13 June 2013

DVD Set Review: "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers": Season One, Volume One

Rated: TV-Y7 for fantasy violence
Starring: Austin St. John, Walter Jones, and Amy Jo Johnson
Released: August to November 1993 (TV premieres) / August 21, 2012 (DVD)
Synopsis: After ten thousand years of imprisonment, the evil intergalactic sorceress Rita Repulsa has her sights set on destroying Earth.  The inter-dimensional being Zordon and his robot assistant Alpha 6 recruit five normal teenagers--karate star Jason, geeky Billy, pretty Kimberly, dancer Zack, and smart Trini--as Power Rangers, who can morph into superheroes to defend our planet from Rita's attacks.  However, it's not going to be easy to defeat Rita.  With Putty Patrollers crawling around, and one monster after another going on a rampage, the Rangers will have to work together and use every power in their arsenal...and even that may not be enough.  This is the genesis of the mega-popular franchise that is still going strong to this day; it all starts here.

Plots: 4.5/5
Sure, I love superhero stories, but how could a live-action Saturday morning series from two decades ago keep my attention? Well...it did.  Some have called the plots weak, and they are, but they're still gripping nonetheless.  Where this set excels is the five-episode "Green with Envy" arc, which is the Green Ranger's introduction; where it falters a bit is the annoyingly repetitive last episode in the two-parter "Island of Illusion".  I've been so gripped by this set, even my books and other DVDs have gotten short shrift!

Production Values: 2.25/5
The video quality ranges from moderate to quite grainy, though that might be as a result of there being ten episodes on each of the three discs.  The acting is mostly good, though it fails a time or two.  As for the special effects? Yes, they're low-budget and cheesy, but, the set was so involving that I really didn't care.  (You may feel differently.)

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: Kissing, flirting...totally innocent romance. Two guys accidentally end up in drag, which is played for laughs. 4.5/5
  • Nudity: Kimberly and Trini are seen in midriff-baring outfits and/or tiny shorts quite a few times, especially in the first several episodes.  The male Power Rangers are also seen shirtless a few times. 4/5
  • Drugs: Some of the stories involve chemical-induced transformations. 4.5/5
  • Language: "Gee" is used once or twice.  Name-calling is prevalent; one-word insults such as "nincompoop," "geek," and "pinhead" appear in most if not all of the episodes. 4/5
  • Violence: Martial arts battles; robot vs. villain fights; usage of fantasy-style weapons.  Comic slapstick violence, a la Drake & Josh, is present in every episode as well.  No blood or gore, though seeing a monster or two getting impaled is a bit disturbing. 2.25/5
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: Some of the villains and scenarios could be a bit creepy to young children. 3.5/5
  • Other: Rita uses some magic that smacks of incantations and/or witchcraft. 3.75/5
Conclusion: The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and I have an interesting history.  I didn't get into the series as a kid until the introduction of the White Ranger, who soon became the most popular character.  I can still remember a scene for two from seeing the movie with Ivan Ooze as the villain.  Someone gave me a Power Rangers audio cassette that I listened to every day for a while.  Even my church was hip to it; they had a Vacation Bible School that was based on the series, calling us "Pray Rangers" and having skits with people in Power Rangers suits, with a guy dressed as a Bible taking the place of Alpha the robot.  Over the years, they appeared from time to time in my dreams, almost as if I somehow missed them.
In some ways, watching this has brought me back to the days of my childhood, when everything was seemingly much simpler.  It also has the feel of the debut album of a band that I didn't follow until late in their career; it reminds me of the time I got my hands on dc Talk's debut project, which was decidedly different from Jesus Freak, Supernatural, or anything on their "greatest hits" CD.  As such, despite its flaws, this twenty-five-year-old guy still finds it just as appealing as I did when I was in first grade.  Maybe the lack of budget is a bit more noticeable now, but I still found it enthralling.  I hope it won't be too long until I get my hands on the second volume of the first series...

Score: 4.5/5

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