Illustration: Jim Cooke (GMG), Photo: Getty Images

A look at the awful children’s programming you’re forced to endure before you can finally kick the kids out of the TV room to watch sports for eight hours. Image by Jim Cooke.

The Show

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

The Theme Song

[Nuno Bettencourt impostor riff]

GO GO POWER RANGERS!!!!!

GO GO POWER RANGERS!!!!!

[now grab your nuts and jack it all up an octave]

GO GO POWER RANGERS!!!!!

WITH MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERRRRRS!!!

The Mythology

I grew up in the era of UHF television, which included a lot of imported Japanese kids show like Voltron and Tranzor Z. There were also a couple of live action shows like Ultraman and Spectreman on Channel 66 in Chicago, which always featured a dude in a rubber suit battling latex monsters hanging from strings. They were endearingly cheap and shitty. Very wobbly swords.

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Power Rangers is basically a gargantuan, muddled ripoff of all those shows. And when I say ripoff, I mean it literally. They took stock footage from an original Japanese show called Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, mixed in a group of vacuous American teens (ala Voltron), and created a shit salad out of it … an unredeemable franchise property with an enragingly long shelf life. At least the people who make American Ninja Warrior took the pains and expense to eventually fully adapt it, you know? Power Rangers remains a half-assed mashup of stale Japanese TV, with just enough American mayo added to render the whole thing unwatchable. It’s like someone took the King from the Burger King ads and decided to make an entire cinematic universe out of it. I hate this show. I FUCKING HATE IT. I hated it as a child, and I hate it even more as a parent. I know I’m supposed to save my evaluation for down below but GOD THIS SHOW IS FUCKING CANCER.

Episode Format

Every episode starts off with some poor no-name actor stuffed into a nightmare mascot costume and cackling about plans to take over the universe. Then, we cut to a discount Beverly High where a bunch of teen extras from an old Clearasil ad do teen things until the alien overlord shows up with a fog machine nicked from a Spirit Halloween outlet. That’s when you know it’s time for shit to get loud and annoying. The four male teens turn into the red, black, blue, and green/white rangers. The two girls turn into the yellow and pink rangers. Then the Power Rangers fight whatever boil-ridden monster the overlord throws at them in a sequence of limp fighting choreography that makes Michael Bay look like Alfred fucking Hitchcock. Then the overlord goes away, only to come back the next week.

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I apologize in advance for such a poor summary. I have given you very little detail in terms of character, plotting, and setting, and that it because this show doesn’t have any. Power Rangers is resistant to mental absorption. I swear to you I have watched this show, and yet all I have retained are the awful costumes, the stupid theme song, and the constant, nails-on-porcelain ambient screeching this show provides. I cannot remember any of the actors. I can’t remember any of the jokes. All I remember is wanting to kill myself. They may as well have kept the show entirely in Japanese, because I steadfastly CANNOT remember anyone in this show or anything that happens on it. It is scientifically calibrated to be nothing. I don’t even know how it’s legal, frankly. It’s like handing your child a can of Four Loko and then smashing them in the face with a strobe light.

Characters

Red: I dunno. Some jock? Who fucking cares.

Blue: Again, I dunno. They’re just a color! There’s more character in a Skittle.

Black: Probably a token fat kid? Black is slimming.

Green/White: A white guy. Started off as the green ranger, then became white because reasons. FUN FACT: Three Power Rangers actors quit after one season because their pay was so low. This is a billion-dollar franchise.

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Yellow/Pink: Two girls, because those are the girly colors!

Rita Repulsa: One of the few villains allowed to have a human face, Rita Repulsa wears Madonna’s old cone bra on her head and walks around carrying a staff that looks like it was taken from Amway instead of a distant galaxy. She cackles a lot.

Goldar: Big winged demon with a gold body (hence the name) and a blue wolf face. Yes, I had to look all these up.

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Lord Zedd: Red dude rocking an ‘80s-style Saints linebacker facemask.

There are a LOT more, but if I think too hard about it, my brain stem will begin to actively punish me. Some of these villains have henchmen, who wear even weirder costumes and make jokes that are so unfunny you don’t even realize they’re jokes.

Best Episode

None.

Worst Episode

All of them. Burn them all. My rage is blind here. I REGRET NOTHING.

Pros

I managed to raise two children without them being exposed to the Power Rangers. But God wasn’t able to let me slip the third one past it so easily. My son likes this show, and its terrifyingly vast number of spinoffs, for obvious reasons. It’s got lots of fighting and gadgets and weaponry. I like all of those things too, you know. I’m a boy. You can paralyze me with half a screengrab from a Solo trailer, that’s how gullible I am. I just like this shit when it’s done professionally, you know?

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I will say that it’s nice when the Power Rangers fuck up the overlords, too. They deserve it because their costumes give me night terrors. And these guys think they can just swoop down onto Earth and take it over and then just liquidate it, you know? They don’t bother trying to GROW Earth, even when it’s got a little bit of promise to it! Earth could be a profitable venture for them! They just want strip it down for spare parts so that a few rich aliens can profit! It’s sad, really.

Cons

I’ve banned this show from the house. My son will try to be sneaky and put it on when I’m not looking. Then, when I catch him, he makes that look all kids make when they openly flout your authority. That “The fuck you gonna do about it?” look. I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do about it, son: I’m gonna throw this TV in a river! HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW, BITCH? I would rather that he watch porn. At least the camera would hold steady, and at least my son would be quietly traumatized instead of turned into a feral wolverine.

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FUN FACT: We were at Target and my son spotted a Power Rangers chainsaw sword that he thought was cool. Yes, a chainsaw sword. It had little plastic blades that spun around when you pulled the string. Being stupid, I figured these whirring blades were still safe to touch, since this was a child’s product. They were not. I grazed the blades and it stung like a bitch. How do they allow this shit on the open market? Do they make an official Mighty Morphin Bag O Glass to go with it? It’s absurd.

As with so many overseas cultural artifacts that have been bastardized for American audiences, Power Rangers loses virtually all of its charm in translation. Check out the original Japanese version if you don’t believe me. It’s goofy, DIY, afternoon matinee shit. That original campiness has been surgically excised, and the end result is something that is deliberately loud, aggressive, and shitty. The acting is horrid. The writing is even worse. The show is edited by letting a puppy on cocaine run around on top of a mixing console. Unless they’re big fans of epilepsy, no responsible parent would let their kid watch it. I give the Power Rangers negative eight stars. I can’t believe they made a movie out of this shit. Who was excited for that? Show yourself so I can hit you with a chainsaw sword.