This week we got our first look at Power Rangers‘big celebration for its 30th birthday—a new special episode reuniting a mix of first and second-generation rangers from the original Mighty Morphin’ team. But a notable face was missing among them.
Amy Jo Johnsonwho played Kimberly, the first Pink Ranger, will not appear alongside fellow returning original stars David Yost (Billy, MMPR‘s Blue Ranger) or Walter Emanuel Jones (Zack, MMPR‘s first Black Ranger) in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Once & Always. Instead, the Pink Ranger mantle will be represented by Catherine Sutherland, who played the second Pink Ranger, Kat. According to Johnson, whose absence was noted when news of the special emerged yesterday, the reason was not a reluctance to return to the series that catapulted her and her co-stars to ’90s stardom, but pay issues from Power Rangers producer Hasbro.
Austin St. John, who played the original Red Ranger Jason on the show, will also not return, although the actor has not publicly commented on the special yet. St. John was indicted on federal charges related to Paycheck Protection Program fraud last year, and has largely been restricted to travel within his home state of Texas, outside of supervised, pre-scheduled convention appearances since.
As disappointing as Johnson’s absence will be to fans, it’s fair to see that the actress wasn’t willing to return without proper compensation—and grimly befitting of Power Rangers‘ history, since part of the reason a raft of the first generation of Rangers left the team, necessitating replacements for the Red, Black, and Yellow Rangers, was due to low pay and mistreatment on set. It’s a shame that Hasbro wasn’t willing to offer more to get as much of the original team back as feasibly possible, especially with the tragic absences of Thuy Trang—Trini, the original Yellow Ranger, who died in a car accident in 2001—and Jason David Frank, the original Green and eventually White Ranger, among other roles in the franchise, who died by suicide last year.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Once & Always is set to stream on Netflix April 19.
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