Monday, December 24, 2018

Power Rangers Reflections #18: The Power Rangers Holiday Special VHS Tape

Something a little special for today.

Even though Power Rangers Reflections is technically on hiatus until February, where I hope to maintain a few months of weekly uploads if nothing else, I thought that it'd be interesting to talk about a curious VHS tape that I had found while going through boxes of old stuff: the Power Rangers Holiday Special VHS release from 2000-ish.

This isn't an original special created for tape, however. Rather, it's a compilation of the three previously released Power Rangers holiday shows of the time, Zeo's "A Season To Remember", MMPR's "I'm Dreaming Of A White Ranger", and the VHS-exclusive "Alpha's Magical Christmas." I'll touch on these shows briefly, but really, I just wanted to talk about the tape itself and what it meant to me because... it's Power Rangers Reflections, not Power Rangers Reviews. I reflect on things and while there might be some critical points, it's supposed to be me offering thoughts and reflections. And this certainly fits that bill.

At the time of release, Fox Kids had been re-releasing and repacking old MMPR video releases so that each tape (themed after a particular Ranger) would get TWO episodes per tape as opposed to one episode padded out with a hundred promos for extra swag. My guess is that this was being done so that Fox could get some of that home video money before Saban sold the franchise to Disney and the show moved to the then-ABC Family channel, now called... whatever they're called now.

I ended up getting only the Pink Ranger-themed video, which contained the first season episode whose name I don't remember, but it featured Pineapple the clown and that wonderfully bad line, "You're going down, clown." And the other episode was the second season episode "Bloom Of Doom." Both episodes originally saw release as individual VHS releases and so seeing these paired up made more sense.

I don't know if I ever thought of getting more of these, but it never came to be since they were hard to find. Either people were buying them or stores weren't stocking them since Power Rangers had since fallen out of favor in the public eye. However, while browsing a random video store somewhere, I saw that they had a Power Rangers Holiday Special tape. And said tape had the three Christmas-themed shows that were released to VHS years ago. Even back in the day, I thought this was a sweet deal. Three tapes for the price of one.

Something you have to understand here; after Zeo, Power Rangers didn't produce any more holiday themed episodes. Once the show adopted the Sentai formula, the seasons began roughly in February and ended in November. Making a one-off holiday episode didn't make much sense... though the recent Saban regime had no problem with making special Halloween and Christmas themed episodes as of late, though after seeing a couple of them, I wasn't too impressed with the end result.

So what about the three shows on this tape?

First episode up was "A Season To Remember", the Zeo holiday-themed episode. The framing story was an old man telling his grandson a story, which featured the Ranger teens preparing for a holiday party at the Youth Center. However, King Mondo almost ruins the mood by casting a spell on the teens who become a bunch of scrooges. What saves the day is not a monster battle or anything of the sort, but a little girl singing a song, which snaps the teens out of their stupors and thus the party goes on as planned.

This episode is the first time that I had heard of Kwanzaa. And honestly, I thought it was kind of cool for Power Rangers to teach the kids about these other religious holidays besides Christmas. Sometimes, you learn something from these shows, kids. Also, outside of scenes from the Power Chamber (notably Zordon with a scarf) and the Machine Empire stock footage, there is not one bit of Ranger footage here. No morphing whatsoever. If you took those other elements out, this could've passed as a generic holiday special. To this day, I'm amazed that they didn't try to shoehorn some semblance of Ranger action in there, as would be the case in some later episodes.

On the B-side, you have Bulk & Skull on the case of the missing fruitcakes. It's a humorous little story. And the end of the framing story reveals that Tommy is the old man whose married to his wife Kat, which apparently caused a shitstorm for some reason. And because this is canon (apparently), we need to have Kim break up with Tommy so she could be with a real man... or something.

Next episode up is "I'm Dreaming Of A White Ranger", where the Rangers apparently have to save Santa Claus from the clutches of Rito Revolto and Goldar because Lord Zedd wants to replace all the gifts with spinning tops. Like the previous episode - or is it later? - there's no morphing action here and the closest thing we have to fisticuffs is a snowball fights and some traps that seemed to have come out of the rejected playbook of Home Alone traps. It's a harmless episode all around notable for the other kiss between Pinky and Dumbass... and then there's a bunch of kids horribly singing holiday songs.

And speaking of kids horribly singing Christmas songs, the tape ends with Alpha's Magical Christmas, a VHS exclusive bit which sees Alpha 5 kidnapping children from around the world and forcing them to spend Christmas with him singing songs and doing various Christmas activities. The kids don't seem to mind and thus we have thirty minutes of Alpha with kids. And man, was this a drag.

I don't mind Alpha. He has his moments. It's the kids that bother me. I'm not a kids person. I don't mind some kids, but not kids who sing horribly and whose acting come off as incredibly forced. And while the video promises appearances by the Power Rangers, they only show up in the form of a clip show (that have nothing to do with Christmas, by the way) and a token appearance at the end, which is pure fucking gold.

See, MMPR Season 2 saw a change in cast due to circumstances, so Jason, Trini, and Zack were replaced with Rocky, Aisha, and Adam. By that point, Tommy has ditched the Green Ranger duds for a spiffy new White Ranger suit whose shield doesn't look cheap. However, Alpha's Magical Christmas was filmed when Tommy was still green and so we have this wonderful discontinuity where Tommy shows up in green for the live shots, while the other half of the team (Rocky, Aisha, and Adam) show up on the viewing globe and shoot out a brief holiday greeting.

I don't know what to make of this one... but I guess it's canon, right, guys?

So that was the Power Rangers Holiday Special VHS tape. In this day and age, eBay would be your best bet for a copy of this thing, but you could find these on the complete season sets of MMPR and Zeo respectively if you want an easier means of getting these. The specials themselves aren't anything special, but you know what? I don't regret the purchase at the time. I was curious about these things and I was glad to be able to watch them. It became something of a tradition to watch these holiday specials on Christmas and it held up for a few years before I eventually got my own DVD player and VHS became a thing relegated to boxes or shelf space.

Maybe I should fire this thing up again... for old times' sake.

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