A Tribute to the Power Rangers on Their 20th Anniversary

Today is an important day in geek history for two reasons. Firstly, it's the birthday of legendary artist and the co-creator of many of Marvel Comics' most iconic characters, Jack Kirby. Despite Kirby's major influences on the comic book industry and the art world, this post isn't about him, as you probably realized from the title. But I did want to take a moment, tip my hat to him and say Happy 96th Birthday, Jack!

The purpose of this article is to recognize the 20th anniversary of a show that helped to define my childhood. Twenty years ago today, I sat at home during the tail-end of my summer vacation. I was 13 and just about to start 8th grade. But in the early afternoon, a new show began to air. I'd seen commercials for it, some weird hybrid of an old Japanese show and newly shot American footage about five teenagers with special powers and giant dinosaur-themed robots. Something called Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Being a typical 13 year old, I thought it looked dumb. Just a lame kids show. But as the opening credits began to roll, there was something about it that just grabbed me and reeled me in.

I watched on an old black and white television, which I remember clearly because I thought that Kimberly was blonde the whole time. (I also developed a huge crush on the actress, Amy Jo Johnson, which led me to start watching Felicity later on. That...was a mistake.) Though the characters were older than I was, I felt like I related to them better; they had to deal with the difficulties of high school, like being on time for class and having to face bullies, but with the added excitement of being super heroes. At times, Power Rangers was what I expected; silly, schloky, and stupid. (I friggin' despised Alpha-5 from the beginning.) But that didn't deter me at all. I watched for the rest of the week, straight through to the first day of school. The only downside was that Power Rangers aired before I would get home from school. So I set the timer on the VCR so I wouldn't miss an episode.

I did it first.
And thus began my descent into Power Rangers fandom. I accepted it with aplomb, collecting everything I could get my hands on. Toys (the original Megazord and a 12-inch Goldar figure being my favorite), trading cards, comic books. The first purchase I ever made at a Wal-Mart was the VHS copies of the first five episodes. I even went so far as to create my own box-set of the Green Ranger Saga, Green With Evil, cutting all of the commercials from my taped copies, wrapping the box in white masking tape and drawing "cover art".

Eventually, the show lost its appeal to me, which happened right around the Turbo years. All of the actors that I started with had moved on and left the show, leaving me with strangers in colored spandex. I started making watching less of a priority and just stopped watching altogether. I boxed up my collectibles and put them in the garage. When I turned 24, I sold most of my Power Rangers stuff on eBay, an act that I regret now. (I eventually repurchased a Megazord from the 2010 rebranding of the original MMPR and proudly display that in my den.)

Did I try to recreate these battle scenes? Hell yeah, I did.
With the recent release of the show on Netflix, my love of the show returned. I gobbled up the first three seasons in a little over two weeks, moving on to the rest; Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers, Power Rangers Zeo, and finally finishing Power Rangers Turbo. I've started to make my way through the rest of the seasons, an act that is more chore than fun. The charm really did leave the show after Zeo, making the later seasons tough to sit through. I'm currently in the middle of Time Force and really have a hard time finding the energy to sit through it.

But regardless of how the show derailed, the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers still holds a place in my heart. It was one of my favorite shows as a kid despite being outside of the show's target demographic. So I raise my glass to you, Power Rangers, and congratulate you on your first 20 years. Here's to 20 more.

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