THIS IS 100% PERSONAL OPINION AND DOESN’T REFLECT THE POWER RANGERS FANBASE OR PRODUCTION TEAM IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM
I first joined the Power Rangers fandom full time in 2010 after taking a break for four and a half years. Oddly enough, this was also around the time that Saban Brands re-acquired the series from the Walt Disney Company, the very people who they sold it to back in 2001 along with the rest of the Fox Kids library. Fifteen year old me was all “Yes! Saban is the savior! Disney can go fall in their castle lake!” Plus when Samurai premiered, I claimed it to be better then ANYTHING Disney made themselves.
But that was well over seven years ago. Now I’m twenty-two and I want Disney back. Seriously.
The “Neo-Saban” era (as most fans call it) has be described as the worst era Power Rangers has ever had, and I have to sadly agree with them. The show right now isn’t really that much fun to watch anymore. It feels like a chore that you need to get to, but just put it off for later. But why is that? What has made this era of Power Rangers so cringe-worthy? Even more so then the original? Well, let’s see.
Just as a side note, I’m not going to mention writing since that’s been talked about by others and saying it’s one person’s fault and blah-blah. Plus, I think we all agree that the writing is terrible, so I don’t want to repeat what’s already been said by others.
When the series was bought back by Saban in 2010, casting sides were released within a week and the show began shooting in September. This was a disaster waiting to happen. Since Nickelodeon told them that they’d be only showing 20 episodes a year out of a 40 episode season (which I bet Saban expected them to change, but didn’t), Samurai and Super Samurai was pretty much matching it’s Sentai counterpart, “Samurai Sentai Shinkenger” down to a tea, going as far as having the Red Ranger’s last name being “Shiba”, when he’s 100% American.
This has cursed every single season afterwards. The worst offender to this is MegaForce and Super MegaForce which mixed the two Sentais, “Tensou Sentai Goseiger” and “Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger” into one and gave the production team headaches.
“But wait!” you say. “Power Rangers uses footage from Japan! How in the world can the production be rushed if half the work is done for them?”
Well, this isn’t a 4Kids dub, this is an American adaptation of Japanese show. It’s a bit harder to do then just dub over characters. You have to make some tweaks to fit American audiences, figure out what the heck to do with the footage, what you’ll copy from Japan or make on your own and weave it all together. It’s gotten a bit better since then, but it’s still a problem.
Casting & Characters
Power Rangers is a series famous for having average to bad actors and actresses. Not to say that a lot of actors were completely awful. A lot of them were above average and some have gone on to start in bigger TV series. In this era though, I really can’t see much of these actors going places.
Now, I’m not saying that they’re terrible people or they shouldn’t be frowned upon when seeing them at gathering events. They could be directed to act bad or their more wooden then the bark on a tree. After all, they have to film both seasons at once to show that they’re still the same age as when the show started.
My problem is more so on the character side of things. Most of these Rangers are terrible characters. Some are jerks (Kevin, Kendall), some are more plain then vanilla ice cream (75% of the Samurai, MegaForce and Ninja Steel cast) and some are just there for “moral support” (Gosei, Zenowing, Keeper).
Plus, they don’t have any personalities…..at all. It’s just “I’m perfect! I can do so many things! Watch me do magic!”. It doesn’t make them relatable at all to the target audience watching. In this day and age, where children’s television is more progressive then it’s ever been, you need to have that. Sure, in the original Mighty Morphin series, their personalities were very two dimensional, but they were personalities nonetheless. With the way things are now, it’s just jarring and cringy to watch.
Judging from this picture above, you can see what I’m going to talk about with this one.
Now yes, Power Rangers is low budget, but there are times where you look at the production history of it and it just makes your head turn on where the heck the money went for some of these episodes.
Probably the best example of mismanagement in the Neo-Saban era (and Power Rangers in general) was MegaForce and Super MegaForce. Now like I said, this caused some production staffers to go crazy, mixing two Sentais into two 20 episode seasons. Heck, even the head writer left during Super MegaForce due to the frustration of it all. The big event that was supposed to save the seasons was “The Legendary Battle” where every single Ranger up to that point would come together and fight in one massive beat down. And as reported, some past actors would come back and reprise their roles.
And then it was revealed that the actors’ invites were very last minute leading to some actors getting invited and then cancelled a week later leading to really bad press online and then being revealed that it wasn’t part of their original budget.
So where did the money for this epic 20th Anniversary celebration go? Well, as speculated, it was spent on a………………..filler episode……..involving their robot buddy exploring the city………………………because to kids, that’s more interesting then an epic Ranger battle. How exciting.
And it’s not only this episode, even the Dino Charge seasons had this problem, primarily in Dino SuperCharge, where A plots took back seat to outdated B-plots.
We really can’t blame one singular person for all this, we have to point fingers at the show staff, higher ups and broadcast network (I’ll explain in a bit).
Dear lord, this is such a pet peeve of mine, especially when any TV show is in HD. These seasons probably have the worst editing jobs, effects work and musical scores I’ve seen in pretty much anything.
First of is the music. I’m sorry if you actually like him, but Noam Kaniel’s music is awful, especially when you compare it to the early rock and later orchestral scores we’ve had before. It’s very generic, barley matches the tone certain scenes have and is just repeated over and over and over. Just give us some new exciting material! Even with Youssef Guezom working with him, it’s still pretty terrible. And good luck trying to hear it. It’s pretty much turned down when ever the Rangers are blurting out phrases while fighting.
Secondly, the editing is pretty rookie level quality, like it was edited on Windows Movie Maker. They don’t even bother to try and match the Sentai footage with the American footage. Easiest way to tell? In the Sentai footage, the suits are shiny, but in the American footage, the suits are more vibrant. They couldn’t at least color correct it? Sure, in the old days, they didn’t care, but that’s cause it was harder to do back then. Now, it just looks awful.
Oh it doesn’t stop there. A lot of these edits are very rough and not seamless like ALL HD SHOWS are. Pair that up with using the wrong theme songs in the wrong seasons numerous times and there you have a YouTube edit done by a 10 year old.
But my own personal grip with post production is just the visual effects. They make Mighty Morphin’s look oscar- worthy. It looks faker then it ever has been and really just shows you how much better In Space-Wild Force’s looked by comparison. They looked real. It actually looked like lasers were being blasted, energy was flowing, people were teleporting and having the suits form on to them.
Now, it’s blatantly obvious that it’s terrible CGI and filmed behind a green screen (i.e. Victor’s “fan” costume). Sure, Sentai has the same issues, but it looks like they use better CGI effects then we do. We don’t even get legit original Zord footage anymore. It’s just terrible CGI that makes the original movie’s CGI look epic.
More of a Toy Commercial Then Ever
It’s no secret that Power Rangers, much like Transformers and Ninja Turtles before it, main profit drive is toys. That’s why in the show, they’ll yell out the names of their weapons, vehicles and Zords so that kids can bug their parents to get it for them. So why is this an issue if it’s always been the case?
Well, since Sentai began their collectible gimmicks trope, it really has changed the way Power Rangers is presented. Personally, for me, I don’t mind as long as it’s done right…….which it isn’t. So much screen time is spent on these collectible gimmicks and power ups that sometimes, they get more time to shine then the Rangers themselves. Now of course, they need to sell those toys, but how much do they need to cram it in our faces? Was it really necessary for Tyler to name every attack “T Rex Supercharge whatever”? I mean good lord.
Oh and the Megazord only armor suits………..use them for more then cockpit armor. Those action figures will seem useless to kids if you don’t use them while fighting.
As I’ve stated before, Nickelodeon is without a doubt the worst network Power Rangers has ever had. And personally, I think their involved with how it’s handled.
“But Tyler, they don’t own the show! They just air it! They don’t have any control!”
Well, when a network agrees to air a show that they don’t own the rights to, but tells you how many episodes they’ll air a year affecting it’s format and (most) airings around the world, I call that involvement.
Weird airing times, little to no advertisement and long unnecessary summer hiatuses. In a world where kids are streaming 95.5% of the time, you can’t do this. Ratings suffer and kids loose interest after weeks upon weeks without anything new. But sadly, Saban hasn’t done anything to change this and it’s really depressing to know.
I’ve been in this fandom for 7 years and I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed with Power Rangers in my life. The show that’s lasted much longer then anyone has ever thought it would and even avoided cancellation FIVE TIMES….could sink so low. Sure there’s been many times where it’s sunk low during the original Saban and Disney eras, but never to the point where it feels like a syndicated kids show on a UPN affiliate that no one watches at 7:00 on a weekday morning. It feels like there’s no pride in anyone’s work anymore and that’s really a shame. Not saying everyone working on PR is pride-less, but it just doesn’t really show.
I’m really hoping that the 25th anniversary episode (and Super Ninja Steel in general) can redeem the franchise for me, but if not, then I might just leave Power Rangers for a while.
As for what I think this will do for the franchise for the future if it keeps getting lower and lower? Well if the movie sequel isn’t happening (which probably won’t) and the 25th Anniversary fails to impress me, and MANY others, I predict three things will happen
- The series ends by 2020. The absolute end of Power Rangers unless history repeats itself.
- Saban partners up with Netflix and moves it there (Which you can read my thoughts on that here).
- Power Rangers is bought out by another company.
Now, would the franchise lose public interest without a series? No, of course not. Power Rangers is seen as a nostalgic property and products such as toys, clothing, DVDs and books would still be racking in the cash. But as for new episodes, unless Saban Brands decides to drastically change their ways, I doubt it.
But am I the target demographic of the show? No, of course not. I can’t speak for the kids who are fans now and they probably don’t think about behind the scenes details like we do. Not calling them dumb or idiotic, just saying that I didn’t think about these things when I was their age.
I’m expressing my views as a long time adult fan who’s almost the same age as the property and have seen the good and the bad. But now I think Saban Brands has dropped the ball hard and if things don’t change, this fan will have to find something else to Mighty Morphin’ move to.