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Of all the legendary kids shows from the ’90s, none combined action, robots, and extremely low quality costume design in quite the same way as the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. While you might not remember the individual plot lines of the series, there’s no doubt that you remember the fever that struck the world every time that energetic guitar chord signified another ass-kicking episode. Sure, it was a little formulaic (read: every episode was basically identical), but don’t deny it. You know there was at least ONE year where you dressed as a Power Ranger for Halloween.
While the surface level of the Power Ranger show was undoubtedly entertaining, the deeper truths behind the show’s inner workings offers a whole new understanding on the Saturday morning hit. Whether you were Team Red Ranger, Team Green Ranger, or Team “I Got My First Boner From Kimberly,” I’ll bet you end up learning a little something from this column.
1. The American writers had no idea what was going on.
While it’s fairly common knowledge that Power Rangers was adapted from a Japanese series, in the early days of the show the English writers had literally no clue what was going on. Week after week, they received a series of action sequences from their Japanese counterparts, and they had to somehow build a plot line for American audiences based on nothing but the fight sequences. While the Japanese crew catered to the American staff later in the series, I can only imagine what the studio must have looked like in the early days.
Writer #1: Alright guys, what do we have this week?
Writer #2: We got a giant pig skull with a Roman Centurion helmet eating a shit ton of garbage.
Writer #1: There must be some great drugs out there in Japan. Let’s just get Kimberly in a skirt, have Bulk and Skull do something retarded, we can figure it out from there.
Writer #2: So the usual then.
2. They once shut down an LA freeway.
When D.A.R.E. hosted an event with the Power Rangers at Universal Studios Hollywood back in ‘94, they couldn’t have possibly known what they were getting themselves into. A ridiculous 35,000 people showed up for a chance to meet their favorite Ranger, and over eight miles of LA freeway dragged to a complete standstill. The massive crowd shattered a 30-year attendance record for the theme park, and raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars of admission revenue. To put that in perspective, Madison Square Garden only holds about 19,000 people. Basically, the Power Rangers were The Beatles of our generation, and I’m really not sure how to feel about that.
3. The 20-year anniversary of the show was last week.
This past Wednesday, the Power Rangers celebrated the big 2-0. While the series had its ups and downs and questionable spinoffs, the original few seasons are locked into the hearts and minds of 20 to 30-year-olds all across the country. This has been your daily reminder from PGP that you’re getting extremely old.
No word yet on how the old Rangers celebrated, but one can only assume that Zordon hosted a massive kegger with Alpha-5 on upside-down margarita duty. Rita Repulsa went straight for the vodka tonics and got busted by Lord Zedd for twerking on that weird golden blue gorilla guy who I’m pretty sure didn’t even have a name. Can’t wait to see what happens when the old gang finally hits legal drinking age.
4. There might be a PG-13 Green Ranger movie soon.
I’m sure most of you remember the good turned evil turned good character known as Tommy, the Green Ranger. After all, he commanded the most badass giant robot of the entire bunch. Pterodactyl? Bitch please, this dude had a dragon. While Red Ranger fans of the world hated this dude for stealing the leader’s thunder, there’s no denying that he made the show much better.
In an extremely recent interview, the green suit donning Jason David Frank said he would like to reprise his role as the Green Ranger in a PG-13 reboot. Apparently this isn’t just a long-faded actor’s well wishes, because he’s actually in talks with Power Rangers creator Haim Saban about getting the ball rolling. Am I the only one who thinks this would be absolutely badass?
5. The Blue Ranger is Gay…and quit because he was being harassed for it.
Heavy stuff here, guys. I wouldn’t call the mid-’90s exactly the most tolerant time for homosexuals, but this story on Blue Ranger actor David Yost is pretty sickening when it comes down to it. Yost was the only original cast member to appear in every single episode of the Mighty Morphin’ series, yet he left the show because multiple crew members would demean him for his sexuality.
“The reason that I walked off is that I was called ‘faggot’ one too many times,” Yost said in an interview with No Pink Spandex. While he doesn’t mention his fellow actors degrading him, “creators, producers, writers, and directors” all repeatedly told him that he couldn’t be a superhero because of his preferences. Sure he was the nerd of the bunch, but Billy Cranston brought together the Ranger team like no one else ever could, and tons of nerdy kids actually had a role model to look up to through the character. If anything, he was more of a superhero than the rest.
6. The show was edited in Malaysia because the word “Morphin’” is too close to “Morphine.”
Because that’s a completely natural reaction. If we had to edit every kids show that sounded slightly offensive with a spelling change, TV would have been a lot different growing up. Rocko’s Modern Life would have been edited because if you take an eraser to the “R” the wrong way it could turn up saying “Cocko’s.” In the same way, Rugrats could easily be converted to Thugrats and steer viewers to a life in the hood. Apparently Malaysian children are extremely impressionable by spelling errors.
Malaysia might have had good intentions with this one, but I don’t think anyone was confusing the Power Rangers’ “Morphin” power with the powerful opiate drug. Though it would be hilarious if kids starting shooting up the hard stuff because they believed it would grant them superhuman strength and giant dinosaur robots.
7. Walter White voiced two of the bad guys.
Bryan Cranston is not only the one who knocks, he’s the one who terrorizes Angel Grove High School. That’s right, guys. The acclaimed lead from Breaking Bad provided his talents for two different villains in the Power Rangers universe. Amazingly enough, it turns out that the Blue Ranger character, Billy Cranston, was actually named after the notorious Heisenberg actor himself.
If you ever catch yourself watching an old Mighty Morphin’ episode featuring Snizard or Twinman as the villain, just try to remember how much of a badass the voice behind the cheesy costumes would soon become. Turns out he’s been the danger a lot longer than we ever actually realized.
8. There were 18 different Power Rangers series.
The majority of PGP’s audience probably moved past their Power Rangers years long before the series spiraled into its grocery list of spinoffs. But that sure as hell doesn’t mean they stopped making them. Just check out this laundry list of moderately different versions of the same show:
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers, Power Rangers Zeo, Power Rangers Turbo, Power Rangers in Space, Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, Power Rangers Time Force, Power Rangers Wild Force, Power Rangers Ninja Storm, Power Rangers Dino Thunder, Power Rangers S.P.D., Power Rangers Mystic Force, Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, Power Rangers Jungle Fury, Power Rangers RPM, Power Rangers Samurai, and Power Rangers Megaforce.
A little ridiculous, don’t you think? Spoiler Alert: in every series, it’s safe to assume that as soon as the biggest robot took out his sword, shit was about to go down.