Monday 12 March 2012

Series REVIEW: Power Rangers Operation Overdrive

Power Rangers Operation Overdrive is the 15th instalment in the Power Rangers franchise, adapted from Super Sentai's 30th anniversary GoGo Sentai Boukenger series. Following on from Mystic Force, Operation Overdrive ran for a total of 32 episodes during 2007.

When billionaire explorer Andrew Hartford discovers the Corona Aurora - a crown which when combined with seven jewels can give its possessor catastrophic power, he unlocks the icy Florious and the hot headed Moltor - two brothers who in the past sought the crown's powers but were exiled by the mystical Sentinel Knight. Andrew Hartford then gathers four young people from very different backgrounds - safe-cracker for hire Will Aston (the Black Ranger), film stuntman Dax Low (Blue), child prodigy Rose Ortiz (Pink) and race car driver Ronny Robinson (Yellow) to become Power Rangers, with him taking the place as the red ranger. But when his son Mack uses his father's Overdrive Tracker to protect him, Mack takes the mantle of the red ranger.

But Flurious and Moltor aren't the only ones looking for the jewels. There is also the space ninjas Kamdor and Miratrix along with a gang of aliens known as the Fearcats. As a power struggle between the four groups breaks out over possession of the crown and its four jewels, the rangers must deal with the destruction they cause as well as finding the jewels before they do. Eventually they are joined by Tyzonn, an alien known as a Mecurian (and thus can turn his body into mercury) who becomes the Mercury Ranger. Their quest for the jewels takes them across the globe, as they encounter Power Rangers from the past and uncover a darker secret a lot closer to home.

(From left to right) Back row: Dax, Will, Ronnie. Front row: Rose, Mack, Tyzonn

The globetrotting theme is a pretty neat idea, but the fact they have a permanent base of operations (in the fictional city of San Angeles) and so just jet everywhere kind of ruined it for me. I would have preferred if the series had revolved around them moving from place to place, with the show perhaps both starting and ending in San Angeles. The cast, while coming from a nice variety of backgrounds, are all fairly bland and/or annoying. I have to give credit to Mack, who's back story was certainly unexpected - it's just a pity all it led to was him acting like a dick for the remaining episodes and giving the series an incredibly predictable ending. The Sentinel Knight (who had a far more fleshed out role than his Japanese counterpart Zuban) seemed like a good mystical character to begin with, but once he is given a physical body in the shape of the Sentinel Sword he is reduced to little more than a joke. A joke which also doubles as a chest face for this season's battlizer.

Flurious and Moltor in a rare appearance working together.

Much like its Japanese counterpart, Operation Overdrive also suffers from the problem of having far too many villains. While the brotherly rivalry turned full-on war between Flurious and Moltor is fine, adding the ninjas and Fearcats into the mix means nobody really gets any decent development. Florious (who is an American creation entirely) comes across as the "big bad" of the show but his scenes are often heavily downplayed by comedy, whether it be with his brother (case in point: the story of the red sleigh) or Norg, a dimwitted Yeti that lives in his base of operations. Only Florious receives any sort of glorious defeat, and even that is pretty unsatisfying in terms of finale episodes. Multiple factions isn't necessarily a bad idea, but you need far more than 32 episodes to be able to carry it off well.

The DriveMax Megazord

The zords for this series are excellent, but handled in quite an odd way. While we are nicely introduced to the standard DriveMax Megazord (which is quite fitting for the explorer aesthetic), the power up vehicles don't get too much of an introduction (in fact they're blatantly there in the zord hanger from day one) and all of a sudden we have the DriveMax Ultrazord, which doesn't look too bad for a 10-zord monstrosity. The additional zords can also combine into the DualDriver Megazord (which literally does come out of nowhere dozens of episodes after all of the components have been introduced) and the Mercury Ranger has his own three zords that become the Flash Point Megazord. Finally there is the giant BattleFleet Megazord, but I don't quite understand the naming choice when its quite obviously the most powerful zord in the show, yet only has "Mega" status when the DriveMax is an "Ultra". For me the name "ultrazord" should always be reserved for the most powerful robot of the show.

Why couldn't the show have been about these guys instead?

And finally there's the 'Once A Ranger' 2-part episode, which saw five veteran Power Rangers - MMPR's Adam, Ninja Storm's Tori, Dino Thunder's Kira, SPD's Bridge (now promoted to the red ranger) and Mystic Force's Xander, return to battle Thrax - son of Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd. When exactly these two had a son is not very clear, but you might as well just roll with it. While the team up is certainly no 'Forever Red', it's great to see some old faces return even if it is just Adam and a "best of" the previous Disney seasons. I think a sixth ranger (perhaps Merrick from Wild Force) would have balanced it out a little better, but that could just come down to rights/casting difficulties. The two parter even includes the return of Angel Grove and a (horribly voiced) Alpha 6! It certainly makes you wish the whole series had been about these guys rather than the actual cast.

Thrax, son of original Power Rangers villains Rita and Zedd

From the second that awful theme tune started I had a feeling I wouldn't get along with Operation Overdrive. As it stands Boukenger is my least favourite Sentai series, and yet Operation Overdrive still managed to make all the bad elements far worse. Still, I don't think the series is quite as bad as Ninja Storm, since at the very least here I would recommend 'Once a Ranger' for the returning cast members. The remaining 30 episodes however are perhaps best left avoided.


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Anonymous said...

Oh salutations Mack,Veronica,William,tyzonn,rose and last Dax my husband.
I love u Dax!
Your best pal, Emily Nicole kilburn

Chengkeng said...

Seriously people, what did you expect from a show that has been adapted from the Japanese. The was watchable but could have been better, no need to be a Grinch!