Some TV series have a long history, but the original Power Rangers franchise has an even longer one. The latest installment Power Rangers Dino Fury continues its history of teenagers with attitude protecting the world from evil forces. But times have changed, and Power Rangers Dino Fury showrunner Simon Bennett explains how the series combines elements of the past with original storytelling in this exclusive interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet.
‘Power Ranger Dino Fury’ follows the themes fans love while breaking free from ties of the original franchise
Power Rangers Dino Fury uses footage and costuming from Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger, the 43rd entry in the Japanese tokusatsu metaseries, Super Sentai. The series also incorporates elements from Ressha Sentai ToQger.
Even from the Japanese versions, the American series dating back to 1993 all have a formula — a formula die-hard fans expect and is synonymous with the franchise.
“Power Rangers is a very formulaic show in that it always involves a team of teenagers who transform into brightly colored costumed superheroes who always fight monsters and always win at the end of the day. And the themes are always to do with teamwork, wholesome values, friendship, trust, good versus evil. You know, there’s a lot that is pretty set in stone for Power Rangers, and I think the fan base knows that,” explained Bennett.
In the early years, every episode of Power Rangers was one storyline with a beginning and end. There was no continuation as episodes were aired on a weekly schedule. With Power Rangers Dino Fury, Bennett and the writers have changed the formula. Streaming platforms have allowed for serial storylines, character dynamics changes, and new details that are not in the original.
“The other thing we’ve been able to do, which I think is really significant, is have character arcs that run across the entire 44 episodes. What that does is it allows us to look at the range of characters with more depth and in a more interesting way. And it also enables us to set things up that we can pay off later,” explained Bennett.
Simon Bennett looks to make ‘Power Rangers Dino Fury’ relatable to newer audiences and enthrall the fan base
Die-hard fans of the American franchise and Japanese originals know the storyline but still need to be kept on their toes. Power Rangers Dino Fury does something no other series has. Audiences start to sympathize with its leading villain, Tarrick/Void Knight. Rita Repulsa, Divatox, and others were bad to the bone in earlier years.
The series switches Void Knight’s story, and Bennett explains the reasoning is to create good storytelling for all audiences. A bad guy who does not deviate from their path can get tiresome in a serial series. “It doesn’t vary, and it becomes less interesting because you’re going to get variations on the same story in every single episode,” explained Bennett.
Void Knight is deemed evil because of his actions to get what he wants to save his wife. Bennett explains it mimics reality where sometimes people do the wrong things for a good reason. “We wanted to give a villain a plausible and sympathetic objective,” he explained. It breaks the rule of villainry seen in previous franchise installments and “allows for identification with the character.”
Bennett and the writers have developed Power Rangers Dino Fury to have twists and turns that help push the leading characters forward. All the while keeping its audience entertained. “Those events and story, you give a little gasp if you’ve done your job right as a writer. You think ‘that’s amazing, I never saw that coming. What’s going to happen next?’ And that ingredient of what’s going to happen next is the key to good storytelling. It’s also the key to drama of any sort because it makes people want to keep watching,” explained Bennett.
The series develops a seamless end result without being an exact copy of the Japanese original
Since the American franchise’s inception, fighting sequences and storylines have been taken from the Japanese originals. Sometimes almost exact scenes and scenarios. Having to keep the originals in mind, how do the showrunners, writers, and editors make a seamless story on screen?
Bennett explains it can be challenging from a production standpoint. They have to match location scenes filmed in Japan and existing action sequences. They would incorporate original scenes in the Japanese version to make a more seamless transition and highlight the storyline.
But the showrunner explains they cannot follow the Japanese story exactly. “We never try and mimic or follow or adapt the Sentai stories. And the reason for that is that Power Rangers has its own kind of quite separate canon law way of doing things, and also the stories that work in Sentai may not necessarily work from a cultural perspective for American audiences,” explained Bennett.
In return, the team takes elements from the original that are essential and develop an original storyline that ties into what already exists. Bennett explains Power Rangers Dino Fury can create originality because of serialization and relatability but also has to stick to the aspects of the franchise that made it so popular to begin with.
Power Rangers Dino Fury is available to stream on Netflix.