San Juan; Texas — From when I came out the womb I was always a “Power Rangers” fan. The bright colors, distinctive spandex suits, dynamic explosions and high octane action. Here is the kicker though, I am not a fan of the “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”. You see, I was heavily into the series during the Disney era. These series, “Ninja Storm,” “Dino Thunder,” “S.P.D,” “Mystic Force,” etc. were the backbone of my childhood.
Now, the reason I am boring you with this backstory is because the OG Power Rangers series felt too fake, stakeless and like if “Saved by the Bell” was interjected random bouts of action. Also, the influx of so many “but the prom is tomorrow” style cliches were too much for me. My favorite series were the ones where being a Ranger was a job, not a teenage extracurricular activity, Lightspeed Rescue and S.P.D. — the other Power Rangers shows — for life. But even with my distaste, I could respect Mighty Morphin for what it was, and the glory that it sprouted.
Thirty years later and we have “Once & Always,” an anniversary special made for Netflix featuring two of the original Rangers, Billy and Zack, with Rocky and Kat being taken along for the ride with other returning cast members from the second season. The plot involves the Rangers coming together to fight a reincarnated Rita Repulsa who, a year before, murdered Trini, the yellow ranger, in cold blood.
To those in the know with the Ranger actors, Thuy Trang, the actress that played Trini tragically passed away in 2001. This special was a way to honor her while also passing the torch to her daughter Minh, played by Charlie Kersh, as the next yellow Ranger.
The action was cheesy, the dialogue was goofy and while it tried to hit the same heights that legacy shows such as “Cobra Kai” have hit, the show still feels too weighed down by baggage. Sometimes the show feels proud yet ashamed to be Power Rangers.
I could go on for so long complaining about the myriad of lore breaking lines and bad effects, but then I realized … THAT’S POWER RANGERS! No one can score this on the same level as Marvel, Star Wars or DC Comics. While I would love for it to be one of the biggest properties, it is currently too tied down by its own nostalgia. I know this special was not meant for people like me who did not grow up with “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”, I can appreciate the effort and what it is to many people.
I give this special an 8/10. Perhaps we can see an S.P.D reunion in two years, hopefully.