Power Rangers Zeo Volume One Another Success From Saban, Shout! Factory

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Saban Brands

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Saban Brands

Thank goodness for Shout! Factory. This critic has said that of the company many times before. And this critic will continue to do so as long as it keeps releasing titles such as the latest in Saban’s classic Power Rangers franchise. Power Rangers: Zeo Volume 1 picks up where the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangersmini-series “spinoff”, Mighty Morphin’Alien Rangers left off. The Rangers’control center had been destroyed and new Yellow Ranger Tanya had been added to the team. She would be the third person to don the Yellow Ranger’s outfit in only a matter of three seasons. The Command Center being destroyed, the Rangers were left without their powers, albeit temporarily, which leads to the first important aspect of this latest incarnation of Saban’s hit franchise. The first important aspect ofPower Rangers: Zeo Volume 1 is the writing in the episodes culled for this volume. In direct connection to the writing, the episodes in this volume do something that the episodes from MMPR didn’t do nearly as much. They developed the characters more. This includes the show’s comic relief, Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy (Bulk and Skull). And one can’t ignore that the special effects used throughout MMPR were carried over into this “season”,too. This too helped maintain the feel of MMPR thus doing even more to help keep fans from MMPR on board. And together with the writing and character development, it shows even more why this latest release is a must have for any longtime Power Rangers fan.

The writers responsible for the first incarnation of the Power Rangers series did an impressive job with that series. They wrote plenty of solid stories. Those scripts did an excellent job of balancing their action with the team’s development. They also had plenty of comedy thanks to Schrier and Narvy. The pair’s Laurel& Hardy style comedy was stepped up throughout Power Rangers: Zeo Volume 1, making for even more enjoyment. From trying to save Detective Stone’s roses to their antics with Goldar and Rito, Bulk and Skull get more camera time this time out. And it makes for plenty of laughs. Their increased comedic additions to the series are just part of what makes this incarnation of the Power Rangers franchise fun to watch. Fans of the series will also appreciate in this volume how the writers handled the transition of both villains and team members among the Rangers. The story arcs used throughout MMPR were good in their own way. There’s no denying that. But fans will appreciate that the writers hit the ground running this time. Even starting the new “series” with an extended story arc, the transitions still moved particularly rapidly. So the writers didn’t waste any time getting the new series moving. The only other real extended story arc in this volume is “There’s No Business Like Snow Business.” It’s a three-part arc. And while it isn’t a major story arc, it does do something important. It helps to illustrate the increased character development that took place in this series.

The writers on Power Rangers Zeo handled the transition from its predecessor quite well, all things considered. They developed new story lines and grew the show, too. That’s thanks to the increased character development in this series. Tommy Oliver (Jason David Frank) is fleshed out even more as he takes over the lead role in the show. He takes over the role of the Red Ranger as Billy (David Yost) steps down and takes more of a “tech assistant” position in the team’s new command center. Audiences see more of the confident, heroic side of Tommy as he takes over the team. But he also presents a more human side after getting a breakup letter from former love interest and Pink Ranger, Kimberly (Amy Jo Johnson) in the three-part story arc, “There’s No Business Like Snow Business.” Audiences also get more view of Tommy’s softer side in a two-part episode that sees Tommy introduced to his long lost brother. That more vulnerable side is something that he didn’t really show a lot of throughout MMPR. So it makes for an interesting look at this character. Newcomer Tanya also gets her time in the spotlight in this volume. She gets the chance of a lifetime when she is discovered by a record producer after singing at the Angel Grove Youth Center. It was the final episode in Volume One. But what better way to close out the volume than to focus on her again. Just as she was introduced in the volume’s opening three-part story arc, she was re-introduced in the volume’s final episode. So she really got her time to develop as a character and as a member of the team.

Both Tommy and Tanya get more time to develop personally as characters in Power Rangers Zeo: Volume One. Their development helps to make this “season” more interesting for viewers. They aren’t the only characters that get to show more of themselves. Both Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy (Bulk and Skull) get to show that they are more than just comic relief, too. Although they still offer plenty of laughs. The pair is now working even more to try and be junior police officers.  While their segments are still largely for comedic relief, it’s nice to see that they are getting to be more than just lowly comic support.  They actually get to be more involved in the show at this point.  Again this goes back to the show’s writers.  It’s just one more positive to the show.

The writing and related character development that takes place in the episodes collected for Power Rangers Zeo: Volume 1 do a lot to make this underrated incarnation of the Power Rangers enjoyable in hindsight.  There is still at least one more factor that audiences will appreciate in this set.  That factor is the special effects.  Whereas so many of the “seasons” since (E.g. Power Rangers Samurai, Power Rangers Power Rangers Ninja Storm, Power Rangers Mystic Force) became more spit shined and slickly produced, the more raw special effects and general production values of PRZ were more akin to those of MMPR.  The show’s creators and staff made do with what they had.  And it showed, too.  Sure, they might have been slightly cheesy.  But there’s something more special about them because of that.  And it’s that special something combined with the writing and the character development that make this “season” of Power Rangers definitely worth having for any true fan of the franchise.  It will be available in stores and online Tuesday, November 12th.  It can be ordered online direct from the Shout! Factory online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/node/218412.  More information on this and other Power Rangers releases from Saban and Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Power Rangers Is At Its Peak In Season Three

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

The third season of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers sees this classic children’s series at its peak.  The show reached its apex in its third season primarily because of its writing.  It is also just as impressive as Shout! Factory has presented these original episodes exactly as they aired on Fox Kids’ weekday afternoon programming block in the 1990s.  This includes the short “squeezeback” segments (say that three times fast) that accompanied each episode’s credits.  This season is the peak for the original Power Rangers series as it presents the season in its entirety instead of being cut up into half seasons as was done with the show’s first two seasons.  These three aspects together make Season Three of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers one that any original fan of this show a must have.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season Three presents the Power Rangers franchise at the top of its game first and foremost because of the show’s writing.  Whereas the show’s first two seasons only saw a small handful of extended story arcs, this season was made up almost entirely of broad multi-part story arcs, beginning with a voyage to the planet Edenoi in the three-part episode, “A Friend in Need.”  This was an important way to open Season Three as it served as a solid filler that helped keep the franchise “fresh” and thus keep viewers.  Viewers had become rather familiar with Rita and Lord Zedd over the course of the show’s first two seasons.  The show’s writers obviously knew that the pair couldn’t do but so much against the Rangers by themselves before audiences got tired of them.  So, what better way to keep the franchise alive than trying out a new villain?  The new villain—Count Dregon—only lasted a short time before the show’s writers transitioned in the appearance of more new foes for the Rangers.  Those foes were Rita Repulsa’s brother and father, Rito and Master Vile.

On a side note, many fans of the Power Rangers franchise might recognize the name of the Masked Rider within this season’s opening story arc.  That’s because this story arc would eventually lead to a short-lived spinoff that lasted less than a year from September 1995 to August 1996.  In later years, the show on which this was based, Kamen Rider Black RX would be introduced to American audiences.  Though it too, would only last a short time.

The new villains introduced into the show’s canon in Season Three were just part of what helped keep the show fresh.  Three of the original Rangers left the show in its second season.  This season, another Ranger passes on her powers.  This transfer makes up its own story arc.  The story arc in question was the three-part episode, “A Different Shade of Pink.”  The episode’s story happens in a fashion that harkens back to the Green Ranger sage from the show’s first season.  It crosses that with the simple passing of the torch, and once more helps to move the show forward and keep it fresh for yet another season.  Along with a new member of the team, there is even a new set of Zords for the Rangers in their fight against Rita and company.  It all leads up to the season finale, “Rangers in Reverse.”  “Rangers in Reverse” leads into its own extended story arc that would become a mini-season of its own in Mighty Morphin’ Alien Rangers.

The extended story arcs that largely made up Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season Three did a lot to help keep the Power Rangers franchise fresh for its audiences.  From another change in the team’s lineup to new foes, powers, Zords, and even armor, a lot changed this season.  And the show’s writers did a commendable job of keeping it all straight and believable.  Looking at this season from a wider vantage point, Shout! Factory is to be commended for presenting Season Three exactly as it was originally aired.  That includes the squeezeback segments included with the show’s end credits.  These segments feature loads of bloopers from each episode’s gag reel.  It’s a minor piece of the puzzle.  But it adds its own element of enjoyment to the overall presentation of the show.  And any purist Power Ranger fan will appreciate the Shout! Factory made certain that this was included for fans.

The writing of the episodes in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season Three made this season the best yet for the franchise.  That Shout! Factory would make sure that each episode was presented exactly as it was in its original broadcast makes this new set all the more enjoyable for the show’s original fans.  There is still one more factor to which audiences can credit this latest set’s success.  That factor is the set’s packaging.  The first two seasons of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers were split up into two halves each.  This time out, Shout! Factory opted to reward loyal Power Rangers fans with a complete season in one box.  And as become the standard from Shout! Factory, the packaging is praise worthy.  All three discs are placed in their own spot inside the slim case.  Shout! Factory has highly impressed again here as this standard is safe for the discs, and ergonomic.  This is the final touch on what is already another impressive release that will take the show’s original fans back on a great trip down memory lane.  And for the children of the show’s original fan, it will serve as one more lesson in what once made children’s commercial programming so great. 

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season Three is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/217378.  After ordering Season Three, audiences can also go to the official Shout! Factory website and Facebook page at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial to stay up with the latest releases from Shout! Factory. 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Power Rangers Season 2.0 Twice As Nice As Season One

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Saban Brands

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Saban Brands

The one and only Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers are back.  Jason, Kimberly, Trini, Billy, Zack and yes even Tommy are back for more adventures in the first half of the show’s second season.  Season Two Volume One is an important piece of the Power Rangers legacy.  That’s because this collection features some big changes and the start of some other, equally big changes.  Along with the big changes, Season Two Volume One also presents twenty-six episodes of everything that the show’s fans had come to enjoy from its first season, only stepped up.  And now fans of this classic Fox Kids series can finally re-live all of that any time that want thanks to Shout! Factory and Saban Brands.

Season Two Volume One is an important point in the evolution of the Power Rangers legacy.  It features the departure and re-introduction of Jason David Frank to the team.  Frank’s character Tommy loses his powers as the Green Ranger once and for all, but eventually returns much to the surprise of the other Rangers, as the White Ranger.  This is just one of the important milestones for the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers series as it marks the return of one character that had been temporarily written out of the show.  It’s even more important in that Tommy would later go on to become the head of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers in the second half of Season Two (which is due out May 28, 2013).

Tommy’s departure and eventual return is just one important part of the Power Rangers’ evolution in the first half of Season Two.  Just as important is the introduction of three new characters who would later go on to be three of the new Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.  Those characters are Adam (Johnny Yong Bosch), Rocky (Steve Cardenas), and Aisha (Karan Ashley).  The trio would end up taking the places of Zack, Jason, and Trini respectively.  This cast shakeup is an important part of the show’s second season because other than the introduction of Tommy in Season One, it marks the very first real major cast change in the long-running franchise’s history.  It wouldn’t be long though, before more cast changes would happen.  By the time the show reached its next incarnation, Power Rangers Zeo, Kimberly, Billy, and Aisha would all be replaced.  And Jason, the original Red Ranger, would also return, albeit for a short time.  The changes would go on from here.  That’s what makes this very first major shakeup such an important part of Season Two.

The introduction of new soon-to-be team members and the re-introduction of another are big parts of the success of Season Two Part One.  Just as important in the first half of this season’s success are the show’s writing and its general production.  In comparison to more recent incarnations of the Power Rangers franchise, the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers presented a product that was more…raw.  It didn’t have that sleek, spit-shined feel that so many newer PR shows have had.  There’s something special about that feel, from the special effects of the time to the animatronics of Goldar and the other baddies to the general shooting.  It’s completely different from the shows that would follow, making it that much more special.  The writing is just as impressive as the production.  Sure some of the writing seems as cheesy and campy as the production at times.  But it doesn’t feel forced like the franchise’s more recent series.  It just feels more natural.  That combination of more natural writing also led to more natural acting from the cast.  It made the cast more relatable to young viewers.  That ability of the show to reach its young viewers, combined with the show’s more natural writing and production went a long way toward making Season Two just as successful as the show’s debut season.  And thanks to Shout! Factory and Saban Brands, those audiences who first saw this show as kids can re-live all that joy again in the first half of Season Two.  Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season Two Volume One is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online via the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/216673.  Audiences and fans of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and other classic shows can get more info on this show and more online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Samurai Rangers Rise To The Challenge Again In New DVD

 

Courtesy:  Lionsgate/Saban Brands

Courtesy: Lionsgate/Saban Brands

Lionsgate released two new volumes of adventures from the Samurai Power Rangers this week.  The second of the new volumes offers audiences four more adventures loaded with action and important life lessons that young audiences will enjoy.  Power Rangers Super Samurai: Rise of the Bullzooka teaches yet again the lesson of believing in one’s own self.  It also teaches the equally important lesson of never giving up in even the most difficult of situations.  The set’s second episode, “The Strange Case of the Munchies” is actually a valuable inclusion to this set as it not only teaches about believing in one’s self, but also of taking care of one’s self by not eating too much.  It takes on the subject of the obesity epidemic without being too preachy.  And as with previous releases, audiences also get the lesson of teamwork in the set’s third episode, “A Sticky Situation.”  This time, the lesson is taught when Mike and Kevin have to learn to work together, even when they face off against their latest Nighlok foe.  It all leads up to another confrontation between Jayden and Deker.  It is just one more in a rivalry that will later reach its peak for the two later in the season.

Fans of this latest team of Rangers will undoubtedly enjoy this new set of adventures for both the action and the life lessons that were more subtly tied in to each episode.  Also helping make the episodes more enjoyable is the continued inclusion of comic relief from Bulk and his nephew, Spike.  Long-time fans of the Power Rangers franchise will recall that Spike is the son of Bulk’s old friend Eugene “Skull” Skulovich.  The chemistry between Bulk and Spike harkens back to the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers franchise just as much as the adventures themselves.  Before this season came along, the last time anyone had seen or heard from Bulk (Paul Schrier) was in a cameo role in Power Rangers Wild Force.  While Spike isn’t Skull, the pairing of Bulk and Spike still brings about the same hilarious physical comedy that Bulk and Skull offered audiences during the original run of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.  Add in a little romance on the part of Spike (spike develops a crush on Mia, not knowing she’s also the Pink Ranger) and both boys and girls will have their own entertainment here.

While this latest set of adventures only boasts four episodes, all four episodes will offer audiences of the latest Rangers squad plenty of entertainment.  The comedy element instilled by Bulk and Spike plays its own role in the success of the episodes.  The stylistic link between the stories of the original Power Rangers franchise and this latest installment is another connection that will entertain both long-time fans and younger, newer fans.  The life lessons included in each story are another standard of the Power Rangers franchise as a whole.  It makes for one more element that both long-time fans and newer fans will appreciate.  Altogether, they combine to make one more set that any Power Rangers fan will enjoy.  Power Rangers Super Samurai: Rise of the Bullzooka is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online via the Lionsgate store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/product.asp?Id=27841&TitleParentId=8042

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Pull Out Those Morphers, The Rangers Return Again!

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers are back again, courtesy of Shout! Factory.  Everyone’s favorite super powered teens are back with the second thirty episodes from the iconic show’s first season.  Season 1 Volume 2 sees the Rangers’ friend Tommy take center stage in another pair of episodes.  And in what is one of the very first ever turning points for the Rangers without the Green Ranger, the team has to face Goldar in his own zord, Cyclopsis.  The rangers are almost defeated by Goldar and Cyclopsis in the two part episode, “Doomsday.”  These and the set’s other classic episodes will take any kid at heart back in time, creating that sense of nostalgia that so many of Shout! Factory’s releases generate.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season One Volume Two is a nice addition to the home library of any old school Power Rangers fan.  This second half of Season One sees the original sixth ranger, Tommy return after having his powers taken away by the evil Rita Repulsa in the two part episode, “The Green Candle.”  This episode sees Tommy lose the powers imbued on him by Rita when she creates a green candle.  The candle in question burns brighter and faster every time that Tommy morphs and fights Rita’s evil minions.  Eventually Tommy loses his powers.  But it isn’t the last that fans see of him as his powers are returned albeit for a short time, just in time to save the Rangers in the third of the set’s two-part episodes, “Return Of An Old Friend.”  The Rangers aren’t the only ones in danger in this episode, as they have to figure out how to get their mentor, Zordon, back.  It all leads up to the season finale, “An Oyster Stew.”  This episode would be the last featuring the original Megazord.  As the show shifted into its second season, the Rangers would gain new Zords when their original Zords are defeated courtesy of new baddie, Lord Zedd.  His appearance would mark the beginning of a whole new chapter for the original Rangers.

The episodes contained in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season One Volume Two will take any Power Rangers fan back to their childhood.  It’s even another chance for those same grown up audiences to experience this groundbreaking kids’ show with kids of their own.  They do their own part in the overall enjoyment of this new set.  They aren’t all that make it successful, though.  As with Season One Volume One, the main menu of both discs will add even more nostalgia for the show’s fans.  Rather than just being any ordinary episode selection menu, the menu is set up against the backdrop of the original show’s power chamber.  Sure it’s something minor.  But sometimes, it’s the little things that matter most.  There’s even a sound effect that is supposed to be coming from the tube in which Zordon appears.  Again it’s a minute detail.  But that the people behind this would take the time to add in such detail makes this another impressive addition to the set.

The main menu and the episodes themselves come together to make Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season One Volume Two an overall enjoyable viewing experience.  There is at least one more factor that audiences will appreciate from this set.  It’s a factor that has in its own way made Shout! Factory a leader in the DVD and Blu-ray market.  That factor is the double disc set’s packaging.  While there is a generally increasing move towards slimmer cases for box sets, Shout! Factory was one of the few leaders in that pack from early on.  Many of its box sets would be released in single DVD/Blu-ray sized cases.  But in opening the cases, audiences would find multiple discs thanks to an insert that would place discs on either side, along with discs placed in standard spots inside the case.  This more ergonomically sound packaging is used yet again in this new set.  It’s an ergonomically sound set.  It’s easy to carry and it takes it little space on DVD and Blu-ray racks.  As the old adage goes, less is more.  And that less space taken up not only makes for more space for other DVD’s and sets but it also makes for that much more overall enjoyment of and appreciation for yet another impressive release from Shout! Factory and Saban.  Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season One Volume Two is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online direct via the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like’ it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.