Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 26: Gung Ho




Bickering Teenagers Assaulted By Brachiosaurus
Power Rangers Obtain Unstoppable Weapons, Immediately Throw In Garbage









Karate. You like it? Cause today you're going to be getting a whole lot of it. We're not talking about a lot of karate compared to other shows though, because Power Rangers has karate like Kim Kardashian's got ass. This episode has enough karate to make the rest of the series look like Masterpiece Theater.

Jason and Tommy are practicing some karate inside of the Youth Center as Billy and Zack watch. The Green and Red Rangers are practicing for a Team Ninja Competition. It's where you and a partner go around and silently murder people, and the team with the bloodiest shuriken wins. Jason and Tommy start being out of character aggressive to each other about how they're not performing up to snuff. What's this? Actual conflict? Between main characters?

This is really refreshing and almost catches you off guard. Tommy and Jason bickering is the first time we've seen any of the Rangers having a real disagreement. It's a bunch of petty macho bullshit, but it's also coming from teenagers so it makes perfect sense. From minute one of this episode they're clearly pissed with each other, and it's about as subtle as a brick to the dick. But it's not worth complaining about subtlety when they're actually doing something unique.

Jason says he can handle this team competition all on his own, because he's an idiot. He starts busting out some moves on Tommy and the two end up knocking each other to the mat. Zack tells them to stop fucking around because if they can fight a roided out Frankenstein together, they can probably beat up a couple of kids from the kendo club. Tommy and Jason take this in stride in a lover's embrace.

Two halves of a beefcake sandwich. 

The boys practice using padded bo staffs on each other and start having a big dick measuring contest over how much better the other is at it. The little we know about Tommy so far doesn't help us understand he's acting out of character, but you can tell Jason is acting different. The characters are being playful and flippant and not taking their training seriously, but who gives a shit? If they were preparing for something dangerous that Rita had in store then Billy and Zack being irritated would make sense. They're just not going to win a competition. I think the Ranger Teens have enough blue ribbons and trophies to fill a fucking mansion with, they can stand to lose one.

Tommy and Jason then bust out some wooden swords to practice with. If it sounds like things are moving quickly that's because they are so you better just get on board Grandpa. It's fucking karate time! Trini and Kim walk in and ask why they weren't in the first two minutes of the script, and Billy ejaculates knowing that women are in his presence.

Jason starts messing around with his sword and acting cocky trying to show up Tommy. The two knock each other to the ground again because they can't stop being showoffs to each other. What's great is this is almost putting everything that the Rangers do into context. They're always super competitive and have to be the best at every goddamn thing that comes to town, so naturally when they're forced to work together they can't just put it away. They have to be the coolest person in the room and it starts to bite them in the ass. I'd say this was really clever writing, but it's also Power Rangers. They probably did this on accident.

Trini pops up and tells the burly duo the secret to success, they need to "gung-ho." Which Trini learned from a fortune cookie means "working together." Ancient Chinese teamwork huh? It's good to see Trini's character is slowly but surely progressing into whatever vaguely Eastern nonsense they want to shoehorn into her mouth. She's one car wash away from being a less sexy Mr. Miyagi.

Jason and Tommy continue to spar, but Trini's bullshit Chinese mysticism has done nothing for them and they continue to bitch at each other. Billy holds up his stopwatch and tells them they only lasted 7.8 seconds that time, a sentence Billy is all too familiar with. Before Billy gets another chance to say something humiliating that endears me to him even more, Bulk and Skull walk in wearing the most ridiculous costumes yet.

Bulk is cosplaying as a Juggalo

This is just beautiful. They're supposed to be promoters or something but they just look like fucking idiots. Skull dressed like a ref is dumb, but Bulk looks like a modern art masterpiece. He looks more like a pimp than anything else. It looks like the people on staff thought the same thing so they taped the word "Wager" to his hat so nobody got the wrong idea. Then your eyes travel down to see the dollar sign necklace and the laughter starts all over.

Bulk tells Tommy and Jason they're no match for HIS ninjas. Beg your pardon here? Bulk's acquainted with ninjas? Who in their right mind is going to accept Bulk of all people as your promoter? Least of all a goddamn ninja with reflexes of steel. Are we supposed to believe there's someone in Angel Grove who doesn't realize these two are an absolute joke?

It's also funny that usually in this show Bulk is the person competing with one of the Ranger Teens in whatever competition they choose to partake in. Now that we have Jason and Tommy doing a karate match though, we can't have Bulk and Skull getting in wrestling singlets fighting these two. So all of a sudden Bulk pimped out some ninjas so he can still be the antagonist, we can give Tommy and Jason some actual conflict, and we don't accidentally kill Bulk and Skull. 

Two stuntmen jump into the scene dressed in all black. These are the ninjas, they're not characters because they have no names, no story, no lines, no faces, and no good reason to exist anywhere other than a chapter of Naruto. These ninjas just look like a discount Sub-Zero and Scorpion.

Thanks to Jeparino for this one!

Trini soothes her friend's nerves by loudly remarking how tough the competition looks for Jason and Tommy. Keep in mind that so far these ninjas have done nothing but stand by Bulk and Skull with their arms crossed. Thanks for the Gung Ho Trini, now leave me alone until I need to buy a Mogwai.

Bulk commands his ninja slaves to show how tough they are, so they demonstrate a bunch of generic karate that might be more impressive if these two were anything other than a pair of cloaks. During this scene we get ridiculous woodwind music in case you weren't sure these ninja characters were supposed to be of the Asian persuasion.

The rest of the Rangers keep indirectly insulting Tommy and Jason by telling us how amazing these ninjas are. It's a beautiful example of telling instead of showing because the ninjas really aren't any better than what we've seen Tommy and Jason doing. In a show where a Frankenstein threw a giant robot last week, it's going to take a lot more to impress me than a ninja breaking a board with his hand.

After the Double Dragons finish their practice, Bulk commands them to showcase the ultimate skill, a double kick on a punching bag. The audience remains stunned as the twins manage to kick a large static object at the same time, and Jason and Tommy start to shiver in their boots. The only way they can work together as well as those ninjas is to become lifeless killing machines and shred all of their personality, which should take 3 minutes.

Oh almost forgot this show had actual villains in it, Rita's got a plan today too! The space witch plans on using that Super Putty Finster dug up last week to breed a new batch of, wait for it, Super Putties. It's actually really cool to see some sort of continuity in episodes that aren't explicitly two parters. Rita and the Moon Crew discuss how the new Putties can't be beaten by anything in the Power Rangers arsenal, when suddenly you notice a problem. Take a look at this and see if something, or rather someone, might appear out of place.

Where's Waldo? Jr. Edition

Hey remember last week when they killed that Frankenstein? Well he's just standing there again. They don't mention him or pay him any mind, but he's just chilling. It's such amazingly shitty utilization of footage. You have 50 episodes of this show to hack up as you please. There wasn't one scene you could have pulled from any of those episodes that wouldn't have my lord and savior Franken Christ standing there? This show knows how bad I want to see him again and they're just teasing me aren't they?

Kim and Trini walk through the park and explain everything that's been happening in the plot so far in case you missed it, when suddenly a group of Putty Patrollers leap on the scene. The girls aren't too worried considering it's just some dumbass Putties, but immediately start to get their asses kicked. Kim calls the rest of the Ranger Teens to bail them out, and prays they don't assume she's kidding when she says she's having trouble with Putties.

Thankfully the boys show up and start trying to fight back, but even all together the Rangers can't put a dent in these new Putties. The episode loses an opportunity to hammer in Jason and Tommy's bullshit rivalry by not having them bitching at each other while fighting the Putties. The entire crux of this episode is the two not getting along and they drop it the second trouble arrives. However, Gung Ho redeems itself with this.

Why is that Putty wearing oven mitts?

The whole Putty fight is pretty fun. The Ranger Teens mess around on gym equipment to knock them around and it's a lot more creative when you get to see them actually struggling. The Teens realize they're getting raw dogged by these Putties, and decide to forsake all pride and retreat from them into the Command Center.

Zordon and Alpha stifle their laughs at the fact their six star superheroes just got roughed up by the fucking Putty Patrol. Zordon tells the Teens that Super Putty is invincible, and makes newspaper comics a lot more fun. Also they're going to get murdered by a bunch of gibbering idiots.  The giant head says they have one hope, and that's if Jason and Tommy can get their shit together to go pick up some weapons Zordon stashed in the mountains somewhere. The rest of the Rangers have to go hold the Super Putties off until the special weapons are retrieved die.

Billy, Trini, Kim, and Zack morph to fight the Putties near a factory, and whip out their Blade Blasters to fire on them. Absolutely nothing happens and the Super Putties charge at the Rangers. Kim tries using her Blade Blaster to finish off one of the Super Putties, but it doesn't go quite as planned.

Directed By Will Vinton

It's actually pretty fucking cool seeing the Rangers going all out on Putties, and probably quite vindicating for fans of the Putties to see them getting beaten badly. If you actually know anyone who is a fan of the Putties please tell them about this, right after you ask them if they've had any thoughts of hurting others.

Zack tries busting out his Power Axe to fight a Super Putty, but splitting it in pieces just causes it to turn into two again. It's a fun fight, which is amazing considering Putty fights typically run from passable to obnoxious.

While their friends are being murdered, Jason and Tommy go for a nice stroll through the mountains looking for Zordon's secret stash. They've both been given half of a map to find the way to the new weapons, but do nothing but waste time talking about how important their contribution is to this mission. Alpha tells Zordon how bad he fucked up putting these two adrenaline junkies together, but Zordon says it was all a genius plan to teach these two how to work together. The rest of the Rangers are also learning a lesson, it's how to die with dignity.

Jason and Tommy locate the shrine where the weapons are, and the cocky idiots remark how easy this mission is. Their hubris however, is rewarded by a lumbering behemoth emerging from a cloud of smoke, clearly sick of these idiots and their two man circle jerk.

FEE FI FO FUM I SMELL THE BLOOD OF TWO PILES OF CUM

This big boy's name is Titanus and Jason and Tommy woke him up with all their dick waving. The boys morph to fight Big T, and avoid questioning why a giant dinosaur robot is attacking them when their whole deal is fighting alongside dinosaur robots. Granted there isn't much time to talk when Titanus is belching fireballs in your face.

The boys are almost up the hill, but with Titanus guarding the weapons they're shit out of luck. Tommy and Jason decide it's worth ending their meaningless episode-long rivalry if it means beating the shit out of a brachiosaurus, so they formulate a plan. Jason is faster than Tommy, so he'll run up the hill. Tommy's better with a sword than Jason so he'll distract Titanus with Jason's Power Sword as well as his Dragon Dagger. Tommy doesn't want the love of his life to get hurt, so he transfers his Dragon Shield to Jason.

And a thousand figures were sold

Jason hauls ass up the hill while Tommy diverts Titanus' attention. Titanus is so stupid he actually falls for this, and wastes time attacking Tommy. Titanus then turns his attention to Jason and tries shooting fire at him.  All his fireballs bounce right off of the Dragon Shield, but Tommy doesn't want Jason to scuff his shit up so he starts blasting energy at Titanus' giant face. He calls the massive Zord ugly, and then Titanus blows more fire at him, because he's got low self esteem and no Green dickhead's going to bring him down today.

You'd think that a fight against a giant Zord and two regular sized Rangers might take a little longer than this, but nope. Jason's already up the hill and Titanus is apparently too slow to do anything about it.  Who cares, Jason found the box of weapons that will never be named. They're little blasters, so with regards to the episode title I'll dub them the "Gung Ho Guns."

Thunder Slingers
Psh, Zordon doesn't even know how to spell Power.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Power Rangers are still getting beaten half to death by the Putties. Outside of their giant dinosaur robots they've clearly tried everything, and they're at the end of their ropes. Zack looks back and realizes their only chance of survival was the option they've had from the very beginning: They have to offer Billy as a human sacrifice. Just as Zack prepares to take the Blue Ranger by his throat and throw him to the wolves, an energy beam shoots out from the sky and dissolves two of the Super Putties.

Jason and Tommy stand atop a girder, armed with the Gung Ho Guns, and toss them down to the rest of the Power Rangers. In the most anti-climactic finish of a fight we've seen all season, the Rangers pull the trigger on their new weapons and blast the Super Putties out of existence. Did you like them? Who cares, you'll never see them again stupid. You must be as ugly as Titanus.

thunder slingers
AVAILABLE IN TOY STORES EVERYWHERE IN JAPAN

Now that the Super Putty plot thread has been swept under the rug unceremoniously, we have a ninja match to watch! Tommy and Jason brace themselves while Bulk and Skull call them dorks, and while we're supposed to focus on the Rangers budding teamwork, all I notice is how fucking annoying Skull is being.

His typical gag is repeating something Bulk says and Bulk gives him a little look of irritation. That's dumb, whatever. The problem is he does about 4 of them in a row during this scene and it's goddamned insufferable. These guys are some of my favorite characters in the show so when they're getting on my nerves, that's really saying something.

Zordon buzzes the Ranger Teens to tell them congratulations on defeating the Super Putties, and also for managing to find a way to avoid murdering Billy. Jason says that his only fear now is if they have to fight Titanus again, also spiders. Zordon says Titanus is actually a comrade in their fight against evil and now he's on their side, because Zordon is a huge dick who gets off on lying to them and manipulating a depressed brachiosaurus to do it.

The Ninjas leap into the ring with Tommy and Jason, ready to square off and test their might. We begin with single combat, and it's Jason Vs. Ninja 1. There's nothing equal in the fight though, because Jason just beats the shit out of him. It's kind of unfair the ninjas have to fight Tommy and Jason now. We can't be certain, but it's pretty unlikely these guys got to spend their afternoon training against a fireball spitting dinosaur god.

But the two ninjas kick back, and it's high noon at mega mountain for Tommy and Jason. Both sets of fighters switch places, and Tommy gets knocked to the mat. For an episode that focused so much on teamwork maybe it wasn't a great idea to start this competition with one on one matches.

Soon enough though, both Tommy and Jason are in the ring against the Ninja duo, all four wielding wooden swords. Since the whole episode has been building up to Jason and Tommy's teamwork, you'd expect more than a 10 second scene of them beating the fuck out of the ninjas effortlessly. Seriously, that's how long the two on two match lasts and there's no tension at all. The judges say the competition is over, and Bulk and Skull are clearly dismayed because their boys obviously lost. If the most deluded idiots on the planet see where this is going, it's pretty clear.

Tommy and Jason win the competition because they beat up some immigrants, and Skull accidentally spills water on Bulk. It's as satisfying an ending as this episode deserved. It started off strong with something special, then the ending managed to do nothing with it. It's a great build up to some kind of message about teamwork, then it amounts to nothing. Thanks for nothing guys, see ya next week.



Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Claymation


Personal Thoughts:

I have to admit that when I was a kid I absolutely hated this episode. It's kind of superficial, but I was bummed out that the "monster" this week was just a set of Putties. They didn't look any different and that let me down. In hindsight it's not a bad episode, just that they hammer the teamwork point in really hard, but fuck up the execution at the end.

Speaking of the Putties, the U.S. production does something kind of interesting I didn't notice until recently. In the Japanese footage, some of the Putties have a large ball in place of one of their hands. These Putties only show up in the Japanese stuff, but the U.S. team tried to recreate the look of one for the Super Putties. The result is less than amazing, and looks more like a deflated beach ball duct taped to a stuntman's arm, but A for effort.

U.S.

Sentai

Curious about that Frankenstein in Finster's lab scene? Well let me explain. Last week I mentioned how his Zord fight came from two episodes jammed together for Power Rangers. This episode originally contained the second part of the Frankenstein Zord fight where they actually defeated him. After they beat the Super Putties in Zyuranger, Rita sent Frankenstein back to Earth where he grew and took on Dragonzord and Megazord. Explaining the abrupt and anticlimactic finale of this episode where the Rangers gingerly shoot a couple of Putties.

What's interesting is the initial script for this episode mentioned Frankenstein being present, and Rita said he was Finster's new Super Frankenstein. They were originally going to have him grow after the Super Putties were beaten, and the Rangers would destroy Super Frankenstein by shooting him with the Gung Ho Guns combined with their Blade Blasters, and cutting the scene of Dragonzord in Battle Mode killing him.

Honestly I'm pretty glad they cut that because it sounds like a really boring use of the footage. I wouldn't have minded if this and Life's A Masquerade were linked together and they kept Frankie alive last week until he got killed in this one, but it's better than them introducing an identical monster just to kill off in one shot from new weapons they would never use again. By the way, we're STILL not done talking about Frankenstein yet. I'll explain soon.

Curious exactly why they didn't use those new weapons anymore? Well that's Zyuranger's fault mostly. The Gung Ho Guns were used in all of three episodes. Zyuranger 29, Zyuranger 31, and Zyuranger 33. 33 was the source episode for Madame Woe, and they replaced the use of the Guns there with the Power Blaster. 31 only had a brief use of the weapon on some Putties, and 29 is the episode they used for this episodes' footage.

Really the writers didn't have much they could do but try as hard as they could to ignore these weapons since they'd never show up again. Or y'know, don't use the end of this fight, which leads me to my last idea. If they didn't want the fight with the Super Putties to be its own stand-alone episode, they could have possibly adapted it for the pilot episode and used it as the Power Rangers first fight with the Putties.

You explain their difficulty against the new enemies as nervousness at being superheroes, and you actually build up the Putties as though they were a threat. Cut the scene of Jason (and Tommy obviously) throwing them the Gung Ho Guns, and have them teleport to another fight somewhere, or into their Zords for the fight with Giant Goldar. Doing the fight this way could potentially make the Power Rangers look too weak though, so if the idea did cross someone's mind I can see why they'd avoid it. What do you think though? Would you have kept watching if the Power Rangers were losing their first fight? Who knows, maybe I wouldn't have kept watching.



1 comment:

  1. So Trini is apparently Chinese, has a Japanese uncle with an English name, and is played by a Vietnamese actor. Got it.

    ReplyDelete