In 1993, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers mania was in full effect. As the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were ushered out of the children’s consciousness, a new team of color coded superheroes were brought in in the form of costumed mystical superheroes who fought giant monsters and formed a slew of controversy for allegedly encouraging violence. FOX and Saban Studios were making money hand over fist while creating a hit TV series composed on a little over under a thousand dollars in footage from the Japanese series Super Sentai.
Once FOX garnered success from Power Rangers, every children’s network began looking for their own version of the franchise. Some were decent… some were not. In 1994, the USA Network premiered a brand new kids show they so “brilliantly” called – say it with me – Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills. What a mouth full! If you’ve never seen the show and are thinking “Man that sounds lame,” you’d be correct.
The show basically finds four high school teens (all of whom looked well in to their twenties) who are selected by a powerful being named Nimbar for their unique personalities and given magical tattoos, all of which bear unique signs of the Zodiac. I’m assuming DIC hoped to market action figures with custom tattoos included in every product – hope springs eternal. Anyway, there’s an evil being named Gorganus who wants to – everyone with me – conquer Earth! Since the planet is apparently the focal point of “power portals,” he wants to take over the planet to seize the galaxy… I’m just as confused as you are.
So, Gorganus begins sending giant monsters down to Earth and, since the show is mostly-non-violent, the monsters don’t do anything. In the first episode, a samurai monster is sent in to a canyon and begins chopping up rocks. That’s it! “Hey, while you’re here, why not patch up the hole in the ozone? That would really bug us!” The rest of the series is just as generic with minimal conflict and heroes whose personalities are bland. They hang out at a coffee shop in Beverly Hills on Rodeo Drive… their lives really can’t be that complicated.
Swinton is a genius and African American student (diversity!) who doesn’t play well with others (genius foreshadowing), and he’s assigned to build a project with three other nondescript Caucasian characters. We only meet them for ten seconds and they simply talk about their science project before being warped in to the other dimension by Nimbar. Now granted, Power Rangers isn’t exactly a sample of brilliant writing, but at least we knew who the characters were and how they differed. The production quality here is perhaps what stands out in this series the most, unfortunately. The sets are cheap, the acting is flimsy, and the costumes the superheroes… I’m sorry, the “Galactic Sentinels” wear, are awful.
Basically they all look like they’re wearing cheap exercise uniforms with kabuki masks that cover their lower face. This is obviously a tactic used to cover up the fact that the stunt doubles and martial artists are doubling for our forgettable foursome of heroes. The switch from regular teens to superheroes is so blatant it’s distracting and they do nothing but bounce around and bash on giant monsters in terribly-directed settings like deserts and wastelands. Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills really only lasted a season on USA before it was taken off, and has been something of a passing joke for 90s kids who remember the Power Rangers craze.
Many clones from the FOX series came and went. Other wannabes like VR Troopers and Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad didn’t fare any better, but at least they had charisma, interesting stories, and something to offer. Both shows received deluxe treatments on DVD from Mill Creek and Shout! while the unloved Tattooed Teenage… still remains in purgatory. All things considered the series represents the lowest form of a fad and stands as an unwatchable mess of a hit series wannabe.