After giving us one good episode last week, Power Rangers Ninja Steel is back to its usual fare of awful episodes, this week focusing on Redbot (Byron Coll). With so little characterisation having actually been given over to the Power Rangers, the heroes of the show, it makes no sense at all to give the spotlight to a side character.
This is the modern equivalent of having an episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers focus purely on Alpha-5, something that even then they knew wouldn’t work. The original seasons were very flawed, but they knew that if you wanted to give the robot sidekick some room to grow you had to do it as the B-plot of the episode whilst the Rangers took the spotlight. Here, however, Redbot barges his way to the forefront of the episode, and it’s much weaker for it.
During the course of the episode we learn that Redbot has his own blog, where he has been telling stories of the Power Rangers’ adventures, but putting himself in the role of the hero. When publisher comes to town wanting to turn his stories into a book Redbot becomes something of a celebrity.
The main conflict comes when the Rangers, and eventually the public, learn that Redbot has been lying about his stories, turning his fans against him. Meanwhile, the villains have hatched a plan to put a spell on Redbot’s books, freezing anyone holding one. This is accomplished by the monster of the week, Cat O’Clock (Charlie McDermott).
One of the things that Power Rangers Ninja Steel has going for it is some great monster designs, from the visually imposing such as Galvanax (Richard Simpson), to the ridiculous like last episode’s Phonepanzee (Simon McKinney). Cat O’Clock definitely falls into the same category as Phonepanzee, of being so ridiculous to be great. Unfortunately, the character isn’t given a great deal to do, and the gimmick of him freezing people with his clock powers feels like a missed opportunity.
As with many of the Power Rangers Ninja Steel episodes, I’m left wondering just how much better the monsters would have been in Shuriken Sentai Ninninger; the Sentai series the Ranger footage was taken from. Sadly, much of the monster is wasted in this episode, with a very standard and boring fight scene and Mega-Zord sequence that does little to stand out against other monsters of the season.
The episode even fails to land a consistent moral message for the child audience. Instead of sticking to the idea that telling lies, even small ones, will catch you out in the end and that you shouldn’t do it, the episode tells children that one good deed can erase dozens of lies and make people love you and want your autograph. It’s bad even for this season of Power Rangers.
Power Rangers can do better than this, the previous version of the show, Power Rangers Dino Charge, was excellent, and the monthly comic printed through BOOM! is still easily the best Mighty Morphin Power Rangers story ever told. Unfortunately, Power Rangers Ninja Steel continues to let its audience down with flat, boring characters, missed opportunities, and dull, dull writing.
Power Rangers Ninja Steel airs on Nickleodeon every Saturday. Let us know what you think of the season.