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

Friday, August 11, 2017

Ninja Steel First 8 Wrap-up

The premiere was pretty much what I expect from Chip - a good setup for the season like Dino Charge. I liked the flashback with Brody's dad and our first look at Galvanax' game show was cool. Nice suit reusage. I still like that Campbell Cooley continues to basically voice everyone. Great to have Kelson Henderson back as well.

For being held captive, Brody must've been treated well, without any effort to make him look like he had been a slave all those years. Plus I liked how the first morph here was a little different than when Shelby and Tyler stumbled into it. I appreciate that they don't come out with "It's Morphin Time" right away. Also, I love that Sarah has a hoverboard. I like how the Rangers have possessions that look like the zords, but as we see later, the intro to the zords sucked, with no explanation about why they look like them (Still would've preferred Redbot becoming the zord).

As for the theme, kind of an odd hybrid - the most forced "GGPR" has ever been. At least with Megaforce, which I still sort of like better, it was just the open/end that didn't quite match. The "Ninja Steel" parts are okay but it'd be a lot better if the entire song was original and something that would fit during zord fights (As we've seen, the Dino Charge instrumental is STILL used during the finisher). I always enjoy the closing theme and this one isn't bad. I'm just afraid they'll change the intro for Super Ninja Steel, using stills for the credits like they did last year.

The next episode held a bit of an edge I thought. Nice focus on the in-show couple, Calvin and Hayley getting the powers. With how close to the start of Dino Charge the premiere was, this felt new and fresh. It took awhile to get used to the Prism being sentient, though the fact it can so conveniently get visions and make power stars has kind of made it one of the worst deus ex machinas PR has done.

4/5 for "RETURN OF THE PRISM" through "PRESTO CHANGE-O." 3/5 for "DRIVE TO SURVIVE" and the weakest episode thus far, "MY FRIEND REDBOT." "HACK ATTACK" was a fun Sarah episode earning a 4/5, while Levi's debut wasn't as good as Ivan's, which I'll give a 3/5 to. I really thought he'd start out evil after being held captive and hooked up to the machine. Instead, he seemed just too normal after all that (and it didn't help weeks had gone by between episodes). Plus it still annoys me how rushed Astrozord flew off to save him and Levi hopped right in. I would've preferred if one or maybe two of the Rangers had been into country music instead of just Brody not being a fan of Levi. I did like the Rangers thinking Tom the manager was Gold Ranger and Levi having a gold version of the morpher.

Unfortunately, it's been pretty clear that with the movie franchise going on for the adult fans, they're really only making the show for the young ones. It's not bad for a kids show and the character development among the Rangers has been decent. And now that we're a ways in, I gotta say the game show plot is fun and my favorite way they've done the villains in several years. I'm also enjoying the original morphed action. But compared to classic PR or even most of Disney PR, Ninja Steel's not that good, especially with how repetitive the comedic relief from Victor and Monty has gotten, as well as how overused "epic" (from Brody) and "Ninja Spin" are said per episode. Perhaps if we could get Barnie Duncan again with Kelson...

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Week of Ranger Bar 3: Roggé n' May Day

The hype was big for this Week of Ranger Bar with Power Rangers cast Ron Roggé (Captain Mitchell, Lightspeed Rescue) and Monica May (Z, S.P.D.) joining us part of the week. The extra space from having Site B now would come in handy as well.

SATURDAY
I got to Tacoma just after 10:30 PM as the "Master Vile Villain Ball" was underway at Ranger Bar HQ. Batz put out the cookies & snacks I gave him ahead of time and for awhile it was pretty much us, Lil Sorbo and Kabuki Kelsey. Micah & Cora came by later and in a surprise, Tron arrived from New Orleans earlier than expected.

SUNDAY
We stocked up at the grocery store so Tron could get ready for Monday night and then chilled at Site B. We had a fun tournament of the Power Rangers Legacy Wars mobile game, played the board game Pandemic, watched Hunter and had frozen pizza. After 11 PM the fog machine got rolling once again at Ranger Bar for the second "SlutRanger's Smokedown Experience" and we had a trivia contest.

MONDAY
Batz brought Ron to Ranger Bar around 5:45 and Monica soon after (Both stayed at a hotel not far). We all pretty much hungout, watched some episodes of Lightspeed Rescue on VHS and S.P.D. Micah, Cora and a handful of others gradually came over and Ron signed photos for everyone he brought for free. After 10:00 most of us headed over to Site B for the 7th Annual Fancy Dinner Dress Party. Master Chef Tron (with the help of Lil Sorbo) served up half a dozen courses for us, all connected to Power Rangers. Back at Ranger Bar afterwards, Batz put on DuckTales: Treasure of the Lost Lamp.

4TH OF JULY
Batz put on The Neverending Story and we later went out to the waterfront for awhile. That evening we had a nice BBQ at the Ranger Bar, with Ron & Monica, and a couple others who stopped by (including a rare Shock Top Steve appearance). Monica signed some photos. Like at Week of Ranger Bar 2, we headed over to the bridge in Tacoma to see some fireworks after it got dark. Back at Site B, Monica - a professional burlesque dancer around the Los Angeles area - did a special performance in a Yellow Ranger suit. After everyone left and Ron & Monica said their goodbyes (who left Washington Wednesday evening), we played more Legacy Wars and had Dominos.

WEDNESDAY
Back at Ranger Bar later in the day, we settled on watching Spider-Man 1 & 2, and Batz fixed us a taco bar & nachos. We also did the "My Two Dads Murder Mystery" and Ranger Bar's mobile game, "SlutRanger's Quest" made its official debut.

THURSDAY
We headed out to Tricky's toy shop, and I picked up a Blue Yarn Yoshi amiibo at Toys R Us plus the Power Rangers Movie at Best Buy. Later, we got burgers at Sonic on the way to dropping Tron off at the airport. Batz, Kabuki, Lil Sorbo and myself then drove out to Ashford (at the bottom of Mt. Rainer) to stay the night at a Wellspring cabin.

FINALE / WRAP-UP
We left Ashford in the early afternoon Friday and stopped at Recycled Spirits of Iron Park to take a bunch of photos, followed by lunch at the train restaurant. That evening, Batz put on the "Beetleborgs Bahama Brunch" at Site B to closeout the week and I left Tacoma Saturday afternoon.

I hadn't really spent a lot of time with mobile games before Legacy Wars, but having it to kill some downtime was nice and gave me something to do besides checking in on social media. Now an exciting year for Ranger Bar lies ahead as the 10th anniversary approaches. Thanks to the team - Batz, Tron, Kabuki and Lil Sorbo for another great week. 😎 Photos & video

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Vampire Diaries: 8 Years and All the Feels

Back in 2010, an old co-worker told me I should check out The Vampire Diaries, which premiered the previous September on The CW. I wasn't too sure about getting into a new vampire show that wasn't from Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy, but not being one to pass up a program recommendation, I gave it a shot - beginning with the season finale, in which Katherine Pierce returned to Mystic Falls, posing as Elena, catching everyone by surprise. I didn't think much of it at the time (as everything was new to me), but I soon got to love the doppleganger aspect of Elena being a decedent of Katherine in season 2. The cast became one of my favorites alongside Gossip Girl and I'd eventually get caught up on season 1.

One of the best things about the show were the always great storylines. Season 2 introduced Klaus and the original family of vampires, which lasted until season 4 when a special episode aired (leading to The Originals spinoff). Season 4 also introduced the immortal being Silas, which came to a head with one of the best season finale shockers they ever did (Stefan was Silas doppleganger). Stefan's journey was one of the best. I liked how the show started with him returning to Mystic Falls because he had to meet the Katherine doppleganger (after what would later be revealed to be an entire love affair Katherine had with both him and his brother, Damon, when Katherine arrived in the town in 1864). Most of the series he was good but seasons 2 and 8 partially focused on him being evil while his humanity was off, one of the most thrilling parts of the show.

Damon meanwhile wasn't so much evil as he was the bad boy. I grew attached to what would develop between him and Elena, as they'd grow close while Stefan was evil in season 2, and "Delena" would become one of the few couples I'd ship. Him and Bonnie being stuck in a prison world loop of May 10, 1994 was one of the fun plotlines of season 6. Nina Dobrev then left after the season, so Elena was put under a sleeping curse to write her out, thanks to Kai, one of the most evil characters TVD had. The show would get darker but didn't slow down without its leading lady, as we'd get to explore more of Stefan and Damon, and the relationship with their mother. Caroline would gradually develop feelings and a relationship with Stefan, which was nice to see progress.

TVD always found creative ways to bring characters back from the dead or return as ghosts/spirits/illusions. Alaric in particular was killed off and brought back a couple times throughout the shows run. Season 7 ended with Damon and Enzo falling under the sirens spell, forcing them to become evil. Season 8, the last one, had both Brothers evil for the first time in show history, which was awesome (after Stefan was forced to turn his humanity off). Stefan became human when he was stabbed with Elena's blood (which had the cure) in a desperate attempt to stop him after he killed Enzo (who at that point was good again).

The sirens and Cade, the ruler of hell, was a great final storyarc and gave the chance for past characters who had been trapped in hell to come out for a final appearance. It wasn't quite the way I thought they'd do it, but Elena woke up in the series finale and Katherine returned, who it turned out had been the real ruler of hell since she was sent there in season 5. In one of the series most surprising moments, Stefan sacrificed himself to make sure that the hellfire that was going to destroy Mystic Falls (but was ultimately stopped by Bonnie's magic) incinerated Katherine - and himself in the process - making up for all the evil things he had done. Looking back now, it was fitting as it was his story all along, if you go back to the pilot episode. Prior to his sacrifice, Stefan stabbed Damon with his blood (giving him the cure) so he could live a happy human life with Elena (!!!!) We then see Elena - writing in her journal from the afterlife - talking about finding peace. She reunites with her family in heaven, while Damon reunites with Stefan. The end.

I often imagined the series ending with Damon and Elena getting back together and maybe we'd see a flashback. This is more than I ever could've imagined and was a lot to process. To get nearly the ENTIRE supporting cast back for cameos was incredible and going as deep as they did - a look at what the other main cast (Caroline, Alaric, Bonnie, Matt) are up to in the future, and ending with Elena and the Brothers in heaven. One of the most satisfying finales I've EVER seen and the greatest to ever air on The CW. The only thing I sort of missed was an appearance from Klaus but he was mentioned in the flashforward with Caroline, something for sure to be followed up on next season on The Originals. So while this universe will continue at least another year (and will definitely go better than Buffy/Angel on rival networks), for now I say farewell to this wonderful show that'll be in our hearts forever. 💕