Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 44: Lions and Blizzards






Romantic Date Interrupted By Lion
Sentient Robot Unable To Pronounce Words











For fans of counting, you might notice I missed an episode between last weeks and this weeks. I'll explain why in the wrap-up, but don't be scared. I'm not incompetent enough to forget that 43 comes after 44.

Today we're jumping headfirst into an event called the "Oddball Games." They don't really set it up at all, but the first thing we see is Jason and Bulk running through tires like they're in a military school or something. Can't wait for someone to tell Bulk he climbs obstacles like old people fuck.

The episode impresses me though, because we don't get a useless scene of someone telling us exactly what the Oddball Games are, we're going to see them play out instead. We also don't see who's on what team, but we see Jason going up against Bulk and you can put the pieces together. It's economic storytelling and I appreciate it. Lions and Blizzards is already on my good side. Unfortunately, judging by the last two episodes it's about to head downhill real quick, so let's count our blessings now.

Bulk trips and falls on the last tire, because of course he couldn't compete against Jason. The man is 80% hunk and Bulk is 80% chunk. I don't care how stupid a bully Bulk is, he can't actually think he's going to beat a karate beefcake in anything that revolves around physicality. At some point you're gonna have to stop deluding yourself big guy.

The next event after "Run Across Tires Without Comically Falling Down" is the potato sack race, where we see Zack up against Angela, the girl of his dreams. He tries to psyche her out by being super macho, but she doesn't give a fuck and rolls her eyes. Angela is pretty fantastic at having a single character trait and driving it home every week. Well I guess that's not true, she also wanted to bang a Power Ranger once. That's kind of like development right?

The next event we see is the Wheelbarrow, where Jason takes Trini by the legs and wheels her around, having mistaken her for a prop. They compete against Skull being wheeled around by Bulk. Since the writers couldn't figure out how to have the bullies comically fall down in a wheelbarrow position without vigorous humping, so they just make Bulk mop the grass with Skull's face for a little bit.

Bulk takes his standard footjob break.

The Ranger Teens celebrate Jason's success, as he's brought their team one step closer to victory. Bulk and Skull's team just get annoyed at their own comedic foibles. Principal Caplan shows up as the officiator of the Oddball Games and tells everyone that the two teams are tied. We haven't seen Bulk and Skull's team win a single event but they clearly swept the first few rounds. The events must have been "Cake Facials" and "Parental Humiliation."

The final event is going to involve both teams in their entirety partaking in a massive tug of war. Caplan reveals the winners will receive the prestigious Noble Lion trophy, which looks less like a badge of honor and more like a prop shambled together the night before.

You get a better prize for losing during the first round of Legends of the Hidden Temple

Before the Tug of War begins, we see the two teams exchange a few rounds of taunting. Bulk says Jason's going to lose this time, contrary to the 456,000 times he's won. Zack tells Angela (who's on Bulk and Skull's team) that he's saved her a spot on the winning side of the rope if she wants to come join him. It's cute hearing some playful ribbing, particularly from the Ranger Teens. Maybe my bar's  been lowered too far, but "acting like humans" is all I want out of them.

Rita observes the oddball game and decides to make a wager. She bets that lion trophy would make a damn fine addition to her evil collective. Goldar agrees with her because he's a kiss-ass, and talks about how super great Rita's Goatan monster will be.

The line he has here is fine, but it's delivered really awkwardly. Goldar's line is "Goatan the storm bringer! The Earth and those Power Rangers will be destroyed for good." It gets all jumbled together and it sounds like "OF COURSEGOATANTHESTORMBRINGER AND THE EARTH AND POWER RANGERS WILL ALL BE DESTROYED FOR GOOD!!" If you want your one expository villain to explain the plot, maybe you shouldn't use the first take that sounds absolutely unintelligible. Thanks for nothing "One Take Goldar."

The two teams square off in the tug of war, separated by a pit of mud in the middle of their ring. If you didn't already anticipate Bulk and Skull were going to lose then this should have clarified it for you. The bullies try their best to win, but ultimately get yanked right into the muck. The forward momentum even knocks Mr. Caplan into the mud too, cause FUCK you old man. It's the 90's and our elders ain't SHIT. *Guitar Solo*

Zack offers Angela a hand out of the mud in what might be the first scene of him trying to do anything but hit on her. Nobody helps Mr. Caplan up because he's old and has a wig and nobody wants to fuck him, so he just stands around with a grumpy look on his face. I can't imagine how much restraint it took to not have Mr. Caplan insist that Bulk and Skull get a detention for knocking him into the mud. Man when's the last time his wig fell off? I need more of that and less of him trying to steal Bulk's thunder by falling into shit.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who sees his dick didn't get covered in mud too.

The Ranger Teens give each other a round of ass patting before realizing that the Noble Lion trophy isn't on its pedestal anymore! How are we supposed to get our shitty hunk of plastic to display in our parentless homes now? Instead of hearing the Ranger Teens blow smoke up our ass wondering who could have done this, Zack instantly assumes Bulk and Skull are to blame. Who stole our shit? Probably the two pieces of human garbage with no self respect or dignity. Thank you, now we can move on.

Shocking absolutely nobody, Zack was right on the money about Bulk and Skull. The two mud covered morons have stolen the trophy in an attempt to find something that makes them want to take the guns out of their mouths.

Rita becomes quite incensed with the bullies for trying to take away her soon to be monster, and screams at Goldar that it's getting away. Goldar promptly sends down a hoard of Putties, not to assault Bulk and Skull and take the trophy, but to keep the Ranger Teens busy. If Rita's worried about the trophy getting away then why are you focusing on the Rangers? Bulk and Skull are the issue. Call me crazy but I'm starting to think they just wanted to have a Putty fight in this episode and found a flimsy reason to shoehorn one in here.

Jason and Kimberly have split off to find Bulk and Skull when the Putties show up to keep 'em busy. The editing gets really choppy as we cut from a shot of the Putties flipping on the scene, to a shot of Jason punching one. The Putties don't land, we don't have the Rangers react to them, they're immediately being fought. It looks really lame, but we finally get some solid fighting music over the fight! Not just instrumentals! Real life big boy music! With words even!

I mentioned during Rita's Seed of Evil that Ron Wasserman, the composer of the iconic Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers theme song made some other vocal tracks that could be used during the show and this is the first time we get to hear one. I unironically love Wasserman's music and it so perfectly sums up Power Rangers for me, so I'll be linking the songs he penned as they show up in the show. First up is the aptly titled "Fight." I'd say that it's probably my favorite of the insert songs he made but they're all really fucking fun.

Jason and Kim fight the Putties for a brief stint before we cut off the music and see what Billy, Trini, and Zack are up to. They're near a set of playground equipment when another group of Putties shows up to confront them. The music even re-kicks in where it left off with Jason and Kim. It's definitely not supposed to be funny, but I'll be goddamned if I didn't laugh at it.

The editing in this fight isn't that great either. There isn't a scene of the Ranger Teens reacting to the Putties so it looks a little jarring for the Putties to jump off a big jungle gym and then immediately see Trini kicking one in the gonads. Not just that, but we cut to Zack mid-grunt and it's really obvious they fucked up the sound mix. One of the more obnoxious things is when the Putties jump up to attack Billy, it's very clearly just the footage of them jumping off the equipment played in reverse. It's the show not being able to hide its seams which tends to take me out of it a bit.

This Putty fight is honestly pretty great outside of the choppy editing though. It's nothing but the Ranger Teens beating them into playground equipment, which is significantly more interesting than a kick and a punch before the Putty decides to die. It isn't just another fight in a park somewhere where there's nothing around to interact with. You see something unique happen because the Teens are in an uncommon environment. Something like this.

Somewhere inside that slide, that Putty just gave up on life.

While the Ranger Teens ward off the Putties, Bulk and Skull lay on some rocks in front of a pond and splash themselves with water to clean the mud off. It's really bizarre and makes them look like even bigger freaks than they already are. I know Bulk and Skull only shower when they grow fungus on their genitals, but why are they just splashing themselves in the face out in the middle of nowhere? Why not just go home and bathe? You two are literally acting like animals.

Squatt asks Rita what her plan is, as his voice actor heads off to get his check for being in this episode. The galactic queen's busy casting a spell to turn the trophy into a monster she proclaims is "half goat, half lion." Since Bulk and Skull left the trophy sitting out in the field while they splash each other, Rita has ample opportunity to turn their ill gotten trophy into the lethal Goatan!

By half goat she meant "stuff one and mount it on his chest."

Terrified of the freakish beast who doesn't bathe itself in lakes, Bulk and Skull try telling the monster they'll give him some catnip. Goatan doesn't give a fuck about catnip and creates yellow energy wisps that knock Bulk and Skull into the lake. The bullies flee, and Goatan laughs at them while his goat head laughs in little bleats. It's a funny attention to detail and giving both of Goatan's heads a different voice is a nice touch. Just this little bit of character turns Goatan into a more memorable monster than we've had in quite a while. 

Getting kind of scared here guys, this episode is actually charming me. Now I'm dreading when this episode inevitably turns shitty. I just know it's coming soon. 

Back at the Youth Center, Zack spots Angela headed his way. She's dressed pretty fuckin fine, which for Power Rangers means she isn't dressed like a clowns ejaculate. Zack tells his friends he's totally over this bird and she doesn't mean shit. Then she asks if he wants to catch a matinee and his jaw hits the floor. Since this is 1993 presumably they went to go see Philadelphia together.

Alpha 5 tells Zordon that everything is going haywire, which Zordon says is familiar. He informs Alpha that this sensation must be due to Rita's monster Goatan, who can control the weather. Zordon suspects that Goatan is going to make it rain on all these bitches, literally, so he asks Alpha to ring the Power Rangers and tell them to kill Rita's abomination.

At the Youth Center, Billy and Trini come in out of what they inform us is a really nasty storm. Since it would have cost more money to dangle a hose above the roof, we're left to take their word for it. Ernie runs in and tells everyone the city is under a tornado watch so they should all head into the basement, also they should go into this nice pit he's manufactured and put their lotion in his basket.

The Zack-less Ranger Teens head into the Command Center where Zordon informs them Rita turned their dumbass looking trophy into a monster. Goatan is described as a ferocious monster with the ability to summon tornadoes, hurricanes, and blizzards to defeat his enemies. Alpha tries to get into contact with Zack but can't seem to reach him, assuming it's because his Communicator is wrist deep in Angela right now.

The other four Rangers morph to combat Goatan out in a quarry. After beating down the Rangers for a little bit, Kimberly pulls out her Power Bow to strike Goatan. He bats away the arrows before pulling out his own bow to shoot at Kim. His arrow knocks hers out of the air and knocks her to the ground. Jason uses his Blade Blaster to shoot the fuck out of Goatan, proving just how inefficient a weapon a bow really is. Goatan isn't done yet though! He has a lot more skills to show off.

Goatan
Nice of him to swing right over Billy's head.

The monster knocks all four Rangers to the ground before his goat head starts talking a whole bunch of shit and telling them they're finished. Goatan blasts the rangers with energy from his eyes before his goat mouth unleashes a massive red cyclone that traps the Rangers inside of it. It's another instance of his goat mouth just bleating repeatedly and it's fucking hilarious. God bless this stupid ass show.

While at the movies, Zack is finally starting to make some headway with Angela as she grabs onto his arm upon being frightened. Just when Zack tries to go in for second base, his Communicator goes off. Angela asks what that was, and if Zack is really such a nerd that he bought a beeper. Zack tells her that's his popcorn alarm, and she readily accepts the most nonsensical lie of all time as Zack heads outside the theater.

Zack tells Alpha there better be four fucking monsters running around right now, but Alpha says it's even worse! He tells Zack the others need his help to fight Rita's evil Shamera monster. Obviously he meant chimera, but he adorably has no idea how it's pronounced. Zordon must be a real cheap shit if he can't even keep Alpha's language chips up to date.

Zack morphs and teleports to the scene where he blasts Goatan with his Power Axe. As we see the Black Ranger, you'll notice something appears to be wrong with his hands.

Angela secretly coated herself in barbed wire in the hopes Zack wouldn't touch her. He showed her! 

Goatan taunts the Black Ranger, and also asks if maybe he should see a doctor for his spontaneously bleeding hands, but Zack tells him to eat a dick. The Black Ranger gives a pretty fun threat to the monster telling him he's going to pay for messing with his friends, and especially for messing up his date. Zack leaps off the cliffside he's standing on and slashes Goatan with his Power Axe. The monster stumbles all around the beach before collapsing.

I just want to take a moment to say how much I love Walter Jones acting as Zack. He seriously brings it to these lines and makes you believe in the goofy shit he's saying. After slashing Goatan he says "That oughta change your minds Goatan, both of em." It's a stupid enough line on paper but Jones fucking nails it. I'd be hard pressed to call it badass, but he manages to elevate the material in a way I'm sincerely impressed by.

Rita cuts her losses with this dumb as fuck lion and makes him grow. Goatan's growth prompts a blizzard as the monster roars at the Rangers. Zack has his friends to summon the Dinozords and form the Megazord in order to combat Goatan. The lion beast uses his goat mouth to blow snow at the Megazord and freezes it over. Did you expect something that looked amazing? You're in luck!

That's what snow look like isn't it?

Goatan gives the Rangers a handful of cold puns before pulling out a hockey stick to ice em. Though the Rangers can't make Megazord move, Zack finds he can move the left tread and spins the Megazord around. The Megazord's spinning seems to dizzy Goatan with the snow it shakes off, and when the Megazord removes all the snow from itself it punches the chimera right in its goat face. Zack summons the Power Sword and the Rangers finish off the monster. R.I.P. Goatan, of all the monsters Post-Cyclopsis so far, you were the GOAT.

Zordon congratulates the Rangers on murdering Rita's freak of nature but informs them their trophy was tragically lost with the destruction of Goatan. The Rangers say it's not a big deal since that thing was an ugly piece of junk anyway, and they don't need a trophy to prove they're winners. Alpha says it's another happy ending, and Zack has a fantastic out of context line.

Zack: Speaking of happy endings, I left Angela back at the theater!

Zack zips back to the theater with two tubs of popcorn and apologizes to Angela, saying there was a long line. Just when you think everything is going to be peachy keen, Angela dumps her popcorn on Zack's head and ditches him for being gone so long. This moment is great because she doesn't have to say a single word, and we know exactly what she's thinking. This episode is seriously killing it for me.

The final scene is a cop dragging Bulk and Skull into the Youth Center. They're still covered in muck despite swimming through the lake earlier to avoid Goatan, and because this scene doesn't make any sense at all. The cop asks if anyone can I.D. these jokers, and Jason asks if they're the swamp creatures from the black lagoon. Why the cop has them in his custody I can't tell ya, he's just dragging them in there for no reason and asks who the fuck they are. Then Bulk starts jumping all around cause he's got a frog in his shirt and everybody laughs. The End.

If you ever told me that a Bulk and Skull scene would be the weakest point of an episode I'd have told you that you were crazy.


Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Bathing in Lakes



Personal Notes

God almighty I love this episode. This is such a massive step up in quality from the last two it blows my mind. It's written competently, it has solid action, it gives a fun storyline to Zack, and even the acting seems better. The only downside is the weird editing in the Putty fight and the non-resolution to whatever happened with Bulk and Skull. I can't fathom why they would lead the show's return with an episode as bland as Rita's Seed of Evil when they had something like this they could have aired instead.

I mentioned earlier I was skipping an episode before this one for a certain reason. I won't elaborate on that entirely just yet, but episodes 41,42,44, and 45 make up what I like to consider a four part series; which I've unofficially dubbed the "Oh Fuck, Zyu2 hasn't come in the mail yet" Quadrilogy. What's a Zyu2? Bruh. You're gonna learn all the lore soon. Just you wait. 

There's a little detail in this episode I like, which is that the Rangers lose the Noble Lion Trophy after defeating Goatan. This show is so goddamn saccharine that the idea of its characters actually losing something by being superheroes is almost never addressed. It fits well with Zack screwing up his date with Angela because of his duties as a Power Ranger. The Rangers can actually lose something, and we don't get to see that often enough.

Goatan is a pretty cool monster, and one that fans of this blog might recognize! I posted an image of four monsters who appeared in the Japanese counterpart of Doomsday Part 2, with Goatan being the only one of the four who hadn't appeared yet. 

Power Rangers managed to make Goatan seem more threatening than he was in the Sentai. All the stuff about him having weather powers was just creative repurposing of the footage. The blizzard that shows up after he was beaten was originally there for no real reason other than giving the Megazord fight a different look. That red tornado attack he used on the Rangers originally was used to steal people's abilities. That explains why he suddenly busted out some archery moves and had a hockey stick as a weapon. He had stolen them from some athletes he kidnapped. Giving him weather powers to explain the rest of his moves works out really well though.

One final cool bit I want to showcase is some editing the crew did on the Goatan fight. Originally when Zack slashed the monster with his Power Axe, it caused him to explode! What impresses me so much is the U.S. cut doesn't look awkward or abrupt or anything, so it's difficult to even tell something was cut. I'll show both versions below so you can see what I mean. I find that both are nice conclusions to the fight, but let me know which one you like better!

U.S.

Sentai

And with this episode, Power Rangers has successfully used every Zyuranger monster. We still have one more episode next week before the show had to change things up a bit, but without any new monsters what could they do? Stay tuned to find out, you won't not be disappointed.



1 comment:

  1. Yeah, that scene at the end made no sense. Why would the cops take B&S to the juice bar? Did they tell him that they had friends there that could identify them? If so, for what purpose?

    ReplyDelete