This Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel review contains spoilers.
Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel Episode 18
It’s incredibly baffling that one of the more creative and genuinely funny episodes of Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel is also one of the laziest.
On the one hand, the use of Sentai footage is excellent. I try not to get too into the weeds of Sentai footage usage in these reviews because it’s incredibly nerdy (even for this site) and honestly Ninja Steel has so many other issues it’s never really worth pointing out. Generally it’s fairly standard and kinda boring. The footage never stands out because the plots do nothing to give the footage any weight. (They’re too busy being racist and yeah I haven’t forgotten it nor should any of you.)
Here though it’s really engaging! Repurposing discarded Japanese footage that was too wacky into fake stories by the monsters is clever. With Power Rangers’ budget being so small I wish we saw more creative uses of footage like this. There’s a way to do cheap episodes with lots of footage that are still engaging and fun. It reminds me of other seasons (Space, Dino Thunder, RPM) that have actively played with the footage and made the season all the better for it. In those years the footage never felt like it was killing time, it was all used to make the stories more effective (or just delightfully weird.) It made it feel like this episode had some fun and joy put into it.
You can also see that in the performances and writing. The voice over actors especially are having a blast getting to dub over the monsters pretending to be the Rangers. They’re hilariously chewing the scenery, singing, and just getting to have wacky quips which are much better than the now horribly drab “explain what we’re watching” dialogue we’ve gotten used to.
It’s disappointing all of this is wrapped up in complete and utter laziness. Maybe they had time for some nice quips because they had already done this basic plot last week and two years ago. Yeah yeah, last week Levi’s voice was just stolen but functionally it’s pretty damn close to a body swap. Also, the Halloween Intergalactic Court is reused for no other purpose than I guess they still had the props.
They couldn’t have thought of anything else? No other ways to get the clip show premise in there? What happened to the creativity of Dino Charge’s first clip show that was a mystery? Why are we just… redoing something that isn’t even old?
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Yes, I’m aware this show basically works on a two year cycle where they don’t expect the kids who watched two seasons ago to still be watching now. I get it. But why isn’t Ninja Steel striving to do something new? Why reuse a plot when you could do something new? I understand if say, they happened to reuse a basic idea from ten years ago. That’s totally fine and acceptable, especially since it was done under a completely different production regime.
This is the same team though. Chip Lynn worked on ‘Trick or Trial’. I know the guy is infamous amongst Power Rangers fans for having a bad memory but come on, this wasn’t THAT long ago. Did no one at Saban (remember, this episode was produced before Hasbro came along) stop and go, “hey, we just did this. Maybe try something else?”
But that isn’t the name of the game it seems. Time and again this season especially we’ve seen that striving for something more just isn’t a priority. It’ putting a product on TV, no matter how slapdash or incredibly racist its content is (I told you not to forget).
“For kids” is again used as an excuse to not try instead of being the main reason to care more. Fans like to lay blame for this on various writers or producers but I’m not here to point fingers. I’m sure many people working on the franchise care a lot and want everything coming out of it to be incredible. The problem is that somewhere along the chain of command someone just shrugs their shoulders and says, “whatever, who cares?”
That’s where bad TV comes from. That’s where Power Rangers is right now. No matter how you look at it, long running franchise or disposable content made for four year olds, Power Rangers is bad.
This is one of the better episodes of the season and it’s still pretty damn boring. If you aren’t a super nerd who cares about footage usage there isn’t much here to enjoy besides the monsters being silly. At best it’s bafflingly bad which is not something the series should be striving for.