Monthly Archives: February 2011

Episode Review: Day Off

Article By: Alex J. Rosolowsky
EDITORIAL

While I realize that we’re only three episodes into Power Rangers Samurai, Day Off may be the best episode of the season so far. The episode itself focuses around Jayden, the Red Ranger, and his quest to master the Beetle Power Disc, although at times it feels like there are two plots in Day Off: the plot following Jayden, and the plot following the other Rangers who are trying to enjoy a day off from training, only to be interrupted by a Nighlok.

From a storytelling standpoint, Day Off is a top-tier episode, and a lesson in what happens when one pushes oneself too hard; it’s a story that anyone of any age can relate too, with moral that adults would do well to remember as well as children. Jayden’s quest to be stronger and better then he currently is, while refusing to take a break and relax is something that I can relate to, as is Kevin’s paranoia that everything must be a test.

From a technical standpoint, this episode tops the first one, with yet another awesome night scene, dirty clothing showing the progression of time, and even some bruises/burn marks on Jayden’s hands during his training. It’s little things like this with the make-up and wardrobe, as well as a beautifully lit night scene that make Day Off stand out in my mind as a well-done production, and an episode that I sincerely enjoyed. Throw in some more original Megazord footage, which I’ll touch on in a moment, and you have yet another reason to watch this episode. It was nice to see the Shinkenger footage featuring the “giant Moogers” adapted as well, since the entire concept goes against the grain of a Megazord fight, and just further makes this episode more enjoyable and unique then it would otherwise be.

Day Off was also the first “toy introduction” episode, featuring both a new weapon, the five-disc beetle cannon, and a new beetle Zord, and this is admittedly where its one major flaw shows. Although I was able to forget I was watching a toy commercial with the introduction of the beetle cannon, the beetle Zord felt forced in my  opinion, and I only wish that there had been a way to introduce it one episode later, rather then immediately after introducing the beetle cannon, although this is a minor nuisance, and it doesn’t hurt the episode as a whole. The reason the beetle Zord doesn’t hurt the episode as a whole in my opinion, is because it gives us some original Megazord footage, and an extra toy introduction is a small price to pay for that additional footage.

Also, while I loved Dreadlock, the Yosemite Sam–inspired villain, I did feel that some of his puns were a bit forced. From a storytelling standpoint, this is my only real complaint, but then again, it’s relatively minor considering that I had plenty of fun with a Yosemite Sam–inspired villain.

All in all Day Off was an excellent episode; aside from a few edits that didn’t quite match up, one or two puns that tried too hard, and a Zord introduction that was counterbalanced with some original footage, this was a perfect episode. I ultimately consider day off to be a perfect episode though, even with relatively minor flaws that any production might have.

Joe’s Rating: 5 out of 5
Alex’s Rating: 5
out of 5
Final Rating:
5 out of 5

How The Power Rangers Samurai Times rates episodes:

Episodes are rated on a scale of 1–5 with one being the lowest rating, and five being the highest rating, no decimal points, no fractions, no negative numbers. If multiple contributors review an episode, their individual ratings will be posted followed by the final rating, which will be an average of the aforementioned individual ratings. (Obviously averages may contain decimal points.)

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Episode Review: Deal With A Nighlok

Article By: Joseph Michael Sciola; Contributing Editor
EDITORIAL

We are now officially two episodes into the 19th season of Power Rangers, and for the first time since the show’s 16th season, I am watching because I actually like the show, and not out of a weird sense of loyalty to it. Two episodes in, and it has all but recaptured that feeling of enjoyment that the show gave me all the way back in 1993, but this time has managed to do so while also having characters that have proven to be layered and multi-dimensional, and a motley crew of villains whose motivations extend beyond the simplistic “Hey, there’s a planet there! Let’s destroy it!”

Two episodes in, and we have been given insights to all of the Ranger characters except for Jayden, the Red Ranger, and considering the promo for the next episode, it looks like his turn will be coming up next week. The theme of the episode is that of sacrifice, specifically, what the Power Rangers themselves gave up to become Power Rangers. This theme was also prevalent in last week’s premiere episode with Mike and his friends, and it would not surprise me if it was one of the themes of the season

The majority of the focus in Deal With A Nighlok is on Kevin, the Blue Ranger, and Mia, the Pink Ranger. At the beginning, Kevin let’s every member of the team know he is there if they need to talk about anything. The other Rangers react in various ways. Yellow Ranger Emily thinks its sweet, Green Ranger Mike thinks it’s a little creepy, and since Kevin went from one to the other in succession, Mia just cuts him off and tells him she’s fine.

Mike asks Jayden and Jii, the team mentor (and that’s how he’s credited in the opening titles) what’s going on with Kevin, and Jii notes he’s been like that since the day before, and it’s at this point that I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed with the performances Rene Naufahu has given so far as Jii. I thought he was absolutely outstanding as the villain of Power Rangers SPD back in 2005, and he managed to do those performances under about two pounds of make-up and prosthetics.

As for the villains in this episode, I can say this is the most enjoyment I have gotten out of the villain group in some time. Because all the villains in their base scenes are footage from the Japanese show and it is with the villain scenes that I am extremely glad I was asked to review this episode, because it featured the one thing people were wondering about how they handle. During the first scene with the villains, the main villain Xandred throws a fit after Doubletone, the monster of the day brags about his ability to make people give up on their dreams, he states he has a headache, and then takes a swig from a container. During the second scene, and Doubletone returns to the base, Xandred is unconscious on the floor, and the squid looking villain Octoroo says he mixed Xandred some medicine, and now he’s asleep. I guess there’s only so many ways to cover up the fact that in the source footage, he consumed so much sake that he drank himself into a stupor.

The episode specific supporting cast is then rounded out by young Ryan, a little league baseball player who becomes the target of Doubletone. He approaches Ryan with the deal that if he gives up on his dreams of playing baseball, his soldier father will return home. I thought that was a real nice touch, because having a father not at home because he is in the Army an on deployment is something that a lot of kids can relate to, especially nowadays. It also potentially explains the only real thing about the kid’s performance that really bugged me. The kid could not maintain his attempt at an American accent if his life depended on it. Since his accent was a sort of American and New Zealand mix, it could be explained that since he is an Army kid, he moved around a lot, and thus his accent developed as such. It should be noted that he did better than some of the past New Zealand actors who were put into Ranger roles, but it was still bad.

However, with the good this episode had to offer, there is also the bad. The bad in this episode, much like the premiere, comes in the form of Bulk and Spike’s samurai training. It just feels so disconnected from the episode itself. You could remove their scenes altogether and it would have no effect on the show. Nick.com’s character profile for Spike mentions that like his father before him, he has a crush on the Pink Ranger. Hopefully we get to that, soon, because then it will seem like the two “plots” (if you can call the Bulk and Spike stuff that) are a part of the same show.

It was stated that after the utterly joylessness of Power Rangers RPM, Series creator Haim Saban said was going to take the show back to its more comedic beginnings. Despite being rather pointless, the Bulk and Spike scenes managed to get at least a chuckle out of me, but the true shining moment of comedy in this episode came in the form of Mia cooking dinner for Kevin to bring to him while they were staking out Ryan’s house in case Doubletone came back. This included Mia using her Samurai Sword to cut up a vegetable that was giving her normal knife problems. Kevin’s reaction to the concoction presented to him as dinner was equally hysterical and heartwarming as he attempted to throw it away, but without hurting Mia’s feelings about it.

It’s been two episodes, but I absolutely love that they are now crediting the original Japanese writer at the beginning of every episode. I liked it when Law & Order: UK did it; I like it here. Also, expect to see Yasuko Kobayashi’s name a lot. Out of the 49 episodes that made up Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, she wrote 42 of them.

If I were to describe Power Rangers Samurai after being two episodes into its run, I would describe it as Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, if it had a sense of direction. The tone is fun and comedic, but still has its moments of seriousness and gravitas, most of which shown through in this episode with the Ryan story, despite the rather questionable accent, the kid did a good job.

So far has been a near perfect blend of the show it is based upon and the show that launched the franchise. I really liked last week’s premiere, but I absolutely loved this episode. I don’t know what the rest of the season will be like, but I cannot wait to find out.

Joe’s Rating: 5 out of 5
Alex’s Rating: 4
out of 5
Final Rating:
4.5 out of 5

How The Power Rangers Samurai Times rates episodes:

Episodes are rated on a scale of 1–5 with one being the lowest rating, and five being the highest rating, no decimal points, no fractions, no negative numbers. If multiple contributors review an episode, their individual ratings will be posted followed by the final rating, which will be an average of the aforementioned individual ratings. (Obviously averages may contain decimal points.)

Episode Review: The Team Unites

Article By: Alex J. Rosolowsky
EDITORIAL

Power Rangers premieres generally consist of one of three premises, which can be summed up as follows: Evil arrives on Earth and some odd number of young people are recruited to become Power Rangers, Rangers lose their powers and have to obtain new ones, or an established team of Rangers has to add an additional team member or team members to unlock some form of power-up that’ll stop Big Bad from conquering Earth/the galaxy/the universe. Naturally, you can imagine my surprise, and great pleasure when Power Rangers Samurai followed none of these basic concepts.

Instead of relying on one of the above Ranger cliches, The Team Unites acts as a regular, ordinary episode of the series. The Rangers are already a team, the villains are already trying to take over the planet, and the Rangers know what Morphers and Megazords are, and more importantly, how to summon them. To me, this is definitely a major strong point, if only for the fact that it hasn’t been done before. The Team Unites feels like an actual pilot, that is, it feels like an episode that’s indicative of what a normal episode of Power Rangers Samurai will look like, rather then an episode that’s indicative of what previous and future premieres will look like. One major benefit of the way that The Team Unites is structured, is that it effectively allows all questions about the series to be answered as the show progresses, including how the Rangers met, who the villains are, and just why they want to conquer Earth besides the obvious fact that they’re villains. Of course, the major downside to the way that The Team Unites is structured is the fact that it answers absolutely nothing about the series; if you missed the quick intro (which actually does summarize some of the more basic plot questions) before the actual episode, you’re effectively being thrown face-first into Power Rangers Samurai, and possibly the Power Rangers universe itself. Since the intro is effectively a Nickelodeon promo, rather then part of the actual episode, it probably won’t be included on international versions of The Team Unites, which could definitely lead to even older fans wondering just what’s going on when they watch this episode for the first time.

Moving away from The Team Unites‘ unique plot and onto technical details, I’m reminded of what Bart Simpson wrote on the blackboard for the first HD episode of The Simpsons: HD is worth every penny! Simply put, shows like Power Rangers are the reason HDTV exists; they’re action-packed, bright, colorful, and in your face. Viewers who aren’t watching this show in HD are doing themselves a disservice; every time the show took a commercial break I had to remind myself “yes, this is Power Rangers, and yes, you really did just see that in HD.”

Not only is Power Rangers Samurai cablecast in HD though, it’s also shot on RED ONE digital cinema cameras, the same cameras used for shows like Samurai Sentai Shinkenger and movies such as The Social Network. Saban’s RED ONE cameras are also equipped with RED’s Mysterium-X (A.K.A. M-X/MX) sensor upgrades that offer improved picture quality over the regular RED ONE image sensors; to quote The A–Team movie, “overkill is underrated.” The quality difference between the 16mm film cameras that were used for 17 seasons and the RED ONE cameras is like the difference between the Model-A Ford and the 2011 Ford Fusion; there’s just no comparing the two. Of course, Power Rangers RPM showed us that you can shoot an awesome series even with archaic cameras, and no matter how good a camera may be, at the end of the day it’s only as good as the person whose wielding it.

That brings me to my point about cinematography. Before Power Rangers Samurai premiered, fans were already comparing the cinematography of Power Rangers RPM and Power Rangers Samurai, which was in effect prejudging Samurai, and a really, really unfair comparison. Having now seen a full episode of Power Rangers Samurai the comparison can be made a bit more fairly. While Power Rangers RPM and Power Rangers Samurai utilize very different styles of cinematography, it is my opinion that the aforementioned cinematography fits each series appropriately, and is excellent on both shows, even though the two styles are as different as night and day.

The editing in The Team Unites is also top-notch, and feels incredibly polished and professional, a quality that many of the more recent seasons produced by Disney lacked. One thing that’s returned with Power Rangers Samurai is a technique known as a “cold opening,” which is basically when a show begins with a teaser, and then runs the opening credits, (as opposed to running the opening credits first.) The last Power Rangers series to use a cold opening was also the last season produced by Saban exactly ten years ago, Power Rangers Time Force; when Disney took over production with Power Rangers Wild Force, they returned to showing the credits before a single frame of footage from any given episode. The teaser for The Team Unites should not be confused with the “series intro” promo, which was shown in standard definition (even on Nickelodeon’s HD feed,) before the actual teaser for The Team Unites; the teaser is actually part of the episode, but the “intro” promo is not.

The last aspect of Power Rangers Samurai that I have to comment on is the opening theme song, and opening and episode specific credits. As everyone probably knows by now, the theme song is a remix of the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers theme. I have to admit that I absolutely love the Samurai remix. The voice overs of each actor calling their character’s name when their title card appears was a nice throwback to the original morphing sequence from the Mighty Morphin’ era, and the additional “Samurai Forever” voice over was definitely a nice touch. In addition to the music itself though, the opening credits are worth touching on as well. For starters, the musician behind the new theme, Noam Kaniel, is given a title card in the opening credits. Sally Campbell (Power Rangers S.P.D., Mystic Force, Jungle Fury, and RPM,) is once again credited as “Producer,” with Elie Dekel and Brian Casentini now credited as “Co–Producers,” and Johnathan Tzachor credited as “Executive Producer” for the first time since 2002’s Power Rangers Wild Force, the first season to be produced by Disney, and the final season to be produced under the MMPR Productions Inc. production company. In addition to adding a title card for the show’s musician, a brand-spanking-new title card has been added for the show creators, which reads “created by Haim Saban & Toei Company Ltd.” Although most people don’t know this, when an ampersand  (as opposed to the word “and”) is used on a title card in TV production, it’s used to indicate a team, meaning that Saban and Toei view themselves as team. I have to admit, it’s nice to see Toei Company Ltd. finally acknowledged in the opening credits after being relegated to the final title card of the ending credits for 17 seasons where their name was frequently abbreviated “Toei Co. Ltd.” since there usually wasn’t enough space to spell it out. In addition to the new title cards for the opening credits, the episode–specific credits have also been given a new title card where the Japanese writers are now credited as well with the words “Japanese episode written by,” followed by their names. Again, it’s nice to see the people behind Sentai finally being acknowledged for their contribution to the show as well.

All in all I have to say that I’m pretty impressed with The Team Unites, and with Power Rangers Samurai so far, of course we’re only one episode into a 40 (or possibly 40+) episode season, so there’s plenty of time for things to change, but as a whole, I like what I’m seeing, I like the story, what little of it has been told so far, and I like the rather unconventional series premiere.

Final Rating: 5 out of 5

How The Power Rangers Samurai Times rates episodes:

Episodes are rated on a scale of 1–5 with one being the lowest rating, and five being the highest rating, no decimal points, no fractions, no negative numbers. If multiple contributors review an episode, their individual ratings will be posted followed by the final rating, which will be an average of the aforementioned individual ratings. (Obviously averages may contain decimal points.)

“Power Rangers Samurai” bulks up with Paul Schrier

Article By: Alex J. Rosolowsky
NEWS

Rangerboard and IGN are now reporting that fan–favorite actor Paul Schrier will be reprising his role of Farkus “Bulk” Bulkmier for Power Rangers Samurai. According to IGN, “Schrier will appear in the premiere episode of Samurai — airing on Monday, February 7th at 8pm on Nickelodeon — and then make guest appearances throughout the series.”

In addition to the IGN article, Saban Brands has posted the following video on the official Power Rangers YouTube page, simply titled “Bulk is Back!”


Bulk is Back!

Paul Schrier is no stranger to Power Rangers, having first portrayed the character of Bulk in the shows original pilot episode. (The episode was later condensed and aired as part of the “Lost Episode” special in 1999.) Since then, Schrier’s “Bulk” character has become a favorite among fans, and has been depicted as many things, including a high school bully, a law enforcement figure, and a UFO conspiracy theorist to name a few. Schrier himself has also directed two episodes of the Mighty Morphin’ Alien Rangers mini–series, “Attack of the 60′ Bulk,” coincidentally the show’s 150th episode, and “Water you thinking?” In addition to directing, Mr. Schrier also voiced the Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue villian Infinitor, and the Power Rangers Time Force villian Severax, making him the only actor to appear on the show in some form for ten consecutive seasons, and nine consecutive years.