Once and Always

Some thirty years ago, probably while watching X-Men or Batman or whatever, there was a commercial for some new live-action tv show. Bright-colored superheroes with giant dinosaur robots. I remember it catching my attention because of the dinosaur aspect. While I was several years removed from my “main” “Dinosaur Phase” as a kid…it was still a “hook” for me. (Also thinking right now, Jurassic Park was due to come out around then, I believe, so there was that as well!)

While it caught my ATTENTION…I remember it looking kinda dumb and not really interesting to me; and I did not bother tuning in for the show’s premiere, nor watching it at all, really.

Until a few weeks later at a friend’s house when he wanted to watch it, so I watched with him, and he told me a bit about what was going on–there were 5 members of this super-hero team, but the “bad guy” (some space-witch) had created her own, evil versoin of one of the heroes with yet another color (green, instead of the heroes’ black/blue/red/yellow/pink). Apparently it was a multi-part series-within-a-series, and this was the 5th part. The evil guy also got a giant robot to oppose the others’, but was eventually bested by the red hero…and since he was actually just under a spell of the evil space-witch, when that was broken, he joined the heroes as the sixth and final member of their team.

I myself, typing this, know EXACTLY the show I’m talking about. And I feel like it’s so very obvious, and that I’m having a hard time keeping it vague thus far, just to set the stage, so to speak.

The show was Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, that episode was the “Green With Evil” part 5, the story having introduced Tommy, the Green Ranger and his mighty Dragonzord.

(Jumping ahead to 2017–that year’s “reboot” film included a scene that had JUST A FEW NOTES of the “classic theme music” and much of the audience in the theater CHEERED at that. For the “Power Rangers” generation that grew up/was “of the right age” for the original “Zordon Era” or “Mighty Morphin’ Era” or whatever, that’s gotta be one of THE most “iconic” pieces of music out there–along the likes of the ’90s X-Men theme, the Duck Tales theme, etc., I would think. At least, it is for ME)

Anyway…I was hooked. I started watching every day for each new episode. And the time being what it was, I made a point of recording each episode onto VHS…getting very good at pausing the recording for commercials to cut those out, and have my own quasi-“season on home media” as a result.

I was still in junior high, which was a few minutes’ bike ride from the house, so I’d get to watch that day’s Power Rangers episode, recording to VHS, and then dash out the door, hop on my bike, and get to school on time. (I was pretty certain I recalled it being on in the mornings–7:30am I think–but then doubted myself until discussing with a friend who ALSO recalled it being on in the mornings!)

All this rambling to get to probably the main point I was aiming for: Dad used to tease me about the show, watching it–he could see cleeeeeearly just how hokey it was (or, a term I recall really “learning” and glomming onto in college, “campy.”) I also recall one time him and Mom talking about it and his pointing out that the Black Ranger was…well, black. And something about the Yellow Ranger being (Asian? Oriental? I forget the exact word he used now). Stuff I had never consciously noted, connected, or taken any symbolic meaning to-or-from, nor picked up on.

Back in those days–I was still 12 in the summer of 1993–obviously, I wasn’t off in a bedroom alone watching tv, so anything/everything I (got to) watch(ed) was semi-supervised in that it wasn’t PRIVATE. So whether it was Power Rangers in 1993-1994, or Pokémon in the later ’90s, or whatever…Dad and Mom being around was a given, and there’s a certain association I still have memory-wise with that.

I’m not sure if any of those old self-recorded VHS tapes still exist–it’s possible that they came over to the current house when Mom and Dad moved in 2015. But it’s more likely that they were ‘left behind’ to go to the curb, no longer being relevant or such in an age of DVD-and-Blu-Ray and DVR and such.

By the time I get this POSTED, it’s been almost a week since Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once and Always dropped on Netflix. It’s a 30th-anniversary-special, about 58 minutes including a couple sets of end-credits. I thoroughly enjoyed it for what it was, though with a bit of cautious wariness. I’m not gonna pick it apart or give it any sort of detailed review HERE, as countless others have already reviewed the thing to death and done “10 things” and “20 Easter eggs” and “100 things you missed…” (…in MMPR: O&A) and frankly, a full review would be better placed in my now-long-neglected comics blog.

Watching the special sparked a bunch of memories for me–as ought to be totally, overtly obvious by all of the above in this post.

In context of the MMPR universe, “Once and Always” is reference to “Once a Ranger, Always a Ranger.”

But there’s a lot deeper to be found in (the/such a) title.

Sentimentality, symbolism. Dad may be gone from this Earth, from the physical presence of just a few weeks over 41 years of my life. But his being who he was, and what he’s meant to me, his significance…that did not stop that night in December 2021. He–his presence, essence, lessons, values, example, and so on and so forth–that’s all part of his “once and always” to ME.