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My kids were always fed an intermittent TV diet of mind-numbing but harmless television fare like Sesame Street, Maisy and Teletubbies. I still prefer those weirdly hallucinogenic shows to ickily earnest ones like Barney, Caillou, and Clifford. Even a 4-year-old knows true adventure means more than leaving your jacket at grandma’s house, discovering how yummy milk tastes, or bringing the wrong pie to a carnival.
But one fateful afternoon, son Charlie and I came upon little boy catnip aka Power Rangers. In truth, Charlie had nothing to do with it. I was channel-surfing and stopped there because, as a heterosexual American male who’d been changing diapers and watching Barney for five years, I was long overdue for some serious—if vicarious—ass-kicking. And this would do.
As I watched, Charlie quietly came into the room behind me.
“What’s this?” he asked.
Brain poison, I should have said.
He climbed into the chair with me, and I knew what would happen. You can’t stuff those karate-chopping, bodysuit-wearing genies back into the bottle. For two years we remained powered up, and after a while I began to feel like Tommy, the Black Ranger who, in a minor Dino-Thunder story arc, couldn’t get out of his own costume (You know that episode, I know you do.)
For all the eye-rolling Power Rangers gets, the show and its armada of merchandise never did my kids much harm. Charlie and his three sisters were just as happy to go outside, ride their bikes, swim, and do all the things Power Rangers never get to do without being interrupted by a rubber monster straight out of McDonaldland. No furniture or person was ever karate-chopped either.