TV Discussion

Looking back at… Power Rangers Turbo

After the release of Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie the television series made the transition from Power Rangers Zeo to Power Rangers Turbo. Despite the first Power Rangers movie not being in series canon, and the story being retold in the first few episodes of the season, Power Rangers Turbo follows on directly from the film; as such, those who may have not seen the film may feel a little out of their depth to begin with, though the show does give a quick breakdown of the films events in the first episode.

Despite having defeated the demon Maligore and the forces of Divatox (Hilary Shepard Turner & Carol Hoyt), the space pirate soon makes her way to Earth in order to get her revenge against the Rangers, spurring into action the events for the season.

Power Rangers Turbo is probably the season with the biggest change in the whole of what would become known as the Zordon-Era (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to Power Rangers in Space). Despite the previous series being the first to completely alter the costumes and enemies, Power Rangers Turbo would be completely different by the last episode, with Alpha 5 (Richard Steven Horvitz) and Zordon (David Fielding) leaving Earth, and all of the Rangers from Power Rangers Zeo leaving the team.

The show had changed a number of Rangers over the years, and all of the original team have left by this point (I’m not including Tommy as original as he didn’t come into the show until episode 17), but this is the first time a brand new team would be taking over.

Because of these drastic changes Power Rangers Turbo stands out as very different from the seasons that came before. The Super Sentai series that was used for source material helps with this, with this being the first time that a series would use vehicles for their Zords instead of animals or creatures, and Gekisou Sentai Carranger was a comedy series, meaning that this season would take on a lighter tone than the previous years. This lighter tone works well for the season, and it feels a lot more lighthearted and easier to watch than Power Rangers Zeo was, which occasionally felt dull in both tone and visuals on occasion.

One of the reasons for this lighter tone was the inclusion of the new Blue Ranger Justin Stewart (Blake Foster), the first and to date only child Power Ranger. With a move clearly inspired by Shazam (or Captain Marvel to older readers) Justin undergoes a transformation when he morphs, changing him from a child into a fully grown adult, though his child voice still comes out of his helmet.

I understand that the producers of Power Rangers Turbo were trying to appeal more to kids than they were before, pushing the idea that ‘you too could fight alongside the Power Rangers as one of them’ concept, but it proved to be one of the weaker points of the season, and something that fans still complain about today. Sadly, for many, Justin will be one of their least favourite Rangers, one that many view as a low point of the franchise. Whilst I would agree that Justin is probably the weakest member of the team in this season, closely followed by Carlos (Roger Velasco), he’s not completely awful as some make out.

Justin is actually the only Ranger to make it through the entire season, with the Rangers from the Zeo team, Tommy (Jason David Frank), Adam (Johnny Yong Bosch), Tanya (Nakita Burrise), and Katherine (Catherine Sutherland), all leaving just over half way through, making room for T.J. (Selwyn Ward), Ashley (Tracy Lynn Cruz), Cassie (Patricia Ja Lee), and Carlos.

Whilst it is sad to lose some of these Rangers, particularly Adam, the new cast are a huge breath of fresh air, and bring a lot of new energy to the screen. Though knowing what I do about the behind the scenes work schedule and how much the old cast worked on the show it’s not a surprise that the new cast would have more energy than them.

Power Rangers Turbo stands out as the first time that a Power Rangers team would be led by an African America Red Ranger, something that wouldn’t happen again until Power Rangers S.P.D. eight years later, and only three times in the franchise history.

The series also stands out as being the only time that the Rangers are defeated by their enemy at the end of the season. That’s right, the Rangers lose. The final episodes see the Rangers mentor leave, their base attacked by an army of villains, and their powers destroyed. It’s a bold move, and the final two episodes are easily the best of the season, showcasing how big and dramatic the franchise can be.

The final episodes also sets up the beginning of the next series, Power Rangers in Space, as Dixatox leaves Earth and the Rangers behind to travel to another world to join a group of villains that have captured Zordon. This leaves the Rangers no other option than to travel into space after them in order to rescue Zordon before the whole galaxy falls into the clutches of evil.

Power Rangers Turbo is far from a perfect show, there’s a lot of story threads that are not fully explored, and some that are dropped all together, but it does manage to reinvigorate a franchise that had begun to flag a little, and to lay the ground work for an exciting and bold new direction for the franchise.

Were you a fan of Power Rangers Turbo? Let us know!

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