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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

3733 - Power Rangers Reflections Redux #15: Dimensions In Danger (Bite-Sized)


Yeah, so I wanted to have this up last Friday, but you know... shit happens. Here it is now... with your regularly scheduled bi-weekly offering going up in a couple days.

So, thanks to a short-lived upload onto the Youtubes, I was able to watch the Super Ninja Storm episode that doubled as a 25th Anniversary celebration of Power Rangers. Naturally, I have some minor thoughts on this episode and decided to make them into an entry into this Reflections episode.

Because I have no means of watching the episode until it possible lands on the Netflix next year, I opted to go with a "bite-sized edition" of PRRR, which means I'm going to forgo a long-form synopsis and just go with five points that came to mind when watching this episode. It's entirely possible that I may be misremembering some points and if that's the case, I'll go back to this one somewhere down the line, but for now... this is what I got out of it.



Story: Jason David Frank (erroneously referred to as Tommy Oliver) has been kidnapped by monster of the week Lord Drayvon and replaced with a robot disguised as Jason David Frank. Meanwhile, veteran Rangers Wes Collins, Genna, and Koda of Time Force, RPM, and Dino Charge respectively, recruit the current Rangers to help them rescue the other captured veteran Rangers and fight off Lord Drayvon's army of clones. Eventually, Drayvon is defeated by Jason David Frank and his Falconzord deflecting Drayvon's dimension destroying arrow back at him and everyone goes their separate ways, with current Red Ranger Brody calling the whole thing "epic."

No, Brody. This was not epic... not in the slightest.

For the record, here's the role call of returning Rangers:

Jason David Frank.

Rocky (MMPR Red) is one of the captured Rangers and gets a couple lines of dialogue at most.

Kat (Pink Turbo Ranger) is another captured Ranger with slightly more lines.

Selwyn Ward (First Black Leader of the Power Rangers) is yet another captured Ranger who hasn't heard the name of Lord Draylon in a long while.

Wes Collins (Red Time Force) is one of the main veterans with lots of exposition to spout out to explain the episode's paper-thin premise. He also confirms that the worlds of RPM and Dino Charge are indeed separate dimensions due to their drastically different premises.

Trent (White Dino Thunder) is yet another captured Ranger with very little dialogue. For fuck's sake.

Gemma (Silver RPM Ranger) is the other main veteran from the RPM universe of Corinth.

Antonio (Gold Samurai Ranger) is another captured Ranger who thanks TOMMY for rescuing them.

Gia (Yellow Megaforce Ranger) is... take a guess.

And finally, we have Koda, the Blue Ranger of Dino Charge from a dimension where Dinosaurs roam the Earth... so they're originally from Jurassic World? He also plays a slightly larger role compared to the rest of the captured bunch.

Here are my five points of observation.

1 - Poor Use Of Classic Rangers
The only old Rangers to see any significant amount of time to shine are Wes, Gemma, Koda, and of course, JDF himself. The rest are relegated to damsels in distress before being saved by the Ninja Storm folks and JDF, only getting perhaps a couple lines at most as well as a minor action role in the final battle.

I realize it's only one episode and there's always the possibility of an extended cut addressing these concerns, but I point for Forever Red, the 10th anniversary episode that aired on Wild Force, which was only a single episode of each of those Rangers (save for Leo and that one Alien Ranger who were added in at the last minute) got their moment to shine and even got more dialogue than the Rangers in this episode. Even Once A Ranger did a better job of utilizing its Classic Rangers - take that for what it's worth.

2 - Similarities To Shattered Grid
The main villain of this dimension shattering is a generic monster named Lord Drayvon, whose main goal is to capture Rangers and use them as template for his droid Ranger armies. Those who have been following the current Boom comic book series will note that Lord Drayvon sounds suspiciously similar to Lord Drakkon, the name of an evil Tommy who was pushed as a major villain in their recent Shattered Grid event series. In fact, the general premise of the episode bares a slight resemblance to Shattered Grid; both feature a villain capturing Rangers (or their powers) and aimed to destroy the multiverse to reshape in their image.

According to former MMPR writer and JDF Fan Club president Kyle Higgins, the two projects sharing the same premise was purely coincidental and there was never any semblance of colaboration between the producers and Boom Studios. One has to wonder if there is actually any truth to this due to this next point I'm going to bring up, but setting that aside, I could believe that the two had nothing to do with each other beyond the superficial similarities. I'm sure some would've loved to have seen that comic tie-in just to give us a good look at the shite Drakkon costume... I'm just glad we've dodged that particular bullet.

One point in Dimension's favor; it isn't a complete pile of shit like Shattered Grid was.

3 - The Tommy Wankfest Is In Full Force
Did Kyle Higgins write this episode and decided not to take credit for it? His fingerprints seem to be all over this mess. This is an issue whenever there's an anniversary episode; everybody treats Tommy Oliver Jason David Frank like a golden god. He's a legend, the bestest ever... all because he stuck around the longest. Look at all the different Ranger forms he's got... that were due to massive epic fails. He's an accomplished leader... with a bunch of epic fails on this part. The only episode that doesn't seem to glorify Jason David Frank was Once A Ranger, where the only mention of Tommy was Adam stating his disbelief that he's a doctor.

With that having been said, I'll inject one sliver of positivity to the whole Tommy Sausage train; seeing him bare a "master morph" that swaps his previous Ranger forms is a pretty cool little gimmick

4 - Jason David Frank Is A Terrible Actor
Somewhere along the way, Jason David Frank forgot how to act and instead of playing "Tommy Oliver," he's just being Jason David Frank being a really awful actor. I don't want to blame this entirely on him because part of it is direction too. And while Jason David Frank was never that good an actor  - though to be fair, you could say that about a whole bunch of actors on this show - he did have his moments, like Dino Thunder where he put out his best effort in the franchise.

But then we go from that to this and... I'm sorry, but he was just bad here. The evil Green Ranger is looked upon fondly more for its cheesiness rather than anything truly worthwhile, but if he were portrayed the same way Jason David Frank portrayed the "evil" Tommy clone in this episode, I doubt he would've been as fondly remembered. Even "regular" Tommy just sounds like Jason David Frank in full douchebag mode.

5 -  Some Bright Spots
I like that Tommy's residence is still in Reefside, even if it's Jason David Frank living there. Speaking of which, another nod to Dino Thunder is the retention of Tommy's invisibility powers. I like the idea of Ranger clones, even if the execution kinda sucked. Lord Drayvon, despite being a stock monster of the weak from the Sentai, is a cooler looking crossover villain than Thrax from Once A Ranger or the Beetleborgs Machine Generals from Forever Red. I like that the selection of Classic Rangers attempts to span across the franchise and not just cover the previous series of the current regime. I like that the episode firmly establishes the presence of alternate dimensions such as the ravaged world of RPM or the dinosaur-ridden world of Dino Charge, thus opening the door for future seasons to go off the rails.

(Not to mention, as a hypothetical scenario, aren't we supposed to be at the point where SPD becomes a thing in a few years time and not once has it been mentioned throughout the series? How do you consolidate that particular tidbit?)

I like that there are no individual morph sequences; would've been a cool thing for the longtime fans, but I'd much rather dedicate the time it would've taken up to the plot rather than shameless fan service. I like that the ending isn't complete and utter bullshit like in Shattered Grid. And perhaps most of all, I'm glad this has nothing to do with Shattered Grid because good lord, this didn't need that baggage.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Dimensions In Danger is not the Legendary Farce, which is a huge positive. However, it is also no Forever Red, which remains the best celebration of a Power Rangers anniversary to this day. Now, in retrospect, Dimensions isn't a bad episode. It had an interesting premise, there were some nice moments, a couple callbacks here and there, and some headcanon fodder for those who care for that sort of thing. As a standalone episode, it's fine for what it does and I'm sure would've been better as a 2-parter sort of thing.

As a celebration of the 25th Anniversary, it's not quite the "epic" people make it out to be and it felt too underwhelming, with not enough time dedicated to give each of the old-timers their moment to shine. I'm sure people will argue that the eventual "Extended Cut" will fix some of these problems and I'll make a point to catch that when I can (assuming it comes out), but I'm not quite as optimistic as most would be.

In any event, those were my thoughts on Dimensions In Danger.

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