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: RoggΓ© n' May Day

The hype was big for this Week of Ranger Bar with Power Rangers cast Ron RoggΓ© (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. πŸ’•



Sunday, April 30, 2017

⚡ Morphinominal Movie Recap! ⚡

The Power Rangers Movie premiere was easily one of the most exciting times I've seen in franchise history, kind of a similar feeling right before Power Morphicon. I was always pretty confident we were in for something good. It had to be better than MMPR:TM's bad CGI and maybe T:APRM, which was more of a long episode to launch the Turbo season (while completely dropping what happened to the Zeo powers). Neither movie I ever saw at a theater, but the MMPR:TM soundtrack is still one of the first CDs of my collection.

Team Ranger Bar got together for the Thursday night (March 23rd) showing. I couldn't have asked for a better opening, starting out with Zordon as Red Ranger and Rita as Green Ranger, mentioning the Zeo Crystal for the first time in a flashback to Prehistoric Earth, as Zordon desperately buried the Power Coins in the midst of a war. The focus on the five Rangers kind of varied. I liked Jason the best, followed by Billy, Kimberley, Trini and Zack, who - as has been talked about - didn't get as much focus as he should've. Rita's introduction was good and I really liked how Zordon was written - wanting to be free from the command center ship imprisonment but ultimately choosing not to so Billy could come back to life. Making it very tough for the team to get in sync enough to able to morph for the first time was well done and deeper than I would've guessed. One of my favorite moments was when they finally morphed - probably the most beautiful scene of the entire movie - from the way it was shot to the Stranger Things-like music. I liked how far underground the ship was as well.

The zord action against Goldar was pretty awesome and more believable with the Rangers visors down. I thought we'd get more of an orchestrated theme, than what little they used of the '95 movie theme. Also, I was waiting for Zordon to instruct the team to form the Megazord - certainly wasn't expecting they'd nearly die before gaining the ability to do it on their own. As for other fun nods, Rita calling out to make her monster grow was cute and using past PR cities as street names totally fit. Foreshadowing new student Tommy was a nice way to end the movie. I still can't believe JDF had gotten his cameo all along and they managed to get AJJ. Hopefully their other cameo that was cut from the film (which had JDF wearing green and a long haired wig) will make it onto the DVD/Blu-Ray.

Further adding to the festivities, Ranger Bar had its 6th annual Fancy Dinner Dress Party Friday night and we picked up the Krispy Kreme movie donuts. I usually struggle to sit through 2+ hour movies, but this was the most attentive I had been in my life as I never wanted to look away from the screen. A great reimagining of the franchise, this is definitely something special and I look forward to hopefully more big screen PR in the future. 5/5 πŸ™‚

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Lexcon 2017: Unleashing the Power

THURSDAY, MARCH 9
I got in at Lexington, KY about 5:30 from Chicago, settled in my room, and then hungout in the hotel lobby bar with a few others from Mutant Chat. The group, which was a lot smaller this year, eventually came together and we got dinner a couple blocks away at Cheapside.

FRIDAY
Without any roommates this time, I enjoyed sleeping in until after 10:30 and soon headed over to get my convention badge, while stopping to check out the giant Ghostbusters Marshmallow Man. After returning to my room for snacks at 2:00, I headed out onto the main floor (which opened to VIPs at 1:00 and everyone else at 4:00). This was a MUCH different day than last year (when I had no Friday access), as I started to take in everything on display for sale, and a look at where the various Power Rangers cast were located, before the crowds would really hit on Saturday.

On the lookout for Nintendo stuff, I picked up a Star Power Mario figure, but that would be the only thing I'd get for myself after noticing a large display had figures pricier than what you can get them for online (I wasted little time buying a Bone Piranha Plant figure on my phone before I got home). Later, I met Milo Cawthorne (Ziggy, RPM Green Ranger) and Emma Lahana (Kira, DinoThunder Yellow Ranger), for the second time following her last convention appearance at the original Power Morphicon - by far who I was there to see the most. Of course I mentioned I'm still doing Emma Lahana Online and how I'm hopeful for a DinoThunder reunion someday, though she doesn't think getting James Napier (Red Ranger) will happen. Besides another break back in my room, I was mostly on the main and upper level floors until they closed at 9:00. Then the group got together in the hotel lower lever bar, but I was more concerned about dinner, finally walking a couple blocks to McDonalds at 11:30 and calling it a night.           

SATURDAY
Up at 9:00 and sat in on a Q&A with Catherine Sutherland (Cat, Mighty Morphin-Zeo-Turbo) and Nakia Burrise (Tanya, Zeo-Turbo) at 11:00. At 1:00 I got my photo op with Emma and then went back to my room for snacks. At 3:00 was the Power Rangers RPM Panel and soon afterwards, I met Dan Ewing (Black Ranger). At 7:00 was a wild hour and a half adults-only Power Rangers After Dark Panel and then the group again pretty much hungout in the lower level bar. At 1:00 we kind of broke off and I got something to eat before heading up for the night.



SUNDAY
Up after 9:00, caught the Power Rangers DinoThunder Panel at 11:00 and then grabbed lunch. I killed time on the floor for the last time before Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy's (Bulk and Skull) Panel at 3:00 and the Comic-Con wrapped up at 4:00. I mostly hungout in the lobby awhile wondering what the evening plan was. Everyone ended up doing their own thing and I soon went back to my room for the rest of the night, except for another run out to McDonalds at 8:45.

MONDAY
Those who were driving (Jason/Alison, Jeremy and Miz), gradually took off, leaving myself, Kyle, Alek and Grace who were flying home (all ended up with delayed flights, while the big snowstorm wiped out my originally scheduled flight back to Chicago at 12:00 and became a 4:20 flight to Dallas). We walked around Lexington awhile and stopped in a coffee shop before heading to the airport. I got home about midnight. Next time I'll probably just go with the later flight, especially since I do like being part of the last few on Monday and don't see these guys very often. Plus seeing the warmer far south for the first time worked out quite well, further adding to how much of the US I've been through.

--
I was on my own a lot more this time and their wasn't much as far as Mutant Chat group activities but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I'm kind of used to doing my own thing on the convention floor anyway with Power Morphicon and seeing Emma again about 10 years later? I couldn't have planned it any better. Also, while the number of Power Rangers cast wasn't much different, the increased amount of panels was pretty cool. Thanks to the team - Kyle, Jason, Alison, Jeremy, Alek, Grace, Miz and Chance for a fun weekend. πŸ™‚ Gallery