Monthly Archives: November 2012

DVD Review: Power Rangers Samurai: “Christmas Together, Friends Forever”

Article By: Alex J. Rosolowsky
EDITORIAL

On The Disc

  • Christmas Together, Friends Forever
  • I’m Dreaming of A White Ranger
  • A Season to Remember
    • Stick Together Music Video (16:9 “Widescreen”)
  • Extras
    • Mega Bloks Holiday Toymation
    • Train Like a Ranger PSAs
    • Power Ranger Swarm Music Video
  • Trailers
    • Power Rangers Super Samurai DVD and Direct Download Trailer
    • Wolverine and the X–Men DVD and Blu–Ray Trailer
    • Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow DVD and Blu–Ray Trailer
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) DVD Trailer
    • Fred 2: Night of the Living Fred Trailer
  • Audio
    • English 2.0 Stereo Sound
    • Spanish 2.0 Stereo Sound
    • French 2.0 Stereo Sound

REVIEW

Packaging:
The gorgeous foil O–Card is back for Christmas Together, Friends Forever, so the packaging once again earns a three out of five. The packaging is otherwise consistent with all previous releases, save for Monster Bash.

Episodes:
Christmas Together, Friends Forever consists of one episode of Power Rangers Samurai, one episode of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, and one episode of Power Rangers Zeo. As with Monster Bash, it’s simply unfair and unrealistic to hold everything on this disc to the same technical standard, so the same review technique used for that disc will apply here.

As with Monster Bash people purchasing this disc are probably doing so for it’s namesake, Christmas Together, Friends Forever. Although Christmas Together, Friends Forever leaves a lot to be desired, it’s a step up from Monster Bash, but not by much. Once again, the episode is presented in the 4:3 “full screen” aspect ratio, even though the footage was framed for the 16:9 “Widescreen” aspect ratio, and once again the change in aspect ratio effectively results in the sides of the footage being “chopped off.” As I’ve mentioned before, I find this annoying; the original Nickelodeon cablecast, the NickToons reruns, and even the Netflix stream are all presented in the correct 16:9 aspect ratio—only the Lionsgate DVD and its direct download counterpart are presented in the wrong aspect ratio. Also, just as Monster Bash used 2.0 Stereo Sound  for Party Monsters, Christmas Together, Friends Forever does the same thing for its namesake. With this in mind, my criticisms of this release of Christmas Together, Friends Forever are pretty much identical to my criticisms Party Monsters on Monster Bash.  With that in mind, I’ll paraphrase my review of that episode on that disc, I can only hope that Christmas Together, Friends Forever sees a proper release at some point.

Lionsgate decided to add a bit more diversity into the two “bonus” episodes this time around, so we have one Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and one Power Rangers Zeo Christmas special. The “Mighty Morphin'” episode is I’m Dreaming of a White Ranger, and much to my dismay, it’s the edited “broadcast version” that’s already available on Shout! Factory’s DVD sets. The “extended version” has only been released on VHS, and Lionsgate effectively blew a perfect opportunity to rectify that problem and give fans another reason to pick up this disc. The “Zeo” episode, A Season to Remember is identical to its release from Shout! Factory, complete with the “Stick Together” music video appended to the end of the episode. I’m Dreaming of a White Ranger looks fine, but A Season to Remember really shows its age at points, which appears to be a problem with the masters used for “Zeo” as a whole. This isn’t Lionsgate’s fault, and everything is watchable, but it’s sad to see certain scenes from “Zeo” look worse than footage that’s a year older.

I give the overall episode quality on these releases a three out of five. Christmas Together, Friends Forever was handled as poorly as Party Monsters, so I can’t give it anything higher than a two out of five, while I’m Dreaming of a White Ranger and A Season to Remember earn a solid four out of five given their age and the quality of the material that was used.

Extras:
Lionsgate has decided to refer to the “extras” as “special features” on this release, likely to distinguish them from the bonus episodes. First up is the Mega Bloks Holiday Toymation; which is a short stop–motion video made entirely with Power Rangers Samurai Mega Bloks, and is definitely worth checking out. Next up are the five “Train Like A Ranger” videos, featuring the Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, and Pink Samurai Rangers. Some of these were already included on previous DVD releases, but they’re a good extra for children whose parents who may not have picked up previous releases. The “Power Rangers Swarm” video is once again included as an extra, so if you’ve missed the first volume of “Samurai,” this is another chance to own it on DVD. Christmas Together, Friends Forever’s extras section earns a five out of five; there’s only one new “extra” here, but the repurposed material is diverse enough to make up for that. It’s also worth noting that extras are presented in their proper 16:9 aspect ratio, which makes the decision to alter Christmas Together, Friends Forever itself even more baffling.

Picture Quality:
The image clarity for Christmas Together, Friends Forever is excellent, but the aspect ratio alterations wreck the overall image quality. The picture quality for I’m Dreaming of a White Ranger is outstanding given its age, while the picture quality for A Season to Remember could be better. The picture quality is a three out of five overall; the altered aspect ratio really hurts things, especially when the episode that’s altered is the one that’s supposed to be the key selling point.

Sound Quality:
The use of 2.0 Stereo Sound in Christmas Together, Friends Forever is a let down when there’s a 5.1 Surround Sound mix readily available. What’s worse, the mix sounds tinny in some areas and flat in others; it’s not as bad as the mix used for Party Monsters, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. As with Monster Bash, the 2.0 Stereo Sound for the classic episodes is excellent, and sounds just as good as it did when the show was new. The “Samurai” sound quality earns a two out of five, especially when placed next to the classic episodes sound quality, which deserve a five out of five. Those two extremes effectively skew the rating of the sound quality to roughly four out of five.

Final Thoughts:
Much like Monster Bash, the only reason anyone should buy this disc is if they’re interested in owning a copy of the featured “Samurai” episode, in this case, Christmas Together, Friends Forever. Having said that, if Christmas Together, Friends Forever ever sees a proper 16:9 release with a 5.1 Surround Sound mix, I would recommend skipping Christmas Together, Friends Forever entirely. Anyone whose considering this for the bonus episodes should seriously look at Shout! Factory’s offerings as an alternative; for a little extra money you’ll get a lot more footage. Compared to previous releases, both holiday specials have felt poorly produced. Christmas Together, Friends Forever is a slight improvement over Monster Bash, but that’s not saying much compared to the “volume” style releases that preceded it.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5

How The Power Rangers Samurai Times rates DVDs:
DVDs are rated on a scale of 1–5 with one being the lowest rating, and five being the highest rating. The rating is determined by averaging the rating of the packaging, episodes, extras, picture quality, and sound quality, all of which are rated on a scale of 1–5 with no decimal points, fractions, or negative numbers. If multiple contributors review a disc, 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.) Finally, when rating episodes, only the technical details of the episodes are rated; these include alterations, as well as sound and picture quality.