Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 58: Football Season



Emasculated Nerd Reveals Rippling Physique
Teenager Gains Confidence By Choking Rhinoceros





















Nothing quite like the middle of summer. Temperatures spiking, fat men taking the opportunity not to wear shirts, and everyone gets out to play some sports. Not stupid boring sports like karate, sports that all Americans love like football. It's like karate but you get paid more and there's less chance of meeting Steven Seagal and getting kicked in the nuts.

If nothing else, I have to praise this week's episode for being concise. In Football Season's first 30 seconds, Jason tells Tommy that he's excited for football tryouts, and Tommy informs Jason he's worried about making the team. Boom. Conflict. Tommy's concerned he won't be able to play some sport he's never cared about previous and only survive on being a karate prodigy. Sorry Tommy, this is America. Nobody here gives two shits about no martial artistry. You play football and put your body through hell for a sweet paycheck and a coffin at 40.

Speaking of people who will die at 40, Bulk's trying out for the football team too! Not because of any particular character based reason, but the script wanted to have scenes of a clumsy fat man practicing football.

Bulk starts jawing off about how he's going to be the MVP of Angel Grove High's football team. He charges forward but accidentally runs into Principal Caplan. For those of you at home playing the Power Rangers drinking game, Principal Caplan's wig fell off in this scene. And to families of those who played the Power Rangers drinking game, I'm sorry for your loss.

Bulk flying in the air is far more magical than Peter Pan.

Tommy pouts that even the comic relief bully has more experience at football than he does. Why's Tommy getting beaten down over this? He was laughing at Bulk for falling on top of the principal and then used that as an excuse to get bummed out. You can't be laughing at the comic relief one second and then bring the room down about it the next. Why not have Tommy concerned that's how he's going to look while trying out for the football team? Either don't have Tommy laugh in this scene or cut his mopey monologue about how he needs to be good at football for no explored reason.

Squatt and Baboo start yelling about touchdowns and field goals and other things vaguely related to football and how it looks fun. Rita comes in, fresh from one of her boozy headaches and demands to know who in their right mind would enjoy something as stupid as fun. Baboo zings his boss by telling her she certainly wouldn't enjoy having fun. The same way she wouldn't go out for drinks and dancing with a coworker who has been nothing but loyal to her for the past 3 millennia.

Squatt squashes the romantic tension by suggesting they beat the Power Rangers at their own game. Goldar agrees because he's too lazy to come up with his own plan, and suggests sending down the Rhinoblaster monster with a squad of Putties to help finish off the Rangers. Rita praises her minions for thinking of an inventive scheme that brilliantly utilizes sending a monster to Earth with Putties to fight the Power Rangers.

Tommy drinks away his football woes in the Youth Center when Kimberly and Trini arrive to cheer him up. Tommy bitches and moans that he's barely ever played football, so how can he possibly hope to be instantaneously good at it like he is everything else? Trini tells him everything he's pulled off in karate is an accomplishment all on its own. In response, Tommy projectile vomits on her for suggesting he doesn't humiliate everyone else with his bizarre extroversion.

Has anyone on this show ever accepted they aren't great at something? Christ on the cross why are we getting inundated with all these episodes based on how people need to immediately become good at things? Tommy doesn't even say why he wants to play football, he just arbitrarily needs to be good at it and get on this team because he felt like it.

At least the last few times this has happened, we either had someone who enjoyed what they were trying to learn, or someone who realized it was going to take practice to be good at their activity of choice. Tommy is just upset that he's never played football before so that means he's not going to be good at it. Well no fucking shit you won't be good at something you've never done before you doofus.

Ernie pops up while forging health department documents to tell Tommy he used to be a fullback in his college days. Tommy's eyes go wider than Ernie's full back when he realizes this schmuck could teach him everything he needs to know to about football. Like when it's acceptable for him to pat fellow players on the ass.

While Tommy plans to murder Ernie and wear his skin to football tryouts, Skull trains Bulk in the wackiest goddamn way he can.

The Tooth Fairy 3 Starring Paul Schrier

Skull reads from a book entitled "Football For Cartoon Characters" and informs Bulk that many pro football players practiced ballot to learn grace. Football players we can't actually name without getting the tutu sued off of us so we'll just be vague about it. Beats naming famous athletes like "Leon Sanders" and "Jerry Nice."

Bulk is embarrassed about wearing a tutu, because his life has been nothing but glorious moments of splendor and triumph so far. He spends every waking minute of his godawful life awaiting the split second he trips over a stray roller skate and falls face first into a brand new ice cream cake for Billy's birthday.

Bulk says if he hears Skull make one remark about being a twinkletoes he's going to "cream him." New episode idea: Bulk and Skull go into a gay club and through a series of comic mishaps they end up indicating they're a couple. Then Bulk and Skull have to have sex with each other. The Rhinoblaster plot may not fit with this episode.

The girls head off to play some flag football with the rest of the Ranger Teens while Tommy needles an obese shopkeep about the secrets of America's pastime. Ernie shows Tommy some steps to teach him how to move quickly, something that karate certainly doesn't teach you. Tommy is unable to keep up with the complicated instructions of "left three steps, right two." Tommy busts into a karate pose because that's the only thing occupying his thick skull and he can't be bothered not to show off to an audience of one. THAT'S OUR TOMMY!

Well at least we get to see the rest of the Ranger Teens playing some football. My fingers become tented as I await the moment we get to see Billy try to forward a pass with his awkward nerdy hands. Then, everything I once knew becomes a lie.

Those overalls were holding back some fine guns.

Billy has been the sexiest man on the Power Rangers team all along. He's a goddamned beefcake! What have we been missing? I could just butter him up and roll my tongue up an

Later that day in detention, Skull coaches Bulk in elegance while the meaty bully balances a book on his head. Is he trying to learn how to play football or become a proper English gentleman? We're treated to a montage of Bulk messing around in a tutu, and more evidence of the fact that Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy can elevate some of the silliest material just by committing to its rampaging goofery. Though there's one shot I can't quite grasp.

He's giving birth to a healthy 9 pound steak.

The Ranger Teens keep up their 90's as hell flag football game while some of the shittiest rap of all time plays. It sounds like it was rejected Vanilla Ice b-sides. It's hard to explain without hearing it, but it actually makes me feel whiter as it plays.

Thankfully a batch of Putty Patrollers jump into the game and intercept the ball. The Ranger Teens struggle with how to defeat them at first as the Putties aren't wearing any flags. Even though there's a lot of dumb shots of the Rangers catching the football during the fight, we get some pretty solid choreography throughout. Nice hard kicks to the chest, simultaneous backflips culminating in a hard punch to the Putties gut(ty). Pretty bitchin' stuff.

Zordon contacts the Ranger Teens and commends them for wasting time playing football while Rita's sent a big ass rhino monster to Earth. The Rhinoblaster is set to act as quarterback for Rita's Putties with his powerful agility and intelligence. Traits that rhinos are well known for in nature as well.
The Teens morph to combat Rhinoblaster and come face to face with his team of Football Putties. What's the difference between Football Putties and Regular Putties? Glad you asked.

Rhinoblaster
Suits designed by David Byrne

Since Japan doesn't know how football is played, the Putties just charge into the Power Rangers and push them backwards for a bit. Then the Putties summon blade hands, whisk past the Rangers and knock them to the ground. All it took for the Putties to be a viable threat was to give them some extra padding? Who knew?

Rhinoblaster tells the Rangers they've been side-lined and need to hit the showers. Because this is a football episode and those are things related to football. The Rhinoblaster spews mist from his mouth that captures the Power Rangers and transports them into another dimension. That was how the Seahawks beat the Broncos wasn't it?

Lost inside some dumbass rhino vortex, Zordon realizes the Rangers Communicators aren't working. Unable to teleport or get into contact with Alpha, Zordon wishes he had brought that green kid back from retirement. Oh wait he did? Call him then, he can fix this! 

Alpha contacts Tommy during his training session just in time for the Green Ranger to escape Ernie's beefy clutches. The moment Tommy shows up in the Command Center, Zordon kills his buzz by telling him every fight he gets in is going to weaken his powers more. How about some bedside manner you floating gasbag? Tommy's your last hope to stop a football playing rhino and all you can tell him is how weak he's going to be after the fight.

Tommy morphs and as soon as he shows up he demolishes all five of the Football Putties that effortlessly vanquished his friends. Do you guys not like the growing trend of Tommy being superior to all five of the other Rangers? Boy this episode is not for you!

Rhinoblaster engages Tommy and says he's going to knock his lights out like it's a Ravens/49ers Super Bowl. In no time flat, Green Ranger kicks the monster backwards to subdue him. Rhinoblaster starts getting salty that he's getting beaten by one chucklefuck who doesn't even know how to play football, and Rita promptly makes him grow. Usually you can wait for the monster to lose before making it giant Rita. Slow your roll for once.

Tommy summons the Dragonzord and the battle begins. Rhinoblaster actually puts up a pretty good fight against the Dinozord and it looks quite nice. Probably because whoever was in the Rhinoblaster costume could actually move.

Rhinoblaster sure goes out of his way not to attack with his horn.

Alpha 5 prints up an analysis of the Rhinoblaster's innards and comes to the conclusion that Tommy must use his Dragon Dagger to free the other Rangers from the monster's dimension. That or they could come out the Rhinoblaster's back end Ace Ventura style. Alpha specifically infers that Tommy could fail at this task, so that means Tommy has to be incredibly accurate at somehow using his dagger to plug up an overflowing rhino.

Zordon contacts Tommy and informs him if he ever wants to get some action from Kimberly again, he's gonna need to use his Dragon Dagger to enter the Rhinoblaster's dimension and reach the other Rangers. Tommy asks him how he's supposed to do that, then Zordon starts laughing and hangs up.

Tommy begins pseudo surrendering to the Rhinoblaster and informs the monster that he and his Zord are no match for the monster and that his stunning rhino bod even puts Billy's to shame. Rhinoblaster thanks the Green Ranger for being so humble, and then blasts him because he's a huge dick.

Tommy begs the monster to use its unrelenting mercy to allow him to spend his last moments alive with his friends. Rhinoblaster gets a pretty fun line by responding "Since I'm such a nice guy....NO!" Unfortunately the monster starts spewing his dimensional mist to suck up Tommy, which is exactly what he asked the monster to do in the first place. So that enjoyable line? Doesn't make sense at all. Way to go Power Rangers.

Tommy takes this opportunity to chuck his Dragon Dagger inside of the monster's mouth, ceasing its mist spewing. Tommy reflects on this Dagger throwing and tells himself that maybe this means he really CAN play football. Which could potentially go down as the absolute shittiest resolution of a conflict in the history of fiction.

Without the Dragon Dagger to control his Zord, Tommy leaps aboard the Dragonzord to engage Rhinoblaster in combat. What seems like it would be a strong showing from the Green Ranger actually doesn't last too long before Rhinoblaster blasts the shit out of the Dragonzord and knocks Tommy right out of it. That's what happens when you've only piloted your Zord once before ya dick.

Rhinoblaster tries stomping on the defenseless Tommy who rolls out of the way before realizing how bad he sucks at fighting all alone. Just before Tommy becomes rhino chow, the Megazord suddenly emerges from an interdimensional mist with an important message for the Rhinoblaster.

Falling against a blue background is the same thing as jumping.

Tommy's Dragon Dagger suddenly emerges from the mist and lands back in the Green Ranger's hand. I guess that thing he was supposed to be doing he accomplished perfectly. Congrats Tommy! On whatever you did. The Rangers promptly form the Megadragonzord and finish off the Rhinoblaster. Unfortunately we don't get a cool dissolving effect like the Megadragonzord usually has, just your standard explosion. What a buncha junk. Thanks for nothing RhinoSNOREs.

Back at the Youth Center, Mr. Caplan prepares to announce the new starting lineup of Angel Grove High School's football team. He very clearly drops a sheet of paper before starting that the camera makes sure to dwell on long enough for us to see Tommy's name written on it. Thanks, I didn't feel like waiting a whole minute for this to get resolved.

The first three members of the football team are revealed to be Jason, Billy, and Zack. Then a bunch of people nobody cares about that aren't real characters with generic names like "Bob" and "Paul." Though the best part about this scene is when Principal Caplan calls out two names and only one person comes out. Top notch directing everyone. Applause all around.

Principal Caplan says this is the new football team in its entirety and Kimberly gets upset that her boy toy doesn't get to take pictures of all the dudes showering for her. Zack notices the dropped piece of paper and hands it to Caplan who realizes he was missing a few people from the roster. Which may also explain why Angel Grove's football team only had 9 players on it.

Caplan apologizes for his clerical error and reads off the rest of the team he had forgotten before. Principal Caplan clears his throat and announces the new football star...BULK! Okay, you got me. That's actually a funny turnaround. We also get a moment I sincerely enjoy which is Trini and Kim not exactly sure how to react to Bulk's inclusion, but they still applaud him and cheer him on. It's sweet.

As a matter of fact I would actually give this episode 3000 stars if it ended here. Bulk was the only person missing from the team and it turned out Tommy didn't make it on. It would be the biggest swerve this show has ever had and it could teach the kids at home that just because you're a superhero doesn't mean you'll always be great at everything.

But no, of course Tommy is announced next as the new quarterback. Because if there's one thing a fullback can teach someone it's how to be a great quarterback. A quarterback? Fuck off with that. Seriously. Not only does Tommy get on the team, which should be plenty, he gets to be in charge of everyone because he spent half an hour training at it.

This is the epitome of what annoys me in Power Rangers. When the characters are sitting high on their horses and look down at the peasants below them while talking about how great it is to be amazing at everything and be completely flawless. Could just one of these goddamned losers have some flaw that isn't magically fixed by the end of the episode?



Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Sexually Attractive Nerds



Personal Thoughts



As much as the ending sours me, I really do enjoy this episode. It fits into a sweet spot between Second Chance and Enter the Lizzinator in the trifecta of Power Rangers episodes dealing with someone upset they aren't great at sports. Not middling, not amazing, but good enough to stand on its own two feet. The Tommy subplot occupies a lot less time than I remembered it taking and the Bulk and Skull scenes managed to elevate a scene of a chubby gentlemen wearing a skirt further than I would have imagined. And y'wanna know something? I'll be goddamned if Paul Schrier doesn't pull off those dainty moves. Good on him.

Reading through the script for this episode introduced something to me that annoyed me. Y'know all that bitching I was doing about Tommy arbitrarily caring about football for no reason? There's an explanation in the first draft of the script. Originally Tommy talked about how his dad used to be a great football player and he wanted to live up to that. Out of anything you could cut, why the fuck would you cut that? It's one line, it gives the plot a reason to make sense, and it makes Tommy a human being instead of some perfection obsessed karate robot.

Also in the script, it's noted to use Japanese footage of "Rhino #17" for this episode's plot. What does that mean? We'll get there soon!

The Zyu2 footage in this episode takes a fun twist to the concept of the Green Ranger bailing them out. Usually the Rangers just lose and are getting beaten down until Tommy comes to save them. This time they were out and out kaput. Trapped in another dimension. The closest a Power Ranger can come to being dead. It's fun stuff! It actually raises the stakes and makes Rhinoblaster look like a much more credible threat. 

When Zordon calls Tommy in the Japanese footage, you actually see the Green Ranger talking into his Communicator. The Communicators are a device that only existed in Power Rangers so it's pretty cool to see Zyu2 footage utilizing a conceit only introduced in the American counterpart. Just makes me wonder what other little touches they were asked to include.

By the way, Rhinoblaster getting hit by the Megadragonzord? Bollocks I say! Rhinoblaster was intended to be destroyed by the Ultrazord in the original footage. It was probably an issue that the Megadragonzord formation took much less time and the episode was running too long to justify an Ultrazord sequence. Though the Megadragonzord is much better than the script's suggestion of the Megazord summoning the Power Sword and "blasting the monster to bits." When the fuck has it ever done that?

Honestly I don't mind the Megadragonzord inclusion too much, this gave a rarely used Zord formation a chance to shine and it fit an episode focusing on Tommy pretty well. It also made it so the Dragonzord in Battle Mode and Megadragonzord both got the same number of kills, three each. Does that matter? Of course not. Just something I noticed as a kid and will never forget.

Before we conclude, just want to show you good people the editing goof from this battle's finale. Take a look at the Rhinoblaster's death, and you can see the moment they have to cut away from footage of Weaveworm getting hit by the Z sphere. 





2 comments:

  1. I found it funny that Billy easily makes the team while Tommy is the one who has to train hard.

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    Replies
    1. I'm impressed that they had the balls to put Billy on the team at all. Way to completely go against your own one-dimensional characterizations.

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