Okay, let me make myself clear: I LOVE THIS SHOW. This is my favorite of the post-Zordon era shows and easily in the running for my favorite season ever.
The first five episodes are:
Trial by Fire
Riding the Edge
A Matter of Trust
Operation Lightspeed is the "gathering the team" episode. I always liked the varied and unusual jobs which the Rangers had prior to joining the team, and them being recruited rather than "at the right place at the right time" was nice. Also, the fact that none of them new each other was cool as well. They had to learn to work together (as we will see in the following episodes). Their powers coming from Terran technology was a big deal for me as well, as was the Rangers demorphing in front of the citizens and having their identities be known. Ghouligan makes for a decent introductory monster, even if my friend Rett immediately recognized him as Monster Psycho Red.
Lightspeed Teamwork introduced us to the Rescue Zords and the Rail Rescues. The coolest aspect of this is the Zords having to work together to put themselves into Megazord formation, which we had not seen since the beginning of Turbo, and really, even that was not as involved as this. The theme of rescuing people in peril is used very well, with Carter and Kelsey getting the people out of the building, and using the Rescue Bird as a tool
and not just as a weapon
. On the character side we meet Miss Fairweather, who rocks, and see the beginnings of her relationship with Joel, which was almost always a highlight. On the other side, Jinxer is introduced, and we get one of the most memorable monsters of the series in the form of Magmavore. Great episode overall.
Trial By Fire is one of my favorites of the entire season. The training exercise which opens the episode was another departure from everything that had come before. Carter and Captain Mitchell's interactions were a kind of tension which was new to the series, especially Carter's anger over the kid getting hurt because of Mitchell's orders. The Quake Stakes and the monster fight are sort of obligitory because the real story here is Carter learning that to be the commander means that he has to see more than the obvious and know when to trust his own superiors.
Riding The Edge is an episode which I remember mainly for it's incredible main setpiece (the shuttle rescue) and for the implied lesbianism between Kelsey and the shuttle pilot Nancy. The resuce of the shuttle is simply amazingly done, with each of the Zords doing something and working together in a logical, sensible manner to get the job done. Joel grabs the shuttle with his magnetic hooks, Dana clears the freeway of cars, Kelsey gets the shuttle to land on the back of Haz Rescue 4, and then Carter picks up the shuttle with Pyro Rescue 1's hands. Whirlin' was a good monster as well, because he (like Magmavore) was tied directly to the threat of the episode and not tacked on like the previous monster.
A Matter of Trust is the weakest of these five mainly because so much time is spent with the goofy fisherman guy who Dana has to babysit. Like Trial By Fire, its more about introducing us to the father/daughter & commander/subordinate relationships between Dana and the Captain. But it does have a better monster in Fireor, and have a couple of good action scenes with the 4 Rangers battling him while Dana deals with Vypra. Not the best episode of the bunch but alright.
Overall, I really enjoyed these episodes when I first saw and still dig them now. The thematic elements of this series shine in these early episodes and those themes would mostly continue on. We take that for granted now but this was groundbreaking stuff back in 2000. I cannot wait for Shout! Factory to release this season because it is on my "Must Buy" list.
Thanks for the great start to this new thread series!