Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Once & Always
I grew up watching MMPR, up until Lost Galaxy. I was really curious when this special was announced brining back the original cast. Some of them at least.
The whole MMPR team are fighting a putty patrol created by a robot version of Rita Repulsa. During the fight, Trini is killed and robot-Rita leaves, swearing to return to get revenge on the rest of them. Sometime later, Billy and Zach argue about what to tell Trini's daughter, Minh, but she finds out when they fail to notice she walked into the room. Pretty dark way to start this special. It's not the first time a Ranger has been killed in Power Rangers, but this was a pretty brutal way to do it.
A year passes and robo-Rita is ready to enact her evil revenge plan. She's created robo versions of two monsters she'd used before, Snizzard and Mighty Minotaur. Snizzard has been given an ability that captures Rangers and shrinks them down to action figure size, which he uses to capture Tommy, Jason and Kimberly (explaining why none of those actors appear unmorphed). It's interesting robo-Rita attacks the Rangers on the anniversary of Trini's death at her grave. Again, kinda dark for Power Rangers. Anyway, Billy and Zach retreat to the new Command Center, built by Billy, secretly underneath his company building. It's pretty cool looking. It takes some cues from the original, but looks more high tech. Alpha 9 enacts the "Bandora Protocol" (nice reference to the Japanese name for Rita) calling all available Rangers to help with the crisis. Kat and Rocky teleport to the Command Center and Alpha gives them proxy power coins allowing them to morph (needing them in case they need the zords, having only modified the Sabertooth Tiger to operate minus its Ranger). Kinda cool that Billy and Alpha have figured out how to create copies of the power coins. I guess that's also how the original team got their original powers back. The Rangers go to fight off another attack but quickly figure out they're being tracked while morphed, and retreat to come up with a new plan. Meanwhile, Minh sees the news and takes her mother's morpher but is unable to activate it. Zach and Rocky save her from putties and take her back to the Command Center.
We find out that Minh blames Billy for Trini's death. Turns out, Billy was trying to bring back Zordon by gathering his essence after it was spread across the universe by the "Z-wave" at the end of In Space. But instead of Zordon, he got the evil essence of Rita, which possessed Alpha 8. The Rangers go capture Snizzard and Mighty Minotaur with a giant magnet at a construction site, and Minh wonders why they don't just destroy them. Billy explains it's not always necessary... Um, Billy? You guys pretty much always won the day by blowing up the monster of the week. But if it wasn't clear already, they make it clear the reason Minh cannot morph is because she's just out for revenge. The Rangers, using Billy's stealth tech, go to robo-Rita's moon base but Minh decides to go destroy the monsters by herself... Which of course fails. The Rangers realize they need to destroy Snizzard to break the spell on their friends, but robo-Rita has already released her monsters and has Minh hostage.
A battle breaks out, and Minh ends up making the same self sacrifice move her mother did to save Billy. For some reason, she survives. I'm guessing, as indicated by the glowing morpher, that it somehow protected her. So... Why didn't it protect Trini, who was even morphed at the time? At any rate, Minh is finally able to morph and joins the others. robo-Rita makes Snizzard grow. Billy stabs her, then he and Minh take the Megazord to fight him (despite that earlier they said they needed Rocky and Kat to pilot the Tyrannosaurus and Pterodactyl if they needed to use the Zords). Rocky finishes off robo-Mighty Minotaur, so he, Zach and Kat join the others in the Megazord to finish off robo-Snizzard. The CGI in this fight is pretty bad. robo-Rita wakes up just as her device is ready... A time portal to when she was freed from the space dumpster, so she can team up with her younger self and kill the Rangers before they become Rangers. But the Rangers save their captured friends, destroy the device, and Zach destroys robo-Rita. Back at the Command Center, Adam and Aisha (now members of SPD) are taking the Rangers that had been captured to Aquitar to recover, and will say hi to Cestria for him. I guess they're still together after he stayed on Aquitar back in Zeo? Back at the Juice Bar, Zach, Minh and Billy reminisce about old times.
I thought this was a pretty good tribute to the original series. For only being about an hour long, they managed to squeeze a lot into it. Although they kept a lot of details vague, they did a pretty good job of addressing or at least acknowledging continuity. I'm not too familiar with anything after Lost Galaxy, but from what I've read they had a ton of references to many of the series. There was quite a few things from the Zordon era that I picked up on.
The tone was a little bit odd... There was some fairly dark elements to it for Power Rangers. I'm sure they had their original fanbase in mind for those scenes. But it also had some of the goofiness' the original series had. I mean, I get this is still primarily aimed for younger audiences, but it was just an odd mix, that I think they could have balanced better.
The Zord fight was the most disappointing part to me. I'd thought, based on the trailer, that they'd recreated the original suit for this. But it was all CGI, which kinda looked like something out of the Netflix War for Cybertron series.