Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 38: A Bad Reflection On You



Goody Two Shoes Students Wear Shades, Become Assholes
Blithering Idiots Convinced Magic is Real







I have to admit, this week's episode of Power Rangers grabbed me right from the start. We don't see the Ranger Teens teaching kids how to believe in themselves while they get ready for the big dance. Instead, the first thing we see is Rita whipping up a plan to mess with those douchebag teenagers.

Scorpina will escort an army of Putties to Earth led by Rita's newest monster, Twin Man. He's Jack Haley meets Danny Devito! No Schwarzenegger though. 

However the Twin Man has a very special power, as he's able to transform the Putties into exact duplicates of the Ranger Teens. Rita plots to send the Twin Man's crew to Earth where they can demolish the Rangers reputation. You know what? That's actually a great idea.

This entire blog I've discussed how the Ranger Teens are made to be the ultimate in puritanical values. They help every living being in their path while vouching for the healing properties of karate and recycling. That benevolence is the defining characteristic of the Ranger Teens, and Rita wants to reverse all of that. She's going to turn them into pariahs and make everyone second guess their actions. What worse punishment could you inflict on a bunch of extroverted altruists?

Here's the catch though, the Twin Man and his buddies have to show Angel Grove High School that the Ranger Teens are now bad news. If they can't do that right from the get-go this whole plan is for nothing. How can he convince the citizens that their paragons of justice are evil the moment they lay eyes on them? Simple.

Flawless

The !EVIL! Ranger Teens head into the high school to begin wrecking the Ranger Teens squeaky clean image. !EVIL! Billy is going to go get a C on his Calculus test, !EVIL! Kimberly is going to wear white after labor day, !EVIL! Trini plans on saying more than three lines of dialogue, !EVIL! Jason is going to tell his karate students not to practice every day, and !EVIL! Zack is going to ask out a white girl.

Before enacting those devious schemes, the !Ranger Teens! head into the hallway of Angel Grove High armed with all sorts of tools. They set their sights on a water fountain while cramming an anonymous nerd into a locker. Bulk and Skull get an eyeful of the new and improved !teens! and start getting their chub on at the sight of someone as needlessly cruel as them. Skull asks !Kim! if she wants to catch the submarine races with him tonight, which sounds like the shittiest date ever. What does that even mean?

Oh.

Wow, that's actually pretty funny for Power Rangers. What's even better is !Kim's! reaction, "Sure sweet lips, gimme a call." Now let's not forget that this is a Putty saying those things. Is this the Putties way of ruining Kim's reputation by engaging in heavy petting with Skull, or does this Putty just really want to jump Skull's bones? Either way, it ends with Skull creaming himself while stammering. Skull hitting on an evil version of Kimberly who accepts his advances while leaving him dumbfounded? That sounds familiar!

While !Billy! uses his crowbar to bust open the water fountain, a 35 year old passing as a high school nerd tries to greet him. The unsuspecting nerd gets met with a nice G rated locker shove, as !Billy! tells him, "Pasta La Pizza Baby!" Looks like Billy is going to have his reputation wrecked for making horrendously embarrassing and unfunny pop culture references!

!Trini! dumps a shitload of baking soda into the drinking fountain before the Twin Man and his disguised cronies hit the skids. Principal Caplan soon goes to wet his whistle at the fountain when we get to see this glorious prank unfold.

It must have taken enormous restraint to not knock his wig off too.

A bunch of students walk in and cackle at their principal, because he's a complete joke and everyone knows it. Mr. Caplan sees the five !Ranger Teens! cackling and sentences them to detention for wearing sunglasses inside the school.

Finally the five real Ranger Teens show up to witness the efforts of Rita's wicked machinations. She got a school official covered in goop and made him slip and fall. The Ranger Teens offer to help him up, but he tells them they need to get their happy asses into detention PDQ. This is all well and good to make the Ranger Teens look like shit, but I'm starting to wonder if Rita has any idea that her adversaries are required to keep their superpowers a secret.

So why doesn't the Twin Man get rid of the Power Rangers by spilling the beans? When Rita turned Tommy into a Ranger she informed him he was forbidden from letting people know he was a Power Ranger, so she must have some idea that the other Rangers are under a similar restriction. The obvious answer to why she doesn't have her monster out the teens as the Power Rangers is "It would ruin the conceit of the show", but it makes me wonder if Rita wants to have the pleasure of finishing off the Rangers with some wicked space tricks instead of taking the easy way out.

Instead, Rita seems to be pleased with herself for just getting the teens in trouble. The five Ranger Teens are joined in detention by Bulk and Skull, naturally.  Jason tries to protest that he and his cohorts couldn't have had part in any prank, because they were all busy volunteering at the quadriplegic orphanage. Mr. Caplan refuses to listen to his students because he's tenured so what does he give a fuck? Bulk and Skull tell the principal to get out so they can get some hi-jinks in while he's gone.

Bulk immediately tells Jason to get the out of his private chair, to which Jason responds quite 90'sly, "Do I see your name on it?" Bulk shoves Jason's binder aside to reveal a reasonable payoff to that gag.

MAJIN BUULK IS AT FULL POWER!!!

Bulk spells out his name, making sure that everyone in the back row got this joke. Then just in case the audience is too stupid to know what letters mean, Trini helpfully points out that he didn't spell his name right. WOW TRINI, CAN'T PASS ONE OVER ON YOU CAN WE? Man, that line is so terrible it actually made me enjoy that gag less. You couldn't just settle for explaining it once could you? Thanks for nothing Power Rangers.

Skull makes disgusting chewing noises behind Kim's ear and asks if she still wants to give him an embarrassing handjob tonight. Kim declines and tells him to get real. I know we should be happy that Skull has been effectively humiliated, but look at this from his perspective. He hit on an exact duplicate (plus shades) of this girl not 10 minutes ago. She responded to his pathetic advances with "I'D LOVE TO SLAP OFF YOUR MEDICALLY HILARIOUS PENIS." Upon asking if Kim still wants to date him, he's told to sit his shrimpy dick back down and fuck off. Skull's second hand embarrassment game is second to none.

Bulk starts to unpack the lunch that his mom packed him for his detention; a sentence that says volumes about the character. The show treats us to a sped up montage of Bulk pulling a bunch of food from his dinky lunch box, including a massive sandwich that couldn't have possibly fit inside it. It's a fun visual gag, aside from the fact it's based on nothing but the script forcing you to remember that BULK IS A FUCKING FAT PIG AND HE EATS FOOD ALL THE TIME. WHAT A FATTY FATTY TWO BY FOUR. FATSO. I cannot put enough emphasis on how good of a sport Paul Schrier must be to do scenes like this.

Skull mugs at Bulk and asks him for food because his parents only feed him knuckle sandwiches for breakfast. Bulk begrudgingly gives Skull a soda, which lightly explodes in his face. Seriously, it's one of the absolute weakest soda sprayings I've ever seen. You don't even laugh at Skull, you laugh at the director who clearly didn't care.

Soda spray
Wish the next scene was him wringing out the jacket over his mouth.

Kimberly laughs because apparently that was supposed to be amusing, and Skull chases her around the detention hall to make her fall in love with him. Needless to say, the scene ends with Bulk throwing a pie in Skull's face.

While the Rangers wallow in detention, the Twin Man and his goons have morphed into !Power Rangers! and are terrorizing the city. Red Ranger starts firing his Blade Blaster wildly into a crowd of civilians, while the rest of his crew knock a bunch of extras around. Pink swings a lawn chair around, Black blasts a car, Blue harasses a civilian, and Yellow is ignored. Man even the Twin Man knows the Rangers pecking order.

While the Rangers mope around in their solitary confinement, Bulk is stoked to see it's time for his favorite cartoon to come on. Bulk whips out a portable T.V. to watch whatever cartoon Saban owned the rights to and could afford showing. Billy notes that these two bullies are a fascinating look into Neanderthal behavior patterns. Sorry we can't all watch "Planet Earth" and Bill Nye like you dweeb.

After a prolonged scene of Bulk and Skull giggling at a bulldog running, a breaking news bulletin interrupts the cartoon to say that the Power Rangers have now joined the forces of evil. That or the entire city is full of monsters in disguise, we can't be sure yet. The Ranger Teens are flabbergasted to see their good friends the Power Rangers fucking up a bunch of loser pedestrians like that. Jason almost blows their cover by saying "We...I mean the Power Rangers wouldn't do that." Thankfully Bulk and Skull are comically ignorant of everything around them, so they don't catch on to incredibly obvious Freudian slips.

The newscaster makes the point that the Power Rangers are now behaving like the hoodlums they once put out of business. Wait what? Hoodlums? The Power Rangers weren't stopping bank robberies and purse snatchings. They were stopping fucking chicken monsters and giant spinning wheels. Hoodlums? Is that what you went to journalism school for? To refer to space monsters as hoodlums? Hoodlums. You idiot.

Inexplicably, Bulk and Skull respond to the chaos with joy. This leaves me so baffled. I get that they're comically inept dummies, but why are they excited at wanton destruction. It's not like they're pipe bomb building anarchists trying to dismantle the system. They're just a pair of dipshits who guzzle pizzas and fall into messes. What would they care? It's like the show never took the main focus, the Power Rangers, and asked themselves what their characters would think about them.

Zordon and Alpha notice their slaves have gone berserk on Angel Grove without being granted permission first. Alpha refuses to believe his best friends are on a rampage, and Zordon agrees. He would have blown up the bombs he sewed into their suits if those were his Rangers. The wise mentor informs Alpha 5 this must be Rita's plan, and she's sunk to a new low this time. Because she's making your guys look bad? You have some shitty priorities Zordon.

Now the Ranger Teens are in a bit of a pickle. They have to stop the Twin Man's Ranger brigade but they're stuck in detention. They could just morph and teleport out of there, but Bulk and Skull are there and would learn their secret identities. It's actually a good set-up, and one of the few times the writers have done much of anything with the Rangers struggling with keeping their identity as superheroes on the DL. Kim decides to make a break for it as Bulk and Skull roll their eyes. They've played this game before and they know how it ends.

Amy Jo tries desperately to escape the franchise.

Another news report comes on to discuss the fake Ranger crisis by showing recycled footage of the earlier news report. That moron newsman from earlier informs us that all attempts at stopping the Power Rangers have failed. Mostly because the police realized some of the Rangers might be white and fled. The Ranger Teens have to do something, or else people might connect the fact that they were acting evil the same day the Power Rangers were acting evil.

Zack proposes an idea to outsmart the bullies so they can save the day. Presumably it involves morphing while they're busy giggling like idiots at their cartoons. Zack offers to show the duo some magic tricks, and I'm pretty amazed. This sounds like some dumb thing the show gave Zack for no reason, but it actually has some precedent. If you told me the coolest member of the Ranger Teens routinely practiced magic I'd call you a filthy liar. He's the Penn to Trini's Teller, since she never has anything to say.

Zack promises Bulk he can make the Ranger Teens disappear. All they have to do is cover their eyes, plug their ears, and count backwards from 10. You could have just told them to count backwards from 20 and kept them busy for the rest of the day. As Bulk and Skull struggle to count backwards from 10 because the show had to find more ways to ineptify them, the Rangers morph into action. Jason makes sure to scream out "IT'S MORPHIN' TIME!" just in case someone across the hall wasn't covering their ears at the time.

Instead of the Power Rangers appearing downtown and posing, we see the !Red Ranger! menacing a woman with his Power Sword. Before he's able to strike, we see that the editor was hard at work forgetting to take shots out today.

Some brave citizen hit the fake Red with a prop from off screen!

So that's supposed to be the Rangers dramatic entrance right? Nope! Cause the Power Rangers hop in and start doing their thing after the !Rangers! just got attacked by that mystery sword. So it literally can't be anything but the editor fucking up and leaving meaningless scenes in. Congrats!

Meanwhile, Bulk and Skull have gotten sick of trying to learn how to count, and see that the Ranger Teens are gone. Bulk immediately asks Skull what he did with the Rangers, having familiarity with his partner's penchant for burying his personally desecrated corpses. When Skull sees his favorite gal and her bosom buddies aren't there anymore, he begins looking around the small room with Bulk to try and find five full sized young adults that must be hiding somewhere.

While the idiots are busy, we cut back to the fight and get a glorious Ranger VS !Ranger! counterpart fight. You get to see all five Rangers fighting someone who's matching their style blow for blow. While the two Kimberly's fight each other, one of them calls out for Trini's help. The Yellow Ranger sees a chance to remain relevant and leaps into the fight, knocking one of the Pink Rangers away. Pink thanks her the only way she knows how.

Girls only need one role model around here sweetheart.

Oh no! Trini saved !Kim! Watch out Trini you're gonna get a collapsed trachea. The real Kim ignores the sucker punch Trini just gave her, and kindly shoots an arrow right into the fake Kimberly's face. The force of the attack knocks !Kim! back, reverting her into a Putty. Now who's going to blow Skull tonight?! Thanks a lot Kim!

Trini thanks Kim for being more effective at this superhero shit than she is, and hucks her Power Daggers at the fake Yellow Ranger, turning her into a Putty as well. While the girls reconcile, Billy combats his double as they both use their Power Lance. The OG Billy gains the upper hand and guts the fake with his weapon, turning him into a Putty like the other two. For all the shit the Twin Man can do with disguises he sure doesn't know how to make a Putty durable.

Zack combats his clone before hurling him off a balcony and cutting him down with his Power Axe. This fight starts to lose a bit of steam when you realize you don't know which Ranger is fake and which Ranger is real until one of them gets hit and turns into a Putty. I love mirror matches as much as the next guy but when all I'm hearing is two Zack's grunting I don't know which one to cheer for.

Jason is locked in mortal combat with his doppelganger, as both Reds use their Power Sword to fight each other. Again, you don't know if Jason's in trouble or not because there's no way to discern which of the Rangers is fake. Maybe they should have made the !Rangers! wear some bitchin' shades to make it more clear. Jason apparently gains the upper hand before kicking his double out into the field, revealing him to be the devious Twin Man.

Sure took your sweet time showing up didn't you?

With his mimic game compromised, the Twin Man tries blasting the Rangers with an energy whip from his diamond pimp cane. When that doesn't do much, he uses a cheap looking kaleidoscope effect to disorient and blast the Power Rangers. The Rangers refuse to lose to a pile of mirrors and leap into the Tower Formation to blast Twin Man. Remember the Tower Formation? That only worked once? Now it's strong enough to critically wound monsters. Especially shitty ones that only show up for a minute and a half.

The Power Rangers assemble the Power Blaster for the first time in 14 episodes and blow away Twin Man. Yeah, that's it. Rita doesn't bother making him grow because he's a total fucking chump that everyone in the audience is going to forget the second they turn this episode off.

As the Rangers pose triumphant, a group of civilians run up and thank them for murdering those people that looked just like them. Suddenly a full news crew pops up and says how amazing the Power Rangers are, and that they really AREN'T hoodlums. What a nice clean finish for the Power Rangers. They're cleared of all wrong doings! It sure is a shame that the Ranger Teens reputation is incapable of being fixed, and Principal Caplan will never look at them the same way again. So much for resolving that.

Bulk and Skull continue looking all throughout the room in an attempt to find the magical vanishing teenagers, but their search comes up short. It might have something to do with them wasting time looking in drawers and cabinets, either that or there's some wizardry afoot. The bullies decide to get the Ranger Teens in even deeper shit by turning them in to Mr. Caplan, who inexplicably finds it hard to believe that they magically vanished.

As the bullies try and coax Caplan into the room, the Ranger Teens teleport back into the detention office and take their seats. Thank God they picked that exact second to teleport because if they hadn't then their whole cover would be blown. Guess you can always count on Bulk and Skull to do something stupid. Caplan says if he looks in that room and finds them in there, the bullies will be doing detention until they're 50. Skull says he can handle another 2 years, and manages to provoke an authentic laugh from me.

Mr. Caplan sees that Bulk and Skull were full of shit, punishes them, and the bullies are left perplexed. The Ranger Teens refuse to answer their question of how they did their trick, and the episode ends as they make this face.

Bulk and Skull Hilarious




Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia
: Incompetent Newsmen



Personal Thoughts:

This is an episode I saw several times when I was a kid. Why? I'm not quite sure. It's not amazing, but I'd say it's good overall with some great Bulk and Skull moments. The thing that this episode was lacking most was all in terms of action.

A fight between an evil team of Rangers and the main team is a very common trend in this series, but this is one of the weakest examples of the trend. Typically the evil Rangers have something to distinguish them from the originals. Scarves, gloves, etc. When you make the fakes and the originals identical, you wreck the tension and make it a lot less engaging. It may sound crazy, but there's going to be a much better example of Ranger VS. Ranger fighting later this season. Hold on to your hats.

Did you know there was a monster in this episode? Yeah I forgot too. His name was Twin Man, and he's the biggest non-entity this side of the Giant. Man, the Giant probably had more screen time than this joker does. Twin Man shows up at the very end, and spends most of his time in the form of Jason or the Red Ranger. He's so forgettable it hurts.

The only thing memorable about the Twin Man is questionable at best. It's been claimed that the Twin Man is voiced by Bryan "Hal from Malcolm in the Middle" Cranston. Much like Snizard was early in the season. Honestly? I don't think that's entirely accurate. The Twin Man sounds much more like Pudgy Pig's voice actor Dave Mallow. However that would mean the great minds over at Ranger Wiki made a mistake; an absurd notion to say the least.

I was reading through the script for this episode, which usually contains cut lines that are nothing but groaners that never deserve to see the light of day. For example: this script had some awful chatty dialogue during the fight between Billy and !Billy! where the Blue Ranger outsmarts his double by literally outsmarting him. He mocks the clone by saying it could never answer a bunch of stupid ass math problems and then finishes him off by doing the whole "pound of feathers is the same weight as a pound of iron" gag. Hardee Har Har.

However, there was a line cut from this script that absolutely should have stayed. Cut literally anything from this episode to include it, because it was that good. I'll let you fine folks read for yourself.


That right there? Some of the most self aware and intelligent writing I've ever seen come out of this show. It's acknowledging every gripe I have about these characters being a bunch of goody goody dorks and poking fun at them for it. It's mocking them for holding themselves to obscenely high standards and I think that's fun as can be. The Rangers most vile crimes are completely mundane dreck which is actually really funny. I can't even fathom who got their nipples in a twist over taking a jab at these characters. If you can cram in 4 fat jokes about Paul Schrier every week, maybe it's okay to goof on yourselves a little bit too.



5 comments:

  1. Every time you mention something that was cut from the original script, I find myself getting surprised there was a script. You mean to tell me someone got paid to write this stuff?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Funny how even the !Ranger Teens! seem more bad than Punk!Kim and Punk!Billy.

    Anyone know what the cartoon was that Bulk and Skull were watching?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Having just finished watching this episode and reading this recap, I went to Saban's Wiki page to hunt it down because that very question was bugging the hell out of me. It was oddly familiar.

      I can confirm that the show in question was "Bob in a Bottle", the English dub of an old Japanese Anime called Hakushon Daimaō.
      I'm amazed I remembered it at all to be honest. Apparently it's ridiculously obscure and never even aired in the USA. There's a few foreign versions of the intro floating around on Youtube, but I haven't been able to locate the Engish version.

      A bit more info here:

      http://lostmediawiki.com/Bob_in_a_Bottle_(Lost_Saban_English_Dub_of_Anime_Series;_1992)

      Delete
  3. For a second I thought you were using the spanish opening exclamation symbol (¡) to identify the fake rangers and I was about to ask you if you were a fellow spanish-speaker. THen I realized you just repeated the closing sign.
    Anyways, love your blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry bud, my knowledge of the Spanish language is absolute trash! Four years in high school and I can still barely speak a full sentence. Glad you still enjoy reading what I've got to say even if my knowledge of your language is slim pickins. Maybe I can hire you to translate my blog for the swarms of Spanish folks who would love to read this dreck. I hope there's a Spanish word for "fuck."

      Delete