The Power Rangers Seasons We Never Saw
There have been a number of Power Rangers pitches that never quite made it to the screen. We've got the details on three...
The world of television is a crazy place. For every idea that eventually makes it to screen, a hundred more are left unused. Some of them are true gems, others are discarded for the realities of production, and some are just plain bad. Power Rangers is no exception to this. For a show that’s been on for twenty years, a lot of ideas have been lost for one reason or the other: Greg Aronowitz's original idea for a Lord of the Rings version of Mystic Force, Devin becoming the Triassic Ranger, and even the fabled “Ancient Rangers.” Whether all these would have happened, or if they were even true, still provoke fandom discussion to this day. Today we’ll be discussing three such ideas from Amit Bhaumik.
For those not in the know, Amit was a fan of Power Rangers before he was promoted to story editor for Power Rangers Wild Force. He wrote the seminal “Reinforcements from the Future” and fan favorite, “Forever Red.” When Saban bought back the franchise from Disney he also wrote for Power Rangers Samurai. Since then, Amit has kept intermittent contact with the fandom, providing several “pitches” for Power Rangers seasons that were never to be.
Power Rangers: Hexagon
Intended as the season to follow Wild Force, Hexagon has long been a hot topic of discussion amongst the fandom thanks to information leaking out over the years. It’s certainly an ambitious idea. A team-up season of Power Rangers finally bringing together the continuity of several seasons that seemed mostly divorced from the “Zordon Era” of the show.
Story: Hexagon would have featured two factions of Rangers, Tommy Oliver’s Hexagon, a government style organization of united Rangers, and Jason Lee Scott’s Beetle Rangers that were to operate outside this network of superhero teams and oppose the united structure of the Hexagon. The main conflict of the season would be derived from a “Which side are you on?” between the three Hexagon Rangers and the three Beetle Rangers (Featuring a US exclusive female ranger). Jason and Tommy would have come to blows once more in the conflict and Tommy was going to end up as the villain of the series. The Hexagon Rangers would have rebelled and showed Tommy the error of his ways, who would then disband the Hexagon.
The season was meant to clean up the Ranger universe, answering long-standing issues such as how the hell Earth developed Terra Venture, bringing back Scorpina and Lokar, and even feature a team up with the anti-Hexagon Wild Force team.
Comparison To What We Got
When Power Rangers was bought by Disney they moved production down to New Zealand, nixing any possibility of Hexagon. What we got was Power Rangers Ninja Storm, a more lighthearted season trying to recapture the magic of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, albeit with ninjas instead of dinosaurs. With a light-hearted tone, the Rangers saying DUDE every other word, and the extreme sports bent; this was the exact opposite of Hexagon. The only surface similarities were the conflict between what became the Wind and Thunder Rangers, which had more to do with the Sentai footage they were obligated to work with that year than anything else. That conflict only lasted for a handful of episodes at the start and they worked together just fine the rest of the season.
The other major difference was that Tommy was going to assume what became the Green Samurai Ranger’s powers, thanks to sharing the same color and gold shield of his first set of powers. Ninja Storm opted for having their tech wizard, Cam, take up the mantle midway through the season and even introduced a comedic “Cyber Cam” into the mix. The season also featured a ton of fourth wall breaking humor, including the main villain exclaiming in the final episode, “This is the most fun I’ve had all season!”
Could It Have Worked?
A lot of fans bemoan this season was never made. I myself was always intrigued by what little I had heard of it over the years. Then I finally read the pitch. This season never would have been made. Not in a million years. At the time, Power Rangers was on an ever-dwindling budget and the team up extravaganza they’d pulled in Wild Force, “Forever Red” was only made thanks to toy company Bandai, who stipulated they’d foot the bill if a new toy would save the day. If that special barely got made, how would a season filled to the brim with appearances from past Rangers work? The pitch describes a team up with nearly the entire Wild Force cast, Joel from Lightspeed Rescue flying the rangers around in a super jet, along with Jason and Tommy being main characters. This would have shot the cost of the season right through the roof.
As described in a previous article, Power Rangers is often slave to its Sentai footage. It has to use a certain amount to keep the cost of production down. All of these new plots would have required an enormous amount of US original footage and fights, especially with a US exclusive Ranger. Lightspeed Rescue was able to pull it off with the Titanium Ranger, but he had to be sidelined because they just couldn’t afford to film so many new fights. Hexagon would have been far too costly to produce.
Even with all the budget in the world, would Hexagon still work if they did have the budget? No. The season comes off like fan fiction. It goes out of it’s way to work in continuity references, such as making the building of Terra Venture part of a grand conspiracy, revealing the Phantom Ranger’s identity, and explaining how some of the Red Rangers featured in “Forever Red” regained their powers. I don’t mind continuity, I think when used properly it can be a great asset to the show...but Hexagon tries to do too much. It’s needlessly bogged down in the universe of the show. A season of Power Rangers should be tied into the universe, but never be slave to it. It needs to be able to stand on its own and tell a complete story.
Hexagon’s fan fiction like nature comes from its need to explain so many minute things about the show while also rewriting certain things to give them a backstory where none were needed. I also somehow doubt Amit wrote all of this back in the day. At the time he would have been coming up with ideas for Hexagon, Hurricanger wouldn’t have finished airing. There’s no way he could have known if the Sentai would have had the footage to support his ideas but it seems he was just going to film most of it with original footage anyway. He had an idea for how the season would work, and he’d just cherry pick whatever footage fit that story. I stress again, this isn’t how Power Rangers works. You can tell an original story, have an original over plot, but you are required to use that footage.
Hexagon was also conceived around the time Power Rangers was moving more and more to being more or less a direct translation of Super Sentai. Wild Force was nearly a carbon copy of Gaoranger, so how would a season like Hexagon have even gotten past the pitch to the executive producers? I know a lot of fans point to this pitch and say this is how Power Rangers should be all the time. While sure, a little more usage of continuity would be fun as a long time fan of the show, but the realities of production make that extremely hard to pull off.
He even goes out of his way to get in a dig at the recent 35th anniversary of Super Sentai, Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, saying that they limited themselves to having the returning characters be more fan service than creating a consistent universe. One, Super Sentai has never been a consistent universe; they’ve always been more or less separate. Two, those cameos got the tone of their individual seasons and were fun. You don’t need to have a ton of references to continuity to make a season enjoyable for long time fans. I’d much prefer to see a character in their natural element then Rangers fighting in a needless war against each other. Or having Jason be “on the run” from the law. Because when I saw Jason running through the desert in Zeo with a duster and sunglasses on, that’s totally what I thought was going on.
Power Rangers Samurai
With Power Rangers firmly back in its control from Disney, Saban began production on the 18th season of the long running franchise. Amit was contacted and created this outline for his ideas on how Samurai Sentai Shinkenger could be adapted. Keep in mind, this outline was “created independently and not commissioned.”
Story: Mark Ozawa and Keiji Ayakawa are sparring in a dojo located in Stone Canyon when suddenly the Dread Castle rises from the earth. The two rush to do battle with the evil force spilling out from the castle but they separate when Keiji cares more for fighting than helping others. Mark is injured and Mr. Mason, his loyal butler, puts out the call to four other warriors who have trained their whole lives to fight this evil force. Together, Mark; along with Oscar, Lisa, Iris, and Adewale become the newest team of Power Rangers: the Power Rangers Samurai. The forces of evil recruit Keiji after they learn he’s a descendant of their clan.
Soon after, Bulk and his son Eugene join them, to aid the Rangers in their battle...they even run a sushi shop. Eugene eventually becomes the Gold Samurai Ranger after some initial reservations from the team.
As the season would go on, Keiji would learn to harness his inner Ashura powers and turn into a monstrous form. He and Mark would clash several times over the course of the show, the main rivalry throughout the season. Three fourths of the way through the season Mark would discover he was actually the long-lost brother of Keigi and would leave the Rangers. Taking his place would be Alison, his distant cousin.
The end of the series would have the villains resurrect Master Xandred and he would lead the final battle against the Earth. Mark and Keiji would have their final duel and choose brotherhood/humanity over feud. Suffice it to say, the rangers and Keiji would work together to defeat the Ashua Clan and succeed.
Comparison To What We Got
Without a doubt, Samurai and Super Samurai were some of the worst seasons the franchise has ever seen. Sloppily translated versions of Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, the Rangers barely act like people and instead engage in non-stop training. The dialogue was just baffling at points, such as, “Now what about what I throw at you!?!” Who talks like that? The season, much like Ninja Storm, tried to once again capture Mighty Morphin Power Rangers magic. Also like Ninja Storm though, they were stuck doing a season about samurais. But where Ninja Storm may have overdone the humor in places to appeal to the new Disney audience, it still felt like Power Rangers in all its cheesy glory. Samurai barely copied the surface elements of MMPR. The Samurai Rangers often talk about teamwork but their actions don’t reflect this.
The most often cited example is in the premiere episode (that was aired LAST for Samurai, thanks Nickelodeon!) where Jayden tells everyone, “We can do this, together!” He then proceeds to fight the monster all on his own. The story of the season basically went like this; the Nighlocks were trying to raise the Sanzu River so they could permanently enter the human world. The Samurai Rangers, brought together by Mentor and Jayden fight against the Nighlocks and Deker who just wants the ultimate duel (He never shuts up about that damn duel all series.) In the last arc it’s revealed Jayden isn’t the true leader of Team Samurai, that role belonging to his sister Lauren. She briefly takes over the team but Jayden saves the day...because girls can’t be REAL leaders guys! (Damn you, Power Rangers). Oh, and shipping happens somewhere in there. Bulk and his “nephew” Spike (son of Skull who makes a brief cameo in the final episode) are also around, but you’d be hard pressed to figure out what they were doing there. They barely interacted with the team and seemed to be confined to their own show.
Could It Have Worked?
All doubts about this pitch aside (It seems odd that Bulk is included here, when originally two singing street sweepers named Big Mack and Skinny Jack were on the casting sides) this is easily the best of Amit’s proposed work for the show. While it again would have required shooting more original footage, it isn’t unreasonable this time. Power Rangers has featured original villains in the past and having a new set for them isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
While the season still borrows elements from Shinkenger, they at least make a bit more sense in this context. That, and hedging closer to the Sentai plotline would make the other producers happy, this being the same team that gave us the Sentai copy and paste seasons of Time Force and Wild Force. Speaking of which, the conflict between Mark and Keiji is very reminiscent of Wes and Eric in the former season. Power Rangers is a show that regularly reuses ideas and themes (Andros and Karone v. Dillon and Tenaya 7 anyone?) so this isn’t a mark against it, I dig it. The characters all seem to be more fleshed out and have meaningful interactions with each other. On top of that, Bulk and Eugene actually seem to be relevant! What a concept! The use of Stone Canyon is also a nice touch; I’ve always wondered why a season wasn’t set there.
Still though, as with all of Amit’s pitches, I wonder how much of this is actually what he pitched and what is reactionary after the fact. The inclusion of Bulk especially seems to be a, “Hey! See! I actually used him unlike Samurai!” Whatever the case may be, his actual work for the show in the form of two clip show episodes and one standard episode were average at best (With “Party Monsters” being the best of the bunch.) Again, this document is really nothing more than glorified fanfiction at this point, but at least it was a lot more likely to happen and it wasn’t bogged down in needless continuity. Clearly he saved all that for…
Power Rangers: Cyber Corps
Amit’s last work for the show, tentatively Power Rangers 21, and later named Cyber Corps, he had only made it through analyzing ten episodes of Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters before he abandoned the idea. With the season apparently not being adapted in favor of Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger for Power Rangers Dino Charge, he posted the pitch and explanation for his thought process behind it.
Story: In Eternity City, on the planet Mirinoi, giant Energrid Towers power the city’s defenses run by the Mirinoi Defense Force. Cut off from Earth, the city harnesses the power of the morphin grid and is defended by a team of specially equipped experts called the Cyber Corps. These Rangers consist of Johnny, a rebellious youth, Arjuna, and Michelle; both elite members of the MDF along with their robotic assistants, the Buddy-Roids.
The Rangers fight against the masked computer hacker Omni, Johnny’s best friend, who teleports giant robots from the mysterious Dimension X to aid in bringing back the sentient computer virus, Venjix, into our world. This is the same Venjix from “Forever Red” who had been hoping dimensions since and nearly destroyed Eternity City once before. He was thought to beamed into the morphin grid but was actually sent to Dimension X, spreading across every computer system on the planet (This would be the same universe RPM takes place in.)
Throughout the season gold and silver rangers would be added to the line up before a crossover with RPM. Scott, Summer, and Ziggy arrive in Eternity City telling the team most of the humans in their world have been wiped out, including the other RPM Rangers. The three are killed in a valiant effort to stop Venjix teleporting himself and his monsters to the city, Scott instructing them to find Dr. K.
The rangers travel to Dimension X where they meet up with her and Omni finally comes face to face with Venjix in the form a giant floating holographic head. The Rangers are able to save Dr. K and seal off the portal to Dimension X, trapping Venjix and his minions inside; but Omni escapes and vows to avenge him.
The Ranger team is fired from the MDF for a time, replaced with more militaristic characters but they are taken over by Omni and our team of heroes regain their powers in short order. Stealing technology from Cyber Command, Omni is able to reestablish contact with Venjix. Searching for a way to stop Venjix, the team discovers a rare metal that is located near Daekani Village. This is Maya’s village from Lost Galaxy and she’s become the chief. She refuses to cooperate with the team, but soon relents when Kaya, the gold ranger, convinces her of their need.
Omni is still able to bring Venjix into our dimension where he takes on a new robotic body and kills the rangers friend; Commander Miller. Omni merges with Venjix and the final battle is on. The rangers battle Venjix but he destroys everything, except for Johnny who manages to deploy an Anti-Virus before he’s wiped out of existence. Venjix celebrates his victory but Omni revolts against him for killing his best friend, regaining his last shred of his humanity. He injects them with the Anti-Virus, purging Venjix from himself and repairing reality. The Rangers are restored but Omni dies. Venjix; weakened but still alive, will survive so long as he has a computer to download himself into. The Rangers transport him into the Morphin Grid, a reality of raw energy without a computer in sight and defeat him.
The Rangers all move on with their lives and Dr. K even manages to reestablish contact with Earth and sees this universe’s version of the RPM Rangers looking back at her (or are they the same ones? She had inserted some code into the Anti-Virus, which somehow merged elements of her universe with this one).
Johnny, mourning his friend, rides off into the sunset.
Comparison To What We Got
Since Dino Charge (and Dino Super Charge for that matter) have yet to air, we have no idea how or if the Go-Busters footage will be used. But with the series skipping right to the dinosaur theme of Kyoryuger, we can be safe to say it will be very different from this pitch.
Could It Have Worked?
Where to even begin? Amit did know he was working for Power Rangers right? Especially the Saban Brands era, which he had written for! Samurai and Megaforce were both predicated on using footage, a lot of it. Amit admits in the introduction to his pitch that Go-Busters offered much less useable footage than other seasons but claims that would be an asset; they could do all their own new plotlines not constrained by having to adapt much footage! The problem? He never offers a solution to how we could have made up the money they would have to expend on all this new footage. He balloons the cast to well over ten main and recurring characters; including returning Rangers from previous seasons!
I have to ask, if Saban was barely able to scrape together a team up at the end of Power Rangers Super Megaforce at the last minute and those returning cast memebers were only in New Zealand for a few days? How in the world would all these returning characters come back for Cyber Corps? Saban clearly doesn’t want to pay up for using the old actors so why make them such a central part of this season?
The season is, much like Hexagon, bogged down in needless continuity. Why is it set on Mirinoi? He says that it’s not intended to be a major plot point, but it clearly was. It’s very much a sequel to Lost Galaxy, featuring Kendrix as the mayor of the city; Maya back in her home village, and Leo as a hermit. I ask you, fair readers, what in Leo’s character would EVER lead him to being a hermit in the wilderness? Amit speaks of honoring the franchise and not meddling with characters previously introduced but he turns Leo into a hermit? Sure, why not. Also, one of the recurring characters would have been Oliver Stanton, the son of Commander Stanton from Lost Galaxy. Not a bad idea for a character, but it seems to neglect that Stanton had a daughter that we actually saw in the show. Why not use her instead of a brand new character? Right, cause…continuity? It only gets worse.
So Amit professes to have liked RPM, calling it, “easily the most interesting of the Disney seasons.” Yet the pitch of Cyber Corps rewrites one of the major plotlines of that season. Amit was seemingly not pleased that the character of Venjix that he created for “Forever Red” (and no intention to use him beyond that episode) had it’s name used for the main villain of RPM. So he decides to retroactively insert some of his own story into RPM’s.
The episode “Dr. K” was one of RPM’s most tragic, with the Doctor trapped in a government think tank much of her life, creating Venjix in an effort simply. “To go outside.” The virus is accidently released and basically causes the apocalypse. It was one of RPM’s highpoints that Amit decides to completely undermine. You see, it was just a coincidence! Dr. K just THOUGHT she had unleashed the virus. Venjix had just been teleported that day and just happened to start spreading to the world’s computer network at the exact same time! Totally makes sense right? No. He also kills off the RPM Rangers for good measure. Yes, they all do get restored in the end but really? Having them all die on screen and say the others have died as well? Seriously? Power Rangers, dude.
Amit makes such a big point about how he doesn’t like that they used his character and that name for a totally unrelated character…Yet he calls his main villain Omni, sharing the name with the secret villain force behind emperor Grumm from Power Rangers SPD. I’m surprised he didn’t try to magic up some continuity wangsty explanation for that one. Oh, and he travels to Dimension X. Will Krang and Shredder be showing up in the next team up?
If it isn’t obvious by now, I don’t like the idea or storyline of this season. I also have to question, how did he come up with this whole pitch if he (by his own admission) had only analyzed ten episodes of Go-Busters footage? I can understand making a very rough idea of where you might like to go but it seemed pretty set in stone…Yet he alludes to things that weren’t even in the footage he’d seen. I can assume he knew about things like the Go-Busters power up but how could he write how they’d be used if hadn’t seen the footage to determine how it would line up with what he’d planned? Power Rangers doesn’t work that way. Again, you have to work with the footage in mind. You can’t go off the rails and do whatever you want. Another season attempted to do that, Power Rangers RPM, and it’s executive producer was fired mid-season for going over budget.
I’m forced to conclude that Amit had SOME notes about what he would have done with the season and later expanded on them when the pitch was rejected. If he wrote all of this without seeing the rest of the season, it’s just glorified fan fiction once again.
I keep bringing up fan fiction with Amit because both this and Hexagon both read as “fix it” fics, where an author will attempt to mend a piece of continuity the show hasn’t addressed. Amit goes about this in almost a DC Comics fashion, where he just resets everything to his liking or sets it all in a different universe. He seriously describes how the Tommy we saw in Dino Thunder was VERY similar to our Tommy but not THE Tommy. This is all down to him somehow getting a degree in paleontology by the time Dino Thunder rolled around. Right, because that isn’t just as random as him being a race car driver during Turbo.
I don’t know why Amit has such a beef with the Disney seasons. With enough fan wanking you can make it all work. That fan wanking doesn’t need to make it into the show, however. Amit makes the plot of the season uniting the dimensions of the original Saban and Neo Saban seasons with the Disney seasons when this wasn’t really needed. The only season that ever seemed like it could be set out of continuity was RPM but even that fit nicely between SPD and the future of Time Force. Amit's obsession with utilizing continuity is to the detriment of telling a good story on its own. It’s little wonder this pitch was passed on.
I just don’t get Amit. His ideas come off as though he’s some kind of savior that would rescue the franchise if only his ideas had been used. However, he seems to lack the knowledge that if you’re hired to write for a show you have to write within the constraints of that show. In Power Rangers' case it’s the footage and budget, something Hexagon and Cyber Corps gleefully ignore. Amit compares himself to Don Draper, pitching a totally revolutionary idea to a company that didn’t ask for it. Much like Don Draper in that respect, even if Amit’s ideas have merit, this isn’t what Saban is looking for. You need to work within their constraints to make something worthwhile, not force them to bend to your story.
More than that, he seems to have lost sight of what made Power Rangers work. It was fun show with lots of action and humor that hinted at a larger universe. Hinted being the key word. Even in continuity heavy earlier seasons they still never dived into as much “continuity clean up” like these pitches seem obsessed with. At the end of the day, I like when PR uses continuity, but never at the expense of having a fun season first. Give me a competent season over one with pointless references any day.
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