I’m not really one who has the patience to watch television programmes on my computer – I get distracted; I open another window to browse while the show is playing; I get annoyed at how long it takes to end. But over the past few days, I’ve managed to finish the whole season of – and this is the part where everyone laughs at me – Power Rangers: RPM and it is the BEST ever.
It’s been a long, long, long while since I sat down and watched Power Rangers properly, so I’ve been a rather shitty Rangers fan, even if I stick only to wearing blues on a regular basis in hopes that if I ever get recruited by an alien being/samurai guinea pig/computer programme, they’d notice the colour and make me Blue. And to be fair, I barely remember the Saban seasons, since I never really continued watching past In Space (and I hardly even remember what happened in the over-all plot arc of In Space); but I must say that Disney hasn’t been the shitty fandom-ruining corporation that everyone seems to make them out to me.
If anything, I think Disney can be rather on-point when it comes to creating team chemistry and characterization; or rather: when they’re good, they’re really good, but when they’re bad, they’re terribly bad. Take for instance the awesome teams of Ninja Storm, Dino Thunder and SPD (which may have lost its place as my favourite season) – but then, Mystic Force and Overdrive were kinda shit seasons. Jungle Fury was not bad, but it wasn’t addictive; probably because they were trying to push the humor too much and it was all trying-too-hard.
But with RPM, they’ve managed to hit the perfect combination of humor and darkness (dark?). In fact, I think RPM is probably the darkest Disney season ever – and perhaps, one of the darkest seasons in the whole franchise ever (although In Space and Time Force – the little I watched of it – were pretty crazy in their own right too). What I enjoyed most in RPM was perhaps the character development as the season went on; and how well developed each character was, although that may also be because this season had probably the most solid cast since SPD.
It’s also rather interesting how the season doesn’t follow the usual trope of focusing solely on the Red Ranger, and gives so much time and space to the other characters to grow as well; actually I suspect why I love RPM so much is because it focuses quite a lot on Ranger Green Ziggy, and I always have a soft spot for quirky/Green Rangers. But what was quite surprising for me was that I actually, genuinely liked all the Rangers (and Dr K) in RPM. Usually I end up hating the Red, or the Brooding One, or the Energetic-Try-To-Be-Funny one but this time they were really all so intriguingly created that it’s hard to hate any of them (which also makes me sound like a big fat meanie).
The team is probably one of the most awesome and real teams in the franchise; you can actually see the relationships between characters grow with each episode, which is something that seasons usually neglect until an episode where relationships become crucial. It’s the very little things in the season that flesh out the characters: even how they try to match unmorphed fighting styles with morphed fighting styles. Flynn uses his strength; Ziggy goofs around and tries not to get hit; Gem and Gemma are crazy; Dillion just can’t give a damn.
Speaking of fighting sequences, I also really liked how there was so much unmorphed fighting in the season. Although it can never compare to the standards set by the earlier seasons, and the shaky camera work made it hard to follow the action at times, it was very fun watching them fight out of Ranger gear. Although strangely enough, this season managed to conquer my aversion of zord and morphed fighting sequences. For most of the season, I followed every single scene – even if it was a morphed fight. I generally hate it when I can’t see anyone’s face (strange, I know, given the whole premise of Power Rangers), but the writing made it interesting enough for me to believe that the Ragners were actually fighting in their suits, rather than having stunt doubles do the work (if that even makes sense!).
Of course, RPM has its flaws, many flaws in fact: there are strange cuts scenes; so many logical plot-holes; villains just disappearing after almost beating the Rangers; certain out-of-character moments; the rather shitty ending (because what sort of crazyass ultrabossman villain gets killed by having something drop on him??) – but the world that it’s created and the characters that it’s brought into life sort of makes up for it, to me at least.
I wouldn’t say that this is a season for everyone, but it’s definitely a season for me. I really really loved how each character has their own proper back-story, and they’re all dark as hell (like honestly: from your brother getting gunned down by machines to your friends leaving you out to die to being stalked down by the mafia to being kidnapped by the government as a kid and forced to make weapons for them). While watching, I kept waiting for the moment when I’d get annoyed by Dillion’s brooding posturing and his backstory about being a hybrid and trying to find his sister – but that moment never came. Unlike Mystic Force’s Nick and his stupid Koragg connection, the writers managed to balance it well with the lighter moments of his character; and even though it was a central focus of the whole season, it didn’t over-shadow the whole narrative – plus, it adds to the non-Red Ranger focus thing.
Which brings me to the pilot episode which was S I C K. I don’t think there’s ever been a first episode where the Power Rangers (well, at that time at least!) were barely in it; instead, they spent the first episode doing world building and introducing us to Dillion and Ziggy, and how dysfunctional everything is. In a way, RPM sort of subverts a lot of conventions in the franchise – like how in some episodes, monster battles (including the zord fights!) last for barely 5 minutes, and the rest of the episode is spent on the Rangers in their civilian form with their own personal issues to sort out. At times, it feels like RPM is not so much a Power Rangers series, but a show about a bunch of people living in a dystopian city, who just so happen to be Rangers – if that even makes sense.
I sort of have this sneaking suspicion that the writers were all like well this is the last season of Power Rangers ever (for Disney at least) , let’s just have the most fun out of it! because they really went kinda crazy with the writing: there were so many meta-jokes about Power Rangers as a series (like why they have to shout GET IN GEAR etc etc), and so many scenes written just to start OTPs (really, it felt like the writers were just creating their own ships just for fun). And it’s that combination of strangeness and craziness and darkness and action that mushes together to form the perfect season.
There’s now this empty hole in my heart because there’s nothing after these 32 episodes, and I can’t bear to start on Samurai or Megaforce because from the few clips that I’ve watched, the seasons look kinda shitty. So thank you RPM for renewing my love for Power Rangers, and for reigniting my fantasy of being a Power Ranger myself.
Also this ship sails itself: