Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 53: Fowl Play


Superhero Inadequately Utilizes Teleportation Technology
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After reading the title of this episode, I kept thinking that Power Rangers was trying to pull a fast one on me and was airing last week's episode under a different name in the hopes nobody would notice. Thankfully that's not the case, because today's episode isn't about Tommy and Jason hanging out together for the umpteenth time, it's about Zack trying to get bone deep in Angela.

Honestly I'm kind of torn. Whatever it takes in this show to give us more Zack themed episodes I'm happy to see. The problem is Angela as a character was introduced solely to inform the audience Zack wanted a piece of pussy pie. It's pretty shitty to introduce a character in your show whose only notable trait is "fuckable." We've seen Angela about half a dozen times by now and I still can't tell you anything about her other than the fact Zack wants to wear her thighs as earmuffs. Keep this in mind now, because it will mean a lot more later on in the season.

So anyways, Angela is watching some kids in the Youth Center today. Zack is helping her keep the kids engaged by doing some magic tricks for them. While I'm sure some of you nitpicky assholes out there (me) would like to call fowl on Zack suddenly being a fan of magic, you're wrong. This trait actually has precedence in previous episodes. I went back to check and it just so happens that the writer of today's episode, Peggy Nicoll, wrote the previous two that involve Zack's love for the dark arts.

Zack informs the kids that magic teaches great hand-eye coordination, and is also a shoe-in for getting ladies to pay attention to you. That's true, they see you doing magic and immediately know exactly who not to fuck. Speaking of people to never have intercourse with, Bulk and Skull jump on the magic bandwagon and tell all the kids they can do way better magic than Zack can. Skull's even managed to make all his mom's boyfriends disappear!

So Bulk shoves a twinkie in his mouth because the stage direction wanted to call him fat, and the two bullies start really badly trying to juggle eggs. It culminates in the two slipping in yolk and falling into each other while a bunch of children laugh at them. The bullies try charging Zack, but accidentally slide into each other due to the Flinstones sound effects that play in the background.

Zack asks the children if they want to see him make Bulk and Skull disappear, to which the children all gleefully cheer. You ever want to question your self esteem? Listen to a bunch of children who have known you for all of 20 seconds cheer at the concept of you vanishing from the planet. 

Zack produces a pair of rubber snakes from underneath his cloak, which terrifies the bullies into submission. Zack uses this opportunity to impart an Aesop to the young onlookers: If you're in trouble, always use your head. It's a good lesson for the little goofballs watching, though it would have been more appropriate to teach the kids at home the benefits of carrying rubber snakes at all times.

Angela compliments Zack's abuse of mentally handicapped bullies to which he follows up by producing a bouquet of flowers for her from underneath his cloak. This is her response.

The closest a magician has ever come to getting laid.

All the other Ranger Teens come up to Zack and rib him for the fact the girl he likes just kissed him. Jason asks Zack when the wedding is, knowing that the love they shared in the past is slowly eroding as time goes on. Nothing Jason can do for Zack will bring back the passion the two shared now that their lives are going in different directions. Though both Zack and Jason know that their final day on this planet will be wondering what could have been.

Zack gives a playful reaction about how it's no big deal and was just a peck on the cheek. He concludes by pumping his arms with a big smile on his face. It's a great moment that gets ruined by bitchy old Rita coming on screen to say she's going to show Zack what a real peck on the cheek feels like. Though if you blink you'll miss the fact that she showed up at all.

Without being even sort of sarcastic, Rita's scene lasts exactly six seconds. We cut to her, she makes a terrible pun about the monster she'll be making, and we fade to black. It's the funniest thing that the writer and the editor cared so little about Rita that they just crammed in a halfassed explanation as to why she's going to use a woodpecker monster today. It's interesting to see the writers clearly no longer caring about Rita or her stupid machinations and rushing to get to the fun part of writing the episode instead.

Kimberly tells her friends they had better go meet up with Tommy at the mall, which is where he has to stay comfortably off screen because Saban didn't feel like paying him to show up this week. Zack tells his friends he'd love to come hang out with his good pal Tommy


but he's going to be busy ogling Angela all day. Kimberly says Zack had better watch out because Angela is talking to a real hunk of a guy right now! Zack gets all panicked only to see Angela talking to a little boy, while Kimberly continues airing her suspicion about Zack's beloved being a secret pedophile.

The non-Black Ranger Teens head through the park to go meet up with Tommy, when Jason continues laughing at how Zack was enjoying heterosexual attraction to a human female a few minutes ago. He informs his friends that she was putty in his hand, and because Jason said the secret word, a bunch of Putties swarm on the Ranger Teens. Just in case you in the audience didn't catch the irony, Kimberly makes sure to blatantly exclaim "SPEAKING OF PUTTIES!" Thanks guys, I wouldn't have caught that masterful symbolism if you hadn't elaborated on it.

While his friends throw stuntmen in pajamas into jungle gyms, Zack tries to show Angela his newest magic trick: making her virginity disappear. Because Angela's a female character in the 90's, she's most impressed with how Zack is so good with kids and that really gets her fireworks factory popping.

As the conversation continues, Zack tells Angela he'd hate to brag about how good he is. As soon as this happens we hear a choking noise in the background. We pan out from the scene to see Ernie sitting behind them at the counter who was clearly astonished by what Zack said and informs the two "Sorry, must have been something caught in my throat."

Put another one up there on the board for "legitimate laughs."

We also get a really great bit of dialogue that means so goddamn much for the story they're trying to tell with these two. Zack and Angela both try to say something at the same time, and both abruptly stop. Nice human moment there, but the best part is what Zack does. He stops what he was saying and asks Angela to say her piece first. The whole point of why Angela has been iffy about Zack is that he's supposed to be a narcissist and doesn't care about anyone else. This little moment illustrates so perfectly WHY Angela would be warming up to Zack. He is changing, ever so slightly, into someone she can actually see herself caring about. It's subtly done for a show about giant chickens destroying cities.

Angela is cut off before she can ask Zack out as Ernie alerts the two about a news report on T.V. The T.V. shows footage of a giant crow monster known as the Peckster demolishing buildings downtown. He's very clearly already giant sized, but since the editors didn't have any footage of him destroying things in small size to look threatening, they had to cheat.

Zack offers to do some more magic tricks to keep the kids calm and forget about the monster murdering their parents. The Great Zackini finds Bulk and Skull hiding under a table while making sure not to ask them what they were doing under there. We are in front of children after all. Zack loans his magic wand to Bulk and says to make him disappear in front of all the kids. He tells Bulk all he needs to do to bring him back is say "Zack." However, to make Zack disappear Bulk will need to repeat the magic words, "Aya Mag Oon." Classic. Surprised he didn't ask Bulk to call himself the sofa king while mentioning Zack's wee friends Todd and Ed.

Bulk begins waving the wand while chanting the pseudo spell at the curtain Zack's closed on himself. As Bulk starts saying the spell faster and more fiercely, he suddenly stops himself when he realizes he's been calling himself a goon. It's funny only because of how disappointed Paul Schrier becomes as he finally catches what he's been saying. It's a total 180 and it makes a pretty silly joke actually work out. Skull laughs at his burly buddy which prompts Bulk to whack him in the face with the wand. This prompts Skull to make this face

He made that same face under the table too.

Bulk opens the curtains to find that Zack has actually disappeared from behind the curtain. You might think he did the most logical thing and teleported from behind the curtain into the Command Center, but not so fast. We see Zack briskly walking into the hallway of the Juice Bar, which is about 20 feet from where he just was. So what, he teleported a couple steps away and then ran into the hallway?

Does anyone else see how much more sense this would make if he teleported out of the building and not barely into a corridor of the same building? If Bulk turned his head he would be able to see Zack on his Communicator contacting Zordon. Thankfully Bulk's neck doesn't work quite like it used to.

Zordon informs Zack to morph and take on the Peckster before he demolishes every building in the city. When Zack shows up in the slums, the monster leaps down and starts talking in its goofy high pitched birdy voice. Verifying how little of a threat you should find this doofy ass crow.

Truly the face of unspeakable terror.

Though the Peckster does little but giggle and laugh at Zack while acting silly, the Black Ranger is unable to keep up with the monster. Zack tries using the Power Axe but it is completely ineffective against the monster. After getting smacked around by the big beaky bitch, the monster decides that fighting Zack is a waste of his time. Peckster reverses the footage leaps atop a building and bids Zack adieu.

Zordon buzzes Zack and asks why he just got his ass smacked around by a buzzard with no eyes. Zack tries to explain that he wasn't able to find the other Rangers but Zordon tells him to shove it and get back to the Youth Center before everyone notices he's been gone for three hours. Makes sense, we know what happened the last time Zack left Angela alone while he was off fighting a monster.

Oh you want to know what the other Ranger Teens have been doing this entire time? Fighting the Putties. For half of an episode. Riveting stuff. Zordon calls them and tells them to knock this shit off and go fight the Peckster while Zack puts the moves on Angela.  Oh I forgot to mention Zordon's fourth rule of being a Power Ranger; fight monsters without your friends if you would otherwise be cockblocking them.

Since Tommy needs to conserve his powers and forgot to show up on set, the other four Rangers must morph to fight without him. Red, Blue, Yellow, and Pink confront the dreaded Peckster downtown. Only he isn't doing all that building destroying Finster was talking about earlier at all, just flying around being a nuisance. He sweeps past the Rangers and causes them to spark with his wings. After he lands, Peckster informs the Rangers they had better watch out. Then this happens.

Ew. I almost stepped in Putty.

Back in the Youth Center, a little boy Angela's been watching named Mikey bounces a black kickball while telling Bulk he better bring Zack back. Bulk ignores the child's pleas and steals his kickball just to show the world he's still able to outwit children.

Bulk then uses Zack's wand to tap on Angela's shoulder, and asks her if she'd like to go out and catch the submarine races. A euphemism that was used previously in the episode A Bad Reflection On You. For whatever reason, the phrase hadn't caught on between that episode's airing and this one, so Angela tells him she'd rather clean a hippo in a mudbath. Bulk chuckles silently to pretend this clear jab at his weight doesn't tear him apart inside.

Angela demands Bulk stop being fat and also bring Zack back right now. I get that the kids are buying this magic bullshit but what does Angela think happened? She's a fully functioning adult, so why does she believe in any of this garbage? Maybe living in a world with giant woodpecker monsters demolishing the Chrysler Building melts away your cynicism.

Bulk says he'll never bring Zack back, and the camera zooms in on his face as he realizes he just said the magic word to summon Zack. It's a surprisingly funny moment that emulates the style of a horror movie just to spice up the episode a little bit. The reaction Bulk has is golden.

Bulk forgot to say Klaatu Barada Nikto.

Bulk slowly approaches the curtain and pulls it back to reveal Zack inside who terrifies the poor moron with his apparent magic powers. You'd think when you have superpowers and intergalactic technology you shouldn't be using them to draw attention to yourself, but Angel Grove is a town full of dumbfucks so Zack's secret is safe for another day.

Zack sees another report about the Peckster on T.V. that announces the Power Rangers have yet to gain the upper hand against the monster. Probably because they're fighting the Putties right now you moron. No shit they haven't beaten up the monster yet, this is how it always goes!

Zack goes to ask Mikey if he's down with the chronic, also if he's okay with this whole Peckster business. Mikey tells the Ranger Teen he's sure the Power Rangers will pull out some magic way to beat this stupid monster. Maybe the Blue Ranger will pull a new gadget out of his ass to defeather the bird, maybe the Green Ranger will come in and hog the spotlight, maybe the writers will throw the female Rangers a bone and let them win a fight. All sorts of things could happen!

Oh yeah and Zack sees Mikey's kickball and then looks over at a bunch of balloons. Yeah that's actually important to the plot. Sorry.

By the way, the news reporter also makes sure to inform us after mentioning the Power Rangers struggle that there's some other news to discuss. The headline he reads off is: The chickens have flown the coop today. Get it? Because the Power Rangers are fighting a bird based monster. I'm sure the civilians who have had their family members murdered are ecstatic to hear your jokey garbage you clownshoe. Get bent.

Back at the battle, the Rangers are trashing the Putty Patrol. This Putty fight actually feels rather enjoyable because the editor isn't constantly cutting away and distracting us from the battle. It's nothing spectacular but Putty fights never really are.

Peckster leaps into the fight and slashes at the Rangers with his claws. He then bombards Trini and Kim with red darts he fires from his throat before blowing Jason and Billy away with tornados from his wings. Peckster goes back on the offensive before knocking all four Rangers down with his pecker. Just before he can gouge out the Red Ranger's eyes, the Peckster gets kicked away by Zack who appears holding five different colored balloons. Curious what color each of the balloons are? Take a wild guess.

Zack challenges Peckster to pop the balloons he brought to the battle to which the monster gleefully attacks. As you might have guessed, things don't go as planned.

Zack used his magical powers to completely change that balloon's physical properties!

The Peckster desperately tries to remove the ball from his beak, but while he's distracted Zack unloads a few shots from his Blade Blaster into the monster. Peckster is knocked back and a furious Rita makes him grow. I don't blame her for being mad, that dumbass bird just got beaten by a kickball.

The Rangers call forth the Megazord to defend against the rampaging peckerwood. Megazord summons the Mammoth Shield for the second time in the entire series to try and block the monster's beak. They smack the monster around a little bit before asking if he's ready to give up. Peckstr responds by unfurling his wings and blowing the Megazord away before bombarding it with more throat darts.

The Rangers then come to the realization that the Peckster is a total doofus of a monster and they're actually losing to him. Zack gives his pals a pep talk and informs them that they can't give up because they're the Power Rangers! Who's going to sell toys to children if they get murdered by a crow with a phallic name? Inspired by Zack, Jason summons the Power Sword and the Power Rangers make quick work of the Peckster who does a silly little pecking motion with his head before exploding. Thank you for having a personality you goofy ass bird, it will be sorely missed.

Back at the Youth Center, Mikey comments on how the Black Ranger used his brains before using his fists when he tricked the Peckster with the balloons. I have to laugh at this attempt at a moral because it's clearly not saying "fighting is bad." It's more along the lines of "Be smart and cripple your opponent before mercilessly killing them." It's no "always carry rubber snakes with you" but I suppose it will have to suffice.

Angela asks where Zack has gone, to which Bulk asks what she sees in that total loser. Skull earnestly answers that she might like him for his good looks and his intelligence, which Bulk responds to by shoving Skull's face in a bowl of popcorn. Usually when he gets cuckolded, Bulk shoves his own face in food. Good to see him breaking the habit!

Later in the afternoon, Zack shows up dressed in a suit looking fly as can be. He tells his friends he's going out on a hot date with Angela tonight. After that saucy peck on the cheek earlier, she might even give him a really tight hug! After laying out his plans for the evening, Angela walks in with the kids from earlier and asks him why he got all dressed up to take the kids to go see a cartoon festival. If you didn't already mentally make the "wah-wah-waaaaah" noise don't worry! The show did it for you.

What cartoon is going to be showing at the festival by the way? A five hour retrospective on Woody Woodpecker. WHILE THIS MAY SEEM LIKE AN ARBITRARY JOKE, YOU MIGHT RECALL THE FEROCIOUS FOE THE RANGERS FOUGHT THIS WEEK WAS ALSO



Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Someone Who Gives A Shit About Woody Woodpecker



Personal Thoughts

Y'know something? Outside of the abysmally corny jokes, this episode was pretty fun. Zack is always enjoyable to watch and observing Walter Jones do his thing really showcases how underutilized he is as a cast member. The Bulk and Skull bits were fun, Angela is almost given something to do, and the Peckster is a genuinely enjoyable monster to watch. He's a goofy silly twit, but there's something fun about him being that way instead of a generic growling monster with no substance to it.

This was another episode that I never got to see as a kid, which is unfortunate because I'm sure I would have enjoyed it. I knew an episode with Peckster obviously had to exist, because the monster would show up later on in the series in another role. We'll cover that more in the future, but when I was a kid I was always hoping I would see the Peckster episode and see what kind of moves he had to offer.

I even remember asking some kid at my friend's tenth birthday party if he knew who Peckster was. The kid told me he did and when I asked if the Ultrazord finished him off, the kid assured me that it did. If I ever meet that fucking liar again I will ring his neck for his filthy deceit.

That gif earlier of the Putties leaping up to punch the Rangers would make a lot more sense if we were all watching Zyuranger.  It was a common occurrence there for the Putties to attack the unmorphed Rangers by leaping up from beneath them and sucker punching them. Since this footage was only Japanese actors getting punched and had no purpose in the U.S. production, it was obviously never used stateside. Since the Zyu2 producers probably weren't taking delicate details on what footage was and wasn't used for Power Rangers, they were just falling back on old habits by having the Putties emerge like this.

The last thing I'll mention is that Peckster's raw Zyu2 footage has yet to be released, but we will likely see it sometime in the not too distant future. Power Rangers stunt coordinator Jeff Pruitt posted a comment on one of his Zyu2 videos what Peckster's footage was labeled as on one of his tapes. So any of the questions you Zyu2 visionaries might have, get pumped! Maybe we'll even get to see more footage of Peckster with a rubber ball stuck on his beak! 



1 comment:

  1. Peckster was always one of my favorite monsters as well. Something about that goofy high-pitched voice and over-the-top body language. And how full of himself he was, though I guess that was more in his later appearances.

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