My son is five years old, and he loves the Power Rangers. The TV show Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers debuted when I was a kid, and I remember watching it, if not necessarily enjoying it. (In retrospect, it's somewhat profane that it occupied the same programming block as Batman: The Animated Series.) I guess I was dimly aware that the brand had been chugging along for the past couple of decades, but only by cohabitating with a kid who knows how to use the Netflix remote have I learned just how fecund are the combined creative energies of Toei and Haim Saban.
In addition to the original, easily entertained kids can get down on such Power Rangers series as Samurai, Ninja Steel (not to be confused with Ninja Storm), Megaforce, Wild Force, Mystic Force, Dino Charge (not to be confused with Dino Thunder), and a lot more, including many of the same with the word "Super" appended somewhere in there. It's overwhelming.
Unsurprisingly, though, they turn out to be all basically the same show. I'm sure you remember. A group of teenagers "with attitudes" are recruited to battle some invading alien threat. First, they fight the bad guys as themselves, then they morph into their ranger versions and fight some more, and then summon giant robots to fight a little more. No one but the rangers ever seems to notice any of this happening in the city streets.
It can be charming enough in small doses, and I can even appreciate the writers' best efforts sometimes to sneak some actual humor in there. But what has struck me the most, now that I've watched roughly a thousand hours of Power Rangers programming, is the casting. Of the dozens of teenagers mit attitude that have morphed their way into our hearts, there's not one performer who seems like a diamond in the rough. Not one with a genuine spark. See, it's not just that they're all bad actors -- it's that they're all bad actors in exactly the same way.
Near as I can tell, to be cast on a Power Rangers series, a young actor needs three traits above all.
- Lack charisma
- Have a punchable face
- Do a spin kick
Nail the trifecta, and you're golden. Seriously, look at some of these faces.
So punchable. Again, though, these people can all do spin kicks. I can't do a spin kick.
I was kind of excited that I had cracked the code. Maybe I had the inside knowledge to bring down the Power Rangers. Then I saw this:
The key part: "We are seeking superheroes with a strong athletic skill, such as MARTIAL ARTS, DANCE, GYMNASTICS, or ACROBATICS. Acting experience is a plus, but not required."
Now they're just rubbing it in our faces!
But Mitch, you're saying, there's nothing in there about punchable faces. Well, maybe the words "positive attitude" and "genuine sense of confidence" mean something different to you than they do to me. I'm already cracking my knuckles over here.
And that's how I finally toppled the Power Rangers empire, once and for all.