Review: Power Rangers Samurai Starts Off on the Wrong Foot (But the Visuals Are Nice!)

Thanks to Saban Brands and Nickelodeon, the Power Rangers are able to fight another day. Power Rangers Samurai marks the return of new episodes since the finale of Power Rangers RPM day after Christmas 2009 and the beginning of a new era for the franchise on Nickelodeon.

For me, I can look at this first episode in three ways, as the beginning of a new era in the Power Rangers franchise, as someone who’s already watched Samurai Sentai Shinkenger (the Japanese Sentai season this is adapted from) and as a regular ol’ episode of Power Rangers.

First, as someone who’s watched Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, it was interesting to see an episode translated almost word for word. As Shinkenger was my first Sentai season, I feel like I have even higher expectations for Power Rangers Samurai since I greatly enjoyed the Japanese original.

So as adaptation goes, it was like watching the same episode with lesser American actors and poor dubbing.

Speaking of, how does this episode compare to other Power Rangers episodes? Well, having the show in HD finally is a great thing. Much of the fresh American footage looked great and thankfully, no need to stretch and squish the source footage anymore to fit a 4:3 aspect ratio.

So visually, it looks different and refreshing compared to past seasons and it is good as a way to distinguish itself.

Now, everything else…

This episode, this premiere was supposed to mark the beginning of a new era in the franchise. Back in the hands of Saban, the ones who brought Super Sentai to our shores and gave birth to the Power Rangers phenomenon, and a new home in Nickelodeon which is a much better fit for the franchise now than the recent years on any of Disney’s properties.

But the episode felt like you were being thrown into the middle of something in which you had no idea what was going on.

Especially for those who haven’t watched Shinkenger or have not watched an episode of Power Rangers in years, the episode may have seemed odd and out of place. Indeed, the episode was adapted from Episode 3 of Shinkenger.

No meeting of the Rangers, no assembling of the team, no introduction to the villains or this world that we are expected to enter for 40 episodes.

Either Nickelodeon decided to just air Episode 3 first (and episodes 4, 5, and 6 the next three weeks, which they are) and skip the first two episodes or this really was the first episode of Power Rangers Samurai, no introductions needed. Either way, it is a mind-boggling situation.

Not doing a traditional meet-and-greet premiere is not unprecedented in the franchise. The most recent original season, RPM bypassed the usual introductions by cleverly utilizing flashback episodes for each of the Rangers. But unlike the Samurai premiere, RPM did a fair amount of set-up in the first (and second) episode even if they too jumped right into the middle of the action.

Samurai‘s premiere made me feel like I was missing something, though I felt less confused because of my knowledge of Shinkenger‘s events.

I guess it just didn’t feel like the glorious rebirth that’s been hyped since Saban first announced the reaquisition.

Then there’s the aspects of the show itself. Visually, again, the show looks great. Awesome to have the show finally in HD.

But the acting left much to be desired though the writing didn’t really give them much to do anyway. Sure, it’s the first episode, but it seems Saban might have been overly serious about going back to the “campiness” of Mighty Morphin and the early seasons.

The “jokes,” the puns, and verbal slapstick (trademarks of the early Power Rangers) all felt forced and shoehorned into the show. While it is fun to have Paul Schrier back as Bulk, his scene with what appears to be a character that’s being written as a cross between Skull, RPM’s Ziggy, and all versions of Alpha, felt completely out of place.

The seamless infusion of humor and one-liners vary from season to season, but the mandate from Saban for Samurai appears to be Drop a pun every five seconds whether or not it fits or makes sense.

Then there’s the use of the remixed Mighty Morphin theme song (and an attempt at recreating the MMPR opening title sequence). I completely understand what Saban is trying to do by using nostalgia to draw in viewers who had grown up with the show or to this day still remember “Go go Power Rangers!” But it is 2011, and Power Rangers needs to be taken into the 21st century, not taken back to the early 90s.

There’s a reason families and kids started tuning out year after year and it can’t all be contributed to programming decisions by Fox or Disney. Like I’ve said in several posts about the franchise already, Power Rangers needs to grow up with its audience. Young audiences are becoming increasingly more sophisticated (so much so it’s almost scary) with their television choices.

Having a higher budget, HD version of a mid-90s children’s show might not be enough to sustain the franchise that’s still on weak legs.

And a Sunday at noon timeslot for new episode premieres doesn’t seem to be best spot when it comes to reaching its widest audience possible.

Of course we should remember this is only one of a planned 40 episode run, so there’s 19.5 more hours left to judge.

While it is simply great and awesome and exciting to see the Power Rangers franchise survive and still breathing, let’s hope that Saban, Nickelodeon and the people in front of and behind the camera can realize what it takes to not just keep the show on life support, but get it off of that hospital bed and back into the world of American popular culture.


Power Rangers is on DVD!
Want to own Power Rangers Samurai? The entire season available at
.

And you can finally own the first seven seasons of Power Rangers, from Mighty Morphin to Lost Galaxy by ordering now:

0 thoughts on “Review: Power Rangers Samurai Starts Off on the Wrong Foot (But the Visuals Are Nice!)

  1. it would also help if the new zord action figure didn’t feel like a cheap knockoff. i was looking forward to the toy that came with shinkenger, complete with cool unfolding origami, and i was so very disappointed. i remember as a kid that a big reason i had for loving the show was the megazord, and one of the things that has kept me interested for so long is that i can own those megazords. i’m sure there ares still kids around who feel this way. giving these kids bad toys is a sure way to turn them off to the series.

  2. Okay, this is the dumbest Power Rangers out ever created besides Operation Overdrive. My reasoning behind this opinion is that the actors in this season can’t act worth anything, they are terrible and not convincing at all. The person in charge of this season for giving the rangers their powers is boring his name is just plain Mentor. I mean get him an actual name. Like the first season of Power Rangers, the big floating head his name was Zordon, thats pretty freaking cool. It is out of the box and has it’s own cool ring to it gives him that coolness kids would love to have. I did when I was young. All I am trying to say is that Saban get better ideas for characters and get better actors as well.
    I’m sure I will get a lot of heat for this one but, my opinion on this season is 4 out of 10 at the highest. The action is bad, the actors are worse and the overall idea of “Samurai” is boring Ninja’s and Dinosaurs have been done and Samurai still feels unoriginal for some reason, but what else can I say it’s not my decision on what ideas are used. But I can give my opinion.

    • I agree with you BIG TIME regarding the acting, none of the characters come across as particularly convincing, you can pretty much tell they’re acting (& poorly, with little to no real emotion or passion). Granted, power ranger actors aren’t known for academy award winning acting, but at the very least the better ranger series manage to convince you that these people are who they’re pretending to be. The guy who plays Deker was probably the best actor they had, and he wasn’t a main character, just a recurring antagonist (one who’s eventually destroyed). I have nothing against the idea of Samurai Rangers, but I don’t think they execute it very well, & the actors are all horrible, and like you said, NOT giving the guy who’s supposed to be their wise all knowing mentor a REAL name is a big mistake.

      Do they even explain why Bulk is suddenly pretending to be a samurai master for his obnoxious nephew? I mean, it may make more sense if he had a connection to the new ranger team in some way but he doesn’t, so it comes across as pretty random (especially since he’s a grown man instead of a teenager now XD).

      Also…I gotta wonder why they only wear body armor INSIDE their zords where it can do them no good instead of out on the battlefield where it can shield them against enemy attacks XD

    • I don’t think it’s bad acting; it’s the fact it was directed badly. I have seen some of these actors in other things and they’re good actors. The awful dubbing of lines and directing is what I think was wrong.

      • Well I did mention “the writing didn’t really give them much to do anyway” as well. And in my Hindsight Review of the entire season, I did mention how the writing and directing really didn’t do the actors any favors.

  3. Dryedmangoez thank you for getting it. Not a lot of people do, major props my friend. ^U^

  4. I can’t wait for Gokiager. Now talk about a new breed of Power Rangers. They’re going to be freaking Pirates! That’s a new (what word am I looking for?) never before used theme for Power Rangers. I just hope they skip Goseiger since PR Samurai is going on for 2 seasons and they will have to adapt the Zords and Monsters like they did for MMPR2 for Dairanger. Just saying what I’m waiting for.

  5. Well then…I’m definitely adding Shinkenger to the list of what I should watch next…(’cause let’s face it…I don’t really wanna watch Goseiger). I knew the first episode of Samurai felt out of place but couldn’t quite place my finger on it. Considering it’s adapted from the third episode and we’ve bypassed the whole group meeting and such, that’d probably be why it felt weird.

  6. The PR Samurai is bad…y? see their transformation u noe… they use laser but u see shinkenger they actually use a brush…more lik a samurai..then PR samurai transform got a helmet lik a ninja wat the crap is that??

    • Wait…what?

      They didn’t change the “henshin” device in Samurai at all. It just has a different name (Samuraizer I believe) but it’s still the same Shodophone. So they’re still using the brush. Not like using a brush is more like a samurai either. So if it’s bad in Samurai then it’s bad in Shinkenger.

      And the helmets in Samurai and Shinkenger are the exact same helmets (not only that but the fight scene footage is mostly lifted from Shinkenger except when they’re in mega mode in their Mega Zord). There’s nothing different about the suits except when they go into mega mode. Unless you mean the black masks they put on before the helmets. In which…you know people are wearing those under the helmets anyways right? Plus they’re not a part of the helmet design so no…if they look like ninja masks in Samurai then they look the same in Shinkenger. Right?

  7. This show is in one word, cheesy. I wish they would just take it off air so kids actully see something decent and that actully shows there wont all ways be a hero and it’s not all about fairness. Just survival of the fittest, not some idiots who belive that they can win with “the power of friendship”. All it has ever been is bad animating, bad comedy, and even worse special effects.

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