Jason David Frank Says 'Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel' 25th Anniversary Episode Is Green Ranger-Approved
Throughout the ever-changing world of Power Rangers, the one constant has been Jason David Frank. The actor has remained loyal to the franchise and his character Tommy Oliver from the moment he donned the Green Ranger suit.
To celebrate the show’s longevity and “Mighty Morphin” legacy, Nickelodeon presents a special 25th anniversary episode of its current series Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel. “Dimensions in Danger” will feature not only returning favorite Tommy, but other alums including Wes Collins (Jason Faunt) and Kat Hillard (Catherine Sutherland). Adding to the nostalgia, the show premieres on August 28 to coincide with when Mighty Morphin Power Rangers debuted in the United States back in 1993.
The show is pushing the boundaries of what TV can do.
“It was amazing,” Frank said of the experience back on set. “I went back to New Zealand. It was where I filmed Dino Thunder, so to go back and see some of the same people that are working. It felt like home. I got a chance to reunite with cast members. Got a chance to meet the new cast.
“But when I’m working, I work. Even when I’m not working, I’m learning lighting, camera. I’m learning the different departments. I’ve always been hands-on with everything I do. For me, it was great to go back and reprise the role of Dr. Oliver. I think Dino Thunder was an important season a lot of people loved, and it is an important season to see now. It’s great for the kids to be introduced to Dino Thunder because what kid doesn’t love dinosaurs. It’s super cool.”
Frank has worn many colors during his Power Rangers run. However, the iconic green or even white are arguably the most beloved. The actor keeps the iconic role alive through his many comic convention appearances, as well in projects like the digital Super Power Beat Down.
“I’m just believe in it,” Frank said. “I’m the first Power Ranger really to do Comic Con events for fun…Any opportunity that comes up, I’m the first one there. There are a lot of people that turn it down. People who are involved in the franchise, maybe they don’t’ want to be involved. I’m there to do it because just to see the fan’s faces light up when you are bringing back to being a child again. That is what is so cool about it.”
Frank believes the show has survived and thrived for a number of reasons. Among them is the message the program sends.
“It did show values for kids,” he said. “The brotherhood, the dedication and respect, cooperation with people. On top of that you had the different colors, which kids like. On top of that, you have karate. And on top of that, you had cheesy monsters. It’s one of those things that grew with the kids.”
All the elements translated into Power Rangers becoming a global phenomenon. Its stars became overnight sensations thanks in part to the fact that children felt represented.
“I think the first season was great because there was a character all the kids could identify with,” Frank said. “Tommy was the loner. Jason was the jock. Kimberly the ‘Valley Girl.’ Billy was the smart one, really educated. Then you had Zack doing the hip-hop kito. It really was diverse.”
With every appearance Frank can see how Power Rangers impacted audiences. He likens it to when a person hears a song and how it can signal memories good or bad.
“When people watch Power Rangers, it zaps them back to being a kid again. Those moments of, ‘Hey, I didn’t have a dad,’ or, ‘Hey, I was suicidal.’ I hear every story,” Frank said. “I hear that the show encouraged them to never give up. These stories are endless. And I’m there sharing and communicating with my fans worldwide through my social media and the fan base at the conventions.
“I think a lot of the actors, they don’t communicate much with their fans. They don’t get to share with these awesome stories of fans…It’s encouraged a lot of people. I’m just proud of the show because we were the number one show in America before Instagram, Google, Facebook. We did it the old-fashioned way. To be number one in the world the old-fashioned way, it means a lot to me.”
Frank is committed to the fans because he appreciates their support. They’ve followed him beyond Power Rangers into other realms. He has done voice work for Transformers: Titans Return and portrayed Blood Shot in the web series Ninjak vs. The Valiant Universe. Despite the other work, don’t expect Frank to neglect his roots. He stands behind the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Shattered Grid comic series or the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Soul of the Dragon graphic novel releasing in December.
“The Green Ranger solo book I’ve been pushing for,” Frank said. “Hopefully, we can turn it into a digital series. Tommy will one day die. He died in Shattered Grid #25, but until then I will still be rocking the suit. I’m really not into the movies. I’m into the series with Green Ranger, a darker version. More like Shattered Grid. That’s gone viral everywhere around the world. Lord Drakken is everywhere now. That’s basically Tommy turning evil. He has killed Rita. It’s for an older, mature audience. A promo that leads into the book. That is where I want to see my character go.”
He also enjoyed doing the cameo with Amy Jo Johnson in the Power Rangers movie reboot. Although he thought they should have had the originals in there more, considering the positive reaction to their appearances. Frank is confident in the future of the brand as it enters a new era with Hasbro acquiring the franchise.
“I think Hasbro has good things in store,” Frank said. “I don’t know what they have planned. I will tell you I was proud to do the movie…Reboots are very touchy to do. You got to have the right formula, or it’s not going to be a $500 million movie. It could have been if it had the right formula, but they didn’t.
“I’m sure Hasbro is going to pick up all the slack. They are a great company. There is potential for a lot of good cross-overs. From what I heard with just Haim [Saban] being supportive of the brand and guiding them, I think in Hasbro’s hands it will be great. Fans are going to be excited across the board. I’m sure Hasbro has a plan. You don’t buy a company for over half a billion dollars and not have a plan.”
The past, present and perhaps future of Power Rangers is encapsulated in the upcoming milestone episode of the series. Frank doesn’t provide too many details on what happens when the veteran Rangers come together with the new blood heroes to save the world.
“I will say for my character Tommy, I came up with a checklist because on tour, I come to know what fans want,” Frank said. “In order for me to do the show, it had to meet my criteria and the checklist I had…The Megaforce reunion, I didn’t like too much. It was great to have the opportunity, but I didn’t think the story made sense. This checklist was an unbelievable checklist, so if you’re a fan of Tommy Oliver I think it will be everything you’ll want to see in this anniversary episode.
“It’s a reunion episode I’m proud of. It’s one of the best reunion episodes for today. Forever Red was great, but we’re talking 2018 and keeping it traditional. There are a lot of things you’re going to see in there. It’s going to blow your mind. You’re going to go back to being a kid again. I will say it’s Green Ranger approved, and I’m happy and honored to be part of it.”
Another thing that is Green Ranger approved is the facto Hasbro deemed August 28 “National Power Rangers Day.” A day to recognize the original “teenagers with” attitude.”
“I’m happy to say August 28 we celebrate Power Rangers on that day, and for the rest of our lives because that is how long we are going to be around,” Frank said. “You can’t get rid of us. We don’t die. We multiply.”
And don’t forget morph.
Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel, Saturdays, 12/11am c, Nickelodeon
Special “Dimensions in Danger” episode, Tuesday, August 28, 8/7c, Nickelodeon