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Featured TV on DVD Review: VR Troopers: Season One, Volume One

October 21st, 2012

VR Troopers: Season One, Volume One - Buy from Amazon

VR Troopers is another TV series in the same mold as Power Rangers. However, while the Power Rangers franchise is still going nearly two decades after it began, this show only lasted two seasons. (Granted, there were nearly 100 episodes produced during those two seasons.) Is it better than some of the other shows? For instance, is it better than Big Bad Beetleborgs, which I previously reviewed?

The Show

VR Troopers focuses on the lives of three teenagers in Cross World City. There's Ryan Steele, the martial arts master whose father, Tyler Steele, disappeared ten years ago. He spends most of his time at Tao's Dojo under the training of Tao Chong. JB Reese is also a martial artist who trains with Ryan at Tao's Dojo, but he is also a computer master. Likewise, Kaitlin Star also trains at the Dojo, but her passion is news and she's a reporter / photographer with the local paper, Underground Voice Daily, run by Woody Stocker.

In the first episode, the three friends are investigating Ziktor Industries, a corporation run by Karl Ziktor. Ziktor has been destroying historic buildings to build more nuclear power plants. But why? They are contacted by Professor Horatio Hart who tells them to come to his lab, because he has a message for Ryan from his father. While on their way to Professor Hart's lab, they are attacked by some kind of robot and barely escape with their lives. When they finally meet Professor Hart in person, they learn he's not a person, but an Artificial Intelligence. Ryan's father had been working on top secret virtual reality technology and made a major breakthrough, but it was this breakthrough that caused him to disappear, as he was sucked into the virtual world. However, the VR isn't a computer generated world, so much as it is a parallel dimension. The leader of this alternate dimension is Grimlord, who has an army of mutants, Skugs, as well as more powerful lieutenants, such as Cannon Nose and Tankatron. Grimlord is trying to break across the reality barrier so that he can take over our world. He's not just using his army, but also his corporate power. That's right, Karl Ziktor is Grimlord's alter ego here in the real world. Tyler Steele asks his son and his two friends to become VR Troopers to protect the real world from Grimlord.

The initial battle between the VR Troopers and Grimlord's forces goes poorly for the good guys. It's not surprising, as they had only just gotten their powers, but Ryan is nearly defeated in his first fight. He survives, but has to be helped back to the lab where Professor Hart uses the machines to repair his suit and heal his injuries. Unfortunately, Jeb, their dog, gets too close to the machines and suddenly he can talk. And he sounds like Jack Nicholson.

From this point on, it's very much like practically every Power Rangers clone. Every episode the Grimlord sends something after the VR Troopers and the two sides battle. However, the Power Rangers clearly had a bigger budget to work with. The special effects here are incredibly dated. To be fair, it is edited from a Japanese show that began a decade before this one, but that only explains the weaknesses, it doesn't excuse them. There is also a very large reliance on stock footage and there are parts that are repeated every episode. Granted, this is a weakness in practically every TV show in this genre. The fighting is not as energetic, mainly because the VR suits are clumsy compared to what the Power Rangers were fighting in, so in the fights we see where they are not in their suits, it is much better. Finally, most of the side characters were mistakes. Woody Stocker was aggressively annoying and having a talking dog was just puzzling. On the other hand, the acting from the three main leads was better than most similar shows.

Overall, VR Troopers is not as good as Big Bad Beetleborgs was, and that show was a kids show.

The Extras

There are no extras on this three-disc set. On the other hand, this DVD costs only a little more than the average Power Rangers single-disc release, so it is a bargain on a price-per-minute basis.

The Verdict

Unless you are a major fan of the genre, VR Troopers is not a great success. Stick with Power Rangers and Big Bad Beetleborgs. If you are a fan of the show, then Season One, Volume One is worth picking up despite the lack of extras, as the price-per-minute is very cheap.

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