Plans taken from another series, trickster techniques and resourcefulness, the desire not to increase the salaries of its actors, a look behind the scenes of the Power Rangers series; broadcast from 1994 on TF1 in Club Dorothée.
If you grew up in the 90s, you probably remember the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series known in France as Power Rangers. Seen with the eyes of children, the series possessed a certain magic, but behind the scenes, it was done in a rather “trickster” way, as evidenced by the anecdotes below.
Images “stolen” in Japan!
The series is an American “conversion” of a Japanese show, which means that US TV (ABC in this case) bought the rights to the original series to make the American version. The commercial agreement between the two production companies allowed Americans to have access to the images of the original series, and they did not hesitate!
Indeed, in the series, the scenes in which you see the Power Rangers in costumes against patrollers are taken from the Japanese series, which explains why the builds of the Power Rangers do not stick to their American counterparts (in particular the Red Ranger, quite beefy and which appears quite thin during fights in outfits).
Moreover, in the Japanese series, the Yellow Ranger was played by a man, which explains why during the fights in costumes, only the Pink Ranger wears a small skirt. Except that in the American version, where the Yellow Ranger is a female character, this creates a difference that may surprise.
If some images are taken from the Japanese version, the plots of the American version are new, carried by Austin St. John (Jason, Rouge), Amy Jo Johnson (Kim, Rose), Walter Jones (Zack), Thuy Trang (Trini , Yellow) and David Yost (Billy, Blue).
Moreover, the American series was so successful that it was exported… to Japan!
The wobbly replacement of actors
From the episode Pumpkin Day (S02E21), the interpreters of Jason, Zack and Trini complain about the working conditions (many hours a day) and a very low pay compared to the success of the show. The chain not responding to their demands, they leave and the producers find themselves taken aback.
They therefore decide to do what they know how to do: reuse existing images (from previous episodes) by doubling these scenes with new dialogues. Jason is voiced by associate producer Paul Rosenthal, Trini by an uncredited actress, and Zack by Joel Rogers, who played the character’s cousin in season 2.
For the purposes of unseen scenes, doubles are used, filmed against the light or from afar, in order to make it appear that the team is still reunited, and the main intrigues of the campus are always centered around the characters who have remained in the show. In short, production tinkers with what it has.
A villain… stolen from another series!
During the first season of the show, the producers use as main villain the witch Rita Repulsa, freed after more than 10,000 years of captivity. She is interpreted on screen by Machiko Soga, but in reality, all her scenes are from another series, Kyôryû sentai Jûrenjâ, in which she played the witch Bandora.
Thanks to this recycling, we find her as a character in Power Rangers, in another role, but in the same costume.
From season 2 and especially from episode 41, the need for new scenes with Repulsa is felt, and she is then interpreted – live this time – by the American actress Carla Perez, who gives everything ‘she has to get to the height of Soga’s histrionics.
If she is played by two actresses on screen, this supervillain is also dubbed in post-production by Barbara Goodson, who will play the role from 1993 to 1998, until Power Rangers: In Space.
What future for the Rangers?
The Netflix platform, which already hosts several shows from the Power Rangers franchise, is preparing many films and series opposing the Zords to the monsters of Rita and Lord Zedd. Concerned at the forefront, producer Michael Lombardo said last November:
“We have a major project in mind. It is not just a work, but a proposal followed by films and programs for children. We found a great collaborator for the writing, he got to work. Knock on wood, Netflix can’t wait, we too hope to have more news very soon.”
To be continued, and in the meantime, “go-go Power Rangers!”
What happens to the actors of the original series?