Saban's Masked Rider
A Look Back at the Americanization of the Classic Japanese Sci/Fi Series
by
Lenell "Ultra" Bridges


Originally published in ULTRA-FAN Issue # 3 August 1996

     


It appeared that Saban Entertainment had attempted to do it again. Just as they made Mighty-Molphin Power Rangers and VR Troopers into top hits, now they attempted the same success with their third new series called Masked Rider.  The series debuted in the fall of 1995 on the Fox Television Network, in a Saturday morning time slot. Masked Rider utilizes footage from the famed original Toei productions Kamen Rider Black and Kamen Rider RX, splicing in new footage of American actors in between fight scenes, a practice already familiar to viewers of Rangers and Troopers. Unfortunately, I cannot give Masked Rider a good review. In fact it is the most uninspiring series in the entire Saban catalog, the worst example of the bastardization of a Japanese original. Masked Rider combines a serious Japanese story with American TV situation comedy; a deadly combination which results in a confusing mess that could make long-time fans of the Japanese genre violently ill.

The series tells of the adventures of a young prince from another planet. The prince, Dex (played by T.J. Roberts) is given powers by his grandfather, and sent to Earth. Upon arrival on Earth, Dex is adopted by a kind family, and is taught to live like an Earthling. At the same time, his powers allow him to transform into the Masked Rider, to battle Count Dregon and his invading army of marauding insectoids. Unfortunately the American footage doesn't help one bit, not only do they not match the Japanese action scenes, but they are attempts at poor comedy at the same time. The acting is terrible, similar to that of lower-budget sitcoms like Small Wonder.  The music is pathetic too, as is the new Masked Rider costume. Even worse, the action scenes, a prominent part of the original series, have been cut down severely. One more example of American pressure groups leaning on producers to cut down violent programming.

  Finally, the addition of that funny furball Ferbus creature reminds me of the Ewoks, and adds nothing but silliness to the show. Why Toei sold out to Saban is beyond me, letting the U.S. company turn their shows into such monstrous parodies. What would Japanese fans think if they saw this show? I don't even want to ask! You know the saying; "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Saban, in trying to "fix" Masked Rider, wound up making it worse; something worthy of Barney the Dinosaur. Fortunately, the series only lasted one and a half seasons.  Besides, the original Japanese adventures of Kamen Rider are available on video, and are highly recommended for the serious fan.

Masked Rider

Executive Producers: Shuki Levy & Haim Saban
Produced by Robert Hughes
James Michaels - Director of Photography
Terry J. Chiappe - Editor
Terry Kelley - Editor
Shuki Levy - Music
Kussa Mahchi - Music
Udi Harpaz - Music (Orchestrated and Conducted by)
Cassandra Conners - Costume Designer (Wardrobe Supervisor)
Elizabeth Jett - Costume Designer
Phil Brandes - Art Director
Lauren A. Levine - Post Production Supervisor
Luke LaFontaine - Stunt Coordinator (Season 2)
Michi Yamato - Stunt Coordinator (Season 1)
Linda Giffin Citron - Script Supervisor
Ronnie Hadar - Executive in Charge of Production

Starring:
T.J. Roberts - Dex/Masked Rider
Ken Ring - Count Dregon
Candace Kita - Barbara Stewart
Ashton McArn - Albert Stewart
Verne Troyer - Ferbus
Jennifer Tung - Nefaria
Michi Yahato - Masked Rider
 
Episodes:
1. Escape From Edenoi (1)
2. Escape From Edenoi (2)
3. License To Thrill
4. Pet Nappers
5. Bugs On The Loose
6. Arcade Ace
7. Super Gold (1)
8. Super Gold (2)
9. The Grandma Factor
10. Something's Trashy
11. Water Water Everywhere
12. Ferbus' First Christmas
13. Stranger From The North
14. Dance Crazy
15. The Green-Eyed Monster
16. The Heat Is On
17. Know Your Neighbor
18. The Dash
19. Battle Of The Bands
20. Ferbus Maximus
21. Unmasked Rider
22. Ferbus' Day Out
23. Jobless
24. Back To Nature
25. Testing 1, 2, 3
26. Showdown At Leawood High
27. Power Out
 
28. Saturday Morning Invasion
29. Passenger Ferbus
30. Mixed Doubles
31. Million Dollar Ferbus
32. Ectophase Albee
33. Race Against Time
34. Cat-Atomic
35. Indigestion
36. Dex At Bat
37. The Invasion Of Leawood
38. The Eye Of Edenoi
39. Exit Nefaria, Enter Barbaria
40. Detention
 

Article © 1996, 2004 Lenell Bridges/Visagraph Films International.

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