After 10,000 years of imprisonment, the evil sorceress Rita Repulsa and her loyal minions are freed when astronauts on a routine mission in space accidentally open her dumpster prison on the Moon. Filled with rage, Rita decides to conquer the nearest planet: Earth. But her archnemesis, the heroic sage Zordon, has been patiently waiting in preparation for this day. With the assistance of his wisecracking robotic sidekick Alpha 5, Zordon recruits a team of five teenagers with attitude (Jason, Zack, Kimberly, Billy and Trini) to receive superpowers beyond their wildest dreams so they can defend the Earth as the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Aided by giant robotic vehicles modeled after dinosaurs called Zords, the Power Rangers fight back against the evil alien hordes of Rita Repulsa. The start of the Power Rangers phenomenon!
Fox Kids' Saturday morning action-adventure series ranks among the more colorful shows of the 1990s. When evil intergalactic empress Rita Repulsa (Soga Machiko with voice by Barbara Goodson), who dresses like Flash Gordon
's Ming the Merciless and cackles like H.R. Pufnstuf
's Witchiepoo, escapes from her Space Dumpster and sets out to conquer the Earth, Zordon (David Fielding), a Wizard of Oz
-like projection, drafts five plucky high school students, Jason (Austin St. John), Zack (Walter Jones), Billy (David Yost), Trini (Thuy Trang), and Kimberly (Felicity
's Amy Jo Johnson), to keep her in check (a sixth will come later). First, Zordon zaps them to his mountaintop command center, where his automaton Alpha, who often exclaims "Ay-yi-yi-yi-yi," supplies the quintet with belt buckles that transform them into spandex-clad fighting machines with dinosaur Zords--tyrannosaur, mastodon, pterodactyl, triceratops, and saber-toothed tiger--which collectively form the Transformers
-like Megazord, just as their weapons form the Megasword (yes, it's all as silly as it sounds). When they aren't fighting off Rita's putty patrol (babbling men in silver bodysuits), they hang out at the Angel Grove youth center practicing gymnastics and martial arts and trading insults with resident troublemakers Bulk and Skull (Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy). Just as Billy, the brain of the group, invents contraptions to help them fight off evildoers, like communications devices and Rad Bug, a turbo-charged Volkswagen, Rita's monster-maker, Finster, conjures up gnomes, toads, and other creatures to bedevil them. The dialogue is cheesy and the low-budget special effects recall the slapstick world of Sid and Marty Krofft. Despite complaints about the cartoon violence, this Japanese-American coproduction is mostly harmless fun, though the frequent food fights, squealing metal-guitar score, and repetitive storyline--rangers foil the aliens and put the bullies in their place--may drive some adults around the bend. --Kathleen C. Fennessy