Earlier today, I came across this article linked on Facebook by friend Orenthal Hawkins, commemorating the 20th anniversary of a popular television/film franchise you almost certainly have heard of in one way or another:
Like Orenthal, I was one of uncounted people who dismissed the first iteration of the show when it premiered in 1993. To me it looked silly, with five kids dressed in garish costumes fighting dudes in rubber monster suits. On the other hand and that the time, it also seemed at least somewhat reminiscent of a show I enjoyed as a kid: Ultraman.
Of course, I also knew that I wasn’t the target demographic for this new show, and so I didn’t think much of it after that. Like a lot of people, I figured it would flame out in short order and be replaced by some other lightweight action/adventure TV fare designed to sell toys.
Here we are, twenty years later and the Rangers are still going full tilt boogie. There have been seventeen different variations of the concept, each featuring its own cast of characters who assume the “mantle of responsibility” of being Power Rangers and defending Earth from all sorts of alien and other fantastic threats. The merchandising is a juggernaut, with toys, books, movies, and whatever else you can think of. There are conventions, cosplayers, fan fiction, and all that cool jazz. Sounds familiar, eh?
While the Rangers have always enjoyed a cult following here in the States, they are and always have been A Big Deal overseas. Still, they seem to be gaining attention here in recent years, particularly with the most recent incarnations of the series. I’m seeing a lot more merchandise than I remember encountering, and at more mainstream outlets like Target and Toys R Us. As I told someone earlier, I’ve always been peripherally aware of the show, though I had no idea to the extent it had…if you’ll excuse the term…”morphed” over the years with different teams of Rangers and the “mythology” which had evolved around the series.
It only was when my daughters demonstrated an interest in the show a year or so ago that I started paying attention. Nickelodeon was running the Power Rangers Super Samurai flavor at the time, and I started TiVo’ing the show each week for us to watch together. Just as it was way back when, the show’s still not my thing, but it’s something we can watch together and I get a kick out of how much fun the girls have with it. Since we started, the show has moved on to its current iteration, Power Rangers Megaforce, and the girls are aware of the differences between the versions. I sit quietly and listen as they fill me in on who this or that character is, or why I should keep an eye on that monster.
I’ve not yet made the leap to buying any of the shows or movies on DVD, but I haven’t ruled it out. Birthdays and Christmas are coming, of course. In the meantime they’ve enjoyed books and the odd toy. Then, there’s this sort of geekery:
From what I’ve learned, the second half of this current show’s season will start to involve characters and other continuity bits from previous Ranger shows, and I’m actually curious to see how the show’s writers go about doing this.
So, yeah, while we’re talking about a show with kids dressed in garish costumes fighting dudes in rubber monster suits, is it really so different than the stuff I was watching at my daughters’ age? Ultraman, Battle of the Planets, Saturday morning cartoons and shows like Jason of Star Command? I don’t really see much of a distinction, to be honest.
(Squirrel/Note to self: Pick up Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future on DVD. For the kids.)
Meanwhile, the girls already have asked when I might start writing Power Rangers books “for them.” So, if you’re reading this, publishers of Power Rangers books, call me. 😀
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go make sure the TiVo is set. You know…for the kids.
Go, go, Power Rangers!