Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 43: Something Fishy




Superhero Terrified of Delicious Lunch
Exploding Fish Provoke Endless Laughter











Today we're getting a crazy topsy turvy reversal of all that we know in the Power Rangers universe. Jason, Zack, and Trini are talking about something while Kim and Billy are standing there not reacting. WHAT?! Who wrote this tripe! Why isn't Trini standing in the background while Zack and Jason make fuck eyes at each other?

The forbidden three are planning an exciting deep sea dive after school, but before they can say anything other than how great it is to see fish, Bulk and Skull flounder onto the scene dressed in fisherman attire. Well PARTIALLY dressed in fisherman attire, because Bulk added his own style to it.

THERE ARE DOZENS OF US. DOZENS!!!

Bulk opens up his locker and a bunch of garbage falls out while he comically tries to shove it back in. Coincidentally this is a stunning visual representation of his and Skull's life. I have to give credit to the prop department here; because Bulk's locker wasn't crammed to the brim with food to inform us that "Yes, Bulk is a heavyset character." All that's in the locker is goofy fishing supplies and other assorted garbage. It's significantly more respectful than the last time they did this gag.

Trini inexplicably describes Bulk's messy locker as "disgusting." Maybe she's just repulsed at characters who've been given traits. Bulk defends the fact that he stashed a can of worms inside his locker, and informs the Ranger Teens that bait is going to make them irresistible to fish. Skull then chimes in "Just like with the ladies!", as he adds in a creepy wink. Add another check to the "legitimate laugh" tally, cause that one caught me by surprise.

As the two idiots get into more shenanigans, Jason asks Billy if he wants to come along for this deep sea dive. Billy declines, because fish are the thing he's absolutely most afraid of. Instead he's going on a picnic with Kimberly today. Looks like Billy's REALLY afraid of fish if he's willing to conquer his second biggest fear, hanging out with pretty girls.

Oh and the reason Kim doesn't want to go diving? Because it would mess up her hair. Just another day in the life of a Strong Female Character.


Unfortunately, Rita has been biding her time waiting for someone to mention a deeply held fear of theirs so she could cook up a plan based on it. Goldar says this will be the perfect opportunity to send down her toxic Goofish monster. Rita then commands Goldar to "get to it." Rita, honey, do you remember that Goldar isn't the person who sends down monsters? The person who deals with monsters is Finster. Are you doing okay? Each time we come back to you it seems more and more like you have no idea what's going on around you. I think it's time we put you in a nursing home and put Squatt in charge.

Later in the day, Jason, Zack, and Trini meet up at the beach. Zack tells Jason, but mostly the audience, how IMPORTANT IT IS TO CHECK YOUR PRESSURE GAUGES BEFORE GOING DIVING. I'm all for imparting lessons to your audience, but what kid watching this is going to be in a situation where they're the one checking their fucking scuba gear? Unless some kid steals all his parents stuff to go for an impromptu scuba expedition, your lessons are going a little above the heads of your audience.

Meanwhile, Billy and Kimberly enjoy a picnic out by the pond on a beautiful sunny day. When Billy asks what's for lunch, Kimberly tells him she brought fish and chips. Billy frowns and says he'll JUST be taking the chips. Thanks for coordinating this nice meal on a beautiful day for me, but I'd rather not eat half of it because I'm afraid of it. I'm afraid of something that is dead and sitting on my plate. That's how deep this goddamn phobia runs.

Kim asks Billy what is it about fish that makes him completely ruin a date with a cute girl. Billy tells her that he's had a humiliating experience with fish in the past, and immediately I'm buckled the fuck in. If Billy thinks it's embarrassing, we're in for a doozy.

We get a flashback to when Billy was a kid, when he and his atrocious haircut were trying to create a makeshift whirlpool in a pond. Hilariously, the young version of Billy is sitting on what appears to be the exact same rock Kim and Billy are sitting at right now. You guys couldn't film this like 40 feet away? But anyway, this is why Baby Billy became scared of fish.

Young Billy only knows how to check the safety of scuba equipment. No T.V. show taught him the importance of fish etiquette. 

Kimberly responds the same way I did, by laughing in Billy's face over his deep seated fears. Billy pouts and tells her it isn't funny that a rubber fish bit his finger and made him unable to eat lunch with her. Billy tells Kimberly that due to his traumatic fish biting events, he can no longer feel safe around anything fishy. Kimberly takes this attempt to hurt her vagina's feelings in stride, and offers Billy a fish sandwich which she promises won't bite him. Billy then proceeds to open up the sandwich and look inside of it. Christ almighty Billy. Do you go into convulsions if you have to walk down the tuna aisle in Target? They're dead!

I actually don't mind this scene. Kim may have laughed in Billy's stupid face about being afraid of his sandwich toppings, but she actually attempts to coax him out of his fear. She tries to get him to feel more comfortable with his phobia and suggests that he goes diving with the other Teens next time. It's actually a nice realistic way of handling a person's phobia. Again, please ignore her guffawing at Billy for being afraid of rubber fish. That addition defeats the entire purpose of this scene.

While Billy contemplates dry heaving his fish sandwich, the duo hear some loud boisterous screaming. The voice could absolutely not be anybody but Bulk, but Kim and Billy decide to go check it out anyway. If you hear Bulk screaming bloody murder in the forest, odds are he's just enjoying a nice afternoon with Skull the only way they know how, and you should just leave them alone until they're done.

Bulk's reason for screaming is that he's caught something incredibly heavy, and says he's caught the big one. The scene cuts away from Bulk, and when it cuts back we can very clearly see a big sign caught on the hook at the bottom of the frame. Why do the shot that way when you could just cut to a reel pulling the sign out of the lake? Or hide the sign outside of the camera's line of sight?

Oh by the way, the joke is that Bulk caught a "No Fishing" sign. In case the irony was lost on you, Skull tells Bulk what the sign he caught says on it. Slow down Power Rangers! These egghead gags are too much for me!

That joke is immediately saved though, because Skull takes the sign and tosses it onto the pile of other "cool stuff" he and Bulk have caught. A huge pile of garbage that Bulk is clearly disgusted and ashamed by. It's an easy gag, but it washes the bad taste out of your mouth of how choreographed and lame the last one was.

I think Billy's dignity is somewhere in there.

Billy and Kim get ready to clean up their picnic and plan to meet the other Ranger Teens at the beach. Rita takes note of this and says she doesn't want those two at the beach until her new monster is ready. Goldar says this is an excellent excuse to send down some Putties to overwhelm Blue and Pink, and eat up some time. Baboo says he was about to suggest the same thing, but Squatt tells him that's impossible, because neither of them have had something legitimate to say in the last 30 episodes.

Billy and Kimberly are met by a gang of Putties, who somehow manage to give the two teens trouble. Kim tries to call the others for help, but they're still underwater and don't respond. That or they think Kimberly's  joking when she asks for help against Putties. Suddenly Billy says "I've got it!" and flips over to the cooler Kim brought their lunch in. Billy drops the cooler onto a Putties head, knocks the Putty to the ground, and poses triumphantly. Wait what? The problem is there are too many Putties Billy. You didn't solve anything!

Kimberly realizes since Billy isn't offering any solutions, she's going to have to kick her way through the Putties until they all fall over dead. While not as elegant a plan as Billy's brilliant lunchbag routine, it gets the job done and the Putties are vanquished. Kim inexplicably compliments Billy, but he negs her by dismissing her praise and contacting Zordon.

Billy and Kimberly head to the Command Center where Zordon informs them that Rita's Goofish monster is near the ocean where the other Ranger Teens are scuba diving. It's up to them to intercept the monster before it immobilizes the unsuspecting Rangers with its venom. Billy and Kim morph into action and confront the devious Goofish.

Goofish
If any fish in the animal kingdom looks like that, we need to nuke the Ocean.

Rita becomes furious her monster has yet to destroy the Rangers in the three seconds since encountering them, and Goldar suggests casting a spell on the Blue Ranger to make him too terrified to fight back. Well done Rita! You've managed to make morphed Billy act exactly like unmorphed Billy. I hope that was worth busting out otherworldly magical powers.

With Rita's spell in effect, the Blue Ranger starts going into the fetal position when Goofish walks towards him. Billy starts using Kimberly as a human shield and begging her to protect him from the big ugly fish. If the word "emasculating" hadn't already been invented, it would have needed to be to describe this scene.

While Billy begs the monster not to hurt him, Trini, Jason, and Zack surface from their diving expedition. Zordon alerts them that their big baby Blue Ranger needs their help, and they should probably bring a pacifier for him too. Jason prompts his friends to morph, knowing that even with their combined might the Ranger may be unable to stop this vicious beast.

Least the Goofish knows when to fold 'em.

The Ranger Teens head back to the Command Center where they inform Zordon they had a lot of trouble with the Goofish, and it was one of Rita's worst monsters ever. Please note that gif above. That's literally all that happened when they fought the monster. What the fuck fight were you guys imagining?

Zordon congratulates them on bravely shooting a fish in the back of the head, but Billy beats himself up for becoming a weeping mess at the sight of the Goofish. Trini says everyone has something that they're afraid of, but then remembers she's not afraid of heights anymore. Sorry Billy, guess this problem's only yours.

Kim asks Zordon how to make Billy stop weeping at the sight of the Goofish, and Zordon says he'll need to face his fear to break her spell. Billy says he'll try not to let the other Rangers down and fight this awful sea monster alongside them. The Ranger Teens morph and head to fight the Goofish. After all five Rangers wail on some Putty Patrollers, Billy comes face to face with the Goofish and realizes he must face his fears. He bravely stands against the monster and challenges it to a duel.

Just Joshin!

Goofish gives Billy one of the best lines a monster's ever gotten when he tells Billy that he's "the weak link of his pathetic team." Holy shit. That is some grade-A monster smack talk. If the Goofish hadn't gotten chumped by a Blade Blaster shot earlier he'd be looking like a beast right now.

Jason realizes his teammate is pissing his pants at the mere sight of this monster, so he'd better bail him out. The Red Ranger leaps into action but gets slashed by the Goofish's swordfish spear. Zack and Trini come to help Jason out, but the Goofish spews its namesake venom at the three. The sludge cements the Rangers feet to the ground, making them unable to fight back. Kim tries to help her friends out but the Goofish hurls a handful of starfish at her, knocking her back in a burst of sparks.

What follows might be the funniest weapon used by any monster in the history of Power Rangers, and that includes the fact that the Goofish just chucked starfish at someone. The monster drops his swordfish lance to bust out a pair of fish and throws them at the Power Rangers. Not dangerous looking fish, just some common everyday fish he happened to have nearby. Nothing dangerous looking about them at all, but he throws them like they're fucking grenades. Every time he whips them out I laugh. It's just incredible. 

Who do you think you are? Lew Zealand?

Billy realizes his team is fucked if he doesn't go into battle, so he decides to stop being afraid and take this goddamned Goofish on head to head. For reals this time. This scene is pretty much exactly what I wanted out of Crystal of Nightmares, instead of Jason breaking a crystal ball and solving all the Ranger Teens problems. Billy realizes his fear is holding him back and he has to do something or his team is done for, so he goes into battle. We're seeing a superhero conquer the odds, and I enjoy that.

Billy blitzes the Goofish by leaping around the monster and confusing it. The Goofish tries to fight back but Billy moves too swiftly for him to catch up. Goofish tries spewing some of its venom, but Billy leaps over the monster which somehow causes the venom to redirect and fall back onto the the fiendish flounder. Like anyone else who gets their own goo in their eyes, the Goofish starts hyperventilating and grunting in pain. We've all been there man, it's no fun.

Billy whips out the Power Lance and stabs at the Goofish, knocking the monster back to the ground. The rest of the Rangers rush to Billy's side, somehow now unstuck from the goo, and get ready to finish Goofish off. Rita doesn't want to lose again, so she makes the Goofish grow nice and tall so he can spew more blue jizz all over the city.

The Rangers bring out the Megazord and have a nice fun slugfest with the Goofish and his swordfish trident. We get some more 90's as fuck rock music as the two duke it out, and every bone in my body reverts back to when I was a kid and this shit was the coolest thing around. If loving a fish man stabbing a robot made out of dinosaurs with a swordfish is wrong, then being right was never for me.

The Megazord smashes the Goofish's weapon, sending the monster reeling. Instead of accepting his defeat, the Goofish starts puking more goo on the Megazord. His slime locks down the Megazord's feet and leaves it ready for the monster to attack again. Goofish blasts the Rangers with a laser from his eye, while he cackles at the fact they're getting beaten by the world's ugliest fish.

Zack expresses resentment over the fact they're doing so poorly against a monster that Billy could defeat singlehandedly, so he suggests they burn "Morphing Power" to convert the goo into energy. What does that mean? Nobody knows. Doesn't matter. The Megazord gets back up and is re-energized. Megazord calls on the Power Sword, to which the Goofish rightly responds "YOU CHEATED!" No shit, it's been twenty years and I still don't know what they did to undo that goo. Whatever happened though, it's all worth it for the unarmed Goofish attempting to fight back.

The Goofish species is notorious for refusing to die with dignity.

With the Goofish vanquished and the day saved, Billy meets the rest of the Ranger Teens at the Youth Center, having just returned from a fishing trip with Ernie. Ernie tells the gang that he'll cook up what they just finished catching, and it'll be on the house too! I'm sure that decision won't come back to bite him in the ass next week.



Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Getting Spunk in Your Eye



Personal Thoughts

Man I really love this episode. The Goofish is such a fun monster with his copious number of weapons, it's hard not to be interested in him. The plot with Billy facing his fears is enjoyable too, and gives him some level of humanity. Instead of just being a nerd who wants to learn karate and is able to make magical science machines, now he's all those things but he's also afraid of fish. The other thing that I like about this episode is it's the first time we got to see some Zyu2 stuff! A topic I'm utterly fascinated by.

So now it's finally time to explain what I meant with all this "Zyu2" nonsense. Well as I've mentioned before, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers was initially made using footage from the Japanese show Kyoryuu Sentai Zyuranger. When the show became a runaway success, the fine folks at Saban decided it would be ludicrous not to keep it going. The problem was that they no longer had any footage to use, so what would they do? Are they just going to keep cutting together more Goldar fights? Jesus I hope not.

Saban got into contact with Toei and cut a deal with them to produce some more footage for Power Rangers to use. Prior to this request, Toei had already let Saban film several scenes of Rita and her henchmen for use in Power Rangers that was referred to as Zyu1.5 by fans. I discussed Zyu1.5 a while back, and it's really interesting stuff!

This time however, Toei sent over footage which is what the fans refer to as Zyu2. There was no official name given to the footage by Toei or Saban, and was more likely referred to as "That extra stuff Japan sent us."

The show was given 25 brand new monsters, all with corresponding fight footage. The footage would also typically include a fight with the Putties, as well as a giant fight with the Megazord. Saban also had access to all 25 of these monster costumes to shoot US footage with if they so chose, unlike earlier in the season where they only had about a dozen different monster suits. Toei had given Power Rangers exactly what it needed to continue. A bunch of rubber suit monsters getting the shit kicked out of them. Just as God intended.

What's important to note is this footage wasn't made with some corresponding story behind it. The monster would show up and do its thing while being vaguely threatening. The Rangers would show up, pre-morphed, and fight it. No civilians would be present, so the only actors in these scenes would be stunt actors portraying the Rangers, monster, and Putties. 

Without any of these characters, this also means that none of Rita's crew would appear in Zyu2 footage. Any scenes you see of them in Zyu2 episodes are simply scenes of them from Zyuranger or the aforementioned Zyu1.5. Just consider the monsters as free agents doing their own thing when you watch the footage.

There was also no newly shot footage of the Rangers in the Megazord cockpit, as the set had likely been scrapped by the time of production. So any time we see the Rangers react in the cockpit is always footage straight from Zyuranger.

Since there was no pre-established story behind Zyu2, this would often mean the characters would make grand exaggerated gestures to explain to the audience (as well as the show's staff) what was supposed to be happening. It's pretty funny to watch it now knowing the suit actors are very clearly trying to elaborate on things, such as the Blue Ranger's horrified spasms upon seeing the Goofish. Though to be honest, exaggerated gestures are Tokusatsu's bread and butter.

All this basically culminates in what I love about the Zyu2 footage. This is brand new stuff that your imagination can run wild with. If you didn't know why something was happening in an episode before, you could go check out the Zyuranger episode and get a clarification.

Zyu2 offered you the footage to fill in your own blanks and make your own answers. The answers were typically very obvious, but you also got to look at it and ask yourself "What were they going for here?" or "Why did they do it this way?" That's what makes it so much fun for me to watch, and some of my favorite Power Rangers stuff of all time. Some of the Zyu2 footage was shuffled around or cut out, so it's left fans to wonder what Zyu2 footage we never got to see. At least for the most part, but I'll get into that later!

Speaking of things that got cut from Zyu2,  the Rangers pose with their weapons before the Zord fight, indicating they were about to use the Power Blaster. This would happen quite a few times in Zyu2 footage where it's clear the Rangers looked as though they were going to use the Power Blaster, but the show would cut to Rita making the monster grow. Was it to save time? Cut out a violent explosion? Who knows. 


One final thing I noticed about Zyu2 is that the Zord fights seem to move at a slower pace. It's only noticeable when you directly compare Zyu fights to Zyu2 fights, and it doesn't necessarily indicate a lack of quality. My assumption for this is the Megazord suit had probably been beaten to shit because Toei keep horrible care of its props, and it was on its last legs, so they couldn't risk having it move around very fast. I might just be imagining all this but take a look and maybe you'll see what I mean.



Zyu2



3 comments:

  1. The thing about the first encounter with the Goo Fish, as I'm sure you'll mention, is that it was totally hacked to death. Obvious by the incongruous positions of the Rangers and even Putties at varying times. It's also interesting to note that despite being a Zyu2 monster he didn't have any exclusive footage until mid-season 2. Great post my friend as always.

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  2. Are you ignoring the moment Trini zipped up her scuba suit. It made me question if I was watching a kids show. There is also no swimsuit colour underneath. Is Trini fine with Jason and zack seeing her naked?

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    1. Maybe Trini lets all of them see her naked. ;)

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