Rangers. Peer closely enough at the veil that is TV and behind the curtain you will discover a host of rangers. They arrive in all manner of uniforms, in all sorts of genres and equipped to protect us from every imaginable danger. Rangers aren’t strangers to danger and usually they act as a game changer. These memorable rangers from TV land are more than enough to provide a clue as to the versatility that exists within the world of being a ranger.
Well, I mean, where else would you expect to start? Especially since there may be three or four people out there who only know “The Lone Ranger” through Jerry Bruckheimer’s attempt to erase the character from the consciousness of America. The ranger in the title refers to the Texas Rangers, of whom John Reid was a member. One attack by murderous desperadoes and the nursing back to health by an Indian later and he became a masked avenger for good. Something must be in the DNA of the Reid family. Britt Reid, a descendent of “The Lone Ranger” also wears a mask and is an avenger for justice under his secret identity of the Green Hornet. TV has given us plenty of Texas Rangers, including that over-the-top one named Walker played by even more over-the-top rabid conservative “actor.” The only thing memorable about the show revolving around the most inept Texas Ranger ever, “Rango” is that it managed to make the list of the 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time as compiled by TV Guide. Doesn’t sound that bad: Tim Conway as the bumbling lawman who only got his job because his dad was head of the Texas Rangers. Perhaps it was the politically incorrect Indian assistant to Rango played by a white actor and spouting offensive dialogue that makes Tonto sound progressive.
The job of the park ranger at America’s National Park system was told in “Sierra.” For some reason, the show demanded that the action take place in the fictional Sierra National Park. So what dramatic adventures await park rangers on TV? Rescuing injured park visitors, saving swimmers from going over a waterfall and finding a blind girl lost in the woods. About as far away from the cold danger of Sierra National Park as you could get in America’s National Park system you could find Coral Key Park ranger Porter Ricks and the real star of his show, “Flipper.” Hot weather park rangers had to deal with poachers, looters, lost boaters and the greatest danger to National Parks of them all: conservative members of Congress.
The world of TV rangers can pretty much be said to begin with space rangers. In 1949, at the very dawn of the Age of Television, “Captain Video and Video Rangers” premiered. Captain Video was a private guardian of the world. The ranger in this case was his sidekick. While “Captain Video and His Video Rangers” had a host of expensive technological equipment at their disposal ranging–no pun intended–from a cloak of invisibility to the Cosmic Ray Vibrator, the actual show was about as low-budget as possible for a nationally broadcast hit series. How low? The original “video rangers” were pieced together from westerns airing on the DuMont Network’s other shows, giving this example of space rangers on TV a weird time warp disconnect. Flash forward a few decades and “Space Rangers” enjoyed all the budgetary considerations mandated by a science fiction show in the post-“Star Wars” era. It may be worth noting, however, that “Captain Video and his Video Rangers” was on the air for six years while “Space Rangers” couldn’t manage to last six weeks.