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Featured TV on DVD Review: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season One, Volume One

August 20th, 2012

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season One, Volume One - Buy from Amazon

The show that started it all. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers started in 1993 and the franchise is still going nearly 20 years later. I never watched the show when it was first on TV. I was aware of how big it was, I was just a too old for the target demographic. So looking back know, how is the show? Does its longevity make sense?

The Show

The series begins with two astronauts on the moon, I think they are on the moon. They come across a capsule, which they decide to open. Inside are four weird looking monster thingies. There's... you know what, I'm not even going to describe them. They wake up their leader, Rita Repulsa. They've been trapped for 10,000 years and Rita is going to celebrate by destroying the nearest planet: Earth.

Meanwhile on Earth, we look in on Angel Grove, specifically at the Angel Grove Youth Center Gym and Juice Bar with five typical teens. Jason Lee Scott and Zack Taylor, who are sparring when we see them. Kimberly Hart is working on a balancing beam routine and is cheered on by Trini Kwan. Billy Cranston comes in looking forward to his first karate lesson. Finally, we see Bulk and Skull, a.k.a., the comic relief. After seeing them for a bit, there is a massive earthquake. This isn't a natural earthquake, but the first attack by Rita. The people of Angel Grove panic, but they are not the only ones. Alpha 5, a strange robot, and his disembodied head of a leader, Zordon panic too. Zordon recognizes this is an attack and instructs Alpha 5 to summon five "overbearing and overemotional human beings". That's not snark. That's a direct quote. The five are summoned to Zordon and told they are to be The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and protectors of Earth. Each one will be given control over a dinosaur, Zord, and apparently the Mastodon and the Saber-Toothed Tiger are dinosaurs. At first this is just too weird for them and they bolt, but when they are attacked, they rethink the whole getting super powers to save the world idea.

Their first battle is a close battle, but they are victorious. They return to Zordon who tells them the rules of being a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger. They must never use their powers for their own purposes. They must never reveal their true identity. And they must never escalate a fight unless Rita does so first. So that's why they never just use the Megazord form and stomp on whatever monster is attacking them. I always wondered why that never happened.

For the next 30 episodes, we see Rita attempt to take over Earth again and again. There are a huge number of monsters used, but for the most part, they sort of blend together. There's a lot of action, but at the end of each episode, there's not a lot that's really changed. It isn't until the five-part Green Power Ranger arc starts that we actually have real character development and continuity. Of course, the details are spoilers, so I won't go into that here. (I will say that show does get better once this arc begins.)

Since I wasn't in the target audience when this show first came out, I don't have the benefits of nostalgia to judge the series. I have seen several installments in the franchise, so comparing Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to RPM or Super Samurai is probably the easiest way to go. The lack of real changes for each episode is a bit of a problem, as this reduces the stakes for each fight. On the other hand, the most recent incarnation of the franchise has the opposite problem, as there are so many new powers and new combination of Zords added each episode that it is impossible to keep up. Other installments have found a better balance between the two needs. The show is much older, so the special effects are not as strong as more recent installments, and the video quality is poor at times. But in many ways, the design is better here than it is in Super Samurai, for instance. The use of physical suits instead of bad CG helps, plus the weapons don't look like oversized kids toys. They look like real weapons here. Also, I should probably stop making fun of the acting and writing in the new series, because it's always been pretty bad. It's not a surprise Amy Jo Johnson was one of the few power rangers to continue acting after she left the show. Although I can't blame the cast too much, as the dialogue is groan-worthy a lot of the time. The lines for Billy Cranston, a.k.a., The Blue Ranger, are particularly bad. He's smart, so he uses really big words when he talks, even though he would be able to communicate better with simpler terms. That's not a sign of intelligence, that's a sign of bad writing. Some of the guest stars are so bad that one almost has to assume it is intentional. They must have wanted the acting to be bad to add kitsch value. There's no other logical explanation.

On the other hand, it is a kids show aimed at 10-year old to 13-year old boys, and in this regard, it is a success. There's plenty of action in every episode the design of the Dinosaur Zords is cool, even if half of them are not actually dinosaurs. It isn't the best installment in the franchise that I've reviewed, but it is better than most.

The Extras

There are no extras on this DVD. Also, the episodes are only 19 minutes long, which seems short for a TV episode. Maybe when they aired, there were, "Coming up on..." intros and, "Next time on..." outros that padded the running time.

The Verdict

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is the series that started it all and 20 years later it is still going. There haven't been many kids shows that have had this kind of longevity. Unfortunately, it doesn't really rise above being a kids show and if you didn't grow up on the show, I don't think you'll get the appeal. On the other hand, if you are a fan of the more recent installments and want to see how the show began, Season One, Volume One is a good deal. If you are a fan of the original show, you can't deny the power of nostalgia, but these fans might want to wait for the Full Series Megaset, which has already been announced.

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