Culture

Sgathaich: Tokusatsu and me part 2

I didn’t over exaggerate how huge Power Rangers was in those early years. From yet another series that the big wigs thought would never sell to a massive multimedia hit. There was more than just the toys and additional apparel for kids (lunch boxes etc). There were also live stage shows (which I once caught broadcast on TV) and a single which was used to tease the existence of the White Ranger. It was huge and everywhere.

Of course sometimes I missed important parts and was left confused. I believe this was because of how it was shown over here at the time, the terrestrial channels often had special children’s blocks where they showed extra episodes on bank holidays… English bank holidays… yeah.. I recall for example for whatever reason missing the opener for season 2 and confused at all the status quo changes, or missing the second part of the story where Tommy lost the Green Ranger powers permanently. But when I could catch it on I watched with glee.

Then we heard. There was going to be a full feature film. I recall seeing it advertised due to a promotion on the back of a cereal box with special figures for it (I can’t remember if it was a contest or just stuff packed into the box… it was about 25 years ago I can’t remember every detail). Though living on Orkney, well those local readers probably know how long it can take some movies to get over here ( ugh hiding from Infinity Wars spoilers was a pain… and failed at because articles just gave stuff away in thumbnails). But while waiting for the movie the start of season 3 began and in came Rita’s brother Rito (she came back and got married to Zedd part way through season 2) and he and some creatures he brought with him destroyed that lame Thunder Megazord, I wasn’t a fan of it.

The opening for season 3 unlike season 2 I did manage to see all of, a tale of the Rangers gaining new ninja powers and zords. It was fun and importantly the new megazord, The Ninja Megazord , and the new Falconzord I got that birthday. I recall my mother pointing out it was so much larger a box we normally got that they ran out of wrapping paper. I was so happy finally a megazord of my own. Years later I’d sell that at a car boot sale, I regret doing that even if I had by that point lost some parts. I do hope the kid that bought it is still having fun.

Oddly while I picked up on the strange not quite sure what it was issues with the aesthetics around season 2, season 3 with ninjas I didn’t. I suspect that was because of elements like the Turtles and how Ninjas had already been introduced as opposed to the more samurai and yokai elements of the second season (season 3 also used yokais but didn’t seem as out of place as they did in season 2).

It was however also starting to do things I didn’t like, namely phasing out older characters. Sure season 2 got rid of 3 of the main people and swapped them out for new replacements ( and swapping the ethnicities of the Black and Yellow Ranger that were widely joked about as being a whoopsy ) but I was ok with the new Rangers. But when it came to how they phased out Kimberly as the Pink Ranger… It felt different. Maybe it was because we got episodes before pushing her to the side or just being a damsel in distress, maybe it was because they also replaced the cool Animal Ninja Zords with the, in my eyes, far lamer Shogun Zord.  Maybe it was that her replacement Katherine never gelled with me. I just didn’t like it. Yes its common now to hear tales of people complaining about changes but this was the early to mid 90s I wasn’t even 10, it’s not one of those.

But before the replacement of the Pink Ranger happened, the movie was at the cinema… and it wasn’t that great. Sure entertaining for a kid but I was seeing some issues. We got cool designs for Rita and Zedd but then they are hardly in it as they are magically thrown into a snow globe by the villain of the movie till the very end (which did have a funny scene part way in the credits). The Rangers themselves only fought while morphed for one scene then lose their powers before going off to get the Ninja powers. You see the movie works a bit like an alternative take on the opening for season 3 given they lose their powers and have to find new ones… though not as good and the zords used VERY bad CGI, plus you had an annoying child character that just takes up screen time (fans of Turbo don’t worry this kid was far worse than what you got). It did have an awesome version of the main theme though. Power Rangers always had awesome music back then.

While the movie was a letdown I recall greatly the buzz at the end of season 3 and the weird mini-series they put on called Alien Rangers. Sadly much like the movie it had the focus on small children. I never understood why studio execs did that. You watch a show of people fighting evil and for some reason they think we need to watch children our age AS WELL as the evil fighting thing people came to see. What’s worse is this then detracts from the parts of the show people wanted to see and the children they get are often obnoxious and annoying. No one came to the Power Rangers’ movie to see a small child try and save his parents. They came to see the Power Rangers (guess which got the main focus).

Though it wasn’t just Power Rangers on, I recall we were seeing the start of children’s TV channels on Sky TV, my dad wasn’t a fan. This meant that other than watching the shows only in the mornings I could see them for much longer on the day. It was this time that I saw a cartoon about a giant fire breathing dinosaur called Godzilla. This was Hanah Barberas Godzilla and while the show isn’t technically Tokusatsu, it will be relevant later. For now Power Rangers was the main Tokusatsu show I was watching. I’d checked out things like VR Troopers and found them considerably lacking.


Watching the Alien Rangers mini-series was odd as so many episodes were shown at once (once again during special holiday weekends and the like) so I would marathon them (which meant I could get that over in one go rather than wait months). But I can’t say I really enjoyed them however a plot was unfolding much more serialized than the more episodic feel of the older episodes and all leading up to a big shake up for the show. For after 3 seasons Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was about to have a name change, and all new suits for the first time since the show started… not counting the White Ranger.

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