It happens every single episode. A character thrusts their Power Coin into the screen and yells out "IT'S MORPHIN TIME!" followed by the name of a prehistoric creature We've seen it so many times that we didn't think anything of it when Zack Taylor calls down his giant robot Mastodon. But when he strikes that classic pose, we can see clearly that he has only four fingers on his left hand.
The fact that actor Walter Emanuel Jones lost a finger in an accident as a child isn't noteworthy on its own. But what's sort of shocking is that so many people just never noticed (admittedly myself included).
We can probably guess that the production team worked to hide this in most situations, otherwise it would be common knowledge by now. Even so, you can spot Jones' left hand clearly in a few scenes throughout the series run -- and yeah, every time he morphs.
Before Breaking Bad, before Malcolm in the Middle but a little after a couple of Murder She Wrote episodes, Bryan Cranston made his mark on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. He might have the distinction of playing Zordon in the big-budget reboot movie, but Cranston began his Power Rangers run doing voices for a handful of the series' zany costumed creatures.
If you have some headphones handy, I highly recommend taking a break to listen to his hilarious rendition of the one-off bad guy Snizzard.
As the story goes, Cranston was still working freelance, doing oddjobs here and there for Saban Entertainment and other studios. When it came time to give Blue Ranger a last name, Saban swiped Bryan's last name for Billy Cranston. It sort of sounds like one of those PR stories that makes a story out of a coincidence just for a good interview anecdote, but the tale does date back to at least 2009, so it might be on the level. Just don't believe anyone who tells you blue meth comes from the Blue Power Ranger.
This is well-known to a lot of fans and also painfully obvious in retrospect, but we should probably cover this to set the background for some of the wackier facts down the road. See, Saban Entertainment didn't create Mighty Morphin Power Rangers whole cloth -- they in fact just bought the rights to a Japanese show called "Super Sentai" to use the action scenes (where everyone wears masks), and reshot the grounded real-life sequences with American actors.
For reference, here's what the Power Rangers you know looked like in Japan.
The fact that Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was actually this weird Frankenstein creation led to some problems down the line. See, usually the Saban folks would just create an episode around the Super Sentai action snippets they had (pay attention and you'll see that the Yellow Ranger is played by a dude). This became a problem when the Green Ranger became super popular in the US -- because he straight up died in the Japanese version of the show.
Though some editing tricks were employed to keep the Green Ranger on the air, eventually they worked in an excuse to change the character into the White Ranger (even though in the Super Sentai version they were completely different people). Creative types can do just about anything when there's ungodly amounts of merchandising money to be made.
You might be familiar with a few of the many Mighty Morphin Power Rangers "sequel" series that continue the "colorful teens fighting monsters" tradition while under completely different motifs. Various Power Rangers teams have focused on space, ninjas, samurai and probably space ninja-samurais at some point. But the original Super Sentai show that Mighty Morphin took its footage from has been around since 1975. Seriously.
The diamond-patterened dinosaur-themed group that became the Power Rangers we know and love was actually the sixteenth iteration of Super Sentai. Even after the monumental success of MMPR, there were plenty of seasons of that Super Sentai that just never made it out to the Western world in any form. Too bad, too -- I would have totally been on board with the American version of the Power Rangers show that featured Megazords made of trains.
I can't imagine why this didn't get picked up.
Saban took some time getting together the original Power Rangers. Super Sentai had been going strong for over a decade in Japan before Haim Saban had the bright idea of adapting it for US audiences, and it was years after that before a pilot got made. But the thing is, the first footage they shot wasn't the first episode they showed to audiences. The version of the opening ep "Day of the Dumpster" initially had some pretty substantial changes, the most alarming of which was the sequence when Zordon introduces the Rangers to their new powers by literally morphing them for no reason.
This is more 90s than a glow-in-the-dark Magic Eye poster that you got with a free can of Surge. The awkward morphing "animation" likely didn't look good even to impressionable children, so it was replaced with some quick cuts when they eventually refilmed the episode.
It also might have something to do with the fact that the original pilot episode included an entirely different actor playing the Yellow Ranger.
Before Thuy Trang was the Yellow Ranger, Audrey Dubois held that title for exactly one episode before being unceremoniously dropped when the series was picked up at Fox. There are two stories floating around as to what happened -- Dubois (now Audrey Marchionno) says that she didn't believe she could make a living doing the show in LA, so she passed. But according to the Black Ranger himself, Dubois asked for a raise and was subsequently fired.
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle; Red Ranger Austin St. John says that for the first season, the actors were paid about the same amount as they would get working at the drive-thru. So it could be that Dubois figured the crappy (non-union) pay wasn't worth it and got out of the game. Maybe she was right, since three actors quit the show midway through the second season over compensation disputes.
You might have fond memories of the first Power Rangers movie (and those dope McDonalds toys), but it was a real hot mess behind the scenes. For the first time ever, MMPR wasn't using Japanese footage to pad out the adventures of the Angel Grove teens -- they were shooting it all themselves, and according to an account by someone in the art department, everything was in dissarray at pretty much all times.
One of the biggest flubs came when they decided to ditch Mariska god-damned Hargitay, who was playing the warrior Dulcea until some idiot lost their mind and fired her. Law and Order: SVU wouldn't premiere for years, but that's absolutely no excuse. Even today, decades later, you can tell she was absolutely all-in and rocking the hell out of that costume.
Also ditched at the same time was Snoggle, a rascally sidekick character who looks like Dobby by way of Jar-Jar Binks. This snip was at least probably for the movie's own good, but the thing is, by the time they cut Mariska, they had been shooting for four weeks -- and had they had to redo everything. Perhaps they were better off without the original costumes though, but we'll get to those later.
"It was a different time back then," some people might say. But that doesn't justify the heinous harassment that actor David Yost was subject to behind the scenes. The first Blue Ranger somehow managed to put up with horrendous homophobic slurs on a constant basis -- in addition to the crew grilling co-stars about his sexuality behind his back -- for multiple seasons before he left the show. Broken and beaten, he attempted gay conversion and even considered suicide. All because some Hollywood shitheads had a three-inch hate-boner they needed to stroke to make themselves feel better than someone else.
Okay, that got a little heated. Let's move from something infuriating to something just stupid.
Plenty of kids cartoons censor all kinds of things for all sorts of stupid reasons. But of all the things in a show about teenagers beating the piss out of monsters and destroying cities with huge robots on a weekly basis, Malaysia took issue with the name. Specifically the "Morphin" part of "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" was apparently too close to the drug "morphine," and the show was subsequently banned in the country. I don't really have a follow-up here, other than to ask what drugs they were on for that to be their takeaway. I'm guessing it wasn't an opiate.
Though she seems like she might have something more going on in the new movie, the age-old Rita Repulsa has a pretty simple backstory. Anyone who's watched the first ten seconds of a Power Rangers episode will recall that Rita was trapped for 10,000 years, and upon being freed, she immediately sets about conquering Earth.
But the Japanese version of Rita Repulsa, called "Witch Bandora" on Super Sentai, was just a smidge more complicated. See, Bandora wasn't trapped for a few millennia -- she was sealed away for 170 million years. Back in the historical and very real era when dinosaurs and humans lived together, Bandora's son Kai was killed for smashing T-Rex eggs. Enraged, Bandora made a deal with Satan for immense power at the expense of losing her memory of her own son.
That empty part of her fills her with hate for children, who she goes out of her way to harm and, if we're being honest, probably murder. This feeling only subsides when Bandora's son comes back to life after Satan brings him back to life to help with commencing armageddon upon the earth, after which Kai dies and Bandora's tears nullify all her powers. Really.
The lesson to be learned in all this: Japanese TV is completely batshit, and more importantly, when Rita Repulsa returns and starts zapping her minions and transforming them into gigantic beasts in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, she's doing so with black magic powers she got from the devil.
The classic Power Rangers costumes are classic for a reason -- they're simple and colorful with just enough flash to be exciting in a fight scene. But when first filming the Mighty Morphin movie, producers figured that everyone should see the Rangers' faces while they were battling it out with the bad guys. After all, there wouldn't be any Japanese stuntment in the costumes for the first time ever, so why cover up the actors? As it turns out, getting rid of the visors was pretty much the worst thing you could do to a Power Ranger costume.
These shots don't look like superheroes -- they look like your parents trying and failing to impress you at Halloween with a store-bought costume. As with Mariska, these abominable, laughable helmets were put by the wayside in favor of extensive reshoots.