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Power Rangers Hits 800 Episodes: What It Was Like to Appear in One of Them

Go, go, Power Rangers...

For a legion of twentysomethings, those simple words unleash a flood of childhood memories surrounding the kids TV classic Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. They're reminded of the five teenagers from Angel Grove High who are given the ability to morph into dinosaur-related Power Rangers. They remember Zordon, the powerful wizard trapped in a time warp as a disembodied head, and Rita Repulsa, the witch freed from a dumpster on the moon who put him there. (Hey—no one said the show wasn't totally weird!) And for a lucky few who grew up in the Los Angeles area in the '90s, they even remember the day they became the most popular kid in their elementary school and appeared in an episode of the craze sweeping the nation.

I am one of those kids.

When MMPR debuted on Fox on Aug. 28, 1993, I was about to turn seven and attempting to jump start a career as a child actor. My passion for pop culture began early and I wanted to be a part of it any way I could. As a kid, that meant landing my breakout role on-screen. I hadn't had much luck until my agent alerted my mom and I of an audition for my friend and I's favorite new show. I was going in to read for Billy, the Blue Ranger (David Yost), as seen in a flashback, and I was feeling confident. After all, we shared a first name. There was a connection there. Beyond our shared name, I identified with Billy. He was the beta to Jason (Austin St. John) and Zach's (Walter Jones) alpha males. I was the kid in second grade who would come out of the closet about 12 years later and only had a few friends, who were all girls. He was the brain of the group. I always had my head in a book. This Billy was born to play that Billy.

I don't remember much of my audition, except that I clearly killed because I booked the part and wound up spending a day with my dad on the Santa Clarita, Calif. set of the show I'd rush home to watch every day after school. The episode, the 43rd in the first season, was called "Something Fishy," and it was Billy's big episode. Rita's monster of the week was fish-related, and it just so happened that Billy had a debilitating fear of fish. My big moment? A flashback scene while Billy explains to Kimberly (Amy Jo Johnson) how his phobia developed. It's a brief 40 seconds wherein I push a sailboat out onto a pond of some kind, twirl my finger in the water, and scream my face off as a hungry swimmer latches on to my finger.

Mighty Morphin Power RangersFOX

It was in the filming of this brief 40 seconds that I learned a lot of truths about Hollywood: 1. 40 seconds takes about an hour to film. 2. The glue required to attach a fake fish to a child actor's finger so he can shake it in the air and scream as if he's being bitten is gross and doesn't wash off easily. 3. Pretty girls who play the Pink Ranger will sign autographs for little child actors with a heart, leaving said little child actors to read far too much into said heart. And 4. The actors who bring to life the characters you so admire and identify with might not always be what you hope they'll be. Yost wasn't very friendly to me and he smoked cigarettes. It shook me to my six-year-old core.

Shattered perception of TV heroes notwithstanding, I was left with an episode of TV featuring my scrawny self to take back to school to force my classmates to watch while I feigned embarrassment. (I was an aspiring child actor, after all.)

My aspirations for on-screen stardom weren't long for this world—the acting bug turned into the writing bug sometime in my sophomore year of high school—but they were outlived by the very show that helped fuel my childhood hunger. ThePower Rangers franchise has been on the air in one form or another since premiering in 1993, with its latest iteration, Power Rangers Dino Charge, reaching the franchise's 800th episode. With this milestone, Power Rangers joins the esteemed ranks of Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood as the only kids programs to have done so. That's no small feat. And to have been a part of this venerable series—even if for only a minute of air time—is something this nerdy kid-turned-nerdy adult will always cherish.

Now, say it with me, Rangers: It's morphin' time!

The 800th episode of Power Rangers airs Saturday, Oct. 3 at 12 p.m. on Nickelodeon.

story via E

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