Hi! It’s Annie!
If you’ve been on this blog before, you might know that I actually had a previous post covering this exact topic. Recently I’ve been rewatching different series of ‘Power Rangers’ and I discovered that my opinions regarding my last list have definitely changed. So, this is the new list! I’ve been watching ‘Power Rangers’ my entire life. I’m seriously not kidding. I grew up with it and continued to watch various series as I grew up. It’s always been one of my favorite shows of all time and it’s something that I still go to occasionally for a comfort watch. And I think after a lot of thinking and review, I finally compiled what I think is my list for my top five series. These are the series that I think overall had the best plot, characters, and overall something special that was unique to that series specifically that made it stand out.
5. Power Rangers Ninja Storm
This is the series that started out Disney’s run with the Power Rangers, and I think this was an amazing start. ‘Power Rangers’ has always been a series that changed series by series with things such as comedy and audience marketing. Of course, it has always been for families. But some series took themselves more seriously than others. This marks one of the series that famously did not take itself too seriously. In fact, there were times where it almost felt like a parody. Set in California, this is the most California you will ever find in possibly any show ever. Shane, the red ranger, is a skateboarder. Dustin, the yellow, is a dirt bike rider. And finally Tori, the blue, is a surfer. This is complete with all the California teenager lingo, plenty of trips to the beach, and a lot of time spent in a multi-purpose sports shop. Any ridiculous villains were treated as such and the show definitely leant more on the side of comedy than not. But I think it’s important to point out that, despite the comedy, the series took itself very seriously when it came to character development. Each ranger got their own series of focus episodes where the show explored who they are as people as well as their insecurities. Dustin was one of my favorite characters because the series acknowledged his naivety and positive nature by also showing how easy he was to trust and had him learn from his mistakes. Cam was my favorite character because, aside from his amazing sassy remarks, he proved himself through his own character growth throughout the series before he even became a ranger. It made his achievement of becoming a ranger all the more satisfying to watch. This series also included the very first female blue ranger, Tori, who was consistently treated as the smartest member of the team. And this series is one of the best when it comes to diversity. It seems as though every ranger on this team is of a different race and class. Definitely a powerful start to the Disney era.
4. Power Rangers Jungle Fury
I feel like to most this probably seems like an unusual pick, and I do understand why. ‘Jungle Fury’ doesn’t necessarily deal with the most unique stories of the series released and it also isn’t overtly comedic based. But this series succeeded the most when it comes to demonstration of martial arts, aesthetic, and side character build up. Seriously, this may be the series with the best side characters. This takes place for the most part in a dojo and then in a pizza place. And while the pizza place may sound odd, it actually brought the entire show together for me. I always love seeing a good hang-out spot in a show that becomes the safe haven for the characters, and ‘Jungle Karma Pizza’ is that place. You get to see Power Rangers in customer service jobs, which isn’t a usual thing, and you get to see them bond through cute moments such as flour fights. And the overall feel of the world, including the addition of animal spirits, makes you want to just jump into the world and figure out what your own animal spirit is and what color ranger you’d end up becoming. But this show shines, once again, in character development. Casey, the red ranger, starts out as more unexperienced than the others and must actually learn and train to live up to his ranger status. And unlike most Power Rangers series, this doesn’t just take one episode. Theo, the blue, is really amazing at what he does, but he’s also a huge control freak. Lily, the yellow, is incredibly compassionate and that often results in her attempting to clean up other people’s messes by herself without asking for help. But the real characters that shine for me here, could quite possibly be RJ and Fran. Fran is not a ranger, but she’s one of the support characters that runs the pizza shop while they’re gone. She becomes a needed member of the team and absolutely lovable on top of all that. RJ is one of the best Power Rangers to ever exist. He’s actually the mentor character. RJ struggles with issues with his Dad and a lack of closeness that the series explores as well as issues in controlling his own animal spirit. He’s also crazy, wacky, and just overall lovable. And on top of that, he’s the only Power Ranger ever to use a martial arts style that primarily uses elbows and knees. (This series is a master at showing off several martial arts styles in beautiful ways.) If you watch this series for nothing else, watch it for RJ. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
3. Power Rangers Dino Thunder
This was the second series that Disney tried, and this is the one that actually picked up. And part of that might, admittedly, have to do with the presence of Tommy Oliver. Or, as he’s know in this series, Dr. O. If you’ve ever wanted to see the most popular Power Ranger in the history of the series go from High School ranger, to High School teacher and mentor, then this series is definitely for you. In my opinion, Tommy is one of the parts of this that makes this series dominate. He was a natural leader before, and it is clear that he is also a natural mentor here. His skills as a former Power Ranger allow him to relate to his students more than any mentor before him. When Conner, the red ranger, almost quits because saving the world is interfering with his personal goals, Tommy is the first to understand and to tell Conner that he understands. I feel like with most mentors, there’s a certain amount of pressure that they put on the future rangers into taking up the power and defending the world. Because of Tommy’s understanding, he never pressured any of them into anything. He’s THE understanding teacher that everyone wants. And seeing him morph again after a couple episodes and finally take up another color feels so satisfying. But there’s more to love about this series than just Dr. O. The characters in this one feel possibly the most realistic of any characters from any other series. Conner is a jock, but he’s not depicted as a stereotype. His struggles and insecurities are just as relatable. Ethan, the blue ranger, is a geek and a computer whiz, but he’s sarcastic and not a stereotype either. And Kira, the yellow ranger, is a badass who tells off Conner for calling her “babe” in the very first episode. When Trent comes in later, he’s an artsy student who’s introverted-ness is portrayed as relatable. In fact, I think one of the things I love about this team is that they’re all introverts for the most part, including Dr. O. Which is generally not a thing in this franchise. Also, Hayley is a gem and her cafe makes for quite possibly my favorite hang-out spot in any series of ‘Power Rangers’.
2. Power Rangers RPM
Ok, this is one of the few series that had a less than spectacular theme song. But don’t write it off just yet. Once you get past the cheesy theme and into the show, you’ll quickly realize that you have just sat down for one of the most unique takes on ‘Power Rangers’ you will ever see. RPM is the series that came right at the end of the Disney era. The writers were gearing up to make yet another family friendly series in this franchise when Disney came in and said that they were done making ‘Power Rangers’ and it didn’t matter how good the next series was going to be. Eventually all the writers in that room would have to move on to different jobs. So instead of half-assing a series, everyone involved in the creation of it decided they would do the exact opposite. They were going to go all out on a series that was much darker than they had ever tackled before. What was Disney going to do? Fire them? And so came the most gritty take in this franchise’s arsenal. Though it’s still a family show, I would wait to show some younger kids until they’re just a little older. This series takes place in an apocalyptic world where a computer virus has destroyed most of the planet and there’s only one city left standing. There to protect the city are the RPM Rangers. Scott, the red ranger, is a former airforce pilot whose brother died trying to get rid of the virus. Flynn “I’M SCOTTISH” McAllistair, the blue ranger, is a Scottish hero with a penchant for saving lives who tries to make his poor father proud. Summer, the yellow ranger, is a former rich snob who changed her ways when her butler died attempting to save her life. Definitely not the usual backstories. On top of this, you have Dillon and Ziggy, the best characters in the entire series and the black and green rangers respectively. When we first meet them they both end up in jail pretty quickly. Dillon is a tortured tough guy who just so happens to be a part cyborg with a serious case of amnesia. In a turn of events, Ziggy becomes his best friend. Ziggy is my favorite. He’s a former cartel member (yes, you read cartel correctly) who stole from the cartel he worked for to give medical supplies to an orphanage. He’s also pretty bumbling and absolutely hilarious. He asks all the important questions, like what the explosions behind them when they morph are. This series also has a young female mentor. Hell yeah! This take on ‘Power Rangers’ isn’t exactly dark enough to be fully gritty, but it’s one of the most unique takes on the series with some of the most interesting plot twists and character arcs.
- Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers
You can’t beat the original. This is the series that started it all, and recently there has been a more heated debate over whether this should actually be called the best series of this franchise. Specifically because of how old it is and some of the stereotyping in the first season. I would argue that this series wins just based off of the sheer amount of content. All of the series that you see listed above had one season. This series had three. And while some of the Nickelodeon shows have since tried to tackle the multi-season format, this is definitely the only multiple season ‘Power Rangers’ series that is good for all of its seasons. The first season did have trouble with stereotyping though. Jason, the red ranger, was a stereotypical jock. Billy, the blue, was the bullied geek with glasses. Trini, the yellow, was the athletic all-rounder girl. Kimberly, the pink, was a girly girl with a valley girl way of speaking. And Zack, the black, was an artsy dancer. But I would say that the series stops relying on these stereotypes about halfway through season one. After that each character gets developed based off of their own merits. Though, I do have to say, I feel like the only character that gets amazing character development in the first season is Tommy. Tommy’s green ranger storyline as well as the introduction of Tommy’s amazing martial arts really set him up as a character. And his anti-hero to hero plot line is still regarded as revolutionary for television. I think that the second season really picked up on character development. Between the addition of the new rangers, Adam, Aisha, and Rocky, and Tommy becoming the white ranger, we got many more character moments to go off of. Billy actually became one of the most capable rangers on the team. Adam was one of the first superhero men on television to be depicted as manly because of his sensitivity and not despite it. And Aisha really lead the way for clearing out some story for both her and Kimberly. Of course, Tommy continued to revolutionize with his character arcs. I want to shout out ‘Power Rangers Zeo’ which is known for being essentially a fourth season of ‘Mighty Morphin’ with different suits. And I absolutely love both Kat and Tanya. I will always love so many other series of ‘Power Rangers’. But this is what started it all and made the franchise into what it is today. And, in fact, it actually impacted all television, not just other series of ‘Power Rangers’. It was one of the first television series to fully depict young people as fully capable, which is something film and television still struggle with.
I absolute love ‘Power Rangers’ and my love only grows the more I watch it. It’s just something that I know I’ll always carry with me along with my other favorite films and shows of all time. But of course, all of these are my opinions. I feel like every series of ‘Power Rangers’ is amazing in its own way. And even though the new series aren’t picking up as much, I at least hope that people will continue to watch and appreciate the old series.
See you across the pond!