The Mighty Morphin’ power rangers are a LARGE part of many of our childhood’s. Looking back, the show encompasses everything both great AND awful about the 90’s. however, that does not change the fact that it is something that many 90’s kids hold dear, even with it’s obvious flaws. Over time, power Rangers has evolved and managed to become something more than its pre-established roots. While the show began as an extremely silly outlandish way of repurposing footage from a Japanese kid’s show, eventually it gained it’s own identity. Power Rangers would find ways to take stories told in the Japanese version of the show, and give those stories a different spin.
During the time when Disney held ownership of Power rangers, they took a relatively silly shows, like “Abaranger” or “Go-Onger”, and managed to tell a rather serious and dramatic and EPIC stories with their footage. however, back in 2012, Saban re-purchased the rights to the show FROM Disney and began producing and directing the show once again. However, taking the show back to it’s roots was NOT the best step to take, as under Saban, the acting was noticably stilted and the plots were generic, cookie cutter, and overly childish. Power Rangers MAY be a kids show, but it has been able to tell mature stories in a competent fashion. Things only got worse with Saban’s altogether FAILED attempt at a 20th anniversary season of Power Rangers with SUPER MEGAFORCE. Aside from the stupid name, it was a truly pitiful excuse for a show in terms of acting, and writing. The cameos were too few and far between, and the inability of Saban’s to use older sentai heroes from the Sentai 35th anniversary was a true cop-out.
But perhaps a new season can change this for the better? Let me tell you MY thoughts on the first episode of Power Ranger’s DinoCharge.
Our story begins towards the dawn of time, when an Intergalactic Bounty hunter named “Sledge” is in hot pursuit of our series’ mentor character, “Keeper”, in his attempt to retrieve the Energems, a collection of gems which hold great power. Sledge and his crew eventually force Keeper’s ship to crash on the nearby planet EARTH, during the time of the dinosaurs.
This is where we MEET keeper, as well as the primary villains for this season. Both Keeper, and Sledge are original American creations made by Saban, as opposed to using their Kyoryuger counterparts. While i am personally not a fan of Keeper’s rather doofy design, I do respect the attempts at originality and the use of an original character instead of recycled stock footage. Sledge also comes off as a rather IMPOSING villain, and is certainly an upgrade from the rather…… bishii villains that are present in many of Japan’s sentai series. In fact, Sledge reminds me quite a bit of both lord Zedd and Emporer Gruumm, both American created Power Rangers villains. Just these changes, and the decision to make villain footage completely original is more than enough to send VERY positive signals to me.
After an interesting twist, Keeper manages to send a BOMB to the villains, causing their ship to get severely damaged, dropping a series of asteroids onto the planet’s surface. What does one have to do with the other? Well, Sledge was towing a collection of asteroids behind his ship; which he planned to use along with his collection of bounties to become rich. These asteroids are the same ones that managed to cause the ice age, and wipe out all dinosaur life on earth. Before they could do their work, however, Keeper managed to hide his energems inside the bodies of the great dinosaurs. this allowed them to be kept safe, and out of Sledge, or his general Fury’s hands.
We fast forward to present day, where we meet our main characters in the primary hangout, a natural history museum with an extensive dinosaur exhibit. As opposed to Super MegaForce, DinoCharge introduces our characters as late teens to young adults, where-in they all have jobs and are significantly independent. basically, abandoning the HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA angle of the last season. a WELCOME departure. The first ranger we are introduced to is Tyler, who is searching for a cave site near the museum where his father once lead an archaeological expedition to. Through him we are introduced to 3 other Rangers, Koda, Shelby, and Riley. Koda and Riley both work as archeologists for the museum, while Shelby is merely a dinosaur enthuiest working part time at the museum restaurant. Each character is given enough time to divulge their primary character type, as well as revealing that Saban may have ACTUALLY invested in competent actors this time around. None of the actors seem one dimensional, bland, boring OR wooden. these were problems which have plagued Power Rangers since it has gotten back into the hands of Saban in 2012. Granted, this may only be the first episode, but it is easy enough to tell when an actor is competent or not.
Shelby attempts to join Koda and Riley at their archaeological dig site, but is told by both them, AND the museum curator that it is against museum policy to allow untrained personal at a dig site. This is honestly a rather straight forward and simple enough reason, but it is not good enough for Shelby, who RISKS HER JOB and stows away on their truck to come to their dig site. While one can argue that such a stupid move would make for an unlikebale character, I am merely happy to see characters with enough depth to HAVE character flaws. Our past 2 teams of heroes have been nothing more than a group of bland mary-sues, so seeing a rule breaker on the team is interesting.
While Shelby is breaking rules, Tyler is becoming a bit of an Indiana Jones, and ventures into the caves he was searching for. He ultimately finds one of the ancient Energems in the bones of a T-Rex, but is soon assaulted by a cloaked monster. He manages to hide from the monster before it leaves the cave in search of the Energem.
The monster re-appears at the museum dig-site in order to steal a recently discovered PINK Energem. Shelby races to stop him, but is overpowered by the monster. Just then, Tyler swoops in on and INDIANA JONES ROPE SWING in order to save the day and help fight off the monster. he even manages to deflect the monster’s laser attacks using a SHOVEL. I gotta say, I like this Tyler kid. however, even after displaying his amazing mastery of spades, the two kids are hit by the monster’s blast. thankfully, the powers of the Energems allow them to survive the hit, and even award them with their morphers. These morphers are EASILY some of the best I have ever seen, as they are literally GUNS!
The two kids wise up to how their guns work and combine them with their Energems. This initiates the first morphing sequence of the season, unbeknownst to our heroes, and transforms them into the DINOCHARGE Power Rangers! With their new Powers, the pair fight off the monster and send him off to lick his wounds. After this, we are given one last shot of exposion and character motivation for Tyler, explaining he was searching for answers to the disappearance of his Father 10 years ago, believing that the monster may be connected to it.
This marks a GREAT first episode to the series and give me HIGH hopes for the rest of the season. I am a long time Power Ranger fan who felt truly BURNED by Saban’s piss poor attempt at an anniversary show with Super Megaforce, so I went into this season with little to know expectations of quality. But with the complete absence of any Japanese stock footage, original American construct characters, and the lack of any 90’s esque tropes. I feel Saban MAY be getting back on track with how Power Rangers is supposed to be done. While i still hold reservations, as this is only the first of a 2 parter, I do like what i have seen so far, and look forward to reporting on the next episode for my readers. you can watch teh episode for free at nick.com, and I highly recommend doing so.