Friday, December 16, 2011
Power Rangers Turbo Series Review
Unlike some Power Ranger seasons that initially had some good ideas but failed due to poor execution (like most of the Kalish seasons, Samurai), Turbo was a season in which the writers and the producers had no idea what to do. There were several cast and production crew members leaving, either at the beginning or in the middle of the season, and the writers didn’t know what to do with the Carranger footage. The result was a mess, full of unlikable new characters, bad writing, and terrible villains.
Among the first flaws of Turbo are the writing flaws with the movie, particularly the continuity errors with the end of Zeo. Several things are left unexplained, such as why were the Turbo powers needed and what happened to the Zeo powers? While Zordon in the movie explains that the Zeo zords may not be enough to defeat Malagore (whom the new villain, Divatox, was trying to marry), this never explained why the power rangers needed the Turbo powers. The other major writing flaw with the movie is what in the hell happened to Lord Zedd and Rita? The movie shows them seemingly giving up trying to defeat the power rangers, which is inconsistent with the end of Zeo when they claimed “we’re back” after they destroyed the Machine Empire. The departure of Lord Zedd and Rita also led to one of Turbo’s other major flaws, their replacement.
Lord Zedd, Rita, and the gang are replaced by space pirates Divatox, Elgar, and Rygog, whom are all god awful villains. To start off, Divatox is EXTREMELY annoying, which happens to be a common problem with many of the replacements that come in during this season. All she does is whine, cry, and bitch about her plans failing in such a pissy attitude. While Rita did her fair share of whining in Power Rangers, at least Barbara Goodsen’s voice acting made it funny. However, both of Divatox's actresses were bad actresses and she just makes you want to break into the TV screen and slap her across the face. Elgar, on the other hand, is a bumbling idiot, incapable of fighting an 11 year old Justin, unmorphed. Meanwhile Rygog did virtually nothing, and seemed to be there only to fill up Sentai footage. The only real descent villain in this series was General Havoc, who was used during the Phantom Ranger arc.
However, the villains weren’t the only replacement scrappies brung in during Turbo. Along with the villains, the movie and the first three episodes introduced a trio of annoying, unlikable characters: Justin, Dimitria, and Alpha 6. Justin replaced Rocky, while Dimitria and Alpha 6 replaced Zordon and Alpha 5 respectively. To be fair, Rocky wasn’t the most likable character either. He had been pretty bland through the first season and a half, but in Zeo he received a fair amount of good character development that made him tolerable for that season. The problem with Justin isn’t so much that he’s a kid, but that he acted like being a power ranger was like playing a game. Sure, it’s understandable if he gets excited, but it’s rather annoying watching him act like a bratty five year old. Even more annoying than Justin was Alpha 6, who seemed like a pathetic attempt to imitate hip-hop culture. Dimitria on the other hand, I’ll say isn’t quite as bad as she’s made out to be. A lot of fans dislike her for replacing Zordon and for speaking only in questions. Her dialogue of speaking only in questions does get annoying, but I think her methods of letting the rangers figure out problems on their own was better than Zordon just simply giving the answer away.
The other major problem is that the writers didn’t know what to do with the Carranger footage or the old cast. As been discussed many times before, the writers were split on what to do with the Carranger footage. The writers were split between adapting Carranger’s slapstick humor, or turning it into a dark, much more serious season. The result was something in between, which led to horrible handling of the footage.
As for the characters, all of them had now graduated from high school, and at least two of the actors (Jason David Frank who played Tommy and Catherine Sutherland who played Kat) had expressed a desire to leave the show after the first 18 episodes. This virtually led to 17 episodes of filler (concluding with an incredibly lame two-parter Honey I Shrunk the Rangers) that gave virtually no character development to the main characters. Instead, we get Tommy driving around a race track and Bulk & Skull turned into Chimpanzees. This was especially disappointing, coming off of Zeo, which had gave these characters much more development than they received through the previous three seasons, and really allowed the new cast members to shine.
This brings the season to the cast change in episodes 18 and 19. In the first 17 episodes, Ashley and Carlos had already been introduced in the series, who were meant to replace Kat and Tommy respectively. When Judd Lynn replaced Doug Sloan as the main writer of the series, he decided to replace the other older cast members as well, Adam and Tanya. Lynn wanted to start fresh with a new cast. Many fans have criticized this move, rather for replacing fan favorites such as Tommy and Adam, or for it coming in midseason instead of at the end of the season. However, I think this move was actually a good idea. It did suck to see Tommy and Adam leave the show, but there was no way they were going to keep Tommy and Kat on the show. This cast change allowed the writers to start from scratch with a new cast, and led to some pretty good character development episodes during the second half of the season. Some of the execution of this cast change was flawed, particularly Carlos’ introduction as a selfish soccer player, but throughout the second half of Turbo all four of the new characters- T.J., Cassie, Ashley, and Carlos- became likable characters. I also felt that all the new cast members were descent actors. This cast change I thought was handled much better than the cast change during MMPR S2.
Following the cast change, Turbo becomes a much better show and becomes watchable. The annoying traits of Justin and Dimitria are toned down, making both characters bearable. Turbo still retains its share of annoying characters (Alpha 6 and the villains), but the writing and the handling of the Carranger footage improves dramatically. I particularly liked the Phantom Ranger arc, which did a good job of establishing a mystery about his character and gave Cassie some good development due to the ship tease. It is disappointing that the Phantom Ranger's identity is never revealed during In Space, but it's understandable since they ran into budget problems. Other than Cassie, Justin gets the most development with his relationship with his dad. The others, T.J., Ashley, and Carlos, are all likable characters but get more satisfying development during in Space. Meanwhile, Bulk and Skull are turned back into human, thankfully, and their running gag for this season is getting fired from every job they work on due to their stupidity. However, it was somewhat funny, much better than them being turned into chimpanzees.
The rest of the season follows the standard MMPR/Zeo format. It's episodic, mostly filler episodes that centered around one of the character's problems in their high school life, with one example being Ashley having trouble with an auto mechanics class. Most of these episodes were just ok, but there were some good episodes such as a two-parter involving the Blue Sentorium being turned evil, and Parts and Parcels (a Bulk and Skull focus episode). The next major story arc in Turbo is Chase into Space, which ends with the Power Chamber being destroyed and the rangers sans Justin leaving into outer space to either find Zordon or stop Divatox before coming back to Earth. This was a pretty chilling episode, and had a heartwarming departure between the rangers and Justin. It also proved to be a good lead-up to in Space.
The main problem with this season was that nothing was really well planned, which lead to a sloppy first half of the season. The suit change was nothing but a gimmick to try to give the producers new Sentai footage to work with, but they had no idea how to use the Sentai footage. It didn't help that the movie gave a very sloppy transition from Zeo to Turbo. The second half of the season was much better, thanks in large part to the new cast, the Phantom Ranger arc, and the ending. As a whole, I give Turbo 6/10. If I'd split up the series into two parts, I give the first 20 episodes and the movie 4.5/10 and the last 25 episodes 7/10.
Favorite Episodes/Story Arcs
Episode 23 "The Phantom Phenomenon"- Introduction of the Phantom Ranger
Episode 26 "The Darkest Day"- Introduction of General Havoc
Episodes 28-29- The conclusion of the Phantom Ranger arc
Episodes 31-32- The Blue Sentorum turned evil, also gave development to Justin.
Episode 38 "Cassie's Best Friend"- An episode featuring Cassie and her dog-turned human.
Episode 43 "Parts and Parcel"- T.J. tries to help prove Bulk and Skull's innocense after they had been accused of theivery.
Episodes 44-45 "Chase into Space"- The conclusion of Turbo.