Stay, Stay Power Rangers...In My Childhood.
I can hear the tune already. It’s unmistakable. That quasi-camp 90’s rock guitar solo tears right into my ear balls. A siren song drawing me back to better times.
‘Go, go, Power Rangers!’
Whether I wanted it or not, the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers are back.
They’re not my seven-year-old self’s Rangers, though. They’re brooding outcasts! They’re witty! They’re diverse! They’re The Breakfast Club on steroids (ok, the diversity thing doesn't apply here...)
The return of the Power Rangers is, admittedly, kind of exciting. Not exciting enough to make you forget the nine (Ten? Eleven?) iterations that followed the original series – Cars! Dinosaurs! Zero? - but enough to make it feel like it was time to come back.
I felt a dormant love stir inside me when I heard the news. I was that kid who declared himself the ‘Tan Ranger’ who could transform into a giant, mechanized Scorpion (so sick). I ruined Christmas 1994 by opening my gifts before everyone woke – but wasn’t totally apologetic because one of those gifts was a Black Ranger action figurine. I would entertain my parent’s friends with my dance moves inspired by Zack. I can still smell the chlorine at the Leaside Memorial Gardens, taunting me as I took swimming lessons instead of catching the latest Rangers episode.
Those were glorious years. Then they killed off Zack, Trini, and Jason. Or rather, the three were ‘chosen’ to join a teen peace conference (these days, they'd be sent to a climate change summit) and left the show. They weren't killed off but it sure felt to me like they were murdered in bloody and brutal fashion. I was devastated. Adam, Aisha, and Rocky replaced them and after that it all fell apart. A lame movie soon followed (which I eagerly saw) and after that, my love affair with the Power Rangers ended. On the horizon was the Attitude Era of the WWE and my new idols were Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin, a natural progression.
Since then, the moments when the Rangers would float back through my life were met with a shrug. Amy Jo Johnson, the Pink Ranger, has been a recurring character on Flashpoint, a World Cup-level of shrug. Jason Frank, the Green/White Ranger, fought in mixed martial arts, a sport I follow closely. That was a WTF moment.
All that is to say that the Power Rangers are pure camp nostalgia at this point. I care about it insofar because it mattered briefly to me in a time I can barely remember. Like McDonald's catch phrases (I haven't had my break today...) Power Rangers was a live-action show with 60 episode in the first season. That’s the definition of pulp. It’s questionable whether a ‘serious’ take can work. In Hollywood, a ‘serious’ take on a pulp property has many euphemism’s, such as ‘gritty’, ‘dark’, and ‘Batman Begins’. Ask Zack Snyder what it’s like to push inherently camp material as gritty, dark, or Batman Begins - he'd probably burst into tears trying to describe Superman's character motivation. The trend these days is to take the material and distill the camp into an action-comedy like The Avengers or to go outright satirical like 21 Jump Street. But to go serious? That’s a risky proposal.
It was only a matter of time before the Power Rangers were rebooted. It’s bittersweet. I just hope it’s lame enough that 1994-1995 stay crystallized in the glass of my memory. Like Zordon in episode…aw, hell, I’ll leave it there.
Rhys Dowbiggin @Rdowb
Rhys has worked six years in the public relations industry rubbing shoulders with movie stars (who ignored him) to athletes (who tolerated him). He likes tiki-taka football, jelly beans, and arguing with Bruce about everything.