In the months following the attacks of September 11th, much of Hollywood found itself in a state of re-structuring. Many shows and movies were re-cut in order to show sensitivity to the state of the nation, but you may be surprised to learn that one of those shows was none other than the hit children’s program, Power Rangers.
The long-running series may be widely regarded as silly and fun escapism directed at younger audiences, but a key element of many Power Rangers episodes was the team battling giant monsters against the backdrop of a city. As might be expected, these battles often ended with a few casualties in the city’s skyline – though at least the world was saved.
Yesterday, as the world looked back at the events of 14 years ago, former Power Rangers head writer Amit Bhaumik took to Twitter to explain how the show changed in a post-9/11 world. Surprisingly, it was rather substantial.
You know, 9/11 had a profound impact on making Power Rangers and changed what we could and could not show on air for the next decade.— Amit Bhaumik (@bhaumikamit) September 12, 2015
A big part of the show always involved giant robots fighting giant monsters, but suddenly the massive amounts of city damage had to be cut.— Amit Bhaumik (@bhaumikamit) September 12, 2015
The Power Rangers Time Force finale which involved crazy amounts of skyscrapers being blown up had to be edited down last minute.— Amit Bhaumik (@bhaumikamit) September 12, 2015
There was a ban imposed on scenes of skyscraper destruction. All previous episodes were edited too.— Amit Bhaumik (@bhaumikamit) September 12, 2015
Actually, I'm not sure if the DVDs have the pre-9/11 versions of the episodes or the post-9/11.— Amit Bhaumik (@bhaumikamit) September 12, 2015
That ban lasted from Wild Force until the show moved to Nickelodeon. The reason it was lifted was simply because no one remembered.— Amit Bhaumik (@bhaumikamit) September 12, 2015
And I certainly wasn't about to remind anyone to censor my show.— Amit Bhaumik (@bhaumikamit) September 12, 2015
Ultimately, the idea that executives put a ban on the show’s extensive city destruction makes sense – even if one could argue that most children may not have put two and two together as much as their parents would. It does seem like Power Rangers was as much affected by the attacks as the pilot of 24 (which was re-cut to avoid showing the on-screen destruction of an airliner) and the first Raimi Spider-Man movie (which had more NYC-positive scenes added to it before release). However, the really surprising bit of info here is that older episodes of the show were re-cut.
It’s one thing to not continue producing the show the way you have been out of a sense of compassion for the audience’s feelings, but going so far as to re-cut episodes from before the event seems a bit excessive. It’s not as if older episodes were in heavy re-run by the time 9/11 happened. The network airing Power Rangers (which has ranged from Fox, to ABC and Nickelodeon) typically sticks with whatever season is current for re-runs and doesn’t dive back into archived episodes.
What makes the re-cutting worse is that, as one person said in a reply to Bhaumik, the episodes on the eventual DVD release are that of the post-9/11 offerings as the pre-9/11 masters could not be located (side note: how does that keep happening for all these re-masterings?) In many ways, it’s a shame that the original versions are lost, because they do lend to a view of the country’s sensibilities towards violence pre and post-9/11. It’s like a history lesson… a very tragic history lesson.
Power Rangers airs Saturdays at 12/11c on Nickelodeon.