Shout! Factory TV To Air Super Sentai Madness Tournament

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

March Madness is back again, but it’s not the month’s only tournament.

Officials with Shout! Factory announced Thursday, that it will launch the Super Sentai Madness tournament March 23.  The “tournament” will feature a livestream of Super Sentai episodes and will feature appearances by Power Rangers stars Karan Ashley (Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers) and Andrew Meadows (Power Rangers Hyperforce).  Brian Ward will host the event.

The event will livestream via Shout! Factory’s live service, its official Twitch channel and its official Pluto TV channel.  The tournament culminates April 7.  Audiences will be able to vote for their favorite villains throughout the course of the tournament.

The trailer for the upcoming tournament is streaming online here.

More information on the upcoming Super Sentai tournament is available online now along with information on Shout! Factory’s titles at:

 

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Shout! Factory’s Latest ‘Super Sentai’ Offering Is Another Important Part Of The Franchise’s History

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

When Saban’s Mighty MorphinPower Rangers first debuted on Fox way back in 1993, it launched what has since become one of the biggest and most successful children’s television series in American television history.  The series, which was based on (and used various elements of) Super Sentai Zyuranger, was just the first of so many Super Sentai incarnations.  Thanks to Shout! Factory, that source material been released to the most devout Super Sentai and Power Rangers fans in so many DVD box sets.  Of course for all of the material that has served as the base for the Power Rangers franchise, there is in fact at least some Super Sentai content that to this day has not been Americanized.  One classis Super Sentai series that has not been turned into a Power Rangers property is the early 90s series Super Sentai: Chojin Sentai Jetman.  The series ran for 51 episods over just under a year on TV Asahi in Japan from Feb. 1991 to Feb. 1992.  Now more than 26 years after that series ended its run overseas, it has finally gotten a proper domestic release – again thanks to Shout! Factory.  Released Sept. 25, the eight-disc set is yet another welcome addition to the home collection of those aforementioned true Super Sentai and Power Rangers devotees.  That is proven in part through the series’ writing, which will be discussed shortly.  The series’ production values play into that appeal just as much as its writing, and will be discussed a little bit later.  The set’s average price point rounds out its most important elements.  It will also be addressed later.  Each item in itself is important to the whole of this set.  All things considered, they combine to make Super Sentai: Chojin Sentai Jetman another interesting entry in the Super Sentai franchise.

Shout! Factory’s latest release in Toei Company and Bandai’s Super Sentai franchise is an interesting entry to that franchise.  It is only of perhaps only two Super Sentai series to date to not be adapted into a Power Rangers installment.  That being the case, it can only be compared to other Super Sentai installments.  Keeping that in mind, it can be said that it holds its own against its Japanese counterparts.  That is proven in part through the series’ writing.  While the series has not been adapted to a domestic form, it is clear in the writing that it presents many of the same themes that are present in other Super Sentai and Power Rangers series – the importance of friendship and teamwork, the value of hard work, and so much more.  They are told through stories that while again are anything but kid friendly, many Power Rangers and Super Sentai fans will still recognize.  The very setup of the Jetman program being a semi-militaristic organization is very familiar to the Power Rangers series Lightspeed Rescue, SPD and Power Rangers RPM.  It would be no surprise that this setup, in the writing, played some sort of influential role in those noted series and their own source material.  That is especially considering that Chojin Sentai Jetman was, in its initial run, the 15th installment in the Super Sentai franchise.

On another note, audiences familiar with the Super Sentai franchise will also note that much of the more adult-oriented content in the franchise is just as present here as it is in its predecessors and those series that came after.  From characters smoking to a character dying to the jetman team drinking champaign and more, there is a lot of content in this series that would not be acceptable to American censors.  In an odd way, it makes this series another interesting study in the differences in Asian and American culture.  Keeping that in mind, the series’ writing again will appeal to the most devoted Super Sentai and Power Rangers devotees, but those devotees will clearly have to be older viewers, as the writing obviously is not acceptable for younger viewers.  While the writing does plenty to make Chojin Sentai Jetman appealing for Super Sentai and Power Rangers devotees, it’s just one part of what makes the series appealing to those fans.  The series’ production values are just as important to address here as the series’ writing.

The production values of Chojin Sentai Jetman are just as familiar to audiences as those of Super Sentai Zyuranger in every sense.  From the so cheesy that they’re cool special effects from the villains to the equally so cheesy they’re cool fight scenes to even the Jetman crew’s non-super powered vehicles, the production values from this early 90s series will instantly take viewers back in time in the best way possible.  It’s clear in taking in these production values, that they had a direct role in the look and feel of Zyuranger and obviously every series that followed.  The Jetman group’s pickup truck and even Ryu’s mini vehicle both hint at the vehicles used by the Lightspeed Rescue Power Rangers.  Meanwhile, the full-size fight scenes are so similar to those in Zyuranger and Power Rangers.  The same can be said of the ground level fight scenes and even the costumes used for the monsters.  Considering all of this, the production values in this series give the aforementioned audiences just as much to appreciate as the series’ writing.  In other words, audiences have that much more to appreciate when considering this positive with the positive presented through the series’ writing.  The collective value of the writing and production values is only part of what makes this set a welcome addition to any Super Sentai and Power Rangers fan’s collection.  The set’s average price point rounds out its most important elements.

Using prices from Best Buy, Target, Amazon, Walmart and Shout! Factory, the average price point of Super Sentai: Chojin Sentai Jetman: The Complete Series proves to be $35.38, or a little more than $2 per hour.  The most commonly listed price is $42.99.  Considering that the set’s run time is listed at 17 hours over 51 episodes, that makes the nearly $36 average price point relatively affordable.  Add in that the series’ writing and production values are certain to keep the most devoted audiences engaged, and it becomes that much more affordable.  To that end, the set’s average price point, shows to be only positive.  When this is considered with the positives of the series’ writing and production values, the end result is a series that audiences will agree is another interesting piece of Super Sentai history.

Super Sentai: Chojin Sentai Jetman is another interesting addition to the seemingly endless ocean of Super Sentai series.  It is a piece that the franchise’s most devoted fans (and those of Power Rangers) will appreciate.  As has been discussed here, that is due in part to the writing, which presents its own share of familiarity to audiences.  The production values, which are also so similar to those of other Super Sentai series of the time, will appeal to longtime fans just as much as that familiar writing.  The set’s relatively affordable price point of almost $36 rounds out its most important elements.  The set’s 17 hour run time that contains that entertaining and engaging writing and production makes that price worth paying.  Each item is key in its own way to the whole of this set.  All things considered, they make the set another welcome addition to the home library of any Super Sentai and Power Rangers fan.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

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Shout! Factory TV, Twitch Team Up For Power Morphicon 2018 Coverage

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Twitch

Power Rangers fans rejoice, it’s almost time for the bi-annual Power Morphicon conference again.  This year’s conference launches August 17 and runs through August 19. For those who won’t be able to be there, Shout! Factory and Twitch have partnered to cover the final day of this year’s conference live online via Shout! Factory’s official Twitch Channel.

Power Morphicon Live coverage starts August 19 at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET via Shout! Factory’s official Twitch Channel.  Shout! Factory’s Brian Ward will host coverage of the event, which features live interviews with various cast and crew members of each Power Rangers installment.  There will also be coverage of various panel discussions, special features and other highlights.

A stream of the event’s coverage will be available via VOD following the actual event’s close.  Viewers can view a trailer for Shout! Factory and Twitch’s coverage of Power Morphicon Live here.

More information on this and other events from Shout! Factory and Twitch is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

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

 

Something Old, Something New Makes ‘Power Rangers Jungle Fury’ A Hit for Power Rangers Devotees

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

The Power Rangers will go full throttle again this coming March when Shout! Factory releases the 16th season of the hit franchise, Power Rangers RPM: The Complete Series. The four-disc collection is currently set to be released March 27 in stores and online. That is still quite a long wait. Luckily though, Power Rangers fans do have another recently released installment to enjoy while they wait for its release — Power Rangers Jungle Fury: The Complete Series. Released just last week on DVD, the series is another interesting addition to the long-running Power Rangers franchise. One of its most important elements is its plot. The elements that are tied into the plot are just as important to note as the plot itself. They will be discussed later. Last but most definitely not least of note to examine here are the lessons tied into each of the episodes’ stories. Each noted element is key in its own right to the whole of Power Rangers Jungle Fury: The Complete Series. All things considered, they make this addition to the Power Rangers universe another installment that will give fans plenty to appreciate and enjoy.

Power Rangers Jungle Fury: The Complete Series is a welcome addition to any Power Rangers fan’s collection. That is due in part to the series’ plot, and by relation its setup. In the case of this series, the conflict is set off by an arrogant, power-hungry student of the Pai Zhua named Jarrod. When Jarrod kills his master, he inadvertently sets free an ancient, evil spirit. This season is not the first time that the Power Rangers franchise has ever used an ancient evil spirit’s release as the basis for its plot. That goes all the way back to the days of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. The manner in which the spirit, Dai Shi, was released is what makes the plot original here. What is really interesting to note here is that Dai Shi was released as a result of Jarrod’s arrogance and anger. It’s a sort of Star Wars sort of vibe. Given, it might not have necessarily been an intentional link to the long-running sci-fi franchise, but Jarrod being angry and arrogant, leading him to the proverbial dark side while the Rangers try to stop him makes arguing Star Wars’ influence on this series easy. Who ever would have thought there could be a link between Star Wars and the Power Rangers?

The plot at the center of Power Rangers Jungle Fury is in itself a critical aspect of the series’ presentation, as has been pointed out. Of course as important as the series’ plot proves to be to its presentation, one would be remiss to ignore the importance of the elements tied into the plot, as they play their own important part in the series’ presentation, too. One of the most important plot elements to note is how the Rangers gradually gain their new powers and tools. Over the course of the series, the Rangers learn new skills and, in turn, gain new tools and powers in the fight against Dai Shi and its minions. In seasons past, the Rangers gained their new powers and weapons when they were at their lowest. That sort of “earn as you learn” approach used here is a new approach for the franchise, strengthening the series’ plot that much more It is not the only one of the series’ most notable plot devices. Having the Rangers use a pizza place for their cover and their leader a man in his 20s are also key plot elements. In so many series past, the Rangers’ leader has been an older, wise figure. Having a young, carefree yet equally experienced figure as the Rangers’ leader adds a new touch to the franchise, breathing new life into the series. As if that is not enough, both the Rangers and even the bad guys get their own “teachers” throughout, essentially keeping the series fresh from start to finish, rather than just relying on one sort of conflict throughout. Audiences will agree that even with at least one somewhat familiar plot element, its new approach and the other new approaches taken this time out (including a number of other items not noted here) make the series’ plot and its setup pivotal to the series’ presentation. Those items, both noted and not, combine to make the series’ overall plot and setup clearly their own collectively important part of the series’ whole. They are not its only key elements. The series’ stories are just as important to the series as its plot.

The stories that make up the body of this series, and their lessons, are so important to the series because of how much they add to the series’ presentation. One of the most engaging and entertaining of the series’ stories comes as R.J. fights to keep his wolf spirit from getting out of control due to his battle with Dai Shi. It is in itself an original way for any Power Rangers season to introduce an extra Ranger. What’s more, keeping RJ from becoming that all-too-familiar reluctant hero that has been used far too many times before makes that story even more interesting. The Rangers’ own separate training stories that are added to the series are interesting in their own right, too. That is because they present the lessons of determination and perseverance while also serving as plot devices to help advance the series’ overall story. Other stories presented throughout the series feature lessons of friendship, teamwork and other familiar values while also not just rehashing stories from the franchise’s previous installments. The very fact that the series’ writers couple those fresh new stories with the familiar lessons instead of just rehashing previous stories and scenarios proves why those and so many of the series’ other stories and lessons are so important to the series’ presentation. They give audiences something new and something more familiar all in one package. When this is set alongside the series’ overall plot and its related plot elements, the whole of these elements does plenty to make this season of Saban’s Power Rangers another powerful installment of the franchise. That’s not even mentioning the work of the series’ cast in front of the cameras, the special effects and other items. All things considered, this collection is another that any Power Rangers fan will enjoy and appreciate whether waiting for the franchise’s next installment or just to have.

Power Rangers Jungle Fury: The Complete Series is a collection that any truly devout Power Rangers fan will appreciate and enjoy. That is due in part to a plot that while slightly familiar, is still original by and large. The elements used to advance the series’ overall plot add a second touch to the series. The stories and their lessons join with the cast’s work to make the series even more enjoyable. Each element is important in its own way to the series’ whole. All things considered, they make this latest addition to the Power Rangers universe yet another welcome release. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘Power Rangers’ Fans Will “Roar” With Approval For Franchise’s Latest Standalone Set

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Late last month Shout! Factory released yet another installment of Saban’s beloved Power Rangers franchise in the form of Power Rangers Dino Thunder: The Complete Series.  The series, which is also considered to be the franchise’s 12th season, is an interesting installment of the long-running franchise.  It proves over the course of its 38 total episodes to be a good bridge between the franchise’s past and future.  That is due in part to the work of the show’s writers.  That will be discussed shortly.  The work of the series’ cast is just as important to note as that of the show’s writers.  It will be discussed later.  The show’s balance of CG effects and live action scenes is just as notable as the work of the show’s cast and writers.  It will be covered later, too.  Each element is important in its own right to the series’ presentation.  All things considered, the Power Rnagers’ 12th season proves to be yet another enjoyable addition to the franchise and perhaps one of its best since the end of the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers era.

Power Rangers Dine Thunder: The Complete Series is one of the best installments of the Power Rangers franchise since the end of its Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers era.  That is due at least in some part to the work of the show’s writers.  The writers are to be commended once again for their ability to craft episodes that seamlessly blended together entertaining story lines with lessons about teamwork, friendship and other key topics for young people’s development.  What’s more, they managed to incorporate said lessons without being preachy either.  One prime example of that ability to so expertly balance the episodes’ entertainment and education (so to speak) comes in the form of “Diva in Distress.”  The episode, which comes early in the show’s run, finds the young residents of Reefside being turned old by Mesagog’s monster Donkeyvac (yes, that’s really its name).  It’s up to the Rangers to save the day and return everyone to their normal ages.  The central story is entertaining in its own right.  The lessons about friendship and respecting one’s elders are just as pivotal to the episode.  Audiences will be pleased to find that the show’s writers were able to so seamlessly tie everything together and do so without being preachy in the process.

“Bully For Ethan” is another key example of the writers’ ability to balance the show’s entertainment and educational content.  This time out, the writers take on the ever-present issue of bullying among teens when Ethan, the Rangers’ resident tech expert and Blue Ranger is bullied by a classmate.  The writers are to be commended in how they presented the situation and how it was handled.  Again, they managed to tackle the topic without getting too preachy.  At the same time, the episode’s central story is just as entertaining as the lessons are informative and educational.  That is because it could be argued to be the very beginning of the end for Mesogog and his minions as cracks begin to show in the villains’ relationships.  It’s just one more example of the importance of the writers’ work in this season of Power Rangers.  The series’ final could be just as easily cited as an example of the importance of the work of the series’ writers.

“Bully for Ethan” and “Diva in Distress” are both key examples of the importance of the work of the series’ writers in this installment of the Power Rangers franchise.  They are hardly the only episodes that could be cited in exhibiting that importance.  The series’ two-part finale could just as easily be cited in exhibiting the importance of the writers’ work to the series’ presentation.  That is because on the surface, the episode wraps up the series’ without leaving any loose ends.  On another level, one could argue that the episode also incorporates an important lesson about sacrifices.  That is because (not to give away too much here) the Rangers are forced to make a huge sacrifice in order to defeat Mesogog once and for all and save Reefside (and the world).  Given people might not have to make huge sacrifices on a daily basis.  But sometimes sacrifices are necessary in life in different ways.  To that end, this lesson – intended or not – is just as important to the show as any of the others which are presented throughout the series’ 38-episode run.  Keeping all of this in mind, it becomes clear why the work of the writers is so important to the whole of Power Rangers Dino Thunder.  Their collective work is just one part of what makes this installment of Power Rangers so enjoyable.  The work of the series’ cast is just as important to note here as that of the series’ writers.

The work of the writers behind Power Rangers Dino Thunder is to be highly commended in examining the whole of the franchise’s 12th season.  That is because they displayed in every episode their expert ability to balance the series’ entertaining and educational elements.  As commendable as their work is, theirs is not the only work that is to be commended.  The work of the show’s cast is just as important to note as that of the writers.  Once again Jason David Frank impresses as Tommy Oliver.  While Tommy is all grown up and doing adult things the hints of the old school Tommy are clear.  That old school hero is perfectly balanced with the older mentor figure for the next generation of Power Rangers.  At the same time, Kevin Duhaney is just as deserving for his portrayal of Ethan James, the Blue Ranger.  It’s easy to see, in watching Duhaney’s performance, his channeling of the original Blue Ranger, Billy Cranston (played by David Yost).  At the same time, it was just as easy to see how he took Billy’s nerdy side and amped it up a little bit for a new generation of Power Rangers fans at the time.  Even Jeffrey Parazzo, who plays White Ranger Trent impresses in his on-screen work.  It would have been so easy for him to ham it up as Trent basically comes of age and has to make some tough decisions.  But he didn’t let himself go so over the top in that portrayal.  To that end, he gets the job done just as much as his cast mates.  That includes the rest of the cast not noted directly here.  Keeping that in mind, the work of the Power Rangers Dino Thunder cast is just as important to note here as the work of the show’s writers to the series’ overall presentation.  It still is not the only remaining element to note, either.  The series’ production values are to be noted here, too.

The work of the Power Rangers Dino Thunder writers and cast is equally important to the series’ overall presentation.  That is because both elements work in tandem with one another.  While both elements are clearly important to the series’ presentation, they are not its only important elements.  The series’ production values are just as important to note as the work of the series’ writers and cast.  That is because it took a path that balanced the show’s CG and live action elements much better than previous installments of the Power Rangers franchise.  The series’ CG elements were in fact used very sparingly throughout the show’s run.  Every now and then, the show’s creative forces would incorporate some CG in the closing fight scenes between the Rangers and the monsters.  But even in those cases, it was used very sparingly.  Instead, those moments relied more on live action more so than CG.  That is, in its own way, a throwback to the days of the MMPR, which to this critic is very welcome.  It is a nice change of pace considering the direction that the franchise had taken in previous installments.  When this is considered along with the work of the series’ writers and cast, all three elements join to show in full why Power Rangers Dino Thunder is such an enjoyable installment of the Power Rangers franchise.  All things considered, Power Rangers Dino Thunder: The Complete Series proves to be another welcome addition to any Power Rangers fan’s collection.

Power Rangers Dino Thunder: The Complete Series is a welcome new addition to any Power Rangers fan’s personal collection.  That is because this new standalone season set is a solid bridge between the franchise’s past and present.  That is most evident in the work of the show’s writers.  The work of the show’s cast is just as important to note in examining its overall presentation.  The balance in the show’s live action and CG elements is just as important to note in its presentation.  All things considered, this latest addition to the Power Rangers franchise proves itself a collection that will make fans roar with enjoyment.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-action-adventure/power-rangers-dino-thunder-the-complete-series.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation’ Is An Interesting Piece Of ‘TMNT’ History

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Saban

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Saban

Thirty two years ago Mirage Studios first introduced American audiences to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The “heroes on the half shell” were created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.  In the years since their creation, Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo (and their rodent sensei Splinter) have gone on to become a worldwide phenomenon with various incarnations on both the silver screen and the small screen.  Some have been hugely popular such as the original 1987 animated series (perhaps the franchise’s most successful incarnation) and the 1990 big screen adaptation of the comic book.  That incarnation even spawned three sequels.  Other incarnations have not been so successful, such as the 2014 big screen reboot and its new sequel Out of the Shadows.  They are not the franchise’s only lesser installments.  In 1997 Saban tried its hand at its own take on the everyone’s favorite reptile heroes in the form of Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation.  That incarnation ultimately proved to be a bust for the company.  It only lasted one season and a total of twenty-eight episodes.  Now thanks to Shout! Factory fans of this short-lived series can own it for themselves on DVD.  That is because Shout! Factory released the series in its entirety early this past May.  While the series was obviously one of the least successful of the TMNT franchise it still is a good addition to any hardcore TMNT fan’s collection.  That is because it serves as a historical document of sorts showing everything that was done right and wrong with the series.  In examining those pros and cons in whole audiences will agree that while it might not be the best of the TMNT franchise’s installments it also is not its worst.  That (dis)honor still goes to Paramount and Nickelodeon’s 2014 big screen take on the turtles.  Keeping that in mind, this installment proves once more to be a worthwhile addition to any TMNT fan’s collection if only for historical purposes.

Saban’s 1997 live-action take on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise is by no means the franchise’s best incarnation.  In all fairness it is also not the franchise’s worst incarnation either.  Keeping that in mind, it is a welcome (and important) addition to any TMNT fan’s collection.  That is because it shows through its twenty-eight total episodes that Saban, with all of its successes, was not invincible at the time of the series’ run.  That is not entirely the fault of the people at Saban, though.  In examining for instance the timing of the series’ debut it had a lot working against it.  The series was meant to follow the events of the franchise’s original cinematic trilogy.  The problem is that that trilogy wrapped in 1993 with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III.  Saban’s live action series didn’t start until four years later in 1997, which was also only a year after the original animated series came to its own end.  When the story lines presented in each are taken into consideration and the timing of their beginnings and endings, they worked wholly against Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation.  Had Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation come earlier—perhaps during the animated series’ run as an alternate universe series of sorts—then it might have had more of a fighting chance.  But because of the timing of its debut and its plot line it is clear why it failed in the long run.  That is just one important part of the show that should be noted in examining what the series in whole.  the series’ writing, in the bigger picture of its presentation, played its own integral part in the series’ failure.  The same can be said of the look and the feel of the series.

The timing of Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation’s debut is a big part of what might have made the series’ run so short.  The timing of its release, when considered alongside the events of the franchises cinematic trilogy and its animated series, put a rather large nail in the series’ proverbial coffin.  The series’ writing is just as problematic as the timing of its release.  The series’ writers opened this series by introducing its key villain—Dragon Lord–early on.  The problem is that he wasn’t the series’ only villain starting out.  The writers incorporated Shredder into the story, too.  However, they wasted very little time taking him out of the story, too.  The way in which they wrote him out was rather anticlimactic to say the very least, too.  It almost leaves one asking why he was even used in the overall story considering how little impact his elimination had on the series’ overall story.  It could be argued that in so randomly eliminating Shredder, the writers were just throwing something out there just to see if it would work and make the series in whole anywhere near feasible.  While the overall story did work, it still ended up being relatively lackluster at best.  The same thing happened when the writers behind the TMNT animated series tried to keep that series going after the turtles eliminated Shredder.  They introduced a new villain—an alien from another world—but it just didn’t work, which ultimately led to the series’ end in Season Ten.  The same sort of mindset led to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III’s failure, too.  With Shredder out of the way at the end of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II it was as if the writers were asking where to go from there.  One can only assume that someone just said, “hey, let’s send them back in time on a quest and see how audiences react.”  While the end result was entertaining in its own right, it is still obvious that the movie’s writers struggled to come up with something to keep the movie (and the franchise) going.  This, again, goes back to the obvious practice of the writers behind Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation.  It is as if, again, the writers went into the series blindly and just threw in what they could as the series advanced.

The timing of Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation and its writing are both key elements that worked against the series in its short run on FOX Kids from 1997 – 1998.  They are not the only elements that should be considered in examining what the series got right and what it got wrong.  The look and the feel of the series are just as important to note as the timing of its run and its writing.  The look of the series will be examined first.  The costumes and the sets that were used in Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation are a stark contrast to those used by Saban’s Power Rangers franchise at the time.  That series had come a long way in terms of its look from the days of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.  Some of the camp was still there in terms of its look.  But that look had also clearly evolved to a point since those days, too.  By comparison Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation took audiences back to the days of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers thanks to the campy look of its sets and costumes.  No effort was made by the people at Saban to make this series look anything like the franchise’s original cinematic trilogy, which again this series was supposed to be linked. Even the look of Shredder’s outfit barely made him look menacing.  He looked more like one of the then WWF’s costumed bad guys than any truly menacing villain.  That is thanks to the design of his outfit.  Even the look of the turtles was a complete change of pace from their look on the big screen and its previous small screen incarnation.  This is again even with the series’ alleged connection to the franchise’s cinematic trilogy.  The only part of the series that really bore any similarity (and that term is used very loosely here) to that trilogy is that of the turtles’ subway lair.  It is obvious that whoever designed their lair for this series did in fact make a concerted effort to connect the two universes.  Sadly it is about the only thing that actually connects the two universes in terms of the series’ look.  The rest of the sets and costumes are more akin to the MMPR series than anything seen on the big screen or any other TMNT incarnations.  By relation, the feel of the series is linked just as directly to MMPR as its look.

The look of Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation is an undeniably important part of the series’ life span.  That is because of how starkly it stands out from that of the rest of the offerings in the TMNT universes and even from that of Saban’s Power Rangers universes at the time.  The series’ feel is just as important to note as its look.  That is because its feel stands out just as starkly as its look.  The feel includes the series’ cinematography and the acting.  The cinematography throws back to the days of MMPR just as much as the costumes and sets that were used throughout this series.  That is evident in the scene transitions, the angles used within given scenes, and even the speed of the shot changes within the scenes, too.  The transitions from the general scenes to those of the dragons’ lair are key examples of that throwback look.  MMPR used very similar transitions when its scenes transitioned from Angel Grove to Rita (and later Zedd’s) moon base.  That is something that was gradually phased out as the Power Rangers franchise evolved over time.  The acting on the part of both Shredder and Dragon Lord plays its own part in the series’ feel.  The same can be said of those that brought Leo, Raph, Donnie, Mikey, and even Venus to life.  The camp in their collective work gives the series a fun, cheesy feel that interestingly enough will keep audiences entertained because of that cheese factor.  Again it is all a noticeable throwback to the days of MMPR.  Again in comparing this to the feel presented in the likes of Power Rangers in Space, the current installment of Saban’s Power Rangers franchise at the time, it is a completely different feel.  Good or bad is in the eye of the beholder.  In all fairness it likely played its own part in the series’ downfall since few programs if any had that same campy feel at the time.  So that probably hurt the series even more.  Between that and the show’s equally campy look, it becomes even more evident why the series’ combined look and feel might have hurt the series more than it helped.  That is especially considering the time at which the series was on television.  Speaking of the time at which the series debuted, it plays its own part in the series’ problems.  The writing behind the series plays its own part in the series, too.  Each element plays its own part in the series’ short run.  That goes without saying.  All things considered it becomes wholly clear why Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation is one of the least successful entries in the TMNT universe.  But when it is compared to those other entries in it still is not the franchise’s worst installment.  Keeping that in mind, it is still a welcome and important addition to any TMNT fan’s home collection if only for its historical value.

Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation is hardly the best offering in the TMNT universe.  It is not the franchise’s worst offering, either.  That (dis) honor belongs, to this day, to Paramount and Nickelodeon Studios’ 2016 big screen reboot of the original cinematic franchise.  Given, this series had (and has) a lot working against it.  But still in comparison to other offerings from the TMNT universe it could have been a lot worse.  Considering all of this it is still a welcome addition to any true TMNT fan’s collection whether for entertainment or for historical value.  It is available exclusively via Wal-Mart and can be ordered online via Wal-Mart at http://www.walmart.com/ip/Ninja-Turtles-The-Next-Mutation-The-Complete-Series/51301759.   More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

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‘Ninja Storm’ Is One Of The Power Rangers’ Best Series Since ‘MMPR’

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Saban

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Saban

There’s a storm brewing.  But this time it’s a good storm.  How can a storm be good?  It can be good when it’s a Ninja Storm.  Earlier this week Shout! Factory released Power Rangers Ninja Storm: The Complete Series on DVD.  And there is plenty to appreciate about this installment of the long-running franchise beginning with its writing.  The writing applies first and foremost to the series’ plot.  The fact that the writers would go back to the franchise’s interstellar/sci-fi roots this time out is impressive in its own right.  The ultimate reveal, which is made later in the series makes the plot all the more interesting.  That leads to another of the series’ most important elements, the writing within its episodes.  That will be discussed later.  Last but not least of note in this series is the work of the series’ cast.  Each element is important in its own right to the series’ overall presentation.  All things considered they make this series one of the franchise’s best so far in its post-Mighty Morphin’ era.

Late next year, Lionsgate is set to release the new big-screen reboot of Saban’s beloved Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.  Needless to say it has already created quite a storm among fans of the beloved series.  Some people love it.  Others hate it.  Regardless which side one takes on the upcoming adaptation, audiences will just have to wait until the movie comes out to see how it actually turns out.  While they wait, Power Rangers fans have another classic Power Rangers series to take in.  It comes in the form of Power Rangers Ninja Storm: The Complete Series.  This installment of the long-running franchise is one of its best so far in its post-Might Morphin’ era.  This is due in part to the series’ writing.  More specifically it is due in part to the series’ plot.  The plot behind Power Rangers Ninja Storm follows a trio of Rangers, tapped to fight the evil interstellar space ninja Lothor.  It marks the first time since the days of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers that the franchise has gone the full-on sci-fi/interstellar route.  The closest that any previous series came in that avenue, was Power Rangers Time Force.  Even that series didn’t go the full-on sci-fi route taken by MMPR (as it will henceforth be known here).  Lightspeed Rescue and Wild Force were more based in fantasy than science fiction.  Keeping that in mind, that approach in itself makes this series’ plot an important part of its presentation.  Add in the fact that for the first time the Power Rangers start out as a 3-person team and only grows to 6 members, and audiences get another important part of the series’ plot.  Again, none of the franchise’s former installments had taken that course.  Though, it did become more commonplace as the franchise progressed.  It makes this aspect of the series’ plot just as important to note as the larger story.  The two plot elements together show clearly why the series’ plot is so important in examining its writing.  The plot is just one part of the series’ writing that should be examined.  The overall writing within the series’ episodes is just as important to note as its plot.

The writing behind Power Rangers Ninja Storm’s plot is its own important part of the series’ writing.  It isn’t the only important part of the series’ writing to be examined.  The writing within the series’ episodes is just as important as the writing behind the series’ plot.  Audiences will find that the writing within the series’ episodes is relatively familiar from one to the next.  One episode that exemplifies that familiarity comes in the form of “The Wild Wipeout.”  It sees Tori end up in an alternate universe in which the Rangers are the villains, and Lothor and company the good guys.  It is a story line that has been used time and again throughout television’s modern history in so many series.  That includes series aimed at adults and children.  What sets this adaptation of the classic story line apart from others is that it also uses a sort of Wizard of Oz approach, leaving both Tori and audiences to wonder, was it all just a dream sequence, or actually another universe.  As if that isn’t enough, the writers also added in the story of Rangers being turned from the evil side to that of the good guys in the multi-part “Thunder Rangers” story arc.  It includes both the three-part “Thunder Strangers” story arc and its lead-in “Looming Thunder.”  The evil Ranger-turned-good story arc is an element that has been used in every installment of Power Rangers going all the way back to Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.  Though, the writers this time have switched things up at least a little bit.  What sets this story line apart from those previous stories is that 1) it involves here not just one Ranger but two.  And in this case, the Rangers in question weren’t under some evil curse to start off their multi-part story arc.  Rather they had just been brainwashed by Lothor’s propaganda, not to reveal too much.  Though, they were eventually put under a brainwashing spell of sorts at one point.  Of course that was only a one-episode story line that saw the Rangers break that spell and win the day.  Audiences can discover that story for themselves.  If these episodes aren’t example enough, the writers also take on the evil twin story line in this series.  It’s yet another way in which the writing within the series’ episodes proves so important to the series’ presentation.  Any of the series’ other episodes could be cited just as easily in this argument.  Considering that it becomes increasingly clear why the writing within the series’ episodes is just as important to the series’ presentation as the writing behind its plot.  What’s more the two elements together make perfectly clear why the series’ writing in whole is so important to its presentation.  The writing is, of course, not the series’ only important element.  The work of the series’ cast is just as important to note as that of the series’ writers.

The work put in by the writers behind Power Rangers Ninja Storm is undeniably important to its presentation.  This is clear in examining both the series’ overall plot and the plot behind each of its episodes.  Of course in examining the series’ writing it becomes clear that the writing is just one of the series’ most important elements.  The work of the series’ cast is just as important to the series’ presentation as its writing.  While audiences might think that the actors who portrayed the Rangers are real stars of note here, that is not the cast.  That is at least the view of this critic.  In all honesty, the real stars of the series are Katrina Devine and Katrina Browne.  The pair portrayed Lothor’s nieces Marah and Kapri respectively.  While the pair ultimately turned out to be quite the devious evil duo, they do a wonderful job of tricking both Lothor and audiences.  The pair’s comic portrayal makes for so many laughs throughout each episode as they present themselves as stereotypical air headed valley girl types.  The personalities that they portray couples with their physical comedy to keep audiences entertained every time that they are on camera.  It would have been so easy for them to go over the top in their portrayals.  But they manage to successfully keep that reined in, thus leading to so many great moments right up to the point that they reveal their true personalities.  Even when they do reveal that truth they  are still just as great to watch.  To a lesser extent, Grant McFarland is entertaining in his own right as the evil space ninja Lothor.  Those that are familiar with the Power Rangers’ history will note a certain throwback to Robert Axelrod’s portrayal of Lord Zedd from the days of MMPR in McFarland’s take on Lothor.  He is clearly devious.  However one can’t help but laugh at his facial gestures and general reactions from time to time.  It is just a great reminder of the franchise’s old days.  The rest of the series’ cast impresses in its own right.  There is not denying this.  But the work put in by McFarland, and the duo of Devine and Browne is at least to this critic the most notable in this series.  In the end, their work couples with that of the rest of the cast to show in whole why the cast’s work is, in whole, just as important to the series’ presentation as that of the series’ writers.  All things considered Power Rangers Ninja Storm presents audiences with plenty to appreciate.  There is a lot of familiarity throughout this series and just as much new material.  All in all it makes this installment of the Power Rangers one of the franchise’s best in its post-MMPR era.

Power Rangers Ninja Storm is one of the best installments of the Power Rangers franchise to come along since the days of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.  That is due in part to writing that boasts its own share of familiar and new elements.  This applies both to the series’ plot and the stories presented within each of its episodes.  The same can be said of the cast’s work.  Grant McFarland conjures thoughts of Robert Axelrod with his portrayal of Lothor in this series.  Axelrod handled the role of Lord Zedd in MMPR.  Katrina Browne and Katrina Devine are just as entertaining as Lothor’s nieces even when their characters reveal the truth of their personas.  The rest of the cast impresses in its own right.  These three just shine brighter than the others in the eyes of this critic.  The cast’s work couples with that of the series writers to keep audiences engaged and entertained from one episode to the next.  The end result is a series that, again, audiences familiar with the Power Rangers franchise will agree it is one of the best installments to come along since the end of the franchise’s Zordon era.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store now at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-action-adventure/power-rangers-ninja-storm-the-complete-series.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

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