Friday, September 27, 2019

Beast Morphers #01-10 Roundup

The pre-season hype for Beast Morphers paid off with the best premiere (and the first premiere I've given a 5/5 to) since RPM, easily killing most of Neo Saban (aside from Dino Charge). Best premiere from Chip Lynn since Time Force. I got a couple different vibes... The opening karate scene felt Ninja Storm-ish, while Grid Battleforce and the B-Squad-like team felt reminiscent of SPD. Plus the obvious comparisons with having another virus and starting with three Rangers. It also had the start of some great unmorphed fighting. I like how different the villains were setup than a lot of other seasons when we'd see them in space or be awoken. Having Blaze be an evil Ranger is a great use of the suit (not used nearly as much in GoBusters) and I really like how Roxy's Ranger form was changed to yellow, really playing into the avatars being corrupt versions of Red and Yellow Rangers especially with how they were the original candidates in GB. Blaze is more generic lacky, but I gotta say Liana Ramierez does Roxy very well, quickly becoming one of my favorite humanoid villains since Tenaya 7.

I liked how they explained the Rangers weaknesses being tied into their animal DNA in "EVOX'S REVENGE," a solid 4/5 continuing to get the season rolling. Zoey needs carrots to refuel, Devon has a fear of dogs and like GoBuster Blue, Ravi overheats. The way the giant robots for zord battles are done is also pretty cool - a different take from past seasons with Scrozzle able to combine the Gigadrone model with the Robotron data the Rangers are fighting or was defeated. It makes for more interesting fights as well being able to have a Megazord battle before the ground battle finishes. Of course no longer having a cockpit powerup mode is the best part and while the Cheetah Blaster powering up a slash finishing move is rather silly, at least it's a lot quicker than what we had before.

After that, I felt like the show started to shift back to feeling like Neo Saban again. I really kind of hoped they'd copy GoBusters and do more insta-morphs, instead we got a sequence pretty similar to Dino Charge and Ninja Steel. Plus it turns out even the morph call is now prerecorded. Meanwhile, I'd say the comedic element is better with Ben & Betty, and I like how involved they often are, but they've gotten into some familiar unrealistic antics a few times. I really liked Zoey going into the season but she ended up with the worst episode of the first 10 in "END OF THE ROAD," which felt a little too much like a plot we would've had a year or two ago with trying to save the forest from a new road being built, going so far as to have the Beast Bots help save critters and bugs which I thought was dumb. Also one of the most strangest ways of creating a Robotron when Needletron was created from a bike pump. The whole X-Bike plot felt very 2019 (especially living somewhere with a lot of pay-to-ride bikes) - I just wish it had been a better episode. 3/5

I like how Ravi has a relationship with the real Roxy but as we saw in the beginning of the season, he ended it because of the GB rules about Rangers dating Rangers. So it was fun seeing her avatar toy with him and make him think she was trying to be good. I enjoyed "TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS" as well, showing real consequences for Devon missing work for his secret Ranger duties. 4/5 both episodes. Keeping the secret from Mayor Daniels though is pretty ridiculous and will hopefully pay off when his dad finds out. Devon then acting out of character in "HANGAR HEIST" kind of spoiled what was an otherwise good episode centered on the formation of the Megazord, a plot we don't normally get. It was kind of hard to buy how much the Rangers were taking advantage of the Beast Bots in "A FRIEND INDEED," with how underused they've been. 3/5 for both.

Evox nearly passing through the gate was cool as was almost using what would become Steel's body. I liked the foreshadowing of his head being shown a few times and Nate talking about wanting a brother, but with how quickly these additional Ranger debuts happen - not to mention I didn't care for how fast Steel was built - the result wasn't quite what I had hoped for, making me give "THE CYBERGATE OPENS" a 3/5 . They could've even started the hiatus with Nate being in danger, giving more buffer before he morphs for the first time an episode later. Steel coming online and morphing as well was showhorned in there but I guess you could chalk that up to energy runoff from Nate morphing.

With all that out of the way, I really enjoyed "SILVER SACRIFICE" and thought it was the best episode besides the premiere. I liked how the gate got fixed and Evox nearly succeeded again at taking Steel's body, only to discover it's not compatible due to Nate's human DNA in Steel. Pretty cool plot point. Gotta say I love his attitude to match the footage and look forward to what they do with the character. I can forgive Ben and Betty's continued overly wacky hijinks to give the episode a 5/5. "THRILLS AND DRILLS" felt like a pretty standard PR plot with Ravi having to face his fear of going to the dentist with some of the best comedic bits all year, like when the silhouette of the worker with the drill was mistaken for the dentist drill. 4/5 

It sounds like there are more good episode plots coming up, I just hope they don't stray off and go back following Neo Saban's way too closely, while giving us more more story like the Ravi/Roxy relationship, Devon & his dad and Devon eventually getting to test a battlizer mode before Powered Custom from GoBusters makes its debut. Perhaps ending the season with more of a cliffhanger and not acting like it's the LAST EPISODE would also be a welcome change.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Week of RangerBar 4: Pumping It Up

I got to Tacoma around 9:30 PM as Batz worked on getting the place ready. I checked out the new Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid console game and after a few hours, we picked up Tron getting in late from New Orleans. MrDire arrived from Kentucky Monday afternoon and Me0w from North Kansas City later in the evening.

The history making Week of RangerBar 4 officially got underway with the Day 1 staple of video games. I brought my Switch and we mostly played Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Battle For The Grid and had the "Fortnite Pacifists Class," with Lil Sorbo and Batz' girlfriend eventually joining us. Afterwards, we dressed up for the forth "Master Vile Villain Ball" and had pizza.

We ventured out to Des Moines to play around at Waterland Arcade and got Chinese food next door at Dragon Gate - in the midst of a downpour and nasty traffic unfortunately. Afterwards, we headed over to Uncle Cecil's for liquor tasting (Batz, Sorbo & I had previously been to), and then pretty much chilled at the Airbnb, while Batz picked up some special guests flying in from Toronto and took them to their hotel for the night. Since tacos was on the schedule, we eventually metup for a late dinner at Red Star Taco Bar around the block from RangerBar.

Tron fixed us breakfast sandwiches as we got up, Batz swung by, and along with Me0w - Tron, Batz and myself walked over to Safeway so Tron could get ready for the evening and grab whatever else was needed for RangerBar and the Airbnb (which we had Tuesday evening through Friday morning). Tron and Sorbo got busy getting food ready and I tried to help at RangerBar as Batz setup the hallway. His sister was the first to arrive and we put on The Princess Bride until the rest of the group started to trickle in. Soon our special guests - Jeff Parazzo and Kevin Duhaney (The White & Blue DinoThunder Power Rangers) arrived and were amazed at the RangerBar. Two really cool dudes who enjoyed getting to just hangout, chat, eat and have drinks - without all the normal convention stuff they're so used to. After a few hours, the food arrived for the nights event - the "Fred Dryer Dinner" - a tribute to the former football star, turned actor. Master Chef Tron served us all up about half a dozen courses while Dryer's show Hunter played on TV. After Jeff and Kevin left, the night kept going as we headed around the block to a bar/nightclub and then hungout at the Airbnb.

Around noon I took a nice walk (about an hour) from the Airbnb over to RangerBar and took a nap while Batz and his girlfriend ran errands and got ready for the evening. It was a great night with the group including Batz' sister joining us again and Shock Top Steve stopping by. Jeff and Kevin again hungout for a couple hours and Batz even arranged for a friends band to perform. There were fireworks as well. Around midnight, Jeff and Kevin said their goodbyes and got in some pics before flying out Friday morning.

For the first event of the day (what would end up being the final one at RangerBar), Batz fixed us a "Boujee Brunch" as we watched Power Rangers Beast Morphers. Later, we headed over to his girlfriends place and he put on the RangerBar "Cajun Country Music & Movie Festival," along with getting us pizza in addition to some exotic foods to go with the theme. Afterwards, we had a fun cupcake bake off event Me0w and Tron won.

We stopped at RangerBar, a tavern and got in a visit to the B&I Shopping Center. Then it was off to Montesano for the nights event - the "My Two Dads Murder Mystery," which we did at Gepetto's Italian Restaurant & Sports Bar. Afterwards, we got more drinks & hungout at Charlie's Sports Bar and then settled in our hotel room.

Left Montesano and hungout at Batz' girlfriends place. Later that evening, we had a quick "SlutRanger Smokedown," immediately followed by "The Tower 4D Experience" and then the "Michael Pare Ice Cream Parade" which I won easily having the most ice cream. The night wrapped up with watching Power Rangers Ninja Storm by candlelight to pay tribute to Shane the Red Ranger whose actor sadly passed away. Tron flew out early Monday morning, followed by Me0w and MrDire. Batz took me back to RangerBar so I could gather all my stuff and I left Tacoma at 4:30.

It was an awesome week with the largest out of state turnout and you couldn't have asked for better guests in Jeff and Kevin, as RangerBar celebrates 10 years with the very first event happening August 15, 2009 (My first event would come about 2 years later). Though the Airbnb situation got kind of dicey with 4 of us and really only 3 places to sleep it worked out having a place not too far. Definitely look forward to trying to get another Ranger for Week of RangerBar 5 and whatever other surprises happen by then.


Saturday, June 29, 2019

Looking Back: Power Rangers Operation Overdrive

Like Mystic Force, I enjoyed watching Overdrive again a lot more than when it aired in 2007. Unlike the other Disney seasons however, it got off to a bit of a rocky start with one of weakest two-part premieres, bogged down with an emphasis on civilian powers and how easily the Mansion was discovered. I still kind of hate having Andrew Hartford as a mentor, and as annoying as Rose was a few times alongside Dax being way over-the-top all season, this group of Rangers would become one of my favorites, with Spencer and his quips/one-liners as a great supporting character. Also I realize I forgot how much of a good Red Ranger Mack was, one of my favorite Disney Reds along with Connor.

I really liked how Boukenger was adapted and still think Tyzonn's storyarc of working for Moltor, transforming and becoming the 6th Ranger, was pretty good, though not necessarily the best episodes of the season like I called it back then. I miss the days of having solid episode plots and a season long storyarc like tracking down all the jewels. Among the big plotlines, there were a couple of fillers I thought were excellent as well. For the most part, the way the different villain groups were handled, went pretty well. I especially liked Miratrix & Kamdor and their rivalry with Will (until their final battle anyway). Plus this cast really helped kickoff Power Morphicon and were some of the first Rangers some of us in the fandom (like myself) ever met. Gotta say it is a little weird looking back knowing that Samuell Benta would steal the signed banner and never be heard from again. We also got the last good anniversary season teamup episode to date in "ONCE A RANGER," one of the best returning groups of Rangers that would be hard to ever top. As far as the anniversary seasons go, I'd call Wild Force the best, followed by Overdrive, Megaforce and Ninja Steel.

Until Neo Saban, Overdrive was always the worst season but I can look back now and appreciate the heart & care Jackie Marchand and co. put into it. We would eventually come to find out they were given a smaller budget, preventing more of an Indiana Jones-style story they wanted but for what they had, with Bruce Kalish at the helm, it wasn't all that bad.

Ranking the episodes favorite to least favorite (Updated):
Both Sides Now
One Gets Away
Once a Ranger I-II
Pirate in Pink
Face to Face I-II
Man of Mercury I-II
Nothing to Lose
Things Not Said
Behind the Scenes
Red Ranger Unplugged
Home and Away I-II
Follow the Ranger  
Crown and Punishment 
Heart of Blue 
Ronny on Empty I-II
Kick Into Overdrive I-II
At All Cost
Weather or Not
The Underwater World 
Out of Luck 
Two Fallen Foes
Just Like Me
It's Hammer Time
One Fine Day
Lights, Camera, DAX
Way Back When

Original Wrap-up post

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

PRSNS and Neo Saban Sendoff

The final run for Ninja Steel episodes started out not bad but would soon change.

Though it was weird how the Rangers needed to earn the Blaze zords before the Prism would create them, I liked how they worked in the mysterious cloaked strangers (Wes, Gemma and Koda) as a teaser right before "DIMENSIONS IN DANGER" (or as I like to call it, "Forever Tommy").

Great callback to DinoThunder with Reefside and Tommy's house. I was amazed seeing him use all his powers and how they got all the morph calls perfect (Probably more JDFs doing than Production). Gotta wonder if Zeo Red and Black Dino Master Morpher Power Coins will be for sale at the next PMC. 

Not much of a group morph here unfortunately. Did they have to go cheap for the insta-morph effects? I feel like they're better than this. Even if we had more time, I doubt they would've had them do individual calls but at least a silent insta-morph would've been better than five in one shot. Everyone saying "It's Morphin Time" with the classic pose was pretty cool though. Also loved Falconzord returning. Man it had been SO long. Better fight than Cole destroying Serpentera too. >_>

With only one part, a little too much Ninninger footage and a fast battle, it wasn't great for an anniversary special. They didn't even acknowledge that Tommy and Kat were an item (let alone really give them anything together), which I was kind of surprised by. And aside from the zord portion of the episode, they reverted back on the BGM (before they went full MMPR ripoff), I assumed for dramatic effect. The stuff they gave Tommy was still better than just about all of the regular episodes, so for that, the most deserving 5/5 of Ninja Steel. I'd rank it between "ONCE A RANGER" and "LEGENDARY BATTLE" (the worst).

Following that we got the best filler episode of the entire two years in "LOVE STINGS" - classic love spell plot with Hayley and Preston actually acting like normal people with solid delivery - something Ninja Steel often struggled with. And speaking of struggling, it was pretty much back downhill after this with questionable plot points, execution of the episodes lesson and Victory & Monty getting completely ridiculous. They also manage to blow a chance at doing a good Metal Hero teamup with Sherriff Skyfire in a weird episode about respecting authority. And despite reusing the Halloween Intergalactic Court from Dino Super Charge, I enjoyed "MONSTER MIX-UP" and thought the cast did a great job pretending to be the monsters.

Getting to the finale, I liked Odius' final plan brainwashing civilians and using Mick to help her but the execution was poor leaving little reason to care. The Rangers find out the plan way too easily through simple eavesdropping. I did like evil Dane vs Brody & Levi for a minute while Hayley faces an evil (and unconvincing) Calvin, who of course is able to take out the satellite in one blast. The final battle needed some buffering such as trying to use Lion Fire first than to quickly conclude there was no point. And once Odius is gone, the Rangers just assume everything is fine, completely ignoring Badonna & Cosmo, who for being Generals, are killed off with very little thought. I just wish they had done more with Cosmo, besides when he came to Earth in "GRAVE ROBBER."

The Prism then takes back the power stars only to return them A THIRD TIME in "THE POISY SHOW" - a rather decent end to the Neo Saban era with Poisandra turning Galaxy Warriors into her own talk show with a Christmas special featuring the Rangers while Sledge teams up with Snowfright. We finally get the Sudarso Bro moment with the guys doing the classic morph pose and one last bomb takes out Sledge, Poisandra, Wrench and the entire Warrior Dome for good. Dino Charge was the only real good thing to come out of Neo Saban (especially the first half) in what was otherwise the worst seasons of PR ever.

I still gotta call Samurai and its bad start to Neo Saban the worst season, though ironically, also the best finale and end-of-season-arc (mainly due to translating Shinkenger) but it was sure rough getting there with little originality and childlike acting. Ninja Steel is next which had problems other seasons didn't... Some of the worst episode plots and plot execution ever... Refusing to have any genuine conflict... Ridiculous over-the-top comedy... An atrocious amount of closure... Kind of makes Megaforce look a little better now which had one of the best casts, one of the best midseason cliffhangers with the Armada arriving, a better school setting and plots, but still relied on too much sentai over originality, completely screwed the buildup to the Legendary Battle, and what could've been a good season long tribute to the PR legacy.