?Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was a phenomenon unlike many others during its zenith; If you lived it, you already know what we’re talking about. If you didn’t, suffice to say that many, many toy robots were sold during the height of its popularity. The show was comprised of clips from the Japanese Super Sentai TV show Kyouryuu Sentai Zyuranger and scenes featuring American actors, thereby creating adventures with fresh, kinetic action sequences juxtaposed against familiar high school storylines. The original stretch of episodes has been criticized for its formulaic repetition, but it’s important to note that not all episodes followed the exact same model. Some of these were actually engrossing if you were invested in the story, due to increased stakes in the drama or the emotional catharsis of the characters, and thus were mandatory viewing for fans. So today, we’re highlighting a group that we believe you shouldn’t skip when you’re checking out that MMPR trove on Netflix.
Before we get started, a few points for clarity’s sake: we’re limiting this to the original team that American audiences got to know (that’s, in alphabetical order, Billy, Jason, Kimberly, Tommy, Trini, and Zack), as we want to focus on the the first squad’s adventures, and it helps keep things consistent. Secondly, a lot of these entries have two parts or more, but we’re still counting them as one episode since they form a single story. Lastly, let’s hear your input in the comments, we want your picks!
10) Day of the Dumpster
Starting things off at the beginning makes good sense — without watching this episode you’re stuck with the show’s intro to explain why five teens are able to change into (mostly) dino-themed spandex costumes at a moment’s notice (although it does do a pretty good job of it–especially if you like your exposition with a side of rockin’ guitar riffs). That said, it’s required watching for any Rangers fan, as it’s essentially “Power Rangers Begins,” complete with getting to witness the original team basically call Zordon a liar, and seeing them get kicked around by the piddly Putties before putting it all together and facing Goldar for the first time. Plus, no true MMPR advocate can skip out on the Megazord’s maiden voyage.
9) Crystal of Nightmares
“Crystal of Nightmares” doesn’t involve the drama of some of this list’s other entries, but it’s fun even if it sometimes plays like a PSA about believing in yourself. The team decides to head to Billy’s Uncle’s mountain resort to study for a big test; this allows for a new setting — specifically a cabin — which is a nice change of pace from the show’s usual haunts of Angel Grove High’s hallways and Ernie’s Juice Bar. The evil plan this time around is to give the kids nightmares about old battles and Zordon stripping them of their powers to generate a loss of confidence in their abilities. The result basically takes the characters back to the first episode, as they’re totally unprepared to handle even the Putties. Perhaps most importantly, Bulk and Skull, while dressed as maids and passed out under one of the cabin’s beds, have a dream that they’re Power Rangers, too. Their hilarious morphing sequence is too rad to miss.
8) Missing Green
This episode showcased one aspect that made the show memorable: namely its well-intentioned stabs at carrying on overarching storylines. After Jason fails to save Tommy’s Green Ranger powers from Goldar’s candle, another show might have shrugged it off and moved forward with its formula. But not MMPR. No, MMPR underscored an entire episode’s plot with Jason’s freakin’ guilt — not bad for a kids’ TV program. After observing the Red Ranger’s weakened emotional state, Lord Zedd decides to tie him up with a monster and kidnap the other active members of the team, stashing them in a hidden dimension with the intent to bleed them of their powers with another set of color-coordinated candles, echoing the scenario that cost Tommy his morphinominal abilities to begin with. In the end, Jason manages to come through to save the day and a letter from Tommy absolves him of his guilt. Despite its tidy ending, it’s more than worthy viewing.
7) Green No More
It’s all in the title, friends. Tommy loses his Green Ranger powers for good in this gloomy Ranger adventure. Things go immediately awry when present day Tommy is warned by a vision of his future (and sweaty) self that his final battle as the Green Ranger is steadily approaching. Meanwhile, a teen team of total jerks transfers to Angel Grove High — and Zedd naturally utilizes them to create his unit of “Dark Rangers.” Zordon informs Tommy that there’s nothing that can be done to retain his powers, and that he has enough juice left for one last fight. Meanwhile, Zedd’s monster Turbanshell does his part to drain the Green Ranger’s remaining powers while energizing Zedd’s green crystal which in turns helps charge up the Dark Rangers.
Despite not looking anymore threatening than the last guy, Zordon indicates that Turbanshell’s power level is “dangerously high.” Turbanshell does indeed pose a threat, as he teleports Tommy to a big empty field, forcing him to battle without his powers. Soon, Zedd kidnaps the other Rangers and holds them captive in one of his secret dimensions. Of course, when it comes to kicking around helpless Power Rangers, Goldar can’t resist–he soon spells Turbanshell in the field. After being forced to watch clips of his greatest hits through some kind of air-based television, Tommy defeats Goldar, escapes and breaks the green crystal to free his friends and return the Morphers to the team. Even if the two-parter is a bit of a downer, it’s a defining moment for Tommy, as he proves he can be an asset without his powers.
6) Return of an Old Friend
In a high stakes roller coaster that gave Green Ranger fans something to chew on, it’s Parents’ Day at Angel Grove High; Jason’s pop is naturally arm wrestling in his first appearance, and there’s a divorce subplot involving Kimberly’s mom and dad. Rita kidnaps the kids’ folks with her Dramole monster and holds them for ransom to force the Rangers to turn over their Power Coins. Apparently not taking prisoners, she also brainwashes Billy and utilizes him to teleport to the Command Center to steal the Dragon Dagger. This entitles viewers to such scenes as Goldar summoning the Dragonzord, a Megazord vs. Dragonzord rematch, and another cool showdown in the Dark Dimension (a.k.a. Ranger Beatin’ Room). After the Rangers have given up their powers, Zordon powers up Tommy’s Power Coin, a risky yet necessary maneuver. Tommy saves the day by returning the coins to the team so they can defeat Dramole, once again helping them out under less-than-ideal circumstances.
5) The White Light
The “Who Shot J.R.?” (or, “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”) of the original series, this two-parter created a mystery regarding the hidden identity of the White Ranger, undoubtedly debated on playgrounds across the country until the big reveal brought it all together. Of course, it’s all pretty obvious in retrospect, but it’s still cool to see Alpha and Zordon build their own Ranger (even if they somewhat irresponsibly left the rest of the team in the dark to fend for themselves while doing so). The guessing game was an original way to introduce the new member of the team, and a much welcome change of pace for the show. After assuming his new powers, Tommy is handed the leadership of the Power Rangers on a silver platter by Zordon, taking it away from Jason who had way more experience at that point. Jason seems almost too okay with it (“This is great!”) which undoubtedly caused Red Ranger fans clutching their Tyrannosaurus Zords at home to shed some tears. The end result, though, is the reinstatement of a sixth Ranger to the team, a happy day.
4) The Mutiny
This gripping premiere of the show’s second season introduced a much, much scarier villain in Lord Zedd (who jettisons Rita into space for her incompetence), tougher monsters, Goldar with wings, new zords, and Putties that just won’t quit until you hit the large “Z” insignia on their fashionably grey vests. Zedd’s inaugural monster takes control of the team’s Zords, leaving them powerless to do anything but watch as their giant robot friends terrorize Angel Grove. After Zedd banishes the Zords to a fiery abyss and claims absolute victory for about the 100th time since his arrival, the Rangers upgrade to their new Thunderzords (once Zordon is able to syphon enough energy from the old ‘bots to fuel them) and defeat Pirantishead. Yeah, it’s sad to see the original five Zords go, but stay tuned for Zordon’s rendition of “99 Bottles of Slime” for an instant pick-me-up at the end of the episode.
This was probably one of the most intense MMPR adventures for Power Rangers fans, as the team is in dire straits for almost the entire time. Things get off to a rocky start for the Rangers — the big party the city is hosting for them in the park (“Power Rangers Day”) is rudely interrupted when Rita beams everyone in Angel Grove to another dimension. Then, Rita & Co actually fly their moon fortress to Earth, landing in the heart of downtown. Rita summons Goldar’s Zord, Cyclopsis, who proves to be a formidable foe. Then, things don’t get much better from there for the good guys, unless the idea of watching the Megazord’s arm get lopped off and Titanus buried alive doesn’t haunt your dreams forever. But, we know that sounds like we’re trying to talk you out of watching this two-parter, which is quite the opposite of how we feel; it’s filled to the brim with epic battles and bucks the trend by including several diverse baddies, like Lokar and the aforementioned Cyclopsis, escalating the stakes and making it feel more like a sobering season finale than just another episode.
2) The Green Candle
Like its Japanese counterpart which famously kills its Green Ranger off, the set of circumstances in “The Green Candle” are grim, (just not that grim, fortunately). After Zack convinces Tommy to ask Kimberly to the dance, Putties attack them in the park right when he’s about the pop the question; Goldar then kidnaps Tommy and takes him to his Ranger Beatin’ Room to mock and kick him around while the Green Candle slowly melts his powers away. Later in the episode, Jason is put into the unenviable position of choosing between continuing to fight Goldar in an attempt to save Tommy’s powers, or leaving to aid him in a dangerous battle. Choosing to leave, Jason and the gang form Ultrazord to take out one of Rita’s nasties. Unfortunately, the candle’s gone out by the time the team returns, so Tommy gives his coin to Jason to prevent Rita from regaining the powers, gifting him the Dragon Dagger and Shield in the process. A sad ending for Green Ranger fans, but at least they learned that while you can’t win ’em all, you can always give your powers to your best friend so an evil space witch can’t have them. A very important lesson indeed.
1) Green with Evil
The five-part miniseries is the absolute must-watch of the original cast’s bow; not only does it set up so, so much of the first few seasons of the show, but, with Jason David Frank’s debut, it introduces arguably the most important Power Ranger in history. In brief: after her first 30 or so plans have failed, Rita sets her sights on new kid Tommy Oliver as the recipient of her Green Ranger powers, possibly because he’s already wearing green all the time. Under Rita’s spell, Tommy soon proves his threat level by upending the Command Center’s interior, and jumping into the Megazord’s cockpit to beat on the other Rangers mercilessly.
Of course, watching the typically tactful Tommy be mean to people in his human form is also a guilty pleasure of this stretch. He’s a total jerk to Kim who has, by that point, already spent screen time crushing on him. In the end, what follows are many epic fight scenes involving Tommy, Jason, giant Goldar and Scorpina, a narrow win for the good guys, the addition of a new ally once Tommy shakes Rita’s spell but retains his powers, and the introduction of the Dragonzord in Fighting Mode before it’s all over, signaling the beginning of a new dawn for the Power Rangers.