Power Rangers Wild Force, known as Power Force Rangers in South Korea, is the ninth incarnation of the Power Rangers franchise, and the tenth season overall. It utilized footage from Toei Company, Ltd.’s 25th Super Sentai series, Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger. It was the last entry in the franchise to be produced by MMPR Productions, Inc., and the first to begin what’s known as the Disney-era after Disney purchased the Saban Entertainment library through their acquisition of Fox Family Worldwide.
|The floating island of Animarium.|
3,000 years ago, the land of Animaria was at war with the evil force known as Orgs, led by Master Org. Master Org was created specifically for the series, but his costume was recycled from the main villain of Gosei Sentai Dairanger, Gorma XV. Master Org destroyed Animus (Charles Gideon Davis), a god-like Megazord who protected the land, but was eventually beaten back by the Power Rangers and Merick Baliton (Philip Andrew) after he had donned the legendary wolf mask to achieve its powers. But the mask corrupted Baliton into the Duke Org (a higher-ranking Org) Zen-Aku (Dan Woren & Lex Lang) and forced the Rangers to defeat him and imprison him in a tomb. To protect it from the Orgs, Animaria was elevated above the Earth and became the floating island Animarium. It left a turtle-shaped lake back on the ground, which served as the inspiration for the future city of Turtle Cove.
|Richard, Elizabeth, baby Cole and Viktor before the expedition.|
In the more recent past, scientists Richard (Jack Maxwell) and Elizabeth Evans (Ana Bianco) traveled to the Amazon to find the lost kingdom of Animaria along with their colleague, Dr. Viktor Adler (Ilia Volok), and their infant son, Cole. They came upon the remnants of the original Master Org and Adler, jealous that Richard married Elizabeth, ate seeds found there to become the new Master Org and exact his revenge against them. They left Cole and lured Adler away, only to die by his hand. Cole was found and raised by a tribe of natives who were, in fact, descendants of the people of Animaria.
|Adler as Master Org.|
Master Org, now revived, began to reassemble his army. Two of his Duke Orgs, Jindrax (Danny Wayne Stallcup and initially voiced by Richard Cansino until it was decided his voice didn’t match the appearance) and Toxica (Sin Wong, sometimes Rei Saito in Sentai footage), had hidden in human form after Master Org’s defeat centuries ago. Once they felt the Master had returned, they shed their human guises and eagerly rejoined his ranks. They provided the seeds to make the other Orgs grow to giant size. The majority of Master Org’s forces were the Putrids, which used clubs that fired energy blasts.
|The Wild Force Rangers.|
With the return of the Orgs and rampant human pollution, Princess Shayla (originally Natasha Allas, but replaced by Ann Marie Crouch after filming had started) was awoken from the slumber she had been in on Animarium. She was tasked with recalling the Wild Force Power Rangers back into action. Her first recruit was Air Force pilot Taylor Earhardt (Alyson Kiperman), who had crashed near Shayla’s home after seeing the Yellow Eagle Wild Zord flying near her. With her training and no-nonsense personality, she became the Yellow Eagle Ranger and leader of the team; even going so far as to write a rule book. The next recruit was Alyssa Enrile (Jessica Rey), a kind and nurturing university student, who became the White Tiger Ranger. Next was Max Cooper (Phillip Jeanmarie), a training professional bowler that became the Blue Shark Ranger after he helped rescue two women from an Org attack. The last was Danny Delgado (Jack Guzman), a gentle giant florist who became the Black Bison Ranger. Each gained an Animal Crystal containing an image of their suit animal before officially becoming Rangers. This was the first time the Rangers were shown to be active without a Red Ranger.
|Cole (center) acclimating to his new environment.|
When he reached the right age, Cole was given items he was left with as a baby: a picture of his parents and the Red Lion Crystal. He was sent to find his destiny, which took him to the city of Turtle Cove. There, he was recruited by Princess Shayla and the Power Rangers to become the Red Lion Ranger. Because being the Red Ranger meant Cole was automatically the leader, this put him at odds with Taylor--especially when he tried to offer different solution to dealing with Orgs, rather than merely fighting them.
|Princess Shayla in the temple.|
The Power Rangers operated out of a temple on Animarium where a magical pool alerted the Rangers to trouble on Earth and sent them into action. The island also served as the home of the Wild Zords, where they were charged with watching over Shayla and who lent their powers to the Power Rangers when needed. Along with the Yellow Eagle, there was the Red Lion, Blue Shark, Black Bison and White Tiger. Other Wild Zords would also come to be utilized by the Rangers, including the Elephant, the Giraffe, the Bear Brothers Black Bear and Polar Bear, the Gorilla, the Rhino, the Armadillo, the Deer and the Falcon. The Wild Zords could come together in different variations to create various Megazords or weaponry for them. This was the highest number of Zords in the franchise at 22, with each Ranger utilizing 3 (save Max, who only had 2). Even more Wild Zords were designed in great detail by Toei and some were shown at the end of the series, although they played no active role. This was the first entry in the franchise where the Zords were shown in full CGI prior to their combination into a Megazord. Props were still occasionally used for close-ups.
|Wild Force weaponry.|
Each Ranger transformed through the Growl Phone, which resembled cell phones and could be used for communication, and exhibited attributes of their respective animals. They all also had a Crystal Saber; a dagger with a slot in the hilt for their Animal Crystals to be inserted and summon their Wild Zords. Independently, they had their own signature weapons: Red had the Lion Fang, a stylized glove that could be separated and worn on both hands, and the Falconator, which served as a crossbow; Yellow the Golden Eagle Sword, which could be used as a blade or fire feather-shaped dirks, and the Armadillo Puck; Blue had Shark Fighting Fins, two daggers that were held along the forearms, and the Sword of Pardolis, which resembled a gladius; Black had the Bison Axe and the Rhino Shooter, which resembled a rifle; and White had the Tiger Baton and the Deer Clutcher, a grappler. The primary weapons could be combined to form the Jungle Sword, which delivered a devastating savage slash attack, while the secondary combined to form the Jungle Blaster which delivered the savage blast attack. Cole eventually gained the Falcon Summoner, which could serve as a blaster or bow and could summon the Red Falcon Wild Zord when docked with his Crystal Saber. The Wild Zords also gave the Rangers access to the Savage Cycles, and later Cole was given the Wild Force Rider and Animarium Armor.
|Danny and Kendall at work.|
Power Rangers Wild Force debuted on February 9, 2002 on FOX as part of the Fox Kids programming block. It ran there for the first 26 episodes to fulfil a contractual obligation. However, once that contract expired, Disney moved the show over to Disney-owned ABC to become part of the new ABC Kids programming block (which replaced Disney’s One Saturday Morning). Because FOX didn’t want Cole’s parents to be killed on the show, the producers initially promised them that Jindrax and Toxica would end up being his parents brainwashed into Master Org’s service. However, after changing networks, those plans were quickly forgotten. The recurring character of Kendall, Mark’s love interest, was played by Sandra McCoy. McCoy was originally cast as Alyssa, but was given the new role when fight coordinator/director Koichi Sakamoto demanded a role that his wife, Motoko Nagino, could double for. McCoy’s voice as the White Ranger was heard in an early promo for Fox Kids. Wild Force would be the last time the Yellow Ranger was gender-swapped from the Sentai, as future Yellow Rangers in the Sentai series would be female.
|Three of the Orgs: Mandilok, Toxica and Jindrax.|
Wild Force was kept as close as possible to the original Sentai, going so far as to feature a narrator (Dave Mallow) for the first time in the franchise, using the Sentai designation of “Orgs”, and retained the same monster names. Even the transformation sequences were directly lifted from Gaoranger, with the American Rangers’ heads superimposed over their counterparts. Producer Jonathan Tzachor hired Japanese directors who worked on the Super Sentai shows to work on this one, despite many of them barely speaking a word of English. Writers on the series included William Winkler, Derek Rydall, Jill Donnellan, Katherine Torpey, Suzi Shimoyama, Bergen Williams, and Amit Bhaumik. Bhaumik also served as the series’ story editor, and prior to the series ran the website Power Rangers Online Archives. Lior Rosner, Paul Gordon and Drew DeAscentis were the composers.
|The Lunar Wolf Ranger.|
During the course of the series, Zen-Aku was freed from his prison to renew his attack on the Rangers, complete with three Wild Zords of his own: the Alligator, the Wolf and the Hammerhead Shark. Together, they combined to form the Predazord. He also had the ability to freeze and steal the Animal Crystals, taking possession of their Wild Zords and allowing them to merge with the Predazord. After the Rangers managed to defeat the Predazord, the curse on Merrick was removed and he was separated from Zen-Aku. In trying to make amends for his time possessed, the Wild Zords came to Merrick’s aid, giving him the Lunar Caller and turned him into the Lunar Wolf Ranger. As the Ranger, he had a Lunar Cue (basically a weaponized pool cue) which could serve as a saber, blaster or could launch Animal Crystals at foes.
Another return was the long-thought-dead Animus. Animus’ spirit form helped the Rangers on several occasions, including in freeing Merrick from Zen-Aku. After Cole destroyed Master Org the first time, Animus was returned to physical form in the guise of a boy named Kite (Ryan Goldstein), who took his name after seeing a kite flying overhead. Once Kite regained a sense of his true identity, he could shift between his human and Megazord form at will, or even into his component parts: Black Lion, Condor, Saw Shark, Buffalo and Jaguar.
|Wild Force and Time Force casts together.|
For the annual team-up episode, Wild Force was joined by the Rangers from Time Force for a two-part episode, “Reinforcements from the Future”. Mutant Orgs, called Mut-Orgs, were created in the year 3000 in the mutant Ransik’s (Vernon Wells) earliest days before he set up his empire. Freeing the Orgs, they took on some of his mutantcy to become even more powerful and turned his body into a living weapon as payment, which was how Ransik was able to turn his bones into weapons. They traveled back to the past where they encountered Wesley Collins (Jason Faunt) and Eric Myers (Dan Southworth). The two Rangers tracked the Mut-Orgs to Turtle Cove where they teamed-up with the Wild Force Rangers, but were easily overpowered until the Time Force Rangers, with Ransik and Nadira (Kate Sheldon) in tow, came from the future to help. Originally, the plan was to use the Three Org Brothers from Gaoranger: The Fire Mountain Roars, but those costumes were destroyed in a fire. The Mut-Orgs were created by combining pre-existing suit parts and were named after noted Power Ranger fans: Takach (David Lodge) for Jason Takach, Kired (Lodge) for Derik Sim, and Rofang (Kim Strauss) for Joe Rovang.
Because this series was the 10th season of the franchise, a special 10th anniversary episode was commissioned called “Forever Red”. It reunited 10 of the Red Rangers from all of the incarnations into one epic story. Included were Jason Lee Scott (Austin St. John) from Mighty Morphin, Aurico (Christopher Glenn in voice only) from Alien, Tommy Oliver (Jason David Frank) from Zeo, T.J. Johnson (Selwyn Ward) from Turbo, Andros (Christopher Khayman Lee) from In Space, Leo Corbett (Danny Slavin) from Lost Galaxy, Carter Grayson (Sean Cw Johnson) from Lightspeed Rescue, Wes, Eric and Cole. The inclusion of Southworth’s Quantum Ranger sparked debate amongst fans since even though his coloring was red, he was considered a sixth Ranger and not a Red one. But, he was needed to round out the team to ten as Steve Cardenas, who played Jason’s replacement Rocky DeSantos, had moved without notifying the producers and was unable to be contacted in time for filming. His appearance as the Mighty Morphin Ranger was predicated on St. John’s ability to appear in any event. The special also included the brief return of Bulk (Paul Schrier) and Skull (Jason Narvy) to the franchise.
|Jason kicks some Cogs (top) while the new Machine Empire (bottom) readies to destroy the Earth.|
The special was centered on the remnants of the Machine Empire from Zeo seeking revenge on the Earth. They were led by General Venjix (Archie Kao, the Blue Galaxy Ranger), and included generals Tezzla (Catherine Sutherland, the Pink Morphin-Turbo Ranger), Gerrok (Walter Jones, the original Black Ranger), Steelon (Scott Page-Pagter) and Automon (Dave Walsh), as well as a legion of Cogs. They retrieved the Zord created by Lord Zedd in Mighty Morphin, Serpentera, from the moon as part of their plans. Andros discovered this plot and led to the assembly of the Red Rangers in order to combat them. With the aid of a newly constructed Astro Megaship II and Alpha 7 (Richard Steven Horvitz), the Red Rangers took the battle to the moon in order to proactively send the Machine Empire packing. The entire episode was filmed new, with the only Sentai footage being on a monitor in a scene and the morphin sequences that used them originally. The Machine Empire Generals’ costumes were all recycled and modified from Big Bad Beetleborgs and Beetleborgs Metallix, with only Venjix’s having come from a villain in that series while the rest were heroic characters.
|Red Rangers ready to battle.|
“Forever Red” was originally conceived as being an extra-sized special, but the decision was made to make it a regular episode resulting in several scenes and lines of dialogue either being cut or scrapped from filming at all. Episode writer Bhaumik would go on to later reveal several concepts he had to abandon due to the short running time, including a falling out between Tommy and Jason following Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie that would be resolved in “Forever Red”; a potential prequel episode that would have Jason meeting and teaming-up with the Silver Guardians from Time Force; explanations on how some of the Rangers reacquired their powers after having lost them or moved on to other powers (a move Bhaumik felt would keep new viewers from being bombarded with continuity information, but which had led to fan controversy for years to come); and cameos by either Sutherland or Amy Jo Johnson as Kimberly Hart to establish one of them as Tommy’s wife. Bhaumik was also attempting to set up Tommy as a new Zordon-like character, mentoring the next group of Rangers while also being active on the field as a 6th Ranger. But Disney ultimately chose to go in another direction with Ninja Storm and Tommy was brought back much later as a main Ranger in Dino Thunder.
|The Wild Zords ride to battle.|
Unlike Time Force, the cast of Wild Force didn’t gel as well. No one was entirely disappointed that there would be no second season as Disney decided to move production from Los Angeles to New Zealand as a cost-cutting measure once the season finished. As a result, all of the crew and regular voice actors were let go in favor of mostly local crews and actors. MMPR Productions, the company Saban Entertainment had set up to exclusively handle Power Rangers, was dissolved and replaced by Village Roadshow KP Productions Limited. Saban itself was also renamed BVS Entertainment during production.
|The Predazord in Legacy Wars.|
As with other entries in the Power Rangers franchise, Bandai produced a line of toys and other merchandise based on the show. In 2002, THQ released a game for the Game Boy Advance developed by Natsume. It was top-down action game where a player could choose between each Ranger, and also assign additional Rangers to call for a powerful team-up attack. They could even choose between the various Megazords for the boss battles, which were quick time events. Cole and Merrick were playable characters in the console version of the 2007 game Power Rangers: Super Legends by Disney Interactive Studios, while Danny and Alyssa were playable in the Nintendo DS version. The entire cast was viewable in the game’s Hall of Legends. Danny was also included along with the Predazord in nWay Games’ 2017 mobile game Power Rangers Legacy Wars, as well as a mission inspired by “Forever Red”. Although they didn’t play a large role, the Wild Force Rangers were featured in BOOM! Studios’ 2018 crossover event “Shattered Grid”.
|The DVD cover.|
Walt Disney Home Video released several VHS compilations: Lion Heart containing “Lionheart”, “Darkness Awakening”, “Click, Click, Zoom” and “Never Give Up!”; Ancient Awakening with “Ancient Awakening”, “Wishes on the Water”, “The Bear Necessities” and “Soul Searching”; Curse of the Wolf featuring “Soul Bird Salvation”, “Curse of the Wolf”, “Battle of the Zords”, “Predazord, Awaken”; and Identity Crisis with “Revenge of Zen-Aku”, “Identity Crisis”, “The Ancient Warrior” and “The Lone Wolf”. “Forever Red” was included on the 2003 compilation DVD Power Rangers: The Ultimate Rangers. 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 2013 as part of the collection Power Rangers Seasons 8-12, and independently in 2016.