August 11, 2018

POWER RANGERS IN SPACE


POWER RANGERS IN SPACE
(FOX, February 6-November 21, 1998)

Saban Entertainment, Renaissance Atlantic Entertainment, Toei Company, Ltd., MMPR Productions, Inc.




MAIN CAST:
Terence J. Rotolo & Christopher Cho (as Christopher Grey, voice) – Dark Specter
Lex Lang (as Walter Lang, voice) – Ecliptor, Rygog, Jakarak
Danny Wayne Stallcup (as Kenny Graceson) - Elgar
Derek Stephen Prince (as David Umansky, voice) – Elgar, Tankenstein


            Power Rangers In Space is the fifth incarnation of the Power Rangers franchise, and the sixth season overall. It was a direct continuation of Turbo and utilized footage from Toei Company, Ltd.’s 21st Super Senti series, Denji Sentai Megaranger. It was also the conclusion to what has become regarded as the Zordon-era of Power Rangers.

Dark Specter.


            Dark Specter (Terence J. Rotolo & Christopher Grey) has assembled his United Alliance of Evil to celebrate his capture of Zordon (David Fielding & Robert. L. Manahan) and his beginning to drain his powers. Meanwhile, the former Turbo Rangers—T.J. Johnson (Selwyn Ward), Carlos Vallerte (Roger Velasco), Ashley Hammond (Tracy Lynn Cruz), and Cassie Chan (Patricia Ja Lee), along with Alpha 6 (Wendee Lee, bringing him closer to the original Alpha 5 inflections)—had journeyed into space to help Zordon and encountered a new Red Ranger: Andros (Christopher Khayman Lee, who originally didn’t want the role after being constantly compared to Tommy Oliver because of his long hair), a human with telekinetic abilities from space colony KO-35. After some convincing to let them help, Andros gave the Earth Rangers new Astro Morphers restoring their powers (however, this time T.J. was blue since red was already taken, and Carlos was black instead of green). Together, they simultaneously searched for Zordon while protecting Earth from Dark Specter’s minions.

The United Alliance of Evil.

            The United Alliance of Evil was comprised of villains from the previous seasons, including Rita Repulsa (Carla Perez & Barbara Goodson), Lord Zedd (Ed Neil & Robert Axelrod) and their minions, as well as Master Vile (Tom Wyner) from Mighty Morphin; the Machine Empire’s Royal House of Gadgetry and their minions from Zeo; Divatox (Hilary Shepard Tuner) and her crew, and General Havoc (Wyner & Richard Cansino) and his army from Turbo. However, the primary foes for the season were the newcomers: leading them was Astronema (Melody Perkins), actually Andros’ sister Karone who was abducted by the ruthless bounty hunter, Darkonda (Steve Kramer); Ecliptor (Lex Lang), who raised Astronema and taught her to be evil; and the Quantrons, Astronema’s robotic foot soldiers. Divatox’s nephew Elgar (Kenny Graceson & Derek Stephen Prince) was chosen to accompany Astronema as her guide for her attacks on Earth (however, Astronema kept him out of her hair with busywork around the Dark Fortress).

The Psycho Rangers.

            Along with the typical assortment of monsters, the most notable of Astronema’s attack against the Rangers came in the form of the Psycho Rangers. The Psycho Rangers were twisted versions of the Power Rangers who could draw on the energies of Dark Specter. When their humanized forms were destroyed, they reverted to their true forms as monsters. Each one was made unbeatable by the Ranger of their corresponding color and could absorb their energy upon their defeat.

Carlos, Cassie, Andros, Ashley and TJ on the Astro Megaship.

            The Space Rangers operated out of Andros’ Astro Megaship, which was created by Zordon and Alpha 5 on Eltar. It provided for all the Rangers’ needs, from a Synthetron which could replicate any food they wanted, to the SimuDeck where they trained against holographic and robotic opponents, such as the Craterites. The ship could be fully manned by a crew of 16, or operated by a skeleton crew with the aid of the ship’s onboard computer, D.E.C.A. (Julie Maddalena). The ship could also become the Astro Megazord by combining with the Astro Megashuttle that the Earth Rangers arrived in. Each Ranger had their own personal Zord, the Mega Vehicles, which were created by Zordon and hidden on one of Jupiter’s moons for emergencies. They combined to form the Mega Voyager.

Forming the Multi Attack Rifle.

            Along with the standard Astro Blaster, each Ranger had a Galaxy Glider; essentially, a jetboard that allowed them to travel through space without a ship. Each Ranger also had their own personal weapons that could be combined together to form the Multi Attack Rifle, or with their Astro Blasters. Black had the Lunar Lance, Blue the Astro Axe, Yellow the Star Slinger (a rapid-fire slingshot), and Pink the Satellite Stunner (a satellite-like gun that fired energy rings). Red had the Spiral Saber and the Battlizer Gauntlet, which added energy to his punches, fired a laser, or gave him Battlized Armor increasing his strength, defense and gave him the ability to fly.

Andros and Zhane.

            The Rangers’ number eventually grew to six, when a battle freed Andros’ best friend Zhane (Justin Nimmo) from cryo-stasis where he was placed after receiving grave injuries. He resumed his role as the Silver Space Ranger (the first in either version of the franchise), and was ultimately the most powerful amongst them. However, his Ranger energy had leaked while he was in stasis, causing him to unexpectedly morph back in battle until he was able to get his Digimorpher recharged. The Digimorpher was the first in the franchise to resemble a cell phone, and was used by dialing specific codes; such as “2580” to morph. He also had his own Zord, the Mega Winger, and his Super Silverizer weapon could be used as both a blaster and a sword.

Bulk and Skull joined by a nutty professor.

            Several long-time recurring characters were removed from the show: Mr. Caplan (Henry Cannon), the principal of Angel Grove High School; Ms. Appleby (Royce Herron), a teacher at the school; and Lt. Jerome Stone (Gregg Bullock). The reason being that the producers felt the characters’ routines had run their course. However, Bulk (Paul Schrier) and Skull (Jason Narvy) were retained. They were paired up with a new character, Professor Phenomenus (Jack Banning), a scatterbrained scientist who was always on the hunt for aliens. Despite being part of the main cast, Bulk and Skull only appeared in less than half of the episodes of the show. The Youth Center was also replaced as the Rangers’ Earth hangout by the Surf Spot, which was run by Adelle Ferguson (Aloma Wright).

Adam, back in black.

            The season featured several team-up episodes. Former Blue Turbo Ranger Justin Stewart (Blake Foster) was recruited by the sentient vehicle Storm Blaster to rescue the Rangers and Lightning Cruiser from Astronema’s army. Adam Park (Johnny Young Bosch) appeared to help Carlos regain his confidence after accidentally hurting Cassie in battle; even going so far as to use his damaged and unstable Morpher and Mastodon Power Coin to become the Mighty Morphin Black Ranger and protect him. The Alien Rangers, Blue Senturion (David Walsh), Gold Zeo Ranger (Yoshio Iizuka & Brad Hawkins) and Phantom Ranger (Ali Afshar) all joined in the battle against the United Alliance of Evil; with the Phantom Ranger giving Andros access to the Delta Megaship, and thus the Delta Megazord.

Turtle Power! Wait, what..?

            Probably the strangest team-up of all was with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. At the time, Saban Entertainment was also producing Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation. It was a live-action series that adapted a failed pitch for a fourth feature film. It was most notable (and notorious) for introducing a fifth turtle: Venus de Milo (Nicole Parker & Lalainia Lindbjerg). The show also aired on FOX, which meant the In Space producers could have their outlandish crossover without issue. In their two-episode appearance, Astronema brainwashed the Turtles into being her servants to infiltrate the Astro Megaship and take it for her. Fortunately, they were able to shake themselves free and aid the Rangers in defeating her. Because Rangers was filmed in California and Turtles in Canada, the Next Mutation suit performers and voice actors didn’t reprise their roles. Ultimately, Next Mutation was cancelled shortly after these episodes due to the poor ratings it received. Because the show wasn’t much liked by audiences, many Ranger fans consider their guest-appearance to be non-canon. It was the second and last time Power Rangers would cross over with another show (outside of comics).

The Phantom Ranger.

            Power Rangers in Space debuted on February 6, 1998 on FOX as part of their Fox Kids programming block. In Space became the place for a number of firsts in the franchise: it was the first to use an orchestral score instead of rock, the first to introduce new weapons not seen in the Sentai series as a way to bolster merchandise sales, the first to be completely serialized over the course of an entire season, and the first to feature sympathetic and layered villains. Because there was a lack of usable Megaranger footage, a good portion of the budget was spent on creating cheap green screen effects for the space scenes and new fight scenes tinted in different colors to represent alien worlds. Because of these budget issues, some things had to be cut; such as the episode that would have revealed the Phantom Ranger’s identity. The series was written by story editor/head writer/director Judd Lynn, Jackie Marchand, Steve Roth,  John Fletcher and Koichi Sakamoto, with music composed by Shuki Levy, Haim Saban (as Kussa Mahchi), Kenneth Burgomaster, Jim Cushinery, Paul Gordon, Glenn Scott Lacey, Jeremy Sweet, Ron Wasserman, Inon Zur and Lior Rosner.

Surfing through the cosmos.

            In 2011, the original bible for In Space drafted before Turbo’s second half was released online. Astronema and Andros were missing from that draft, with the Phantom Ranger discovering Dark Specter’s plans instead, and the use of the Silver Ranger was being debated. Dark Specter would have been Carranger villain Exhaus, but Exhaus was used for Turbo’s final monster, Goldgoyle. Divatox would have been the main villain again, with Rita and Zedd having larger roles. Justin was to remain on the team and Dimitria would have given the Turbo Rangers their space powers so that they could travel to save Zordon. Their spacecraft would have a limited power supply, necessitating their frequent returns to the Power Chamber to recharge. The Power Chamber, consequently, would have also been recycled into the Astro Megaship’s interior. They would have also gained an orbiting base called the new Power Dome. Bulk and Skull would form a volunteer Citizen Force Group to protect Angel Grove while the Rangers were unavailable.


            On May 13, 1998, a special entitled Power Rangers Funniest Moments made its debut. It was a clip show hosted by Bosch and featured Bulk, Skull and Professor Phenomenus. It showed clips from the various seasons and went behind the scenes of the productions of Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Official Fan Club Video. It was the first Power Rangers special to show footage of the Zyurangers, and debuted several of the monster suits before they were seen on In Space.

Andros faces Astronema.

            Because ratings had significantly declined by the end of Turbo, In Space was approached as the conclusion to the entire franchise. In the season’s final two episodes, the United Alliance of Evil launched an all-out assault on the universe with all the villains and heroes participating: Rita and Zedd battled the Gold Ranger; Divatox battled the Alien Rangers; the Machine Empire and General Havoc attacked the Phantom Ranger and Blue Senturion; Cogs attacked Zhan and the KO-35 rebels; and Astronema set her sights on Earth with a planet-destroying Super-Torpedo. Darkonda gave into his ambitions and used the torpedo to destroy Dark Specter so that he could take over, but Dark Specter destroyed him as well. That left Astronema the new Queen of Evil. Andros faced Astronema in battle and he was forced to kill her, and then, on Zordon’s insistence, killed Zordon by destroying his energy tube. That unleashed a cleansing wave of energy across the universe and purified the main villains with many of their minions being reduced to sand. Astronema was also saved, being brought back to life and restored as Karone.

Zordon begs Andros to kill him to save the universe.

            Ultimately, ratings for In Space rose dramatically; enough to warrant a continuation of the franchise with another season. However, having already embraced the annual changing costumes/abilities of the Sentai series, Power Rangers likewise adopted the practice of having a new cast with each change; making In Space the final season to have a continuing cast and unified storyline. But, while future incarnations of the franchise would take it to different places and realities, there would still be some kind of connection to previous incarnations in the form of team crossovers and character sharing.

The new Power Rangers team on Power Rangers #31.

            As with other entries in the Power Rangers franchise, Bandai produced a line of action figures and other merchandise based on the show. Although never receiving their own game, In Space was represented by the inclusion of Andros, T.J. and Zhane in nWay Games’ 2017 mobile game, Power Rangers Legacy Wars. The Space Rangers made their comics debut in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 2018 Annual as part of BOOM! Studios’Shattered Grid” event. Following the event, Andros was announced to be a member of a new team of Rangers that included the Ranger Slayer (an alternate future Kimberly), The Magna Defender, the Yellow Zeo Ranger, the Green Samurai Ranger and a mysterious Dark Ranger.

DVD cover.

            Fox Home Entertainment released Power Rangers In Space on VHS in 1999. It contained the episodes “Rangers Gone Psycho”, “A Rift in the Rangers”, “Five of a Kind”, “Silence is Golden” and “The Enemy Within” with some scenes cut out for time. In 2002, Buena Vista Home Entertainment released the episode “Mission to Secret City” on the compilation VHS Power Rangers: Red Alert. In 2003, Walt Disney Video included the episodes “Countdown to Destruction, Part 1 & 2” on the DVD compilation The Best of the Power Rangers: The Ultimate Rangers. In 2012, Time Life Entertainment released Power Rangers: From Mighty Moprhin to Lost Galaxy containing the complete span of those shows over 40 DVDs. That same year, Shout! Factory released Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation vol. 2 which included the episodes “Save Our Ship” and “Shell Shocked”. The next year, they released In Space as part of the Power Rangers: Seasons Four-Seven box set, and later independently across two volumes. They also released Power Rangers Legacy, which contained seasons 1-20 in a collectible Red Ranger helmet package.    



EPISODE GUIDE:
“From Out of Nowhere, Part I” (2/6/98) – A mysterious Red Ranger infiltrates Sepcter’s Alliance meeting while the Earth Rangers are brought onto the Astro Megaship.

“From Out of Nowhere, Part II” (2/6/98) – Andros gives the other Rangers new morphers and Alpha transforms the ship into the Astro Megazord to repel a criosphinx attack.

“Save Our Ship” (2/20/98) – The Rangers take Andros to Earth where they find Ecliptor and Astronema waiting for them.

“Shell Shocked” (2/27/98) – Astronema uses her powers to make the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into her minions and has them trick their way onto the Megaship.

“Never Stop Searching” (3/6/98) – Following a lead on his missing sister, Andros finds Ecliptor waiting for him.

“Satellite Search” (3/13/98) – The Rangers retrieve a crashed satellite with valuable information only to have Astronema steal it from them.

“A Ranger Among Thieves” (3/20/98) – A monster attacks the hideout of thieves that Andros befriended.

“When Push Comes to Shove” (3/27/98) – Cassie is blackmailed into a date that takes them to a building one of Astronema’s monsters attacks.

“The Craterite Invasion” (4/3/98) – The Simudeck malfunctions and sends a horde of Craterites into a rampage on Angel Grove.

“The Wasp With a Heart” (4/4/98) – A wasp monster befriends Cassie, which pits her against the other Rangers when they make a deal with the Sting King.

“The Delta Discovery” (4/11/98) – While searching for Zordon the Rangers find a wounded Phantom Ranger who gives Andros control of the Delta Megaship.

“The Great Evilyzer” (4/18/98) – Astronema uses Professor Phenomenus’ new device to run the Delta Megazord evil.

“Grandma Matchmaker” (4/25/98) – Ashley’s grandmother comes for a visit and is determined to get her engaged before she leaves.

“The Barillian Sting” (5/2/98) – An alien insect stings and mutates Carlos, who then stings and mutates Cassie.

“T.J.’s Identity Crisis” (5/9/98) – TJ loses his memory just as the Rangers are captured by the fusion of Darkonda and Ecliptor: Darkliptor.

“Flashes of Darkonda” (5/16/98) – Undercover, Andros wins Zordon’s key cards from a group of aliens in a game of cards and comes to remember that Darkonda kidnapped his sister.

“The Rangers’ Mega Voyage” (9/12/98) – The Rangers use Zordon’s key cards to take command of the Mega Vehicles.

“True Blue to the Rescue” (9/19/98) – The Rangers are captured while trying to rescue Storm Blaster, so Storm Blaster brings Justin Stewart from Earth to rescue them.

“Invasion of the Body Switcher” (9/26/98) – Astronema has her appearance changed into Ashley so that she can invade the Megaship and capture the Rangers.

“Survival of the Silver” (10/3/98) – Attacks on the Megaship frees Zhane, the Silver Ranger, who was placed in cryo-stasis due to serious injuries.

“Red with Envy” (10/10/98) – Andros becomes jealous that Zhane seems to be interested in Ashley and orders him to stay on the ship when the Rangers head into battle.

“The Silver Secret” (10/14/98) – Zhane can only stay morphed for a limited time and Astronema plans to exploit this flaw.

“A Date with Danger” (10/15/98) – Zhane rescues Astronema from one of her own monsters, and the two begin to find a mutual attraction.

“Zhane’s Destiny” (10/16/98) – The Rangers find the rebels from KO-35 and Darkonda, in disguise amongst them, tries to turn them against the Rangers.

“Always a Chance” (10/17/98) – After Carlos injuries Cassie in battle, Adam Park returns to train with him and restore his confidence.

“The Secret of the Locket” (10/21/98) – Astronema loses her locket during a battle, and Andros discovers that it belonged to his sister—who IS Astronema.

“Astronema Thinks Twice” (10/23/98) – Knowing her past, Astronema decides to give up being evil and joins Andros in rescuing Zordon.

“The Rangers’ Leap of Faith” (10/24/98) – Astronema takes the Rangers to Zordon, which ends up being a trap set up by Dark Specter.

“Dark Specter’s Revenge, Part I” (10/28/98) – Astronema tries to stop an asteroid from destroying Earth, but ends up captured and reverted back to evil.

“Dark Specter’s Revenge, Part II” (10/29/98) – Andros and Zhane head out to retrieve Astronema, but they find her reverted to being eviler than before.

“Rangers Gone Psycho” (10/30/98) – When five imposters wreak havoc in Angel Grove, the real Rangers confront them and discover they’re mind-reading machines sent by Astronema.

“Carlos on Call” (10/31/98) – When a little girl discovers Carlos’ identity, she blackmails him into spending time with her.

“A Rift in the Rangers” (11/4/98) – Psycho Yellow and Pink manage to capture Ashley.

“Five of a Kind” (11/5/98) – To confuse the Psycho Rangers, the Rangers all disguise themselves as the Blue Ranger.

“Silence is Golden” (11/6/98) – Cassie has to keep quiet in Angel Grove as the Psycho Rangers use voice recognition to try and locate their civilian identities.

“The Enemy Within” (11/7/98) – The Psycho Rangers steal the Mega Voyager, prompting the Rangers to launch a surprise attack to get it back.

“Andros the Stowaway” (11/11/98) – The Rangers fight a monster to protect an enslaved alien Andros rescued.

“Mission to Secret City” (11/12/98) – Astronema creates a secret city to store her captives, and Andros has to access his full power to rescue Carlos, Silvy and himself.

“Ghosts in the Machine” (11/13/98) – The Psycho Rangers use Astronema’s matter-to-data conversion machine to restore themselves.

“The Impenetrable Web” (11/14/98) – Ecliptor manages to infiltrate the Astro Megaship and keep the Rangers out, and then uses it to destroy the Delta Megazord.

“A Line in the Sand” (11/18/98) – The Rangers are teleported to a barren wasteland and lose the Mega Voyager in a battle with Tankenstein.

“Countdown to Destruction, Part I” (11/20/98) – Dark Specter order the launch of the villains’ attack on everything.

“Countdown to Destruction, Part II” (11/21/98) – While the Rangers face Astronema in Angel Grove, Andros finds Zordon who wants to sacrifice himself to wipe out all the villains.

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