Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 22: The Trouble With Shellshock



Turtle Shoots Lasers At Basketballs
Devious Galactic Sorceress Takes Nap








Now that the Ranger Teens have officially inducted Tommy into their ranks, they've decided to let him watch as Zack and Jason compete in a ceremonial game of "basket-balls." It's weird that they just introduced a new character who could ostensibly have a personality other than "does karate" and "is a superhero", but they decide to just have him sit on the sidelines with the rest of the Rangers. If you are given a new character to expand on or dedicate some kind of focus to, having him watch two other non-characters shoot hoops in the park might not be the best way to let us know anything about him.

Tommy isn't the only one watching though, because Squatt's beamed down from the Moon Palace to observe the Rangers from afar. He's not hiding anywhere because he's too fat to hide behind anything, but obese gremlins were all over our parks back in the 90's so nobody pays any attention to him. Squatt laughs about how he and Baboo have a new plan to stop the Rangers and heads back to the palace. Well if this plan you two have is anything like your "Observe Enemies Playing Sports" tactic, the Rangers are goners for sure!

It's a good thing Squatt has a plan though, since Rita's spending her day lounging in a rocking chair passed out and snoring. She took that Green Ranger loss harder than I realized and went straight to the hooch. Baboo and Squatt sneak past their lush of a boss into Finster's office, as the two idiots discuss how amazing this new monster is going to be. Baboo's so proud of this unseen idea that he claims it's going to be better than anything Finster's ever come up with, as Squatt begs him to say what this amazing new creature will be. Baboo presents a small clay mold of today's monster.

Fuck You.

What was I expecting though? The comic relief henchman are creating a plan, it's a little silly to act like it'll be anything special. The show isn't pretending this monster is anything too incredible either, because even Squatt seems iffy on this. Squatt. The thing that eats bugs and gets zapped on the ass for a living thinks Baboo's plan sounds questionable.

As Baboo puts the clay mold inside the Monstermatic, Squatt decides to interject and help Baboo's plan along by providing the monster some weapons. Squatt finds a bunch of shit in his satchel to put inside the machine, like a hook, a little toy cannon, a baseball bat, some crusty tissues, and a bunch of dead mice. When Squatt asks what Baboo is planning on naming their new turtle, Baboo offers up names such as Greta, or Peetush. Squatt, not wanting their child to commit suicide in high school, offers up the name Shellshock instead.

Power Rangers Shellshock
Without Rahzar he's useless!

The guy Rangers play basketball while Kim, Trini, and Billy continue cheering them on. This is all we got for today huh? Basketball montages and turtles? No worries though, the Putties arrive to  cleanse our palettes and kick some ass on the court. There are a bunch of weird cuts during the Putty fight of kicks being repeated and Putties getting a basketball shoved in their gut. It's mostly really dumb looking, but thankfully doesn't last very long. What is it with the Rangers playing sports making for such lousy Putty fights?  

Zack basketball
The Putties defense has gotten so shitty in the off season.

Squatt and Baboo have an entirely pointless sequence of being disappointed with how badly the Putties were beaten, despite the fact they 1) Specifically mentioned wanting to soften the Rangers up 2) Have a big goofy turtle monster to fight for them. While the idiots sulk, Tommy tells the rest of the Rangers he's late for karate practice and he'll catch up with them later when they're losing a fight.

A hot dog cart shows up and the rest of the Rangers make Trini go pay for their lunch, telling her to sell her hideous doll collection if she needs more money. As Trini contemplates spitting in her friends hot dogs, Bulk and Skull mosey on into the park and try talking tough to the rest of the Rangers after snagging their basketball. Things take a turn for the creep when Bulk twirls Kimberly around and grabs her, which is the moment Zack and Jason stop laughing at their comical antics, and remember that these two are sociopathic idiots.

Bulk flings Kim over to Skull while Jason and Zack try and hold off the big moron. Putting this scene right after that Putty fight ends up illustrating something great, which is that the two socially inept bullies put up a better fight against the Ranger Teens than Rita's clay dipshits do. The fight with these two ends a lot less violent though, as the two bullies clumsily crash into the hot dog cart, spilling toppings all over them.

Skull's shades are slightly ajar, what out of control antics

The hot dog vendor says they have to pay him for all the shit they fell into, and it'll take them two weeks to pay it off. Two weeks?! Are you fucking nuts? Look at them, they have maybe four packets worth of mustard and ketchup on them. This fucking creep was just looking to strong arm some indentured servants today. You see who the real monster is today boys and girls? Capitalism.

While the bullies get used to their newfound 14 days a slave, Squatt and Baboo observe the Rangers while behind some bushes. Squatt informs their ridiculous looking turtle mutant that he should go and knock the Rangers out. Shellshock gets all befuddled and starts ducking his head down at these incredibly basic instructions and Baboo accuses Squatt of confusing their brilliant son. It might not have helped his intelligence when you shoved a goddamned traffic light through his spine Baboo.

Since Shellshock is so fucking stupid, he uses the green light on his traffic signal to blast the Rangers basketball and blow it to pieces. When the Rangers see a bunch of barely concealed idiots in the bushes they decide it's a good time to morph. As soon as they do, Shellshock zaps Trini with his green light ray and causes her to start moving uncontrollably, as she runs away from the fight. Oh the light must have swapped her personality with Billy's!

The rest of the Rangers leap in to fight Shellshock who uses really ludicrous methods to fight them. He pulls out the baseball bat Squatt provided earlier and knocks a bunch of baseballs at the Rangers, managing to miss them with every hit. Having perfected his Alex Rodriguez impression, Shellshock decides to use the red light on his traffic signal to freeze the Power Rangers. Though Black, Blue, and Pink are frozen, Jason ducks out of the way at the last second, but Shellshock has even stupider ways to kill the Red Ranger!

The preliminary design for Blastoise was really weird.

Jason manages to make Shellshock and his fucked up parents flee by shooting at them with his Blade Blaster. That really wimpy sidearm that doesn't do much? Yeah that scares off Squatt, Baboo and their monster. Jason gratefully didn't need to resort to his secret technique of shoving Shellshock onto its back to immobilize him. Shocking that a monster based on a turtle tends not to do too well in a fight, but you can't win 'em all. 

Goldar shows up to tell Squatt and Baboo how their googly-eyed turtle isn't gonna do dick to the Power Rangers and Rita's going to be incredibly pissed off at them. She doesn't dare fire them though, as the Moon Palace is an equal opportunity employer. The dunderheads try and defend their incompetent bumbling to Goldar, who in so many words informs them that Rita doesn't give a shit about them or any of their stupid plans.

Rita, having finally woken up from her booze snooze, congratulates Squatt and Baboo for using a monster that was able to accomplish something. Rita, somehow forgetting how close she was to winning last week, finds this turtle stoplight plan to be a rousing success worthy of praise.

I'm going back and forth here whether or not Shellshock really accomplished much or not. He's taken four of the Power Rangers out of the fight which is impressive for a braindead turtle; however we've had monsters like Madame Woe trap all of the Rangers in some rainy dimension then beat the shit out of Billy after he escapes. It's not really easy to calculate victories for a group that loses week after week, but if it makes Rita's useless lackeys feel better then let's just say Shellshock is doing amazing.

Zordon brings the three frozen Rangers and Jason back to the Command Center to make fun of them for being beaten by Squatt and Baboo. Billy, Kim, and Zack all remain morphed and completely frozen, but Zordon says there is a chance to resuscitate them. He's sent Trini to a Mountain of Hope to go find some flowers that will cure the rest of the Rangers of Shellshock's magic. After she got hit with that go beam it was either go gather some magic flowers or run laps around the Command Center.

With the Rangers on the ropes and in hiding, Rita decides to drag them out into the open by making Shellshock giant and sending him on a rampage. We get one of the most groanworthy lines ever when Shellshock says "Wait till those teenage mutants see what a full grown turtle can do." The fucking Ninja Turtles in Power Rangers? Gag me to death. The scene is made a lot better when we see Squatt and Baboo standing on a building cheering Shellshock on as he destroys the city. Though we don't get the scene I want with Shellshock accidentally killing his parents during his rampage as a dying Baboo tells Shellshock they've always been proud of him.

Shellshock city
In hindsight this show was a little silly.

Jason brings out his Dinozord to hold Shellshock off while he waits for Trini to go pick flowers. Shellshock brings out some of his weapons, a hook over his hand and the baseball bat from earlier, to fight with the T-Rex. But don't get too excited to see a robot tyrannosaurus fight against a baseball playing pirate turtle, because we need to see Trini running around a field to find some magic flowers first.

Trini tiptoes through the tulips in a field with no real slope to it, which seems kind of strange for a fucking mountain. Zordon tells her she's almost found them and just needs help from the Saber Tooth Tiger. Apropos of nothing, a ghostly image of her Dinozord appears through some mist and the flowers fly into her hand. Which makes as much sense as a ghost robot tiger ever could. Wait a second, when did this episode turn into a Trini focus?

How mystical can a robot's foot really be?

Somehow, the Tyrannosaurus has been completely overwhelmed by Shellshock while Trini was off picking posies, and Jason begins clamoring for help. If you're in the mood to be emasculated make sure to watch today's episode of Power Rangers, where the leader of the Power Rangers is beaten half to death by a turtle with a baseball bat. 

Tommy finishes his karate practice in the Youth Center, which consisted of him dicking around with a bo staff for half an hour. The show cut back to it a few times but, y'know, who cares? Tommy gets a buzz on his Communicator and answers Jason's call. Jason tells Tommy he needs help in the same tone of voice you'd ask someone if they could spot you a dollar for the vending machine. Tommy morphs but doesn't really feel like showing up so he calls his Japanese buddy Burai to fight for him.

I'M NOT TOMMY!

Well whoever shows up, they summon the Dragonzord and knock Shellshock away from the Tyrannosaurus. The evil turtle seems excited to fight two opponents, but his enthusiasm is misplaced as he gets smacked around like a complete punk by the two Dinozords. After he gets knocked to the mat he starts hiding his eyes from the Rangers in a clear "Please don't hurt me I'm scared" gesture. Whoever was dubbing this decided to make Shellshock say that he got dirt in his eyes so he can't aim his stoplight ray? It's such a weird thing to change but whatever, Shellshock is giving up. Jason stupidly believes this and stops fighting, only for Shellshock to scream "NOT!!" and blast T-Rex and Dragonzord with the stop ray. For those keeping score at home that is 2 "Not" jokes this show has made. 300 times too many.

Just as Squatt and Baboo beg their monster to finish off the Power Rangers, Trini runs in while calling out to Jason and... Billy? Not Tommy, the guy who's actually there, Billy who is currently frozen inside the Command Center and in fact NOT the guy who pilots the Dragonzord. Who the fuck was doing the ADR this episode? That's something she records on accident, and then they look at the footage literally a single time and realize "oh right that doesn't make sense. One more time."
 
Either way, Trini helps whoever the fuck she showed up to help with the magical flowers a floating tiger gave her. The Yellow Ranger leaps on top of Shellshock's head and shakes the flowers while pollen falls over the turtle. Shellshock begins to burst with sparks as his power shorts out and his stoplight goes haywire. The effects of his ray disappear on both the Dinozords and the rest of the Rangers in the Command Center. Kim makes some tedious quip about how she felt like a mannequin at the mall, which is where she likes to go shopping. For clothes. Because she is a hu-mon female. Beep Boop.

Tommy and Jason bring out the full force of their Zords to wail on Shellshock now that he's been completely powered down, which brings to mind a question. Now that Shellshock is completely helpless due to the flowers, does that go against Zordon's rule of never escalating a battle? The monster is powerless now, wouldn't that be excessive? Whatever, fuck him.

TONIGHT WE DINE ON TURTLE SOUP

Rita is absolutely livid at her bumbling henchmen's failure and berates them while bashing them with her wand. She gets a great line off where she says she should have her head examined for believing they could accomplish something. Don't take it too hard Rita, you just had a case of the brown bottle flu.

So how can we round out today's episode? With another fascinating round of basketball of course!!  The stakes are high though, because whoever loses has to buy the winner lunch! Good golly! It isn't completely for nothing though, because we get some G-Rated trash talking between Zack and Tommy. It's adorable and corny but it's such a great summary of how pure and silly these people are. Zack dunks on Tommy because...well of course he does, but then all of a sudden Billy pops up and tells Zack it's double or nothing.

Zack, because he's a human being with respect, tells Billy maybe he should back down. Billy decides against that though because he's used to being humiliated. Then he dunks on Zack because nerdy kids everywhere need to be inspired to become basketball stars. Wait a second wasn't Shellshock using a baseball bat in the fight? Why the fuck weren't they playing baseball instead? Why isn't Trini playing basketball since she was a big part of the episode? It's irrelevant, Billy made a basket and now Zack has to buy him hot dogs.

Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Hot Dog Vendors


Personal Thoughts:


I got a little nitpicky near the end but this is generally an episode I enjoy. It's goofy as shit but I think it's kind of fun to see Squatt and Baboo doing something. Compared to the absolutely nothing they ever do it's a refreshing change of pace. Shellshock is a pretty uniquely fun monster that you're not going to get anywhere else. It's a design like his that leads people to parody this show like it has the craziest concepts you've ever seen. It's a turtle with a traffic light in its back everybody, just be cool.

Speaking of the titular turtle, I will never in my goddamned life forget a line Squatt says to Baboo "What are we going to do with a turtle that has a traffic light stuck in its head?" One, because it's a very sincere question I think we can all apply to our daily lives, and two because my mom would say it to me when I was a kid all the time. She would do a really goofy voice to impersonate Squatt and say "A TURTLE WITH A TRAFFIC LIGHT?!?!" So Shellshock has a special place in my heart for weird reasons.

Now that we have a new monster, we get to go back to my pet discussion of monster costumes. Shellshock's suit the U.S. crew had for filming, but they really didn't use it for very much. It might have just been awkward because of his big floppy traffic light, but we only see two little shots of him hidden inside some plants with Squatt and Baboo.


There's also something that I've wondered about ever since I was a kid, what does the yellow light on Shellshock's back do? Green means go, red means stop, does he just use it and make people continue to do exactly what they do? Whoever made this monster in Japan left a void in my heart, something I thought I'd never know the truth about. However fear not! I finally came across an answer while watching this episode. When Shellshock is complaining about having dirt in his eyes, the yellow light on his back starts flashing. So it means Shellshock is weakened or something. Mark another one in the "who gives a shit" column!

Thanks to a fella by the name of SirStack who posted scripts of Power Rangers episodes, and dedicates even more time to this franchise than I do, I was able to read through what they originally had planned for this episode. Typically these scripts aren't too different from the aired versions of episodes and just have some very minor tweaks. One I found interesting though was they initially wanted Trini to be unmorphed when Shellshock blasted her with the green light. This was the same way the Japanese version did it, but they probably figured it would be easier to just film a stunt actor in a costume doing it than making an actor bust their ass running up a hill over and over.

Something that stands out to me is how the U.S. suit actors and the Japanese suit actors commit to certain things. What's most blatant would be the scenes of Yellow Ranger running and how much more effort the Japanese actor puts into it.


U.S.

Japan

Look how much faster the Japanese actor is moving his legs. The American stuntman is just doing some calisthenics to get ready for a nice brisk day of exercise. One looks like someone who's honestly unable to stop moving, and one looks like a person trying to keep from wetting their pants.

This isn't meant to knock Power Rangers so much as point out what I feel the mentality was. Super Sentai was a Japanese juggernaut that had been going on for 20 years. They knew exactly how to do something and make it look damn good. Power Rangers was a show trying to find its footing and had little experience in terms of what it wanted to do. It's got a fantastic charm watching them try and work these things out early on and part of what makes these early years so interesting.

One final incredibly dorky note to end on is this episode's title. "The Trouble with Shellshock" is ostensibly supposed to be a pun on the Star Trek episode titled "The Trouble with Tribbles." My question is how the fuck did they not come up with "The Trouble with Turtles"? That sounds like something they came up with and then someone pitched an alternate title that made no sense and ignored the point entirely. Why the fuck do I know any of this? I don't even watch Star Trek.



2 comments:

  1. I'm glad you mentioned Tommy's lack of characterization. He's basically a clone of Jason, in a few episodes they're even wearing the exact same clothes albeit with different color schemes. I'm hoping they make him some sort of antihero in the new movies, sort of like a toned down Vegeta.

    Two things:

    Jason says "check this out" to Zack and Kim like he's going to make some awesome shot but misses the basket entirely and gets laughed at by Kim.

    There is a mat visible when Bulk and Skull fall over.

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  2. Ooh, interesting bit about Trini originally being unmorphed. She and Kim are my favorite Rangers, so I would have preferred it if she was unmorphed and running around instead of it just being whoever in the suit.

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