Thursday, September 6, 2018

Power Morphicon 2018: Zordon Lives

Another long, exciting PMC Week kicked off Monday evening (8/13) as Batz and I left Ranger Bar around 5:30 to pickup Lil Sorbo and Batz' girlfriend before our road trip could begin. I was kind of surprised at how well I did in the car so long, a much different story than back in February, when I was just miserable taking the red eye with my folks to Houston (and then Mexico) for my sisters wedding. We reached southern California around 11:00 and after stopping for lunch at In-n-Out Burger, it was on to Disneyland the rest of the day Wednesday, my first time back since spending a day there in 2006. Thursday we did California Adventure Park and Disneyland once more on Friday.

Just before 6:00 I headed off next door to the Anaheim Convention Center and was glad I didn't make it much earlier after hearing how bad things had been with a very long, endless registration line (some apparently waiting as much as 5 hours) and the floor opening a half hour late. It only took me about an hour and a half to get my badge, enough time to check out the floor a bit and meet Claire Blackwelder (Kendall, Dino Charge) before No Pink Spandex Live started at 8:30. Afterwards, I got through the exodus leaving Disneyland to meetup with the gang again inside.

Saturday I saw Hasbro's toys presentation at 11:00, which I hoped would have something about next years Beast Morphers line but was mostly news about the Legacy Wars mobile game and a new HQ line of figures called Lightning Collection. Up next was the Ninja Steel Q&A and our Beast Morphers cast reveal with Instagram star/martial artist Jackie Scislowski quickly becoming my new Yellow Ranger crush. 🙂 I stuck around for the Mighty Morphin 25th anniversary panel at 1:15 and grabbed lunch after. Back on the floor, I met Brennan Mejia (Tyler, Dino Charge) and Nikolai Nikolaeff (Dominic, Jungle Fury), right before the panel with a mix of Disney era cast (Operation Overdrive/Mystic Force/Jungle Fury). New to the convention scene, he was pretty cool and gave out posters to all of us at the panel before he would be heading out shortly. I then got busy meeting more PMC first-timers - Katrina Browne (Kapri, Ninja Storm), my original Power Ranger crush Katrina Devine (Marah, Ninja Storm & Cassidy, DinoThunder), and Adelaide Kane (Tenaya 7, RPM). Also said hi to Kelson Henderson, who played several supporting characters in the Disney era and returned for Ninja Steel. I don't read the Power Ranger comic books but without much else to do with the floor closing 6:00, I went to the Shattered Grid live reading and boy was it a good idea. Cast & voice actor alumni did the characters, including Barbara Goodson reprising Rita Repulsa and a cameo from Rita's henchmen Squatt. Zordon himself lived again as well, thanks to David Fielding and some special equipment - the greatest moment of the ENTIRE weekend.

I metup with the gang after and it was time to start getting ready for the Angel Grove High School Prom '96 That Hashtag Show was putting on and the Ranger Bar Pink Dolphin Party in our hotel room for the night that would follow. Prom was fun and then our party got underway with a handful of folks coming to hangout including Christopher Khaymen Lee (Andros, In Space), dropping by with his posse later on. One of the last ones up, it was after 5am by the time everyone left and I called it a night (albeit a short one), while Lil Sorbo escorted a guy back.

Sunday I saw the Yellow Rangers panel at 11:00 and then met Kevin Kleinberg (Trip, Time Force) and got a few things at JC's Henshin Vault booth. It was also pretty cool taking in RJ Cyler being there, the only 2017 movie cast member to appear at a PMC thus far. He had a very solid line the entire weekend, alongside Jason David Frank who was swarmed his only day there Saturday. At 2:00 I caught the In Space panel (This year being the 20th anniversary of that season) and then said hi to Caitlin Murphy (Ronny, Operation Overdrive), one of the first cast members I ever met at the original PMC. At 4:00 was a rather luckluster Bulk & Skull panel, with Paul Schrier joined by The Bruce and some kids on stage, after Jason Narvy had to catch a flight earlier. PMC then had a short closing ceremony, confirming a return to Anaheim in 2020 to closeout the weekend. Team Ranger Bar soon headed off to get dinner and then the journey back to Washington began. After stopping for lunch before noon on Monday, we dropped off Batz' girlfriend, Lil Sorbo and then myself, getting home around the same time we originally left Ranger Bar.

As the convention continues to grow (setting a new attendance record this year), moving to Anaheim was definitely the right call, offering plenty of space on the floor including awesome displays of full suits and a wall of helmets to commemorate 25 years of the show from new owner Hasbro - a very exciting time to be having a PMC. I got off easier than others waiting in line to get my badge but pretty much anyone would say that have got to get things handled a lot better to avoid this mess happening again. Getting my gold membership perks and exclusives (shirts, hoodie, coins, pins, etc) went smoothly for me as well, waiting until Saturday afternoon, after the line had diminished. Navigating past actors tables still got tricky when people had lines but that's to be expected no matter the venue. I was a little disappointed by the lack of Dino Charge cast but was glad I got to talk to two out of the three who were there. With how poor Ninja Steel has often been, I don't plan on making them much of a priority next time, instead concentrating on recent cast I've missed (depending on who goes) and classic era almuni I keep missing or could repeat again after several years (2020 being the 10th anniversary of the first time it was in Pasadena). Also, it's still hard to top how likeable the Megaforce cast is off the show, the fun they have and talking to them all in 2016.

Being next door to Disneyland was big as well - pretty hot for all the running around but fun seeing the attractions and experiencing some fun & crazy rides. We had a nice AirBnB for three nights too. Props to the team - Lil Sorbo, Batz for handling where we'd be staying and his girlfriend for fixing us breakfast a couple mornings.

- Disneyland Gallery
- PMC Gallery
- Ranger Bar Facebook

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Super Stale Ninja Steel

Super Ninja Steel began just as bad as the end of the first-half, on par with Super Megaforce for bad anniversary seasons. First I gotta say, they really put together a great intro this year, I feel like one of the best since the original classic era. The presentation and flow of the clips is just perfect to me.

I liked how they tied directly into the end of Dino Super Charge with Sledge & crew coming out of the wormhole and taking the asteroid after Odius had it stripped. Things did get a bit sloppy, saying both "super ninja steel" and "ninja super steel," as well as Badonna switching groups, when we obviously never saw her before this. Once we returned to Summer Cove High School, things just went downhill. A new school year? Really? We're supposed to believe Odius waited about 9 months?! I do like having her as the main villain this year and never have I rooted for the enemy so much.

The Rangers fighting without their powers was good and I wish had gone on longer but instead getting new Ninja Power Stars was rushed and badly executed. And sure, a lot of exposition is nothing new, but it felt like they were really pushing it, trying too hard to make it clear what was going on. One of the worst midseason premieres of the Super halves. If only they could be two parts like the first premiere.

From there it didn't get much better with episodes continuing to be bogged down by lame plots. Calvin forgetting his anniversary with Hayley, thinking she was cheating on him with Preston, the Summer Cove students & Rangers becoming addicted to a handheld video game... We did get a good Levi episode mixed in (easily the best this year) and Sarah's mom & Hayley's dad kind of getting together was alright too. I like the Galactic Ninjas and Odius taking the power medallions, as well as having another episode with Sarah & her hoverboard. We barely get midseason cliffhangers anymore and ending the spring episodes with Odius defeating the Lion Fire Megazord & burning out the zord stars was pretty good. The bar is set so low now though and it's looking like we'll be back to lame fillers after "OUTFOXED" & "DIMENSIONS IN DANGER." Plus I enjoy how the BGM switched to a full on MMPR ripoff, but they're kind of crossing the line using a very similar Bulk & Skull theme for Victor & Monty.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Senior Year and Beyond: 20 Years Later

I've reminisced about 1998 and my time at Roosevelt you can still find here and here via LiveJournal. Now here we are again, celebrating '98 with the 20th anniversary of graduation and a nice visit back at the school, part of reunion day.

Simply put, high school was mostly pretty well for me and Senior Year was the cumulation of it all . I can't say much for Freshmen Year, just that it started out slow not really knowing anyone, except for rejoining Ting (who was a year ahead of me), after 7th grade at Eckstein. I had a Home Ec class I never did much work in and I was probably pretty happy to quickly get out of P.E. entirely (which I did have 6th - 8th grade).

Sophomore Year I joined the school store (Teddy's Corner) which moved to a bigger space (after basically being the space of broom closet) and we started selling balloons. Ting and I had a ceramics class and all I did were small bowls (which I still have!) The teacher had a radio and Real McCoy's "Another Night" would often come on, which I'd say pretty much introduced me to the entire genre of dance music. We also had a radio on sometimes in 5th period and at some point I got introduced to C89.5 FM "Seattle's Hottest Music" (now "Seattle Home For Dance"). I then did a work training program over the summer of 1997, helping out the custodians at Nathan Hale High School (where C89 is located). Right around my last day, I got a quick tour of the old second floor studios. I still have fond memories of listening to the station during my walk home from Nathan Hale, as well as a keepsake binder covered in C89 stickers I found one day in the recycling room, in addition to the photos from my visit.

Junior Year pretty much continued the Ting and I duo, helping out with Teddy's Corner and then having 5th & 6th periods at Nathan Hale's Print Shop, as part of the VOTIS program. Ms. Fernandez (who was in charge of the store), was a very nice lady who took a group of us on a field trip to the Space Needle for lunch one day. Senior Year I didn't continue with the store and Ting had graduated. Though it was fun having one school year with my sister Sarah, who I'd occasionally see with friends in the hall. Also I liked getting to sleep a bit later having no first period, but it took awhile to figure out a second period for me. And once we did I ended up not even liking it because it was just too advanced (It was Advanced Drawing & Painting after all). To this day, I still remember successfully getting one of the art projects done and then watching the teacher roll her eyes as I handed it in. Of course, Senior Projects were the big thing, which I've talked about. In some awful timing, I was late for school the day we needed to turn in the big presentation boards. The night before, as I was getting all set for the morning, the police forced a neighborhood evacuation due to a standoff involving someone with a gun up the driveway from us. I remember pretty much just sleeping in the car with Sarah, mom and dad at the top of the street until probably 2 or 3 am. Also, I was still in the VOTIS program (again taking up the last two periods), with one more semester at the Print Shop and then working at the downtown A&S Center second semester.

Finally, the end of high school came and I made sure to get a bunch of photos and as many yearbook signatures as I could, great to look back on today. And as I've talked about, a fitting end with a wonderful Senior Spree. Not real sure where I'd be the following year, I then enjoyed a very long, lazy summer, often up, chatting on AOL and listening to C89 until 3 or 4 am, consistently starting the day in the afternoon. A lot of time to watch MTV and a lot was on... The original Real World Seattle, Road Rules All-Stars - the very beginning of what would become The Real World/Road Rules Challenge, plus the debut of Total Request in a new primetime block, which soon became the TRL afternoon countdown. Earlier in the year, Road Rules Northern Trail did a Seattle episode featuring Third Eye Blind which I thought was the coolest thing. The TV landscape was of course very different, unlike today with Netflix Originals, reboots and The CW's Superhero TV. Besides MTV, my favorite show was definitely Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I immediately loved That '70s Show when it premiered in August. This was also when I really started to catch up on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers afternoon reruns, while the current season (Power Rangers in Space) would end the first six years with a truly morphinominal finale in November.

Meanwhile, October 4 was my first day in a work program at Seattle Central Community College, mostly doing recycling, mail delivery and some shipping/receiving, lasting until winter break mid-December. I also had meetings with a job coach there who helped get me a job at a printing place, which I started at mid-January. I'd go on to spend 4 years at MasterPress, which ultimately suffered from the economy and major staff cuts but is still open to this day. And besides my first real job, it was my first real experience having friends at a workplace, long before Whole Foods and QFC.

Unlike a lot of my classmate friends who I'd say moved on after graduation and never really looked back (not interested in any reunions either if this year is any indication), I wasn't quite ready to say goodbye to Roosevelt so fast. In June, I went with mom & dad to see the '99 spring musical ("Oklahoma!") and once in awhile, I'd see someone I knew while I'd be on the bus or about to catch one. Went to a Roosevelt football game in October and the following June, went back once more to see the '00 musical ("Brigadoon.") Also, Ms. Shintaffer & her husband had a boat and would take a small group of her students out sailing. We went once every June between '97 - '00. I enjoyed getting the chance to see the '99, '00 and '01 yearbooks as well whenever Sarah or one of her friends had left one around. She used to host parties, and July 26, 1999 was the biggest one of them all with what felt like almost the entire Roosevelt student body at the house, along with some graduates and other friends of Sarah's friends. It also became a sort of after party for a bunch of girls who had attended the Britney Spears show downtown and was finally broken up late in the night when the police arrived. These are the moments I can't ever forget.

So here's to Roosevelt High School, my 4 years and all the celeb alumni who have walked the halls. 96 years (with a major facelift) has never looked so good.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Looking Back: Power Rangers Mystic Force

I like watching these Disney era seasons again several years later (In this case it had been a bit over 11 years since Mystic Force aired). I remembered it as being not that good, a common theme I'd say from around mid-SPD through late in Jungle Fury. Back then, it was fun to pick on the shows flaws (and listen to Rangercast do so), which led me to start blogging about every episode, which you can find here. But that was then. Now I appreciate Mystic Force a lot more.

The magic theme and Underworld really worked for me and the backstory of the great war that took place was fun to see again, which I now highly regard as the best structured story of the Kalish seasons (To this day, the only magic based season of Power Rangers). We had some good episodes adapting Magiranger footage which I loved (most notably "THE GATEKEEPER," "HEIR APPARENT" and "LIGHT SOURCE" two-parters). The humor was handled good too with Phineas and Clare doing most of it (Oh how I miss that today). Looking back, I kind of think of it as a precursor to Super Megaforce using Gokaiger. This season also gave us one of my favorite Green Rangers (Xander) and a fun guy in Chip (Yellow). I liked having John Tui back right after SPD as Daggeron, and Barnie Duncan playing Toby (and doing a brief Piggy cameo from SPD) was awesome.

Mystic Force still had some glaring problems... Nick, one of the worst Red Rangers of the shows history helped contribute to a bit of a downturn in the second half as he really got a lot of the focus, as well as how they kind of rushed through The Ten Terrors. Vida (Pink) was also pretty bad (especially early on), while Madison (Blue) just never got much focus. This season also infamously dropped the ball by making what many thought was a different show than what the premiere trailer looked like. After the premiere, the forest creatures weren't seen again until the finale, which had a laughable final battle with the seasons big bad getting overstuffed on magic to defeat him. They went a little too far with all the revivals as well, I thought.

The flaws are only part of an otherwise good story and while there are several seasons better, we've seen a lot worse over the years since. In 21 seasons (season 1 - Ninja Steel) I'd rank Mystic Force right in the middle.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

PRNS Wrap-up: Ninja Epic Fail

Ninja Steel first-half concluded with the final six episodes, a fitting end to a season that at times was so offensively bad, even worse than all of the Bruce Kalish years. First up, decent 3/5 for "MONKEY BUSINESS" - one of those wacky-monster episodes that had Phonepanzee recording the Rangers voices. I liked the idea of recreating scenes with Redbot being the hero but the book deal plot was pretty lame, giving his episode a 2/5. "ABRAKADANGER" was also not executed that well, leading to a slightly better 3/5. That was an awfully thick book for having only ten spells and this makes me wish Mahou Sentai Abrakaranger would be a real thing someday. Nice focus on Haley with the tennis match.

We then got my favorite Sarah episode of the season. I liked how involved her mom tried to be and the hoverboard is still my favorite thing. Even though Victor & Monty really blew it at the end and Mick didn't bother to check outside what was going on, I'll stick with a 4/5. But Mick acknowledging they were almost out of the ninja steel after it was ALSO MENTIONED a few episodes prior, was another example of the idiotic writing this show has... which leads to the finale.

I gotta say it didn't start out too bad. Galvanax has the Power Stars, then Brody gets away as the others are taken to the ship. Making Mick a Red Ranger was one of the few things this season got right though it was pretty half-assed how they did it with his and Dane's stars magically coming out of the prism from Brody's shattered star. I would've liked it a lot more if Dane had been possessing the prism this entire time. What lame excuse will he have to not be around for most of Super Ninja Steel? Plus I liked how it was the season finale of Galaxy Warriors.

As if Victor & Monty escaping from making the villains suffer bad gas wasn't bad enough, the Rangers defeating Galvanax by using a group Ninja Star Morph was also terrible, not to mention the asteroid coming in just in time to knockout the ship. Also it was just odd having the Samurai instrumental playing even though they weren't even doing a zord fight. I almost thought Princess Viera would show up with the Lion Fortress and I got the impression the ship went a LONG way... maaaybe the Dino Charge dimension where Sledge is alive? It's sounding like he'll be a short cameo, but I do look forward to what happens there. Glad to see Cosmo Royale survives the wreckage. The amount of closure just so everything can be remade with the asteroids ninja steel was absolutely ridiculous, worse than the Dino Charge team assuming all the villains were gone. And as much as I like seeing John Sumner (Fresno Bob) return as Santa and having the Christmas episode after the finale, it wasn't that good. Those were some very questionable times Sarah time-traveled to, to get the individual Power Stars, when she simply could've gotten them all at once. Any why must be school ALWAYS be used as the hangout? 3/5 for both episodes.

For now, I'll rank Ninja Steel 19 out of 21 seasons, between Overdrive and Megaforce. The biggest problem to me? Worst episode plots ever. Even Overdrive had Marchand/Tellegen backing it and at times they scored with the episode plot. Not the case now, being stuck with the worst writing team ever. I can't help but wonder how a Ninninger rip would've compared, rather than doing so much of their own stuff , including twice reusing (Thanks to Julian Do, we know they've consistently shot 82-84% original footage the past three years). Hopefully we'll see cameos outside of the teamup as it's gonna take a lot to make this anniversary season better than the previous.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Crisis on Earth-X: The Ultimate Superhero Time!

I don't really post about them but I'm a huge fan of The CW's DCTV (or as I like to call it, "Superhero Time"). The latter 2000s-early 2010s belonged to Smallville which I'll forever hold dear to me, but now it's a whole 'nother time when their is SO much more going on, which began just over five years ago with Arrow. While Supergirl isn't always as good, I consider all four "Arrowverse" shows my favorites. I've especially enjoyed The Flash the moment it premiered and Legends of Tomorrow at times has been the absolute best, in paticular season 2's "Leigon of Doom" plotline. I kind of like to look at it as Arrow has the best choreographed fight scenes, The Flash best humor and Legends best episode plots.

Going into this years big crossover, Crisis on Earth-X, I wondered how much all the shows would mesh together, after last years Invasion! crossover had each part of it more focused on the show it was on (The Flash beginning, ending on Legends, with Arrow's 100th episode in the middle). It turns out, everything gelled really well and it was easy to forget it was technically Supergirl, not The Flash the first hour when Barry/Iris tried to have their wedding.

Joining Kara, Oliver, Barry and Sara each doing their thing in their own cities was a nice way to kick things off, sort of a quick rundown for each show. Mick had the best one-liners and I loved he was at the wedding when he really shouldn't have been. Gotta hope the next one involves more of the Supergirl cast. Winn's due to meet everyone now and it would be nice to see J'onn fighting alongside the others sometime. Also gotta wonder if John Wesley Shipp was even offered to be in this. I thought it was strange Jay wasn't even mentioned. I get Joe not appearing much, but come on, even Wally was only in the first hour. So aside from a lack a screentime for a few, it was great seeing everyone work together, especially with the whole Stein/Jax plotline coming over. It sure felt like more Firestorm than what we ever got from Legends. And wow, just wow. I really thought Stein was simply going to stay home at the end.

Elsewhere, I thought Thawne switching to Wells appearance made sense after previously getting killed by Black Flash and it kind of felt like a homage when they brokeout the wheelchair (turns out it was a money saver as Matt Letscher was never asked back for this). I liked Dark Arrow being in a relationship with Overgirl and it was awesome seeing all the Earth-X counterparts including giving us another version of Leonard Snart. This kind of makes me wish The CW would do a mini DC movie separate from the shows episode counts someday but a special title card for the crossover (as was the case here) is close enough for them I imagine.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

PRNS Roundup: Rocking n' Rolling with the Reveal, Battlizer and Grave Robber

After coming back in August, this has really become an up and down season. I enjoyed "ROCKING AND ROLLING" better than Levi's intro in the previous episode. The concert was better than Antonio's and when Megaforce used it. And though they could've just destroyed Stonedozer sooner, I thought he was one of better MOTDs with the damage he caused. 4/5

We then got one worst episodes of the year in "THE RANGER RIBBON." It felt like they were trying too hard to make Preston's Dad overly mean and there was just no emotional weight. He should've found out Preston was a Ranger (For a moment there I thought he might), which would've further helped the bond between them. Also, having Trapsaw be Ripperat's twin brother was fine but why did they have to make him kind of inept? The traps failing was ridiculous and then the cheering for him to be Gigantified made zero sense. 2/5

I enjoyed the Cyborg Aiden episodes and thought "FAMILY FUSION" will probably end up being the best episode of first-half Ninja Steel. Mick doing some real mentoring, being suspicious of Aiden from the start was cool. Though it was pretty obvious it wasn't the real one, it was great having this sort of plotline in the Neo-Saban era. I couldn't wait for him to find the base, since it is kind of silly where it is in the first place. Also, the chocolate sculpturing was one my favorite school B plots and it'll be hard to top Victor the Chocolate Statue about to be eaten alive by a bunch of kids.

The big reveal is one of the few things Ninja Steel has gotten right - I just wish we could've had one more episode with Cyborg Aiden. But for the most part I liked how they wrapped it up with him getting caught and the Rangers quickly ending him. They could've done without forcing a Ripcon/Brody "rivary" otherwise, this was a good sendoff for him. I love how Madam Odius can tell Galvanax anything and he buys it. Plus I liked how the Fusion Star was something Mick had been working on off-screen and wasn't created during the episode. The way Levi got his memories back felt very PR-ish and I liked how they used the talent show as an excuse to use the song. But man, Shewfelt sucks at delivering lines and Brody's on his way to joining the likes of Troy and Nick. When he says how glad Dad would be that they found eachother, I actually thought it was ADR'd and had to double check if his lips were moving. Having essentially a bad Red Ranger is nothing new so I won't fault the episodes for it. 4/5 and 5/5

Speaking of bad, it was back downhill again with "ACE AND THE RACE." Mistaking the Victor Trophy for a ball and then waiting until the very end to change him back (because comedy!) was horrendous. I'm sure Nico's a great guy but Calvin seems like he belongs on Samurai. And that was the best they could come up with to keep him busy? On a positive note, I liked that Shoespike had a human form, and Robo Red Zord teaming up Robo Rider is awesome. 2/5

Princess Viera's episodes were alright. As much as I like Sarah and didn't mind the cookie machine or the bulky armor, the pacing in "THE ROYAL RIVAL" wasn't good. It felt like we really needed more time for Viera to get a change of heart instead of rushing through it. Sarah giving away the machine so easily just to have a lesson in the episode was ridiculous and whats with Ninja Fusion Zord not being called a Megazord? I did like how Viera and Drillion were recruited by Galvanax to fight the Rangers and using the cow as a witness was just... only on Power Rangers. 3/5 and 4/5

Lastly, I liked that we got the Halloween special after a week off, before the final stretch of the year. One of the best episodes of the season, helped by no Victor & Monty, and mostly being a teamwork episode, instead of focusing on one Ranger. Burning a bunch of Ninninger footage of monsters they already fought with some original parts was a great idea and I liked how involved Cosmo was. 4/5