Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was unquestionably the high point of the series. Eventually, though, Saban tired of shooting new footage, and Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers could only exist for so long. This brings us to Power Rangers: Zeo. Where did the series go after the Power Rangers stopped being Mighty when they Morphed?
Power Rangers: Zeo was a great premise, a fact you can see some evidence for in the show. The Zeo crystal is said to get stronger as time goes on, and to be such a source of power that its acquisition was the first goal of Season 3’s temporary villain, Master Vile. Naturally, this should make for extremely powerful rangers, and this shows with an entire team of Rangers carrying swords- usually the Red Ranger’s weapon- in addition to their other weapons and Zeo crystal-charged special attacks.
The downsides to this season started when Ohranger, the original source material, had to be rewritten for sociopolitical reasons that kept it from being as dark as the series would indicate. For whatever reason, the Sentai footage from Ohranger just seems that much worse than anything from Zyuranger, Dairanger or Kakuranger (the three series used to form the backbone of Mighty Morphin). The “noble” Bulk and Skull revert to their bumbling phase, and we see a lot more of Rocky, who became even less of an interesting character when he stopped being a Red Ranger and just became a pointless character. Justin was a better Blue Ranger than him, and Justin’s primary purpose was to be an annoying kid that viewers could associate better with.
On top of this, we get Rito and Goldar, and Sprocket. Just too much comic relief for my taste. Maybe it was great for kids, but I just wasn’t a huge fan.
Still, beside these downsides, Zeo wasn’t terrible. I can’t really give it any compliments I didn’t give Mighty Morphin, but other than the image quality, it continues the trends set by the ending of Mighty Morphin, some of which I liked, some I didn’t. Billy remained in this season, although not as a Ranger, and of course the Gold Ranger saga was as epic as that of the Green Ranger during its run.
And then we shifted into Turbo.
I hate to be cliché. I really do. I’m not a fan of bandwagons. For this reason, it breaks my heart to talk about Turbo. Jason David Frank made a decision at the beginning of the series to leave, which causes the first third of the season to show the same footage of him driving a race car over and over as he does things like miss his friends’ graduation to practice racing. Unmorphed fights are less and less compelling without Tommy, and many of them center around Justin, which is just ridiculous. The villains are terrible and exist for comic relief, and I’m going to quote a Youtube comment I made around the midpoint of the series to show just how little Mighty Morphin fans have to look forward to in Turbo:
Jason, the original Red Ranger, gone at the end of Zeo.
Zach and Trini, the original Black and Yellow Rangers, gone during the second season of Mighty Morphin.
Kimberly, the original Pink Ranger, gone during the third season of Mighty Morphin.
Tommy, originally the Green Ranger and the team leader ever since, effectively gone at the beginning of Turbo and completely gone a third of the way through.
Zordon, the original mentor and creator of the team, gone at the beginning of Turbo.
Ernie, the owner of the Youth Center and a major character from Episode 1, gone after a cameo in the Turbo movie.
Bulk and Skull, turned into chimps (the episode after I made this remark, they were turned back into bumblers).
Aisha, the second and second most interesting Yellow Ranger, gone at the end of Mighty Morphin.
Adam, a fan favorite, gone a third of the way into Turbo.
Rocky, the second Blue Ranger, gone during the Turbo movie.
You see where I’m getting with this? The utter lack of a badass sixth ranger- two part-time sixth rangers share that role, to varying degrees of success.
The plots got so ridiculous and the characters had such little connection in Turbo that the series felt the need to leave the planet Earth for Power Rangers: In Space. For once, such drastic action was demanded and justified.
Until next time, with Power Rangers: Mystic Force!
- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Commentary (mibreviews.com)
- Man in White Review: Scorpion Rain (1998) (mibreviews.com)