August 25, 2018

POWER RANGERS RPM


POWER RANGERS RPM
(ABC, March 7-December 26, 2009)

BVS Entertainment, Renaissance Atlantic Entertainment, Toei Company, Ltd., Ranger Productions, Ltd.




MAIN CAST:
Andrew LaingVenjix (voice)


            Power Rangers RPM, known as Power Rangers Engine Force in South Korea, is the 16th incarnation of the Power Rangers franchise, and the 17th season overall. It utilized footage from Toei Company, Ltd.’s 32nd Super Sentai series, Engine Sentai Go-Onger. This was the final season to be produced in the Disney-era of the franchise in order to fulfill a contractual obligation with Bandai, producer of Power Rangers merchandise.

Venjix's master CPU with some Grinders.


            Set in an alternate timeline, a computer virus named Venjix (no relation to General Venjix from Wild Force, voiced by Andrew Laing) was created by young genius Dr. K (Olivia Tennet) to allow her to escape the government thinktank, Alphabet Soup, when she learned that they had been keeping her there under false pretenses. Her plot was discovered and she was taken away before being allowed to erect the firewall to keep the virus contained. As a result, Venjix evolved and grew more powerful, taking over computer systems around the world and creating a robotic army, the Grinders, and other more powerful attack bots. The world was overrun, and the remnants of humanity fled to the domed city of Corinth. Corinth was a fully-functional self-sustaining city with a protective shield over it that projected a hologram of the sky to keep the population inside calm. Primarily in charge of the city’s defense was Colonel Mason Truman (James Gaylyn) and his troops.

Dumbell Bot attacking Corinth.

            Despite its protections, Venjix’s forces were still able to find their way into the city to cause havoc. Their goal was to disable Corinth’s shields so that Venjix’s full forces could conquer the city. Venjix had three generals coordinating these efforts. General Crunch (Charlie McDermott) was the least intelligent of the three, but demonstrated a keen sense of strategy; often questioning holes in Venjix’s plans that would lead to his destruction (though he was later rebuilt). General Shifter (Mark Mitchinson) was a Generation 5 Attack Bot who was adept at designing additional bots, even giving Venjix a body once. Kilobyte (Leighton Cardno) was an older Attack Bot created by Venjix who took great joy in sabotaging his contemporaries to make himself appear better to Venjix. The creation Venjix took great pride in, however, was Tenaya 7 (Adelaide Kane in her first major role). She was believed to be a Generation 7 Human Infiltration Attack Bot, resembling a human while actually being a machine. However, it was eventually discovered that she was a hybrid and was originally human. That discovery led Tenaya to join the Rangers briefly until she was recaptured, reprogramed and upgraded into Tenaya 15. Venjix’s robot monsters were typically enlarged when on the verge of defeat by a download being initiated through Venjix’s processor.

The RPM Rangers.

            To make up for her mistake, Dr. K helped to fortify Corinth and initiated one of the projects she was working on at Alphabet Soup: the Power Rangers. They were a series of exoskeleton robotic suits designed to amplify human capabilities by harnessing the universal bioelectrical energy field that connected the lifeforce of all living things. The initial recruits were Scott Truman (Eka Darville) for Ranger Operator Series Red, a fighter pilot who lost his brother during the Venjix attack; Summer Landsdown (Rose McIver) for Ranger Operator Series Yellow, once a spoiled socialite who completely changed her way of thinking after being abandoned by her friends and saved by the sacrifice of her family’s butler, Andrews (Bruce Phillips); and Flynn McAllister (Ari Boyland, who had auditioned for many other Power Rangers seasons, using an Irish accent) for Ranger Operator Series Blue, a mechanic who desired to help people but failed miserably at jobs involving that. Dr. K worked directly with the Rangers, however at first, she kept her identity a secret and communicated with them through computer monitors and voice modulation.

Dillon and his car out in the Wastelands.

            A suitable user for Ranger Operator Series Green had yet to be found within the city, while Ranger Series Black’s biohardware was deemed too much for the average person to handle. Eventually, the last two Rangers found their way to Corinth. The man known simply as Dillon (Dan Ewing, who previously auditioned for Jungle Fury and the role of Scott) was an amnesiac who had his memories stolen by Sat Bot, one of Venjix’s minions, and was infused with Generation 7 Venjix hardware to become one of Venjix’s robot/human hybrids until Dillon escaped. That increased his physical capabilities to superhuman levels, and made him a viable candidate to become the Black Ranger. However, fragments of Dillon’s memories remained, including the notion that he had to find a mysterious blind girl that was somehow connected to a musical pocket watch he carried. That girl ended up being his sister, who was changed into Tenaya 7 when they were separated in Venjix’s lair.

Tenaya 7 takes Ziggy captive with some Cogs.

            Dillon was led to Corinth by Ziggy Grover (Milo Cawthorne, who almost didn’t get the role), whom he encountered in the Wasteland. Ziggy was a clumsy oaf who had the habit of falling in with the wrong people; including local gangster Fresno Bob. When Ziggy delivered medical supplies to an orphanage rather than the five main cartels in Corinth, he escaped the city only to return later with Dillon. Ziggy helped the Rangers try to find a suitable candidate for Operator Green, but circumstances led to his needing to don the Morpher and became bonded with the suit.

The engine of the Paleozord.

            Unlike other teams in the franchise, the RPM (which stands for Racing Performance Machines) Rangers had a limited power supply that needed to be remotely recharged by Dr. K. The Zords were also controlled by Dr. K and had to be downloaded by her to the Rangers for use. Each Zord resembled an animal: Red had the Eagle Racer, Yellow the Bear Crawler, Blue the Lion Hauler, Green the Tail Spinner (which resembled an orca), and Black the Wolf Cruiser. Red, Yellow and Blue could form the High Octane Megazord, while Green and Black formed the ValveMax Megazord. Together, the full team could form the Zenith Megazord. The Road Attack Zord was a miniature, self-piloted Zord created by Flynn that could be launched as a projectile weapon from a wheel-like state and used to attack foes with a variety of martial arts. Later, Scott would acquire control of the Paleozord, one of Dr. K’s earliest creations at Alphabet Soup. It was a train comprised of three cars that could form its own track on either the ground or in the sky. Because they were based on prehistoric creatures they couldn’t properly sync up with the Bio Field and were mothballed until they were accidentally reactivated. The cars could combine to form the PaleoMax Megazord.

Manning the Road Blaster.

            While the RMP morphers all used engine cells to power them, there were two distinct types. The Cell Shift Morphers used by Red, Yellow and Blue resembled cell phones. The dial pad allowed them to summon the Zords, initiate Zord sequences, and control the Zords. Green and Black had Rev Morphers, which resembled a gear shift panel and lacked any numerical inputs. They were all DNA coded and required the security phrase “RPM, get in gear!” to be said to initiate transformations (although, later episodes would show them transforming in a quick cut with an accompanying sound effect). The standard Ranger weapon was the Nitro Blaster, however each had their own distinctive one: Red had the Street Saber, a sword whose blade resembled a strip of road; Blue the Turbo Cannon; Yellow the Zip Charger, a miniature remote-controlled vehicle; Green the Turbo Axe, whose blades resembled a suspension bridge; and Black the Rocket Blaster. Red, Yellow and Blue’s weapons could be combined to form the Road Blaster, which changes the Zip Charger to the Racing Bullet for a powerful attack. Likewise, Green and Black could form the Turbo Plasma Launcher, which fired a plasma beam that took the essence of the Zord whose engine cell was powering it at the time. All five weapons could be combined into the RPM Enforcer. The tread-designs on the Rangers’ suits and boots could also be used for friction-based attacks, or to speed along the ground.

Scott's car in their garage.

            For the first time in the franchise, each Ranger had their own personal vehicle outside of the Zords for transport around the city. Scott drove a red and black 1994 Nissan Silvia; Flynn drove a blue Hummer; Summer drove a yellow and black dirt bike; Dillon drove a modified 1972 Pontiac Firebird; and Ziggy drove a beat-up little green scooter when not catching a ride with Dillon. Both Scott and Flynn’s cars were European style with the steering wheels on the right side.

The Rangers de-morphed.

            Power Rangers RPM debuted on March 7, 2009 on the ABC programming block, ABC Kids. It was the first season that debuted in any other month besides February since Turbo. The series’ theme was composed by Brad Hamilton and was led into by an opening introduction from Tenant describing the circumstances of the series. The series’ music was handled by Leigh Roberts, Wayne Jones and William J. Sullivan. Although reruns of Mystic Force and Operation Overdrive would run their end credits over the final scene of an episode, RPM was the first series to do so initially. Notably, the series included a behind-the-scenes episode as part of its regular run, rather than being shown as a separate special.

General Shifter sets out to make his own name.

Eddie Guzelian succeeded Bruce Kalish as executive producer of the series and was the driving force behind its narrative. While Go-Onger was very lighthearted and comedic with a beast racing theme (which is why the Zords resembled animals), Guzelian took inspiration from films like The Road Warrior to create the post-apocalyptic setting that was employed. Guzelian had pitched the series with the promise of attracting the lucrative boys’ market as well as an older audience, since most of Disney’s money came from their Princess line. Since Disney was planning on cancelling Power Rangers anyway, they went along with his ideas.

Venjix going mobile in a new body.

            Unfortunately, RPM was Guzelian’s first live-action series. He relied on head writer Jackie Marchand and story editor John Tellegen to get him up to speed with the franchise, and also brought in two writers he worked with previously: Matthew Negrete and Madellaine Paxson. Guzelian tended to micro-manage the production, leading to script delays. As a result, the entire production budget was gone by the first half of the season and Bandai had to step up and finance the remainder. Marchand was seemingly fired, delivering to fans the cryptic message “Welcome from the peace conference”; a reference to where original Rangers Jason, Trini and Zack were written off to when their actors walked off of Mighty Morphin. Guzelian was given a chance to get the production back on track, but was fired despite his success. Negrete and Paxson also left in solidarity. Former head writer Judd Lynn was promoted to executive producer that July to wrap up the series. Additional writers included Jeffrey Newman, David Garber and Tiffany Louie, as well as Lynn himself.



            Halfway through the series, a sixth and seventh Ranger were introduced: Ranger Operator Series Gold and Ranger Operator Series Silver, also known as the genius siblings Gem (Mike Ginn) and Gemma (Li Ming Hu). They were a high-energy pair that often finished each other’s sentences and befriended Dr. K at Alphabet Soup. After Alphabet Soup was destroyed, Gem and Gemma escaped with the experimental Ranger Operator suits and Zords and waged a guerilla-style war on Venjix in the wastelands before meeting and uniting with the other Rangers. That led to them adopting a “shoot first, talk later” approach to fights and a thrill of explosions. Their suits utilized the Sky Morpher, which resembled a flight stick, which controlled their Falcon Chopper and Tiger Jet Zords. They could combine with the other Zords to make the SkyRev Megazord. They gained a secondary Zord in the form of the Whale Jumbo Jet, which was a doomsday machine the Rangers took from Venjix. It was compatible enough with the other Zords to merge with the Falcon and Tiger to become the Mach Megazord. When all 12 Zords came together, they could form the ultra-powerful RPM Ultrazord.

Dillon tries to convince Tenaya of her real identity.

            Since this was the final series Disney planned to make in the franchise, the season skipped the annual franchise crossover (although an Operation Overdrive helmet was seen in the Alphabet Soup ruins) and ended on a cliffhanger that wouldn’t be resolved. Disney also disbanded Ranger Productions, Ltd., the production company they formed to deal with the franchise. For the next season, Disney chose to air reruns of Mighty Morphin that became known as a “re-version”. BVS Entertainment gave the series a new opening sequence and added several visual effects, but beyond that the episodes were as they aired back in the 90s.

Gem and Gemma celebrates Dr. K's birthday.

In 2010, franchise creator Haim Saban formed Saban Brands, a successor to Saban Entertainment. The company was dedicated to acquiring entertainment and consumer brands, and one of those acquisitions was the Power Rangers franchise for $43 million. They then entered into a partnership with Nickelodeon, which would serve as the new home for Power Rangers installments. Because of episode limitations set by Nickelodeon, all future Power Rangers projects would be split into two seasons, making RPM the final single-season entry in the franchise.

Lord Drakkon makes his way into Corinth.

            As with other entries in the Power Rangers franchise, Bandai produced a line of toys and other merchandise based on the show. As of this writing, only Gemma was featured in nWay Games’ 2017 mobile game, Power Rangers: Legacy Wars. Gem would be a featured character in the tabletop RPG webseries Power Rangers HyperForce by Hyper RPG, played by Ginn for 3 appearances and Hyper RPG CEO Zac Lim-Eubank for the final one. In the 2018 event “Shattered Grid” in BOOM! Studioscomics, the world of RPM was introduced in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 2018 Annual as Lord Drakkon attempts to recruit Dr. K. She instead plays a role in fortifying the Rangers’ defenses against Drakkon’s forces.

The DVD cover.

            In 2009, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released two DVD collections: RPM vol. 1: Start Your Engines and Vol. 2: Race for Corinth. In 2012, Shout! Factory released Power Rangers Legacy, which contained seasons 1-20 in a collectible Red Ranger helmet package. They later released the complete series in 2014 as part of the collection Power Rangers Seasons 13-17, and independently in 2018.



EPISODE GUIDE:
“The Road to Corinth” (3/7/09) – Ziggy leads the amnesiac Dillon to the dome city of Corinth where they are rescued by the Power Rangers from the forces of Venjix.

“Fade to Black” (3/7/09) – After Venjix’s forces are defeated, Dillon and Ziggy are arrested when it’s discovered Dillon has some Venjix technology inside of him.

“Rain” (3/14/09) – Dillon is offered the chance to become the Black Ranger but is hesitant to accept the responsibility.

“Go for the Green” (3/21/09) – Ziggy is forced to bond with the Green Ranger after he’s tricked by Tenaya 7.

“Handshake” (3/28/09) – Dillon tries to master his invincibility shield and the mysterious Dr. K reveals herself to the team.

“Ranger Green” (4/4/09) – Ziggy’s past catches up to him as the mobsters he stole medical supplies from for an orphanage capture him for their revenge.

“Ranger Red” (4/11/09) – Scott heads out alone into the Wasteland to retrieve a part from his brother’s plane needed to summon the Croc Carrier.

“Ranger Yellow, Part I” (4/18/09) – Summer’s parents return to force her to live up to her promise to marry a rich boy if they gave her space for a year.

“Ranger Yellow, Part II” (4/25/09) – Summer’s parents reveal she needs to marry because they’re broke, however Tenaya crashes the wedding to steal a jewel her parents possess.

“Ranger Blue” (5/2/09) – Flynn failed at helping people his whole life, until the Venjix virus attacked and led him to becoming a Ranger.

“Doctor K” (5/9/09) – Trying to fix a malfunction with the zords leads Dr. K to recall when she unintentionally unleashed Venjix on the world.

“Blitz” (5/16/09) – Dillon faces a choice: destroy the invading monster or protect it and his lost memories.

“Brother’s Keeper” (5/23/09) – When a device causes Dillon’s infection to spread faster, Scott refuses to let him run out on the team to protect them.

“Embodied” (6/13/09) – The Rangers head to a city to find Dillon’s memories only to be attacked by Venjix in a new body and rescued by two mysterious Rangers.

“Ghosts” (6/20/09) – The trip turns out to be a trap set by Venjix and the Rangers find themselves overwhelmed until the mysterious Rangers rescue them again.

“In or Out” (7/4/09) – An air-sucking bot ends up trapped inside the city and the Rangers escape in order to formulate a plan to head back in and stop it.

“Prisoners” (7/11/09) – Dillon, Summer and Ziggy head to a Venjix work camp to search for his sister but learn Venjix is developing a doomsday weapon.

“Belly of the Beast” (8/1/09) – The Rangers head off to destroy the doomsday device while Dillon doubles his efforts to find his sister.

“Three’s a Crowd” (8/8/09) – Gem and Gemma’s differing tactics end up landing them in a trap.

“Heroes Among Us” (8/15/09) – Scott and Gem head out into the Weastland where they discover humans being held prisoner.

“Not So Simple” (8/22/09) – Gemma helps Flynn develop a new zord to defeat the latest attack bot.

“The Dome Dolls” (9/5/09) – An attack bot puts all the men in the city to sleep, leaving the women to protect the city while Dr. K works on a cure.

“And...Action” (9/12/09) – Ziggy takes the audience on a behind-the-scenes tour of the making of the show.

“Ancient History” (9/19/09) – Trying to keep Alphabet Soup technology from Venjix’s hands leads Colonel Truman to discover Dr. K’s role in his creation.

“Key to the Past” (9/26/09) – Tenaya discovers that she’s actually human, and Dillon discovers that she’s his missing sister.

“Beyond a Doubt” (9/26/09) – Dillon and Tenaya work to get the codes to stop the latest attack bot and she ends up captured by Kilobyte.

“Control-Alt-Delete” (10/3/09) – Shifter is able to take control of Scott, and the Rangers discover Tenaya has been reprogrammed into the more-obedient Tenaya 15.

“Run Ziggy Run” (10/3/09) – Tenaya offers to turn Ziggy over to Fresno Bob in exchange for a particular case.

“If Venjix Won” (12/19/09) – Trying to find a way to teleport Ziggy and Dr. K back to base leads the Rangers to discover a time capsule recording she made in the event Venjix won.

“End Game” (12/19/09) – Venjix loads Corinth with hybrids that he plans to use to bring the city down.

“Danger and Destiny, Part I” (12/26/09) – The city’s electricity is killed; Gem and Gemma are deleted; Dr. K is kidnapped by Venjix; and Dillon’s programming takes over.

“Danger and Destiny, Part II” (12/26/09) – Dr. K develops a new virus to combat Venjix, but it must be inserted into Venjix’s core to work.

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