With the massive, culture-shattering phenomenon that was Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, it was inevitable that there would be other attempts to try to capture that lightning in a bottle.
1. VR Troopers
Saban Entertainment (the company responsible for Power Rangers) made several attempts to recapture the magic that was Power Rangers. One of the first was VR Troopers. Using the exact same formula as the Power Rangers, VR Troopers changed up the story in a few key ways. They focused on a team of three, instead of five (later, six), and made the heroes slightly older.
Ryan Steele, Kaitlin Star, and J.B. Reese were the heroes in their late teens. Out of high school, Ryan searches for his father who disappeared years ago. He and his two friends find a secret lab and discover what his dad was working on. Now, they are gifted with the power to enter the “VR dimension” and fight the evil forces trying to invade the real world.
Their treatment of computer technology is laughable, but not any different than many of the shows and movies from the 80s and 90s. VR Troopers really did use the same formula as Power Rangers, but for some reason just didn’t break through to audiences. Since it’s now on Netflix, I strongly recommend checking it out. It doesn’t get the love it deserves.
2. Masked Rider
Kamen Rider or Masked Rider is one of, if not the, the longest running “sentai” shows in Japan. Kamen Rider had a well established following in Japan by the mid 90s. So, it only made sense for Saban to use it as it’s next big hit in the West.
Saban took the actions scenes from Kamen Rider and filmed all new story scenes for the new show. However, this turned out to be its worst received attempt yet. However, this was one of the first shows I remember watching as a kid that portrayed a multicultural home. Prince Dex is exiled from his home planet and takes refuge on earth with a multicultural family. There he defends the planet from the forces of evil lead by his uncle, Count Dregon using the power of the Masked Rider.
The most popular theory for why this show just didn’t work is because of the “comic relief” sidekick, Ferbus. This half nightmare fuel, half super-annoying nuisance was Saban’s attempt to use the accident prone side character that had worked as comedy for many shows. Most people agree that not only was it not funny, but was more annoying and off-putting. I will put a picture below, because if I have to know about Ferbus, so do you!
3. Big Bad Beetleborgs
Big Bad Beetleborgs was a bit of a mixed bag. It focused heavily on “comedic” elements more than the action scenes. It must have been what people were looking for, because it is one of the more well-known Power Rangers copycat.
Big Bad Beetleborgs follows three kids who enter a “haunted” house on a dare. They meet some real monsters who want to eat them and, in the chase, they free a ghost named Flabber. In return for his freedom, he grants them a wish which they use to get the powers of their favorite comic book, Big Bad Beetleborgs. However, that also means the villains of the comic are brought to life, as well.
While this show had a larger budget to produce the new story scenes, they are mostly unsubtle, goofy humor. The monsters in the house are never really explained. Flabber is possibly the funniest part of the show, as he is played as a mix between Robin William’s Genie and Jay Leno. It usually relies on puns and sight gags though. The “comedy” aside, this show is worth the watch if you like Power Rangers. The humor is about as bad as any scene with Bulk and Skull. The action scenes are pretty decent, as well, since they are from a more recent sentai show.
If you like Power Rangers, you owe it to yourself to check these out. Sure, they are dated, and the humor leans to the ridiculous. However, they each have their own style and uniqueness. If nothing else, we can say that Saban never shied away from trying new things.