DVD Review: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (Season 1, Vol. 1)

How does a single adult find out about the hottest new kid show? Back in the Fall of 1993, I didn’t get to lounge around watching afternoon TV. I had to work for a living at a bookstore. But even in isolation, it became obvious when a TV show had become a sensation. Parents kept rushing into the store asking if we had any books about the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. While none were on the shelf, there were a few upcoming titles in the system. They insisted on special ordering the books so their kids would have them to read on the bus on the day they came out. Later parents would ask if we had the Power Ranger dolls even though the bookstore wasn’t into the toy business. The series was an out of the box smash. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 1, Vol. 1 includes the first 30 episodes that changed the face of playgrounds across the country.

The success of the America-Japanese series wasn’t too much of a surprise. A generation had grown up in the ’70s with Japanese monsters smashing their TV screens. Godzilla and Gamera were stars of the Creature Double Feature. The cool UHF channels programmed Ultraman and Space Giants in the after school slots. The difference with Power Rangers was that the show wasn’t merely dubbed in English. Saban Entertainment sliced out the action scenes from Japan’s Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger and created fresh scenes involving American teens. Fox Kids viewers were able to relate to the teen stars who are chosen to protect the world.

“Day of the Dumpster” unleashes the evil of Rita Repulsa and her wicked monster creations. How did she get out of her cell that held tight for 10,000 years? Turns out two astronauts landed their space shuttle on the moon. They couldn’t keep their hands off the lid. Now the universe is in jeopardy. Luckily there is one person who can keep her in check. Zordon and his robot Alpha 5 have come to Earth. They recruit five teenagers from Angel Grove. Each of the kids are given a new superhero identity and a dinosaur based vehicle that can merge to create a super warrior known as Megazord. Red Ranger (Austin St. John), Black Ranger (Walter Emmanuel), Blue Ranger (David Yost), Yellow Ranger (Thuy Trang) and Pink Ranger (Amy Jo Johnson) still have to attend school between battling evil. Bulk (Paul Schrier) and Skull (Jason Narvy) are two classmates that wish they were Power Rangers. They add the comic relief to the action involving battles with Rita’s henchmonsters.

“Green with Evil” was the major story arc in the first half of the 60 episode season. Rita kidnaps the new kid in Angel Grove. She uses every trick in the book to turn the innocent Tommy (Jason David Frank) into the Green Ranger. He’s evil! So evil he destroys the Power Rangers’ headquarters so Zordon can’t help them. Tommy doesn’t mean to be a bad kid since he’s under Rita’s spell. Can the Power Rangers save him and make him part of the team? It takes five episodes to answer that question.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 1, Vol. 1 is still a colorful and kinetic show. Mixing the rubber monster action scenes with fresh footage featuring an American cast worked better than Raymond Burr’s character in Godzilla. The happy teens gave the show a sense of Saved By the Bell on steroids. Imagine how much cooler it would have been if Screech and Mr. Belding had to beat up monsters? Book sellers should be prepared for a wave of parents buying copies in order to insure their kids will be as cool as they were on the bus.

The Episodes
“Day of The Dumpster,” “High Five,” “Teamwork,” “A Pressing Engagement,” “Different Drum,” “Food Fight,” “Big Sisters,” “Switching Places,” “I, Eye Guy,” “Foul Play in the Sky,” “For Whom The Bell Trolls,” “Happy Birthday, Zack,” “No Clowning Around,” “Power Ranger Punks,” “Peace, Love and Woe,” “Dark Warrior,” “Green With evil part I: Out of Control,” “Green with Evil Part II: Jason’s Battle,” “Green With Evil part III: The Rescue,” “Green With Evil Part IV: Eclipsing Megazord,” “Green With Evil Part V: Breaking The Spell,” “The Trouble With Shellshock,” “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “The Spit Flower,” “Life’s a Masquerade,” “Gung Ho!,” “Wheel of Misfortune,” “Island of Illusion part I,” “Island of Illusion part II” and “The Rockstar.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The Japanese footage doesn’t look as sharp and colorful as the American production. Overall the transfers are fine. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. The Japanese footage features legendary clunky dubbing. Rita’s lips are a little bit off.

There are no bonus features.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 1, Vol. 1 brings back the joys of after school TV in the fall of 1993. The show remains fun with school kids versus rubber suited monsters.

Shout! Factory presents Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 1, Vol. 1. Starring: Austin St. John, David Yost, Amy Jo Johnson and Paul Schrier. Boxset Contents: 30 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: August 21, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.

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