It’s October and usually by this time of year we should start hearing news or at least rumors about the next season of Power Rangers. As early as the summer, Bandai or even Disney would be releasing toy and logo images getting ready for the Holiday shopping season. Casting would have been ongoing with production just a few weeks away.
But there was nothing… until this press release from Bandai: BANDAI AMERICA POWERS UP LIKE IT’S 1993; BRINGS BACK MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS IN NEW TOY LINE. Interesting enough, but how about this tidbit… “the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV series premiering Saturday mornings January, 2010 on ABC Kids”
Huh? What? The original season, the episodes that started it all will air on ABC Kids (!) next year? (!!)
Now granted, reruns are not new. Power Rangers reruns were the anchor of Fox Family Channel’s morning line-up, and when Disney took over the network and the franchise, Power Rangers, new and old, were the centerpiece for ABC Family mornings and later Toon Disney.
This is different. Power Rangers message boards and sites are buzzing about remastered episodes of MMPR coming next year. Could this be it? And what would remastering entail?
But all in all this is huge for the Power Rangers franchise. Whether positive or negative, well, that’ll be a discussion for next year. Right now, this means there will be no new Power Rangers episodes after the current season, RPM, quickly wraps up Christmas weekend this year. The current Super Sentai series Shinkenger will not be adapted into the Power Rangers franchise. And ABC will be airing a 16-year old television series (complete with new logo!).
One big question with Mighty Morphin‘s re-airing next year, just how will a series from 1993 play to an audience in 2010, a series that is very “1990s” playing to a young audience in 2010, one that has grown up watching high schoolers fall in love while dancing in junkyards.
I remember back when Power Rangers was at the peak of its popularity. Toys R Us parking lots would be packed just for the chance to see Toys R Us employees dress up in Power Rangers costumes! Toys were flying off the shelves. Elementary schools (mine included!) were banning Power Rangers costumes for Halloween because the series was too violent. It really was a pop culture phenomenon. Comparisons to today? Easy: Hannah Montana and High School Musical.
Just like Power Rangers has developed and evolved after 17 years through upped production value, more coherent writing and a more efficient production partnership with Toei in Japan, so have the tastes of American children. Is the typical American youth going to want to watch the admittedly cheesy special effects, stilted dialogue, and amateur acting of 1993? For people who grew up with Power Rangers, this could easily be a trip down memory lane, very nostalgic. How’s that going to look to a generation that may not have seen a single episode of Power Rangers and will be watching this reissued MMPR right after 2-year old reruns of Hannah Montana and The Suite Life?
Kids these days are more sophisticated about the media. Weird thought, I know. But when four year olds get crazy over High School Musical, you know this is a different generation from kids who got crazy over spandex and Rita Repulsa.
Power Rangers reached its peak in popularity when the first (and very successful) feature film was released the Summer of 1995, also the final year for the Mighty Morphin label. After that, the series’ popularity declined. And while 2-year old Disney Channel reruns are attracting larger audiences on ABC than new episodes of Power Rangers, the franchise still makes big money for Disney. For the 15 years after the show peaked, Fox, Saban (the show’s original producer), Disney and toymaker Bandai have rolled in money thanks to the franchise.
Rumors of Disney wanting to unload the franchise or just end it completely have been around since the mouse took over in 2002. And this year, the rumors became increasingly louder after the New Zealand company producing the series announced no more Power Rangers would be produced down under. Though many theories abound about Disney wanting complete control of the toy rights (not Bandai) and instead creating an animated version, it is clear Power Rangers isn’t what it used to be in terms of cultural impact.
But as a television program, the series has come a very long way. Power Rangers RPM, its current season, has reinvigorated the series, pumped up the shows’ dedicated fans, and has taken the franchise to another level; taking what was once a simple children’s program and turning it into something more. Another season in the vein of RPM would’ve been interesting and frankly exciting to see, but this move whether by Bandai, Disney, or both, changes everything.
What is the future of what has become a staple of children’s programming? What happens to the series after next year? Where’s the hope that after 10 years of growing even more, we won’t get a Battlestar Galactica version of Power Rangers? There were many questions about the future of Power Rangers. And this announcement about the Mighty Morphin 2010 Redux doesn’t change that. This is huge news. But what does it all mean?
Stay tuned I guess!