Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 17: Green With Evil Part 1: Out of Control



Franchise Gains Legitimacy
Teenager Frozen, Becomes Asian




Today marks the day it all changes, everything becomes topsy turvy, and nothing will ever be the same. The Power Rangers are about to take on their greatest challenge yet. The lives they've lived up until this minute have been nothing compared to the terror they're about to face, because Jason's at a karate tournament and there's a bunch of guys doing super sweet kicks!!!

Jason is incredibly pensive about his upcoming match, not because he thinks anyone will try and sweep the leg, but because it's against some guy he's never met before. The rest of the Ranger Teens do nothing to help disregard Jason's fears and just mention how tough and mysterious this new opponent is. Kim starts talking about how this new kid, Tommy, is a total goddamn dreamboat and is making her gush like Niagara Falls. Hard to blame her though, check out this handsome devil. 

Tommy spin kick
White Guy Karate: The Deadliest Sport

The Ranger Teens aren't the only ones impressed with Tommy's spin kick prowess. Rita takes notice of his abilities and says he'll make a perfect Green Ranger. Squatt, Baboo and Goldar all compliment her brilliant plan and get excited at the prospect of some hot teen on teen action. It hasn't been two minutes in the episode and we've already mapped out exactly what path we're going to be taking in this saga. There's no time spent dicking around which is well appreciated. Keep that in mind for the next few weeks though, because this is one of the few times that I can say that in the "Green With Evil" miniseries.

Jason and Tommy have their match at the karate expo and things are starting to heat up something fierce. Jason and Tommy start off even but Tommy quickly gets the upper hand and is winning against Jason 4 points to 2. The rest of the Ranger Teens are biting their nails over how rough things look for Jason, knowing that if he loses this match they'll have to stop being friends with him because he isn't perfect like them. Jason turns the match around and knocks Tommy on his ass, all while Kim's knees are buckling at the sight of these two hunks roughing each other up. 

With seconds left on the clock (obviously), Jason scores one more point, and ends the match in a draw. One could even say that Jason and Tommy are an even match for each other. It's really obvious storytelling when you think about it, but it's pretty subtle for a show with rainbow colored superheroes in mechanized mastodons.

Tommy and Jason congratulate each other on a match well fought, showing that not only is Tommy totally awesome at karate and totally dreamy, he's humble and charming too! There isn't a dry seat in the house. Jason walks away saying how tough the fight was and he's disappointed he didn't win. Trini starts talking about how karate isn't about winning or glamour but the discipline you use to win. Tell that to my silver medal Trini, take your honor and respect and shove it up your ass.

Kim stays behind while the rest of the teens leave so she can ogle Tommy's glory a little longer. The people editing this episode even felt the need to put in angelic harp music to really jab it in that Kim is so in wuv with this new guy. It's really silly and is perfect for this show. Kids don't know how emotions work so just play some sappy music while Kim makes fuck eyes at some guy she just met and they'll get the point.

The next day at school, Kim gets harassed by Bulk and Skull, and Skull asks if she needs a big strong man to help her with her books. Skull poses for her with his limp wet noodle arms with a smug grin plastered on his face while Kim is immediately dismissive of him. It's horribly emasculating and encapsulates Skull perfectly. Oh and Bulk is eating something in the background of this scene, so it also sums him up perfectly too.

Bulk and Skull hilarious
2Gay2Lift

After she refutes his buddies pathetic advances, Bulk says it's time to teach Kim a lesson. We don't find out what that actually is though because Tommy shows up and says they better get out of here unless they want their buttholes tied together like balloon animals. The bullies don't buy him as a threat, so Tommy busts out a demonstration of spin kicks and punches which terrify Bulk and Skull into never being threatening again. Thankfully none of the teachers seemed to give a shit that the new kid in school was harassing the two remedial students with martial arts.

Kim thanks Tommy for saving her from the pathetic ineffectual bullies who trip over anything larger than a shoelace, and Tommy introduces himself to her as the kung-fu hippy from gangster city. Kim asks Tommy if he wants to hang out with her and her friends at the Youth Center, and says if that doesn't work they could hang out at Billy's garage, or the Youth Center dressed up as somewhere else. Tommy says he'd like to, but says he'll see her later or he might be late for his 4th period kidnapping.

Rita starts casting a spell in front of her altar adorned with skulls and candles and all sorts of kooky shit. She apparently has the sixth Power Coin and is plotting to use its powers to bring Tommy to her side and kill the Power Rangers for her. How does she have this Power Coin? Well it's explained in the rich tapestry of backstory this series has that you don't care about. Rita's spellcasting seems pretty superfluous, but it really makes it seem like she's putting a lot more into this plan than she was any of the previous episodes and starts building up the tension for this Green Ranger situation.

She even busted out her the skull she got at Spencers.

Tommy wanders into an alleyway because he doesn't seem to know his way home, or because he's hoping to get ambushed by muggers and kill them. Thankfully a swarm of Putties show up and grant his wish. Tommy takes them on by himself and he instinctively knows to just beat the shit out of them without remorse. He doesn't question why a bunch of blubbering idiots are moving around him, just that they have asses in need of kicking, and he's got the prescription.

Tommy actually doesn't immediately demolish the Putties like you might expect him to and they give him a pretty good run for his money. It isn't until midway through the fight that he seems to realize these otherworldly morons need to be put down, and he starts completely wailing on them. Using many traditional karate methods.

Tommy VS Putties
The mightiest warriors science can create.

Rita takes Tommy's defeat of the Putties as a clear sign he's the one destined to become the Green Ranger, showing she must never actually watch any of the fights the Putties are involved in. She preps her magical ball to capture Tommy, who is immediately struck by a gust of wind. Rita suddenly shows up on the rooftop all covered in shadows, saying she has chosen him to be her disciple. Tommy lets out a strained and hilariously acted "NO" as he's zapped up with green energy.

We immediately see Rita right on the balcony of her palace, not seeming like she just captured Tommy on Earth but it's Power Rangers, shitty editing is the name of the game. Rita lets her cronies look into the crystal ball showing a frozen body surrounded by candles. No seriously, it's a body that looks like it's been completely frozen over or covered in cobwebs or some shit.



Is that how you become an evil Power Ranger? You freeze to death through magic? Well whatever the case, Tommy breaks out of the icy prison which has somehow caused his hair to change shape and his body to turn Japanese.

Tommy didn't work out so we just gave the sixth Power Coin to some Asian dude for 30 bucks and a bottle a' hooch.

Tommy starts talking like a complete robot as he asks how he can serve his empress. Rita gives him the scoop on the chumps he's going to be killing for her, and gives him the identity of all five Power Rangers. She also says that his possession of a Power Coin will allow him access into the Command Center where he can destroy Zordon and gently shove Alpha 5 over. This way he can eliminate the Rangers support team and leave them helpless. Rita finally uses her magic to morph Tommy into the vicious Green Ranger!


Tommy Solid Snakes his way into the Command Center to fulfill his mission. He begins the era of the Green Ranger by putting a CD into Alpha 5's back, which has viruses in it or something. Zordon tells him to get his jolly green ass out of his Command Center or he'll come out of this dimensional tube and beat the shit out of him. Tommy says he's not afraid of a big blue headed pussy, since he just beat up a bunch of idiots in gray pajamas so he's feeling frisky.

Zordon knows Tommy is under Rita's spell, and even knows him by name, which implies a bunch of magical stuff about the Power Coins being under Zordon's command even when Rita uses one in a spell. Zordon even seems to have expected this Green Ranger situation to happen at some point, but is mostly annoyed about it instead of proactive. Tommy has had enough of this exposition from Zordon, and hilariously refers to him as "Old Man." However, that's only the icing on the cake, because the real glory is how Tommy decides to shut Zordon down.


It's Tommy's subtlety that really impressed Rita.

Rita, not wanting to quit while she's (killed) a head, decides to send her henchmonsters to Earth in order to...make Goldar grow? She must think the Rangers are pretty goddamn dumb to not notice a towering gryphon stomping towards them and fall prey to his "sneak attack." Wouldn't it have been smarter to do this before Tommy snuck into the Command Center in case Alpha or Zordon caught him and alerted the other Rangers? Oh hold on, Squatt and Baboo are here to explain Goldar's plan to us, he's going to "crush them all." Thanks guys!

The Rangers, without Zordon and Alpha's surveillance, are blissfully unaware of the fact Goldar is out stomping shit in some mountain range somewhere. Billy even takes the time off to do a wash and wax on the RADBUG outside of his garage. Kim shows up all sore that Tommy never showed up for their date, but her high school relationship woes are soon interrupted by a static-y transmission from Alpha. The Rangers use the RADBUG to head to the Command Center, since Zordon being out of commission is messing up their Communicators.

The Ranger Teens see everything completely fucked up inside the Command Center and wonder what the hell could have happened. Billy takes the virus disc out of Alpha's back which immediately fixes him because it was the 90's and we didn't understand technology. Alpha reboots and shows the Rangers that Goldar is giant and ready for a fight, so they morph to take him out.

As soon as the Rangers show up, Squatt calls on the Putty Patrol to fight the Rangers, which they oblige instead of dealing with the much more pertinent threat of giant sized Goldar. The Rangers kill a little time effortlessly cutting down Putties, then decide maybe they should attend to this Goldar problem they've got on their hands. They form the Megazord and have a pretty nice slugfest with the giant golden monkey, calling on the Power Sword immediately to have a swordsman duel. 3 stock. Final Destination.

Unfortunately Goldar disappears after an all too brief fight, leaving the Rangers confused as to what's going on. Tommy shows up to tell them exactly what's going on.

Green Ranger Megazord
If you've been on the internet since 2002 you have seen this gif

Holy shit. HOLY SHIT! This moment is so good I can't even believe it's in this show. The Megazord is this total safe haven for the Rangers where they're not in danger unless Megazord is. Green Ranger doesn't give a shit about any of that and knocks them out of the cockpit because fuck them that's why. Tommy is making such an amazing first impression it's killing me.

The Rangers try to fight Green on ground level, and he utterly demolishes them. They don't stand a chance against him at all. He just rips into them and treats them like chumps. Jason steps up and says he'll take Green on one-on-one, and Tommy responds by chucking a Blade Blaster at him that jabs him in the chest. It's a great dumb little moment, as is this incredible display of power that comes out of nowhere.

Green Ranger kamehameha
Sentai warriors using Ki attacks?! A Japanese writer fiercely began scribbling next year's pitch.

Alpha teleports the Rangers back into the Command Center after they've had both cheeks thoroughly reddened. He tells them he still can't locate Zordon, and promptly starts shorting out because of the virus Tommy put inside of him. The Rangers realize that this fight is only just beginning, and they don't have any of their support team to help them out.

Then, BAM, To Be Continued. No Bulk and Skull falling into a desert, no high fives and cheers, just an encroaching sense of dread that the Rangers are all alone against their greatest foe yet. Tune in tomorrow kids, maybe Trini will get punched out of the Megazord again! Before we go, let me inform you that very soon, IT happens. Stay tuned.


Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Trash Lid Frisbees


Personal Thoughts:


Holy Criminy Christ what an episode. This is where the show began for many people, the moment the whole game got changed. The Green Ranger. This episode alone cements why he was so memorable. But the Rangers getting smacked around by villains is nothing new, so why is it Tommy as the Green Ranger struck a nerve with people like he did?

It could be many factors, but here's what I think:

1) This was the show's first multi part episode which ups the stakes when we realize Tommy is fully capable of leaving the other Rangers for dead and it won't get wrapped up in a neat 20 minute little bow.
2) Everyone's a sucker for a good mirror match; Captain Planet VS. Captain Pollution, Wargreymon VS. Blackwargreymon, Spock VS. Beard Spock, the list would go on if I watched more than four shows. Who wouldn't be stoked to see another Ranger beat the shit out of these superheroes?
3) Rita herself is the one enacting this plan. Finster doesn't make the monster, Goldar isn't plotting it out, this is clearly Rita's baby from minute one. She's been sitting on her big witch ass all season, so seeing her get involved is proof this new guy is bad news.

Considering how important he'll soon become, I'd like to speak a little bit more about Tommy now, starting with his actor. Jason David Frank comes across like he was hired as a martial artist first and an actor second. He's not always quite like this, but when he's unmorphed and evil they really didn't give him good direction at all. He's all stiff and robotic in this episode and it's a pretty silly performance.

JDF will become much better, but for these first few episodes it was clear they wanted him to show off his karate, and when it came to lines they just wanted him to recite whatever they shoved into his hands. I do have to admit that JDF does a nice and intimidating voice when he's dubbing over the Ranger footage, so really you can see he has chops in certain aspects even from the beginning. He's just finding his footing in the cast which will take him a little time.

This episode is the first time we see Rita in U.S. material. Since she's very obviously an old Japanese actress they didn't have available for filming, the filmmakers opted to cover the actress they put in her costume under a lot of shadows so the actress not matching wouldn't be so obvious.


What's weird is that they really didn't need this shot of Rita to progress the story at all.  They could have had Rita doing her spells and Tommy teleporting with green energy regardless of her being on Earth arbitrarily, in fact that would make more sense.  It's entirely possible they had just gotten the costume ready and were so excited to use it that they shoved this scene in.

One more bit of US costume trivia, the Green Ranger costume in the US footage is notorious for having a really shitty looking shield covering the chest. It looks like cheap floppy foam instead of whatever uncomfortable plastic they must have used for the Japanese costume. From what I gathered the U.S. crew had the shield prop but it was too heavy for the stuntman in the Green Ranger suit so they made a makeshift one that wouldn't break his back and make him humble.

U.S.

Japan


There's a lot of fucking stuff to say about this mini-series because this is one of the big moments for this show, but I'm cutting it off here before I get bogged down in all the nitty gritty. Before we're done I wanted to end on something really cool I found: An original promo for this set of episodes. Enjoy guys! It also spoils something in Part 5 so if you're actually unaware of what Green Ranger has at his disposal somehow, come back in a few weeks!





2 comments:

  1. Ah, the Green Ranger. I've been looking forward to this, but I delayed watching it, because I wanted to find time to marathon the miniseries. Then, last night, I just decided Fuck it" and watched the first two episodes. Pretty good, but the RADBUG is still stupid.

    Also, I was kinda disappointed that Kim showed interest in Tommy, because, in my headcanon, she and Trini are doing it.

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    Replies
    1. Well obviously. Tommy's just Kim's beard. That's why she picked the guy who's clinically unable to think about anything other than karate.

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