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… Okay, maybe that title was a little over-the-top, but I just couldn’t help myself.

Part of me has dreaded tackling this review. As a longtime fan of the Power Rangers franchise, it’s not always easy to bring tough criticism to this thing I’ve loved for years, a huge influence on my life and how I see the world. It’s even worse knowing that a number of people may have hoped to hear something quite different from me on this subject, and would be waiting to get my take on such a momentous occasion as this, the 25th Anniversary special episode. Certainly, it’ll be an unpopular opinion with some, a few of which I’d count as friends. It’s worse even still when one takes into account my opinion of the current season, Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel.

The brutal truth is that I hesitate to speak about this season at all because I honestly don’t think that anyone should watch it, and even if I somehow wrote something uniformly negative (a thing i don’t know if I could ever do), it would still technically count as a sort of advertisement for the show, just by keeping the cycle of discussion going. Now, that doesn’t mean that Ninja Steel fans aren’t allowed to like the thing, and I’m not here to instruct anyone on what to do with their own time. I say all this only to illustrate how deeply disappointed I’ve been, as such an ardent fan of this franchise, that it would produce something in this vein. And sadly, the anniversary episode, which sells itself on the gathering of Ranger actors from multiple eras of the property’s long history, is a far stronger example of the show’s problems than should ever have been allowed. It’s not the worst thing ever. But it’s funny how often I hear phrases like this nowadays, as if that fact alone qualifies it as great. I guess that’s just where we’re at now?

The episode gets off to a strong start, by Ninja Steel standards, catching up with a man who needs no introduction (so, naturally, he’ll get seventeen by episode’s end). Tommy Oliver arrives at his cozy, remote home and tells someone on the phone that he’s going to take his son, JJ, to school. We hear the kid’s voice briefly, and I’m choosing to believe that his extremely non-American accent is a nod to JJ’s parentage and not an acting slip from one of the show’s New Zealand-based performers.

See, Tommy and former Pink Ranger Kat were once an item. This episode implies that they continue to be a couple all this time later, and are the parents to a child. I say “implies” because the show seems to avoid almost every possible opportunity to acknowledge that the two of them are anything more than Rangers who occasionally occupy the same square mile radius, if only by sheer accident, without so much as a passing glance until the very end of the story. But I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, it suffices to know that Tommy’s got a kid, and this serves as some genuinely good development for this character who’s been in more seasons than you can shake a laser rope at.

Not only that but we are enticed to sit through the neverending Ninja Steel theme song with an honest-to-goodness cliffhanger moment when Tommy is called by an offscreen enemy that may prove difficult to handle later (not really, but at this point, we still have hope of suspending disbelief).

After the credits, we jump into the pulse-pounding action of this mega-crossover event, ready for some rip-roaring thrills filled with cameos and explosive action by… having the Ninja Steel teens hanging around their typical kick-it spot, playing pool and just generally being ordinary. Which would have been fine for an ordinary episode, but because this is a supposedly epic team-up with a massive number of returning characters, I would have thought we would choose not to bother with generic banter between the show’s six leads, who then must be leisurely ushered back to the base so that their latest dilemma can be explained to them. For that matter, why did we even need that intro recapping the Ninja Steel premise, telling us about all these things that don’t factor into the special at all? For a standard episode, of course you keep it, but in the interest of time, I’m just wondering if anyone even considered letting that go, just this once?

In come the Exposition Kings, three former Rangers from three different dimensions, firmly clarifying to the fans that this franchise is taking place across a larger multiverse, where not every adventure has been set on the same version of Earth. And honestly, this is a great trio here. We have fan-favorite Blue Ranger Koda from Power Rangers Dino Charge, pyrotechnic enthusiast Silver Ranger Gemma from Power Rangers RPM, and the special’s hero wrangler Red Ranger Wes from Power Rangers Time Force here to tell the new kids what’s what.

I’m amused to see that the device they’ve used to jump between worlds can be seen in the comics from BOOM! Studios, in one of a few surprising bits of cross pollination between entertainment mediums. But it’s curious how they state that hopping dimensions has a negative effect on the Morphin Grid that sustains their power, since they felt perfectly free to do so in the previous episode, wearing pointlessly identity-concealing outfits only to render generic advice that no one seems to know why they would provide or even be especially aware of. And even if they did have some specific interest in helping out their juniors with a random Monster of the Week problem, one wonders how the hell they could possibly have time or resources to do this while simultaneously fighting an enemy that (as they explain) has been literally rocking their worlds, kidnapping their fellow Ranger pals, and just generally being a tool all over the multiverse.

And let’s just unpack that for a second. They say he’s already been a threat to other realities, and he’s attacked Rangers from different dimensions. Yet, when we find who he’s captured later, it seems to be that everyone there is from the exact same reality, and literally the only ones from an alternate spot was the two who helped explain this nonsense to us in the first place. So, why exactly is this trio even here, specifically? Is the rest of the primary PR universe dead or incapacitated? If so, why didn’t they just grab the Ninja Steel crew immediately instead of playing Cryptic Fortune Cookie Mentor for an episode, leaving them as if they knew it would either be a long time or possibly forever before they saw them again, only to return one episode later, and ask for their help? Did they not need their help the first time? What changed?

There could be answers to all of these things (there aren’t) but they just weren’t provided, is my point. And not every little facet of every story needs to be spelled out for the viewer. But since this show loves to do exactly that, to the point of almost literal nausea, it’s hilarious how much they choose to leave at the viewer’s feet to just sort out. Driving some plot-points into the ground, through the Earth’s crust, and out the other side, while letting others just sit there, whistling.

The trio escorts the newbies to Tommy’s Reefside home, where they learn an evil copy of our former Green/White/Red/Black Ranger reveals himself amongst a gaggle of monsters, who decide to explain the entirety of their plan despite the best way to learn about it clearly being to see it in action while talking about it as we watch. Lord Draven has kidnapped Rangers with Robot Tommy’s help in order to create a whole army of Ranger copies.

Wes decides that this makes perfect sense because, in his mind, everyone would trust Tommy, even though he’s been turned evil on multiple occasions and has actually caused (both intentionally and accidentally) a whole mess of damage over the years. There’s actual news reel footage in their universe of him toppling buildings and laughing about it, but I’m sure no one the robot tried to trick would remember that. After all, he’s a pretty convincing actor!

So, our heroes do more explaining of the plot that no one needed while Tommybot personally tends to the captured Rangers, who all lie unconscious in Draven’s copy factory. And here we come to the first truly upsetting aspect of the episode. There are six returning Ranger actors in this scene. That’s in addition to the exposition trio and the master thespian who’s running this diabolical operation. The show’s production went to the trouble of contacting actors, after deciding they wanted to present an anniversary event, presumably paid them human currency for their time, flying them from North America to the New Zealand shooting locations, and this incredible collection of superheroes who have braved the wild landscape of the fans’ dreams for decades arrive on the spectacular shores of that country… to have a nap.

You must be joking.

This isn’t the real episode. You’re having a laugh with us. You thought it’d be hilarious to get our hopes up and make us think we were gonna get all these beloved characters, and they were gonna have scenes, and lines, and moments, and instead we get a bargain-bin version of Sleeping Beauty. But then afterward, you’re gonna pull back the curtain and show us it was all just a prank! The real episode will start right after this, right?

No. No, they actually did that for real. They got these people, many of whom are among the biggest standouts of the seasons they hail from, so that they could be no one and say nothing. I mean, yeah, they get to open their mouths, but nothing of value comes out of them. Nothing that lets me know that anyone involved with the creative side of the show has an idea of who they even are. And by “they”, I mean the ones not named Tommy.

Speaking of Tommy (again). The flesh-and-blood version escapes in quite possibly the most puzzling way imaginable, as we’re not even allowed to see him there with the other captured humans as his evil double works to make more copies. The scene is so bizarrely put together, not even bothering to establish that Real Tommy is in the room, despite his apparent escape, and the cause for the villains freaking out about a problem. I realize he’s using his special invisibility trick from Power Rangers Dino Thunder, and that it’s meant to be a “surprise” when he shows himself to the others later, but that reveal wouldn’t seem to be worth it when such a poor job has been done to even tell us that the character was in that building at all.

The trio leads the charge into Draven’s dimension, and Tommy’s random super-speed rescues them all from an oncoming group of standard foot soldiers that they could have easily fought off alone if they maybe just morphed or something, but the script says they should be worried so here we are. This marks the second time I wonder why the plot requires the Ninja Steel team’s presence when everyone is rushing to save the captured heroes, but Tommy has already saved himself and then saves all nine of these guys while he’s on a roll. Meanwhile, the Sleepy Six are still counting sheep while their so-called concerned allies are somehow still finding new ways to re-explain the same information everybody knows. It’s especially magical to hear them talk about what dreadful things might happen if they don’t succeed while the people they’re talking about maybe, eventually, possibly someday rescuing remain in dangerous enemy hands about five steps away from where they’re standing. Ladies and gentlemen: The defenders of the galaxy…

Lord Draven does some plotty stuff that threatens to screw with the dimensions while Tommy calls Wes and his team to join him, and the Ninja Steelers go off to star in some irrelevant Super Sentai footage.

Look, I get it. Power Rangers has always relied on the use of the source footage derived from Shuriken Sentai Ninninger and the others from Toei Company’s own franchise in Japan. It’s perfectly acceptable to make use of that footage and bring the action sequences of this show to life with all that fabulous stunt and special effects work. Any typical episode would likely be enhanced by the use of such great technical wizardry on display there. I guess I just didn’t get the memo that this was supposed to be a typical episode. And I don’t understand the wisdom of operating like this, especially when it’s been proven by this very incarnation that Power Rangers does not always have to use extensive stock footage in each individual episode it produces. In an episode jam-packed with nostalgic elements and a ton of actors who only get this one chance to shine again, why am I staring at the Ninja Steel team fighting boring mooks all by themselves, for a period of several minutes? In any other episode, this would have been fine. Here, it’s just an irritant that I really can’t wait to be done with so I can get to the part that actually matters.

And it’s a shame too. As much as I dislike what I see from this season, I’ve always wished for good material for the actors and their characters, and this would have been such a fun opportunity to see them all interact – on and off the battlefield – with the players who came before them. Why does the factory team need to consist only of veterans? Why could we not have split into mixed teams, perhaps unmorphed, taking on problems while showcasing the characters’ skills and personalities as they relate to each other in cool, unique ways? Why has an unimportant fight scene been inserted into this crossover, featuring no crossover element of any kind? Even if the budget was small for the season, this would seem to be the time to splurge and strive for something more. You can pack this footage into another episode that burns itself up on stock imagery to make up for what happens here, the anniversary episode that it should go without saying is of pretty major importance. It premiered in a special primetime slot, for Zordon’s sake.

The sleeping beauties are finally rescued so they can talk about plotty things and not mention the vast connections many of these characters have with each other that would have been charming to hear them touch on. Rocky and Kat are strangers both to each other and to her apparent spouse. TJ wakes up from Draven’s evil coma-inducing device having hoped he’d “never hear that name again”, the sole indication that Draven is worth caring about as a villain, because of an implied history that we’ll likely never see or hear of later. Say what you will about the Machine Empire castoffs of “Forever Red” or the continuity-confusing Thrax of “Once a Ranger”, but at least those dudes had some kind of connection to the show and its history in their anniversary episode appearances. Draven is just Some Guy, who needs validation by a throwaway line that could have come from anyone in the room.

In fact, that pretty much sums up the entirety of the episode for most of these revered characters. They don’t have to be who they are here. It could have been Andros who gave a cheap fluffing to the boring Villain of the Week. It could have been Vida instead of Trent who pointlessly told us that the robot Rangers will be “tough to beat”. It could be Joel instead of Antonio who thanks Tommy for saving the Dream Warriors even though Tommy wasn’t even there when Wes & Friends finally got around to waking them up. Tommy’s response is a nod, and we don’t get so much as him glancing at his wife (?) to say her name after she’s just been freed from the clutches of monsters.

Honestly, without pop culture’s darling taking center stage here, I wonder if the show would have any idea what to do with these people. If they ever had any intention of showcasing these characters. There’s minimal personality among the awakening heroes. Trent can’t refer to Tommy as “Dr. O” as he would have if any of the three credited writers had thought to let him say it. But even if the show were interested in doing that, I do question whether there’s anyone left who would remember such a thing, or even go to the effort of reviewing an episode or two to pick up on such details. I’m not asking for massive, complex deconstruction of characters and a critique on the sociopolitical ramifications of Draven’s conquest of the multiverse here. I’m asking for names. They can’t say some names? A couple more concerned looks? A side-hug for the mother of your currently lonely child? Since when is it overboard to request that the returning actors get to be people again?!

This show has not always been the greatest with character development and consistency of themes, but it was a damn sight better than what is displayed in these painfully brief dialogue scenes. They used to have genuine heart, and a willingness to bring the audience together by doing the same with the characters. When I see all these faces united on a stage at once, my heart should soar. There should be warmth at witnessing all these reconnections, as well as a genuine delight at the combination of characters one could never have predicted would occur. Instead, I’m just a little bummed out that this is all they get. These barely even count as scenes to me. They could do this with action figures.

There’s a certain irony that comes with the following sequence, when Tommy faces his doppelganger, knowing now what was removed from the final cut of the episode. In the standard TV version, Tommy battles Tommy, cycling through some of his old Ranger suits with his legitimately cool Master Morpher, seen for the first time in this special. It’s awesome, but it flies by so fast that I found it hard to appreciate when surrounded by everything else. It baffles me that there existed a version of this fight where Tommy has more dialogue and uses more of his power set to defeat the evil copy with some wonderful fight choreography. Remember when I asked for more unmorphed stuff? Yeah, they cut that part of the fight out too.

I’d love to be walked through the decision-making process when it was determined that this part, showcasing the long and storied legacy of this enduring franchise through the ever-changing costumes of the two combatants (where there’s not one but two Tommy Olivers for them to stick on the screen and bring all the fanboys to the yard) needed to be cut down, while the characterless, plot-meaningless, and all-around tiresome foot soldier battle demanded to be seen in all its glory, showing off each individual teen Ninja Steeling like no tomorrow. But there is a tomorrow for them. And next week. And next next week. And next next next week. The Ninja Steel team will be here every episode. We’ll see that sort of thing all the mothermorphing year. Now is the one and only time where we get to see these returning Rangers, and somehow it’s them – the material that was actually shot natively, independent of the stock footage that surrounds it – who get screentime cut out? Not the game of pool from earlier. Not the casual walk from the game of pool to the base. Not the constant, numbing exposition where actors are forced to repeat random facts instead of have emotions or backstories worth mentioning in passing. The biggest, most genuinely exciting aspect of the entire 25th anniversary experience as a whole is the thing that needs to be shortened?

GET. OUT.

This might be a good time to mention that I’m not even a big Tommy fan. I mean, I love the Green Ranger costume and the iconography of that larger-than-life force that swept through Mighty Morphin Power Rangers with a cool style and all that jazz, but the character itself was really just as good as everyone else for me. I appreciate good stories, regardless of character, which is why I appreciated so much of what was done with Dino Thunder. When I say that the best part of the episode is this Tommytastic Tommyfest, please believe how much I mean that. It was awesome. Not just for the Green Ranger part, but because it had some real imagination with the Master Morpher, and used it well to celebrate what an extensive history many of us as fans have shared over so many years. Even if I hated Tommy with the fire of a thousand Solaris Knight blasts, it’d still be great, for those reasons alone. That it would be removed, for almost any reason, makes me question things about the show’s creatives.

And while we’re questioning creativity, I’m amused that I actually noticed Blue Ranger actor Peter Sudarso’s delivery of the Ninninger reference when he referred to their plan to steal Draven’s world-breaking arrows as “easy” (as his Japanese counterpart would often say) but I did not notice any reference to Blue Ranger actor Yoshi Sudarso being his brother. The Ranger siblings share the battlefield for the first time in this one-time-only episode and it’s a shoutout to Super Sentai history, not Power Rangers, that I find most notable in this Power Rangers event. I don’t begrudge the Sudarsos their charming references as fans, whether they come up with them personally or someone else does. I just wish something a little more substantial was written (and, you know, included) here that would put the emphasis back on the stuff that we wouldn’t be able to see any other week. It’s just kind of a bad joke, what gets major attention and what doesn’t. Far too often, those two things look like they should trade places.

So Draven does a thing and there’s an evil army and the Ninja Steel teens need help, I guess, so the veteran Rangers appear in puffs of smoke. Tommy says a Tommy line, because we still need him to say things after all that other stuff he got to do. Everybody morphs in half a second and there’s an explosion. If it sounds like I’m speeding through this part, it’s only because the episode seems to be doing the same.

Something very odd has happened to the show in recent years. It’s always been a low-budget struggler of a series, but through the help of often very polished Sentai footage and a production that slowly learned to perfect their unique style, the show developed a feel that knew how to play up these heroes as legendary. Not in the generic way that the word “legendary” gets thrown around recently. I mean, the way the heroes looked on the screen, when they moved, when they would strike a pose, shout out their names, repping where they’re from and what they’re all about, and when that over-the-top explosion erupted behind them – it was impressive. I could feel the weight of what I was seeing. The essence of Power Rangers was being concentrated into a burst of imagery that maybe didn’t make literal sense but was a poetically pop way of celebrating the power and majesty of these epic heroes who had come to fight on against whatever enemy that would threaten them and the people they had sworn to protect. Cheesy, to be sure, but it was a distinctive signature that fans would come to identify as part of Power Rangers.

Recently, it seems like the show doesn’t recognize the value in this. The Rangers shout a couple slogans, but they morph in a quick flash and leap to the punchy-kicky part before anyone has time to enjoy it. And insta-morphs too can be cool, when they’re in the midst of a fight, in the heat of the moment, or when the Rangers are giving chase to a fleeing target. But here? When a super-team of heroes from numerous seasons have all lined up together as the last line of defense against multiversal collapse? This doesn’t seem to be the time to throw the suits on with flashcuts and wide shots set to routine music cues. There’s no majesty in that. It’s just noise.

And listen, I’m not heartless to how cool it is to see everyone together, ready to do some world-saving. It’s fun that everyone is there and that we even get to do this stuff at all. I just think it would be so much more impressive if the scene didn’t feel like it couldn’t wait to be over. Like someone hit the fast-forward button and just decided not to turn it off for the rest of the episode. Starting here. On this part. Where all I want is just to enjoy this moment, with all these mythic icons stepping up to the challenge, about to clean house. I want to see them all recognized for the titans that they are. I want to see that ridiculous explosion get more explodey than it ever had any right to be. I want to hear everybody tell me where they’re from, shining a spotlight on the parts of the show that didn’t have the other guy in them. I want to witness this unstoppable force that’s about to take some names like only these spandex-clad crazies could. I want to march in the friggin Ranger Pride Parade. If there was one time where I would hope to see the show get a little indulgent with itself, it’s something like this. I’m not here for the excuse that there’s no room. Despite the shortness of its runtime, they made so many choices that robbed them of their own opportunities, which I’m not even sure if this writing team would have taken even if they had twice the space. Which, if you removed all the irrelevant nothing-moments that came before this, you practically would have. This is not up to scratch, guys.

For all the nits one could pick about 2002’s “Forever Red”, they knew how to throw a party. The Rangers showed up and they were powerful, vital remnants of the seasons they represented, full of life, the show recognizing them as individuals and as avatars of a wider universe. With personality for days, they gathered together in short order, flew to the moon, and fought enemies that needed little introduction. The Red Rangers were the biggest attraction, and they all got plenty to say and do that touched on them as people, friends, and teammates, yet somehow, even the minor characters were given extra pizzazz by being voiced by some of the non-Red castmembers of the past. The heroes got a long and lavish unmorphed fight scene, and even that wasn’t just bodies hitting each other. It allowed those in the cast with martial arts prowess to demonstrate their abilities. Carter used his blaster in keeping with his personality. Cole fought with a familiar animalistic style. That fight was so dang impressive you almost didn’t need the morphed part, but we thank them for it anyway because it just kicked the whole thing up a notch. It wasn’t perfect. We could talk about flying bikes and random morphers. But we could also talk about how, even the Rangers who couldn’t be there for the whole event got to fly in together from their space setting, and how Aurico used his ninja-like abilities to evade attacks, and how the first Red and the latest Red fought the same foe and the word “morphenomenal” was uttered out of nowhere, prompting a loud laugh from me that spoke to something that I could not have put into words at the time. A feeling of love and affection for these characters and the wacky world they played around in. When there was so much passion on display there, I hardly cared about a few perceived mistakes, and still to this day can’t see why many other fans would.

But now? Now, I can see why someone would be disappointed. Because this isn’t what passion used to look like. I can’t keep clapping because of the fact that you got some awesome people together when they didn’t actually do anything worthy of their stature. The fact they happened to not be as useless as the returning Rangers in some other episode once is not a win, it’s a given. Or at least it should be. Standards are kind of a thing with me. Lowering them doesn’t seem to help anyone. And I have to tell you, I know what show I’m watching, so it’s not like I go into this thing expecting something far beyond what I could get. I only expect more from an episode because the show has already proved to me, on innumerable occasions, that it’s more than capable of it. I’d rather not pass out any more participation trophies. It’s weird that I’d even feel like I’m being asked to do that with this, but I do.

So, Tommy and the others face Draven’s army of copies and lasers start happening. All lasers, all the time. I’m completely lasered out. I hate to keep comparing this thing to “Forever Red” but at least they mostly saved the blaster moments for characters that it made the most sense for, rather than just sticking a trigger-weapon into the hand of any costume that didn’t come with something else and telling them to squeeze until it broke. The Carter/Andros Blaster Bro moment was sweet. Eric wants to fire off his Quantum Defender? Makes sense to me! But why is Trent shooting generic lasers from his feather sword here? Especially when his whole thing was that he used that feather to draw arrows into the air and toss them. Or maybe Kat could throw her Pink Fire Cloud. Or Antonio could use his swift sword-strikes to help out fellow Musician Gold Ranger Levi, and remark on his sweet guitar weapon. Or anything that would show individuality among this massive sea of costumes. Having the Pink Rangers just outright stating that they’re pink is not exactly a thrilling substitute.

It’s interesting that another Sudarso brother gets a noticeable reference to something, with Koda talking about his “caveman strength” as he smashes enemies. It’s nice to hear, but I suppose the fact that it’s from the most recent season, handled by the same writers as this one, takes a little something out of it for me. Even if by total accident, it just makes it look that much more like the other Rangers not named Tommy weren’t actually remembered all that well by the creatives. Or worse, they’re just not valued enough to get that kind of attention. Imagine that. Not meriting a single line about the one most obvious identifying feature of the character being written for. Sigh…

Lasers finish the last of the copies and Draven shoots the last arrow into the sky to crack open reality and ruin everyone’s day, but luckily Tommy is here to save us, with a legitimately surprising assist from the White Ranger’s Falconzord. He flies up, snatches the arrow, and uses it against Draven as his cheer squad shoots more lasers. One bad special effect later, Draven is defeated and the Power Rangers are safe (at least from the aliens in the story).

What follows is a dreadfully lifeless scene on fast-forward, where Koda says another caveman line and Tommy says more Tommy things. In between, the other returning castmembers get to say a few words, and I just have to savor the fact that they’re all here together, on my screen one more time, which is honestly great, no matter what other junk clutters it up. I only wish that they had been handled by people with a better grasp on who most of them really were and had a willingness to emphasize what they really mean to many fans. It’s a crying shame that we’re brought so close to the banquet table, ravenously hungry as a feast is laid out in front of us, and we’re handed a PB&J to eat instead. Nothing wrong with peanut butter. I just don’t understand why you ordered all this other stuff if you didn’t want anyone to eat it.

So, Tommy holds Kat’s hand as they exit through the portal to go home, and I guess that’s our nod to them being married. I’m not denying that they’re a couple, because it seems clear that someone wants that to be true, and there’s plenty of stuff from the show in general to back that up. I just think their relationship (in other words, any relationship in general) should be touched on more than with a single instance of hand-holding as characters silently exit a scene in a giant wide shot filled with other actors. I joked elsewhere that it would be hilarious if that wasn’t even in the script and instead the actors themselves just decided to do that on set because the script simply didn’t bother. Only a joke. But it would be nice if the show didn’t make it seem so believable.

“We can go home.” Thanks, Trent.

It’s strange to me that this all happens so fast. “Reinforcements From The Future” isn’t technically an anniversary, but it is a crossover between two teams, and I appreciated their approach to the castmembers parting: they just didn’t show that. There was little need to waste space with some dramatic goodbye when they could instead just have more fun with the characters relating with each other as we got closer to the end credits. The episode ends in the middle of what is basically a party between the heroes. I’m not suggesting this episode do the same, merely that it might have benefited from exploring other ways of telling its story beyond just hitting a few obvious beats and then racing to the end without much thoughtfulness. “Dimensions in Danger” doesn’t want to show relationships the way the best team-ups would, cheering on potential couples, tugging slightly at heartstrings, or recalling cherished good times. Instead, it wants to tell you about portals, and arrows, and robots, and when it’s finally time to maybe feel something about any of it, they mostly just thank Tommy again instead.

As a bit of an aside, can I just request that the word “danger” be banned from episode titles from now until the end of time? It’s not a bad word, but when it’s used in the most generic way possible, over and over again, as a writer’s go-to term, it starts to lose whatever semblance of power it had on me in the first place. Seriously, just stop. It’s not even useful here.

What kind of a name is “Dimensions in Danger” anyway? That title could fit for an episode of any season of the entire franchise. There’s nothing to differentiate it from anything ordinary. Nothing that speaks to the legacy stretching from the early 90s up to now, or to hint at anything concerning the Power Rangers, their identity, their history, or what any of it means to anyone. Compare that to “Forever Red”, “Once a Ranger”, “Legendary Battle” and countless other episodes that may not be anniversaries but are events in themselves, and most have titles that feel worthy of the story being told. This title, like the episode as a whole, has no wider perspective. There’s no point being made, or theme being played up. There’s no takeaway other than “gee, those sound effects were a bit off, but at least the cast is pretty”. It’s just stuff.

Fans of Power Rangers sometimes take abuse from casuals who mock the show for its perceived vapidity, lack of any kind of narrative drive, and a general silliness. They definitely have a point with some of that, from time to time, and there’s no denying it. But this era of the show has somehow found a way to make that mockery more justified than it ever could have been before. It actually is the thing worth making fun of rather than having fun with, and whatever goofy element that used to be charming fun for me seems to have slipped through the cracks.

It’s not a lost cause. It’s just lost.

I’ll catch back up with the show when Power Rangers Beast Morphers premieres in 2019, and hope they’ve recaptured what this was missing for me.

 

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