Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is an American superhero children's television series that premiered on August 28, 1993, on the Fox Kids programming block. It is the first entry of the Power Rangers franchise, and became a 1990s pop culture phenomenon alongside a large line of action figures and other merchandise. The show adapted stock footage from the Japanese TV series Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, which was the 16th installment of Toei's Super Sentai franchise. The second and third seasons of the show drew elements and stock footage from Gosei Sentai Dairanger and Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, respectively, though the Zyuranger costumes were still used for the lead cast in these two seasons. Only the mecha and the Kiba Ranger costume from Dairanger were featured in the second season, while only the mecha from Kakuranger was featured in the third season; though the Kakuranger costumes were later used for the mini-series Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers. The series was produced by MMPR Productions and distributed by Saban Entertainment. The show's merchandise was produced and distributed by Bandai Entertainment. The series was well known for its campy tone.
In 2010, a re-version of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, with a new logo, comic book-referenced graphics, and extra alternative visual effects, was broadcast on ABC Kids, and Bandai produced brand new toys to coincide with the series. Only the first 32 of season one's 60 episodes were remade. It was the final Power Rangers season to air on ABC Kids as Haim Saban re-acquired the series from Disney. With the beginning of Power Rangers Samurai in 2011, the series had moved to Nickelodeon.
The original series also spawned the feature film , released by 20th Century Fox on June 30, 1995. Despite mixed reviews, it was a modest financial success and is considered a cult classic by some fans. A reboot film distributed by Lionsgate, titled Power Rangers, was released at Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles on March 22, 2017 and nationwide on March 24. Due to both the film's lackluster financial success and Hasbro's acquisition of the franchise in 2018, another reboot is in development.
Season 1 (1993–1994)The series takes place in the fictional town of Angel Grove, California. On an exploratory mission, two astronauts discover an extraterrestrial container and breach the unit, inadvertently releasing the evil alien sorceress Rita Repulsa from 10,000 years of confinement. Upon her release, she and her army of evil space aliens set their sights on conquering the nearest planet—Earth. The wise sage Zordon, who was responsible for capturing Rita, later becomes aware of her release and orders his robotic assistant Alpha 5 to select five "teenagers with attitude" to defend the Earth from Rita's attacks. The five teens chosen are Jason Lee Scott, Kimberly Hart, Zack Taylor, Trini Kwan and Billy Cranston. Zordon gives them the ability to transform into a fighting force known as the Power Rangers; providing them with an arsenal of weapons, as well as colossal assault machines called Zords which can combine into a giant humanoid machine known as the Megazord.
The series begins with five teenagers combating Rita and her seemingly endless array of monsters, while also dealing with typical teenage problems and clashing with local bullies Bulk and Skull. However, consecutive failures lead Rita to adopt a new method for conquering Earth and destroying the Power Rangers—by attacking them with one of their own. Using her magic, Rita kidnaps and brainwashes a local teen whose fighting skills prove to equal that of Jason's in a martial-arts tournament held in Angel Grove. The new teen, Tommy Oliver, passes Rita's tests, becoming the Green Ranger. Entrusted with Rita's Sword of Darkness, the source for the continuance of the evil spell he has fallen victim to, Tommy comes dangerously close to defeating the Power Rangers, especially when Rita causes a solar eclipse that drains the Megazord's power. However, the Green Ranger is ultimately defeated, and the Sword of Darkness is destroyed by Jason. Now free from Rita's spell, Tommy chooses to use his Green Ranger powers to assist the Rangers in defeating the evil that gave them to him in the first place. His Zord, the Dragonzord, is reconfigured to enable it to help form more powerful Zord combinations alongside the other Dinozords.
As time goes on, Rita focuses on eliminating Tommy to regain the powers that she believes belong to her. Using a special wax that was touched by Tommy when he was evil, Rita uses a magic Green Candle to slowly remove his powers, returning them to her. In the end, Tommy loses his powers, but he prevents Rita from reclaiming them by transferring them to Jason who, feeling guilt for failing to protect Tommy's powers, accepts them. However, Tommy later returns to the team when the other Rangers' Power Coins are handed over to Rita in exchange for their kidnapped parents. With Zordon's help, Tommy regains his powers and successfully retrieves the other Rangers' Power Coins. However, Tommy's regained powers are only temporary and must be frequently re-charged by Zordon, who warns him that the Green Ranger's powers will ultimately fail. Despite this, Tommy remains determined to continue assisting the other Rangers as long as possible.
Season 2 (1994–1995), Rita's superior, arrives at Rita's Moon Palace, where he takes her place and throws her into a space dumpster again. He then begins his own campaign to conquer Earth. In order for the Power Rangers to compete with Zedd's monsters, which are superior to the ones Finster made for Rita, Zordon and Alpha upgrade the Dinozords into the more powerful Thunderzords. However, Tommy is forced to retain use of the Dragonzord, due to his powers being too weak to support a new Zord.
After several defeats, Zedd's attacks on the Rangers progressively becomes more violent. He focuses his attention on eliminating Tommy, whom he sees as Rita's biggest mistake in giving him the Dragon Coin. The Green Ranger's powers were rapidly deteriorating, but Zedd's efforts had enhanced the process. He eventually does so with a special Green Crystal, using it to take away the Green Ranger's powers. The crystal also powers up Zedd's Dark Rangers, but when Tommy smashes it, the Dark Rangers powers are transferred back to the regular Rangers. Nevertheless, Zedd finally succeeds in taking the Green Ranger's powers. Following the loss of the Green Ranger's powers, Zordon and Alpha create, in secret, a new White Ranger to aid the other Rangers in battle. The White Ranger is revealed to be Tommy, who in addition receives a new Zord, the Tigerzord, and also becomes the new leader of the Power Rangers.
During the Team Ninja Trials in Angel Grove, the Rangers become friends with three teenagers from Stone Canyon: Rocky DeSantos, Adam Park and Aisha Campbell. During an ensuing battle with Zedd and a magical serpent, Rocky, Adam and Aisha discover the Rangers' identities and, having been entrusted with their secret by Zordon, the three newcomers become allies of the Rangers.
Later on, Jason, Zack and Trini are selected to represent Angel Grove at the World Peace Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, and the Rangers are faced with the task of finding replacements. To transfer the powers of the Red, Black and Yellow Rangers, they must find the Sword of Light, which is located on the Deserted Planet. Zedd pursues them across the galaxy in Serpentera, his massive personal Zord, and destroys most of the Deserted Planet. Serpentera runs out of power before being able to finish the Rangers, and they return to Earth safely with the Sword of Light. Zordon then chooses Rocky, Adam and Aisha to replace Jason, Zack and Trini as the Red, Black and Yellow Rangers, respectively.
Sometime before the power transfer, Rita had returned to Earth when Tommy made his debut as the White Ranger, and fell into the hands of Bulk and Skull, but the Rangers sent her back into space. She later returns to the Moon while the Rangers are in Australia, and with the help of Finster, she gets a special "makeover" to gain a younger and "prettier" face. She then uses a love potion on Zedd, who is in a deep sleep during his centennial re-evilizer, and he falls in love with her when he wakes up. They get married and join forces to make an even more terrible threat for the Rangers, but not even this can prepare them for what is to come.
Season 3 (1995–1996), Rita's skeletal brother, comes to Earth and, with the help of a group of monsters, destroys the Rangers' Thunderzords and the Tigerzord. As a result, the Dinozords are also destroyed and the Power Coins are damaged beyond repair. Undaunted, the Power Rangers seek the aid of Ninjor, alleged creator of the Power Coins, who gives them new Ninja Coins, providing them with the even more powerful Ninjazords and the Falconzord.
An Australian girl named Katherine Hillard moves to Angel Grove. She befriends Kimberly, and displays an intense affection for Tommy. Later it is found out that Rita had captured Katherine and put her under a powerful spell, giving her the ability to transform into a cat as well as a cat-like monster. Under this spell, she steals Kimberly's Ninja Coin, vastly weakening and nearly killing the Pink Ranger, whose life force, like that of the other Rangers, is connected to her Ninja Coin. It is during this time that the Rangers acquire their most powerful Zords: the Shogunzords. Eventually, Katherine overcomes Rita's evil spell and returns Kimberly's Ninja Coin to her. A short time after, Kimberly gets a chance to pursue her personal athletic dreams. With Zordon's blessing, she leaves to train for the Pan Global Games, choosing Katherine to replace her as the Pink Ranger. Though her initial fear and hesitation keeps her from contributing fully to the fight against evil, Katherine eventually becomes both comfortable and capable of fulfilling her duty as a Ranger.
After several more battles, Zedd and Rita are joined by Rita's father, Master Vile. Following his failed attempts to defeat the Rangers, he reverses time, turning the Rangers into powerless children. These events culminate in the mini-series Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers and lead to the next incarnation of the franchise, entitled Power Rangers Zeo.
- Jason Lee Scott
- Zack Taylor
- Trini Kwan
- Kimberly Hart
- Billy Cranston
- Tommy Oliver
- Rocky DeSantos
- Adam Park
- Aisha Campbell
- Katherine Hillard
- Alpha 5
- Farkas "Bulk" Bulkmeier and Eugene "Skull" Skullovitch
- Mr. Caplan
- Ms. Appleby
- Jerome Stone
- Prince Dex/Masked Rider
- Wild West Rangers
- Rita Repulsa
- Lord Zedd
- Rito Revolto
Minoru Watanabe and voiced by Michael Sorich.
- Master Vile
- Putty Patrollers
- Tenga Warriors
ConceptionWhile on a business trip to Japan, Haim Saban came across a broadcast of Choudenshi Bioman, later learning of a popular French-language dub aired on Canal+. Based on the franchise's popularity both in and outside of its native country, Saban realized there was potential for an American adaption. He and his business partner Shuki Levy quickly produced a pilot entitled Bio-Man in August 1986, which featured an early appearance by actor and martial artist Mark Dacascos in a leading role. According to Levy, they "shopped it around for at least five years, but nobody wanted it." Saban only found success in 1992, when he found a network executive familiar with Super Sentai, Fox Kids' Margaret Loesch, that during her time with Marvel Productions saw partner Stan Lee trying to sell the Sun Vulcan series to various television stations. Loesch's boss at Fox did not have much faith in the project, only financing a pilot that if unsucessful, could even lead to Loesch's dismissal. Levy and Saban then started working on the pilot using footage from the latest Sentai season, Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, entitling the pitch Galaxy Rangers. A test screening with an audience of children was successful, and eventually, the pilot was picked up by Fox Kids for a 40 episode order, after which point it would be determined by the network whether or not to renew the series for additional episodes.
CastingDue to the action-oriented nature of the show, many of the lead actors cast had background in martial arts, dance, or other physically-intensive activities. Amy Jo Johnson and David Yost were former competitive gymnasts, Austin St. John held a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo, and a first-degree black belt in Judo. Walter Emanuel Jones was a dancer, and Thuy Trang was a kung fu practitioner. Actor Jason Narvy originally auditioned for the role of Billy.
Following production of the first 20 episodes of Season 2, Austin St. John, Thuy Trang and Walter Emanuel Jones left the show over contract disputes. To disguise this incident, a combination of body doubles, voice doubles and stock footage were used to continue featuring the characters Jason, Trini and Zack for eight episodes. The subplot of those three Rangers leaving Angel Grove for the World Peace Conference was made to bridge the transition to their replacements. While the reasons for their departure was debated for many years, in 2014, Austin St. John would confirm that the departure was due to the low salaries the stars were being paid; St. John stated "I could have worked the window at McDonald's and probably made the same money the first season. It was disappointing, it was frustrating, it made a lot of us angry." In a 2012 interview with Amy Jo Johnson, she stated St. John, Trang and Jones wanted to become part of a union; this led to them being replaced.
FilmingThe series was shot on location in Santa Clarita and Los Angeles, California. Recurring locations included Grant High School, Placerita Canyon State Park, Puddingstone Reservoir, and Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park. The House of the Book at Brandeis-Bardin Institute was used as the exterior location for the Command Center. Due to its unusual, futuristic architecture; the building had previously been used in the films ' and The Lawnmower Man.
As part of the initial licensing agreement between Saban and Toei Company, the producers of the Super Sentai, additional footage and insert shots of the villain characters were filmed in order to allow more in-depth, extensive scenes of the villains who would be unable to interact with the main cast due to the nature of the show. The additional footage included close-ups of the actor speaking English-language lines phonetically in order to more make the necessary dialogue looping more seamless.
Episodes 39 & 40 were originally intended as the season finale, with the producers' intending to bring in actress Machiko Soga to reprise her role as Rita in new footage where she would interact directly with the main cast. Due to the unprecedented success of the show and its merchandising, Fox Kids ordered an additional 25 episodes. Since most of the available stock footage from Zyuranger had been depleted for use in the first 40 episodes of Season 1, Saban commissioned Toei to produce 25 new monster costumes and new battle footage using the existing Zyuranger suits. Saban was able to produce 25 additional episodes using new monster suits. This new footage has been referred to as "Zyu2" by Power Rangers fans. Saban used the first 15 for the rest of Season 1, then the remaining suits and footage for the first 13 episodes of Season 2.
During the later portion of Season 2, the production moved to Sydney, Australia for roughly four months to shoot ', which was released the following summer before the start of Season 3.
Reception and controversy
Depictions of violenceDespite the success of the series, it was also subject to much controversy from parents who felt the show was too violent for young children. The show had aired before television stations issued content warnings such as parental guidance or fit for viewing persons twelve years or over, the V-chip, and television ratings. In the US, numerous complaints were sent to the Federal Communications Commission. In 1993, the Canadian broadcast rights to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers were jointly purchased by the YTV cable channel, and the series played to a receptive audience every weekday afternoons on YTV, the latter trailing the American broadcast by several months. However, due to complaints sent to the recently formed Canadian Broadcast Standards Council and a negative assessment from that body over the show's violent content, YTV removed the series from their line-up. Despite not actually being a member of the CBSC, YTV complied and pulled the series before the end of its first season; Global ultimately did the same. While a phone-in poll was conducted to see if viewers wanted MMPR back on YTV, no further installments of the Power Rangers franchise aired on the network until 2011's Power Rangers Samurai, although commercials for toys and videos were still advertised on it. Later Disney-era versions of the series were broadcast on ABC Family.
In 1994, the New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Authority upheld several complaints from members of the public about the level of violence in the show. The main concern of those complainants was that the show portrayed violence as the primary means of resolving conflict, and that this was influencing children to behave more violently more frequently. Immediately following the BSA decision, the second season of the show was all but cancelled by Television New Zealand. New Zealand is the only country in the world where this show has been prematurely withdrawn from public broadcast to date. DVD and video releases of the more-recent Power Rangers series that were filmed in New Zealand can be found at The Warehouse, although general sales through video stores and other retailers are scarce. Later series in the Power Rangers franchise, such as ' and ', were filmed in New Zealand, but the programs were still not shown in the country, until 2011, when Samurai premiered.
In mid-October 1994, the murder of a young Norwegian girl by two of her young friends prompted Swedish-owned TV3 to pull MMPR from its broadcast schedule in all of its market countries. However, MMPR was not related to the event. Instead, the young children responsible were fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon.
Racial stereotypesEarly on in the series, some fans and critics noted that some racial overtones could be construed in the colors of several of the Rangers in the first two seasons being based on the actors' skin color or ethnicity. Austin St. John, who is of partial Native American ancestry, was cast as the Red Ranger, and Walter Emanuel Jones and Thuy Trang were the Black and Yellow Rangers respectively. Years later, when brought up on VH1's I Love the '90s, Jones and Amy Jo Johnson made fun of how the original line-up had Jones' role as the Black Ranger and Trang's role as the Yellow Ranger because the actors and characters were of African and Asian descent, respectively. It was later clarified that, while this racial coding was not deliberate, the producers realized what they had done very quickly - some time around episode 8.
This racial coding was parodied in the College Humor video "Zordon is a Racist".
Allegations of homophobiawas the last of the original Power Rangers to leave the series, citing homophobic attitudes from production staff, prompting him to unsuccessfully undergo conversion therapy in an effort to change his sexuality. In a 2010 interview with fan blog "No Pink Spandex", Yost stated that he walked off set one day because " was called 'faggot' one too many times." He also stated that the producers would often ask other cast members what they thought about his homosexuality, and this made him uncomfortable as well. Shortly after this interview, producer Scott Page-Pagter stated that Yost left over a pay dispute and that the allegations of homophobia are false; he added that Yost did not get along with any of the crew.
Poor work conditionsAs a non-union production, members of the original cast were reportedly subject to low pay, long hours, unfair contracts, and a hostile work environment and, as many of the cast were young, aspiring actors, they had no agents or lawyers to protect their interests and they themselves limited experience in the entertainment industry. Austin St. John, Thuy Trang and Walter Emmanuel Jones were the first to leave the series, citing low pay, in the middle of the second season, and St. John struggled with homelessness for a time after leaving. Amy Jo Johnson later left the series for the same reason, along with concerns over her safety, having almost been set on fire during the filming of . Additionally, despite the show's financial success, members of the original cast did not receive royalty payments for re-runs of episodes in which they starred. According to Johnson, St. John, Jones and Trang had wanted the show to become unionized, leading to them being replaced by Steve Cardenas, Johnny Yong Bosch, and Karan Ashley, respectively.
OtherIn Malaysia, the phrase "Mighty Morphin" was censored and removed from the logo due to the word "morphin" being too similar to the name of the drug morphine.
Awards and nominations
Broadcast history (UK)
- Sky One
- Fox Kids
- POP Max
Video gamesThe following video games are either based on the television series or feature characters from the series.
- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Toys UK history
- Power Rangers