Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mighty Morphin Bloated Ranger!

From my personal experience, I have concluded that if you put a group of friendly college-aged red-blooded American people together across the span of a long period of time, no matter how different these people are, one topic will almost unanimously be touched upon, and touched upon with great enthusiasm.*

What is that topic, you ask?

Childhood television.

*If your mind is dirty like mine, this sentence is giggle-worthy when you think of the second-most talked about conversation piece of college students.

I couldn't possibly count the hours I've spent with various friends, coworkers, etc. talking about the good old days in kid TV programming, getting the warm fuzzies from analyzing our favorite Nicktoons, Disney, and Cartoon Network shows. From Hey Arnold! to Rugratsto Batman: The Animated Series to Dexter's Lab to Bill Nye the Science Guy (future blog post much?), there was something for everyone. In a (mildly depressing way), television formed a shared culture for nearly everyone in our generation.

One of the most popular and formative shows was, of course, those crazy, ultimate-sporting, and wholesome teenagers of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

I believe that during any point from about 11-2 (central time), hundreds of thousands of kindergartners across the nation were arguing about who got to be the red ranger and who got to be the green ranger (I was always the blue one, as I didn't enjoy confrontation).

Above: the Halloween costumes of millions of children circa 1994.

Below: And ethically diverse! In a racist kinda way.

And while everyone had their favorite Ranger to play at recess (I believe that during any point from about 11-2 (central time), hundreds of thousands of kindergartners across the nation were arguing about which Ranger they would spend the 20 minutes as - I was always the lame blue one, as I didn't enjoy confrontation), there was one ultimate Ranger for the six year old guys out there..

That's right. Jason Lee Scott, the Red Ranger. The undeniable leader of the team also happened to be the biggest BA of the bunch. He had the girl (Kimberly, who was unmistakably one of our generation's celebrity crush's), the moves, a cool sword, and the color red. What wasn't there to like?*

Oh Amy Jo Johnson, how did it feel to know that you were the fantasy of boys who were working on addition?

*Screw the Green Ranger, Tommy, even if he turned into the Red Ranger later. Original or nothing.

Eventually I, as the rest (or at least most) of the rest of my jungle gym and finger-painting buddies eventually graduated on to bigger and better things in our TV-watching lives (Spongebob woot!), especially after the season premises got even MORE ridiculous than teens running around with semi-super powers with transforming dinosaurs lead by some sort of alien inter-dimensional being who fights a bitchy evil lady with flying monkeys with monocles who created things like giant pig-monsters out of clay. Which is pretty damn ridiculous.

But one day a few years ago as I was channel surfing, I saw a special Power Rangers episode where the premise was all of the past Red Rangers from all of the past incarnations of the series had to unite to fight some great evil. I was mildly intrigued, and watched it for half an hour. It was, understandably, pretty shitty, but it was nice thrusting myself back all those years, seeing the few Reds that I remembered (yeah, even that douche Tommy). But I was stunned. Austin St. John, the original main man, had turned from this:

A fine hunk of man indeed. Into:

Hmm. A little chubby, no? But understandable. According to his Wikipedia article the guy hasn't really done anything since Power Rangers, and was working as a paramedic. Fair 'nuff. But now?

Sad. Not so much that he has gotten a little bigger, but more that the RED RANGER had gotten a little bigger. Just like how re-watching Rugrats a few months ago bored me to tears: my childhood just isn't as awesome as I remember. Or my awesome level has simply risen too high for old stuff like that to keep up.

Yup, definitely that second one.


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