Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue is the seventh incarnation of the Power Rangers franchise, and the eighth season overall. It utilized footage from Toei Company, Ltd.’s 23rd Super Sentai series, Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGoFive. This was the first true post-Zordon series in the franchise, as it featured none of the previously-starring characters, locations, props or an Alpha robot.
|The Lightspeed Rescue Rangers.|
Failing to learn a valuable lesson from Poltergeist, the fictional city of Mariner Bay, California was built on top of an ancient demon burial ground. The Demons had ruled over the land thousands of years ago until a powerful sorcerer encased them in the tomb where they remained until a group of nomads released them while looking for treasure. With them threatening the city, a government organization called Lightspeed Rescue stepped in to protect it. Headed up by Captain William Mitchell (Ron Rogge), he recruited five individuals to receive the Rescue Morphers created by Angela Fairweather (Monica Louwerens) that would project a Morphing Shield over the user’s body and give them incredible abilities. Chosen for their skillsets, the Power Rangers were Carter Grayson (Sean Cw Johnson), a firefighter; Chad Lee (Michael Chaturnatbut), a lifeguard and marine animal trainer at the local aquarium and amusement park; Joel Rawlings (Keith Robinson, who got the role after the original choice dropped out), a stunt pilot; Kelsey Winslow (Sasha Williams), an extreme sports athlete; and Mitchell’s own daughter Dana (Alison MacInnis), a nurse with aspirations of becoming a doctor.
|Diabolico, Vypra and Loki.|
The demons operated out of the Skull Cavern as they sought to destroy the city and restore their kingdom to its former glory. They were led by Queen Bansheera (Diane Salinger), who initially appeared in spirit form to control her minions before being restored to the physical world. Her ultimate goal was to open the boundary between worlds and free the remaining demons. Before her return, Diabolico (Neil Kaplan) led the charge after Bansheera granted him the Star Power; a red star-like gem that was a source of immense power. But, because of his repeated failures, Bansheera wanted the Star Power to go to her son, Impus (Brianne Sidall). Diabolico tried to kill the young prince to prevent that, but he was ultimately killed instead (for the first time--he got better) and the Star Power turned Impus into Prince Olympius (Michael Forest). One of Diabolico’s friends was the fiercely loyal, though dim-witted, Loki (David Lodge) who served as the muscle of the Demons. Vypra (Jennifer L. Yen, Wen Yann Shih & Kaya Hirasawa) was the only humanoid demon and was initially a motherly figure to young Impus, but came to resent him when he became Olympius. Jinxer (Kim Strauss) worked for all three of the Demon leaders and was highly skilled in summoning monsters and magic. Serving as the cannon fodder were the Batlings; bat-like warriors with energy-firing bladed weapons.
|Angela Fairweather and her crew in the Aquabase.|
The Rangers were supported by a full team of scientists and engineers headed by Fairweather and operated out of the Lightspeed Aquabase; an underwater military compound. This marked the first time in the franchise that the Rangers’ gear was completely man-made without a hint of mysticism involved. Amongst the Rangers’ equipment was the Rescue Blaster, which could serve as a blaster or baton, or be combined with the Rescue Bird. The Rescue Bird was the combined form of the Rangers’ personal weapons, which could fly to the Rangers on command or be reconfigured into the monster-destroying Uniblaster. Broken down, the Rescue Bird became the Red Ranger’s anchor weapon the Rescue Claw; the Blue Ranger’s mist-spraying Rescue Laser; the Green Ranger’s jaws-of-life styled Rescue Cutter; the Yellow Ranger’s Rescue Drill; and the Pink Ranger’s Rescue Injector. They also had the V-Lancers (retaining the “V” from the Sentai counterpart), which could be used as a blaster or a lance and featured a detachable boomerang-like device. Unlike previous Rangers, the opaque visors on their helmets could be raised to reveal their faces.
|The Omega Megazord.|
The Rangers’ transportation included the Rescue Rover, the Lightspeed Cycles, a Mobile Armor Vehicle, and a Trans Armor Cycle that could transform from a bike into armor. Each Rescue Zord was outfitted to the Rangers’ prior professions: the Red’s Pyro Rescue 1 looked like a fire truck; Blue’s Aqua Rescue 2 was a water tanker with water jets; Green’s Aero Rescue 3 was a small jet; Yellow’s Haz Rescue 4 was a hazmat truck; and Pink’s Med Rescue 5 was an ambulance. The five Zords could be combined to form the Lightspeed Megazord, or three of them for Hydro Mode, which was basically the Megazord’s legs designed as a fire control mechanism. Their secondary Zords were the Rail Rescues; five train cars that stored the other Zords and could combine to form the Supertrain Megazord. For space-based threats, the Rangers also had access to a third series of Zords: the Omegazords. Each resembled a space shuttle and could combine to form the Omega Megazord. An emergency Megazord, the Lifeforce Megazord, was also used. But, because it took its power directly from the Rangers’ lifeforces, it made it dangerous to pilot. Toei and PLEX had come up with entirely original Zord designs, but Saban declined their use due to expense.
|The Titanium Ranger, a Saban creation.|
In a first for the franchise, Saban Entertainment and PLEX created an entirely new Ranger without a Sentai counterpart. The Titanium Morpher was said to have been too unstable for use by a human and wasn’t used in the initial recruitment, but it was stolen by Diabolico and used to create his own Titanium Ranger to fight the others. That Ranger ended up being Ryan Mitchell (Rhett Fisher, who actually auditioned for the role of Carter), the long-lost son of William and brother of Dana. Years prior, a car accident left William only able to save one of his children. Diabolico appeared and offered to save the other but in return for keeping him. To save Ryan’s life, William agreed and Diabolico spent the next few years poisoning Ryan’s mind against his father and turning him evil. When Ryan was awakened to the truth, Diabolico gave him a Cobra tattoo that would grow each time he morphed and would fatally bite him when it reached his neck. This was done to keep the Titanium Ranger’s appearances to a minimum as they didn’t have the budget to try and integrate him while using the Sentai footage. The Titanium Ranger possessed a laser weapon, as well as his own Zord, the Max Solarzord; which could change into a train, a shuttlecraft, its own Megazord, or even combine with the other Zords to make the Lightspeed Solarzord.
|Queen Bansheera's second form.|
Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue debuted on FOX as part of the Fox Kids programming block on February 2, 2000. This became the first season where the rule of a Ranger’s identity being kept secret was ignored and everyone knew who the Rangers were from the outset. It was also the first time the Rangers were complete strangers before forming the team, and had outside occupations. Bansheera would become the darkest villain in the Power Rangers franchise, exhibiting no sense of humor and killing her own people to increase her own power. The series was written primarily by story editor Judd Lynn with Jackie Marchand, John Fletcher and Denise Skinner. The music was composed by Lior Rosner, Jeremy Sweet, Inon Zur, Shuki Levy and Haim Saban.
|The Lightspeed crew meets the Lost Galaxy crew.|
For the second annual team-up, the Lightspeed Rangers were paired up with the Lost Galaxy Rangers when Trakeena came to Earth looking to destroy it in revenge against the Rangers. This was fitting as Lightspeed was initially considered as a continuation of Lost Galaxy. It was the first team-up episode to receive a home video release, and was in fact released before the episode aired as part of a promotional arrangement between Saban and McDonald’s. That meant that several elements, including Olympius, the later Megazords, Vypra and Loki being loyal to Olympius, and power-enhancing Battle Boosters were seen before their official debuts on the show. While the video was shown in a movie format, it was broken up into two episodes for its airing and some scenes were removed.
|Trakeena's new look.|
Everyone was set to reprise their roles from Lost Galaxy, including Valerie Vernon as original Pink Ranger Kendrix rather than Melody Perkins as Karone. However, Saban attempted to cut the salaries of original Trakeena actress Amy Miller and Red Ranger Danny Slavin. Dissatisfied with the fact she’d be making less and have less screen time than 10-year-old guest-star Chelsea Russo, Miller abandoned the project entirely. She was replaced by Jennifer Burns, who wore a face mask to conceal the change. An on-screen explanation was given that Trakeena was covering scars on her face. Slavin filmed most of his scenes but left before production finished. A body double was used for scenes Slavin had not yet filmed, and Christopher Glenn provided the dialogue for Slavn’s remaining lines.
|The Lightspeed Rescue crew ready for action.|
Fans of Power Rangers initially disliked Lightspeed Rescue due to all of the differences from the previous years, but over time have begun to look more favorably towards it. When shown in reruns following the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York City, scenes of a skyscraper on fire in the episode “Curse of the Cobra” were removed. During production of the show, actor Robert L. Manahan died of a heart aneurysm on June 30, 2000. Manahan was the voice of original Ranger mentor Zordon from the second season of Mighty Morphin through the final episodes of In Space. “The Fifth Crystal”, which aired almost six months later, was dedicated to his memory.
|Back of the PlayStation game box.|
As with other entries in the Power Rangers franchise, Bandai produced a line of toys and other merchandise based on the show. Several video games were released in 2000 by THQ for consoles and Bandai America for home computers. The PlayStation version by Climax Studios was a beat ‘em up that loosely followed the plots of several episodes and featured voice clips from the show’s actors. The N64 version by Mass Media, Inc. was a top-down shooter that switched between character levels, Zord battles and flying/driving missions. The Game Boy Color version by Natsume was a platformer that contained five regular levels requiring the rescue of civilians, defeating Batlings, and defeating a boss with the Megazord. If certain criteria were met, a sixth stage featuring two Megazord battles with Diabolico would allow the Supertrain Megazord to be accessible for the earlier levels. The computer version by Red Sky Interactive was an activity center. In 2007’s Power Rangers: Super Legends released by Disney Interactive Studios, Carter was a featured character while the Titanium Ranger was included in 2017’s Power Rangers Legacy Wars by nWay Games. In the 2018 “Shattered Gird” event in the comics by BOOM! Studios, Carter and Chad were both seen and Carter was recruited by the other Rangers to help in the offensive against Lord Drakkon.
|The DVD cover.|
Fox Home Entertainment released several VHS collections between 2000 and 2002. Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue featured the episodes “Operation Lightspeed”, “Lightspeed Teamwork”, and “Trial by Fire”; Titanium Ranger Curse of the Cobra featured the episodes “Ryan’s Destiny”, “Curse of the Cobra”, “Strength of the Sun” and “The Cobra Strike”; The Queen’s Wrath featured “Wrath of the Queen”, “Rise of the Super Demons” and “The Fate of Lightspeed”; and Neptune’s Daughter featured the episodes “Ocean Blue”, “The Fifth Crystal” and “Neptune’s Daughter”. “Trakeena’s Revenge” was released on Power Rangers in 3D through select McDonald’s locations, and later in 2003 on DVD as part of The Best of the Power Rangers: The Ultimate Rangers compilation by Walt Disney Home Video. 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 2015.