It seems almost impossible to believe that it’s been nearly two decades since the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers took the world by storm. An overnight success and seemingly unstoppable engine of popularity, the series has morphed into a variety of spin-offs over the years and while it may no longer be the sales and ratings behemoth it was in the early days, it still manages to maintain a sizable and fiercely dedicated fanbase. One of the more inexplicable phenomenon of the late 20th century, the Power Rangers are set to celebrate their anniversary with the release of a 19-DVD box set featuring all 145 episodes from the original series and a whole lot more.
Actually, “a whole lot more” doesn’t even begin to cover the manner in which the Power Rangers are celebrating their 20th anniversary. There’s a 40-DVD collection being released which features 338 episodes from the first seven seasons, hours of exclusive extras, featurettes, archival footage and interviews. That set, From Mighty Morphin to Lost Galaxy, is only available at powerrangersondvd.com and is clearly the Holy Grail. This review however, focuses on a slightly smaller though no less magnificent collection of episodes: the one that started it all.
I’ll confess that I wasn’t much of a fan when the show first debuted and in all honesty, I was initially baffled by its popularity. Of course, being 17 at the time didn’t exactly make me the target demographic, and my love of science fiction and comic books didn’t quite extend to anime or manga, so I wasn’t predisposed to the finer aspects of Japanese genre programming. However, I was then and still remain a fan of Godzilla and Voltron, which seemed to be the illegitimate parents of this strange show my nieces and nephews were obsessed with, so I couldn’t completely rule it out. And in keeping with the full disclosure thing we’ve got going in this review - once I saw the Pink Ranger (Amy Jo Johnson) and discovered marijuana (right around the time the Green Ranger made his appearance, perhaps not so coincidentally), the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers suddenly looked a whole lot different to me.
Now, I’m not suggesting you view this program under the influence of any illicit substances, I'm simply sharing the experiences of a young man living life in the glory days of the mid-'90s, when grunge was at its peak, the internet was brand new and did that horrible dial-up noise when you signed, on and Amy Jo Johnson was smokin’ hot in a ponytail and pink leotard, fighting evil in a giant robotic Pterodactyl. Okay, so maybe that’s not exactly how the show worked, but that’s how I remember it.
And I’m sure that you’ve got your own memories of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Odds are, if you’re reading this, you’re likely a bit younger than me and you grew up on Power Rangers the same way I grew up on G.I. Joe or Transformers. Perhaps you obsessively collected the toys, joined the fan club, and saw the movie in the theaters six times. Maybe you lost interest with the later iterations of the series, but continued your obsession with the originals into adulthood and have shelves (or storage space) filled with mint-in-box action figures and a three-ring binders stuffed with 8x10 autographed glossy pictures. Are you that fan? Okay, just go ahead and buy this set. This is what you’ve been waiting for. Unless, of course, you were waiting for that 40 disc set… but that’s a whole other level of fandom and maybe a few hours working overtime.
So here’s what you get: the first three seasons of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, featuring that whole Green Ranger/White Ranger saga, the introduction of Lord Zedd, the replacement Rangers, and even the 10-episode Alien Rangers mini-series. You also get two discs of exclusive bonus features. There’s the standard batch of interviews with cast and crew discussing the origins of the series and the insane heights of popularity it reached during its heyday. It’s actually quite fascinating, especially as someone who only enjoyed the Power Rangers very briefly and certainly not as passionately as most fans. It’s amazing to me that the show was created by cobbling bits of other programs together and to hear the process through which it happened is really quite amazing. Sadly, only a few cast members took part in these interviews, which definitely puts a damper on the festivities, but it’s still entertaining. There’s also a few featurettes about the live tour, interviews with nostalgic fans, a rare fan club video, and even the Christmas special! Oh, and you get a nifty little booklet with character and episode information as well as a nice box to keep all your discs in.
Are there any downfalls? The episodes don’t look particularly cleaned up, not that they need to be. But it’s not like you’re getting the remastered, high-definition versions of these episodes. They look the same as they did in 1993, which is fine really, and kind of part of the appeal. Outside of that, I can’t think of anything to complain about (and I’m not even complaining about that). Sure, I could criticize the insanely bad acting or the weird, cheap-looking special effects, but isn’t that what you love about the show anyway? It’s pointless to review the program itself because only die-hard fans are going to be interested in purchasing this collection. And the die-hard fans will not be disappointed.
If $119.99 is a bit steep for you this holiday season, this collection is being sold in smaller sets, most of which contain half of a season. But if you want to go whole hog and you’ve got a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers fan on your shopping list, they’ll be pleasantly surprised to find this waiting in their stocking.
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