The Weekly Watchlist: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers And Mrs. Davis Bring Two Very Different Kinds Of Sci-Fi (April 17, 2023)

The two biggest streaming releases this week could not be more different. One is a nostalgia-fueled special based on one of the most popular franchises of the '90s, in the form of "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once & Always." The other is a brand new, original, and very bizarre TV show, "Mrs. Davis." Elsewhere, for those looking for more tokusatsu fun like "Power Rangers," there are anime series like "SSSS Dynazenon" and "Love After World Domination," which offer unique spins on the "Power Rangers" formula. Or perhaps you want something that embraces the fun of these stories while offering something more serious, like "Shin Godzilla." Similarly, while you're waiting to know more about the mystery that is "Mrs. Davis," you would do well to check out co-creator Damon Lindelof's previous work on "Lost" and its vast mythology, the darkly weird blend of sexy and funny in "Alien: Covenant," or the single best cartoon short ever made, "What's Opera, Doc?"

The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers are back with Once & Always!

Where to Watch "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once & Always": Netflix

When "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once & Always" releases: April 19, 2023

"Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" and the "Power Rangers" brand at large became one of the biggest kids franchises of the '90s thanks to its combination of superhero action, teen drama, and a diverse cast of characters. Add in some killer theme songs, zany monsters, and giant robots that were practically designed to print money via toys sales, and you have the closest thing to the kid-friendly version of cocaine this side of "Pokémon."

After almost 30 seasons and nearly as many "Power Rangers" teams, the original "Mighty Morphin" crew of (former) teenagers with attitude that started it all are back for a 30th anniversary reunion special. "Once & Always" is posed to be a nostalgia-driven special full of familiar faces, some loving tributes, and, as always, lots of kick-ass Megazords fighting giant monsters.

Mrs. Davis is here to mess with your mind

Where to Watch "Mrs. Davis": Peacock

When "Mrs. Davis" releases: April 20, 2023

For a very different yet equally cartoonish variety of sci-fi than "Power Rangers," look no further than "Mrs. Davis," the new TV show created by Tara Hernandez and Damon Lindelof. It's a series that our own Jacob Hall has described as "goofy until it's sincere, outrageous until it cuts to the bone, frustrating until it's ... Well, until it's not," with influences that seem to range from Chuck Jones to Lindelof's "The Leftovers." Star Betty Gilpin even described the show as "No Country For Old Looney Tunes" at this year's South by Southwest (SXSW).

"Mrs. Davis" explores themes of faith versus science that fans of Lindelof will find familiar yet still poignant, especially when examined through the lens of a story about artificial intelligence in 2023. That being said, it's the show's knack for cartoony comedy that really makes it special and worth sticking with.

SSSS. Dynazenon is pure tokusatsu glee

The series: "SSSS. Dynazenon"

Where you can watch it: Crunchyroll

If you're searching for even more giant robots fighting monsters, and more packs of teens with attitude who become heroes, look no further than the old school tokusatsu joy of "SSSS. Dynazenon." A spiritual sequel to "SSSS. Gridman" and a very loose anime adaptation of the 1993 live-action show "Gridman the Hyper Agent," the series follows a group of teenagers and young adults who use literal toys that combine to form a giant Megazord-style robot that fights kaiju.

Beyond exquisite animation and a rocking soundtrack, "SSSS. Dynazenon" is also a poignant show that explores how pain and trauma brings people together, and how sometimes this actually helps the healing process. It's the rare show that offers a subdued human story about trauma, all without sacrificing the air fist-bumping fun of watching robots fight monsters.

Lost remains one of the best TV dramas ever

The series: "Lost"

Where you can watch it: Hulu

Almost 20 years after its premiere in 2004, what is left to say about "Lost?" Its legacy is well cemented as one of the best television dramas of the century, a show with a fascinating mythology, a poignant exploration of science versus faith, and a compelling cast of characters you love, or love to hate.

While some fans may not like its later seasons' turn towards sci-fi, it's the blend of character drama and high-concept story that makes "Lost" such a unique show (one whose influence on "Mrs. Davis" is readily apparent). Not to mention, in the era of serialized TV, there's something truly special about a show that has a deep mythology yet is capable of delivering emotionally-charged standalone episodes like "The Constant" (an hour in which the series' characters simply fix a broken van and drive around).

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers takes us back to the beginning

The series: "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers"

Where you can watch it: Netflix

Before you check out the anniversary special, why not go back to the show that started it all? The original "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" remains a phenomenal tokusatsu show with a cast of memorable characters, amusingly ridiculous villains that make the series' repetitive formula feel fresh, and some legitimately resonant character arcs. (The "Green With Evil" storyline, in particular, remains fantastic.) Plus, this is a show with a level of escalation few other franchises have, and is more akin to an anime like "Gurren Lagann."

You see, the original "Power Rangers" was unafraid to move into wildly different directions, adapting different versions of the Japanese "Super Sentai" show but in the same chronology, with new members joining the team, new powers being discovered, and at one point even showing humanity colonize space. It's wild, it's ludicrous, but most of all it's just darn fun.

What's Opera, Doc? is Looney Tunes at its best

The series: "What's Opera, Doc?"

Where you can watch it: HBO Max

To better understand the tone of "Mrs. Davis," and just because there's never a bad time to watch Bugs Bunny in drag, "What's Opera, Doc?" should be next on your streaming list. This entire short is one of the greatest pieces of animation in history. It is Chuck Jones at the height of his career, delivering a short that perfectly captures the characters of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, all while doing a parody of both Richard Wagner and Disney's "Fantasia."

"What's Opera, Doc?" is snappy, it is beautifully animated and chaotic, it features a groundbreaking drag performance by Bugs Bunny as Brunhilde, and has some genuinely catchy parody lyrics. It remains one of the most influential pieces of U.S. animation out there, and is essential to understanding the irreverent tone of "Mrs. Davis."

Shin Godzilla reinvents an icon

The series: "Shin Godzilla"

Where you can watch it: Crunchyroll

While "Power Rangers" reuses footage from a Japanese tokusatsu show, it is not a substitute for the real thing. So, what better place to get a fix of some tokusatsu mayhem than one of the genre's biggest icons? "Shin Godzilla" is a reboot of the iconic Japanese franchise, directed by "Evangelion" creator and notorious tokusatsu nerd, Hideaki Anno.

"Shin Godzilla" reimagines the titular kaiju as a metaphor for the Japanese government's handling of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, focusing not on the military who try to destroy Godzilla, but on the various government agencies that try to deal with the destruction the creature leaves behind. It is a snappy, funny, at times confusing movie with a distinct visual style and a very cool new form for the titular monster that grows and changes over the course of the film.

Alien: Covenant is weird and sexy and thoughtful

The series: "Alien: Covenant"

Where you can watch it: FX Now

The sixth film in the "Alien" franchise (not counting the "Alien vs. Predator" crossovers), "Alien: Covenant" is a fascinating film. It's more of a Xenomorph killing party compared to its immediate predecessor, "Prometheus," yet it's also a Gothic horror sci-fi work about being a creator and playing God. Oh, and it also features the hottest use of Michael Fassbender in a movie. (He does his own fingering.)

"Covenant" is essentially the "Alien" version of the "Frankenstein" story — with Fassbender's android David as the doctor — and a welcome return to practical effects for the franchise, using practical puppets for the chest-busters and people-in-suits for the Xenomorphs. It's the blend of sci-fi horror shenanigans with absurd scenes where two androids played by Fassbender discuss complex philosophical ideas that makes this a worthy entry in the franchise, as well as necessary viewing material before watching "Mrs. Davis."

Love After World Domination is a mighty morphin romance

The series: "Love After World Domination"

Where you can watch it: Crunchyroll

So you've watched "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," and you've watched some more recent anime tokusatsu like "SSSS. Dynazenon," but what comes next? Well, why not a love story between a Power Rangers-like hero and one of his sworn enemies? That's the plot of "Love After World Domination," a hilarious anime rom-com with star-crossed lovers who literally fight to the death on a weekly basis, but are also huge dorks who like going on little dates.

"Love After World Domination" balances rom-com elements with all the tokusatsu tropes you know and love, but where it really shines is in its portrayal of the daily lives of its heroes and villains. Sure, we've seen the Power Rangers go to school but what about the property's minions and villains? The answer might surprise you.