Ranger Ranker! #6 – Power Rangers Turbo

The One With the Giant Pizza

Wow, so it’s been a while. Thanks for sticking with me while I tackle this beast of a season. Turns out I had a lot to say.

At this point, nothing has really been heard about streaming for the majority of Power Rangers as a franchise. It seems like Netflix is going to be the place to go for the future seasons, but everything else except for the very beginning is still in limbo. That said, I’m still planning to keep going on this, and if anything changes with streaming, I’ll keep adapting

Now then, this one is a long one, so make yourself a drink, get comfortable, and prepare to suffer through *dramatic chord* Justin.

Let’s Talk About Change

If you recall, when we last left off, the Machine Empire had been driven off, Rita and Zedd were preparing for their big return, Bulk and Skull were being recruited by a mysterious French detective, and Jason had just lost the Gold Ranger powers and spend more time with his special friend, Emily.

Ok now forget all of that.

When we start this season, Divatox swears revenge on the Power Rangers for ruining her evil wedding, Lerigot has brought Zordon important news about a cosmic wormhole, and Justin is testing for-

wait what

hang on

wait

back up

Who are these people.

Did somebody lose a child.

Why is this lost child following the Rangers around.

Who is this babytalking Troll doll?

The Power Rangers at JUST NOW preparing to graduate? How long have they been in high school???

OK But seriously why is there a small child who becomes an adult-sized ranger what the fuck

We need answers.

And it turns out that answers to all of these1 are in Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie, Coming Soon Earlier That Spring To A Theater Near You!! Which I guess I should cover since it’s all, like, integral to the plot or something.

Let’s Talk About the Movie I Guess

So yeah. Unlike the previous movie, with all its uncanny tone and fancy costumes and cgi, Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie is in-canon and written by people who actually work on Power Rangers normally.. In fact it is necessary to the canon as it bridges the gap between the seasons and is the only transition that we get from the Zeo to Turbo powers. 

The movie starts like all the best movies do: With a text crawl flying through space.

The “Mighty Wizard” Lerigot turns out to be this Ewok-by-Way-of-Trolls-Doll childlike bundle of adorable naïveté. He’s being chased by Pirhanatron, who in this movie look like some kind of rejected Tin Man characters. Hey remember Tin Man? You know, the grown-up Wizard-of-Oz miniseries? With Zooey Deschanel and Alan Cumming? What say we go watch that instead of this movie before Lerigot disappears in a shower of sparkles. 

Oh, he just did that?

Just now?

Well I guess we’re stuck watching this movie then.

Anyway Lerigot sparkleports to Earth, flying towards the middle of South America.

Meanwhile on Earth, the Rangers have been helpfully divided by gender into fighting men preparing for some kind of showdown that doesn’t come up again until the very end, and maternal women leading a rousing chorus of Row Row Row Your Boat with some children who look about 5 years too old to be singing Row Row Row Your Boat. But wait! One of these children isn’t singing! It’s Justin! You know Justin, right? Everyone else already does, so get with it. He’s very special and everyone is very concerned about why he isn’t participating in what must be the 15th round of Row Row Row Your Boat.  

Meanwhile, the guys are very worried about the upcoming… karate… thing… you know, it never really gets explained what they are training for. Anyway, Rocky is having trouble doing a karate, so he tries extra extra hard and manages to launch himself out of the ring and over the ropes to land on his back. Oh no! What’s going to happen to Rocky?! 

He does this somehow of his own volition

Kat and Aisha bring the kids to the Fight Arena just in time to watch Rocky get taken away on a stretcher due to karate/stupidity-related injuries. Everybody say goodbye to Rocky! He never recovers and no one really cares once they leave his hospital room. I’m erasing him from my brain and never thinking about him again starting… now.

In a wild circumstance that somehow has never happened before, Justin overhears them talking about being Power Rangers as they teleport away2 Anyway, a bunch of stuff happens with Lerigot that doesn’t really matter, and Tommy and Kat are sent to go find him in South AmericaAfrica3, where they immediately are menaced by a big snake and fall off a cliff. Cool. Everybody in this movie is looking so heroic and competent so far.

They actually do manage to find Lerigot somehow and bring him back to the Power Chamber and blah blah exposition blah and then Zordon uses the Cranial Transmission Scanner to view the telepathic message being sent to Lerigot

Wait, Cranial Transmission Scanner? Is this a problem that comes up often enough to have a specialized device?

But whatever because now it’s time to talk about DIVATOX. Divatox wants Lerigot so that she can get to an island or something and then something about a demon and a wedding and it doesn’t really matter because everyone obviously ends up there after the whole Road of Trials section of the plot anyway. The main important thing to know is that Divatox is a space pirate with a magic submarine and she wants the Rangers to turn Lerigot over in exchange for *dramatic chord* Jason and Kimberly?????????

Jason and Kimberly had been SCUBA diving,4 when Divatox captured them and threw them in the brig of her Subcraft, which is a submarine and a spaceship or something. She also captured Bulk and Skull for some reason? She wiped their brains though, so they’re just hanging around being spacey and weird?

Anyway, a lot of stuff happens, ending up with Lerigot, Jason, Kimberly, Bulk, Skull, and Lerigot’s wife and child all being taken by Divatox through the Nemesis Triangle to reach Muiranthias. If there’s one thing I know about islands, it’s that triangles are bad. None of this ever comes up again, so feel free to immediately forget it.

The Rangers need new powers because Zordon said so to cross through the Nemesis Triangle by. But first they need the Ghost Galleon, which is across the Bone Dry Dunes and past Mushroom Gorge, where they take Rainbow Ro- wait no, most of those were Mario Kart levels. Anyway it doesn’t really matter because they randomly poke at some consoles to make new Turbo Zords and Turbo powers and Kat, Aisha, Adam, and Tommy all drive off heroically and then a bunch of stuff happens and they all wind up on the magic island or whatever right behind Divatox.

“But wait!” you say, “You forgot about Rocky!”

And I would say “I sure did! As soon as he left the screen, like I told you!”

So then the blue Turbo Zord, Mountain Blaster, makes a dramatic entrance and the camera tries really hard to hide the fact that the driver is a small child. Surprise! It’s Justin! You all know Justin, right? So now Justin is the new Blue Ranger because Rocky said it would be a good idea and maybe it’s for the best that Rocky doesn’t get to make any further decisions in this show.

There’s a whole tropical volcano island bit that’s exactly what you would think, including really unflattering representations of stereotypical island savages with bamboo tools and everything. Divatox has made her way to Maligore’s Temple, which is inside the volcano because obviously, and she prepares to sacrifice Jason and Kimberly.

The Rangers arrive just as Jason and Kimberly are dropped in lava pits, but instead of being horribly burned, they just pop out of the lava all glowy-eyed and evil. They do the fighty thing with the Rangers and are about to take the upper hand when Tommy takes off his helmet and pleads for Kim to look inside her and how much Tommy means to her and look at his pretty face and Kat is RIGHT THERE through all of this, but it doesn’t work anyway and the ex-Rangers only get de-eviled because Lerigot does some kind of sparklemagic from inside his cage. Heroism achieved!

But Maligore awakens anyway and he’s a big lava monster who doesn’t actually want to marry Divatox for some reason and then he becomes a GIANT lava monster and OH NO WHAT CAN THE RANGERS DO

Yeah, so there’s a solid 3 minutes of American-made footage of all the cars driving around and transforming and connecting and whatever and then it’s time for the Turbo Megazord!

A bunch more American footage later, the Megazord gets up on its Heelys and rolls up to Maligore to give him a nice, fatal slash across the torso.

Maligore falls off a cliff and explodes, but Wait! We can’t leave the volcano island without the volcano erupting and making everyone dramatically escape! So yeah, the volcano erupts. Chekhov’s Volcano, you know. Oh, and also Bulk and Skull are still around and still brainmelted.

Then everyone goes home and wins the karate thing and saves the orphanage! Hooray! No hooray for Rocky though because he was conveniently replaced by Jason.

And that’s the movie! Now everything between Zeo and Turbo is nicely wrapped up and sorted out and there are no further questions at all about how we got from the end of Zeo to the beginning Turbo, so let’s get back to the-

Wait no, that hardly explains anything! What happened with Rita and Zedd preparing for conquest? Why was Jason returning some kind of notable event? What happened to Emily? And the Zeo Powers are just…. stuffed in the back of the closet at the Power Chamber or something? Bulk and Skull and Stone are just back together and happy and doing policework again?

Surely there must be something we’re missing here. Surely there is something that explains all of the changes that happen between seasons, right?

Let’s Talk About Scorpion Rain

Now this is jumping forwards in the real-world timeline a good bit, but I really really want to talk about this even if I’m already planning to talk about it again if I ever make it to Wild Force.

It all started on Usenet because it was the 90s. For all of you who aren’t a million years old, Usenet was a collection of “newsgroups,” which are like forums except instead of just going to a website, you had to perform a secret ritual to get a computer server to ask other servers if anyone was talking about Quantum Leap or whatever. Then all the other servers would send back everything that their server friends were saying about Quantum Leap and eventually the original server will have everything anybody is saying about Quantum Leap and send all of it to your computer to read so that you could write back about how much you hated Ziggy and then the server would yell it to any other servers within earshot.

Sort of like Bittorrent except instead of a bunch of computers sharing all the files it has for redundancy, all the computers have as much of one big file that they remember at the time, and they pass bits of it around to other computers and hope that it will eventually see all of the parts that you asked for.

You know, like Reddit except the only people on there were the kind of people who understand any of what I just said – mainly university students and tech-savvy nerds people. Sounds great, right?

Anyway! It’s 1998, Usenet is right on the cusp of being abandoned for the newfangled World Wide Web, and Power Rangers in Space is beginning to air. Having had an entire season to wonder what the heck happened between Zeo and Turbo, fans of Power Rangers looked to Usenet, where Big Name Fan ReGenesis0 mentioned that he was looking for the 8-minute short film that would eventually become known as Scorpion Rain.5 The short had played in pieces at the end of Zeo to promote Turbo, just like the really really boring shorts that played at the end of Mighty Morphin’ to promote Zeo.

Only these ones were sort of good. And explained what happened to Zedd and Serpentera. And how the Zeo Zords were destroyed. And were filmed and aired only in Australia, with lots of stock footage and local actors instead of the official cast. A few other Big Fans corroborated the video’s existence and vaguely recalled bits and pieces of it from their childhood. In Australia.

So yeah this whole thing was entirely made up. Spoilers I guess.

But at the time, no one was able to refute the claims, and many people wanted it to be real so badly that the rumor spread out of Usenet into IRC (an early chatroom protocol that also was populated primarily by tech weirdos) and eventually into Power Rangers Fandom Lore in general, spreading from webring to webring.6 Surely it must exist, because just look at how glaring the gap between Zeo and Turbo is. Plus, it was whispered that actual recorded footage was rumored to be on somebody’s old VHS tapes. If only there were some way to put short videos on the internet that would eventually turn into cash-farming for Russian How-To channels!

The rumored footage would never see the light of day. And not just because the entire thing was a hoax. In 2001, 3 years after the original posting, a Power Rangers fan who was actually Australian came into the picture, with a detailed, well-researched post about how, when you look at the facts, none of this actually made any sense. Oh, and also that he lived in Australia and his actual lived reality was more valid than a complete and total lie hinging on “those wacky Australians”. So, you know, circumstantial stuff.

With that post (and one of the conspirators7 accidentally letting it slip on IRC), Scorpion Rain had been destroyed. There isn’t a short film connecting Zeo to Turbo, and there never had been. Also the guy who was editing the fake footage wasn’t finished with it at the time.

You can see the semi-finished version of the footage now on YouTube, a site that I never once accused of turning into an absolute trash fire:

Note: The video plays weird on some devices and I’m not sure why. It should be at least a little bit intelligible, fake-VHS-artifacts notwithstanding, so you might need to switch browsers or something if it makes even less sense than I’ve attributed to it.

So now that I’ve already wasted… five pages!? on a bunch of things that are not the actual series that I’m ostensibly discussing, let’s get started on:

When we start this season, Divatox swears revenge on the Power Rangers for ruining her evil wedding, Lerigot has brought Zordon important news about a cosmic wormhole, and Justin is testing for early admission to high school because he is Just That Smart.

Adaptation

So here we are. Much has been written about the troubled production behind Power Rangers Turbo – the fact that the source series, Gekisou Sentai Carranger, is a humorous parody of Sentai as a whole, the disagreement among creators about the tone of the show, and a decline in audience leading to the ultimatum that if Turbo didn’t perform, it very well could have been the end of Power Rangers. This all on top of a number of huge, controversial changes – the replacement of beloved characters Zordon and Alpha V, and tolerated character Rocky deSantos, with some… unpopular replacements. We talked about Rocky’s departure during the movie – now at the start of the season, he passes the torch on to Justin permanently and vanishes from the face of the earth. Zordon and Alpha are replaced by Dimitria of Inqueris and Alpha VI, who are just… they are the worst ok. They just are. I know we’re not up to the Mentor ranking section, but they are just terrible and I hate them. They each do eventually acquit themselves more8 or less9, but they make a pretty awful first impression. We’ll come back to them.

Power Rangers Turbo is, in a lot of ways, two separate series. There’s Power Rangers Turbo, the light, awkward endcap/epilogue to the “Original” Ranger era, and there’s what almost counts as a reboot series that sets the direction for years and years of future Power Rangers. The trappings of both are essentially the same – there are still teens and morphing and robots made out of other, smaller robots, but almost every other thing about where Turbo starts and where it ends is different.

Plot

When we start this season, Divatox swears revenge on the Power Rangers for ruining her evil wedding, Lerigot has brought Zordon important news about a cosmic wormhole, and Justin is testing for his placement in school. Meanwhile, the other Rangers are preparing to graduate, just in time to escape having to be in class with Justin, who is apparently a child prodigy and is immediately skipped ahead to Angel Grove High School. Let’s ignore that as much as possible.

Lerigot, the troll doll/wizard from the movie, tells Zordon that a cosmic interdimensional wormhole has opened that will allow Zordon to travel back to his homeworld of Eltar, but it will only stay open a short while. Zordon and Alpha say some tearful goodbyes, as much as a floating head and saucer-robot can have tears, and fly away, and I’m sure that that all works out fine and won’t come back to cause any kind of problem. While the Rangers feel the loss of their friend and their mentor, a door opens up and out walks Alpha VI. Newer! Shinier! Badly accented! This immediately makes up for the loss of Alpha V in their hearts and they never think about him again. Zordon is less easily replaced on the other hand, and in his place arrives Dimitria, a magic woman who doesn’t have to live in a tube, but just does because she likes it or something. Also she only speaks in questions because she’s from the planet Inqueris and yes it is exactly as frustrating and annoying as it sounds when she makes awkward Socratic questions to tell everybody this.

In the first few episodes, we’re quickly introduced to a number of interesting plot threads – the alien Visceron arrives on Earth with an important message, but is intercepted by Divatox and turned evil. The Rangers make him good again, with fighting, obviously, and he is able to deliver his urgent news: Dimitria’s records were falsified and she has a lost twin! Next, the future robot Blue Senturion arrives on Earth with an important message, but is intercepted by Divatox and turned evil. The Rangers make him good again, with fighting, obviously, and he is able to deliver The Millennium Message: In the year 2000, all of the evils of the universe will join forces to destroy Earth. Oh, also the rest of the universe. The message also reveals the one force that can prevent this from coming to be, but when Divatox sees this, she destroys that part of the message because foreshadowing or something.

Where is Dimitria’s twin? What did Divatox see in the Millennium Message? Are you excited for the shocking reveals to come?

Well don’t be because the show writers change and none of it ever comes up again. Not even in the actual year 2000 when Power Rangers does a whole time-travel season.

Instead, about halfway through the season, absolutely every-fucking-thing changes. The four non-child Rangers, who have graduated and gotten character-appropriate jobs10 are kickedsent off to go and live their lives as real adults so that a new batch of teenage cannon fodder Power Rangers can take their place, leaving Justin as the “Veteran” Ranger of the team because That’s the kind of continuity that you’re getting here.

And the blue one I guess

This becomes an almost total reboot for the series – the Rangers stop shouting the names of their Zords while morphing, Dimitria starts saying sentences like a normal person, and Justin gets pushed back into the background instead of learning Very Special Lessons about birthdays or bullies or how it’s important to tell the truth because otherwise monsters will appear and it’s all your fault somehow. Along with new Rangers, new heroes and villains show up, and Divatox stops living in her van Subcraft and gets a real base by moving in with her brother.

At the end of the season, after a season of escalating menace culminating in three evil Divazords, Divatox brings in an invincible monster to take down the Rangers and their Zords, and then… she just freaking wins. She wins, the Zords are destroyed in an act of heroic sacrifice, and the Power Chamber is overrun by Pirhanatrons just as Dimitria and Blue Centurion go off-planet to help Zordon. Oh and then she blows up the Power Chamber, leaving the Rangers powerless. In the season finale, the Rangers need to commandeer a NASADA11 shuttle launch in order to get Alpha 6 and a box of mysterious Power Codes into space for… mystery reasons.

Oh, also Justin stays behind on Earth because something something absent father blah blah child pathos. Thank goodness.

To be continued…… IN SPAAAAAAAAAAACE

+800 pts!

Music

This theme song. Oh man. This theme song. While Alien Rangers wasn’t really a new song and Zeo still took a lot from the original theme, Power Rangers Turbo, Go goes an entirely new direction and I kind of super love it. The melody is fun and dynamic, and the opening lines feel almost like a starting signal. I do have to take points away for just vocalizing “OOOooooOoooOoooOOOOOOOOOO” instead of just having like… words. You know, lyrics? Or nothing. Nothing would also be acceptable. The song plays during every Megazord sequence and I hate it every time. I know I’m fighting a losing battle with this, but it’s my hill and it’s a nice hill and I’m not going to die on it but I am going to sit here stubbornly until someone looks in my direction. There are a couple other songs that come up in this season – the Piranhatrons get their own monster fight theme, there are some more disposable fight themes with pretty generic lyrics, but then there’s a whole episode about an eeeeeeevil rock band. In Song of Confusion, the monster Totally Normal Humans Crash and the Creeps “join”12 Cassie’s band with their song… of confusion… that confuses people who listen to it… Look I never promised that these would be deep analyses into the nature of television.

Anyway Cassie gets pulled into this as part of an evil scheme to… something… confuse people I guess? But thanks to her learning a valuable lesson about friendship, they reverse… the polarity… of sound…? I guess? They destroy the band’s instruments which somehow erases the song from everyone’s minds though, so I guess everything worked out. Anyway my point is that it’s a pretty fun song even though it’s evil.

+320 pts!

Fights

They are… fine. Nothing particularly sets them apart this season and the cars theme doesn’t lend itself to any interesting gadgets or effects, apart from some chase scenes. If anything sets this season’s fights apart, it’s the monsters, who are alternatingly absurd or stupid or both at once. It is adapting a comedy, after all, and the monsters have always been the most visually expressive part of the show. The Zord fights are kind of fun. Having Blue Senturion around gives them a little extra personality, and he’s not nearly as obnoxious as Ninjor, so that’s a big plus.

The unmorphed fights have the obstacle of realistically involving Justin. A lot of the time he’s just out there keeping up with full-grown adults teens, but he also gets grabbed a lot and occasionally some special-episode power or whatever other thing going on. It’s not the best. There also is the problem that the Piranhatrons are pretty armored-looking, which sometimes strains believability with bare-handed fighting.

+159 pts

Miscellany

It’s interesting to see how editing can make such a huge difference in the type of show that Power Rangers can be. Working off of the same source material, they essentially have created two different shows between the first and second halves of the season, and it’s interesting to see how that comes about. Having the Rangers graduate high school is a weird choice13, and it leads to a lack of focus with stories. They still <i>want</i> to tell school stories, because that’s what’s relatable to younger viewers, but now everyone has jobs in the oh so relatable fields of stunt shows, radio djs, and test drivers. Thus, Justin. But nobody wants to see stories about elementary school, so they have to raise him up to High School because he is a prodigy genius, a qualification that basically is never actually shown in his character. You’ll notice that the new cast is generically “in high school” to blow past this issue.

As for the exiting cast, the story as I’ve heard it is that Jason David Frank14 wanted to leave the show because he’s been doing this for like 5 years now and he’s getting noticeably old. When this happens, since their contracts were ending anyway, producers decide to not renew and just dump the whole cast, surprising  Catherine Sutherland15, Johnny Yong Bosch16 and Nakia Burrise,17 who all were game to keep going. According to various interviews, the first that any of them heard they were looking for replacements was when Johnny Yong Bosch brought in a newspaper listing auditions for new Power Rangers. It’s especially unfortunate for Nakia honestly, as she had only just joined the series in Zeo and like I said last time, was a remarkably enjoyable breath of fresh air, bringing a lot of life and energy to the character.

When you look at the franchise as a whole, You can look at Zeo as pretty much the end of the “Golden Age” of Power Rangers as an after-school, mostly episodic “fun” show.18 The first half of Turbo is a weird sort of epilogue season to that era, kind of just spinning its wheels19 until the new cast shows up. In the back half of the season, you can see the beginnings of In Space as the show’s writing and plotting start to take off.20

Cumulative Score: +505 pts!

The Good Guys

Returning Rangers

  • Tanya Sloan (Nakia Burrise) – Still great. Too bad she didn’t last. But then again, who does?
  • Adam Park (Johnny Yong Bosch) – Oh my, that hair. That hair. Ohboy. Supposedly Bosch had to grow his hair out (he had shaved his head coming in to Turbo because the producers thought that if Adam had long hair like Tommy’s, he would be able to replace Tommy as the leader if Jason David Frank left the series, and kids wouldn’t notice the switch because both of the characters had long hair.
  • Kat Hillard (Catherine Sutherland) – She has an episode where the monster can change her weight to make her heavier or lighter as a heavy-handed anorexia metaphor and for some reason I find that unbearably hilarious.
  • Tommy Oliver (Jason David Frank) – There’s not really any way to avoid it – he is starting to look kind of old. This is pretty inevitable after 4 years and it’s not his fault but honestly.

The (New) Rangers

Justin Stewart (Blake Foster)  

Boy Genius. Kid Ranger. Baby Spice.

  • Color: Blue
  • Zord: Mountain Blaster
  • Signature Weapon: Turbo Hand Blasters
  • Strength:1
  • Smarts: 1000 apparently. He took a test.
  • Coolness factor: 0

Justin. Oh Justin. Justin Justin Justin. Why you gotta be this way? Nothing against Blake Foster, who actually does a great job with what he’s given, but what he’s given is……………

Oh boy.

He exists to be insecure and unsure of himself. His entire character boils down to “inferiority complex” and “my father doesn’t love me because work”, neither of which are particularly compelling. He’s supposed to be sympathetic, but his problems are just so, well, “childish.”

The Justin episodes tend to be your standard after-school special stories. Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t show off. Don’t reveal that you know all of your friends are secret robots here to replace you. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that – a lot of Season 1 episodes followed that kind of plot. But when the show is in the process of turning into something bigger than Important Lessons for Children, they stick out as lesser episodes. It doesn’t help that the first half of the season is pretty Justin-heavy since he’s the new character on the scene.

Ashley Hammond (Tracy Lynn Cruz)  

Dance Teacher. Car Expert. Posh Spice.

  • Color: Yellow
  • Zord: Dune Star
  • Signature Weapon: Turbo Star Chargers
  • Strength: 8
  • Smarts: 75
  • Coolness factor: 100

Ashley nominally falls in the same “fashionable girly girl” mold as Kimberly (and to a lesser degree, Kat) originally did, but without as much of the peppy 90s pre-Clueless energy. She ends up being a natural expert at auto maintenance, because somebody remembered that this is a car season, and she is essentially the emotional center of the group, which otherwise leans a bit firey

Carlos Vallerte (Roger Velasco)  

Soccer Boi. Not a Vampire. Sporty Spice

  • Color: Green
  • Zord: Desert Thunder
  • Signature Weapon: Turbo Thunder Cannon
  • Strength: 15
  • Smarts: 20
  • Coolness factor: 80

Sports! Go Sports! But also this one time he gets turned into a vampire and only Justin suspects and no one believes him because that is how every Justin plot goes and like. Vampires aren’t real. Obviously. Only neither are skeleton monsters or frankensteins and we’ve definitely fought those before. So when Carlos goes all Symphony of the Night or whatever and starts vampireing all over the place, everyone is just cool with this because that’s just Carlos being wacky.

What I’m saying is that no one cares enough about Carlos to notice that he’s a vampire. Except Justin but no one listens to him anyway.

Cassie Chan (Patricia Ja Lee)  

Rock Grrl. Romantic Lead. Scary Spice

  • Color: Pink
  • Zord: Wind Chaser
  • Signature Weapon: Turbo Wind Fire
  • Strength:
  • Smarts:
  • Coolness factor: 121

The show seems weirdly interested in giving Cassie weird romance plots. Throughout the season, she has romance plots with a generically handsome oblivious new guy, a dog turned magically human, and a smoldering season-spanning romance with the Phantom Ranger complete with longing sighs and awkward giggles.

P.S. She’s good at martial arts because her ancestors invented it. Thanks, the 90s!

T.J. Johnson (Selwyn Ward)  

Nice Guy. Baseball Captain. Ginger Spice.21

  • Color: 
  • Zord: 
  • Signature Weapon:
  • Strength:19
  • Smarts: 66
  • Coolness factor: 97

A red ranger that actually has personality? Inconceivable! He starts out with a bit of a weird delivery, but chalk that up to the script being pretty uniquely camp. Also he just straight up immediately believes Bulk and Skull when they get accused of stealing mail, which might make him the actual best person in all of Angel Grove.

The Team

I don’t like the Turbo suits. They just have a whole lot going on and the whole “car frame as helmet” doesn’t get expressed as well as I think it could. Maybe if the actual Zords were more stylized to match, but “some kind of car” just isn’t as iconic of a shape as Dinosaur22 mouth when it comes to basing a whole helmet design around. And then the bodies just have these Jim Lee lines all over that drive me craaaaaaaazy any time I see them. Also: Around the time when Everything Changes, they stop calling out their zord during the morphing sequence. And like, sure you still have a catchphrase or whatever that you call out to announce morphing, but how can you stop them from yelling out weird nonsense like “Mountain Blaster” with a completely straight face. I guess somebody decided that taking an entire minute to get through the team’s morphing sequence was “bad pacing” or something.

Ranger Ranker:

  1. Cassie – She’s introduced by obnoxiously singing out loud on a crowded bus and honestly, I’m with her. +2439 pts
  2. Ashley – This one time she makes jackets that turn you evil. That’s it, that’s the whole description. +2004 pts
  3. Tanya – Unfortunately, she doesn’t get the time or focus that she really deserves. In my headcanon, she becomes Angel Dynamite on Scooby Doo Mystery, Inc. +1988 pts
  4. Adam – Look man, whatever the reason actually was, this is a bad hair choice. +1954 pts
  5. T.J. – I’m confused now because the leader before had long hair and now the leader has no hair. +1723 pts
  6. Kat – You know what would be fun probably? Not being weirdly into Tommy +1244 pts
  7. Carlos – No really though I need to know about in-universe vampires please +1111 pts
  8. Tommy – Look at that old man! +500 pts
  9. Justin – That tall child looks terrible! +3 pts

At this point, the legacy team is a mishmash of alternates and replacements. Adam and Tanya play off of each other well, and Tommy and Kat are “a thing” I guess, but the team dynamic is otherwise kind of fragmented. While I think a hard reset of the status quo wasn’t entirely warranted, there is no arguing that the new Rangers fit together as a team in a way feels natural and cohesive. It puts everybody on basically the same footing23, and I have to say that having a team that isn’t led by Tommy Freaking Oliver is actually a refreshing change.

Anyways, this would be an amazing new team if only it didn’t have Justin. Foreshadow foreshadow foreshadow.

Overall Team Score: 2104 pts

Gear

Turbo Navigators

So for some reason, the primary evil thing that Divatox does in the first half of the season is to just stick “detonators” everywhere. But then the Rangers need to find the detonators, so they come in with this flip-top whatsit that detects things. Lots of things. Somehow.

It’s a tricorder that you have to hold with two hands like you’re walking around with a 3DS looking for Pokemon.

-53 pts

Turbo Carts

These are amazing and I wish every season had them

+1000 pts

Turbo RAM

Like with the Power Blaster, the Turbo weapons combine to form the Turbo RAM. Or sometimes the Turbo RAM comes fully assembled and the Rangers take their weapons from it. Or it’s some kind of car/plane thing. In any case, the Rangers use it to shoot a multicolored beam that closes out the act and it does a fine job at that.

+303 pts

Turbine Laser

This time the girls get to stand up

This is somehow different than the Turbo RAM. Probably because it’s a big gun-shaped gun that just drops from the sky when they need it. The turbine part is that there’s a spinny bit that makes it more powerful, because spinning always makes things better.

+0 pts come on this is just the same thing again

Lightning Cruiser & Storm Blaster

I guess… these count… as gear…….? I’m certainly not putting them under Zords or Allies sooooooooooooo

These are Alien Cars that can think and feel but not talk. One of them can fly! Why are they alien cars that look like Earth cars? Shut up, it’s car season, get onboard the car train.

This one time a monster throws a pizza on the wheels and steering wheel, which turns them evil. Look the pizza episode is amazing and I will not hear any arguments to the contrary.

+222 pts

Zords

Turbo Zords

Pictured: Cars

They are cars. Some of them are more racecar and some of them are more off-roady I guess. I guess for some people it would be more obvious how the cars match up to any kind of theme, but it ain’t me. Also I don’t care. Because they are cars.

Coolness of Car

  1. I don’t know +? pts
  2. Cars are all the same to me +? pts
  3. I guess they all are tied? +? pts
  4. It’s really hard to care about any of these cars +? pts
  5. Mountain Blaster -100 pts

Turbo Megazord

In the first Megazord sequence, Tommy needs to check the manual of his zord and they have to try a couple times to make all the cars link up. Don’t be like Tommy, kids. Pull over and turn off the car if you need to check the manual for your giant death-machine. But the implication of this scene is that EVERY TIME the Megazord shows up, they are manually driving all the cars together and finding a ledge to ramp off of and such. Normally I would let this go because it’s just the genre, but they spend several minutes cheering each other on while they do this, and there is a whole chase sequence with Elgar DURING THE MEGAZORD SEQUENCE. Which, you know, satirical source material, but you didn’t need to use this sequence. It’s not like there isn’t a functionally identical Megazord sequence that gets put in every single other episode.

Main Weapon: Turbo Megazord Saber

Finishing Move: Turbo Megazord Spin-Out – The Turbo Megazord zooms down a road on its heelies and goes into a tornado spin with its sword, slashing through the enemy and exploding them.

Total (group) score: 755 pts

Rescue Zords

Partway through the season, the Turbo Megazord is defeated and captured by the Forces of Evil. It is at this convenient moment that the Phantom Ranger reveals his purpose on Earth – to bring the Rangers their new Rescue Zords, more powerful than any before.

So the Rescue Zords are all various types of rescue vehicle – there’s a fire truck, an ambulance, a police car, and two others that they had to think up to get to five Zords. They all do pretty thematically appropriate rescue things. The Lightning Fire Tamer, the fire truck has a big water cannon, Thunder Loader, the dump truck, has a… dump… thing… to carry stuff, Star Racer, the… racing tractor(?), has a big lifty thing like tractors have, and Siren Blaster, the Police Car, doesn’t do anything and is driven by a giant child. Also Wind Rescue, the ambulance, gets a giant needle rocket missile, which seems like it wouldn’t really come in handy in a rescue situation all that often.

Coolness of Rescue… Thing….

  1. Fire Truck(Lightning Fire Tamer) +451 pts
  2. Ambulance (Wind Rescue) +426 pts
  3. Dump Truck (Thunder Loader) +384 pts
  4. Tractor/Racecar…? (Star Racer) +103 pts
  5. Police Car (Siren Blaster) +2 pts

Rescue Megazord

Main Weapon: Guns!

Finishing Move: Artillery Power – The Rescue Megazord calls on Artillatron to provide Giant Guns and they shoot up the enemy real good.

Total (group) score: 630 pts

Artillatron

Artillatron is the carrier-zord for the Rescue Zords. That’s pretty much the only thing that it does.  It rolls out from the Zord hangar, lets out the Rescue Zords, then forms into its tower mode and I guess just sits there until the Megazord needs its giant gun arms.

Coolness of Train…Car…Thing(?)

I guess it’s kinda cool? It never actually gets named and it never actually does anything.

Mentors/Allies

Dimitria

Dimitria from the planet Inqueris! She only speaks in questions! Get it! Inqueris! They only ask questions there! It must be a terrible place! This question thing goes for a couple episodes until she abruptly cuts it out and talks like just a normal dang person in a tube. I am not sure how it ever seemed like a good idea for her to talk in questions, let alone for there to be an entire planet of Rosencrantzes and/or Guildensterns,  but go off I guess.

+70 pts?

Alpha 6

Shiny! New! What a technological marvel! And it would be even more of a marvel if he didn’t have a terrible acce-

Yo yo yo, it’s me, Alpha 6! I just dropped in from Space-Brooklyn to do dis here bio. Deese Rangers sure are ay-mazing are’ent they? None of dem complained even once about da way I tawk. Despite me being an obnoxious robit! Ain’t dat nice of dem?

I hate him.

-10000 pts!

Blue Senturion

Space cops! Cops from space! Here to help old ladies and stop the evils of jaywalking! He’s from spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace.

Also he’s an idiot and gets fooled and/or turned evil/crazy So Many Times that he almost could qualify for the villain section.

He has his own Zord, the Robo Racer, which is a GIANT FREAKIN POLICE CAR that can ramp off of the top of a parking structure and turn into a fighting robot that is one-hundred times cooler than Siren Blaster.

+911 pts

Phantom Ranger

He’s so sexy and mysterious, but mostly mysterious! If he goes too long without his Power Ruby, he’ll “cease to exist” which might not just be a metaphorical way to avoid saying “die” which you can’t do on kids TV. His deal is never really explained – there are a bunch of non-canon and fanon explanations, with two major ones being that he is the spirit of every fallen Ranger or that he is a personified piece of the Morphin Grid. He can turn invisible and move super fast, which he only does a few times before becoming an ignored side character. He’s on Earth to bring the Rangers the Rescue Zords, which he puts off until the most dramatic moment. Cassie also keeps giving him longing looks and blurry vignette flashbacks because she’s in luuuuuuuuuuuuv with this mysterious Ranger whose main character trait is “mysterious”

You do you, Cassie.

+598 pts!

Random Citizens Lightning Round!

Lt. Det. Jerome Stone

Stone goes from what he calls his “dream job” last season as a relatively successful private investigator to being a cop who needs to keep his job to taking over at the Juice Bar for Ernie. Downward Spiral!

+60 pts!

Ernie

Ernie doesn’t appear this season,24 having been called back to his foreign service unit somewhere in South America, where they presumably needed somebody to carry precarious trays of things and solve the Hawaiian shirt shortage.

+0 pts!

Mad Mike

For some reason this guy Mike decided to open a pizza shop centered around him being an angry grouch. Apparently it works though, since his advertising even reaches the Evil Subcraft, but that might just be due to ineffectual periscope spying.

+45 pts!

Jethro

Jethro is a dog. A literal actual dog.

The show puts him in a semi-romantic plot with Cassie.

-421 pts!

The Baddies

Space Pirates! Who doesn’t love a good space pirate? Divatox and her evil crew live on her subcraft, which is a space-submarine that makes approximately as much sense as a helicopter aircraft carrier. The subcraft has a magic periscope that can apparently appear out of any liquid to spy on the Rangers, which is kind of gross actually.

Eventually they move their main base to a spacebase, which is a lot better than The Sea Cave which is literally just a dank cave with a hole to the dimension of eternal screaming or whatever.

The Big Bad: Divatox – Pirate Queen of Evil

There’s that theatrical, over the top evil that I’d been missing. My partner says she dresses like a space dominatrix, which I can’t entirely argue against. More than any other villain so far, she wants more than just destruction and domination. She wants loot. Cashola. Moolah. She likes big shiny things and she will definitely lie and cheat and steal to get some. Outside the show, she is played by two actresses – Hillary Shepard Turner plays her for the movie, and then in the series, Carol Hoyt25 takes over the role while Turner is on maternity leave, after which Turner returns to finish out the season. Hoyt’s Divatox is a little more sinister and ruthless and Turner’s is a little more camp and fun,26but in either incarnation she is big and bold and over the top in a way that even Rita wasn’t. She’s not a schemer or diabolical planner like Zedd or Mondo. She is clumsy and incompetent and often a hot mess, but she gets the job done.

Like she literally gets the job done because she 100% destroys the Rangers on Earth, blowing up two Megazords, the Command Center, and the Turbo powers, and she would have taken over the Earth if not for Dark Specter suddenly calling her away to the CimmaronCimmerian planet. 

She leaves the Rangers utterly defeated and I can’t help but respect her for that.

Score: +8666 pts

Henches

Porto, Elgar, and Rygog – Complete with weird idiosyncratic teleport effects

Every Pirate Queen needs a terrible Pirate Crew, and this one is as terrible as they come, for varying definitions of “terrible”.

Rygog

I kind of love Rygog’s design. Rygog is Divatox’s second-in-command, and also is a mutant, a fact that becomes important never, but he is also wearing a costume that seems to be entirely composed of pauldrons, and I respect some good shoulder fashion.

+988 pts

Elgar

Elgar is (somehow) Divatox’s nephew and he is also The Worst. Not in an evil way, mind you, he’s just the worst and I hate him now and forever. He’s unbelievably dense, more incompetent than Also his sword is made out of playing cards for no real reason and honestly that’s the coolest thing about him.

-10001 pts!

Porto

Haha it kind of sounds like Porthole and he’s a big bag with a porthole in it get it? Porto is Divatox’s monster manager, bringing in appropriate monsters from…. somewhere……? They just kind of appear in the airlock/back room of the subcraft somehow.

+330 pts

General Havoc

General Havoc is Divatox’s brother, who arrives with a spacebase and an evil zord, the Metallosaurus. He’s also actually quite successful, managing to defeat and capture the Turbo Megazord and seize the Phantom Ranger’s Power Ruby, giving the forces of evil the technology to field their own Zords later in the season. Of course, Havoc isn’t around for any of that because he runs away nobly retreats after the Metallosaurus is defeated by the new Rescue Megazord. But at least he sort of escalated the threat level for a couple episodes!

+5449 pts

Fodder

Piranhatrons

Ok It’s weird that in the movie they’re like… people in weird makeup and in the show itself they’r some kind of robots or something? My point is that the movie is weird and I hate/love it.

Descriptions/Opinions

+0 pts!

Chromites

noooooooooooooo make them go awayyyyyyyyyyyyyy

These are General Havoc’s minions and I hate their everything.

-10002 pts!

Monsters

The monsters this season don’t really have any kind of coherent theme, but they are much sillier than other monsters have been, in keeping with the sillier source material.

Monsters that are Good (according to me):

Numbor

Numbor can change the measurements of things, which is why he has a duck laser.

Mad Mike the Pizza Chef

Mad Mike is an incredibly offensive-looking monster whose powers revolve entirely around pizzas. Mostly exploding pizza, but sometimes he can also stick them to car steering wheels to control them. Like you do.

Also he bakes the Rangers into a giant pizza. It is important to me that you know this.

Count Nocturne

No but I do seriously need to understand this vampire thing. Vampires aren’t real, I can get with that. But there are these Lunar Bats that infest the moon but we have never heard of. And one of these bats turns into or gets turned into Count Nocturne, a monster that is able to bite Carlos on the neck, which makes Carlos start dressing in black and craving blood and whatever. Also Carlos turns into a bat. So I guess vampires are real then? But people are somehow still surprised about this despite……… everything else that is real.

Cool, okay, glad that’s settled.

Divazords

Divatox manages to meet the Rangers on their own level with three evil zords – a Shark, a Cat, and an Eagle. These come up a couple times throughout the climax of the series, having been upgraded or repaired to be exactly menacing enough to almost win. Obviously they fail, but they put the Rangers enough on the back foot that the next monster, Goldgoyle, is able to finish the job and destroy the Megazords for good.

What About Bulk and Skull and Lt. Stone

Sigh.

Bulk and Skull get turned into monkeys. Just…. Monkeys.

And then Stone, whose life has gone wildly off course as he runs the juice bar now for some reason, adopts the monkeys because they “look familiar”.

We get a whole lot of *sigh* monkeying around, complete with silly mouth-flap-matched voiceover from Bulk and Skull that no one else can understand. It’s…. a choice. The word is that there was a spinoff Bulk and Skull show in the works that the actors, Paul Shrier and Jason Narvy were busy on instead, but that ended up not going anywhere, so they got rid of the monkeys and turned Bulk and Skull – you guessed it – invisible. Why not. Eventually they become visible again and start a comedic subplot of being completely unemployable in an array of new jobs, all ultimately ending in their constant humiliation.

They were semi-successful detectives just a year ago. There was a certification test and everything. Sure they only passed on a technicality, but they were finally almost mostly not a joke! It just feels like a major backslide for everyone involved.

THE FINAL SCORE

We now begin the completely transparent scoring system, where I give a value (in Pts) to each of the major elements, and I also get to decide what those are. And also how much they have accrued in Bonus Points(pts) up to now.

  • The Team: 385 Pts 
    • Individual:  100 tPts Justin is a big loss for the combined individual ranking, screwing up the average like every other advanced placement prodigy
    • Together:  525 tPts The team works really well together in either configuration – turns out that you can make a balanced cast when you stop just swapping people out at random27
    • Leader:  +50 tPts Tommy Bad TJ fine
  • The Zords:  522 Pts
    • Individual: 54 zPts Cars and cars and cars and cars
    • Megazords: 759 zPts I actually kind of like the zord combinations in this season, and the spinout attack is absolute gold
  • The Villains: 180 Pts
    • Leader: 200 vPts She’s terrible, unhinged, and terribile at things.
    • Henchmen: 3 vPts hate hate hate hate hate hate
    • Fodder: 0 vPts I cannot forgive the Chromites
  • The Monsters: 450 Pts They’re fun! One of the benefits from adapting a silly series is that you get silly monsters, which are the best kind of monsters
  • Story: 2000 Pts oh my god evil wins and things actually start fuckin happening in this show
Sudden Dramatic Points Right At The End


+5000 Pts Look, Turbo gets a lot of heat for being “the bad season” and, relatively speaking, it is. But a lot of that comes from the fact that In Space builds on what Turbo gets right so much that Turbo is completely overshadowed, forgetting that In Space owes a lot to it. It’s not as bad as people say, but it’s still pretty rough, with some very frustrating choices.

After converting the base score(Pts) and bonuses(pts) into Power Points (PPs), totalling all the scores for each section and normalizing the results according to the secret formulae that definitely exist and are not a screen to get me out of having to think about scores ever at all:

Power Rangers Turbo: 10,519 Power Points (PPs)

Let’s see the rankings!

Power Rangers Seasons, Ranked

  1. Power Rangers Zeo – [footnote19096 PP[/footnote]
  2. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season 328
  3. Mighty Morphin’ Alien Rangers29
  4. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season 230
  5. Power Rangers Turbo –  10,519 PPs!
  6. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season 131

It’s fine. It definitely fumbles the handoff from a great season, but it sets up one of the best seasons of the franchise. The show could have died with Turbo – the ratings were falling for a lot of its run, but it managed to pull up enough by the end that it could keep going just the little bit longer it needed to become an absolute icon. Everyone involved does the best that they can with the show that’s given to them, and I’m really excited for the show to become the seed of what it is today.

Alos, I give Rocky a bunch of crap, but Steve Cardenas the actor seems like a genuinely nice guy, and apparently part of him leaving the show is that he fought for the entire cast to be paid more and was refused. I still hate Rocky though.

Join me next time hopefully sooner than later for: The One That is In Space!