Ranger Station Special: The 2016 ‘Power Rangers Dino Charge’ Christmas Episode
With 800 episodes over the course of 22 years, the Power Rangers television show is arguably the single most successful live-action superhero franchise of all time, and certainly one of the strangest. Adapted from Japan's long-running Super Sentai series, created by manga legend Shotaro Ishinomori, the Power Rangers combined the giant robots and monsters of their Japanese counterpart with a completely different set of secret identities and problems, and became a pop cultural phenomenon. That's why we're looking back with an in-depth guide to the series, and its Japanese counterpart!
This week, we're skipping ahead to the far-off future of 2016 to talk about the truly amazing, truly bizarre Power Rangers Dino Super Charge Holiday Special!
Power Rangers Dino Super Charge: "Here Comes Heximas"
Writer: Becca Barnes, Alwyn Dale, and Judd Lynn
Director: Michael Duignan
Original Air Date: December 10, 2016
It's Christmastime once again, and because there's still hope yet in this fallen world, that means that it's time for the most recent team of Power Rangers to embark on another Holiday Special. As you may remember, the Dino Charge team had to team up with Santa Claus last year for what was essentially an extremely festive clip show, and this year, as their final adventure as Power Rangers, they were back at it again.
And it is bananas.
See, because of the way the schedules line up, the Holiday episode of Power Rangers Dino Super Charge --- which stretches out the American adaptation of Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger into a second year --- actually takes place after the series finale. If you've seen that one, you know how weird that's going to make things now. If you haven't, well, the short version is that the Power Rangers defeated their enemies by going back in time and literally crashing their spaceship into the sun, which prevents the extinction of the dinosaurs and turns their headquarters --- formerly a dino-themed natural history museum --- into a dinosaur zoo.
And yes: The for real alive dinosaurs they run into here are absolutely wearing Santa hats in the establishing shot.
Christmas... finds a way.
So what's the team been up to without the threat of Sledge and Heckyl to worry about? Well, Shelby, Tyler, Chase, Riley, and Kendall have stayed on at their old jobs at the newly retconned Amber Beach Dinosaur Zoo, while Koda and Sir Ivan --- a temporally displaced caveman and medieval knight, respectively --- have gone back to their original eras. And honestly, that seems like a pretty raw deal. As bad as 2016 might've been, I can't imagine it's worse than, you know, caveman times.
Thankfully, the Magic of Christmas is in Full Effect!
"Ah, Christmas! The best season for time travel!"
There's just one problem with this particular Ranger Reunion: After finding a set of presents addressed to them with instructions to open now, Shelby, Chase, and Riley have vanished. And when Tyler opens the present addressed to him, he finds a chunk of magical coal with... well, let's just go ahead and call these "unexpected effects."
Yes: Tyler has become an evil Christmas elf, dedicated to making toys for naughty children at the behest of someone --- or something --- named Heximas. Since the other three Rangers are gone, we can only assume that the same thing happened to them. And the only way to break them free of Heximas's Christmasy curse is for their friends to remind them of who they truly are.
This, of course, is the framing sequence of the annual Christmas clip show. The thing is, though, there's about as much original footage here as there would be for a regular episode. They've just replaced the Super Sentai footage with flashbacks to previous episodes. There's even a brand new monster design who gets a full-on giant-sized fight scene at the end.
And that monster design rules.
This is not the kind of thing I say lightly, but this might be the single best design for "Evil Christmas Monster" that I have ever seen. He's not just Evil Santa, he's Evil The Concept Of Christmas! Look at his mistletoe epaulets! It's like someone was handed a note that said "Judge Death, but Christmas," and then took it a thousand steps further than that requires. And this picture doesn't even have his staff, which is a Christmas tree-shaped spear tip mounted on a candy cane handle, or the turkey shaped jetpack that he wears on his back.
Even his sleigh is great!
Incidentally, Heximas is the American version of a Kyoryuger monster named Debo Yanasanta, who once teamed up with three other seasonal monsters based on autumn, summer vacation, and the Japanese holiday of Children's Day, and his attack was called "Merry Christmash."
Move the heck over, Pumpkin Rapper: we have a new Best Monster Ever.
With the help of his brainwashed Evil Elf Rangers, Heximas plans to deliver mind-control coal to all the children of the world, turning them into an army that will hunt down the Rangers and finally, finally recover their energems. And this is a plan that he's been working on for sixty-five million years, having been the only monster to survive the explosion of Sledge's ship. Which, I don't know, if you've got 65,000,000 years to work with, maybe just do it before the Power Rangers are born and save yourself a lot of trouble?
Anyway, if this wasn't enough of a reason for the Power Rangers to come out of retirement, they get a special request from the man himself:
Two great things about this: First, this is the same Santa that we saw in last year's Christmas special, which adds a nice bit of continuity. Hopefully they'll stick with that if (and when) Ninja Steel does their own Christmas Special next year. Second, and perhaps most importantly, it gives us the single best line of the entire special:
"Looks like we're going to have to save Christmas. Again."
God, I love the Power Rangers.
The first step is to track down Heximas's operation, which, fortunately enough, is within jogging distance from the Rangers' headquarters. Once there, they find that Chase, Riley, and Shelby have been fully indoctrinated into the evils of the holidays, and are fully willing to unleash a terrible Christmas on the rest of the world.
With a little bit of trickery, they're able to get Chase and Riley back to headquarters and break them out of it, but Shelby escapes to help Heximas prepare his sleigh, and when the Rangers show up in full force --- including Prince Phillip, Tyler's Dad James, and Zenowing, who don't get any speaking roles --- Tyler gets paired off with Shelby, who kicks him so hard that he de-morphs.
As you may already know, Power Rangers has a long history of setting up romances that it never quite resolves, and Shelby and Tyler are certainly the most easily shippable pairing since... well, since Gia and Emma in Super Megaforce, probably, but that was mostly subtext.
After a few flashbacks to some quasi-romantic moments in their shared history, Shelby snaps out of it, and the Rangers are once again all together, Rangers forever.
And then it's time to just beat the living hell out of Heximas.
By my count, they do six finishers on him, including three at once. There is no other Zord fight. They blow him up when he's little, then he gets big and just immediately walks into the last thirty seconds of a WrestleMania.
And with that, Christmas is saved, and the Dino Charge Rangers give us the gift of one last adventure before they ascend to Ranger Heaven.
In Ranger Station, each episode of Power Rangers will be graded on a scale of one to ten in five categories, with a final score awarded with a maximum of fifty points.
Christmas Cheer: 10/10
Presence of Evil Elves: 10/10
Total For Christmas Special 2016: 50/50