Friday, April 28, 2023

Why You'll Enjoy Power Rangers Once & Always

Like many kids in the 90s, I grew up on a steady diet of Power Rangers. So when David Yost and Walter Jones announced the 30th anniversary special, I was excited. With these two original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers returning after over 25 years, this special doesn't disappoint. So here are a few of my thoughts as to why any Ranger fan would enjoy Netflix's "Once & Always".

Respect to Canon

For whatever reason, when there's a Power Rangers event on the horizon like this, I worry that there'll be something that contradicts Power Rangers canon in a big way. I mean, it's a kids show that's been running for 30 years; there are a lot of details to keep track of and you wouldn't expect kids to keep track of the continuity throughout all these years. But instead, even when they could get away with it, Power Rangers stayed true to it all: Billy's love interest on Aquitar (first referenced in Zeo's "Rangers of Two Worlds"), Tommy and Kat's marriage and family (seen in a flashforward during Zeo's "A Season to Remember"), Zordon's death and purifying wave (which happened in Space's "Countdown to Destruction"). 

Returning Rangers

Five dino Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers were seen in Beast Morpher's dino-themed crossover "Grid Connection", but only Jason appeared unmorphed. This time, all but four of the Mighty Morphin' Rangers appeared (face and all) in this special. Some have appeared over the years, like Adam (last seen in Operation Overdrive's "Once a Ranger"), Kat (last seen in Super Ninja Steel's "Dimensions in Danger"), and Rocky (also seen in "Dimensions in Danger"). But the others hadn't been seen since leaving the show. For Billy, it had been 27 years since his departure in Zeo's "Rangers of Two Worlds" (David Yost hadn't appeared as Billy since the story before, "King for a Day"). For Zack and Aisha, their last appearances were in the Mighty Morphin' Era ("The Power Transfer" for Zack and "Hogday Afternoon" for Aisha). With how involved these six have been in fan events and showing appreciation for those fans, it was beautiful to see them in character again.

Easter Eggs and Cameos

Not only was this special a treat for the original fans of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, but there were lots of easter eggs and cameos to satisfy the long-term fans of the franchise as well. For example, if you look at the initials on Adam and Aisha's uniforms, it says "SPA" short for "Space Patrol Alpha" which is very likely the predecessor to SPD's title organization. Also, if you look closely at Alpha's computer you'll see the homes of past Ranger teams, including the Space's Astro Megaship, Dino Thunder's Reefside, and Wild Force's Turtle Cove (to name a few). Likewise, on Rita's machine you can see captured Rangers from various teams, including Ravi (Beast Morpher's Blue Ranger), Carlos (Space's Black Ranger), Trent (Dino Thunder's White Ranger), and Tanya (Zeo's Yellow Ranger), among several others.

Darker Moments

Even just watching the trailer, you knew this special would be darker. Robo Rita literally talks about killing the Rangers in the trailer. Yes, Rangers have died before (Kendrix from Lost Galaxy died midseason and came back at the end and Alex from Time Force supposedly died) but never anything like this; all they were missing was a mangled body. Even on the side of good it was darker: talk of revenge (even just in the trailer) after a Ranger's death (no spoilers here, but you can guess). So the stakes are higher guys. Power Rangers is getting serious! I can only hope this translates over to the series itself, but that's unlikely. 

Tribute to Fallen Rangers

Two of our original Mighty Morphin' Rangers had passed prior to the release of this special. Thuy Trang (who played Trini, last seen in "The Power Transfer") died in a car accident in 2001 and Jason David Frank (who played Tommy, last seen in "Dimensions in Danger") was lost to suicide last year. Both Rangers were honored in this special, despite not being seen unmorphed. Their stories were beautifully told and (to some extent) wrapped up. It's sad that we won't seen Trini or Tommy again. But it was touching to see them honored at the end of the special.

If you made it this far in the post, what are you still doing here? Go watch Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Once & Always.

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