Dead Television: Masked Rider

So before I get into to this, let’s go back a couple of decades all the way to 1970, where Japanese manga artist (or “mangaka”) Shotaro Ishinomori, created the one shot manga The Skull Man a dark toned story about a man with special abilities who wants to get revenge for the death of his parents, even at the cost of innocent civilians. A sleeper hit when it was first released, Ishinomori hoped to release it as a TV series, sadly TV executives rejected it for being to dark and morbid for children.

In 1971, Ishinomori would later use the ideas of Skull Man to create the series Kamen Rider. The series was a huge success lasting for three years, and spawning over 24 different shows and six original movies (of those movies, one is a crossover film and two were re-imaginings of the original series).

Jump to the mid-90s where Power Rangers was still riding the coattails of their early popularity, Saban Entertainment decided to make an adaptations of other tokusatsu shows, VR Troopers (adapted from Speilvan, Metalder and, Shaider), Masked Rider (Adapted from Kamen Rider Black RX).

Masked Rider premiered on Fox Kids on September 16, 1995 to August 31, 1996. The titular main character of Masked Rider was featured on a 3-part Power Rangers episode, “A Friend in Need,” one week before his own series debuted. The Rangers themselves were never mentioned in the Masked Rider television series, however, as Saban reformatted the series to sever links with Power Rangers, as its popularity was beginning to decline.

Like the early seasons of Power Rangers and VR Troopers, most episodes of Masked Rider’s battle and villain scenes were taken from Japanese stock footage – specifically Kamen Rider Black RX, (with a few exceptions, they’d occasionally have the American actors interact with the Japanese villain footage as with the episode “Exit Nafaria, Enter Barbaria”, which seems to be filmed with American footage.) Episodes also occasionally had Ferbus interact with Combat Chopper and Magno (which were Japanese stock props) but, two episodes (“Escape from Edenoi, Pt. 1” and “Ectophase Albee”) used the two Japanese Kamen Rider movies Kamen Rider ZO and Kamen Rider J.

In the show’s unaired pilot, Dex was dispatched to Earth by his grandfather as Edenoi was prepared to explode, ripping into an aspect of the Superman mythology. The scene in which Dex is given his powers by King Lexian (a scene which differs from the televised version) remains in the title sequence, possibly one of the few remaining aspects of the original pilot.

In the show that did air, The series began with the main character, Dex, escaping the Plague Patrol with a small group of Edenoites rebels, before leaving for Earth, the next target of his sinister uncle Count Dregon, who ruled Edenoi with an iron fist after displacing Dex’s grandfather, King Lexian, who also gave Dex the Masked Rider powers (where the powers came from is a mystery, although they have been kept for some time by Edenoi’s champions). Arriving on Earth in a massive crater, Dex finds himself in the care of the Stewarts, a multiracial family consisting of a white father and daughter (named Hal and Molly respectively), an Asian wife (Barbara), and an African-American son (Albee). The addition of an extra Stewart was not noticed by anyone (although, according to Albee, he and Molly are adopted) in Leawood, the town where the series took place in. Dex defends the town as Masked Rider from Count Dregon and his vicious Insectovores.

When the show first came out, people (specifically, fans of the source material) hated it, specifically: Ferbus. Ferbus, is Dex’s pet bear-duck-thing that followed him to Earth and, was by far one of the most annoying and obnoxious character in this show aside from several other characters; what’s worst, Verne Troyer, well known for his work in the Austin Powers movies, played this monstrosity to nature (well, mostly doing stunt work, this was confirmed in 2010 at Power Morphicon ).

There are two other characters that are far more annoying than Ferbus, these two are spoiled popular girl Patsy Carbunkle and her geeky boyfriend Herbie, they’re said to be this show’s version of Bulk and Skull (I don’t see it). Patsy just picks on and rivals Molly and considers her family weird, but does flirt with Dex, while Herbie’s just there, he doesn’t do much, except go along with what Patsy does.

Another to look at thing is the stock footage Saban, had to little stock footage to work with, so they used footage from two Kamen Rider movies, you can tell the footage is different by the costumes that Dex uses.

Another infamous fact about the show is the episode “Invasion of Leawood” where Dex teams up with previous Masked Riders, which would have been great (especially for Kamen Rider fans), except they screwed up with the characters, in the episode we see ten different Riders and of those ten, only eight were given names, two of which we’ve let slide and the rest were the names of the original KR names just mixed up and given to other riders, save for Z-Cross. Click here to learn more.

The show was just horrible, the characters were bland, the action (non-stock footage) what little there was, sucked, and the acting was very bad, though Invasion of Leawood did have some semblance of promise, and as if the show wasn’t bad enough, there was actually a Masked Rider comic book from Marvel, luckily it didn’t last too long (Sigh).

Well, that’s all for now, next time Top 10!

RANK: 2 out of 5

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