August 28, 2013. Next year that date won’t just be another birthday for someone to celebrate, another anniversary for a husband to forget or a first day of school to dread. It will mark 20 years since we first heard “It’s Morphin Time!” Yes, you can start to feel that old as the Power Rangers franchise celebrates the big 2-0, but before that, we celebrated a little early with The Official Power Morphicon in Pasadena, CA.
Two years ago was my first time being in the same room as the actual people who made my after school TV time phenomenal, so this year I was calmer and could view the convention from a different perspective. I was no longer squealing at Jason David Frank aka Tommy, because he was absent this year. But never fear, where one Ranger goes missing, others take their place.
So this year Johnny Bosch (Adam, Black Ranger) and David Yost (Billy. original Blue Ranger) were in attendance with the repeat offenders, Walter Jones (Zack, Black Ranger), Karen Ashley (Aisha, Yellow Ranger), Steve Cardenas (Rocky, Red Ranger), Catherine Sutherland (Kat, Pink Ranger), Nakia Burrise (Tanya, Yellow Ranger) and everyone’s favorite bullies Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy (Bulk & Skull).
First off, let’s talk about the panels you missed out on if you weren’t able to make it out. There were panels for the newer generations of Rangers, but seeing that I only watched up until the second movie…those are the only ones I went to…
“Behind the Scenes: Power Rangers Feature Film Retrospetive” was about the Turbo movie. The highlight was how bummed the cast was about shooting in Castaic, CA since the first movie had a huge budget and was in Australia.
“After Dark” was an 18+ panel that required an ID to get in. There the Rangers were able to speak more freely about their time on set, what they did in their free time with their cast mates and stuff like partying, drinking and other things that fall under the “adult” category….Use your imagination. Safe to say it was the panel to see and since there were no recording devices allowed, it’s all just in our memories now.
“Spotlight: Bulk and Skull-a-thon” was a half hour of pie fights with the pair as they taught around 10 audience members the joy of physical comedy. Someone who found no joy in it? The convention centers’ staff as the cream was all over the walls (mind out of the gutter please).
But it was “David Yost Charity Event and Q&A” that really made the convention worth it in the end. For those who don’t know, David is the original Blue Ranger, Billy. He was the geek in glasses and overalls who stayed on the longest out of the original MMPR cast. His presence was all for a good cause. Everything earned from his signing and raffle for a signed movie script went to The Trevor Project. He appeared nothing short of grateful for everyone there and just opened it up to audience questions, good ones getting a special prize like pictures from set or signed episode scripts. One young man who I remembered from the last PMC brought me to tears when he got a script. Will Bernick, if you read this, you’re just plain precious with your excitement.
All in all the panels were full of the same ol’ questions from the last PMC, tales of Jason David Frank being a prankster and putting boogers on peoples lips and Narvy being the leader of the pack. When asked if he felt like an official Red Ranger since he always takes the lead in the panels, he laughed, “I never thought of it in that light. You know it’s because I teach classes so and I know we have to keep the thing moving.” One new revelation, Bosch is a smart ass who is likely to make any answer hilarious.
One question that never came up was if Catherine ever felt pressure coming in under such a popular character like Kimberly. She thanked me for the question later and said that she felt she was her own person once Zeo came along and added, “I always felt a little pressure. My hope was always that they would just realize we were different people and had different things to offer. And that they could love Kimberly and me.”
Now on to the reason the convention even happens, the fans. From the people like me who just loved the MMPR cast to death, to the people my age and older who never quit and can quote every episode, to kids who are just falling in love with Power Rangers for the first time…They were all there.
Some were in Ranger outfits that amazed and some were not…A+ for effort though, right? Hats off to the guy who walked around in the Megazord costume the entire weekend. It was hot as balls, and we commend you. Another shout out to fans like Skyler King who took the time to chat with me about his Ranger history, “I’ve watched from Mighty Morphin to Light Speed Rescue and that’s when I hit a point where I was like, I’m too old for this kids’ stuff. But then I got back into it with RPM because I was just browsing one night. Like, oh there’s this new one, RPM, I’ll take a look, and it was awesome.”
One little girl caught my eye because she represented my personal favorite Ranger. Terra was a badass in a Yellow Ranger tee who was on the shy side, but what five year old wouldn’t be when a stranger is in their face with a recorder. What we did chat about was that her and her parents, who are also big fans, watch the original ones on Netflix and also that she loves the Yellow Ranger because she kicks butt. That’s my kind of answer!
All in all the Rangers themselves are never not amazed at the devotion of the fans, be it remembering specific details of episodes to their Ranger body art. Nakia noted, “It’s encouraging and it’s a blessing to me.” While Karen said, “I never thought it would be as big as it is. I think at the time it was like wow. I wanted to be an actress and all my dreams were coming true. But I didn’t realize how much it was impacting people until now. When you hear people say you’ve changed my life. And you’re like, I did?”
20 YEARS LATER…
Speaking of impact, Walter wasn’t too sure of what they have planned for the 20 year anniversary next year, but he was sure of how his mark on pop culture makes him feel, “I’m very proud to be the first mainstream black superhero because it makes me proud to know that I’ve brought a big positive spin to a lot of people that didn’t have that before then.”
The Rangers there are forever happy to have been a part of something so influential, but they have moved on to other outlets. Steve teaches martial arts and even admitted to having some parents who were fans of his growing up who bring their kids in now.
Johnny now focuses on music with his band Eyeshine who played a great show at the convention. He also admitted that after the show he hit a low point and thankfully found music, “If I was just a successful actor after Power Rangers and just kept going I don’t think I would’ve had any need for anything else. And because of that, out of necessity I started to learn to play the guitar.”
Then there’s Nakia who started a clothing line, Eternally His Design, “We’re hoping that our clothing line will inspire people to think about their eternity. It’s for believers and non-believers, everybody’s welcome.”
The Power Rangers is cemented in pop culture history and that’s just a fact. Whether it’s the original five on gaining more and more views every day on Netflix, or the newest gang continuing the tradition, there’s no way to escape the Power Ranger impact, and who would want to? It’s a continuous reminder that young people can make a difference in this world, be it in the streets of Angel Grove or in reality.
You didn’t think we could end this without a mixtape, did you? The Rangers and Skull I talked too were asked to give a song to put on a mixtape the Rangers could listen to in the Megazord and this is what they had to say…
Karen Ashley: Beyonce “Girl (Who Rule the World)”
Nakia Burrise: Carly Rae Jepsen “Call Me Maybe”
Catherine Sutherland: Katy Perry “Wide Awake”
Steve Cardenas: Gotye “Somebody That I Used To Know”
Johnny Bosch: Foo Fighters “Everlong”
Walter Jones: Kanye West “All Of The Lights”
Jason Narvy: The Sex Pistols “Bodies” & Bad Religion “Let Them Eat War“