Power Rangers 20 Morphinominal years: A look back Volume 1
This is a collection of the Zordon Era Power Ranger articles that have been completed so far. Volume 1 is made up of a total of 6 articles minus the majority of the pictures. I have moved the dedications for Thuy Trang and Machiko Soga to the end of the article and have also included a look back at how the Power Rangers logo has changed during the Zordon Era and the new MMPR logo.
On August 28th, 1993; I got up early to watch Saturday morning cartoons like most children in those days. There sat a 10 year old in his pajamas on the living room floor with a blanket wrapped around him and a bowl of cereal in his lap. I had been seeing the promos all week, nothing much just 5 teenagers to which all I could see was their faces and hands holding something shouting at the viewer with electricity surging behind them. The time had come, the world was going to be introduced to 5 heroes who would save the world over and over again for the next 20 plus years.
The show I remember watching so long ago has gone through many changes over the years but to those of us who remember, it will always be:
Over the years we've seen some of our favorite rangers come and go, for most the hardest one to watch leave the show was Tommy played by Jason David Frank. For others it was Austin St. John who played Jason or Amy Jo Johnson who played every boy's wet dream Kimberly. No matter who left the series, we always knew that they would return one day just as St. John did in Zeo and David Frank did in Dino Thunder etc. But for one, her final episode ever would be "Power Transfer" mid way through the second season. Sadly, Thuy Trang passed away on September 3, 2001 at the age of 27 when the car she was riding in lost control and flipped several times. The episode "Circuit Unsure" of Power Rangers Time Force was dedicated to Trang's memory.
It seemed that nothing could stop Haim Saban in those days, after the success of Power Rangers he continued building his superhero empire in the United States with VR Troopers which was originally set to star Jason David Frank under a different title "Cyber Tron". However, Saban decided to keep Frank in Power Rangers and move Brad Hawkins who was originally going to be introduced in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as the White Ranger, across the lot to star in VR Troopers along side 2 others. Then came the unsuccessful spin off of Power Rangers entitled Masked Rider. To me, I thought for sure that Masked Rider would mark the end of times for all Power Rangers related series simply because it was so ridiculously outlandish all though I'm glad to admit that I was wrong. After Masked Rider came and went we got a better series from Saban entitled Big Bad Beetle Borgs which was a fan favorite and much like VR Troopers would have continued on to more seasons, but in order to keep costs down, Saban relied on the over seas footage and sadly for both series ran out bringing both Beetle Borgs and VR Troopers to an abrupt halt leaving us with cliff hangers as their final episodes. We then receive The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog which lasted only a short time and at the same time as Power Rangers in Space we received Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Next Mutation which midway through the season had the Rangers battle and then team up with the Turtles.
When news broke that Mighty Morphin Power Rangers had been morphed into a full length cinematic feature film, I like most fans was ecstatic. My mom took my younger brother and I to see it at a theater which is now closed and directly after we simply had to stop at McDonald's for dinner and to get our own MMPR movie toys, mine was the White Ranger with Falcon Zord and my brother's was Red Ranger with Ape Zord. I remember getting the flip head power rangers for Christmas which I liked because they were Power Ranger toys but disliked because the way they were made, made them look incredibly fat, since their head flipped to convert from helmet to unmasked.
Soon, the last of the original team left the show being replaced by new characters with the exception of 2. Bulk and Skull were the comedic relief of the series from the very first episode all the way up to the first episode of Lost Galaxy with an appearance in the Wild Force episode "Forever Red" and Bulk continued to appear during Lost Galaxy and then again in the recent Power Rangers Samurai in which in the final episode Skull is said to be making an appearance. For most of their run, Bulk and Skull tried to unmask the Rangers and even dreamt of becoming Power Rangers themselves, but in the final episodes of Power Rangers in Space it was Bulk and Skull who lead the other non powered humans to stand up to Astronema and stand in the Rangers' place.
Since Mighty Morphin, we've been given Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers, Power Rangers Zeo, Power Rangers Turbo, Power Rangers in Space, Lost Galaxy, Light Speed Rescue, Time Force, Wild Force, Ninja Storm, Dino Thunder, S.P.D, Mystic Force, Operation Overdrive, Jungle Fury, RPM, Samurai/ Super Samurai and now in 2013 Power Rangers Megaforce.
Power Rangers Megaforce will see the return of the Teenagers with attitude synopsis. Season 2 of Megaforce will see the return of Rangers from past seasons.
Over the years, we haven't only received different characters, different ranger series, Zords, and villains. We've also seen Power Rangers move from station to station several times. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers debuted on Fox Kids from 1993- 2002, 2001- 2010 saw ABC acquire the rights to the Power Rangers broadcasting it on ABC's 1 Saturday Morning and ABC Family's Jetix. In 2010, Haim Saban re-acquired the rights to the series and moved it to Nickelodeon.
When Mighty Morphin Power Rangers hit television screens across the country, there was something the separated it from everything else that was on tv. We were given a rare program that balanced great stories and action with lessons. The lessons didn't appear at the end of the broadcast like with He-Man and GI Joe, it appeared through out each and every episode. Eventually, the Power Rangers lost that after Andros destroyed Zordon's tube and the Z wave eliminated all evil in the universe during the final episode of Power Rangers in Space.
Prior to Lost Galaxy, the Power Rangers were about friendship, trust, kindness, physical/mental and spiritual health, and most of all it was about always being the bigger person. In the early days, the rangers rarely fought amongst themselves nor did they make fun of each other. In fact, this style of Power Ranger completely changed after Rangers in Space. Gone were the days of promoting the good nature of others and here to stay are the days of only kicking monster butt. In the early days, we received something special something that kids today probably wouldn't understand. When the Rangers weren't morphed and fighting evil, they were busy working at the Angel Grove Youth Center, teaching children karate or gymnastics or even how to eat healthy. It was all about being able to accomplish anything you put your mind to in those days and treating others the way you want to be treated.
The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers didn't just stick to the same old routine of battling monsters all the time, in fact Jason David Frank did several Power Ranger Karate Club videos as the Green Ranger and as the White Ranger. All of the Rangers did a live tour when promoting the movie, similar to what the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had done back in the day, which you just don't get anymore. They not only taught each and everyone of us while on tv, but lived it in their real lives. It seemed they took a page straight out of Bill Cosby's handbook by teaching kids the importance of exercise and learning.
During the early days of MMPR, Bulk and Skull were bullies who continuously had to make fun of and try to pick on the rangers as well as others in the series. To me I felt this was important because it showed children that everyone get's picked on from time to time even Super Heroes. Gradually, Saban changed Bulk and Skull from dim witted bullies to loveable funny friends of the rangers. It was this that showed children, that no matter how bad you are or how mean, there's always time for you to change your ways and be a better person. Over the years, we see bulk and Skull go from being High School bullies who try and discover the true identity of the Power Rangers to recruits in the Angel Grove Police Department, to Private Detectives and then working in the Youth Center with Sergeant Stone. We've seen them transform into monkeys and become scientific researchers on Terra Venture, then somehow come back to Earth and take on management of a tiki juice bar named after Bulk but actually owned by Tommy. Then we get Skull's son, being trained to be a Samurai by Bulk in Power Rangers Samurai. Currently, the future is unknown for this Dynamic Duo of laughter, but I'm sure Saban isn't finished with them yet.
We continue our celebration of 20 years of Power Rangers with part 3 in my series. As I mentioned in the first article, there have been several changes to the Power Rangers cast and characters over the years. When Austin St. John, Thuy Trang and Walter Emanuel Jones opted to leave the show over their pay increases being denied, they were replaced by Karan Ashley, Johnny Yong Bosch, and Steve Cardenas. The series played it off that Jason, Trini and Zack were selected to represent the United States in the World Peace Conference.
Later during the Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers miniseries, Karan Ashley left the show and was replaced by Nakia Burrise. In the series it was explained by having Aisha remain in Africa after finding her Zeo Crystal and sending her cousin Tonya back in her place. During Power Rangers Zeo, Austin St. John returns to take up the powers of the Gold Ranger temporarily. Austin leaves the series once again when the Gold Ranger powers are returned to Trey of Triforia, only to return again in Turbo: A Power Rangers movie and the Power Rangers Wild Force episode Forever Red.
In season 3 of MMPR, Amy Jo Johnson leaves the series and was replaced by Catherine Sutherland. In the series Kat joins the series as a minion of Rita’s but soon finds a way to battle her influence, and join the Rangers. Kimberly chooses to leave the Rangers with Zordon’s blessing in order to achieve her dream of competing in the Pan Global Games. Kimberly chooses Kat to pass her power coin on too. Eventually, Kimberly breaks up with Tommy in a Dear John letter and Kat becomes Tommy’s new flame and apparently ends up marrying him as seen in the MMPR Christmas episode which takes place in the future. Amy Jo Johnson returned to the roll of Kimberly alongside Austin St. John for Turbo: A Power Rangers movie.
Also in the Turbo movie, Steve Cardenas chose to leave the show making only a couple cameos throughout the Turbo season. Rocky was replaced as the Blue Ranger by Justin, a child who had discovered his secret. Justin was played by Blake Anthony Foster during the Turbo season and 2 episodes of Power Rangers in Space. Despite campaigning for another shot at playing Justin, Blake has yet to appear in any other episodes of Power Rangers.
One of the final original rangers, Billy left the series toward the end of Zeo. In the series he went to Aquitar after falling in love with an Aquitaine. But in reality, David Yost explained to NoPinkSpandex that he actually left do to harassment by the production crew for being a homosexual. Yost has yet to return to any of the Power Ranger series.
Tommy, Tonya, Kat and Adam eventually passed their Turbo powers on to TJ, Cassie, Carlos, and Ashley. Adam returns twice during the current life span of Power Rangers, once in Power Rangers in Space and again during Operation Overdrive. Tommy returns during the Power Rangers Wild Force episode Forever Red along with Austin St. John (it should be noted that Steve Cardenas did not appear in the episode despite being a former Red Ranger). Tommy returns again as Dr. Tommy Oliver aka the Black Dino Thunder Ranger and again in S.P.D (although not played by Jason David Frank) and is mentioned in the Operation Overdrive episode that Adam was in. Tonya and Katherine have yet to return in any of the other seasons.
Over the past 20 years, there have been some memorable villains in the Power Rangers universe, but none more memorable than Rita, Zedd, Goldar, Scorpina and Rito. Twenty years and we’ve seen the likes of Ivan Ooze, Devatox, King Mondo and his Machine Empire, Dark Spectre, Astronema who eventually became a Power Ranger in Lost Galaxy, and many many others. However, the most memorable came from the original series MMPR.
Rita Repulsa was accidentally released from her space dumpster on the moon by 2 astronauts. With her in the dumpster were Goldar, Finster, Squat and Babboo. Later in the season, Scorpina is introduced and it’s implied that there’s a romantic or strong relationship between her and Goldar. In the original Japanese footage, the two were actually romantically involved. In comic books and coloring books, King Sphinx played more of a roll as one of the main henchmen rather than just a monster of the week. At some point before the series began Rita stole the Dragon Zord power coin from Zordon in order to create her evil Green Ranger mid way through the first season.
In the second season we were introduced to Rita’s Master and future husband, Lord Zedd. From his first appearance in the prime time special episode of MMPR, it was clear that Zedd was far more evil than Rita. Eventually Rita tricked Zedd into Marriage, but soon Goldar would reveal the true reason they married but discovered that Zedd and Rita truly were in love.
After the MMPR movie came out, Rito Revolto chose to permanently visit his big sister, Rita. With him he brought his wedding gift for Rita and “Edd” which was straight from the MMPR movie, Tangu Warriors. At the end of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and the beginning of Power Rangers Zeo , The Machine Empire chased of Zedd, Rita and their minions. The group traveled around the moon in an old school RV. After the fall of the Machine, Zedd and Rita made few minor appearances in Power Rangers Turbo, mainly when Divatox called Rita for advice on how to defeat the Rangers. Rita’s response (while laying in bed next to a snoring Zedd) “If I knew I wouldn’t have to listen to this!”
Zedd and Rita made their semi regular return in Power Rangers in Space as a part of the Council of Evil. They were among the many Masters who grew large to terrorize Angel Grove to provoke the Rangers into surrendering. Eventually, When Andros shattered Zordon’s energy tube and released Zordon’s good energy to wipe out all evil, Zedd and Rita along with a few other villains were transformed into good humans while their minions like Goldar and Rito were reduced to dust. At some point prior to the Z Wave, Rita and Zedd had a son named Thrax who debuted in Operation Overdrive.
Rita made another return during Power Rangers Mystic Force, where she was referred to as The Mystic Mother, Empress of all Good Magic and gave the Mystic Force Rangers their link to the Morphing Grid. It is yet unclear what happened to Zedd, but according to Thrax, he too joined the forces of Good.
Rita was portrayed by a number of actresses over her appearances on Power Rangers. Machiko Soga portrayed her in the original live action Japanese footage which was re-used for Power Rangers, while Barbara Goodson performed her voice. Carla Perez began portraying Rita after he youthful reintroduction midway through the second season when she married Zedd, up through the end of Power Rangers in Space. Machiko Soga reprised the role as the Mystic Mother in Mystic Force with Susan Brady performing the voice overs.
Machiko Soga who portrayed Rita in her original form and as the Mystic Mother, passed away May 7, 2006 after battling pancreatic cancer for 2 years. The morning of her death, she was found by a visiting friend at her home. Machiko was 68 years old.
Power Rangers Turbo brought us a changing of the guard in the Power Rangers universe. The last of the original team left and passed their powers on to 4 new rangers, they themselves hand selected. But first, they would have to fight their final battles as rangers.
Tommy, who was portrayed by Jason David Frank as the Red Turbo Ranger, was the last of the original ranger team. The others were replacements in the own right. Adam, Kat, Tonya and Rocky started out the Turbo season with Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie. In the movie, Rocky was entered in a martial arts tournament and against the judgment of his friends, lost his temper in the match which caused him to injure his leg.
In the hospital while he slept, young Justin Stewart came to visit. When the other rangers entered the room, Justin hid and discovered a secret that only few others knew. His idol and hero, was a real hero known as the blue power ranger. When an emergency arose, Rocky sent Justin with his Turbo morpher to take his place on the team. At the graduation ceremony, Rocky informed the team that it was time for him to leave the rangers for good, and that the Turbo morpher was in good hands.
Turbo was the first and only time that we saw a child become a Power Ranger. Midway through the season, as Divatox the space pirate attacked Angel Grove, The rangers had to select 4 worthy successors. Tommy chose T.J, a young baseball player who demonstrated great bravery in protecting others to replace him as the Red ranger and leader of the team. Carlos was chosen by Adam because he had assisted the Green Ranger in saving Angel Grove citizens when the city was under attack. Tonya selected Ashley to replace her as the yellow ranger for her compassion and integrity. Kat chose Cassie as her replacement for the Pink Ranger powers because she helped her and TJ save Tommy. Justin remained on the Turbo Ranger team because he had not put in enough time and could still be a great asset to the team.
After the seasoned veterans left, the new team experienced battle after battle against the evil Divatox. In the season finale of Turbo, Divatox de-powers the rangers and then receives a message that Zordon has been captured. The four de-powered older rangers take over a space shuttle and follow Divatox into space, leaving Justin on Earth because he was far too young to go with them. These events lead into the new series…
During the course of Turbo, we saw new zords that took on the appearance of cars. Red Lightning was the Red Turbo Zord, Mountain blaster was the blue, Desert Thunder was the green, Dune Star the yellow, and Wind Chaser the pink. There was a 6th Turbo Zord that was controlled by an ally of the rangers, The Blue Senturion which was the Robo Racer. We also got other new zords in the way of Rescue Zords. Prior to Turbo, during the Zeo season we saw the end of the standard team colors of Red, Blue, Black, Yellow and Pink when Black was replaced by Green up until the new Power Rangers Mega Force. Each season since MMPR has traded out ranger colors, sometimes black would become green or pink would become white. The 6th ranger would even become silver or titanium or purple, orange, shadow, etc.
It was Turbo that made Saban decide to change the Power Rangers each and every season or two so that fans wouldn't get too use to characters like they did with MMPR.
Power Rangers in Space symbolizes to many fans, the end of the Zordon era in the Power Rangers Universe. We witnessed many things in this season that we hadn't seen on Power Rangers before, the affects of which were felt throughout the entire Power Rangers Universe for years to come.
In the beginning of the season we're introduced to Andros the red space ranger and Astronema the beautiful queen of evil, whom we discovered is actually Andros' twin sister Karone. We discovered there was another ranger who was in a coma, Zhane the Silver Ranger. Power Rangers in Space would also be the final season of which Jason Narvy would appear as Skull regularly. His only other appearances throughout the lifespan of the series, were in the first episode of Lost Galaxy, Wild Force episode Forever Red and yesterdays new final episode of Super Samurai.
Power Rangers in Space was the first time the team revealed their identities to the public including Bulk and Skull in the episodes Countdown to Destruction. It was Bulk and Skull's finest moment in the series. I remember getting chills as Astronema was about to destroy everyone unless the power rangers reveled themselves. Out of no where Bulk looks around and says "I... AM THE BLUE RANGER!" It became battle cry for the people of Angel Grove. Skull chimed in saying he was the black ranger and then others joined in. Soon the street was flooded with people claiming to be power rangers, but Astronema becomes tired of it and orders their destruction. At that point the Rangers minus Andros step forward on a rooftop and announce that "THEY" are the power rangers. Bulk turns to skull and says "Those guys?" completely dumb founded. The team ROCKET as they enter the 3-3-5-EJ code on their morphers and become the Power Rangers.
The only way to end the United Alliance of Evils total domination of Earth is for Andros to shatter Zordon's inner dimensional tube. Before he's able to, Andros is stopped by Astronema and the two get into their final battle, with Astronema left severely injured and unconscious. Ecliptor discovered what had happened and engaged Andros in battle. During their battle, Andros turned and sliced through Zordon's tube which released a wave of energy transforming humanoid villains into good humans and monsters into dust, this became known as The Z Wave.
At the end, we see Andros carry Astronema out of the ship saddened. He lays her on the ground and in what appeared to be the CHEESIEST scene directing in Power Rangers history, leans over Astronema with a tear rolling down his face until it drips onto her. The reason this scene was so cheesy, was because it was an extreme close up shot, the tear was forced and there was no actual emotion to it. Suddenly, rays of light protrude from Astronema's body and she's transformed back into Karone and awakens.
If Zordon dieing wasn't bad enough, Power Rangers in Space was the first Romance between a ranger and a villain. This season was more like a soap opera than any other season before or after. Andros searches for his sister. His sister turns out to be his enemy. His enemy/ sister is in love with his best friend. He kills his mentor. He kills his sister. Then he resurrects his sister. He falls in love with Ashley. His best friend was in a coma for 2 years.The rangers had to fight evil psycho versions of themselves. I mean COME ON! However, I did rather enjoy it.
Andros would later return in Forever Red. Alpha and Karone would return with Bulk in Lost Galaxy (Karone becomes the first main villain to become a power ranger). Zordon is only mentioned twice after In Space, once in Forever Red when the rangers are talking about who the greatest ranger of all time is and Andros says "I killed Zordon!". The second time he's mentioned is in Power Rangers Dino Thunder which brings the return of Tommy.
Dedicated to Thuy Trang, December 14, 1973 – September 3, 2001
This article dedicated to Machiko Soga March 18, 1938 – May 7, 2006
And now let’s take a look at how the logo has changed throughout the “ZORDON ERA”
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