All 20 Red Power Rangers from the enduring children's action-adventure franchise pose together in New York City in celebration of the series 20th anniversary. (Courtesy Haber TV/Saban Brands/CBS)
Twenty years ago today, a series named Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers premiered on FOX Kids and began a legacy that endures to this day.
The original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was adapted from a long-running franchise called Super Sentai in Japan. The first season of Mighty Morphin’ took its costumes, zords, and some fight footage specifically from Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger.
Created by Haim Saban and Shuki Levy, the series focused on five (later six) teenagers of different skills and backgrounds. They are recruited by the powerful wizard Zordon to protect the earth from the villainous Rita Repulsa, who is free on the Moon after being locked away for ten thousand years.
They are given the powers of the Power Rangers, with the ability to transform into superheroes based on the powers of mythical prehistoric creatures like the Mastadon, Sabretooth Tiger and Tyrannasourus. They are also armed with lasers and power weapons to fight off putties and various monsters. Should these monsters grow larger due to magical influence, the rangers can call on massive robots called Zords to fight them.
The original series starred Austin St. John (Jason), Thuy Trang (Trini), Walter Jones (Zach), Amy Jo Johnson (Kimberly) and David Yost (Billy) and later Jason David Frank (Tommy). These actors, along with others, starred in new, live-action footage set in the fictional Angel Grove, California to go with the original Japanese footage.
Although the series was originally ordered for only 40 episodes, it was a massive hit with children in 1993 and got twenty more episodes to round out its first season. The show later got a second and third season. Power Rangers eventually followed in the footsteps of its Japanese counterpart and began changing costumes and powers every season, eventually changing casts every season as well.
The franchise continues to this day with Megaforce/Super Megaforce, the series 20th (and 21st) season. Shout! Factory has been releasing DVD box sets of the series, and has even planned a limited edition “Legacy” collector’s set of the entire franchise.