Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Shout! Factory Announces Plans to Begin Printing Money

Generation Y is beginning to graduate from College and head out into the big scary adult world, which in the marketing biz means it's time to start re-selling them comforting reminders of their suddenly-evaporating youth.

I was (or, rather, considered myself to be) just a bit too old when the "Power Rangers" first happened to get big into it - though, obviously, the "tokusatsu" series that the franchise grew out of have been and remain a pretty big influence on me - in fact I remember being a perhaps-too-vocal "hater" of it when I was in Junior High and my then-kid sister was a MASSIVE never-miss-an-episode fan of it. I will say, however, that thanks to Linkara's hugely-watchable efforts I'm more or less becoming sort of a "retroactive fan."

In any case, I'm sure that while the image to the right is more of a "huh, cool" to me it's a MASSIVE "about fucking time!!!" to many others. What I CAN say is that Shout! Factory and Saban Inc's recently-announced plan for releasing the series on DVD is a master-class in how to "do" nostalgia-selling right...

Here's the score: The DVDs are coming out in Season/Volume sets (it started out as a daily series, so "Season One" is incredibly long as kid-shows go) with multi-month release gaps because... hey, they've gotta make money and cheaper piecemeal dole-outs let you make it big time off of impulse buys in the "OMIGOD GOTTA HAVE IT NOW!!!" mold, the "Hey, so-and-so loved this as a kid - let's get it for `em!" mold and especially the younger fans of the current (yet incredibly STILL in some kind of continuity!*) incarnations hungry for more material (seriously, TEN HOURS of episodes for under 20 bucks is a hell of a deal as digital-babysitting goes.)

...BUT! In a welcome acknowledgement that a big part of the consumer base for this will be now-adult collectors with the ability and inclination to buy it in a bigger but more efficient way, they are also set to make a huge box set encompassing every single episode of the first Seven Seasons (for fans: that means the entirety of the "Zordon Era" and the semi-connected seventh "Lost Galaxy" season) available right off the bat through Time Life - similar to the way the "Real Ghostbusters" DVDs initially came out (no price has been set yet.)

THIS, nostalgia-propert license-holders, is how you handle this stuff.



I'm sincerely curious to see how "90s Nostalgia" plays out as a market force. My own biases are obvious in this case; ("...don't you mean EVERY case, Bob derp de-derp derp derp!?") but I maintain that one of the reason that "kitsch nostalgia" of the 80s (and the 50s before it) "works" so well as a re-saleable commodity is the unironic earnestness of the era(s). Yeah, there was calculating cynicism behind all that earnestness - what better way to get kids to dump their parents money into the battle between Autobot and Decepticon than to get them sincerely emotionally invested? - but it was there, and I think it's part of why the stuff endures.

The 90s... had a different "vibe" happening - not necessarily better or worse, but different. The 90s - snuggled too-securely between the end of Cold War fears and the beginning of Terror War fears - was all about affecting a too-cool-for-school "end of history" jadedness, the "whatever" era. Pop-culture of the time reflected that, to a large degree, with lots of cartoons, comics, TV etc. making self-awareness of their own disposability part of their "act;" and I wonder if that's had an effect on how well it's managed to lodge in onetime fans' psyches?

Just for one immediate example: "Power Rangers" itself probably has the most potent "nostalgia cache" of 90s-spawned kiddie properties... and if you go back and watch stuff from the first wave of it what sticks out is that it's an incredibly "retro"-feeling show even excluding the recycled Japanese FX footage. The upbeat gee-whiz teenage superhero formula it cribs from plays out in precisely the manner of an early-60s Disney show or DC comic, and it's wide-eyed earnest almost to the point of self-parody. Correlation? You tell me...

*Incidentally, has anyone made the argument yet that "Power Rangers" is on it's way to being America's equivalent to "Doctor Who;" i.e. a low-budget kids show that goes on forever as a generational, continuing "thing?" I mean, let's be realistic - at some point someone is going to float "do a version in prime-time aimed at older fans" to Saban, and if they pull the trigger it's almost-certainly a moneymaker...

31 comments:

Lido said...

I'm 20 and when Power Rangers first came out I thought I was too old for it, Linkara is I believe around 25-26 and he loved it as a kid and now...we live in a weird world

Joshua the Anarchist said...

Oh hello childhood, where've you been all this time?

Yeah, outside of the Marvel Action Hour (and a bunch of old sitcoms on TV Land), Power Rangers pretty much WAS my childhood. Not sure I'll go out and buy this immediately considering I'm dirt poor at the moment and they're all still on netflix, but this'll definitely be something for the wishlist at least.

Rogue Leader said...

I'm 20 years old, i saw the Power Rangers all the time, it was a very important show when i was younger. I'll buy it if they sell here in Mexico, because are great memories.

Greenansatsu said...

If I didn't just get done watching all but the most current season of Power Rangers on Netflix this would be extremely more exciting to me.

As for the prime time pitch, if they could get the writers who did Time Force to come back I one hundred percent agree that it could do well. That season felt more like it belonged on NBC at 8pm than Saturday at 10am

TheDVDGrouch said...

Is there commentary? As a 20 something who grew up with the series I would love to have commentary from the actors and creators. Especially because I can admit the first season is kinda rough to watch.

Power Rangers really was my nerd gateway drug. Continuity retcons I learned it all there first.

Gavin McQue said...

I'm 20 and I watched Power Rangers a lot as a kid. It's weird having a nephew who watches the current version of the show.

This does indeed appeal to me, though it's weird to think of my generation as one becoming an adult thing changing in terms of cultural and marketability relevance.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Shout factory? Pass. They don't like captioning/subtitling their dvds. I'm sick of them getting licenses to my childhood series and outright refusing to do subtitles for the deaf/hard of hearing. :(

-Kia Purity

Anonymous said...

21 year old here. Honestly, other than Power Rangers (which I never really got into as a kid), my generation didn't really have crazy, actiony, kitchey genre stuff on television besides the Ninja Turtles if you want to count them. In terms of action, we did have X-Men and Batman, but those characters are still around and very much in our minds today with the movies.

Most of my childhood nostalgia comes from an insane amount of more "classic style" cartoons that dominated tv at the time. Shows like Animaniacs, Doug, Hey Arnold, Dexter's Lab, Powerpuff Girls, Rocko's Modern Life, and pretty much anything and everything from Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Disney Channel (when they were still mainly JUST Disney cartoons). That and the steady stream of pretty fantastic Disney animated movies from '89 to '99 (including Toy Story) is what affected me most as a kid.

I'm not ENTIRELY sure these shows have caught on in the same way some of the 80s nostalgia properties have with that generation, though I certainly have bought my fair share of DVD sets. Cartoon Network is coming up on its 20th anniversary, however, and they've been celebrating with a block of all old "Cartoon Cartoons" hosted by Brak and Zorak, and that's been getting a HUGE response. And I think TeeNick (Nickelodeon's network aimed at teens/tweens) has been airing blocks of old Snick shows like All That and Kenan & Kel. So I think that nostalgia IS coming back, it's just not in full force yet. But I gotta say, if Disney were to finally make a big budget animated Duck Tales feature film, you bet your ASS I'd be going to a midnight premiere.

-Ryan B

Jeremy Pierce said...

While I was a HUGE fan of the Power Rangers back when I was a kid (it was seriously one of the most defining parts of my childhood) I'm not sure if I am interested in buying the DVDs.

Since high school, I grew a newer and deeper appreciation for the Super Sentai and other tokusatsu shows that the series borrowed from while looking back on the Power Rangers with a sentiment of "I actually thought this was GOOD?"

That said, I think I might eventually make an impulse buy, just for the nostalgia trip, but it's not very high on my priority list.

- Jeremy Pierce

Aiddon said...

Odd you should mention having an "older" Power Rangers as right now in Japan there's a Super Sentai series going on right now that's aimed at adult audiences. It's basically one, huge slapstick parody of the ENTIRE Super Sentai franchise while at the same time embracing the absurdity of the premise. It's HILARIOUS.

P.S. The creator of Super Sentai also did a Legend of Zelda comic for Nintendo Power. Good times

biomechanical923 said...

It really feels like the late 80's/early 90's styles are coming back. Kids are running around wearing day-glo colors on everything. Whether flannel, angular patterened shirts, or cheetah-print hammer pants comes back, remains to be seen.

Out of the "sentai" style shows of the time (including the knockoffs like beetleborgs and VR Troopers), personally, I was a fan of "Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad", and I had all the toys.

While I agree with you that 80's are 90's babies are highly nostalgic of their past, I'm not so sure that they're willing to pay big money to re-live that past.

For example, why pay $20 a season to buy power rangers when you can just watch the entire season on Netflix?

Oisín O'Driscoll said...

I think the difference between Doctor Who and Power Rangers is really the difference between 90s tv and older shows that you're pointing out here. Power Rangers was a campy, self-aware half hour of colourful madness, whereas Doctor Who, despite often being quite silly, always had an earnest message and central philosophy based on education and mufti-culturalism right from the start.
Also, while I can't be sure, I struggle to imagine that Power Rangers has the same level of love in America as DW has over here. Seriously, everyone recognizes it, it's part of British folklore at this point; a constant mark on the psyche comparable to King Arthur or the Lord of the Rings.

fatneal said...

@lido stop lying, im 25 and i remember watching season 1 in after school program in second grade...your 20 and were way too young to feel "too old" to watch power rangers for the first few seasons.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing, the japanese have already started making Super Sentai geared towards older fans with their newest show Akibarangers. Also in Gokaiger, another recent sentai, a character says "fuck" in english. Make sense of that Bob.

Namechoice said...

Even though I'm the "right" age for it, I never got into Power Rangers. What I would like to see is Dexter's Lab on DVD.

You know hat would be cool? I remember a few episodes of Powerpuff girls with characters from dexter in the crowd scenes, implying it was the same "universe." It would be cool if they did a live action Powerpuff girls movie and then a live action Dexter movie, and then they did an "Avengers" style crossover movie. Never gonna happen, but it would be cool.

Anonymous said...

@Anon Ryan B

That's exactly what I was about to post. I never really got into Power Rangers because it always felt too camp even for a single digit kid. I was much more wrapped up in Batman and X-Men as far as those shows go. Honestly the only action stuff I can still get a shot of nostalgia from other then those is Darkwing Duck and that's simply because it was part of the whole Disney cartoon thing. All the sets I own are stuff along the lines of Johnny Bravo, Dexter's Lab, Ducktales, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Rocko's Modern Life, Animaniacs. It seems like our generation connected far more with the screwball cartoons their self aware humor. We are a cynical bunch.
@Oisin
Definitely agree, an American Doctor Who would require quite a bit more staying power than a romp through another country's genre. Nothing against Super Sentai, I just don't think it'll be able to stay relevant for anything like Dr. Who's run. It doesn't help that Doctor Who has the benefit of having a central character that keeps the focus throughout the series, whereas a Power Rangers run like that wouldn't be able to keep consistent characters. Leading to a point where even one botched iteration of the team would dissolve the fanbase. That's assuming somewhere they acquired the discipline to carefully and lovingly tweak the series only as necessary as opposed to managing it like any other kids show.
-Olwyn

Smashmatt202 said...

Are there DuckTales or Animaniacs seasonal sets? The 90's was MY childhood, and I can't wait for them to start selling them back to me! Yes, I'd gladly pay money to rewatch stuff I watched growing up!

OH, and Digimon! I'd totally be all over a Digimon series set of DVDs! Hell yeah, that was SO awesome...

MerelyAFan said...

The 90s are an interesting time because it as essentially a pause period between the occasionally misguided earnestness of the 80s and the darker awareness of the 00s.

The detached cynicism seems reflective that there didn't seem to be a need to be so overtly gung ho (no Cold War to fight, a growing skepticism about "morning in America") but there was also no sobering information regarding the world around us via things like the internet.

The deeply flawed anti-heroes and dubious protagonists so prevalent in television today (Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Dexter, Shield) could have no place in the 90s because they themselves are reflective of the the period we're in. The same detachment that would have people rolling their eyes at cheesy heroes in the 80s also would view such dark characters as unrelatable.

Kids' shows are an interesting case because it was the 90s that laid the ground work for a pattern that's still followed today.

Batman: TAS and Gargoyles helped to introduce mature storytelling for kid's shows, X-Men/Spider-Man kicked off the nature of season story arcs, various Warner Bros. shows mastered the art handed down by Loony Tunes of having humor for adults as well as kids, and numerous Nickelodeon programs were a breeding ground for the weird, occasionally gross out humor that continues to this day. And the contributions of the early anime boom could be talked about for hours.

Smashmatt202 said...

@ MerelyAFan

When I read "Dexter" I almost thought you meant Dexter's Laboratory. But yeah, I know what you're really talking about...

Actually, Dexter's Lab was ALSO another 90's show! Powerpuff Girls, too! They were so AWESOME!

David (The Pants) said...

19 (almost 20) here. I must say I never got into Power Rangers as a kid. I was Silver Ranger for Halloween once but I never really watched the show, and I can't say why. What I think sucks is all the "biggest kids shows" from the 90's were on Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon (which had non-cartoon classics also), and I didn't have cable. Not having cable means I also never got into Dexter's Lab or Hey Arnold or anything. Occasionally ABC had some shows like Power Puff Girls, and they also had Recess which i was big into. I mainly had KidsWB though, and that was Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh, but most other things didn't connect with me so well.

A kid without cable in the 90's can't catch a break with all these other kids having nostolgia-gasms for Doug or whatever.

Jwillx70 said...

Okay Bob, I will concede that Power Rangers and Doctor Who have certain parallels in their production histories'. They're both, initially, low budget sci-fi television shows aimed almost exclusively at kids. However, Doctor Who has always, ALWAYS, possessed an intellectual and emotional maturity that Power Rangers occasionally flirted with, but never fully embraced. In Power Rangers, it is usually the case that good things will be done for good reasons, bad things will be done for bad reasons, Monsters will show up and "look" scary, but generally just make a mess before a combination of back flips, pyrotechnics, and a giant robot reestablishes the status quot. Entertaining, but ultimately forgettable. In Doctor Who, its practically a rule that bad things will be done for good reasons, good things will be done for bad reasons, Monsters will show up and while they may not always look scary, they will definitely "be" scary. And even though good will conquer evil through a combination of inventiveness, courage, and sheer dumb luck, evil will have left its mark on the status quot, in either body count, emotional scaring, or, more often than not, both. Entertaining, thought provoking, and deeply moving. I'm not saying it's impossible for Power Rangers to become like that (though that would require a dramatic reformatting of the the show), but drawing a equivalency between it and Doctor Who as things currently stand is a bit of stretch.

P.S. If any one is interested in seeing what a "serious," high class re-launch of Power Rangers might look like. I recomend checking out Genndy Tartakovsky's Sym-Bionic Titan. It will require some hunting, but it's well worth the effort.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sym-Bionic_Titan

Goku50k said...

Power Rangers was okay but I always liked UltraMan more.

Chris Cesarano said...

Though born in '85, my most clear memories are of the '90's and thus I am a 90's child. Even so, I think I'd be a bad judge as to what that era really entailed or was like, as I was always buried in video games. There were a lot of cartoons and shows I watched on Nickelodeon and such, but with few exceptions (Rocko's Modern Life, Animaniacs, Mighty Max, X-Men, Ninja Turtles, Ronin Warriors) I was always drawing while the TV was on. It was basically background noise, and while I was aware of the likes of Doug, Rugrats, Salute Your Shorts, I was never really interested.

Though I outright hated Saved by the Bell and Clarissa Explains it All. Fuck those shows.

As for Power Rangers, I enjoyed the first season. I was about 7 at the time I think when it first released (26 now, 27 in a few weeks if that helps), but after a year I was a lot less interested and wound up writing my first story on a computer: Godzilla vs. The Power Rangers.

But there was one thing I always appreciated about it, and that was the fact that it had an on-going storyline. In fact, looking back, the big reason I was drawn into anime was because I enjoyed the likes of Robotech and Ronin Warriors (and, I will confess, was able to tolerate recording episodes of Sailor Moon during the summer since it was on before my sister woke up) as a kid. It didn't treat me like an idiot.

It's no wonder, then, that I'd also love Beast Wars and Mighty Max, which had continuity as well (but less cheese than X-Men or Spider-man, which I enjoyed both of, too).

I will say that the 90's was an interesting time in children's television, where it felt like there were a lot of writers taking it more seriously and treating the audience like idiots. It's a lot easier for me to watch old episodes of X-Men with my niece than old episodes of Transformers.

But I STILL wish they'd up and release Mighty Max on DVD, and nothing will compare to Robotech. Sure, it was a censored version of Macross, but they were able to get away with A LOT.

shibolena said...

I honestly did get into super sentai through PR. However, in retrospect, I think it had everything to do with the stock footage from the sentai. Also was always a big fan of godzilla and that is naturally connected to a extent.

First off, these DVD's. I already know there is no chance of subbed sentai being released in the states. I'm sure there's some extras about sentai, but I'm sure I already know everything they would go over. There's only one thing that would interest me into buying this and this is the uncut zyu2 footage(anyone into PR knows what I'm talking about.) Not because I care about PR, but its still fantastic fight footage shoot by toei(as opposed to the shit saban himself produced on a weekly basis.) Outside of that, if I really wanted to watch PR(I'd rather have a lobotomy frankly), Netflix has the whole series on streaming. So really who cares?

And finally, the continuity. Sorry, but as a whole, it doesn't make that much sense. Nor has it ever been that strong(more than half the shows are stand-alone.) But as always, if you want to go on about "good continuity makes up for bad writing", but my guest. Because that sure as hell is the only way to give the story in PR a pass. I'll assume you were joking when you said a Prime-time PR show aimed at adults would be a massive success and move on. Sorry, but PR is not the avengers. Oh, and just to let you know, toei does half-own PR and would never let them make a PR show without sentai footage.

PS-as always, love your sucking up to linkara on saying you become a retroactive fan by his videos. Honestly, did you even watch the show? But whatever, as long as he sticks to PR and doesn't even pretend to know anything about tokusatsu, I could care less. Oh, and how have you ever shown to care about the super sentai franchise or other toku shows? You never talk about them on this blog unless its about PR. The truth is they stand on their own, as I realized a long time ago. So what's your all time favorite sentai show out of the ones you've seen? Mine is Gosei sentai Dairanger. And if you pick one, can you really talk about it?

shibolena said...

one more quick thing, for the sake of argument, if linkara's videos are entertaining, that does not make PR any better as a show. It's like saying space mutiny is one of the best movies of all time because the MST3K ep is on of the funniest things I've ever seen in my life. Their episode is classic, but the movie itself without that treatment is still and always will be shit. I know linkara is not making fun of it, but it's still a similar situation. You have to watch the actually show to have a opinion on it. You cannot become a fan of the show itself, for what it really is(warts and all), by those videos alone. I watched some of them once, and he is carefully to cherry-pick the best moments from PR(most of it sentai footage of course) while ignoring the massive amount of garbage.

biomechanical923 said...

@Shibolena
I know it's probably not what you're looking for, but I assume that any sentai you want has been fan-subbed by now. Weeaboos are furiously meticulous about their obsession.

MovieBob said...

@Shibolena,

Regarding tokusatsu, the sentence about it as an influence was supposed to carry a hyperlink to THIS:

http://www.screwattack.com/shows/partners/game-overthinker/game-overthinker-episode-60-ninjamageddon-aka-mailbag-show

My apologies.

Unknown said...

hey, moviebub, what do you think of the new gobusters japanese sentai? specifically the designs of the mecha, being so heavily based on western adaptations such as blue gorrilla truck being voiced by optimus prime and gold and silver bettleborg bot

Graham said...

How does Shout! Factory keep being so awesome? Do they share Google's infinite money pool? They manage to keep picking up so many hard-to-find shows, both obscure cult hits and popular classics.

Steven Ulysses Perhero said...

And now to play the "Waiting for the volumes of seasons I liked" game.

Although if Shout Factory REALLY wanted my money, they'd put Masked Rider shows on DVD (The original franchise, not Saban's macekere of it. The Power Rangers episodes that introduced it made it look like it'd be awesome, but I know the actual show ended up being pretty different.)

But then again, that'd probably be a monkey's-paw wish since Shout Factory's subs of Trasnformers: Headmasters turned out to be a waste of money. I guess I'm better off learning Japanese and importing the DVDs Toei put out...

droppingpenny said...

Actually, over here in Germany. All Seasons of Power Rangers are available on DVD for years. Every time a new Season comes out a new DVD Box Set comes out with it. Really surprised that there are no DVD releases in the shows country of origin.