Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Episode 11: No Clowning Around



Clown throws dust in children's faces.
Pineapple makes space dog sneeze.






Power Rangers seems to have gotten my complaints from 20 years in the future about their limited use of sets, because today's episode is all shot in a completely unique location we'd never see again. The whole episode today takes place at a fair. We open on, what I assumed, were just stock footage shots of fair rides, but then in one of these shots Zack walks into frame on stilts. Even if the rest of this episode completely blows, we can at least give the show a gold star for not having a fair inside the Youth Center.

Zack shows off on the stilts while he brags about how fun it is, and Billy whines at him that he needs to science his technobabble or he'll fall. Since Trini isn't with the rest of the Teens to explain what Billy is talking about, Zack falls from the stilts right into Jason's loving arms. Zack thanks his hero with a kiss on the cheek, which isn't me being a shit, it's actually what happens.

Jason and Zack
Maybe I'm not reading too much into them being a couple

As the Trini-less teens walk off, a clown starts mean mugging them. Instead of being subtle about this, we have to have a horrible 90's effect of a Putties face flashing over the clown's. Another clown named Pineapple walks in and tells the Putty clown to chill his big floppy shoes, cause they'll kill the Rangers soon. With the way Zack was using those stilts you could just let the Rangers walk around the fair and do their own thing, odds are at least two of em would end up dead due to 90's comedic negligence.

Putty Clown
Remember that booth in the mall that did this for you?

Oh sorry, I'm sure you're wondering where Trini is. She's hanging out with her cousin Sylvia today. In case you forget the two are cousins, don't worry, Sylvia will remind us they're cousins every single time she refers to Trini. Sylvia's most excited to see clowns, but only because she's a fictional character. Thank fucking god the 90's is over and we can stop pretending people actually give a shit about clowns.

We're formally introduced to Pineapple the Clown, who's doing some dime store trick where he juggles little toy pineapples for the Ranger Teens. Pineapple asks if anybody wants to try juggling eggs, because he's a lazy dick who doesn't feel like doing his job. Sylvia steps forward briefly and Billy awkwardly cuts in front of her to try it. Billy doesn't even notice she wants to try, he's so ready to show his friends he's not just a gigantic pussy nerd that he shoves this little girl aside and ruins the experience she could cherish the rest of her life. If all it took to ruin Rita's life was never playing with dolls, then Billy might have just made Rita 2.0.

Having seen an opportunity to be made fools of, Bulk and Skull strut onto the scene. Bulk asks what a bunch of geeks are doing at a fair, ignoring that the fair is the most appropriate place for geeks. Jason gets in their face, but before he has a chance to bite Chunky Chicken's head off  Billy lets go of the eggs he's juggling, and all four of them fall on top of Bulk and Skull. It's not clear if Billy did this on accident or not, but he seems fairly proud of himself either way.

Sylvia wants to hang out with her creepy clown friend Pineapple, but Trini says he looks like a pederast so they need to get the fuck out of dodge. Pineapple confirms these suspicions by smiling at the two and promising Sylvia he'll "catch her later." 

Pennywise the Clown Georgie sewer

Now we all know by now that clowns are just pedophiles with puffy pants, but Pineapple is really upping the stakes here in terms of creep. During Trini and Sylvia's conversation we keep cutting back to him leering and grinning his big greasepaint grin at the two of them. Whoever was directing this episode needed to have the guy playing Pineapple tone this shit down and act like a person. Instead he's just a mustache twirling kid diddler.

Pineapple the Clown
How ya doin' little momma lemme whisper in ya ear.

Rita watches from the Moon Base as she gets a huge stiffy over how well her fake fair plan is working. When I think of dangers you can encounter at a fair, my mind goes to rides crashing or getting stabbed by one of the drifter employees; clowns that sneer at people are a ways down the list. Rita wants to know if this clown is going to fuck everything up, but Finster promises that he trained this monster himself. These are Finster's exact words, and all I want out of this episode is a montage of Pineapple the Clown boxing a side of beef while Finster eggs him on.

Oh but it isn't Pineapple the Clown, it's actually the devious Pineoctopus monster. The only other monster clown Finster proposed kept burying young boys underneath his grill but Rita put the kibosh on that. Finster promises the Pineoctopus can turn the Power Rangers into cardboard cutouts after using Sylvia as bait to lure them in. Before we continue let's make sure everyone understands what's going on here. An old white sheep man from space has created and personally trained a pineapple squid on how to turn human beings into magical cardboard cutouts while disguised as a clown at a fake fair. Yeah that's it right there, that's why I love this show.

The Ranger Teens start to form a human pyramid while Sylvia watches, but she's bored with this display of skill and talent, she wants to watch a guy with paint on his face throw things in the air. Thankfully Pineapple shows up to answer her prayers and beckon her away from her negligent cousin. His motioning looks a lot more like the way you would act towards a girl you're trying to pick up in the bar, not an 8 year old.

Pineapple the Clown

Trini runs off to look for Sylvia amidst a crowd of pudgy white extras. Pineapple takes Sylvia to some not at all disclosed area of the Fair and promises he has a new trick to show her, all while pulling out a big cloth. Before he can make her smell his special rag, Trini shows up and asks what the fuck she's thinking hanging out with this dude. Pineapple pulls her away and starts petting her head saying she's staying with him. Jesus Christ this is weird. Trini pulls her cousin away and strikes a karate pose to protect her, but Sylvia says  Pineapple isn't dangerous and not to hurt her new friend. When I turned on an episode of a children's show entitled No Clowning Around, I didn't expect to get a twisted tale of Stockholm Syndrome. 

Pineapple tosses some of his magic dust on Sylvia, and we finally get to see his absurd power in action.

Pineapple the Clown Sylvia cardboard

This might be a lot more shocking if we weren't told exactly what Pineapple's abilities were beforehand. Now we're able to squeeze some puns in about how "board" Sylvia was, and how Pineapple has a massive board in his clown pants. Hilarious Pineapple, stick to juggling eggs and dodging the sex offender registry. Trini looks at Sylvia attempting to act shocked about the whole thing.

This is something I've wanted to mention for a while, but of the five Ranger actors, Thuy Trang is definitely the weakest so far. Don't get me wrong, she's a fantastic martial artist and can do action scenes like nobody's business, but with the stuff she's given to do in these early episodes you don't really see much of her character or any emotion. Granted nobody is on their A game in these first few episodes, and I know I recall liking her a lot more as the series goes on. Maybe in the episode where her uncle turns into Hollow Man.

Trini grabs the cardboard Sylvia and runs around the fair looking for the rest of the Rangers. Since Trini would be in deep shit at the family reunion for just leaving Sylvia at the fair as a prize for winning a game where you throw a frog on a lily pad, she begs her friends for help. Jason has Alpha teleport to Billy's garage to help Trini figure things out, and he grabs a megaphone to warn the rest of the fair that it's actually a trap. Everyone starts scattering like bugs because they're fat white people who believe anything said loudly. In the span of 20 seconds, the entire fair is cleaned out.

Before the Rangers can celebrate, a small group of clowns begin approaching them and acting goofy. The Rangers manage to laugh at the clowns, which will go down in history as the first time a human being has found a clown amusing. One by one the clowns morph into Putties and gather around the Teens, ignoring their plea of "Don't Send in the Clowns." Pineapple shows up to lure Billy away, because this clown knows easy prey when he sees it.

What follows is easily the best Putty fight we've seen so far. It's honestly got really impressive choreography with each of the Rangers fighting Putties in select segments of the fairgrounds. What strikes me as so unique about this fight is how dynamic and visually appealing it is. Usually when we get an unmorphed Putty fight it's just in some undisclosed park or a boring mountainside. Here we get to see the Putties beaten up in unique ways with regards to the environment, and the Rangers look like they're actually seeking out advantages in their location to stop the Putties. It's seriously worth checking out even if this episode doesn't sound appealing to you.

Putty carnival ride
I don't know what's funnier, the idea of them just slapping the costume on there, or a stuntman forced to be glued to that fucking thing.

The Rangers corner Pineapple the Clown and tell him it's his turn to get thrown onto a carousel or something. Instead of doing any goofy shit with his magic dust, he starts to melt into the goddamn ground, turning into the Pineoctopus. The demon fruit cackles at the Rangers while they stare at him, wondering what exactly he's supposed to be.

Pineapple the Clown
A pineapple with curly fry hair?

I have to give the writers credit, if you showed me a picture of this thing from Japan and told me to give it a name, I'd be completely at a loss. Pineoctopus might actually be one of the best names they've come up with yet.

Trini and Alpha 5 try and resuscitate Sylvia from her cardboard prison, and Alpha 5 finds the miracle cure for Sylvia's condition is water. Water. That stuff that the Earth has a little bit of. Pineoctopus's evil scheme could be counteracted by a light drizzle. You need to have a solution to fix Sylvia's condition, I get it, but in a lab full of a bunch of fucking pretend science junk your only idea to solving it is "I unno let's dump a bunch of water on her." This sorta ties into something a little later in the loosest sense, but we'll get there soon.

Oh and I guess Sylvia is saved because Alpha throws a bucket of water on her, who gives a shit?

The Rangers fight against Goldar in the park while waiting for Trini, and get completely trashed by him. He's about to go in for the killing blow but Pineoctopus comes in and stops him. Pineoctopus starts sprinkling magic dust from his antenna, while Goldar, Squatt, and Baboo are in the background sneezing. Maybe this monster was supposed to have the power to give people the sniffles, but then they met a guy who could make cardboard cutouts of actors and decided it was worth the 40 bucks to hire him.

Pineoctopus mentions that the Rangers suits seem to be preventing his magic from working on them, even though every time he tries using his dust we see the Rangers desperately fleeing from it while holding their mouths. Y'know, the mouths they have on their helmets, which might also help prevent dust inhalation.

Instead of doing the thing Rita told him to do and Finster trained him to do, Pineoctopus starts throttling the Rangers and whipping them with tentacle vines. They don't seem to put up any fight whatsoever, they just hold their Blade Blasters out as he taunts them. It really looks like he's gonna make this fight a total shut-out.

Rita decides the fact her monster is absolutely kicking ass isn't enough of an advantage, so she uses her wand to make Pineoctopus grow.  This is the second week in a row she's not willing to just let her monsters do their thing and gets impatient enough to speed it along. She may also want to be careful putting that Pineoctopus anywhere near the clouds considering they're filled with its deadly weakness, motherfucking H2O.

Trini runs in and tells the Rangers Sylvia is alright, they react as strongly as you would to hearing about a nice lunch your mother had yesterday. The fact that Trini's ancillary character of a cousin is no longer a giant ridiculous piece of cardboard is met with as much interest as the fact that Olive Garden had fantastic pasta at a very reasonable price. "BIG DEAL!" the Pineoctopus bellows from above.

Now before we move along with the fight I just want to inform you fine people that at one point Pineoctopus had an article on Wikipedia where it said his catchphrase was big deal. Let me inform you that as a connoisseur of the Power Rangers franchise, that I have watched this episode three times in the past week. Pineoctopus has said that phrase exactly once, which isn't a goddamn catchphrase you moron. Every time I think about the Pineoctopus (every day of my life) I think about that inane attempt at creating trivia. If the idiot who edited that is reading this review right now, I demand an apology because to this day I will never forget how fucking dumb that statement was.

So The Rangers leap into their Zords or whatever and manhandle the Pineoctopus now that he's bigger than them, but instead of forming the Megazord they use all five of the Dinozords separately to attack him. Something they should do a lot more,  but we have to show off that the five toys we're selling can combine so fuck that noise.

Billy ties up the Pineoctopus with the Triceratops' Dinozord's horns, while Trini commands Zack to use his Zord's frost breath to freeze Pineoctopus over. What I think we're supposed to gather from this is that Pineoctopus has a weakness to frozen water just like his magic spells did, but we don't hear anything about this, just that Trini thinks he deserves to be frozen like Sylvia did. Regardless of what we're supposed to think, the Pineoctopus is now put on ice.

Pineoctopus frozen
This is what ice looks like right?

Jason calls on the Rangers to finish off the Pineoctopus, and they do so by combining into the Megazord for no real reason other than to kill their incapacitated foe. It's a really needless sequence made to shoehorn the Megazord into an episode that was fine without it. If you recall in Episode 2, the Tyrannosaurus Dinozord used a breath attack to kill the Giant. Well in the Japanese episode that's how they killed off Pineoctopus. Instead, we have to take the long way around to see the Megazord come together, fire a laser from its forehead, and pretend we can't see the T-Rex from behind the smoke. 

Megazord cranial laser gif
The T-Rex is back and to the left, back and to the left, back....and to the left.

With the Pineoctopus dead we find ourselves back at the fair. What a second what? Why are we at the fair? Rita said earlier that this whole thing was a fake fair, she used those exact words to describe it. When the fuck did they find time to get employees to fill this place out. It was the 90's, people didn't need jobs that bad. I know I said how happy I was they were on a unique set for this episode, but if ever there was a fine time to regroup at the Juice Bar, now would be it. They could even just be hanging out at the empty fairgrounds, but now there's people on the rides having a great time. Whoever was writing this episode must have forgotten what they wrote the day before and just didn't bother fixing it.

We end with an actually sweet moment of Sylvia apologizing to Trini for running off, and Trini thanking her for being a great cousin. It'd be a lot more sweet if we would ever see Sylvia again, but I'm sure she'll be off in Limbo somewhere with Maria, Willy, and Sharkie. Sorry kid, didn't feel like cutting you another check!


Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Fairs run by pedophiles Toy Pineapples


Personal Thoughts:


This episode was released as part of a five part series of VHS tapes based around each of the five Power Rangers. As you can guess, this is obviously the episode they used to represent the Pink Ranger. Remember how much I talked about her in this episode? Good times.

Pineapple the Clown was played by an entertainer by the name of Vernon Ballesteros. It's odd that they went out of their way to hire a guy who works as a clown, and not have him do anything but laugh and jump around while ruffling a little girl's hair. Maybe they had more actual things for him to do in the original draft of the script before deciding he needed to throw more dust.

In the Zyuranger episode this is based on, the monster is also masquerading as a clown. The difference is that there's no fair or anything tying into that disguise, he's just a clown because he felt like being a clown. I sincerely doubt this is a massive coincidence, but it makes me wonder why bother using that part of the plot at all? They never use any shots of the Japanese clown, nor could they really because he was always in shots with other characters. It seems odd they would use such a nothing part of the original plot to fuel their writing of this episodes adaptation.

Speaking of the Japanese footage, the editor does something rather clever when Finster discusses using the Pineoctopus. We see scenes of the Pineoctopus standing around and gesturing to nobody in particular while using its little tentacle whip things. In the Zyuranger episode, he was fighting the unmorphed Yellow Ranger. Instead of using the fight and pretending the Japanese actor is just an alien or something, they change unusable footage into a demonstration of the monster we'll see soon. It's a nice preview and manages to keep little dorks like me interested.

The U.S. crew also had access to the Pineoctopus suit, and it appears to have held up pretty well because we actually get a couple shots of them using it. It's just the monster bobbing up and down and laughing, but it's better than nothing. The only thing I noticed while getting pictures was that for some reason the U.S. version of Pineoctopus looks less shiny and a little slimmer than the Japanese version. Look at his pine cone midsection specifically.

Japanese Footage

U.S. Footage

It's hard to see Hollyweird's influence was able to reach even pineapple monsters. I thought he was beautiful a little heavier, but the U.S. standards must have thought differently.



3 comments:

  1. Wasn't his original Japanese name Pineoctopardo?

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  2. Firstly, I'm loving this blog, recently discovered it and read all the installments so far, entertaining and funny and it's made me decide to go on a rewatch kick of PR, I loved it as a kid. And oh man just got to this episode...I've not seen it in probably 15 years and never realised how downright creepy it was until now. And whatever the hell were the designers on when they came up with everything about Pineoctopus, I want some.

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  3. I, too, thought it was stock footage of a fair at first. But, no, they actually set up a fair for this episode, even though it appears in only a few minutes' worth of footage. Or maybe they piggy-backed on an actual local fair that was occurring at the time. Who knows?

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