30 Years Later, The ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ Is A Timeless TV Series

“That evening, the anchors on the 6 o’clock news delivered the worst news of my life.”

A promotional image from the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" series in 1993.
A promotional image from the “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” series in 1993.

In 1993, Angel Grove’s finest took the world by storm. Yes, I’m talking about Zachary, Kimberly, Billy, Trini, Jason and Tommy, all affectionately known as the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

I was 8 years old when the series premiered. I videotaped the pilot and watched it 10 times in a row.

I couldn’t get enough.

But as quickly as I fell in love with the Power Rangers, the series was taken away from me and other kids in Aotearoa, the Maori language name for the land of New Zealand. The smash hit series no longer had a place on the country’s programming schedule due to parents complaining to the Broadcasting Standards Authority that children had become more violent at recess trying to emulate the karate-kickin’ action heroes.

Thirty years on, the “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” has reinvented itself time and time again, resonating with children over the last three decades. But for me and other kids who grew up in New Zealand, the series has a long legacy, which came full circle this year.

Shortly after the series premiered, I had harassed my Mum into buying me a giant Goldar toy along with figurines of the original five Power Rangers. My baths lasted twice as long because I was having too much fun playing with them in the water. I didn’t have a favorite ranger — the truth is I loved them all equally.

If anyone, it was Scorpina who I was most obsessed with. Her golden armor was fly, and she had 22 inches of jet black hair flowing down her back as she talked smack and cut it up during battle. This was a show where you were rooting for the good guys, but you just couldn’t get mad at Rita Repulsa or her crew for trying to kill them because they were cool, too.

Every day I imitated the Power Rangers on the playground at school, then rushed home to watch the latest installment in the afternoon. Life was so good.

Until one fateful day.

I had walked home from Porirua East School, raided the fridge and cupboards, then planted myself in front of the TV. But when I clicked the power button on my TV remote at 4:30 p.m., I didn’t recognize what was on the screen, and the theme song to my beloved show was not starting up.

This was something else. I couldn’t find the “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” anywhere. Once the initial shock wore off, I began to pray, telling myself that maybe the show was on hiatus until the new season came out. There had to be a good reason.

"In 1993, Angel Grove’s finest took the world by storm. Yes, I’m talking about Zachary, Kimberly, Billy, Trini, Jason and Tommy, all affectionately known as the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," the author writes.
“In 1993, Angel Grove’s finest took the world by storm. Yes, I’m talking about Zachary, Kimberly, Billy, Trini, Jason and Tommy, all affectionately known as the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” the author writes.

That evening, the anchors on the 6 o’clock news delivered the worst news of my life. The Power Rangers were off the air in New Zealand.

This was by far the saddest moment of my childhood. I felt so powerless.

My Mum tried her best to console me but nothing worked. I furiously wrote a letter to the New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Authority. I encouraged all my classmates to do the same.

Years went by, and I found scraps of consolation where I could. I bought a video from an overseas seller for an outrageous price. I read episode summaries on online forums.

Then, 1995’s “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie” came out. Thankfully, the film was released back home, so I could get a dose of my favorite teen action squad.

But the movie was so different from the original series my peers and I saw in New Zealand. The Black and Yellow Rangers had been replaced with new actors. The new Black ranger was played by Johnny Yong Bosch of Korean heritage, and the new Yellow ranger was portrayed by Black actor Karan Ashley. Tommy, who suited up as the Green Ranger in the original TV series, was now the White Ranger. There was also a new villain, Lord Zedd. But once the movie was done, it was back to having close to nothing.

David Yost, Thuy Trang, Jason David Frank, Steve Cardenas, Amy Jo Johnson and Walter Emanuel Jones as the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in 1993.
David Yost, Thuy Trang, Jason David Frank, Steve Cardenas, Amy Jo Johnson and Walter Emanuel Jones as the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in 1993.

Then, Disney bought the Power Rangers franchise in 2003 and started filming the series in my home country,. By that time, I was in my first year of law school and had found my peace with the Power Rangers. I tried to tune in, but the new lineups did not live up to the original cast. I resigned to the fact that this was something I had to forget about.

Those feelings changed in 2022. Last year, the entire catalog of “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” became available to stream on Netflix. When I found out, it was like I received a gift from God, righting a massive wrong in the world. Rewatching it brought back so many memories.

It also showed me that diversity and representation felt so natural on the series. It didn’t feel forced like so much content today. Sure, it was problematic that the Black ranger was Black and the Asian ranger was yellow, but they were characters, and their humanity didn’t play on lazy stereotypes.

In commemoration of its 30-year anniversary, Netflix released an hour-long special “Power Rangers: Once & Always” in April. It was a celebration paying homage to the original cast, including Thuy Trang who died tragically in a car accident in 2001. It was a sweet tribute wrapped up in all the things that made Power Rangers the global success it is today. And yes, it was filmed in New Zealand, where as a child I had yearned for it to return to my TV screen.

This iconic phenomenon went from being banned in New Zealand in 1993, to being filmed there 10 years later in 2003, to having a reunion movie come out another 20 years later. The series also recently announced that its 31st season will be the last production shot in New Zealand.

That’s 30 years of Morphin Time, and I’m here for every second of it.

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