’90s kids, assemble! Are you somebody who, like me, used to spend their Saturday mornings glued to the programming over on FOX Kids? Were you kicking and punching alongside your screen as your favorite multicolored, high-powered “teenagers with attitude” saved the world over and over from aliens and monsters?
If so, are you ready to rediscover your youth? Well, you’re in luck, because for the first time in 27 years…it’s Morphin’ Time! The Power Rangers 30th anniversary special, titled Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once & Always, is hitting Netflix on April 19.
I’ve been aware of this rapidly approaching special for quite some time now, and was actually planning on writing about it for my first piece for Agents of Fandom. Then, just this past week…boom! Netflix hits us with our first official trailer (we had previously gotten a two-minute behind-the-scenes feature and some promotional images, but nothing else). The timing could not have been better, so…let’s dig into the official trailer, shall we?
That is cool, isn’t it? Were you watching closely? Okay, so here’s what we know:
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once & Always trailer breakdown
We open with a combination of the original Ranger team battling the Putty Patrol, along with a resurrected Rita Repulsa, who appears to have taken on some sort of mechanical body but still has her original costume and staff. Barbara Goodson, who voices the character during the entirety of its run in the ’90s, reprises her role once again.
The only Rangers who are clearly identified in this opening sequence are Billy Cranston (David Yost)—who’s back from Aquitar—Zack Taylor (Walter Emanuel Jones), and Trini Kwan. Kwan remains masked and is played by a fill-in actress due to the passing of Thuy Trang in a 2001 car accident.
It’s worth noting that the Green, Pink, and Red Rangers do not unmask in the initial fight sequence that sees Trini lose her life. Amy Jo Johnson and Austin St. John reportedly did not take part in this reunion special, so it could be a safe assumption that Rocky and Kat (who we see later in the trailer) are the Red and Pink Rangers in this battle.
However, trailers can obviously be cut deceptively, so there’s no way to know for sure. This would be an interesting wrinkle for fans, though, as that particular assortment of Rangers never fight together during the original run (you know, due to that whole “Peace Conference” plot line that was actually a behind-the-scenes contract dispute that saw Jones, Trang, and St. John written out of the show).
Finally, the Green Ranger, who also remains masked, should be assumed to be the legendary Tommy Oliver. However, Jason David Frank is not said to have filmed any scenes for this special prior to his tragic passing last November, so it remains to be seen whether this is Tommy portrayed by a stand-in actor, or someone who has perhaps taken up his Green Ranger mantle (more on that theory later). Frank previously stated that he intended to retire the Tommy Oliver character after his final live action appearance in the “Dimensions in Danger” episode of Power Rangers: Super Ninja Steel, which is actually pretty awesome. You can watch it here!
As mentioned above, the trailer reveals that Trini passes away in this fight sequence. We’re given a shot of unmasked Billy and Zack looking in disbelief over a cliff of some kind, presumably at her body, with the masked Green, Pink, and Red Rangers nearby.
This leads into the introduction of a brand-new character written for this special: Minh (Charlie Kersh), Trini’s daughter, who confirms her mother’s fate and clearly wants revenge. We see a photo of the late Thuy Trang as Billy and Zack try to console Minh, asking her to let them sort out this “Ranger Business.”
Ummm…we’ve got a new Command Center?!? Cool! In some of the previously released promotional images, we did see the Ranger team gathered inside some sort of new, unspecified hideout. But now, we get a look at the outside of this presumed base of operations—and it definitely looks like it was modeled after Zordon’s Command Center (later re-named as the Power Chamber). It also appears to be in the same general location as the original structure, which of course was destroyed for good in the finale of Power Rangers Turbo.
Rita’s plan is revealed: she wants to create a time portal to kill each member of the team back before Zordon ever makes them Power Rangers. Pretty dark compared to the campier nature of the OG show! Back then, Rita and Zedd would try to turn the Rangers into kids so that they’d be harmless, but I guess after losing to the “teenagers with attitude” repeatedly, Rita is out for blood. Billy and Zack appear to be on their own (along with the grieving Minh) at this time.
“Aye-yi-yi-yi-yi!” Alpha is back! Inside the new Command Center, we get a shot of what could be Alpha 5, Alpha 6, or maybe Alpha 28 at this point—it’s been a while! He’s summoning other Rangers to come assist Zack and Billy in their fight against Rita. Behind Alpha, we see a cracked tube; it’s too early to tell if this is the actual shattered tube that used to contain Zordon (destroyed by Andros in the finale of Power Rangers in Space) or just an homage to the Rangers’ dear departed mentor and father figure. It looks incredibly cool nevertheless!
On the Command Center computer, we’re shown a list of other previous Ranger teams’ locations: Reefside, Turtle Cove, and the Astro Megaship! Perhaps these locations were all receiving the distress call, it’s too early to tell. We see Rocky DeSantos (Steve Cardenas) and Kat Hillard (Catherine Sutherland) teleport in to join their friends (again, impossible to determine at this time if these two were part of the previously seen battle sequence or if we saw Jason and Kimberly played by stand-in masked actors). The group then morph into action; something OG fans have been waiting to see some of these characters do again for over two decades!
In one of the next shots, we get a visual of Adam Park (Johnny Yong Bosch) and Aisha Campbell (Karan Ashley), but not as Power Rangers. Instead, they’re wearing uniforms similar to those of the Space Patrol Delta, which later forms its own team of Power Rangers. The SPD organization isn’t supposed to be formed until an unspecified future date, but it looks like Adam and Aisha are part of an early faction of the group.
There’s not a good look in the trailer, but in previously released images we can see their uniforms actually read “SPA” (so again, this is not the Space Patrol Delta that was featured in the 2005 series). Perhaps this group is known as “Space Patrol Alpha?” I mean, we have Alpha 5 right there, maybe he’s the founder! Adam and Aisha wish the Rangers luck, which seems to indicate that they won’t be joining the fight against Rita themselves. Too bad—it would have been really cool to see them suit up again!
Ernie’s Juice Bar is back!!! Fans of the OG show know that the Rangers loved to spend any time they weren’t beating up on the monster-of-the-week at the Angel Grove Youth Center. During the three seasons of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and then its successor Power Rangers Zeo, Ernie’s Juice Bar was the main attraction.
During Power Rangers Turbo, Lt. Stone takes over ownership of the facility, but it is never used again as a hangout after that season. Looks like it’s still around with its classic look in Angel Grove, though, and the Rangers are very protective of their old stomping grounds (judging by their reaction to the Putties showing up there).
And finally…the Zords are back! Yes, the OG Zords make an appearance at the end of our trailer: Mastodon, Pterodactyl, Triceratops, Sabretooth Tiger, and Tyrannosaurus (no Dragonzord, at least not yet). We get an updated look of them charging towards an unspecified villain and, of course, the final product: the Megazord! Like so many of my fellow ’90s kids, I had all of these toys when I was younger (I wish my parents hadn’t tossed them out, they’re apparently worth like hundreds of dollars on eBay these days).
“Morphenomenal!” Let’s make sense of what we just saw
Okay, so now that we’ve gone through the trailer, let’s exhale. What are our main takeaways, Power Ranger fans? Well, first and foremost, let’s address continuity, as it’s been so long since we’ve seen this particular group of Rangers on screen together. And, as we all recall, they aren’t supposed to be able to morph anymore…or are they?
Yes, it is true that the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers very notably lose their powers during the final few episodes of season three. Rito Revolto, Rita’s brother, destroys the Rangers’ Power Coins after they’d been turned from teens into children for the second time in the show’s run (did they forget having already used that particular storyline?). Just after finding the pieces of the Zeo Crystal to restore those powers, however, the Command Center is destroyed. All seems lost, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers ends on a massive cliffhanger.
As fans soon found out, though, the Rangers would return the following season as the Zeo Rangers, with brand-new costumes, zords, and weapons (along with brand-new toys for everyone’s parents to buy!). So, fast forwarding back to present day, how are these particular Rangers back? Well, we’ve actually seen several instances in the long-running series canon of the OG Rangers reappearing.
- Adam Park famously uses his severely damaged power morpher in an episode of Power Rangers in Space to assist his friend and mentee, Carlos, who is going through a crisis of confidence.
- Jason Lee Scott, the original Red Ranger, dons his colors again in the epic Power Rangers Wild Force team-up episode “Forever Red.”
- Adam once again morphs into the Black Ranger during a guest appearance in the 2007 series Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, as a magical being temporarily restores his morphing powers.
Long story short? There are a number of instances where veteran Rangers inexplicably return over the years, despite notably having those powers destroyed or giving them up to a new Ranger. My expectation is that we’ll find out exactly how this group has seemingly had its powers (and zords, don’t forget those were famously blown to pieces, too) restored sometime early on in this special.
“Okay, genius, so how is Rita Repulsa back? She and Lord Zedd became normal, non-evil human beings at the end of Power Rangers in Space!”
Yup, that’s certainly true. But, if we’ve learned anything from our friends at Marvel and DC over the years (or even the Fast & Furious franchise, which can now resurrect people as long as they’re family), it’s that you’re never really dead or gone. Lord Zedd has already been brought back in his famously gross exposed flesh-and-brain look within the past year, so having Rita return as some sort of android doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch, I guess!
The question that I’m sure is on the minds of a lot of fans is: how will Thuy Trang and Jason David Frank’s absences be handled? Obviously, the latter’s passing is much more recent and still very fresh in everyone’s minds. I was fortunate enough to receive a Cameo from Jason David Frank last September as a birthday present from a friend. He was motivational, upbeat, and had such a great personalized message for me; I still watch that video from time to time when I’m in need of a little pick-me-up. Jason was famously generous with his time for a countless number of his fans. Sadly, only two months after that Cameo, he was gone.
As mentioned earlier, it’s not believed that he planned to take part in the production of this special prior to his passing due to his desire to retire the character, but we do indeed see a Green Ranger on screen. This has me thinking: could this be JJ Oliver, Tommy and Kat’s son who is referenced in Jason David Frank’s final live action appearance as Tommy?
It’s already rumored that Minh, who we meet in this trailer, will take up the Yellow Ranger mantle from her late mother, is it possible that we’ll have a pair of second-generation Rangers on this team? We’ll have to find out. Regardless, it’s expected that the special will be dedicated to the memory of both Trang and Frank.
Wrapping up our look into the Power Rangers 30th Anniversary Special
’90’s kids! Power Ranger fans! I want to hear from you—what did you think of the trailer for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once & Always? Who do you think is underneath that Green Ranger helmet? Will Bulk and Skull show up? Is actual time travel going to be involved here, given Rita’s intentions? Finally, what’s your general excitement level for this long-awaited reunion?
As someone who never thought we’d see Billy return from Aquitar or Zack make his way back from the infamous “Peace Conference,” I’m just amped up to see my childhood heroes (minus a sorely missed departed few) in action again. The Power Rangers morph into action again on Netflix, April 19!
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