You know what? That review I recently did of Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid got me thinking about the original show. I grew up on the first 10 or so seasons of Power Rangers and I have fond memories of many of its episodes. Of course, Power Rangers is a show that didn’t really start off strong. In fact, I was bored with the first 16 episodes of the show.
Power Rangers started off as a pretty formulaic “monster-of-the-week” show. The evil witch, Rita Repulsa, would send down a monster each week for our heroes to fight. The Rangers would fight said monster, kill it, prompt it to grow to giant size, and then fight and kill it again with their giant robot. We would get several B-plots and silly shenanigans within these episodes as well, which wouldn’t feel too out of place in a 90s sitcom.
This may lead one to ask a very important question: If the show started off this bland, how did it gain an audience that stuck with them for over 20 years? The answer is “Green With Evil”, a five-part mini-series from the very first season of Power Rangers! Allow me to take you all back in time to 1993. Disney was killing it with their animated films, cartoons were still stuck in the over-commercialized form they had in the 90s, and Jurassic Park had just come out.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers came out during this period and was unlike most things on the air at the time. The show used footage from a Japanese show called “Zyuranger” and re-purposed it into a silly comedic action show. The show revolved around a magical floating head in a tube named “Zordon” giving magical power coins to five random teenagers.
Said teenagers use the coins to become the “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” and dedicate their lives to stopping the evil forces of Rita Repulsa. While this is how the show started, it wouldn’t be until the 17th episode that things changed for the better. Episode 17 began the “Green With Evil” story arc, which introduced us to “Tommy Oliver”. During a martial arts competition, Jason (the Red Ranger) faces off against Tommy in an epic battle.
Jason defeats Tommy, who is then noticed by Rita Repulsa. Rita sees the potential in Tommy Oliver and decides to brainwash him, while also giving him a “Power Coin”. The Power Coins are what the teenagers use to transform into Power Rangers. With Power Coin in hand, the brainwashed Tommy Oliver becomes the evil “Green Ranger”.
This was how the arc started, but it expanded greatly from there. The Rangers had to tangle with an opponent who they couldn’t beat in one episode. Not only that, but the Green Ranger was the first villain to EVER destroy the Megazord. He also attacked the Command Center, which was ALSO a first for the franchise.
The concept of an evil Power Ranger just seemed so cool as a kid. After all, the series started out by painting the Power Rangers as these “perfect” and “flawless” super-powered teenagers. They used this story arc to flip that concept on its head and introduce a truly intimidating threat.
Saban (the makers of Power Ranger) dragged out the Green With Evil arc as long as they could, while using a TON of footage from the Japanese version. This story arc proved to be so popular and wide-spread that it changed the series as a whole. Jason David Frank (Tommy’s actor) became one of the most popular actors in the series and was brought back to play Tommy in many of the following seasons.
Tommy became the show’s mascot of sorts, making him one of the most popular characters to come out of the franchise. Green With Evil introduced a status quo into Power Rangers and set a new precedent for the franchise. It’s also cheesy and it hasn’t aged well, but that’s par for the course for almost all old episodes of Power Rangers.
To me, Green With Evil saved a show that was really going nowhere and it allowed for an entertaining story to be told as well. There were few story-arcs to come out of 90s kids shows that were as prolific as “Green With Evil”, which definitely helps it stand apart from the crowd. To this day, Green With Evil is one of my personal favorites and a great reason to watch old nostalgic stuff!