Let me start this review off by saying that if you've been disappointed in the past with the lack of Power Rangers DVDs, their content, and the quality, you have no need to fear any longer.
The plot: The year is 2020 and Earth is now home to humans and aliens alike. While 99% of the aliens live in peace, there's always 1% that can't. To deal with them, Earth enlists the help of a "Galactic Police Group" known as S.P.D., or "Space Patrol Delta." Early on S.P.D. is faced by an invasion force, and sends their A-Squad to the front lines, leaving only their B-Squad cadets to defend Earth.
As one would assume, the B-Squad Cadets are then given Ranger powers and the real story begins...
The show is well done from both a technical and artistic point of view, especially for a Power Rangers series. In the first episode simply titled "Beginnings" which is an hour long, we see three cadets who are still green behind the ears. These guys are not your perfect little Power Rangers the way they were in the older shows. One is fairly nervous, one is a bit ditzy, and one is naïve and obnoxiously arrogant. Likewise the final two Power Rangers aren't even your standard "goody-goody civilians" as in past years - they're street thieves! Clearly this group has its' vices, and they make the character's seem more realistic.
Following "Beginnings" (a 2-part episode) we see episode #3 which is called "Confronted." This episode is probably one of the weaker entries into the series, but it does have some high points, such as the Red and Blue Rangers' constantly locking heads. I mentioned an arrogant and naïve character before; that's Sky, the Blue Ranger. While his counterpart in Red isn't quite perfect either, he's far less obnoxious.
The next episode is called "Walls." While I find the episode interesting, and highly enjoyable, I repetitively find myself wanting to scream the words "SHUT UP SKY!" at my TV. Apparently this was the director's intent as the final scene of this episode has him scrubbing the outside of the Ranger's base with a toothbrush a la boot camp. I enjoyed that scene quite a lot, especially after Sky's constant kvetching about not being the Red Ranger.
The last episode on the disc is titled "Dogged." While it had the potential to be the worst episode of the season, it's just the opposite. It's funny, it's tragic, and it's one of the most well filmed and well-written episodes in the shows' history. The moral too the story is done in a very subtle way and looks more like a plot from "Star Trek" than from Power Rangers.
Technical Features: The menus on this DVD are better than that of past Power Rangers DVDs. Last season's menus were probably the worst I've seen in awhile. Disney owed us and they came through. The motion menus on this disc rival those of major motion pictures, including the new Star Wars Trilogy DVD Box. The average DVD Collector would be pleased.
In addition the Disc is encoded with Dolby Surround Sound. Playback on my TV through an S-Video cable using 4.1 THX Certified Speakers really pulls the surround sound to the foreground and shows how well this disc was made.
Extras: If you bought the early Power Rangers Ninja Storm DVDs, you probably scoffed at the extras, which were a bit of a joke, even for the target demographic. If you bought the Power Rangers Dino Thunder DVDs you probably felt the same way and wondered why two episodes of the previous season were deemed "extras" rather than a new disc. With Power Rangers S. P. D. however, the extras are pretty good. The first is based on those old "Join the ARMY" PSAs, and relates to joining S. P. D. - Disney includes a website URL for anyone interested. This is fairly humorous and I confess, I did enjoy it. The second extra is a "Zord Simulator," which is similar to an arcade style video game. Most people will probably complain that we still don't have deleted scenes, or "standard" extras, but given the target audience, this is probably a nice extra, and it beats the Dino Thunder virtual trading cards that couldn't be traded with anyone.
This is admittedly this DVDs weak spot; the packaging isn't even on par with what some fans have done for their collections. It looks like a five minute Photoshop job and for such a well-done DVD I would have expected better. In addition my first copy of this Disc (I purchased two of them.) was loose in its' case, a common problem with Buena Vista Home Entertainment DVDs. Especially Power Rangers DVDs which I've had to return on five occasions due to the disc not being pushed all the way into the center hub and being scratch upon purchase. Disney should fix this on future releases. Shake the case when you get the disc or you may find a nasty surprise when it's all scratched up as you open it. (Disney will replace the Discs for free though if you call them and pay for the shipping as well so it's not so much a loss as it is a nuisance.)
When watching this DVD, long-time Power Rangers fans should be ready to look for some serious "in-jokes" - younger fans will appreciate them too if they view the Power Rangers Generations block on ABC Family. Here are a few things to watch out for:
- The A-Squad Power Rangers have the helmets from Power Rangers in Space with a slight modification made to them.
- Fans of the shows' Japanese counterpart will recognize the character of "Doggie Cruger" as a nod to his Japanese counterpart, "Doggie Kruger."
- The same man who wrote the original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers theme song, Ron Aaron Wasserman, composed the theme song.
The Good: Five episodes on the first DVD for once. The show is excellent, and the DVD is better than I expected.
The Bad: Disney is still making "Mini-movies" rather than standard episode. The opening and ending credits have been lifted from every episode with the exception of Beginnings (opening credits) and Dogged (ending credits) having one set of credits. This is really a style issue, but it annoys me.
The Ugly: A packaging issue that has been a problem since Prelude to a Storm was release is still plaguing Power Rangers DVDs. I seriously hope Disney is trying to fix this, as it's a pretty common flaw.
Final verdict: If you're a Power Rangers fan, buy this DVD. If you're a parent, you won't be disappointed and you may find yourself enjoying this disc as well. DVD Collectors will most certainly have mixed feelings on this disc though, while young children and teenagers will most likely enjoy it. This is the best Power Rangers DVD release to date, satisfying younger and older fans alike. If you like this series, I recommend checking out Power Rangers Time Force which amazon.com also has for sale. It's only on VHS, but it's similar in style to Power Rangers S.P.D.