This Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel review contains spoilers.
Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel Episode 1
Power Rangers 25th anniversary is off to a bad start. The planned live show was cancelled, the redesigned Ranger Nation website (meant for hardcore fans of the show) was filled with laughably inaccurate information, and the first supposed “big reveal” of the year was nothing more than some action figures fans had known about for months.
Oh yeah, and this episode. We’ll get to that in a second.
You know it’s bad when fans have to start hashtags to remind each other the good things about the show and fandom in spite of all these baffling mistakes. This is not a knock on #PowerForceLives by the by (a hashtag dedicated to fans trying to be positive in the wake of all the issues with the franchise), it’s just not good for a brand when its biggest fans are having to turn to each other and go,
“We still love this thing and each other even if it sucks right now.”
That “still” is very important because more and more I’m seeing fans having to remind themselves of the elements of the franchise they liked instead of focusing on any of the current product.
We have to constantly remind ourselves of the good old days because the Power Rangers franchise shows no sign of trying to fix its core problems.
While it should be noted things like the Boom Comics (which are astounding) and the Hyperforce RPG (which has its heart in the right place) are trying their best, the TV series is now the flagship of the franchise.
The 2017 movie doesn’t look it’s getting a sequel. Super Ninja Steel has to be the face of Power Rangers. Everything else is side projects. This has to be the thing that hooks the general audience. The thing that excites fans, both casual and hardcore.
Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel has to inspire people to be hyped for what’s happening right now instead of constantly looking to the past.
And it’s flat out terrible. If you’ve read any of my previous Ninja Steel reviews you know I have major problems with the very building blocks of this season. Not just as a season of Power Rangers but as a TV show supposedly meant for children as well. It doesn’t work. Precious little of it works, no matter what audience it’s meant for.
Today’s episode could have been a fresh new start. Yeah the last season blew but they could have attempted to salvage it. Really swung for the fences. Instead we got a wormhole from another dimension and farts.
It’s telling that the first time in well over a decade Power Rangers has actively attempted to have continuity between seasons (outside of team-ups and anniversary specials) it’s half assed and produces groans from the audience.
Sledge coming back should be a huge deal. A villain from a previous season casually struts onto the scene? That’s a game changer! It could totally shift the dynamic of the show but it seems to be there just to get Odius a new general.
It also, of course, makes absolutely zero sense. Sledge flew into a SUN at the end of Dino Super Charge. There was no wormhole there of any kind. Plus he was MILLIONS of years in the past. Does this SUDDEN wormholes travel across dimensions AND time?
I’ll talk more about the implications this has on the franchise next week because there’s lazier storytelling I need to address.
The pacing of this episode is all over the place. Starting with an extended villains only scene is a great idea but Sledge’s presence amounts to nothing. It means the actual story starts super late and has to rush through a potentially interesting idea of Victor and Monty running their own business and the Rangers suddenly getting all their powers back.
What was the point of the Rangers losing their powers at the end of last season if they were just going to get them back in this premiere? Why create a new status quo only to immediately go back to your old one? It just makes the Ninja Steel finale feel pointless. The Rangers’ situation, outside of Brody and Levi’s dad being back, is now virtually unchanged.
Also, hey. Brody and Levi’s dad. Be more chill about not having been to that high school twenty years. Please, act like a normal person and not someone who’s been trapped inside the Prism for ten years. What is up with this show and not dealing with consequences or fallout of big events?
A new season should feel like the conflict is escalating. Like the Rangers are facing bigger threats and need new tactics/powers to fight them. It shouldn’t feel like business as usual. It also doesn’t help that damn Ninja Nexus Prism can still seemingly do anything. Just add Ninja Super Steel for instant return of powers!
They didn’t even need to morph! Preston’s magic wand is incredibly overpowered. Brody can also take down Odius with an umorphed kick, which of course sounds like a laser because the sound designer for Power Rangers thinks EVERY IMPACT sounds like a laser.
No matter what happens though, Victor and Monty are holding this show on their backs. There anti alien spray ad was the funniest gag Ninja Steel has ever pulled off. The way Monty especially awkwardly turns to the camera and mouths Victor’s lines? Genius!
Too bad it was followed by a mind numbing succession of fart gags. One of which was a flashback to a fart gag! Fart jokes can be funny but you can’t do them over and over and expect results. They have to come from character, not from a desire for cheap laughs. Go watch the premiere episode of Voltron: Legendary Defender and you’ll see what I mean.
Plus Monty’s farts took out Odius last season! Now she just shrugs it off. Come on, if you’re going to make farts THAT deadly in universe you have to be consistent. God, I can’t believe I just wrote that.
We have a whole year of nonsense like this ahead of us. I’m sure they want to save all their biggest moments for whatever super anniversary episode they have planned (where Sledge will likely appear I’d guess) but I can’t get excited about it.
Does anyone honestly think a team up episode would be any good? Do you think the series will suddenly get amazing because some old Rangers are back? Imagine everyone’s favorite Ranger Tommy coming back but instead of making some well-executed in-joke for long time fans or simply going “seet seet OOYAH” he makes five fart jokes. Perhaps even worse he says something that blatantly contradicts an already established part of his history or character.
If you think that would never happen, remind yourself that the Power Force website said Super Samurai was the first season to have a female Red Ranger. Remind yourself that website said Wild Force was the first season shot in New Zealand.
So yeah, I’m not excited for this season. I have no reason to believe it will be any better than most of what we’ve gotten from Power Rangers on TV the last eight years (the first season of Dino Charge being the big exception).
Super Ninja Steel doesn’t seem to care it’s the flagship of the 25th anniversary. It doesn’t seem like it’s trying to fix any of its mistakes or strive for something more. It’s not trying to lead by example for the rest of the franchise. It’s not trying to inspire excitement in fans.
It’s just content being bargain bin Power Rangers.
Power Rangers that skates by on MMPR riffs in the theme song, generic lessons of teamwork, half assed attempts at continuity, and fart jokes.
Look, I still love Power Rangers. This is my own #PowerForceLives spiel but the franchise has made me a ton of life long friends and opened a lot of professional doors for me. I started writing for this site because of Power Rangers. I’m still heartily enjoying the Boom comics because they know how to tell good stories, which utilize all the best parts of Power Rangers.
This franchise will always be near and dear to my hear but now matter how many warm feelings fellow fans or I have about Power Rangers, a franchise can not survive on good will alone. Sooner or later the laziness and mistakes, big and small, will start to turn people off from the franchise.
They’ll still love it sure, but they’ll stop engaging with any of the current product out of sheer disinterest. This effects the franchise across the board. Someone may not read the fantastic comics because they see the show and assume that’s the quality of the comics.
Super Ninja Steel needs to stop screwing around with farts and start actually acting like it’s the most important thing for Power Rangers right now.
RIP Dino Charge dinosaurs in present day. Shamus Kelley will never miss you. Follow him on Twitter!