Sunday, 22 May 2011

Power Rangers Samurai

I know this isn't comics-related, but way back when, the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers had a comicbook. So, there.

I haven't sat down and watched an episode of Power Rangers since an episode of Neo that I took an instant dislike to - because it wasn't Mighty Morphin'. Over the years I've glimpsed In Space and RPM, but never watched more than a few minutes - if that.

So when I heard of Power Rangers Samurai, I figured I'd give it a look. I've been horrendously disappointed.

The theme song is quite good, probably because it harkens back to the Mighty Morphin' theme song. And that was good enough to have a music cassette tape brought out! Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, A Rock Adventure. Another positive is Farkas "Bulk" Bulkmeie has come back, played again by Paul Schrier, a character that has not appeared in Power Rangers since Wild Force in 2002.

Now on to the things I don't like about it. Yeah, only two definite positives.

I'm writing this after watching the first two episodes. I wanted to give it chance to actually give me an origin story after all. First, a quick synopsis.

The pilot episode, which has the job of introducing all the characters along with motivations and a hint at some overarching storyline, shows none of that. I'm not certain we're actually given everyone's name in the scripted lines.
Before the titles roll, there is a spoken piece that whizzes through 'They were chosen to carry on their families legacies as warriors of old when the Nighlocks returned!'. The "choosing" appears to have been arrows fired at them with notes attached, which would be entirely unnecessary if it's their families responsibility in the first place.
The first time we meet the characters, one of them is having a crisis of self. He's unsure he should be a Power Ranger because he's young and inexperienced. This, of course, comes across as him being a bit of a dick.
He disappears from the compound which houses all of the Power Rangers (why?) and where they train. Well, obviously. He gets attacked by the monsters (Nighlocks) after a very small segue to their dimension (maybe? It's certainly not the Moon...) and gets his arse kicked about. The Monster Of The Week does most of that.
The rest turn up, do some attacking and the Rangers eventually go to the compound and the runaway learns an important lesson which is inevitably used to destroy the monster. Before it goes Large, at any rate.
The Zords (Foldingzords) are called and their swords turn into joysticks, allowing them to eventually win.
Some time during all of this, Bulk comes in, introducing his friend's nephew (very much the image of Skull) and their first visit to the building where Bulk will be teaching young Spike Skullovitch to become a samurai. Why he's doing this isn't explained, but at least they are given names and a goal in their first appearance. Bulk shows how inept he is, but will clearly carry on regardless.

So, with that plot in mind, here's my dislikes.
  • The morphers are really crappy mobile phones.
  • The 'plot' is explained pre-titles and the scenes that flash past are never even referred to on-camera.
  • Their swords turn into other weapons (a bow & arrows, a war fan, a bigger sword...).
  • The Zords have as much articulation as the toys for the Mighty Morphin' Zords, and as much appearance value as a minicon from the Transformers Armada toy line.
  • Their swords turn into joysticks.
  • The joysticks are supposed to control each individual Zord, as well as each limb of the Megazord?
  • One of the Zords is a flying turtle.
  • The Pink Ranger's Zord Is A Flying Turtle.
  • A flying turtle is a Zord.
  • Lion, dragon, bear, ape - TURTLE.
  • We don't find out what the Nighlocks want until the second episode when it's mentioned that they want to flood the Sanzu River.
  • In the second episode, the Yellow Ranger is said to obviously love and miss her sister very much - we didn't even know whether anyone had siblings - and we don't know why they aren't living at their own houses!
  • Kanji is magic.
  • The Nighlocks don't have functioning mouths - something that was possible even in 1995.
  • The Rangers murder the Monster Of The Week in the second episode for (in their own words) "lying to that kid" - he did nothing except hint that his soldier dad would return from a foreign country if the kid gave up baseball. He even told the kid he would need to be patient!
One thing the Nighlocks did that I found hilarious - the Big Bad 'Master Xandred' starts to get a headache, so proceeds to get plastered with moonshine. This is hand-waved as 'he's taking his medicine' and the passed-out-drunk stage is 'he's resting'. Surrounded by empty bottles and rocking slightly in the middle of the ship's hold.

So - I won't be watching past the third episode (I already downloaded it, I'm not fond of wasting bandwidth). I wanted to like it, especially with Bulk in it, and Spike is a decent actor too, but the haphazard story is maddening. Story for Mighty Morphin'? Rita Repulsa is woken after a long imprisonment and wants to rule the universe. Two episodes in and I still dunno what the Nighlocks want to flood the planet for. The action isn't terrible, but I wouldn't class it as good as some of the older series'. The Zords and weapons are kind of awful, the Monsters Of The Weeks are no better than they were during Mighty Morphin' and as I keep saying the storyline is terrible.

I'll be interested in what Linkara makes of it when he eventually gets around to it on his excellent History Of The Power Rangers series.


Tim said...

I understand that the first couple episodes were not what anyone expected. Nobody did. We all thought they were going to show the hour long show, but there were apparently some sort of timing issues that kept it from airing on time, most likely making it that they'll air it some other time.

Samurai has really gotten very good and I'll give you a synopsis of what's happened if you like.

Ace said...

Well I Liked it on Facebook, so I know there's now a Gold Ranger, but a summary would be great if you would. :)

My main gripe (apart from the Turtle Zord!) is just that there's no explanation for anything. All the other series' that I've seen on Linkara's HotPR show who and why in the first episode.