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Old 10/08/05, 09:32 AM   #1
Kamen Rider Decade
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Cmdr Crayfish wrote:
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SirStack wrote:
He made no attempt to let us know. Nobody involved with the show made any attempt to pay attention to the audience being confused to hell. The ep has AIRED and we still haven't heard an excuse. Why is that?

BECAUSE BRUCE DOESN'T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT THIS SHOW NOR THIS FANDOM.
Well, and I don't think he needs to be demonized for that either. He shouldn't be lauded (remember when Quispy tried to spin "he's never watched the show" as a positive? He's a visionary untainted by preconceived notions about the series?), but it's NOT something we should be chastising him for.

Look, you and I don't work in Hollywood. We've never had to take a job creatively just to pay the bills. Is it really any different from being a short order cook or register jockey somewhere? PR was inordinately lucky to have so many people production-side who were emotionally invested in the series. Simple fact of the matter, people -- you aren't guaranteed your production staff likes the show they're working on. It's not their JOB to like the show, as horrible as it sounds. It's only their job to do the work required of them.

Yes, this is why you get awful shows like Stargate Infinity or Enterprise. Shows that exist solely to perpetuate a brand name and have nothing to do with quality. But think about how many people hated shows that others turned out to love -- Ellison hated Star Trek, and he continued to pitch good ideas for films when Paramount solicited him. Think about how many "it's just a show" people PR has had, including Chip Lynn. Mind you, Chip's love for PR was unquestioned, but he was still a realist about the franchise.

And you know, I could forgive SPD for that. I could forgive all of this if the show was good, or it was good PR. It is neither good nor PR. It is Dekaranger with whatever quality Deka presumable had pumped out. Go-nowhere US plots, storylines cast aside with no sense of rising and falling action...

You realize how difficult it's going to be to graft resolutions to the Magnificence, A-Squad, Doggie's wife, and Sky's dad atop the Deka finale? Plus getting rid of Sam. And tying up Piggy's storyline. And explaining WHAT the deal is with Mora and Gruumm's backstory, how he made her "as she was." And I make no bones, we're getting the Deka finale. You can tighten that up, you can reveal the Magnificence is Doggie's wife who betrayed SPD, you can reveal A-Squad Red is Mr. Tate as Derik and I long suspected and the team is forced to deal with both problems after Doggie and Kat are KOed... But neither is going to graft particularly WELL atop the Deka finale.

You know the show you're watching is bad when some of the most vocal, adamant SPD fans I know are becoming more and more depressed as the season goes on. When they start changing their stance from "I like SPD" (fandom suicide) to "I like SPD's cast." Well, hey, we all like SPD's cast. It's one of PR's top three casts EVER. They're suited to comedy, drama, and everything in-between.

This is how a ten-year-old writes. This is how BADFIC is written. It's a loose, constantly rewritten series of serial installments with one or two basic goals set long in advance and everything since written and rewritten on the fly, trying to both evolve a universe and maintain a status quo so when the resolution comes crashing down in the finale they can point to what they set up and say "planned it all along."

NS pulled one of the biggest reversals in PR history in its finale because the fans bitched that the mythology made no sense. If you ANALYZE Lothor's motives, the Abyss of Evil makes no sense. He wasn't lazy in every ep, he wasn't really fulfilling the bare requirements expected of him to complete the prophecy, he clearly WANTED to win a lot of the time. But fuck it. The audience is WITH him on the retcon. It makes NS so much better than it really is. Same with the Gem of Souls resolution. That can't work the way it was televised, and NO ONE CARES. It wasn't "ha-ha, we're smarter than you." It was hunkering down and trying to salvage what they could that was good.

SPD has been spinning its wheels until the finale. SPD is scared to do anything too huge, with too many consequences that might jeopardize their planned surprises. And they telegraph those surprises enormously, yet simultaneously dismiss them to the point where when they do throwbacks to them, you're shocked.

Universe construction. A-Squad has SWAT armor. Guns, the whole deal. And yet, SWAT is a new technology Kat developed? One apparently based on Sam's future technology, given some of the superficialities of the costumes. One that was STOLEN? And within one episode of the Battlizer's debut, the technology is compromised and made useless by the introduction of the SWAT armor? Isn't this backwards? RIC is obsolete technology. Shouldn't SWAT have been compromised, and Kat and Boom decide to give Jack a solo upgrade using an already heavily jury-rigged and largely irrelevant technology? WHY use RIC for a Battlizer otherwise? He's BROKEN half the time, that's been stated on the series repeatedly. He's antiquated technology.

The SWAT Megazord wasn't A-Squad's primary mech? It's PATTERNED on their designs. Shouldn't they have said it was, and it had taken so many months to jury-rig it to accept the authorization codes of B-Squad even in their SWAT form? It still gives Kat some drama for an episode, and it lets you acknowledge A-Squad beyond their designated "foreshadowing to the finale showdown between the teams." Hell, this way you address the fact that B-Squad's helmets have superficial design similarities to the Runners. The Flyers were made for A-Squad, and the Runners for B.

How many teams of Rangers does SPD have. Is the universe lousy with disposable, one-off morphers that can be used by any agent at any time? The monkey said Cruger had sent several teams of Rangers prior? But the bird said Earth's SPD outpost was the most advanced in the universe? And... Wasn't that why Sam came from a defeated universe; Earth fell to the Troobians and he had no backup?

All they had to do was say SWAT was an attempt to reverse A-Squad's gear and weapons so B-Squad could use them for coordinated tactics and strategies, something B-Squad never excelled in themselves and needed training for without reducing them to a bunch of clownshoes who devolved character-wise for a single ep.

Gruumm then reverse-engineered the technology from the captured A-Squad himself, and Kat and Boom had to design the Battlizer before the SWAT tech proliferated through Gruumm's goons. This isn't "I would have done this better if I ran the show," this would have done the FIVE EPS WE GOT ON THE SHOW, JUST AS WE GOT THEM, in a form that makes more sense.

The more you look at the universe of SPD the less it makes sense. Why do things happen? We've all fanwanked the explanation for why Sam is an energy being. He was pinned down somewhere when the portal opened and had to teleport himself into the vortex, which left him material in morphed form but in the intangible energy his mutant power uses to teleport matter in his human form. We all just collectively decided this without them ever explaining why. Stand back and look at that. "I'm Sam, and a ball of light!"

Nobody finds that weird. Nobody questions the internal logic of this. We've never even gotten an explanation why the portal did this to him, but not all the other things who were pulled through the portal. Isn't "alien energy being with no bodily form" so much cooler, so much more SCIENCE FICTION than what we got on the show?

We've never gotten the episode we all wanted, with Sam protecting his younger self. And perhaps an awesome character beat in there, as each reflects on how the other has changed in some significant way. Why bring Sam back if you're not going to do anything with the fact he IS Sam, and there's a Sam running around SPT? Could we maybe SEE Space Patrol Theta? Redress a set or two? Maybe reveal Bright is Sam's teammate and girlfriend in the future?

Oh wait, I forgot how Wormhole explained SPD's version of PR time travel. You overwrite the body of your past self. There IS no ten-year-old Sam running around at this point in time, and there won't be until Omega gets sent back to the future. God, not only does that invalidate 500+ eps of a quasi-realized form of narrative time travel... That cripples you storytelling-wise.

This is why SPD fails. It's not even really bad, it's just incompetent. Things are taken completely at face value and never addressed or dealt with. Syd's a spoiled rich girl and good at dozens of things, some useful and some useless! Bridge is a wacky tinkerer who sees the world through a slanted view! Sky is a conceited daddy's boy! Jack and Z use their thief wiles and street smarts to get out of sticky situations and charm people. When has ANY of this been pertinent to the show? Besides Sky. They do that a lot.

A better season would do lots of character beats. A better season would be doing "buttery" riffs every few eps. We'd have an episode at Syd's mansion, which Bridge declares to be "butlery." SPD has no real character beats to speak of. The character focals are either entirely surface elements or are Deka. Characters fluctuate along their paths of growth to whatever is best in service of their respective Deka plot hack. Because the destination is fixed -- in the finale B-Squad is the greatest team of Rangers SPD has ever had. Better than A-Squad. It's a given. So we get eps that fluctuate between Cruger TELLING THEM THIS and telling them how disappointed in them he is. Because the end result was locked in from the moment the premiere was written, and the road getting there is irrelevant. The journey means nothing in SPD. And I think that realization more than anything else is when the fandom turned on the season.

We're TOLD about all the great character stuff, we aren't SHOWN. Every device SPD needs to hinge an episode on exists purely internal to the framework of that episode, and is introduced as needed within that episode. There are no arcs, no recurring threads which grow and evolve in service of an overplot which links the season. Which is one of the first things you're taught not to do in writing. You can't do disconnected episodic television AND do evolving storylines.

But then, it's easy to critique in hindsight. It's easy to say "SPD isn't PR," we get that a lot. It's much harder to say "what is PR?" I have no doubts every commentary on SPD's deficiencies is met with at least one of those.

There is a fundamental distinction between Sentai and Power Rangers (one Jonathan Tzachor forgot in his later years showrunning). Though they share many similar elements and a common visual language, PR is not Sentai in any meaningful sense. The cultural mores of the two franchises could not be further apart. Each Sentai is in its own universe, isolated and unaffected by other seasons. Sentai never has to deal with the consequences of its backstory or dangling plotlines. PR is entirely consequence-driven. Each year leads into the next in one form or another.

Sentai is structured to be "skippable." One episode a week, no daily stripped run, and if an episode is preempted due to a storm or a ballgame... Tough shit. It's not going to get aired next week. You probably didn't miss much. Sentai would pace a season to have several touchstone episodes which examine and explore a theme, augmenting the appreciation of that storytelling element without actually DOING anything with it. When you slave PR to Sentai storytelling you get shit like FOUR "Jen and Wes learn to trust" episodes with the same exact plot.

The best shows are happy accidents. "Perfect" concepts which everyone understands immediately and can easily be summed up in under ten words. Ghostbusters is "ghost exterminators." Digimon is "emotionally broken kids with sidekicks who love them unconditionally." It took me a while to figure out how you'd summarize PR, but I think it breaks down to -- "Highschoolers and alien wizards fight assorted evils across creation."

PR should not be married to the high school concept (Space and LG avoided it to TREMENDOUS effect), but I believe the default concept for PR should always be teenagers who go to high school and save the world. Whenever PR simply tries to do "superheroes," it falls flat on its face. The Rangers are not comic book superheroes. Little Strong Man shows the tremendous gulf between these two ideas of heroism.

If you're not going to go the high school route, you need to know what route you are taking. A Ranger/Police/whatever academy is not high school. A Ninja Academy is not high school. Hogwarts is not high school. PR has this problem of wanting to introduce elements evocative of season one, but then not knowing what to do with them. Case in point, the hangout. MMPR's Juice Bar (like so much of season one) was cribbed from Saved by the Bell's "The Max." An all purpose hangout for unlikely concerts, impromptu martial arts demonstrations, and whatever else the plot required.

Lightspeed introduced the Aquabase galley (too late to make a difference), Time Force had Nick of Time Oddjobs, and Ninja Storm had Storm Chargers. In every instance, unless the plot required them for some purpose, they were never mentioned. They produced no wacky b-plots, no unexpected swerves, no surprises. Even worse, those times NS did try to use Storm Chargers they'd try to turn it into the Juice Bar and stage cooking demonstrations and the like there. At a sporting goods store.

DT was a return to form. High schoolers who hung out someplace and had civilian lives. Social lives. Peers. True secret identities in a meaningful sense. Despite the fact that over half the program has now aimlessly drifted from one Sentai-derived status quo to another, that is the most primal... Stuff from which true "PR" emerges. Space and LG knew why they weren't doing teens in high school. I doubt WF did.

PR doesn't just have aliens and wizards, it has alien wizards. Sorcerers using incredible super-technology spanning galaxies and tens of thousands of years. PR is never simply about science or magic over one another, it's about both run together in inventive ways. Up until about Lightspeed and Time Force, PR understood that -- and when TF would try and introduce magic (like Wes' ancient Battle Fire armor), the graft was so jarring over the otherwise unrelentingly tech-y Timeranger that it became downright comical. Forever Red is a great episode -- in a season otherwise bereft of technology or "created" Zords. Taken solely as a part of Wild Force, it makes absolutely no sense. NS and DT were the first time in years PR had again mastered the science/magic balance so necessary to the franchise's ludicrous suspension of disbelief.

As much as we deride season one MMPR (and god knows I do), it was heir to something remarkable. PR was co-developed by Tony Oliver, one of the voice actors and writers on the series Robotech. Robotech grafted three wholly unrelated anime programs together, creating a generational saga about an alien fuel source spanning worlds and two major galactic civilizations. It was incredible. Robotech had the freedom to grab what elements it needed from the source material and aggressively redialogue the material in order to take those elements to the fore.

PR has a similar freedom of scope. Can you imagine doing anything like MMPR with Jetman or GoGoV as the central element? Somehow Oliver had the vision of what could be done with Zyuranger's gorgeous aesthetics and "blank slate" storytelling approach, how two of the villains could be made into flying monkeys and force the fantastic Oz aspects to the fore. And yet, like Robotech was Southern Cross and Mospeda slaved to a reinterpretation of Macross, PR was Dairanger and Kakuranger slaved to a reinterpretation of Zyuranger. PR was such that further Sentais like Ohranger or even Gingaman could be bent almost unrecognizably out of shape in stark defiance to the source material in order to accommodate "PR" elements.

Megaranger was a "space" Sentai that never went into space. I've seen the original concept artwork, with jet harnesses taking the team into orbital battles. It was gorgeous. Saban Entertainment clearly looked at that concept art, looked at the finished high school dramedy Megaranger, and said "fuck it, we're doing space." PR used to be free enough that it could work in utter defiance of the source material and it held together. Most of the sequences in Space that had the Megaship out of Earth's orbit looked awful, but the narrative weight of the program held it together.

Dekaranger is "space police" who never go into space. And rather than work around this, rather than do "to protect and serve the galaxy," the show gets dramatically repurposed around episode twenty to make the tagline "defenders of Earth."

What are Gruumm's motives? WHY does he stripmine planets? What does he do with the raw minerals? What kind of empire are the Troobians? Are they a military caste? The earlier episodes say he's emperor of a military, not an empire. Does Gruumm have vast holdings elsewhere he's unable to recall, ala Benaag? When did Gruumm arrive in the Sol System? He'd been in transit for months, but he's clearly there by Wormhole. Shouldn't they have noted when this momentous change in the status quo happened?

Lord Zedd had vast holdings. He ruled the entire Dark Galaxy and left Rita in charge of the Milky Way ten thousand years ago. When he came to supervise Zordon's destruction himself the whole operation went to pot, and by season three his former domain was in the process of being taken over by Master Vile's outriders. Zedd wasn't calling in his forces to kill Zordon, he was ignoring them to the point where his ENTIRE EMPIRE COLLAPSED OFF-CAMERA. And suddenly he was using Rita's resources (including Finster making monsters) because he had almost nothing left of his own. The show knew what to say, what not to say, and how to realistically paint a very powerful threat solely being pissed away in a petty conflict.

The last time Zedd did anything of real awe of magnitude was when the brand new Serpentera rolled off the line midway through season two. If you go back and watch MMPR, it's remarkable how internally sensible the universe is. While clearly done after the fact, it's amazing how much the writers BOTHERED to get right. Rov observed that the original Rangers had an incredible fear of Megazord fights in a populated area -- due, no doubt, to the damage Rita and Goldar both caused in the events of Day of the Dumpster. Rita tore up much of Angel Grove looking for the Command Center.

PR has an incredible depth of substance underneath its glossy surface. Its own concept of time travel, its own concept of physics, its own concept of spirituality. These things remain largely consistent from year to year, growing deeper and more interesting and dynamic with each passing year. When you simply copy the surface elements of the Sentai and never bother to elaborate on what resides under that surface you can't making PR. You're very badly dubbing Tokusatsu for an American market. It's what PR does underneath the surface of the Sentai that makes it its own unique beast.

PR was not afraid to bring Elgar back for Space, knowing that so dark a villain cast needed comic relief even though it would require reshooting almost all of the Sentai fights. Because they were going to have to do that anyway, they resurrected Darkonda long after he'd been killed in Mega, and many of his fights weren't usable anyway (using children as human shields in fights, etc.).

PR used to have an implicit understanding that at least 70% of the show is going to have to be reshot anyway, so there's no reason to bother matching most of the surface elements in the Sentai fights. The Sentai fights exist to serve ends which ought to be (and usually are) irrelevant for PR's type of storytelling. I honestly thought after Mesogog commended Lothor on how loyal Zurgane was that he might actually jump ship and come to work with the DT villain cast for the remaining nine episodes. Lothor had always ignored the hyper-faithful Zurgane, and Mesogog had lacked loyal underlings. Even though they didn't, the fact they acknowledged how utterly different their operations were run in the teamup delighted me. PR used to do this sort of thing a LOT.

From about the time of Lightspeed Rescue the show had become more and more Sentaized and disconnected from itself, and Doug managed to bring back a sense of a shared universe. Lothor passingly mentioned he'd punt Marah and Kapri into the wormhole in Earth orbit that leads to Lost Galaxy space. That only appeared in LG and LR. Never clarified as such, simply stated as a fact which could be verified by a fan who paid attention. It costs nothing to do these things, and they so enrich the sense of how dynamic and evolving PR is.

It doesn't really matter what kind of villains the Rangers fight; where they come from, what their motivation is. Bandai's going to hock them as Evil Space Aliens, and their motives will almost never intersect with one another aside from the whole "ruling the planet" thing. All that's ever mattered in terms of this franchise is the nature of the Rangers as a unit, as an entity unto themselves in this universe.

The great unifier of this franchise is how diverse it can be from itself, provided people understand the narrative laws which govern this universe. There IS no reason for the Time Force and Ninja Storm Rangers to meet, even though Wes and Eric are commanding the Silver Guardians as Rangers concurrently to NS. Should a series of events arise due to the richness of the universe that would concern both, I have no doubts they would meet. Which is part of why contrived teamups are detested more by the fans than the absence of a teamup. If you don't have a good reason for them to meet, DON'T BOTHER DEFACING THE OLD CHARACTERS. It's not a tribute to the fans, it's an affront to them. Do something cool.

Space never did a proper five-on-five teamup. Instead it had the Phantom Ranger return for a couple episodes. It had Adam return for a single episode, continuing his mentor/pupil relationship with Carlos from Turbo. It had Justin return, resolving an obscure plot point from the Space finale and telling a rather sweet story in the process about how the team member "left behind" felt when the rest of his friends were risking their lives in deep space day after day.

Space is considered the greatest season of PR for a season. It knew what to defy and how to do it. It was the least formulaic of the PR seasons, and it knew to exploit the fact PR has a two-year audience turnover ratio. Half the kids who tuned in for Turbo because it had a boy their age as a Ranger stayed on because it ended with a cliffhanger, and most of the cast remained as Space Rangers. They had the time to introduce four new Rangers and give them their allotted character focus before the incredibly concept (and Red Ranger) driven Space. And because PRiS ended so openly and Lost Galaxy continued its thematic tones, they were able to keep much of the audience for that as well. And LG eventually DID pay off Space's storylines and characters.

Everything that is really wrong with Power Rangers began at Lightspeed Rescue. I truly believe that. A show that started treading water launched into high gear with the debut of the all-American Titanium Ranger and a really great, tense multipart storyline. And once Bansheera got her bodily form and they sent Ryan packing it all came crashing down. Twenty solid episodes of GoGoV plots and no forward momentum on any plots introduced in the American production until the very end. While the last four episodes of Lightspeed are probably among the best PR has ever produced, it came far too late to save the show. They conserving their energy for Time Force.

Time Force, the epic time-jaunting saga of a corrupt fascist regime and the charismatic militant mutant who sought to save his people. The story of a young woman forced into a role of leadership she never wanted after her fiance was cut down before her eyes, and a young man caught between them both who realized that maybe the utopia of the future really was a cesspool of corruption and decay. And then they got locked into the awful serial mythos of Timeranger, which included not one bit of time travel and instead spotlighted a corporate backed paramilitary group and their pet Ranger, Red's best friend and arch-rival from prep school.

Time Force, the season where after Eric gets his Megazord they simply GIVE UP and lock themselves into making the charismatic and morally right Ransik a raving lunatic. The cool and detached Mr. Spock robot Frax into a psychotic cyborg with an axe to grind and thousands of opportunities to kill Ransik he never takes prior to their surprise "twist" ending to a storyline. The season where having a rogue faction of villains out to usurp control from the other one peters out completely in the second half.

... Oh wait, Lightspeed did that too. And Dino Thunder. And apparently SPD. The only seasons that actually did it successfully were Space and Lost Galaxy.

At some point PR got locked into this formula where it was not only duplicating the worst excesses and traits of Sentai, it was duplicating them from Space. The Next Generation of PR. The GOOD one. The one everybody loved and revitalized a flagging franchise. The season no one, least of all the fans, really understands the mechanics of. The one that every year we get people whining they want another season just like, never understanding you can't do a season as bereft of characterization as Space without a wacky episodic Turbo to set it all up first.

It's just like season three. Married with Children on the moon. Fans point to it and say "make one of those." Not understanding that season three is pretty much empty of Ranger characterization. We'd already known half this cast for over a hundred episodes. The Rangers were bland and uninteresting, with no new ground to tread. The entire narrative weight of the show is transferred to Zedd and Rita's posse. They're the characters who grow, who change, who drive the focus of most of the episodes. Many episodes open on the moonbase, not Ernie's. They do arc after arc with intense continuity and intricate power struggles. It makes for FANTASTIC television, and it's an excellent water mark for what the show can do when the writers want to... But duplicating the beats on a purely surface level is missing the point entirely.

The trick to understanding PR is to look at these aberrations and understand you can produce FURTHER aberrations from the "norm" of the formulas. Like they already did. Not in the same tone or style as them, but... They could break the rules because they understood the rules. You can too. Open a sentence with a preposition if you KNOW the audience will support you doing it. Split infinitives.

Part of why nobody understands PR comes from analyzing the successes and failures of its knockoffs. VR Troopers was a spectacular failure because it believed it could hack two (and later three) unrelated programs together to any success. Without props or suits. With a smaller budget than PR. Turning Metal Hero shows into a "team" show. You can edit and redub 80% of the source material if you're able to repurpose the footage. Season one MMPR did so brilliantly. It had a Goldar suit and Putties they could stage fights with. They had that little "impossible" corner of Rita's balcony Goldar could stand on in US sequences and exposit from.

VR Troopers lacked even one general. It just wanted to adapt Metalder (it was originally conceived as a straight up Metalder hack), and it showed. It wasn't until season two they bothered doing anything significantly driven by JB and Kaitlin besides fighting ships in the Skybase -- and it wasn't until season two they had enough of a budget to understand the two things the show needed was a US villain base and US villain costumes. American Grimlord and American Doommaster and Despera were the salvation of VR Troopers, and it's when the show really became watchable.

A sense of how slaved the show felt to its source material -- it wasn't until episode seventy we saw all three Troopers fight together in US footage. It wasn't until episode eighty they realized if JB is getting a solo battle, they could have Ryan and KAITLIN together in US footage, rather than the eternal dichotomy of Ryan solo and JB and Kaitlin together. But since the show was syndicated and had a terrible toy line from Kenner, it still got canceled just as they figured out how to make it work. Shame.

If you can have a villain hold up a US prop for a wacky b-plot, or stage a fight in the park with a general, you have all the material you need to do WHATEVER the fuck you want with the source footage. You want to put somebody under a singing spell while you do a straight up Japanese fight, you can. You want to keep the Rangers busy while the Titanium Ranger is being bested by another monster in US footage, you can.

Masked Rider had the same exact problem. No Kamen Rider save two of the feature films were recent enough to have props they could use, and no Kamen Rider looked enough like another they could realistically edit them together. Still didn't stop them from trying. I believe by the time MR was over they'd hacked about five other KR programs/films atop Kamen Rider Black RX, the source series. When EVERY prop has to be replicated, when you have no monsters to use... The show is unwatchable pap.

Then comes Beetleborgs. The enigma. The show that got better ratings than PR for both years it was on the air, which remained a toyline for a third year without a supporting program to tie into. The show which didn't just ignore the source material, it violently destroyed it. Check it. Three tweens get powers derived from comic book heroes from the phasm of a haunted mansion who lives there with Universal movie monsters. They go to school, have stupid problems, hang out at the local comic shop, and are periodically bugged by the House Monsters while they fight the stupid comic book villains who live in the cemetery. Somebody didn't just pitch this show, FOX BOUGHT THIS SHOW. And it was rancid.

But then, come season two, something magical happened. Someone understood the kids sucked, and mitigated them internal to their own program. The kids became straight men to the House Monsters, who got to fight the creatures sent by the new, scary, intelligent, CREDIBLE villains. The school never appeared again. Zoom Comics appeared exactly ONCE. Beetleborgs Metallix understood that it could not be the show Big Bad Beetleborgs was, so it became a situational comedy starring horror movie monsters wrapped up inside of a rather dark little superhero program. With these bland twelve-year-olds trying to keep things sane in an increasingly crazy world. With great, intricate bits of continuity and maybe forty seconds of B-Fighter footage per episode. It was ridiculous how NOT-Tokusatsu BB was.

Metallix understood that you can't be purely beholden to doing either what the formula dictates OR what the source material says. It worked through the absolute mess that was the previous season and made difficult choices as to what "mattered" for BB. PR hasn't understood that for almost half a decade. PR's never had the chance to. PR became simultaneously too confident and too scared of itself. It has lasted so damn long, but it always teeters on the brink of oblivion. It doesn't take chances, and it doesn't understand that reluctance to take chances is precisely what's killing it creatively.

I think if you asked a kid today who his favorite Ranger is he'd say "Red." And if you asked which one he'd say "Red." All the old seasons remain in circulation, there's nothing really keeping him married to this one individual year because most PR's hang separately and he's inundated with different ideas as to what PR is... PR stopped mattering, stopped being a continuing, evolving show you needed to watch.

That's so horrible in its own way. Kids care more about the overall tapestry of PR precisely because there's nothing keeping them grounded to the here and now. They care because they want something to keep them watching -- is it any wonder the premiere of Lost Galaxy was the highest rated program in FOX KIDS HISTORY? Not just PR. FK. All that momentum from Turbo into Space into LG spilled over, and by the time LG could capitalize on that with a teamup and Karone the kids had left for Digimon. A sobering realization as to what their audience really wants.

But then, the fans told Doug the audience wanted scarier villains in 2003. And he didn't listen (nor should he have listened) until he asked the test audiences what they wanted, and the kids all agreed. Scarier villains. Which DT reflected. While shows should never listen to fans -- it's precisely what killed Trek as a franchise -- it shows the fans DO actually have some general idea as to what it is people in general want from this franchise. They've been pumped full of PR, they know it backwards and forwards.

The idea of "new viewer friendly" is an anathema to quality television. PEOPLE LIKE NUANCE. Not complexity, nuance. People like the idea of coming into something with a history and a backstory, provided you make it interesting and not a hindrance. I started Stargate in season four. I started Avengers in the #300's. I loved the idea these things had a history before I came into them, and I loved the fact they didn't make me feel dumb for not knowing them. They made things exciting and dynamic.

What people hate, and what most people lack the ability to distinguish when complaining about a program, is when a show throws references at you hard and fast, and you lack context. Buffy is TERRIBLE with this. If you don't start Buffy at just the right time, it's awful. I was fortunate I began Angel when I did, it was largely self-contained into its own mythos. If I had started Angel in season two or three I'd be just as fucked. Whedon shows in general are terrible with context. I've seen over half of Firefly so far and I can only remember Mal, Book, and Jayne's names. They aren't making an effort to get you up to speed.

This is why I don't like SPD. It doesn't make the effort to connect even the little things together, and make the whole more cohesive. The legos never link up neatly, they just stand on their own, aesthetically pleasing but distinct. Except SPD has neither Whedon's naturalistic dialogue nor Whedon's masterful story structure to save it.
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Old 10/08/05, 09:35 AM   #2
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Either way, I guess my main concern now is Mystic Force. Bruce has heard all of the pleas and cries and I know by this point in the series, it had to still be in production while we were complaining about things long left unfixed. So my main concern is, if he didn't care then, will he care now? Somehow, I doubt it.

I realize we shouldn't chastize someone for doing his job, but he seems to be our only outlet for the show. If he doesn't fix the problems, then it's all in vein, but if we speak up, maybe it'll finally sink in.

Well, and this raises the far larger question of -- is it Bruce's place to care? Yes, fine, nearly the entire fandom (or at least the "name" posters) have now turned on SPD. The ratings are supposed to be good. The toy sales are apparently good. If Bruce doesn't care about the history of the show, is it really his place to care about the fandom? He talks to Keith, he doesn't talk to people who critique the show. He doesn't post to the boards, he keeps himself isolated from any discourse.

And I think in a way that perception in the fandom, as much as refusing to watch the show, has damned him in our eyes. Because, gah. What can he DO? He's not just fighting the problems with SPD, he's fighting the fact the fans now see him as a cocky asshole who is just doing it for the money and cares nothing for the franchise. That's HORRIBLE! That's dehumanizing! If, god forbid, this show gets canceled while he's EP... He goes down in a psychotic, long-memoried fandom as the man who killed PR.

I mean, am I off? The whole perception of Bruce Kalish is that he doesn't want to engage in any kind of discourse about his own work. He just hangs back to bask in the praise. He will only talk to yes-men, which is far more damning than if he was a spectral figure who never interacted with anyone (like Jonathan Tzachor or Ann Austin). It's... I don't even really think any of this is his fault, but the lack of research is what made him a punchline to the fandom. If all you watch is the raw Sentai, the PR suffers. If all you listen to is the mindless praise, you never improve as a storyteller.

And this raises a whole score of related issues I don't even necessarily think are true, but still come bubbling up out of the primordial ooze -- like Jackie being completely marginalized as a writer. Oh, her work is usually as outstanding as ever, but much like Ninja Storm she's getting the worst episodes. When that many of them have none of the classic Marchand dialogue or plotting I'm left asking myself "who's rewriting her? It's supposed to be HER job to rewrite OTHER people."

Someone couldn't be MAKING these mistakes if they were listening to Jackie. She's been working on the show for over a decade, she's forgotten more about PR than I'll ever know. And yet... It's "ask Koichi." It's not "ask Jackie." The catchall answer to SPD's deficiencies in storytelling is to ask the stunt coordinator, who couldn't recognize the Machine Empire Generals were Beetleborgs suits when they were doing Forever Red. Not ask the woman who has been writing the show since the MMPR days.

I mean, god bless him for the incredible work he does -- Koichi's not a writer. If you asked him how Mr. Tate is using the Red Chronomorpher, he will have no answer. IT WAS AN ENORMOUS PLOT POINT ON TF THAT THAT MORPHER IS DNA-LOCKED. Only Alex Drake or people with DNA matching Alex Drake can use it. This was the status quo of the UNIVERSE when we last saw that prop. You can't just spraypaint Darth Vader's armor white and start calling him "Han" for a New Jedi Order television series. I'm sure that's an affectionate reference too, IT'S STILL STUPID.

Asking Koichi is pointless. He has no explanation. If it was "ask Jackie" then there's a good chance not only is there an explanation, we might actually get that explanation. Or, ya now, they'd have made it the Quantum Ranger. Who has no DNA lock on his morpher and thus absolutely no problems reusing for someone else.

You can't make fans work for narrative payoff, not in a shared universe this rich, this involved. That's more offensive than the absence of continuity -- and as Matt sad, SPD made me realize how unduly harsh we were to NS. Poor, misunderstood NS. Its worst crime was "the Rangers don't exist." The POSSIBILITY that it MIGHT be in a different universe from the rest of PR. I'd gnaw my own arm off for SPD to have said that.

I don't know, I think it's just tragic in a way. Kalish is going to go down as PR's Berman or PR's Bob Skir. And for all the problems he's raised in the fandom, and all the real damage SPD has done to the twelve years prior timeline-wise... He didn't deserve that. His great crime was hubris, the belief he could produce an incredible season without needing to watch over two hundred hours of television. He pressed all the wrong buttons in a very galvanizing fandom, and with a show that despite its low reputation is INCREDIBLY complex and involved to write for.

And ya know, the hell of it is that Matt's right. There's no saving MF. Because until Phil SAID saying you dislike SPD was okay on RB, nobody critiqued it. We were, what was it... "A small, vocal minority with no relevance who spite SPD because they lost their chance to write for the program under the Bhaumik regime." And once he said it was okay, the floodgates opened.

NS was flamed, unduly, from Feb of 2003 on. To the point where DT was pitched that May in the writers conferences as "how can we fix this?" Nobody was insulting MF, the fandom had not largely realized SPD was sinking fast, until... I'd say when SWAT aired. MF has already been outlined. MF has already been written for the most part, it goes in front of the cameras in a week or so. THERE IS NO SAVING MYSTIC FORCE. NO ONE KNEW ANYTHING WAS WRONG WITH SPD AT THE TIME.

And isn't that the really depressing part? Even if somebody could reach out to Bruce and make him understand, it's too late. Damage is already done. They'll have rappin' Defense from the Dark Arts teacher Smokey at Rangerwarts, we'll get more awful references that can't possibly fit the timeline, more literally hacked Sentai storylines, no real twists or originality or dynamic, evolving plotlines... The lead time isn't what it used to be. We're fucked. And maybe that's part of why the fandom turned so rapidly; the realization that no matter what, we're in for another year of this.

And then what? With two successful seasons under his belt, Bruce isn't going to listen to us. Not that he did before, but it drives the final nail in the coffin of PR ever being fixed. Why should he listen to us, the KIDS love the show. The fact he did what no one else has ever managed in over twelve years of this fandom, and produce an almost unanimously regarded WORST SEASON EVER... That's much less relevant to the bottom line of SPD's relative success.

But, of course, my favorite SPD strawman argument, and a paranoia I truly have? Nobody's memory is going to be erased at the end of the MF/SPD teamup. Because they're both Kalish teams, and they'll want the teamup to "count."
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Old 10/08/05, 01:25 PM   #3
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whoa now that's what I call spamming!!!
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Old 10/08/05, 02:25 PM   #4
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It's quite interesting to see the thoughts of someone who has been so heavily involved in the whole PR franchise. I won't make any opinions on this since having missed several PR seasons definitely invalidates any sort of relevant comment I could make. But if they think SPD has been so bad, they definitely have their reasons (and very well explained), although I can see why the show has been so successful ratings and popularity-wise.
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Old 10/08/05, 03:40 PM   #5
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WOW!!!
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Old 10/08/05, 09:50 PM   #6
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Can i have a summary, i did'nt read that book, i'm waiting for footnotes
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Old 10/08/05, 10:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Gold ranger@Oct 8 2005, 01:25 PM
whoa now that's what I call spamming!!!
You wouldn't know spamming if you lived off it.
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Old 10/08/05, 10:36 PM   #8
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Did you see that?
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Old 10/08/05, 10:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Gold ranger@Oct 8 2005, 10:36 PM
Did you see that?
Yes I saw you spam some more.
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Old 10/08/05, 10:51 PM   #10
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ryu I need your help!!!
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