Break out your pogs and throw down your slammers! It’s time for another BIGdamnREWIND, where we take a nostalgic look back at some of our favorite TV shows and films from the past! This week we’re taking a look at slightly less popular half-brother of the Power Rangers, VR TROOPERS!
Ryan Steele, Kaitlin Star, and JB Reese are three “young adults” living in the west coast town of Cross World City. All three are skilled in martial arts but it is Ryan who is the real star when it comes to talent. JB is a computer whiz and the more intelligent character, while Kaitlin is a photographer and start up reporter for the local paper. The three come across a laboratory hidden in the middle of the desert that is run by Professor Hart, who gives them the powers of the VR Troopers to stop the evil Grimlord from leaving the virtual world and taking over ours. Meanwhile, Grimlord can secretly leave the virtual world for a time where he is known as Ziktor, the head of an evil, wants to ruin the world, book burning, toxic waste left in parks, kind of company. Each episode focuses on the Troopers repelling Grimlords forces back to the Virtual world and usually stopping Ziktor from ruining the enviroment as well. Another one of the major story arcs is Ryan’s search for his long lost father. Oh yea, and there’s a talking hound dog named Jeb who sounds like Jack Nicholson.
Like Power Rangers, VR Troopers is produced by the Saban company and is based off footage from a Japanese TV show, in this case THREE different versions of the Metal Hero series, that is then spliced together with American shot footage. Fun fact for you, that Ryan’s robot suit from season 1 is from a completely different series than JB and Kaitlin’s suits. So anytime you see the three on screen together, it’s an American shot version, which is why most of the fight scenes either feature JB and Kaitlin alone or teaming up without Ryan’s help. The series pilot actually starred Jason David Frank (Tommy from Power Rangers) as Ryan Steele where he was a solo hero working to stop Grimlord without any teammates.
VR Troopers only lasted 2 seasons, but like early episodes of Power Rangers, season 1 and 2 have a combined total of 92 episodes! Like other series based on Japanese predecessors, VR Troopers didn’t have anywhere NEAR the longevity that Power Rangers has had, but VR Troopers brought a darker tone to their series that it took a lot longer for Power Rangers to develop. The search for Ryan’s lost father is a particularly heavy plot point through out the series, especially in the end of the first season. Also, the Troopers are older than most of the other series. In early Power Rangers, they were always high school students while in Big Bad Beetleborgs they’re only kids, and even Masked Rider is in high school. The Troopers always seemed to be closer to their late teens or early twenties, more adult and dealing with some heavier stuff than simply what their excuse is for missing home room.
If you’re a big fan of these types of series, VR Troopers season 1 is currently available from Shout Factory! on DVD with season 2 set for release later this year. Both seasons are also available to stream on Netflix for those of you who can’t wait that long or only want to catch an episode or two for nostalgia! So yell out “TROOPER TRANSFORM!” and become your favorite VR Trooper again! We are V-R!