Whaaaat! Yeah, that was my first reaction upon learning that Mighty Morphin Power Rangers debuted 20 years ago. I mean mathematically that all makes sense, twenty years ago I would have been the right age to think that teenagers in dinosaur inspired fighting machines battling interplanetary bad guys with minions called Putty Patrollers was awesome.
Despite Power Rangers ability to retool and recast for a new set of kids every couple of years, its original version does not stand the test of time (and I can’t vouch for the others). Between the borrowed footage from the Japanese Super Sentai franchise and the incredible 90s fashion everyone is sporting, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers doesn’t tend to be a show that most people rewatch.
Regardless of its quality, now or then, back in 1993 I was totally obsessed with the series. Now I know me saying I was obsessed doesn’t really have much weight to it since I’m frequently obsessed with a TV show, but I watched all of the episodes, had the action figures, owned a set of Yellow Ranger pajamas (Pink Ranger ones were impossible to find), and even had my own morpher/gloves/gun set.
My brother and I, along with many of the other neighborhood kids even played Power Rangers after school. And I’m not just talking about the video games or with the action figures – I mean acting out our own version of Power Rangers. Looking back, I’ve gotta say that The Karate Kid films and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers were responsible for a lot of terrible backyard karate moves.
But besides filling my Saturday mornings and after-school hours for a handful for years, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers remains memorable to me for two specific reasons:
1.) I guess you can say I had a ‘Santa Claus isn’t real moment’, because after reading an interview with the cast members I learned that many of the actors were not in fact teenagers, but in their mid-20s. Of course I know this is normal now, but at the time it was mind blowing. It’s not that I thought everything on TV was real, but I guess I thought a bit more of it was authentic, you know the human elements anyway. It was the first time I felt betrayed by TV, and, well, it wouldn’t be the last. (See I do know the difference between reality and fantasy.)
2.) For all of its flaws and ridiculous plot lines, Power Rangers really resonated with me because the female characters got to kick ass too. And there wasn’t just one token tomboy either. Kimberly, Trini, Aisha, and Kat were tough, but girly. They weren’t perpetually getting themselves kidnapped or knocked out either, and in comparison to a lot of shows, past and present, that’s a pretty big accomplishment.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers might not be the best example of a TV show that created strong female characters (it’s not, I’m a Buffy fan remember) but it was certainly good enough for my 8-year-old self.
The original incarnation of Power Rangers lasted for 3 seasons, until 1995, and that’s about the time I moved on to Disney and Nickelodeon programming. But Power Rangers has lived on, the newest season – Power Rangers Megaforce – just premiered on February 1st on Nickelodeon.
Apparently the Power Rangers really are an unstoppable force.