Power Rangers: Jungle Fury
When many of us were growing up television aimed at kids was mostly episodic. That is one episode had little if anything to do with those that preceded or followed. This stand-alone approach to programming made things easier for the television networks since they didn’t have to be concerned with the order that the episodes where aired. It does appear that the youth of today is far more demanding that we were back in those innocent days of the fifties and sixties. Now they demand a far more complex storyline; one that can not be developed or resolved in a single episode. This has resulted in the producers of children’s television moving towards stories that are more like a grown-up continuing series that any kids television before. Another major change in youth-oriented television is splitting it up into more tightly defined age groups. Back in the day there were cartoons and some family-friendly live action shows but nothing targeted for the tween set. Now tweens drive the markets. For boys that can’t seem to get interested in Hannah Montana there is something the level of action they want. One of the most famous and longest enduring shows like this are the ‘Power Rangers’. This series is unlike most of what was made for kids. It is one of the longest running shows of its kind having started here in the States in 1993. It also has frequent and major changes in the cast and the direction of the show. This has kept it fresh over the fifteen years of its run so far. Usually there is a major story act that defines a particular season. The latest one ‘Jungle Fury’ is now out of DVD through its current distributors, Disney. While the girls are off making believe they are a rock star the boys are out playing Power Rangers.
A typical season of the series has 32 episodes. Disney has been breaking down the season into six episodes releases. So far we have the first two that cover episodes 1 through 12. I am sure the rest will come out on a regular schedule.
The Power Rangers was based on the Japanese tokusatsu, or special effects serialized action series. The episodes shown here are not just re-dubbed from the Japanese counterparts by the cast with English speaking American actors and given a more westernized slant. The typical format is a group of teenagers is given the ability to morph into martial arts superheroes. They also generally have specialized weapons and in most instances vehicles. When the need arises, they can join their vehicles together to create a super weapon. The colors of their transformed uniforms know the rangers. The colors are significant, and any changes to the lineups of characters remain true to the ever-growing backstory. For example, a yellow ranger is always female while a white range may be either gender and typically uses a sword like a weapon. All of the core ranges are expert in all forms of martial arts and usually, have to learn to fight as a team since each has very strong individual personalities.
For ‘Jungle Fury’ we get a new set of rangers. Casey Rhodes (Jason Smith) was tapped to become the Red Ranger. His spirit animal is the shark; always moving and deadly. As the ‘Red Ranger,’ Casey is expected to be the leader of the new Ranger group. He was trained by the gorilla to spirt. Taking on the mantle of the Blue Ranger is Theo Martin (Aljin Abella). His animal force is the Bat and was trained by the Antelope spirit. The Yellow Ranger is Lily Chilman (Anna Hutchison) and controls the Cheetah spirit and was trained by the Penguin. She is fun loving and one of the liveliest of this group of rangers. Having only three core rangers is a break from tradition, but that is ultimately part of the fun of the show; they play with the established format. There is two noncolor coded rangers to fill out the usual number of five. The Wolf Ranger, R.J. James (David de Lautour) wears a violet colored costume and can transform into a wolf. He has more of a position over the other rangers helping to train and arm them. Last, there is the Rhino Ranger, Dom Hargen (Nikolai Nikolaeff). He has a lot of difficulty fitting in and has been trying to become a master for years.
In the basic story, the evil spirit of Dai Shi has been roaming the earth for many centuries. He was once a multi-headed dragon that sought to control the world. He was defeated by the first of the Pai Zhua master. At the start of this story, he has escaped his prison and is once again on the loose. The Pai Zhua masters have to bring into existence three new rangers to train and hopefully defeat Dai Shi.
Set One: Into the Jungle
This segment opens with Theo, Lilly, and Casey as new members of a secret martial arts group. They are approached by the Masters and told that they would be given specialized training and weapons for a very important mission. It doesn’t take long before Dai Shi becomes aware of this and tries to use the infamous five poisons to defeat the still training young people. While the training has been going well, Theo receives a set back when he is bested in battle. This results in him gaining a more modest perspective and additional training. Theo is also somewhat upset with Casey becoming closer to Lilly.
Set Two: Way of the Master
RJ leaves Casey in charge of the pizza restaurant he owns. Casey wreaks havoc when he fails to take control as a leader and lets everyone do whatever they want. The trio learns an increasing control of their powers and begins to meld as a team. Things are upset when RJ is hurt Casey demands a new Master. This opens things up for the introduction of Master Finn. Now the team has to discover how to cope with different training methods. The Rangers also grow in their control over their weapons and their use of their spirit animals.
Unlike the previous season DVD sets, this one is plain vanilla so far. There are no extras provided. Typical of all seasons of the Power Rangers this is a battle royal between good and evil. There are the usual subplots of feeling isolated and difficulties in fitting in that speak directly to the target male tween audience. This is what has made this show so enduring. The core values stay the same, there is also plenty of martial arts action, and the cast is constantly changing. There is continuity in this series that flows from one season to the next. This has the effect of building a much larger context for each season arc to build on. This is also something that the parents will find easy to get into. The Power Rangers has been around long enough may have been exposed to one group or another. In any case, this is a series to start collecti
Posted 12/11/08 (parts 1 and 2) Posted 08/04/2018