Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 24: The Spit Flower



Bulimic Flower Chastises Braindead Bullies
Teenage Girl Promotes Indonesian Rebellion









Today, Kimberly is super excited about building a float with lots of beautiful flowers, because it's the 90's and she's a girl. If we compiled a list of Kim's favorite things, it would consist of shopping, flowers, and dreaming about her hunky new friend Tommy. The girl's like a less subtle Barbie doll. The aforementioned hunky friend is escorting her and her boxes full of flowers to the Youth Center where Ernie's let the teens set up shop for float building. Kim's ecstatic that her float design is going to be in a parade, and Tommy is ecstatic that by feigning interest in parade design he'll be getting some heavy petting tonight. Tommy blows smoke up Kim's ass about how nice her design looks, because he likes the tasteful use of tigers.

Not as ugly as that forest statue at least

Bulk and Skull show up bright and early to put a damper on Kim's day, only they don't really do much of anything. Bulk sarcastically says how nice the float is and then starts sneezing into Skull's neckerchief because of all the flowers on the model. They're still supposed to be bullies, but the writers are clearly in the process of making their threats less legitimate. This is literally the only thing they do; Bulk looks at the float, blows snot into Skull's clothes, and leaves while complaining about allergies. The Ranger Teens didn't even have to be there for them to look foolish, do these two wander around life looking like clumsy morons to everyone they encounter? Let's just save ourselves some time and say yes.

Rita takes a look at Kimberly's float and says she might have an idea for a float of her own. Baboo comments that floats are made from flowers on Earth, and then starts slapping Squatt while complaining Squatt ate all of the flowers in the Moon Palace. What a beautifully dumb moment. Some shows you find yourself wondering what the characters do when they're off screen, and Power Rangers has the dignity to tell you in Squatt's case: he's eating all of Rita's flowers. What a completely worthless detail to make an already sad and miserable character even more pathetic.

Squatt: Artist's Representation

Tommy and Kim put together the finishing touches on her float when all of a sudden, the Putties appear inside of the Youth Center and harass them. It doesn't sound like much on paper, but the idea that Rita's blithering forces can attack the Rangers on their turf is pretty interesting. The Youth Center seems like hallowed grounds where the Ranger Teens don't have to worry about a fight, but the minute the Putties show up you realize Rita is capable than a lot more than throwing Putties out in a dusty old field. Oh oops, I forgot there was one other villain who showed up in the Youth Center before. For those of you keeping score at home it was our old pal Pudgy Pig. However I was looking for villains more threatening than him, like Putties.

Tommy and Kim start trashing the Putties while one of the clay freaks starts gingerly plucking pieces of Kim's model apart. This Putty fight is shot in another weird ass slow-mo shot repeating fashion and it's the fucking worst. These only crop up once in a while but every time they do it's nothing but "Are we really doing this shit again?" Especially since the only reason these idiots showed up is to mess with Kim's decoupage. If Rita really wanted to mess up Kim's float she could have just sent Squatt down and let him do his business.

Putty art critics don't mess around.

The other Rangers show up to witness the Putty assault, but the Putties high tail it out of there before they can give the Rangers another notch in their W column. The Rangers are happy to be safe, aside from Kimberly who's sitting on the floor mourning her model float. It's not typical to see an actor in this show really emoting, but Amy Jo Johnson is straight up crying. She's easily got the most chops of the cast who look at her like they don't understand why her eyes are leaking. Zack helps her feel a lot better by mournfully saying "Man they really demolished it." Thanks for the feather touch there idiot.

One of the saddest lines is when Trini tells Kim she can build another float some day, and Kim responds instantly with "Yeah and Rita will wreck them too." It's shocking how a dumb premise like wrecking a model is playing such psychological warfare with Kim, but this is something that works really well. Seeing Rita sincerely fuck with the Rangers when they aren't morphed and then springing a monster on them sounds really ingenious. Kim looks completely demolished and you'd think this float was in memory of her recently deceased mother with how hard she's taking its destruction.

All the sadness is brought to the forefront when Jason gets his obligatory line of reaction as he claims "This Rita's a real witch." This is what sets you off Jason? She kidnapped a teenager and brainwashed him to murder you, she tried to make Kimberly die in a fiery plane crash, she let Squatt break his court mandated 100 yards from the Angel Grove elementary school, but this broken model is where you draw the line? Rita ruining Kim's posie pickin?

Rita is taking solace in her evil deeds and asks Squatt and Baboo for suggestions. Baboo says he's not worthy to suggest anything to her, or to be a character. Squatt sadly wipes away dandelion stains from his lips while running into the bathroom. Thankfully Finster's here to suggest the Spit Flower monster to Rita. A creature that can suck up flowers in its massive gullet which he then spews out as Little Shop of Horrors-esque plants that chomp on humans to drain them of their energy. He's a really weird looking monster, because the way he looks is what we should take umbrage with. Not that he has magical flower vomit powers.

Ugh, what's up with the blackhead above his mouth?

The Ranger Teens pick up the pieces of the float as Kimberly sulks at the counter. Her friends try and think up something that will make Kim feel better, and because they're nothing but 5 slices of white bread the best they can come up with is taking her out to lunch. Tommy says he has an idea but he'll have to catch up with them later, because he has to fulfill his unnecessary disappearance quota for the episode.

Before Tommy leaves he pretty sweetly goes up to Kim and tries comforting her. It's an actually cute moment to sell these two as a fathomable couple, and gives you some understanding of their emotions. Instead of the other Rangers who are profoundly different people but get along perfectly together because it's the 90's and kids have enough conflict to deal with at home.

Zordon brings the Rangers to the Command Center so he can try and make a monster that pukes daisies look threatening. The Spit Flower is said to have few weak spots, though I might suspect that big George Lucas waddle he's got under his throat might not handle a karate chop too well. The teens morph to fight Spit Flower who immediately lives up to his namesake, and spits flowers all over them. The blossoms grow teeth and start chewing on the Rangers who drop their weapons and writhe on the ground. Add that to the things that can defeat the Power Rangers, flower puppets with vampire teeth.

R.L. Stine Presents: Stay Out of the Basement AGAIN

Spit Flower starts approaching the Rangers with a menacing laugh and slaps them around with his big blue claws. Spit's flowers are apparently draining their energy so bad they're sitting ducks. Rita knows this is her chance and uses her magic wand to make Spit Flower grow. We're only like 10 minutes in Rita, you sure this is the right time? It's really surprising and shows you Rita means business today. Or she doesn't feel too strong about this Spit Flower thing and wants him to die early so she can hit the hay.

The Rangers pull the vampiric flowers off of their suits, only to realize they let Rita's monster go giant in front of them. Whoopsie! Spit Flower blasts the tiny Rangers with energy before we cut back to Tommy fiddling with a bunch of stuff off screen in a set that is clearly Billy's garage. Zordon tells Tommy to get the fuck off Billy's property and go save the rest of the Rangers. He morphs just in time to see Spit Flower about to stomp on the Rangers. Tommy of course takes the obvious solution to stopping a giant monster.

Spit Flower GIF
Want a reason everyone loves Tommy? Here's a good start.

I want to complain that everything that happened after Spit Flower grew made the Rangers look useless for not calling on the Dinozords, but it's actually an intelligent chain of events. He distracts the Rangers with his energy sucking flowers, as he grows they have to remove the flowers from their suits. As they do so, he blasts them to the ground and tries to stomp them before they have a chance to recover. Any episode where a monster employs logical strategy gets an extra star from me.

Tommy rushes over and holds Jason in his loving embrace, but the boys don't have time to cuck Kimberly, because Spit Flower starts inhaling flowers from all over the city. Jason tells Tommy to bring in the Dragonzord to fight Spit Flower, while Blue, Black and Yellow call on their Dinozords as well. The Rangers form the Dragonzord in Battle Mode, again referring to it as the Megadragonzord because the writers forgot what they called this thing three weeks ago and were too lazy to go check.  Whatever the case, they power up the Mega Battlezord in Dragon Mode.

Using it's drill spear, the Dragonzord blows away Spit Flower's blossoms. Possibly the most mundane use of a giant dragon tail drill that could ever exist. Spit Flower charges in to fight the Zord and completely manhandles it. For something as goofy and awkward looking as Spits, he busts out all sorts of crazy dodge roll maneuvers and deflects Dragonzord Battle Mode's spear like it ain't no thing. This is the strongest Zord combo the Rangers have and it's getting wrecked right now.

It's been four episodes, Dragonzord. Step up your game.

Alpha 5 comments that flower power must be too much for the Dragonzord and they need to regroup the Rangers. Of all the things the Dragonzord can't handle you'd think upchucked petals might not hit the top of the list. Zordon teleports the Rangers back into the Command Center to congratulate them on fucking up so badly. Alpha begins tracking the Spit Flower on the Viewing Globe only to find him no longer giant and trashing the city. Why? Doesn't matter, he just isn't doing that anymore.

Remember when I gave this episode a star for strategy? Gonna have to take that back because this move makes no sense at all. Rita's monster has defeated the Zord fleet and is now giant in the city. Now all of a sudden he's shrank back down because whatever we don't have footage for it. The least we could do is give a reason for why he shrank. This just makes Rita look even more incompetent if her plan after defeating the Zords would be "Alright go back to life size and do the same thing you were earlier."

Zordon says the Dinozords were ineffective against Spit Flower, which implies there's something special about this monster if the most powerful weapons the Rangers have do nothing to him. We don't elaborate on it and that's a huge bummer. All we hear is how much stronger Spit Flower is getting and how everything's about to go to shit.

You know how to tell when things are going to shit? You look in on Bulk and Skull. The two morons are running around the park covered in Spit Flower's vampire blossoms while freaking out and apparently being chased by the monster. I say apparently because we just see him running in a field and then cut to the bullies assholing their way through the park. It's fantastic to imagine one of the toughest monsters the Power Rangers have faced is taking time out of his hectic schedule to harass a couple of dweebs in the park. The best part of this whole scene is when Bulk discovers one of the flowers on his hand, which is literally nothing but a sock puppet with dime store vampire teeth on it. It's beautiful how cheap this show is.

Sifl and Olly SHOW

Zordon brings in an analysis of the previous fight from a Deus Ex something or other. Couldn't quite hear him. He tells the Rangers the only way to stop Spit Flower is to hit him right in his spit sack so he can't make any more flower monsters. Jason entrusts Kim with the important task of hitting Spits in his gonads, and the five primary Rangers teleport back to fight the monster. Tommy is told to stay behind in the Command Center as a last line of defense in case the other Rangers fail. A significantly better reason for keeping him out of a fight than "He was doing karate and wasn't listening to his Communicator."

The Rangers morph and Kim leaps into action. Remember how Spit Flower was nearly invincible the last 15 minutes? One arrow shot straight into his mouth and he starts spewing petals everywhere. Yep, now he's just about finished. Nice and climactic right? The Rangers pull together the Power Blaster and blow Spit Flower away in as much time as it takes you to finish this sentence.

It's a really weird and abrupt ending for a monster who seemed so strong, and what makes it even weirder is when Spit Flower blows up you see one of his arms is cut off and laying on the ground. There's a bunch of otherwise unusable shots of him getting blasted shoved into the footage of him getting Power Blasted and it looks like a gigantic mess. 

Did he get hit by that beam four times?

Tommy and Alpha celebrate the Spit Flower's unceremonious death, but Tommy says he needs Alpha's help to finish his mystery project back at "the garage." Guess it isn't Billy's anymore, it belongs to whoever needs to have a scene inside of it. At Nondescript Garage, Tommy has Alpha hand him tools. Alpha keeps handing Tommy the wrong stuff likely because the robot has no eyes to discern what anything actually is. Tommy asks for glue, and because we needed just a teaspoon more shtick before the credits, Alpha gets the glue stuck to his hand. I would get mad at Alpha, but he's probably still pissed at Tommy for shutting him down so many times while he was evil. Karma's a bitch ain't it Tommy?

Back in the Youth Center, Jason and Zack are practicing karate with each other while loudly commenting on how ugly that Spit Flower they fought was. There are people clearly within earshot guys, maybe save this for after practice? Luckily the extras aren't paid to hear them so their secret is safe for another day.

Ernie calls the Ranger Teens over to watch the parade on T.V. so they can see floats that didn't get ruined. Why's the parade on T.V.? Because it's stock footage of a parade so the producers didn't have to pay money to film one. Maybe if Kim knew that she wouldn't have felt so bad about her model getting trashed. Kim and Tommy walk in to see the parade on, and Kim is just about ready to go postal. Tommy says she HAS to watch the parade, because he's at half mast knowing how miserable she is and wants to finish strong tonight.

As the teens continue to watch, Kim hears the announcer talk about their next float having been designed by a high school girl to promote world peace or something. Kim gets butterflies in her stomach as she sees her float in the parade! However there's a slight problem.


If you're going to use stock footage of a parade, maybe don't let the float that represents your teenage character have a banner that says Indonesia on it. Unless this is a sign of Kimberly's rampant Indonesian nationalism. The world may never know.

It turns out Tommy's secret project that Alpha nearly ruined was recreating Kimberly's float for her!  While his team was busy getting beaten to death by the Spit Flower, Tommy was hard at work gluing tiger pieces back together. Pretty fair trade off.

Before we end on a cute hug from Kim to Tommy, Bulk and Skull mosey in and say they want to watch the parade and get hugs too. Zack comes up and starts doing magic out of absolutely nowhere, and makes a bouquet of flowers appear from his sleeve. Bulk hisses at him, and Skull starts making a cross out of his fingers as the two back away, clearly having had enough of flowers for one day. Congratulations "The Spit Flower" that was actually kind of funny. You get your star back.



Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Sock Puppet Flowers



Personal Thoughts


For an episode centered around flowers, this one's acceptable. I remember as a kid thinking I'd hate it because flowers are for girls and that's going to make my show about rainbow superheroes totally lame, but it's not bad. This was another episode I had half recorded as a kid, and it cut off as soon as the Power Rangers were rolling around in pain on the ground as Spit Flower descended on them. I'm noticing a pattern that a lot of my half watched episodes could have ended in all the Rangers dying and I never would have known.

A lot of the Spit Flower fighting doesn't flow or make much sense, but they're pretty bound by what the footage allows and didn't really feel the need to explain things like why Spit Flower abruptly stopped being giant all of a sudden, or why his arm was hacked off.

Why was his arm hacked off? Well in Zyuranger, the monster was trying to nab the unmorphed Pink Ranger, but her zord flew in and blasted him which sliced his arm off. Mainly because girls can't be strong on their own and need help from flying toys to beat villains. Thanks 90's Japan! As for why he grew and arbitrarily shrank off screen, that was also in Zyuranger, so really it's an issue both versions have and can't necessarily be blamed on Power Rangers.

By the way, in Japan the Spit Flower's name was Dora Guzzler. The monsters in Zyuranger were all named Dora Something or other, usually referring to a type of mythological creature. I'd like to share my tale of googling the name Dora Guzzler to see some pictures of the Japanese Spit Flower when I was about 13. Allow me to inform you that at the time, Google heavily misunderstood my intentions and gave me all kinds of guzzling Doras, but not so many Dora Guzzlers. That might be the nerdiest accidental porn search in the history of the internet, but please try to prove me wrong.

Spit Flower's monster costume is an interesting case, because the U.S. production team definitely did have it, but it didn't show up in American footage a single time outside of one or two production photos.


This could mean the costume was either in wretched condition and unable to be used for anything but still pictures, or they feasibly got the costume too late into production to use in the episode and decided to take a picture of it while they had it available. I'd lean more towards the former, because several costumes of monsters would make repeat appearances later on in the season, but if we never saw Spit Flower at all then his suit may have just been falling apart beyond repair. He's Dora Guzzling with Jesus now.



4 comments:

  1. "Yeah and Rita will wreck them too."

    This makes me really hope we get a "crisis of faith" episode with the Power Rangers, wherein they have to cope with the fact that being called to do this awesome thing means they have to face the fact that they won't be able to do all these OTHER awesome things that they wish they could.

    Then Bulk falls into a vat of chili and everyone's gonna be juuuuust fine.

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  2. Every time I watch this episode, I wonder if I am the only one who notices that when all 6 morphed Rangers are in the command center, Tommy's shield is different than any other time whe see US footage of the shield. This one is actually way better than the cloth version they use in every other scene. Granted it's still not as good as the Japanese version, but it's still a lot better than the one they went with. It looks to me made of some foam, or at least thicker fabric, and just looks more like the Zyuranger footage. You never see this shield used in any other scenes. It always bummed me out that the costume makers could just make a proper foam shield in the first place, and it does even more so knowing that they had at least a better alternative than the one they ultimately went with.


    I realize I'm nerding out about a shield. But check it out, you'll see what I'm talking about

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    Replies
    1. I thought it might have been the regular US shield in one of its first filmed scenes, when it hadn't had time to accumulate all the dents or other flaws from wear we're used to seeing. But maybe I'm wrong and there's a funny story out there about how someone broke the first Dragon Shield replica after just one scene.

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  3. I like AJJ's acting in this episode. It's understandable that Kim would feel upset when something that she's worked hard on is ruined.

    What's not understandable is going from a model to a full-sized float in...a few hours, I guess. Who built the full-sized float?

    ReplyDelete