***As big a Power Rangers fan as I am, I must admit: I’m a little behind on modern PR. Here’s where I attempt to fix that, as I check out episodes of Power Rangers Ninja Steel!***
SERIES: Power Rangers Ninja Steel
EPISODE: S24:E1 – “Return of the Prism”
STARRING: William Shewfelt, Peter Sudarso, Chrysti Ane, Chris Reid, Caleb Bendit
WRITER: Chip Lynn
DIRECTOR: Peter Burger
PREMIERE DATE: January 21, 2017
SYNOPSIS: Three new Power Rangers rise to face a new threat to Earth.
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By Rob Siebert
Power Rangers Ninja Steel kicks off with a flashback, as we see the Ninja Nexus Prism land in the Romero family’s back yard. Conveniently, they are a family of ninjas. A father and his two young sons. That worked out, didn’t it?
Dane, the family dad, is able to remove the Ninja Nexus Star from the Prism, within its crust of a metallic substance known as Ninja Steel. The Prism attracts the attention of our main bad guy this season: Galvanax. With him are Madame Odius and Ripcon. Galvanax quickly takes Brody, the younger brother in the family, hostage. Dane tells his older son, Aiden, to hide the scraps of ninja steel before slicing the Ninja Nexus Star into six pieces. In the process, he actually leaves Brody out there with Galvanax for quite a while. Father of the year, this guy.
A battle ensues in which Dane is briefly transformed into a Red Ranger. Moments later, the pieces of the star reemerge inside the prism, with Galvanax unable to extract them. Meanwhile, Dane has disappeared, Brody is taken by Galvanax, and Aiden is left behind…
Over the next decade, Galvanax turns his quest to extract the six Ninja Power Stars from the prism into an intergalactic game show called Galaxy Warriors (shown above), of which he is the reigning champion. I adore the game show concept here. It’s obviously very creative and ambitious, and something Power Rangers has never done before. The show takes place aboard Galvanax’s Warrior Dome Ship, on which Brody is imprisoned. The ship is filled with all kinds of monsters and creatures.
Because of the show’s relatively (and famously) small budget, we’re going to see a lot of reused and repurposed costumes from past seasons. In this episode alone, we see the suits used for Vexacus in Ninja Storm, Broodwing in SPD, one of Venjix’s robot bodies in RPM, among numerous others.
Brody, our Ninja Steel Red Ranger, is played by William Shewfelt. If you look at this kid’s Instagram, you’ll notice he may have the distinction of being the most shredded Red Ranger we’ve ever had. Also, according to Power Rangers: The Ultimate Visual Guide, Shewfelt was an economics student when he auditioned for the show. Can’t say I would have called that. Oh, and he’s also a singer. Just call him a renaissance man.
Kelson Henderson is back again as Mick Kanic, Brody’s friend and comrade aboard the Warrior Dome Ship. After playing so many roles on the series over the years, both as a series regular and a guest star, I can’t say I’m ever surprised to see him, per se. But it’s always a delight to see him.
At this very early juncture, Galvanax fails to impress. He comes off like a dopey brute, albeit an ambitious one. He actually seems more like a villain’s general than a main villain himself. But of course, he’s got plenty of time to prove me wrong.
Our Blue Ranger, Preston, has a really nice quirky charm to him. That’s what you’d hope to get from a magician character, I think. He even wears the suit and top hat. Kinda hard not to like him.
Preston is played by Peter Sudarso, brother of Yoshi Sudarso, who played the Blue Ranger in the previous series, Dino Charge. There was a really cool moment at Power Morphicon several years ago where they surprised Yoshi with the announcement that his brother was the new Blue Ranger.
I call BS on Brody being able to not just steal the Ninja Nexus Prism, but then stealthily wheel it around under a sheet. That’s supposed to be the big valuable item on the ship, right? Wasn’t anybody guarding it?!?
Sarah, our new Pink Ranger, makes her entrance riding a Back to the Future style hoverboard to school. One she built herself. Keep an eye on Sarah for the next few episodes, and see if Ninja Steel makes you believe she could build a hoverboard. I believed Billy could build a flying car in Mighty Morphin. I believed Doctor K could create the Ranger powers in RPM. But this character creating a hoverboard? We’ll see…
Our comedic duo for the season are Victor and Monty, played by Chris Reid and Caleb Bendit. They’re off to a perfectly serviceable start. They mug for the camera like pros.
Preston and Sarah see the Ninja Nexus Prism (along with Brody, Mick, and their robot buddy Redbot) fall to Earth from the Warrior Dome Ship. They crash into the monstrous Korvaka on Sarah’s hoverboard as he’s about to dispose of Brody. The three teens are then able to each pull a power star from the Prism. I found myself wishing the power stars didn’t look so toy-like. Even on a show that’s largely a toy commercial.
Using the power stars, Brody, Preston, and Sarah are able to morph into the Red, Blue, and Pink Rangers. The Ninja Steel costumes may very well be my favorite suits in recent Power Rangers history. They’re very slick, and suitably ninja-esque. Certainly more so than the Ninja Storm suits were. You can buy the notion that they do high octane fighting in these things. Though ironically, as director and future series showrunner Simon Bennett would later reveal, these Ninja Rangers weren’t allowed to do a lot of ninja stuff, this being a kids show. They were allowed to be stealthy, and that’s about it.
Shortly before the Ninja Nexus Prism flies off into the unknown, Brody and the others decide to check out his old house. Brody seems to think that his brother Aiden will be there, which doesn’t really make sense. Why would he have stayed there? It’s been 10 years, and Aiden was only a kid when the attack happened. For Brody to think he’d find Aiden there a decade later is naive even by kids show standards.
The Earth didn’t move for me with “Return of the Prism.” It’s hardly one of the best premieres the show has produced. But it does a lot of things right. It introduces us to our heroes, setting up only three of them. Granted, they’re not all entirely likable. But things have room to breathe. It sets up our villains and status quo, though Galvanax fails to impress. It’s a start. Not a great start, but a start nonetheless.
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