Power Rangers was a weird idea to begin with. The entire process of taking not just the concept but the actual footage from a Japanese show, dubbing in new dialogue, and splicing it together with new scenes of American actors was bound to get a little strange, and that's before you throw in the fact that they were starting with the 17th season of their Japanese counterpart and editing it so that it was less about a moon witch who wanted to murder the descendants of the dinosaurs and more about a quintet of "teenagers with attitudes" who mostly wanted to help underprivileged kids and clean up pollution around their school. So yeah, the baseline level of insanity that you're going to get from Power Rangers is already pretty high.
Every now and then, though, they crank it all the way up to the stratosphere. Things sort of settled down after a while when they started doing closer adaptations of the source material (which at least had some kind of logic, strange as it might be), but those first 10 years were the Wild West, man. So, since I've spent the last year watching every single episode, let's take a trip into the archives for the craziest episodes of Power Rangers.
#9. "Rescue Mission" (Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, Episode 18)
OK, the first thing you need to know about Power Rangers Lost Galaxy is that it doesn't make any goddamn sense. The previous show, Power Rangers in Space (we'll get to that one in a minute), had been a huge ratings success, so the producers were eager to keep that trend going by keeping the Power Rangers focused on cosmic adventures for another year. The only problem was that the show they were adapting, Seijuu Sentai Gingaman, wasn't about space at all. It was about nature, and it featured a team of warriors tasked with protecting a magic forest.
Needless to say, that did not stop the producers of Lost Galaxy from cramming it into a spaceship and blasting it off into space -- which is kind of literally what they did. In order to get around the stock footage of robots and monsters fighting in forests and deserts, the premise of the show was that everyone was on a gigantic space colony that featured cities, deserts, forests, and everything else that you'd find on Earth, which didn't really smooth things over as much as it raised the question of why they didn't just set the show on Earth in the first place.
"It's pretty cool that Earth's become a space-traveling planet with a fully trained multinational space fleet."
"Yeah, those were a crazy three months."
There were other problems, too, including the head writer being burned out, the Pink Ranger being diagnosed with leukemia shortly after production started (don't worry, she got better), and her replacement having to be replaced herself at the last minute due to a contract dispute. They did, however, wear Star Trek uniforms, and the Yellow Ranger would go on to be the naked foreign exchange student in Not Another Teen Movie, so ... it's got that going for it, I guess.
"Yes, I list 'Boob Girl' before this in my casting highlight sheets."
Now, the only possible way to make any of this make sense was to rely more on the original American footage, which they did as much as they could. That's why, 18 episodes in, there's an episode that's entirely original footage, and it is completely insane. Why? Since they weren't working around the footage from Japan, they decided to make a half-hour version of Alien starring the Power Rangers.
"Next season we're doing a My Dinner With Andre two-parter."
Seriously, it's actually pretty amazing. The Rangers get a distress call, and in their "civilian" identities as the crew of a space colony, they investigate. They find the ship seemingly abandoned, and then the soldiers -- who, it should be noted, are wearing the combat armor from Starship Troopers in an effort to save on the budget -- are hunted down one by one by that week's monster.
"If only we had some type of transformative superpowers to defend ourselves with!"
The show's actually pretty ambiguous on whether or not they're killed right until the end, and the result is a 20-minute island of bizarre, moody sci-fi horror in a sea of complete and utter nonsense, which only makes it seem crazier.
Yeah, that's an unprotected man safely jumping though the vacuum of space between two completely open ship doors.
#7-8. "Movie Madness" (Power Rangers Time Force, Episodes 24 & 25)
Speaking of Power Rangers shows that didn't quite turn out like the producers planned, everyone was pretty excited about the potential for Mirai Sentai Timeranger, since dudes in brightly colored helmets kicking monster ass in different historical eras is a concept that pretty much sells itself. But again, there was a problem: Even though Timeranger was billed as a time-traveling team of superheroes, they were actually from the future, and the only time they traveled to was the present, where they stayed for the entirety of the series. Kind of a bait and switch, especially since "time travelers don't actually do any time travel and instead just have swords that kind of look like the hands of a clock when they hold them a certain way" needs a hell of a lot more selling.
"Bennett from Commando is the villain" isn't going to cut it either.
Halfway through the run, the producers of the American Time Force decided to solve the problem their own damn selves, and they did it in the craziest possible way: a two-part episode where the team went to visit a movie studio and got trapped in movies from different genres. There's a samurai movie, a Western, a kung fu movie, and even a musical, which is actually every bit as amazing as it sounds. And of course, each movie involved costumes.
So, just so we're clear on this, there was no actual time travel -- but they used the footage in the opening credits to make it look like there was. They just cut in bits from the Western, kung fu, and samurai movie parts, and suddenly it looked like the Time Force was actually going back in time to the Old West or ancient China, thus paying that bait and switch from Timeranger forward to a whole new audience of impressionable children ready to learn about disappointment.
"Also you'll never be the president or dunk a basketball. Deal with it."
The best thing, though? That's not even the craziest part of the episode. That honor goes to the movie that's being filmed when the Power Rangers show up, which is an exact re-creation of a fight scene from Jackie Chan's Rumble in the Bronx, right down to the lead actor wearing Jackie's sleeveless turtleneck and jeans.
He ate the sleeves.
#6. "I Love Lothor" (Power Rangers Ninja Storm, Episode 20)
Time Force wasn't the only time the franchise went metatextual on everyone's ass, and Ninja Storm probably did it best. The whole series is actually pretty great, largely because it was able to pull off inept, frustrated villains that were funny, but made the switch to being a genuine threat later in the series. This particular episode definitely falls into the part where they were inept and hilarious.
The premise of the episode is ridiculously complex, even by Power Rangers standards. The basic idea is that the main villain, Lothor, is convinced by his two well-meaning but dimwitted nieces that the people of Earth would accept him as their alien overlord if they could just get his approval rating up, so they film a sitcom about him and also dose the Ninja Rangers with a love potion so that they end up fighting for each other's affections and then also hit the entire population of the city with the same love potion (transmitted through television?) that makes them fall in love with Lothor, too.
In the first display of restraint in the history of the franchise, they manage to avoid a Lothor/Lothario pun.
It's the sitcom that's the main attraction, though. It's produced by a giant robot rat voiced by someone doing an impression of Paul Lynde (you know, Uncle Arthur from Bewitched) and features Lothor in a Cosby sweater being mobbed by sexy New Zealish lady extras and announcing that his master plan is to get popular enough to tell them all to commit suicide. Also, the summary of the episode describes what happens to Tori, the Blue Ranger, as being "bound to a cactus," so if that happens to be your exact fetish (and this is the Internet, so it is), get ready for a good time.
"Hey, are you sure those strips of bed sheets are going to hold her?"
"They're 600 thread count. We'll be fine."
#5. "Lost and Found in Translation" (Power Rangers Dino Thunder, Episode 19)
By the time Dino Thunder was on the air, Power Rangers was 500 episodes into this whole thing, and it was clearly time to get a little self-referential. That's my theory at least, although you could probably make a case for someone taking a massive bong hit and then asking "Hey, man, what if the Power Rangers ... watched Power Rangers?"
"And what if we had a part where it watched them ... whoa."
Either way, that's what happened, in an episode of an action show for kids where the premise is literally "the heroes sit around and watch TV for 20 minutes." The Internet cafe where the Rangers hang out gets a new cable system, and they discover that their adventures are being adapted into a Japanese show and their curiosity overtakes them. So, just so we're clear here, the characters on this show watch (and critique) the show their show is based on as though it is based on their show instead. Did that just blow your mind, man? It should, because it's actually pretty great.
And if the premise wasn't weird enough, the episode of Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger that they watch is completely nuts, revolving around an American baseball player who goes to Japan in order to make more money and ends up battling against an evil money monster that tries to take advantage of his greed and that can only be defeated when he regains his true love of baseball.
"Whacker Wilson is coming to Japan!" -actual dialogue
That might sound weird, but ... well, I was about to compare it to the weirdness of Dino Thunder, but once you get past the part where Tommy gets his Ph.D. in paleontology and the dominatrix/principal who works for a local businessman and is also a secret dinosaur, weaponized baseball doesn't seem so strange.
Still more realistic than Tommy graduating high school.