Sunday 18 November 2012

Series REVIEW: Power Rangers Turbo

Power Rangers Turbo Saban Geiksou Sentai Carranger

Since it began back in 1993, the Power Rangers franchise had been enjoying success after success. However it was not going to last forever, ratings were beginning to drop during Power Rangers Zeo and Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie was a box office flop. The next series was already starting on rocky ground, but it was about to get much worse. Power Rangers Turbo aired in 1997 and ran for a total of 45 episodes.

Power Rangers Turbo Cast TJ Cassie Ashley Justin Carlos Alpha 6
Out with the old cast, in with the new: Cassie, Carlos, TJ, Ashley, Justin & Alpha 6

Following on from the events of Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie, Divatox and her band of space pirates set their sights on Earth to take revenge on the Turbo rangers for ruining her plans on Muranthius. The rangers, with the exception of Justin, have graduated from Angel Grove High and begun life as adults. In addition to this, Zordon and Alpha 6 announce that they are to return to Eltar, leaving them in the care of new mentor Dimitria and the wise-cracking Alpha 6.

Tommy, Kat, Adam and Tanya continue their battle against Divatox, but as they start to pursue new careers their time as rangers draws to a close. Their powers are passed on to T.J., Cassie, Carlos and Ashley, who join Justin as the new Turbo rangers. Together with the Blue Senturion, a robotic law enforcer from the future, and the mysterious Phantom Ranger, the Turbo rangers continue the battle against Divatox and the forces of evil.

Power Rangers Turbo Dimitria Saban Mentor Zordon
Dimitria: Not Zordon

While Divatox's sudden appearance in Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie was understandable, her taking over as the lead villain here makes less sense when taking the end of Zeo into consideration. The Machine Empire were by no means defeated (though a little...scattered perhaps), and Rita and Zedd had proudly proclaimed that they were back. All of a sudden both parties have lost interest in the Earth, and we're left with Divatox and her motley crew of pirates. When you take the following season into consideration possible reasons for this are a little more plausible, but right now it doesn't fit well at all with previous events. The sudden change from Zordon and Alpha 5 to Dimitria and Alpha 6 also comes out of nowhere, with two integral characters now replaced by frustrating copies. As an alien from the planet Inquiris, Dimitria has the habit of talking only in questions, much to the frustration of both the rangers and anyone watching Turbo.

Power Rangers Turbo Blue Senturion Saban Carranger Signalman
No sixth ranger this season, but the Blue Senturion pretty much fills the role

Usually I try not to compare and contrast Power Rangers seasons to their Super Sentai equivalent, but when it comes to Turbo its necessary just to understand some of the reasons for how bad it is. Gekisou Sentai Carranger is primarily a parody series, full of ridiculous plots and slapstick comedy. In adapting these plots to be used for Power Rangers, what was never meant to be taken seriously is suddenly thrust into being a (semi) serious plot line and it just doesn't work. For example, the first zord sequence involves the rangers messing up the transformation sequence (even though they already did it in the movie) and Tommy resorting to the instruction manual mid-fight to learn how to drive it. It's ironic how while a (now-debunked) rumour suggested Carranger saved Super Sentai, Turbo almost killed Power Rangers.

Power Rangers Turbo Megazord Rescue Megazord RV Robo VRV Robo Saban Carranger
The Turbo and Rescue Megazords, once again one of the few good things.

With some many new characters to have to suddenly get used to, its even more frustrating to see some of the core cast acting completely out of character (as is the norm when a character is about to leave Power Rangers). Tommy is suddenly so obsessed with stockcar racing that he doesn't even attend his own graduation (or much else before he leaves), and Adam, Kat and Tanya are noticeably reduced to give the ever-annoying Justin more focus. Usually the action makes up for these things, but the first 20 episodes follow the same dull plot formula. Divatox has no scale as a villain at all, with all of her schemes involving planting a detonator with a tiny blast radius somewhere and then sending a monster simply to distract while the timer ticks down. Rangers beat monster, rangers find bomb, day is saved etc etc. Granted every Power Rangers episode essentially follow the same formula, this iteration of the Power Rangers often feel little more than glorified bomb squad.

Power Rangers Turbo Divatox Saban
Pirate or pathetic?

Thankfully things pick up a little bit with the introduction of the new cast. Despite barely any introduction to the characters at all (Carlos and Ashley pop up a few episodes before, but T.J. and Cassie debut the same two-parter they become rangers), the new actors settle into their roles well and the series moves a bit closer to the status quo. Justin gets less focus, Dimitria stops talking in questions and Divatox's schemes don't just involve blowing things up. The Carranger footage till means that plots are far more light-hearted and comedic then seasons past (the infamous pizza episode being a prime example) but Turbo is now a tolerably bad series other than downright unwatchable one. The remaining episodes range from bad to average, with the only must-see episodes being the two part finale "Chase into Space", which is one of the biggest cliffhangers in the franchise and a great set up to the next season (which would be the final of this 'era').

Power Rangers Turbo Bulk & Skull Monkeys
Yes. this happened.

With many other aspects of Power Rangers moving backwards rather than forwards, it's no surprise that we also see a regression in Bulk and Skull. As if them suddenly being on the police force wasn't enough., it begins with them first being turned into monkeys (during this time the actors were in talks for a potential spin off series starring the pair), then temporarily being invisible before returning to normal. From then each episode sees them taking different jobs and finding new ways to mess them up. There's less things being spilt on them in Turbo, but they are very much the bumblers they were in the early episodes of Mighty Morphin'.

The problem of making a show that has a continuous plot season after season is that the show needs to grow up with its audience. Power Rangers Turbo fails miserably at this and thus is the first real misstep the franchise makes (and perhaps because of this the most memorable). Its regression into juvenile plots and slapstick moments bring the original cast so far down the show is only refreshing when they leave. Aside from some decent looking zords (which are still completely outclassed by all the previous ones) and an excellent finale there's not a whole lot to love about Turbo. Yet the fact that it is a somewhat integral series and still more memorable than other seasons makes it that special kind of awful.


Tom Badguy said...

I can't even keep up with PR any more. TOO MUCH! lol

Sailor Sedna said...

I've glimpsed at Carranger and I love it from what I've seen of it; it doesn't even feel like a parody to me, more like a just a silly comedic Super Sentai. I've even seen the infamous pizza baking scene, and Carranger did it much better.

SteCasseKing said...

8 years late, but uh, Carranger didn't save Super Sentai. That's an old rumor that was proven to be false. Carranger actually had worse ratings then Ohranger, Episode 25 especially with a 1.4, the worst rating in Sentai History. it only began improving in ratings in the last 18 episodes after the executives gave the writers the job of handling the show.

Alex said...

I’m aware, but it hadn’t been debunked at the time of writing. And honestly this was done so long ago I wouldn’t have even remembered I wrote that to go and change it.