Go Go Power Rangers! The show first came on the air on August 28, 1993 during the Fox Kids programming block. The original series focuses on a group of five teenagers who are called upon by the wise Zordon and his robot Alpha 5 to help defend Earth from the evil sorceress, Rita Repulsa, and her putty people (yes, they are made out of putty). They are given powers when they “morph,” or change, from an ordinary person into a superhero. Each of their powers are connected to qualities of specific dinosuars. They then become the Power Rangers: Jason Lee Scott, the red ranger; Kimberly Hart, the pink ranger; Zack Taylor, the black ranger; Trini Kwan, the yellow ranger; and Billy Cranston, the blue ranger. Mid-way through the first season, Rita gives dark powers to another teenager, Tommy Oliver, to combat the Power Rangers. He becomes the Green Ranger. Of course his attempts ultimately fail, he loses his powers and ends up trying to help the Power Rangers. In season 2, Zordon rewards him by making him the white ranger, the sixth addition and new leader of the superhero group. They go on to fight evil, and like every 90s kid television show, save the world.
Growing up, I did not know a single kid who was not completely obsessed with this show. Me and my friend would “play” Power Rangers during recess, where the girls would most likely fight over who got to be the pink ranger (I always loved Amy Jo Johnson). The show became a pop culture marketing phenomenon. There were movies, action figures, costumes, sunglasses, videogames, apparel, backpacks and more. When I was about 5 or 6, I went to the hospital for a minor surgery. To my excitement, when I woke up my family had given me my very own treasure box full of Power Ranger merchandise. I was the happiest kid ever. One of my favorite toys was an action figure where you could flip the head.
One minute she’s the pink ranger and the next, she’s Kimberly. I know these toys are less than impressive when compared to the ipods and interactive Barbie robots of today, but I loved them. The Power Rangers became more than a television show. The characters were highly marketable and appealed to kids across the country. Their personality traits were linked to their costume colors. Jason, the red ranger, was the karate-kicking heartthrob. Billy, the blue ranger, was the expert in technology. Zach, the black ranger, was the smooth dancer. Kimberly, the pink ranger, was the beautiful gymnast. Trini, the yellow ranger, was the smart, powerful and conscientious woman. Tommy, the green and white ranger, was the tough guy. This idea of assigning colors to the characters was a very smart marketing move. It made the brand recognizable. It was easy for kids to attach to the show, as many kids would root for the character who wore their favorite color. Of course you can’t ignore the controversy surrounding the color assignments. Ironically, the African American actor is the black ranger and the Asian American actress is the yellow ranger. While this may have stirred up some anti-Power Ranger sentiment from parents, as a kid, I was completely unaware of this fact. The only reason I liked the pink ranger over the yellow ranger was because my favorite color was and will always be pink.
The show is based on the Japanese Super Sentai franchise and integrates footage and elements from the series. As a kid, I did not realize this, but after re-watching the first part of the very first episode, Japanese elements are easy to recognize. Besides the karate aspect, you rarely see Rita’s lips move when she talks. It’s almost as if her dialogue does not coincide with her facial movements.
The Power Rangers went on for another 16 seasons, ending in December of 2009. After the first 2 seasons, I began to lose interest as characters and themes began to change. There was a Power Rangers in Space, Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy, Power Rangers: Time Force and more. The show became unrecognizable to me. I didn’t enjoy it anymore because there was something about the new seasons that took the innocence and simplicity away. However, the show definitely made its impact in my life. What are your thoughts on the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers!?