival find Alpha and the wrecked computer panels. As Alpha is explaining what happened, the Viewing Globe shows a giant Goldar attacking the city. They arrive in the Megazord and during the fight, Green Ranger shows up and breaks into the Megazord’s cockpit, forcing all of the Rangers out of it. This causes them to retreat for the moment as Green Ranger and Goldar leave victorious. The next day at Angel Grove High School, Tommy brushes off Kimberly and ends up sending Jason into the Dark Dimension to face Goldar, lying to the others and saying that he never saw him. Goldar has taken away Jason’s morpher, forcing him to fight unmorphed. He holds his own long enough to hide in the mist from the monkey man. Just before Goldar can completely finish Jason off however, Green Ranger arrives along with his new Sword of Darkness given to him by Rita. Jason is able to evade this attack and succeeds in getting his morpher back as Alpha locates him and brings him back to the Command Center. They begin to put two and two together as Jason tells his story, but are halted as Scorpina begins to attack the city. Immediately after the Rangers hold her off, Goldar begins his attack. The Rangers morph to go back out, causing the morphers to backfire, and leaving them helpless for the moment. Billy is able to fix them and they head out. The Green Ranger once again arrives to shut Alpha down and disable the computers. Alpha tricks him however and traps him in a force field, allowing the computers to scan him for an identity. Rita saves her precious Green Ranger and has him grow to Megazord size, helping Goldar to disable the zords as the Rangers once again retreat. The computer identifies Tommy as the Green Ranger, much to the dismay of the others. After they fail to convince him to defect to the side of good, Tommy receives the Dragon Dagger from Rita, giving him control of his own zord, the Dragonzord. Zordon has finally been brought back to their dimension and tells the Rangers that they must destroy the Sword of Darkness to break the spell. Jason decides to go fight Tommy one on one, destroying the sword and completely freeing Tommy of Rita’s control. As the now six rangers morph to show Rita her failure, Zordon shows the team that the Dragonzord, Mastodon, Saber-Toothed Tiger, and Triceratops can all combine to form Dragonzord Battle Mode.
With now six teenagers in spandex to defeat, Rita tried to step up her game a bit. Episode 22 (“The Trouble With Shellshock”) has Squatt and Baboo creating their own monster, combining a snapping turtle and a traffic light. Episode 23 ( “Itsy Bitsy Spider”) deals with Zach’s fear of spiders when Rita swaps a statue in Angel Grove Park with a giant bug nest. Episode 24 (“The Spit Flower”) tests Kimberly’s patience when Rita destroys a model float for the local Flower Parade, but Tommy fixes it with Alpha’s help and they surprise Kim with it fully made. In Episode 25 (“Life’s A Masquerade”), it’s Halloween in Angel Grove and Rita makes a monster inspired by Frankenstein’s monster, with Alpha ending up winning the costume contest!In Episode 26 (“Gung Ho!)”, Zordon sends Tommy and Jason on a quest to find a new set of weapons and to learn how to work together. This introduces the Thunder Slingers, which are slingshot-like blasters that can also combine with the Blade Blasters, along with the new zord Titanus. Episode 27 (“Wheel Of Misfortune”) has Bulk breaking Kimberly’s grandmother’s spin yarn wheel and is the first appearance of the Ultrazord, a combination of the Megazord, Dragonzord, and Titanus. Episodes 28 and 29 are called “The Island Of Illusions”. Rita summons the powerful wizard Lokar to send the Rangers to another dimension where they are cut off from their powers and must overcome their own fears and hallucinations to escape. In Episode 30 (“The Rockstar”), Jason must protect his cousin from finding an evil mirror while the others are out of town. Episode 31 (“Calamity Kimberly”) has Rita putting a bad luck spell on Kim and she ends up being trapped in a jar by the Samurai Fanman. Episode 32 (“A Star Is Born”) has Tommy and Bulk both auditioning for a karate tournament, while Scorpina traps the other five in a cocoon with Tommy being their only hope. In Episode 33 (“The Yolks On You”), Tommy is captured by Putties and must get free in time for Jason and him to win the school talent show.
Episodes 34 and 35 are entitled “The Green Candle”. Rita decides to get rid of the Green Ranger powers for good. She lights the Green Candle, so when it extinguishes, so do Tommy’s powers. Rita kidnaps Tommy to keep him captive as the candle runs out. Finster creates a copycat monster so it can impersonate the Dragonzord and attack Angel Grove. The other Rangers catch on to what’s happening and rush out to fight the fake Dragonzord. Tommy escapes to go and fight the knockoff with the real thing, but he notices his powers starting to weaken as he can not fully control the Dragonzord. Jason later volunteers to go get the Green Candle from Rita, but Goldar is there waiting for him. Zach must rescue Jason when Tommy needs help fighting a monster. Sadly, the candle goes out before the Rangers can regroup to go and get it again. To keep Rita from getting her hands on the coin however, Tommy hands it to Jason, giving him the Dragon Shield armor and power over the Dragonzord, and he leaves the team. Even with all this, Tommy gets up the courage to ask Kimberly to the school dance, to which she says yes.
The Rangers adjust to being back to five with episode 36 (“Birds Of A Feather”). Jason learns how the new upgrade works as he goes inside of a giant chicken monster to defeat it with the Power Sword and Dragon Dagger at the same time. Episode 37 (“Clean-Up Club) has Rita creating a pollution monster to trash the teens’ ideas to clean up Angel Grove Park. In Episode 38 (“A Bad Reflection On You”), Rita creates actual clones of the teens to wreak havoc on their personal lives and to make the city of Angel Grove turn on the Rangers. It fails when the teens break out of detention to fight their copies. In Episodes 39 and 40 (“Doomsday”), it’s Power Rangers Day in Angel Grove! Rita has created Cyclopsus, a zord just for Goldar. Rita sends everyone at the festival to the Dark Dimension, except the Rangers. Goldar in his Cyclopsus is able to defeat the Megazord and Dragonzord, and even the Dragonzord Battle Mode. Titanus arrives to form the Ultrazord, and that is finally able to defeat the villain. In her anger, Rita attacks Titanus, effectively sinking it into the ground, then summons Lokar once again to rebuild Cyclopsus. With all this, the zords must have twelve hours to re-charge and Jason insists on going back out with only half power, even against Zordon’s wishes. The Megazord and Dragonzord are both destroyed in this battle, or so it seems. Just before they went out, Billy and Zordon had installed a backup in case of a defeat, and all the zords were teleported back to their hiding places. Alpha hacks into Rita’s palace and finds the weakness to Cyclopsus, and they must swap between as many zord combinations as possible to weaken its defenses. After wearing it down, they use the now revived Titanus to form Ultrazord and destroy the Cyclopsus zord, but Goldar escapes to fight the Rangers another day. All the civilians are brought back safe, with Tommy making an appearance to show the team he still supports them even if he does not have his powers anymore. Zordon asks the five teens if they wish to leave now, as they have fought brave and hard against the forces of evil. They all tell him they would never give up in a battle, so why quit now?
Episode 41 (“Rita’s Seeds Of Evil”) creates evil pumpkins after having Squatt plant the seeds once the teens make a new flowerbed for Angel Grove Park. Episode 42 (“A Pig Surprise”) starts the fan famous “Zyu 2” footage where Saban paid Toei Entertainment to create new footage exclusively for Power Rangers! Rita turns Bulk and Skull’s new pig into a revived Pudgy Pig, forcing the Rangers to find a way to reverse the process without hurting it. Episode 43 (“Something Fishy”) focuses on Billy’s fear of fish because one bit him on the finger as a kid. Episode 44 (“Lions And Blizzards”) has Zach trying to balance his date with Angela and defeating the Goatan monster. Episode 45 (“Crystal Of Nightmares”) has all the teens going to a cabin in the woods for a weekend so they can study for a test, but Rita makes them have nightmares that cause them to lose confidence in themselves. In Episode 46 (“To Flea Or Not To Flee”), Rita makes a flea monster to infest a dog that the gang has found, making them scratch uncontrollably. Episode 47 (“Reign Of The Jellyfish”) has Rita trying to steal the group’s class time capsule before they can bury it for the future. Episode 48 (“Plaque Of The Mantis”) focuses on Trini’s frustration to learn the Mantis style of martial arts when Rita makes a Mantis monster, and she must face it one on one to keep her pride as a martial artist. In Episodes 49 and 50 (“Return Of An Old Friend”), it is Parents Day at the Juice Bar, showing us that not only do the Rangers wear their colors, but their parents do as well. While Rita distracts Jason, Zach, Trini, and Kim, she uses her Dramole monster to capture everyone inside the building. Rita and Goldar tell the Rangers that they must give up their Power Coins if they want their parents back. All five hand them over, but Goldar tricks them as he keeps the coins and their parents captive, even getting his hands on the Dragon Dagger! During all of this madness, Tommy arrives back in town and sees the deserted Juice Bar. Zordon teleports him to the Command Center and tells everyone that he can re-energize Tommy’s powers, albeit temporarily. He and Tommy both accept the risks involved with this, causing Zordon’s connection to be cut off from the team. Tommy is once again the Green Ranger, and he goes to face Goldar. While fighting, he gets his Dragon Dagger back and retakes control of the Dragonzord. Just before his powers fail on him, he grabs the box with the power coins in it and teleports back to the Command Center. The Rangers use the combined power of their power coins to bring Zordon back and go to fight the Dramole. As he stays behind in the Command Center, Tommy realizes that when he grabbed the five power coins, the combined powers gave his own coin enough energy to keep it activated. He goes to back up the others for the Ultrazord to be formed, allowing them to defeat Rita’s monster along with freeing all the parents and others from her dark dimension. Even though Tommy’s Green Ranger powers are still temporary, he says he will fight with the others as long as he can.
In Episode 51 (“Grumble Bee”), Billy made a B on a test so Rita creates a bee-themed monster, making for a pun-tiful episode. Episode 52 (“Two Heads Are Better Than One”) has Rita making a monster with two heads so the Rangers must find a rare fruit to cause the monster to argue with itself, allowing them to defeat it. Episode 53 (“Foul Play”) has Zach trying once again to get a date with Angela and having to fight with Rangers instead. It also has the Megazord use the Mastodon’s head as a shield for the first time since its first appearance in “Green With Evil: Part Two”. In Episode 54 (“Trick Or Treat”), Kimberly faces Skull on a Halloween-themed game show and has to forfeit before winning to go face Rita’s Rapping Pumpkin monster, that is actually his name. In Episode 55 (“Second Chance”), Tommy cannot help the Rangers against the Sockadillo monster when his communicator is taken up by Ms.Applebee in class. Episode 56 (“On Fins And Needles”) is where Rita tests Jason and Tommy’s friendship with a spell that makes them hate each other, and they must learn how to work together again. Episode 57 (“Enter… The Lizzinator”) has one of Kimberly’s friends kidnapped by Squatt and Baboo, even though she tricks them by having them do cheer routines while the Rangers try to rescue her. In Episode 58 (“Football Season”), Tommy wants to try out for the school’s football team and must help the other Rangers defeat the Rhino Blaster and his Putty-filled evil football team. Episode 59 (“Mighty Morphin’ Mutants”) has Rita use her “Badges of Darkness” to give five Putties the powers of the Green, Black, Pink, Blue, and Yellow Rangers with Goldar taking the place of the Red. The Rangers finally defeat them with upgraded versions of their power weapons. Episode 60 (“An Oyster Stew”) has Zach taking Angela out for her birthday, along with Tommy and Kim for a double date. The pearl earrings Zach bought from a disguised Putty in the park cause everyone in the restaurant to freeze, including Jason, Billy, and Trini, who arrived a little too late to warn everyone. Zach and Tommy were unaffected, however, because they had to go clean cake off of themselves courtesy of Bulk and Skull. Tommy and Zach go to fight the Oysterizer by themselves, and realize they are overpowered. Tommy gives his Dragon Shield to Zach, allowing Zach to have the power boost to defeat the monster himself. As the spell on everyone is broken, Rita has her creation grow and all of the Rangers must rely on the Dragonzord to defeat the monster underwater. Once it is forced on land, the Megazord is able to defeat it for good. The episode and season ends with Angela agreeing to another date with Zach, as Bulk and Skull serenade them at the Juice Bar.
Before I finish this, I thought I’d take a look at the characters and items in this story. The first of our heroes, Jason Lee Scott (portrayed by Austin St John), is one of the most courageous teenagers I have ever seen. Zordon could be afraid of what might happen during a fight, yet Jason knows not to give up and will fight until his last breath. He even takes the risk of destroying his new friend as he goes to free him from an evil spell! Trini Kwan (Thuy Trang) always focuses on her martial arts training, using it to calm her mind and keep her focused in battle. Her scientist uncle might explain how she can understand Billy’s tech lingo and can translate for everyone else! Speaking of the team’s more academic member, Billy Cranston (David Yost) is the technical side and brains of the group. Not to say that the others aren’t smart, but Billy is a huge brainiac, inventing a good bit of the equipment they use and assist Alpha when the robot needs it. While Kimberly Ann Hart (Amy Jo Johnson) might not be the strongest or smartest of the team, she is most of the time referred to as the prettiest one of the group. Being one of the most popular girls in school, with cheerleading and gymnastics at the top of her hobbies, she can still kick a bad guy’s butt if she wanted. Zach Taylor (Walter Jones) always knows when to bring style to his group of friends and uses his own style of martial arts and dancing mix, known as ‘Hip-Hop Kido’, defeating Putties while busting a move. He also tries a lot more than most would to win over his crush Angela, finally succeeding, even after he gave her bewitched earrings. Being the new kid in town and then turned into an evil henchman for a crazy sorceress, Tommy Oliver (Jason David Frank) had a rough time adjusting to Angel Grove, but he soon found a place with the Rangers, even becoming close with Kimberly. Even when he lost his powers, he did not regret all that he had done and when he got the chance to get them back, even at the cost of his own life, he took it so he could help his friends. Their mentor Zordon (portrayed and voiced by David Fielding) was wise and tactical, even if he was just a floating head in a tube due to years of battling Rita and having been caught in a time warp. Sometimes it seems he knows what is going on before everyone else, but does not tell anyone until the Rangers come to him! His robotic assistant and friend Alpha 5 (voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz) is always there to help the Rangers from the Command Center, repairing the zords if need be, creating new weapons so the latest monster can be destroyed, and creating new zords for Zordon if he thinks future incidents may arise and a team of Power Rangers may need them one day.
On the villain side of things, Rita Repulsa (voiced by Barbara Goodson) is as evil, cunning, and powerful as she seems. Most (if not all) of her plans have failed to destroy the Rangers and Zordon. Her ideas sound good in theory, but execution is mostly a dud. However, Goldar (Kerrigan Mahan) might be one of her henchman, yet if Rita allows him to take over a plan, such as in “Return of an Old Friend”, or giving him his own zord in “Doomsday”, he is almost more successful at destroying the group of teens than his Empress! Finster (Robert Axelrod) might not be a front-line man like Goldar, but he is responsible for Rita’s monsters being created thanks to his machines, even creating the Putties out of clay. No matter how many the Rangers defeat, there are always more to come. On the lowest end of this darkened totem pole, are Squatt (Micheal Sorich) and Baboo (Dave Mallow). One could say they are the Bulk and Skull of Rita’s minions. They are the bumbling duo who never accomplish much at all, and are just there for a few laughs. They did create a monster at one point, even if it was only because Finster and Rita were away at the time. The final member of Rita’s team of baddies is the villainous Scorpina (Wendee Lee), a hybrid of a scorpion and a human. She was not around as much as Goldar, mostly arriving to help Goldar try and defeat the Rangers when they were at their weakest.
With a show full of dangerous monsters and fighting action with six teenagers in bright spandex, we need a more comedic side of things. That is where Farkus ‘Bulk’ Bulkmeier (Paul Schrier) and Eugene ‘Skull’ Skullovitch (Jason Narvy) come in to play. They are supposed to be the bullies of the show, but most of the time their meanness ends with one or both in some hilarious situation. Either having a milkshake dumped on them or crashing into each other and food going everywhere, they just have something laughable happen to them. They even get their own theme song, so whenever we hear it we know something is fixing to cause us to laugh at this take on “big guy with little guy” slapstick comedy. There is also school principal Mr. Caplan (Henry Cannon) and teacher Ms. Appleby (Royce Herron), who most of the time would just give Bulk and Skull detention when they did their usual thing, but were also there for the kids when they would need it. The girl Zach spent a bit of the season chasing after, Angela (Renee Griggs), finally accepted his requests, although it could be noted that she liked him the whole time and was just playing hard to get. The final character to bring up is one you can never miss when talking about Power Rangers: Ernie (Richard Genelle), who owned the Juice Bar in the Angel Grove Youth Center, which was the hangout spot for most all teenagers in the city. He gave advice and helped the Rangers without realizing it, and even coached Tommy in football to improve his skills.
This concludes the first season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and the Power Rangers franchise overall. My own personal thoughts on the show? It is the original, so you can never wish it had not happened because if not for this show, some would not be where they are now. I know I would not be where I am today without it. That said, I do not hold the nostalgia for this as some do, as I was born just before Zeo aired and did not even watch it until Ninja Storm premiered, meaning I grew up on the Disney era. Do I like this season or put it as one of my favorites? No. Sure the suits and zords are cool, but at the end of the day this show was made for kids, and the cheesy and simplified plots show that. Did I enjoy it? Of course. This was actually the first time I have seen this season episode for episode, so it was nice to see how it all started for myself. Bulk and Skull were probably the most enjoyable parts of any episode, and Jason is just one of those characters you look up to for reasons I have previously mentioned.
If you have enjoyed this and would like to experience it for yourself, it is on Netflix. You can also buy the DVDs from Shout! Factory, as they have released almost all Power Rangers seasons individually and have released all of them in special box-set versions. Until next time, when we use the power of thunder to defeat an all new villain!