THIS IS 100% PERSONAL OPINION AND DOESN’T REPRESENT THE POWER RANGERS FANBASE OR PRODUCTION TEAM IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM.
Anyone who’s ever ventured into the television industry usually gets inspiration from something or someone else. Whether it’s an actor, a director or a writer.
For the past 4 and a half years, I’ve been working on my Associates’ Degree in Digital Arts and Film. During this time, I’ve figured out I’m better at the creative process of film/television rather than technically. As such, one of my desires is to become a writer, or head writer, of Power Rangers. And who is my favorite in the entire series? None other than Judd “Chip” Lynn.
For those who’ve never heard of him before, he basically started at the beginning of the series as a production manager and eventually moved up to a staff writer and eventual director. After former head writer, Douglas Sloan left after the first half of Power Rangers Turbo, Judd took his place and stayed on as head writer, story editor and co-producer through the end of Power Rangers Time Force.
After 7 years of building houses, he returned to Power Rangers RPM as the season’s Executive Producer after Eddie Guzelian was fired by Disney. (It’s also rumored that he wrote a few episodes for Power Rangers Jungle Fury under a pseudonym during the 2007-2008 Writer’s Strike, but that has yet to be confirmed). He then returned to take the Executive Producer role again for Power Rangers Dino Charge and retains that role today.
While his current actions are controversial in the fandom, he’s well noted as the person who “wrote the book” (as Linkara puts it) on how to do a traditional Power Rangers season. What he did during his original tenure really affected how Power Rangers was produced.
This article basically explains my thoughts on why he’s the “king” of all the Power Rangers writers and why his seasons are the best both in age and storytelling.
Serialization & Continuity
Up until Power Rangers In Space, a lot of Power Rangers’ episodes were very………formulaic. Particularly in the Mighty Morphin’ days. Yes, of course, there were story arcs like “Green With Evil”, the “Alien Rangers” mini-series, the Gold Ranger mystery and the Replacement Turbo Rangers, but they were very distant from each other in their seasons and a lot of the times, the filler episodes never really amounted to anything other than a “wagging finger” moral.
This picked up when Judd Lynn took the helm as head writer. While filler episodes still existed, a lot of them served different purposes to expand the season’s story and only a handful of them were bare bones (Lightspeed Rescue’s Mermaid episodes for instance). His seasons were very serialized to a tea and you didn’t really feel bored watching them.
Continuity also improved too. What I mean by that is that fan service was instated and done right. Before then, we barely had any old Rangers returning (Jason was just brought on as ratings boost, unfortunately), old and exotic locations weren’t mentioned or visited and villains were forgotten about as soon as they fled or god dismantled.
What was In Space’s first scene? A party featuring Zedd, Rita, Master Ville, Mondo, Machina and Divatox throwing a party and seeing their quarrels with each other. What was the next callback? The Phantom Ranger hunting for the captured Zordon and giving them a new Zord. Which old characters came back? Justin and Adam, each having a dedicated episode to themselves getting an update on what they’ve been up to since retiring and dawning their spandex once more. How does In Space end? With an invasion across the universe with every single evil force attacking multiple Rangers and the sacrifice of everyone’s floating head in a tube.
What about Lost Galaxy? They hi-jack the Space Rangers’ Astro Megaship and Alpha 6, Trakeena visits Onyx, the Physco Rangers return leading to the Space Rangers showing up, Karone pretends to be Astronema to get Kendrix’s Quasar Saber after she was killed and had to face herself as Astronema.
OK, so what about Lightspeed Rescue, Time Force, Wild Force and etc? Those seasons seem loosely connected from what came before. What’s that? An old enemy returns? Forcing the previous team to return and help the current team? Huh. It takes place in the same universe.
Basically, he knows that the history of Power Rangers mattered whether it was a planet that they visited or a weapon that they used, he found a way to utilize these details and connect them in one universe. If In Space didn’t go in that direction, then it would have been disastrous…….like it is now, but that’s beside the point.
Most of the characters on Power Rangers in the early days were, to be honest, flat and had two-dimensional personalities. A lot of them were high school stereotypes as well as perfectionists who did absolutely nothing wrong and had no major flaws what so ever.
Come to the Lynn era and what do we have? Well, as far as Red Rangers go, Andros is a lone wolf that has teamwork and trust issues, Leo’s a headstrong risk taker, Carter gets into tough situations that require quick thinking, Wes is a rich kid who wants to step out of his father’s shadows and Eric wants to prove that he is so much more than a guy who grew up dirt poor.
These, and other Rangers’ strengths & weaknesses proved that you didn’t need to be perfect to be a superhero. You can still be a Power Ranger and still have flaws, and over time, you’ll overcome those flaws and be the best you can be. It makes them more relatable. I’m pretty sure there’s a number of fans out there can relate to any of the Lynn-era Rangers to some extent and even beyond that.
What about the villains? They’re more relatable too. Astronema is a brainwashed war general and Ecliptor was her sergeant father figure. Trakeena wants to prove herself to her father that she can fight and her trainer, Villamax is her loyal knight after her father disappears. Diabolico & Olympius had a power war with each other which causes an effect on and off the battlefield. Ransik was a disfigured mutant that was shunned by society, so he became a criminal and took it out on society themselves.
The villains had much deeper traits and qualities than what came before. You really felt sorry for them and felt bad that they either lost someone or were un-rightfully killed. Just because they’re the bad guys doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be hated on automatically.
Power Rangers has had its share of great storytelling and the Lynn Era (in my humble opinion) did it best. And I’m not talking about story arcs or “OMG! There’s blood!”, I’m talking about how he used realism in the series whether it was subtle or not.
By itself, Power Rangers is already an unrealistic show. Giant robots, teens doing everything under the sun on top of being superheroes and people acting like those monster attacks never happened. However, just because it’s unrealistic most of the time doesn’t mean that there can’t be realism inserted as well.
A lot of these episodes asked several questions. “Is destiny set in stone?” (Time Force) “Is revenge the right answer to everything?” (Lost Galaxy) “Is the obvious choice the right choice?” (Lightspeed Rescue) “Can you really BE evil?” (In Space) These are all questions we ask ourselves at any point in life and it was good to see that Judd used Power Rangers to ask these questions. “Trial By Fire” to me is still as deep as when I saw it over 15 years ago. Carter’s hesitation on what to do can (and does) happen to anyone. A much more realistic story than teenagers dirt biking or sky diving for charity.
And with realistic stories comes shock value. Keep in mind, In Space, Lost Galaxy and Lightspeed Rescue were all before September 11th, so a lot more things were relaxed back then. I’m not sure if this was Lynn’s idea, but I’d like to think so. A lot of what happens in these episodes are things you’d only see on adult shows. Lost Galaxy pretty much killed off all their villains, Lightspeed Rescue had an episode where someone hijacks a bus with an actual handgun and Time Force actually showed Wes’ father being shot down by Ransik and dying from oxygen…..yes…..DYING. When are we ever going to see things like that again? Probably never.
Balance Of Tones
Of course, since this is a kids’ show, they need to have their comedic moments. They can be funny as Joel hitting on Ms. Fairweather or stupid like the Neo-Saban Era and food in the face. Lynn balanced this. As Linkara stated in his review of RPM, “You need to have humor in a serious situation”. Sure, it’s not like RPM’s situation being trapped in a dome, but Lynn’s humor was laughable whether you were a kid or an adult. A very minor point, but important none the less.
I’d like to think that after Lynn’s first tenure on the series, it affected the rest of the series all the way through the Disney era. Yeah, they weren’t exact perfection, but perfection none of the less. Because of his involvement, we had better characters, serialization, continuity, a good balance of tones and just overall better seasons. Mighty Morphin-Turbo 1.5 WISHES they were as good as the seasons that followed. Yeah, there were some clunkers in the Disney era (Mystic Force, Operation Overdrive, and Jungle Fury), but they all still had the “Lynn effect”.
Even though there are some issues with the series’ now, I can’t really talk bad about him. He really is the best writer Power Rangers’ ever had. Now, that’s not to say other writers such as Jackie Marchand, Douglas Sloan and Bruce Kalish are bad, I enjoy most of their material (Sloan’s humor in Ninja Storm and Dino Thunder were great), but I feel like Lynn’s is better by a hair. He was a great writer and had an awesome writing team to back him up. Yeah, he’s got his issues an executive producer, no one’s perfect after all, but I’d rather have him on then Tzachor.
What are your thoughts? Do you think Judd Lynn is the king of Power Rangers’ writers or does someone else earn that title? Leave a comment below or Tweet your thoughts to me @TyRedBoz.
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