Hey Mr. Bhaumik, great blog. I’ve been a ranger fan for all my life really and it’s nice to have an insider look. I was wondering do you think you could do a full blog post on your Hexagon pitch? It’s been the intrigue of fanfiction and speculators for years and i think a post like yours for Forever Red would be Morphinominal. Thanks dude!
The “Hexagon” was the original plan for the 11th season of Power Rangers to adapt the Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger season of Super Sentai for the season after Power Rangers Wild Force. The plan intended to continue some of the ideas and storylines from the Forever Red team-up episode of Power Rangers Wild Force as well as wrap up all loose ends from MMPR-PRWF. Just as PRIS essentially brought together and wrapped up the five or so preceding seasons of Power Rangers (MMPR-PRT), the intention was for the 11th season to bring together and wrap up all the preceding seasons.
As writing for the PRWF season finished and production was wrapping up, I began researching and drawing up plans to adapt Hurricanger for an 11th season expected to start filming in LA. Bear in mind that this was a plan in the very rough stages and should not be treated with undue importance. It was birthed during a rocky time of transition when the direction and even continued existence of the show was in doubt. This is just one of many potential visions for a season of the show; one that ultimately went unused.
By late 2002, the new owner of the Power Rangers franchise, Disney, decided to replace (almost) the entire crew and move production for the show to New Zealand, ending the idea of the Hexagon. Instead, Hurricanger would be adapted into what was the Power Rangers Ninja Storm season.
The unused ‘Hexagon’ plan, as it has come to be called, revolved around the idea of an umbrella organization unifying most of the various Power Rangers teams we had seen over the years. The name ‘Hexagon’ came from the idea that the base of operations for the season’s Power Rangers would be a giant building like the Pentagon, except with six sides to symbolize the number of Power Rangers on most teams. Imagine a much larger version of Zordon’s Command Center except with its location and purpose known to the public. An impregnable fortress staffed by hundreds, if not thousands, and far too well-defended for any of the villains of the Power Rangers universe to try attacking.
The power dynamic typically seen between heroes and villains in the show would be flipped for this season. Instead of an invasion of a vast army of evil against a few heroes operating in secret, this time the good guys would have the apparent advantage in terms of numbers and infrastructure.
The Hexagon was to be led by Tommy Oliver, who would act as the mentor for the season’s Power Rangers like their Zordon or Captain Mitchell. As Forever Red illustrated, Tommy had been keeping in touch with various Rangers in the years since the episode Passing The Torch, Part 2. No longer the ponytailed, wifebeater-wearing teenager of MMPR days, Tommy would now look more like a federal agent in a suit. Think similar to Marvel’s Nick Fury. In Forever Red, Tommy deliberately used several Zordon clichés from the “I was afraid this day would come.” to “May the power protect you.” All foreshadowing that he was on his way to inheriting Zordon’s position in the universe.
In the original script for Forever Red, the idea was that Tommy was in retirement from being a Ranger and Andros pulled him back for one more battle. But as the episode evolved and we saw Jason David Frank bringing his usual vitality to the role as well as this time an unexpected aura of gravitas, the line about Tommy being in retirement, while filmed, was ultimately cut from the episode leaving his status in Forever Red, to the viewer, more mysterious and ambiguous. Central to the Hexagon plan was the idea of a veteran hero turned commander in charge of a super union of superheroes. The idea of the season had its genesis in Reinforcements from the Future, Part 1 when Wes tells Cole “There are other Rangers out there, all fighting for a common goal,” matured in Forever Red when linkages not seen in the show were hinted at (Carter knowing TJ, Andros knowing about Jason, etc.), and really began to become clearer watching Tommy again.
The team for the season would consist of the three basic Hurricangers (Red, Blue and Yellow), young recruits to the Hexagon and the organization’s active duty superheroes. These powers, obviously ninja-based, would likely be derived from Ninjor from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers season three - one of many returning characters who would contribute to the season’s story. Tommy would send these three Rangers away on missions in response to attacks by the villains. Instead of just one central city where all the fighting would take place, each episode’s battle could take place in various locations around the Power Rangers universe. The three Rangers would travel around in the Hexagon’s special stealth chopper, piloted by Joel from Lightspeed Rescue – a planned recurring character.
It would be implied that other Ranger teams are operating under the command of the Hexagon and there would be occasional cameos by other Rangers as our heroes would travel to respond to threats across the Power Rangers universe. Silver Hills, Angel Grove, Mariner Bay, Turtle Cove, and even possibly Aquitar, Mirinoi and KO-35 would all be seen on a regular basis (the fact that they all happened to look like LA would help a lot with filming). Tommy with his network of Ranger connections made him essentially the new Zordon and most Ranger teams could be called upon by him.
The villains for the season would be various and not unified and would even include some returning villains. Prince Gasket, Archerina, Scorpina, and Lokar were among the unresolved villains from previous seasons that I hoped to provide some resolution to during the season. The Hurricanger villains were to be used in the show as representing different villain factions and the monsters-of-the-day that the Power Rangers would fight each episode wouldn’t always be from the same group. For example, the robotic monsters-of-the-day might be Machine Empire minions of Prince Gasket, while a more organic monster might be a minion of Scorpina – who would have become a much more fleshed out character than before – or one of the new Hurricanger villain factions.
The two Beetle Hurricangers (Dark Red and Dark Blue) were to be used as a rogue group of Power Rangers that operated outside of the Hexagon network of superhero teams. As all Power Rangers seasons tried to have at least two female Rangers per season, I certainly didn’t want to break with that tradition and lobbied for the creation of a US-exclusive third Beetle Ranger – probably a Dark Yellow color – female Ranger. These Beetle Rangers were to be less in the traditional goody two-shoes mold of Ranger and have more of a rebellious, anti-authoritarian attitude to them. They would reject the Hexagon mentality of all superheroes operating under the leadership of one man and instead advocate Rangers should be independent and operate on their own.
The central conflict of the season was to be the rivalry between the Beetle Power Rangers and the basic three Hexagon Rangers. The mental image of six Rangers divided in half by a line, with an explicit “Which side are you on?” drove much of the idea of the season – years before Marvel did it with Civil War, mind you. The two teams of Rangers might occasionally fight each other, without being under any mind control or brainwashing. They would often join forces to fight monsters like in Hurricanger, but this was definitely not intended to be a single team of Rangers for the season.
Rangers from past seasons would eventually find themselves choosing one side of the conflict over the other, making themselves available to assist one group but unavailable to the other. For example, maybe Delphine and the Aquitian Rangers reject the Hexagon and either refuse to cooperate with the Hexagon Rangers or show up to help the anti-Hexagon Rangers. The main focus of the show would be on the new characters of the season, but many of the guest stars would be previous Rangers. One of the main recurring Ranger roles was to be Jason the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger who was to definitely be on the side of the anti-Hexagon Beetle Rangers and almost a mirror opposite of a Tommy-style mentor for them.
It was hinted in Forever Red that Jason had spent the years since we had last seen him on the outskirts of society. Riding his Harley, alone, and getting into his own adventures. Hell, when he returned in Zeo, he was walking across the desert, wearing a duster, shades and a bandana, looking more like someone on the run from the law than an ambassador back from a teen peace conference! In PRWF, he remarked to Wes and Eric that he was more familiar with them than some of the other Rangers. Had he been making his own friendships and alliances that would come to help him in the Hexagon season, or was he saying this to mock the Silver Guardians law enforcement officers in reference to one of his many scrapes with the law? Jason was to have been more of a casual, been around the block, big brother type of figure for the Beetle Rangers rather than a commander like the Hexagon Rangers had.
The green Shurikenger would be added later in the series and for plot purposes would be called the most powerful Ranger ever created because he would in the end be the final challenge the Rangers would have to unite against to fight, but more on that later.
The costume design with its gold breastplate was too reminiscent of the Green Mighty Morphin Power Ranger to not let Tommy be this Ranger. Tommy made his bones as the Green Ranger back in MMPR and to this day, the Green Ranger mini-series still represents possibly the best five episode stretch of Power Rangers. As the Green Ranger this season, Tommy would occasionally help the Rangers in their battles. Paying homage to the Green Ranger mini-series, Tommy and Jason would even battle each other once again. The rivalry between these two characters was one of the most iconic relationships the show has had and exploring it further would have perfectly fit in with the theme of heroes divided for this season.
Tommy would even become the main antagonist by the end of the season as the base Rangers eventually rebel against the Hexagon after realizing it had grown out of control. In the end, the heroes would fight and eventually force Tommy to see the errors of the Hexagon’s concentration of power open to being abused by people, prompting him to ultimately disband the Hexagon, scattering the heroes once and for all to their own corners of the Power Rangers universe. This would in a sense be the end of an era of Power Rangers beginning in season one and ending in season eleven, eliminating any unresolved issues and excess baggage to pave the way for a fresh start for the show to go any direction it chose for season twelve.
There was a plan to explain how certain Rangers in Forever Red regained their powers. There was a plan for revealing the Phantom Ranger’s identity. There was a plan for explaining Terra Venture’s interstellar technology from PRLG which contradicted the non-spacefaring, modern civilization all other seasons took place in (it was a refurbished Dark Fortress and part of a grander conspiracy). There was a plan for the Silver Guardians. There was a plan for a Power Rangers Wild Force team up with Merrick, Zen-Aku, Jindrax, and Toxica (the latter two now leading a traveling carnival) aligning with the anti-Hexagon Rangers, and Cole, Taylor, Alyssa, Max, and Danny assisting the Hexagon Rangers, before all joining together to fight the good fight (of course).
In many ways, it was designed to clean up the Power Rangers universe and its vast mythology. The idea wasn’t to reduce the potential of possibilities of the show but to clarify the elements intrinsic to every incarnation of the Power Rangers concept from Zeo to Lost Galaxy to Wild Force to beyond. Hopefully providing resolution to old fans, establish legacy and importance to younger fans, and refine the basic blueprint of what makes a Power Rangers season, to be expanded upon for future seasons to come.
Of course, these were tentative plans for the season and were contingent upon many factors from actor availability, finalization of the story between myself and the producer, cooperation from the network and toy company, and most importantly the many impossible to predict, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, unforeseen variables that inevitably arise during the process of writing, filming, and editing together a 40-episode season. It is not worth lamenting too much what might have been. What’s done is done and any such debates, in my opinion, should be considered old history.
People sometimes ask me if we might see the Hexagon idea in the future to which I can definitely say no. The idea required the two teams of Rangers in a single season from Hurricanger but more importantly the timeliness of 2003 being no more than a decade removed from any previous Ranger. Too much time has passed to warrant revisiting characters from the earliest seasons to justify a season like this. That’s not to say that older characters couldn’t ever come back to the show again, just not with the frequency and depth that the Hexagon season intended to do. In 2003, there might have been enough of the audience who had grown with the show or were willing to revisit it to see a continuation/culmination to prior storylines, but now the majority of the show’s audience (but not the entirety) represents a new generation that is not at all invested in characters and stories that aired during the days of the first Clinton administration.
The zeitgeist of that moment also was more conducive for a children’s show to do a story with themes related to arguments of freedom vs. security, federal agents, and questions of the applications and organization of force and justice. This idea came between 2001 and 2003, when alluding to the Pentagon in a children’s show seemed to have a much less controversial connotation to it than it would today both in the US and abroad after a decade of costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Calling the base of the Power Rangers something that is a reference to the headquarters of the Department of Defense today might strike a tone too heavily weighted with the baggage of our real world problems for the escapist sci-fi/fantasy martial arts action show for all ages that Power Rangers strives to be.
The Hexagon was an idea for its time.
That’s not to say there aren’t other ideas or approaches to making a future season steeped in the mythology of previous seasons. Sentai attempted to do this with their 35th anniversary season, Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, featuring a staggering amount of previous Ranger cameos and appearances of old costumes and weapons. But Gokaiger limited itself to using these character cameos as more fan service rather than tying together storylines from multiple seasons as part of one consistent universe.
Times change, audiences change, and even a show that is lucky enough to be around for nearly two decades has to change. But is there a problem with the show changing too much?
The idea of a continuous storyline building on itself essentially ended with Power Rangers in Space with each season after being a complete departure from the season that preceded it. PRLG, PRLR and PRTF all attempted to establish a loose continuity to the past midway through their runs by featuring team up episodes, but it wasn’t until PRWF that the series began to try to recreate the sense from the early seasons of a definite Power Rangers universe in which everything that happened in the show happened within the same universe. The season following PRWF was going to cement the idea that the various teams of Power Rangers year after year were all part of the same universe.
But instead, the years that would follow PRWF would see several reboots of the Power Rangers universe in the style of the Sentai series even more drastically than during PRLG-PRWF. “Reboot” here is used in the modern entertainment sense of reimagining a franchise without being beholden to established continuity. Some of these seasons would attempt to create a veneer of continuity by maybe bringing back an actor from earlier seasons for a cameo, sometimes inconsistent with his or her established character, while some seasons were completely divorced from the precedents of the past.
Hundreds of episodes created by different creative teams with different visions for the show have established an at times contradictory universe that may be too messy to ever completely tie up at this point. It ultimately is in the eye of the beholder whether that is a good or a bad thing. After all, RPM showed that a self-contained season didn’t have to have shallow characters and plot, right? Some may lament the show’s gradual movement away from long term storytelling while others may welcome the annual rebooting of cast and story.
There are merits to both arguments and I am not completely in the camp of any perspective on the matter. The real question, in my mind, is finding the right balance of long term and short term considerations and adapting to the times in which we find ourselves. I find my own opinions and understanding of what the proper makeup of the show should be evolving and changing over time. As Muhammad Ali said, “A man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”
And just as a continuous multi-season storyline eventually required a change to annual rebooting; might someday even the idea of annual rebooting require yet another change, back to a new continuous multi-season storyline to keep from becoming stagnant?
Some food for thought.
Disclaimer: For educational purposes only. Power Rangers and all related characters and concepts are copyright Saban Brands.