Power Rangers RPM: Episode 1: The Road to Corinth
I was a big Power Rangers fan in the 90s, millions of kids were and I was at the younger age of Bandai’s (PR owners for first 10 years) target audience. I drifted off after a few years with a few occasions bringing me back to watch specials, the killing of Zordon, the 10 Red Ranger team up anniversary episode, Tommy’s return for the 12th season, you the idea but Power Rangers RPM (17th series) was first and to date only series I’ve ever found myself watching every week for the duration of the series run.
As a change to my general formula for this review I’m going to try and explain why RPM was so revolutionary to Power Rangers (all my opinion but I believe a lot of my views are shared) as I narrate the events of the first episode and discuss a broader area of information relating to the future of the series, PR in general and Super Sentai (The Japanese series PR uses footage from, I’ll assume you’re familiar with the general ideas of what’s borrowed from the Japanese counterparts.)
POWER RANGERS RPM: EPISODE 1 THE ROAD TO CORINTH
So in true traditional style the episode opens with a credits sequence, big surprise right!, but in all honestly this might be the one time when I’d be quite happy if no opening credits were shown at all (I’ll give my reasons in full later), at the very least a cold opening would have serviced. But once it’s over the episode begins with a narration of the state of the current world, a virus has taken over the planet, built robots and destroyed city after city, humans have been reduced to a portion of their previous population. Think a lovely tender mix of Skynet and the Matrix put together, anyway the virus (called Vendrix) has effectively won the war and humans have one major city left to hide in; Corinth, and this is where the fun starts.
Were introduced to the outskirts of Corinth in the midst of a fire fight, military evacuating civilians into the dome city while fighting what looks like overwhelming odds. Were introduced to the General Truman, staring out onto the battlefield while being given a report on the battle, after hearing that there has been no contact from ‘Eagle’ Squad he seems taken back a bit, when asks for orders from the soldier he simple tells him to “go shoot at something”!! Seriously I love this guy, barely a minute in and it’s got me hooked. Cutting to a school bus being driven by a civilian called Flynn who is Scottish, but he can’t speak Scottish very well constantly slipping into his actor’s Australian accent, (at least there trying to be diverse).
The general orders them inside the barricade along with everyone else, the plan being to have the last of humans hide in a city with shields around it, at the last second two people on a motor bike slide under the gate with the help of bad CGI just in time. Shields go up and there all sealed in. One of the bikers is ‘Eagle 2’ and the General inquires about ‘Eagle 1’s location, to which he replies he’s down, the general dismisses him and begins to walk away with Eagle 2 replying “but Dad”, while the general walks off. Eagle 2 is Scott Truman, while Eagle 1 was his brother, and both the General’s Sons. This scene begins a very delicate relationship with the two that expands over the series in a detail seldom seen on a kids show, let along PR. The scene closes with the soldier again asking the General about anyone who’s still outside the dome, to which he replies “Heaven help them, because we can’t”… see he’s full of awesome! Queue Power Rangers RPM title card!
That’s only a few minutes into the episode and so far we’ve seen 4 characters introduced, I’ve not mentioned the other biker who came with Scott because she gets little development in the opening, but her name is Summer and she will be out Yellow ranger of the series, Flynn will be Blue and Scott will lead as Red. But the way the episode is presented I’m pretty sure were not supposed to know this yet… so then why give us opening credits that shows all this?? The opening as a cold open and the title card will do just fine, give us the mystery I believe the writers intended. Anyway despite that were already covered the possible end of humanity, and loosely covered death of a sibling, even if it happened off screen… a very rare things for a PR series. So let’s see the rest of the episode.
Were one year on, somewhere outside the dome, the world outside the city is now a polluted wasteland, We see a lone gas mask wearing driver in a quite awesome car driving across the wasteland, and for the first time in over a decade were given music, with lyrics as well, which really adds to the scene. It proves Linkara’s ‘Wasserman Effect’ concept he said in his ‘History of Power Rangers’ Videos, as opposed to the instrumentals used in previous series the use of the music here somehow reminds me of the original Mighty Morphin series. A little stop off for a where we see the area is radiation free the driver removes his mask and gives the little water he has left to a lonely growing plant, after an attack from a few robots which is alluded to with the camera focusing on the plant not the fight our hero drives off again, listening to a radio broadcast given co-ordinates to Corinth city. The whole thing feels very much like a Mad Max movie more than a PR show but so far I have no complaints.
We see more driving until the radio signal starts to go fuzzy, causing another stop the guy (his name is Dillon though you won’t know that till later in the episode) beings to listen to a small pocket watch playing a sweet melody, a personal effect he seems to carry with him, and while distracted is ambushed suddenly, finding a weapon held to his back to his back. Anyway after turning the tables we find the would-be robber is Ziggy, a runaway from Corinth. He has nothing on him but he manages to bargain a ride offering directions to the city after mentioned how the radiation messes up the radio frequencies, so maybe Vendrix did bomb the world over the year to remove any human left overs outside the dome of Corinth.
Now up until the introduction of Ziggy from the one year later text the show had been devoid of speech, (a little electronic voice and robot crackles aside) and this led to a very isolated tone to the episode, you believe that the world as it was no longer exists and that there may well be no other humans alive, again the tone is something very different to standard PR and more akin to a wasteland movie. Though with Ziggy now in tow he’ll make up for any silent scenes by never shutting up!!!
Ziggy’s directions lead them to the cityoutskirts where he says they should wait till dark to avoid the barricade, though against Ziggy’s protesting Dillon drives through anyway, throwing bombs at the local patrol and attempts to push through. Through this little chase the two of them do play off each other well, Ziggy making a quite funny Willy Wonker comment when Dillon asks him to pass a lolly pop for him to suck with doing his suicide run. Anyway the writers; keen to show how physically useless he is, have Ziggy activate a bomb by mistake, then go a step further and have him drop it into the back of the car, Dillon finally introducing himself just before the bomb explodes pulls a hard turn and the bomb shoots out the back window and into the barricade, blowing a hole in the defences and a gun that was targeting them, allowing them passage into the city.
During all this we were given scenes of Vendrix talking to his troops and setting up a robot to invade the city when they lower the dome shields, not much else is done with them right now, also we see the general being told to let down the shields to Dillon and Ziggy into the city by a lady known as ‘K’, through a video screen displaying the letter K, a nice reference to Death Note. A soldier also informs the General that only 1.5 humans are being picked up by the scanners in the base.
So Dillon gets into the city and are immediately followed through by a robot and several grinders (the putties of the series), but Scott, Flynn and Summer run in between them, wearing fancy numbered and coloured jackets and morph to the Red, Yellow and Blue rangers, this might have been a nice shock if the credits hadn’t shown that these three were the rangers already, same with Dillon who is shown to be Black. The 2 minutes left of the episode shows the generic fighting were used to, and ends with a nice line after Ziggy says “go rangers” Dillon being completely clueless. Ziggy replying “Power Rangers” to queue another title card and close the episode.
So that’s episode 1, and its unlike anything that has come before it, I won’t go into what was happening behind the scenes in relation to the shows production other than to say at the time this was to be the last series of Power Rangers produced and so there was a ‘let’s do something new’ feeling to the whole production. Personally I love it and continued to throughout the show minus a few off episodes that act as filler to pad out the series. There’s a lot to talk about here, but as I’m only covering the first episode I’ll try and keep it relevant to that:
The footage from this show was taken from the Super Sentai Go-Onger, which wasn’t that popular in Japan, so rather then follow the format a different approach was taken. However one Super Sentai, CarRanger (the 20th Sentai) revived the show after ratings had fallen low by creating a show that was witty, self-referencing and fun. RPM strives to do the same, while this is picked up later on as the self-referencing is mostly absent from the first episode it makes the season feel like it had a bigger production then it actually had. The episode set up a great springboard from the show, and just seemed to get better.
On the subject of the characters, well it might Dillon mostly get the dedication during the first episode, with Ziggy coming up second, everyone else playing second fiddle, unheard of as generally there’s a set structure, new clueless red ranger joining a pre-established team or a whole group becoming rangers at once. The core 3 are introduced here then how they become rangers is left out completely as is where the powers are from, in favor of introducing the world of RPM through Dillon and the city through Ziggy, it’s great to see an empty world and the two make for an effective double act.
So that’s my review of the first episode, apologies for the length, there really is a lot to talk about, and for all my ranting about introducing the rangers in the credits at least they leave the green open to interpretation, though not by much. The series overall is great and the first episode hit a level so high I was instantly hooked, I hope this makes you watch it if you haven’t and re watch if you have… as its nothing short of awesome!!!
Posted on 01/22/2012, in Other, Text Reviews/Articles and tagged bruce kallish, corinth, Darida Ryata, fights., film, go-onger, introduction, koichi sakamoto, martial arts, pow, power, Reviews, rpm, ryatta, samurai, sentai, super sentai, the tribe, tv, TV / Web. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.