Power Rangers: Operation Overdrive
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Power Rangers: Operation Overdrive

The pre-teem market in television is one of the most lucrative they have. Each generation of kids coming up have their own heroes to look up. When my daughter was that age it was Teenage Ninja Mutant turtles. The marketing was so good I still find turtle figures in draws and closets even through she is now in her twenties. One of the more popular and successful such action franchises is the Power Rangers. Now in an incredible fifteenth season and thirteenth series these super heroes are as popular as ever thanks to new stories and revamping the cast every so often. This latest season called ‘Power Rangers: Operation Overdrive’ is being released to DVD in several volumes. Volume one covers episodes one through six while volume two contains the next six. There are some 23 in all so there should be at least two more such sets. Volume three has been announced for November. The reason this series has lasted so long is its camp value. It is fun to watch, even for us adults far removed by age from the target demographic. It is based on the Japanese tokusatsu or special effects serialized action series and blending the typical hallmarks of that form with a westernized twist to appeal to the youth here in the States. Typically a group of about five regular human teens are given the ability to change into their super hero counter parts. The transition brings the trademark brightly colored outfits and access to a wide variety of weapons and vehicles that also can morph or join together for even greater power. The episodes contained in these DVD sets are fast paced, enjoyable to watch and has enough of a plot to keep the kids and adults interested. Now one thing that will be better appreciated by the younger sets are the over the top villains who are usually dressed in incredibly elaborate costumes. This may be best for the older pre-teens out there. The plot is complex with a lot of characters, artifacts and details to put together.

The current line up of the Power Rangers reflects their usual commitment to diversity. Mackenzie "Mack" Hartford (James MacLurcan) is a long time fan of every possible adventure story. In his regular life he lives in a world of fantasy often imagining himself as the protagonist of the pulp adventure novel he is currently reading. He is also the son of Andrew (Rod Lousich), a billionaire adventurer who formed the current Power Rangers and acts as their behind the scenes controller. Even though his father wants to protect his son he allows him to become the Red Ranger who possesses incredible strength. At the start of the series Dax Lo (Gareth Yuen) is working in Hollywood as a stunt man. Although his talents are not widely appreciated he is sure that he can make it in this difficult field. As a fan of practical jokes he can often get on the nerves of others. He becomes the Blue Ranger with the power of jumping vast distances. Veronica "Ronny" Robinson (Caitlin Murphy) is a stock car racer with a serious desire to win at all costs. She was pulled out of a race in Italy to become the Yellow Ranger capable of super speed. The most secretive and covert of the group is Will Aston (Samuell Benta), a freelance espionage agent. When he takes on the persona of the Black Ranger he gains greatly enhanced hearing and sight. Rose Ortiz (Rhoda Montemayor) is a genius level intellect at Wickerbridge University in London. Her expertise covers archaeology and mythology but is also a wonder at technology. As the Pink Ranger she has the ability to make herself invisible. Also aiding the Ranger is a special ranger, Tyzonne (Dwayne Cameron) an alien who comes to Earth. He has the innate ability to transform his body into mercury. Hopefully the spandex outfits and helmets with visors prevent the humans from becoming exposed to this liquid metal.

The five are gathered together as the Power Rangers in order to, as always, save the universe. The Corona Aurora, a powerful artifact once held a group of jewels with magical properties. Long ago fearing that they would fall into the wrong hands, their guardian, the Sentinel Knight (voiced by Nic Sampson) removed the gems and hid them on the planet Earth. The bad guys, Moltor (voiced by Mark Ferguson) and his brother Flurious (Gerald Urquhart) are freed and naturally the first thing on their minds is to regain the magical stones to ensure their universal domination. One obstacle to their quest is the sibling rivalry between the two. The only thing between them and the jewels are the Power Rangers and their fantastic weapons and vehicles. Now most teens once they get their drivers license want to get a cool car but nobody can beat the rides these kids get to use. Not only does each of the Rangers get a super powered vehicle they get a ancillary for backup. Each of these Zoids has a specific function and is assigned to an individual Ranger. For example the Red Ranger has a dump truck for his primary Zoid. This is not something that you would find on your run of the mill construction site. It can haul tons of material and is equipped with lasers and deadly claws. Another Zoid is the Speed Driver, capable of speeds that make the Indianapolis 500 cars look like buggies. Just in case it also mounts an arsenal of missiles. While each of the Zoids is formidable on their own they can maximize their power when they join together as the Magazoid, a humanoid looking machine.

The basic plot point used here is the tried and true plot voucher. With this device a series of often magical objects must be gathered together and usually reassembled. The way it usually works is you redeem the plot coupons to gain a denouement. It works here for the same reason as to why this device has lasted from the dawn of story telling; it provides a lot of action. It is perfect for an episodic story like this since it permits the writers to keep the action going and intensifying throughout the series. It also allows each Ranger to find themselves in a situation where there particular power or expertise is the only way to retrieve the artifact. As a parent this series demonstrates some excellent points for the kids. It showcases the importance of teamwork even when the members of the group may not always get along. This is the basic good versus evil tale with camp villains and a lot of action to go around.

Disney/ Buena Vista offer this series in six pack episode DVDs which is good for the parent who may not want to buy an expensive set for the kids. Between its affordability and action based episodes these sets are great to entertain the kids in your household. Each set has a running series of extras. There is an interactive game that builds with each set called Ranger Reserve Course.

Extras:

Volume One: In volume one you get level one, the Black Jewel; the Black Ranger is highlighted as well as the first stone of the crown. There is a featurette on the weapon.

Volume Two: In volume two you receive the second level featuring the Yellow jewel and the Yellow Ranger. The featurette is the second level weapons.

Volume Three: In volume three there is the third level of the game, Blue Jewel and a featurette on the vehicles.

Volume Four: In volume four you get the forth level of the game, Pink Jewel and a featurette on the Ranger's genetic enhancements.

Volume Five: In volume five there is the fifth game level, the Red Jewel and summation of what the Rangers have learned by the conclusion here.

This is a nice departure from the mindless cartoons a lot of kids get into and is something you can feel safe letting your kids watch.

Posted 09/19/07    Volume 1 and 2    11/20/07 Volume 3 01/26/07 Volume 4 and 5

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