Growing up in the wilderness years without any new episodes of Doctor Who meant many of us young fans at the time had to grow up on alternatives since all we had home grown at the time was Red Dwarf and a bundle of one-off or niche sci-fi dramas on CITV and CBBC. The void was filled largely by american imports, one of which was a stateside adaptation of a Japanese format called Super Sentai. This adaptation began life, of course, as Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, and the rest is history.
It wasn’t long in the show’s run that one additional cast member joined the programme to challenge and ultimately befriend the core five characters, this was Tommy Olive, played by real life marital arts expert and champion Jason David Frank.
JDF was the real deal, with tireless energy and discipline, he raised awareness of his form of martial artistry and brought it to the small screen. Also, unlike many of the other Rangers, his character of Tommy had the most compelling writing of the series, as he gained and lost powers in conflict with Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd, ultimately his arc culminated in him ascending to the leadership role for the group, and from there he became the White, Red Zeo, Red Turbo Rangers from 1995 to 1997, before departing the programme.
He would return many times, in 2002 he guest-starred in “Forever Red”, the 10th anniversary edition of the series, where he led a team of ten Red Rangers against the remains of the Machine Empire
The appearance proved such a success, that JDF was invited back two years later as a regular on the 2004 season Power Rangers Dino Thunder, where he became the Black Dino Thunder Ranger, mentoring a then-new team of younger Rangers
JDF would appear a few more times after this, notably for anniversary crossovers and even cameod in the recent 2017 movie, and around this time he began making the convention circuit and dabbling a little in MMA fighting, he steadily built a goodwill reputation amongst convention goers, always spending time with the fans and engaging with them, he always had positive vibes. Sometimes his self-belief proved a turn off for more jaded, cynical fans however, but that’s to be expected when you have a lot of pride and confidence.
Jason died over the weekend at just 49 years of age, almost a week since the passing of legendary Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy. In effect, a large part of what defined the kids TV of the 1990s, have been taken from us. The cause of death was reportedly suicide, demonstrating you can command all the positive attention in the world, but it’s not worth much if you can’t command it within yourself.
Please, if any of you feel trapped, cornered, isolated, reach out to someone you know, let them know you need their help, don’t refuse that help either. You are significant, you are special, YOU have the great power within you to make anything possible. You can change a life, including your very own
May the power protect you Jason.
To honour his memory, I have reuploaded one of the episodes of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Turbo, a project I worked on during the pandemic. This episode features Tommy taking on the Red Turbo Ranger. Several of the other MMPRT episodes are also in the midst of being archived, so feel free to check them out also if you enjoyed this.
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