Tuesday, September 1, 2015

MMPR Season 2 Episode 1: The Mutiny Part 1


Chocolate Sauce Used to Power Motor Vehicles
Wicked Space Empress Turned Into Action Figure






After a little hiatus, we're finally back with the Rangers where we were meant to be. It's been a whole season of them defeating Rita Repulsa's evil schemes and triumphing over the forces of evil, so what adventures will they get up to in Season 2 you ask?

They're gonna ride dirt bikes for charity and raise money for children's hospitals. See you guys next week!

That sounds like something I made up to make fun of this show's goody two shoes characters, but hand to God that is what they're doing.

The plus side to these scenes of the motor rally is that they actually look like money was spent filming them. Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers is a show that enjoyed doing things as cheap as possible, so when you're given a relatively big crowd of extras you start to feel more engaged. You have a crowd of people watching the rally, a number of people working on four wheelers and preparing for the race, and assorted people walking around in the background. It doesn't sound like much but this is rectifying a problem I had with Season 1 already.

In Season 1, most crowd scenes felt really claustrophobic and afraid to have more than a dozen extras in them. It made a show about space alien punching superheroes feel boring and barren. Right off the bat "The Mutiny Part 1" has me engaged by showing me scenes shot much more competently and using their extras in a way that fills out the screen in a way that's satisfying to look at.

The last time I remember this show having this many people on screen was all the way back in "No Clowning Around." The difference being that episode just looked like it cloned a bunch of fat white people and had them wander around aimlessly. This episode already looks sharper than a lot of Season 1 did in the first two minutes, and I'm impressed. Then my heart sings a song of joy as we see what I've been missing for so long now.

Test footage for Fury Road 2

Bulk and Skull tell the Ranger Teens they're going to be eating their dust, because this season their gimmick isn't being human trashbags anymore. Billy and Kimberly politely ignore them because they can still hear Bulk and Skull's hilarious theme song playing, they know those two are doomed to a life of being the biggest fuckbois on the planet.

Kimberly tells the bullies that this race isn't about winning or losing, but raising money for a great cause. I'm sure that's the case, and will continue to be the case when the Rangers Teens have a six way tie for first place and go out for free pizza at Ernie's.

Though the Ranger Teens are ready for a fun day of charity dirt biking, Rita Repulsa notices that her hated nemeses are all gathered together ready to be wiped out in one fell swoop. As opposed to the numerous times the Ranger Teens aren't grouped together like a swarm of lice. Scorpina says this is finally their opportunity to get the Rangers, which she hasn't been able to do for the past 15 episodes because she's been tending to her sick mother off-screen. 

Suddenly, the Moon Palace shakes with lightning as an unseen figure cackles, Rita demands to know what's going on. Goldar replies that this must mean the real emperor, Lord Zedd, has finally returned. While we in the audience don't have a clue who this dude is, Rita clearly does. She responds with a genuinely horrified "Oh my gosh..." which is the Power Rangers equivalent of saying "Holy fucking shit."

Principal Caplan officiates over the charity four wheeler race because he's a recognizable character and we're already paying his actor so why hire a girl in a bikini and jean shorts? Just give that job to the old man in a shitty wig. He waves a flag and announces the race's start, leading all the racers to start driving. Impressively enough there are actually more racers than just the six Ranger Teens alongside Bulk and Skull. Plenty of randies are in the race too so that it feels like an actual competition and not our actors dicking around on set.

A new piece of Wasserman rock plays over the scene entitled "Ride the Machine." By no means is this song bad, but it's a little too on the nose for my tastes. What should we call a song about characters riding on machines? Why not Ride the Machine? Cut. Print. Perfect. I'm one to talk though, my favorite song in this series is called "Fight".

Meanwhile, this mysterious Lord Zedd character appears from the clouds and starts trash talking Rita. Which isn't too tough for him considering he's got a literal gutter for a mouth.

The only thing Lord Zedd can eat are graham crackers.

Zedd tells Rita she has failed at the task assigned to her and will be stripped of her command so he can take over. All I can say? Fucking finally.

Rita has been the most incompetent evil empress I've ever seen. We never knew she had upper management she had to report to, but the only way he hasn't been calling her onto the carpet until now is her using that magic to cook the books something fierce. How is she spinning 60 straight weeks of complete failure as anything other than getting paid six figures to sit on her thumbs and moan about teenagers not being dead?

Zedd commands the Moon Crew to prepare the palace for his return. God help them if anyone ruined his favorite chair's ass groove. Lightning strikes the palace as Rita complains that she's got a headache. Goldar tells her she can deal with it herself because he's off to meet his boss. Man Goldar you don't have a spine to speak of. The second another leader comes around you turn coat to go lick his boots instead. No wonder Scorpina doesn't look you in the eyes during lovemaking anymore.

Lord Zedd's violent space thunderstorms attract the attention of the Ranger Teens who pull their four wheelers off the mountain trail to discuss what the hell is going on. Maybe Rita made some dumbshit monster out of an electric eel, in which case they've got nothing to worry about. Zack decides they should keep an eye on their Communicators in case Zordon has some new reason to bitch at them. Maybe I don't understand the concept of senses, but are you likely to hear a tiny beeping if you're on a big noisy ass off road vehicle?

When we transition back to the Moon Palace, we see that Lord Zedd has redecorated it a bit to suit his tastes.

I said I wanted my face on a raven on the eastern wall you idiots!

Goldar enters Zedd's throne room to welcome his emperor back after his lengthy absence. Squatt and Baboo watch from atop a platform before immediately teleporting away. Now here's where Power Rangers leaves me with an issue.

Why on Earth is Zedd so angry with just Rita? Sure she's a total blunderer and didn't accomplish anything you wanted her to do, but have you not seen ANYTHING Squatt and Baboo have done? There isn't a better personification of the word useless than those clowns. They're absolute deadweight to this operation. These comic relief assholes should have been tossed into space eons ago.

As Goldar approaches, we get to see more of Zedd and all his wacked out body mods.

He's got Bugles on his fingers.

Immediately after that though, we get one of the craziest goddamn displays of magic so far. I don't even know what the purpose of it is, but check this shit out.

Zedd's anaconda don't want none unless you got buns hun.

Goldar ignores the fact his master just turned a goddamn snake into a staff as Zedd asks the golden monkey man to identify himself. Goldar chuckles politely because of course Zedd couldn't forget his most loyal and handsome servant. Zedd refers to Goldar as "the groveling one" and says his "spineless sniveling attitude will serve me well." Yeah all that smack talk came from Zedd's mouth. Just in case you needed to know why I'm swooning right now.

To thank Goldar for his years of whimpering cowardice, Zedd zaps him with energy from his Z-Staff that causes Goldar's wings to reappear on his back. He refers to them as "what was once taken away from you", though Goldar had them early in Season 1. Did Rita get his wings clipped when she took him in to get neutered? Did Lord Zedd give Goldar his sack back too? Though he didn't need his magic for that, he just asked Rita to take them out of her purse.

Rita takes this opportunity to mosey into Zedd's quarters so she can try and butter his buns. This scene transitions into something I've been wanting in Power Rangers for a damn long time. Lord Zedd is very clearly threatening, and even Rita is unnerved by his presence. She humbles herself before him and begs him to be merciful to her. Zedd is being built up as an insanely powerful, dangerous, and merciless threat. It's everything a boy could ask for and more.

When Rita tries to defend herself, Zedd chastises her for being defeated by children. The great emperor chews her out for being such an inefficient lump of shit for so long and Goldar chimes in that he's always said the same thing about her. Rita snaps at Goldar and starts giving him some big time sass mouth for being such a two faced pecker, and this is more of what I wish we had seen from Rita in Season 1. Genuine attitude and not putting up with any shit. Unfortunately now that Zedd's around all she can do is kiss his feet.

I meant that literally.

Squatt and Baboo hide behind a wall, watching Zedd through a peephole like he's about to start diddling himself for the boys if they put in another quarter. Baboo observes that Lord Zedd's chamber fluctuates in color with Lord Zedd's mood. Or it would if the show weren't so cheap and did nothing but add a red glow around Zedd when he's pissed.

The Command Center's alarms start blaring as Alpha 5 asks what the hell is going on, and Zordon tells him to turn on the intergalactic scanners pronto. Even though Zordon is mostly a monotone asshole, you can tell if he had a dick he'd be pissing in his tube right about now. Another reason to believe that this Zedd guy isn't just a bunch of blustering bullshit.

Jason answers Zordon's emergency call and signals the rest of the Ranger Teens to pull their bikes over. Then Power Rangers does something that surprises me. Before the Rangers teleport to the Command Center, Jason asks Tommy if they're clear. Tommy takes a minute to observe their surroundings and tells Jason they're good to go.

That's right, one of the Power Rangers actually remembered they're supposed to keep their identities a secret. It's the tiniest attention to detail, but it means a lot to me. There were so many scenes previously where the Ranger Teens would morph and teleport from the Youth Center or the High School. It's like the show didn't care and just wanted to move to the monster stuff as soon as possible. Now you get an actual feel that the Ranger Teens are being cautious about their identities. Well played guys.

When the Ranger Teens show up, dramatic music swells as Zordon tells the Ranger Teens his worst fears have finally come to fruition. The evil Lord Zedd has returned. Then Billy lets all the air out of the balloon by asking "....Who's Lord Zedd?" It's great. All this amazing swelling emotion and all Billy can say is "Never heard of the guy. Why am I sposed to give a fuck?" I mean I don't know what Zordon expected Billy to say to keep amping up that tension. "OH NO! NOT LORD ZEDD!!" Way to ruin the moment Billy you four eyed jackass.

The big blue moron clarifies and says Lord Zedd is the master of all Rita's goons and he's been busy in another galaxy while Rita was battling the Rangers. Now that Rita has proven so frequently incompetent he's come back to serve up some Zedd style justice on those Power Rangers. Tommy asks if they can beat him, or if he fucked up royally taking his Power Coin back. Zordon, ever the optimist, says he's not sure they can and their Zords may not be able to defeat Lord Zedd's magic. Listen closely to that last part you kids watching at home. It's very important.

While Zedd enjoys the view of his new palace he seems bemused by the fact Zordon is still alive and kicking. Well...alive at least. Goldar offers his sage advice and asks Zedd if they should send down a group of Putties to attack the Rangers. Zedd mimics my reaction by laughing right in Goldar's dumbass face. He informs the gold plated chimp that "your Putties are as useless to me as you are." I think I'm in love. So what does Zedd summon in their steed? A group of his own Putties with unbelievable strength.

Ahahaha no seriously Zedd where are the new Putties?

Back at the rally, Bulk and Skull take notice of the Zedd thunderstorms, and while they're distracted manage to crash their bikes into a big rock. The idiots go flying into a tree where the birds will only vomit on them in disgust, not for feeding. Bulk and Skull survey the damage to their bikes only to find them leaking chocolate sauce motor oil. Skull swipes his finger across the trail, dips it in his mouth, looks at Bulk confidently and says "Yep, I think this is oil."

I missed you two.

Rita begs Lord Zedd for one last chance to send down a monster to stop the Power Rangers, because she has the same mentality of a destitute gambler. She's been pumping monsters into those Ranger slots for over a year and they're bound to pay off soon! Zedd has heard enough of her shit and disintegrates her wand with his staff. Zedd commands his Z-Putties to bring in Rita's traveling vehicle which is, of course, a tiny little space dumpster. Zedd zaps Rita with energy from his wand and banishes her from the palace, and from his sight. He doesn't kill her though, no he does something far worse!

BUY YOUR VERY OWN RITA REPULSA TODAY, ONLY 19.99! COMES WITH ASPIRIN BOTTLE AND RESTING BITCH FACE

The Z-Putties hurl Rita's dumpster into the farthest reaches of the galaxy. Which is probably how items work when you throw them in space, why not? Inside her prison Rita promises Zedd that he hasn't seen the last of her, though he can't possibly hear her at this point so that one was just for her.

See ya Rita, it's been a hoot. Now never come back you screechy old hag.

Out on the mountain trail, Bulk and Skull run into the Ranger Teens abandoned four wheelers. Intent on stealing them so they can win a charity race with no actual prize, the bullies prepare to pull off the most pathetic heist in history. Unfortunately they're soon met by the Z-Putties that waste no time encircling the comic relief idiots. Lord Zedd has produced creatures of unspeakable evil.

The Ranger Teens watch as Bulk and Skull prepare to die while they decide whether their lives are worth saving or not. Kim notes that these Putties don't look like the average gray pajama variety and Zordon informs her that these Putties are Zedd's personal army and will be much more difficult for the Rangers to defeat. The Ranger Teens take this precaution seriously as they morph to combat to Putties.

Yeah you read that right, they morph to fight some Putties. I barely believe it and I'm watching this right now.

The Rangers show up to combat the Z-Putties as Bulk and Skull flee behind some bushes while singing the Rangers praises for saving their degenerate asses. What follows is a particularly great fight against Zedd's Putties where the Rangers are at a severe disadvantage. They can kick the Putties around a bit but the clay blobs keep getting back up and hitting even harder. All I really need to say is this episode managed to get me invested in a Putty fight. Those have been like celluloid Valium to me for the past 50 weeks.

The Rangers fail to make any finishing blows against the new clay brigade, and when Tommy tries to find a way to beat them his powers start weakening. A pair of Z-Putties toss him aside like garbage as one prepares to finish Tommy off. Jason intercepts the blow and discovers that the Z-Putties have a weakness to exploit. Striking the Z insignia on their chests.

Z Putty
Lord Zedd didn't foresee an issue giving his soldiers easily accessible self-destruct buttons.

Jason alerts the other Rangers about his discovery and assumes it wasn't just dumb luck that killed that Putty. His hunch proves correct and the other Rangers are able to take down the remaining Z-Putties by hammering punches into their Z's. Congrats Lord Zedd, you took Rita's flimsy ass Putties and added a big fat target on their chests. Maybe you're not the messiah I've been hyping you up as.

Red Ranger calls to Bulk and Skull and asks if they're okay, aside from their permanently pissed pants. The duo act nice and cool for the Power Rangers who teleport back to the Command Center. After hearing one of the Power Rangers speak to them, Bulk comes up with a foolproof plan. Meaning a plan that's proof it was concocted by a fool. He decides to uncover the Power Rangers secret identities so that he and Skull can become famous. Sure beats touring as the Sons of Abbot and Costello.

Zordon commends the Rangers for realizing the big noticeable target shape on the Z-Putties chest was their weak point, and says he truly hired the best and brightest teenagers Angel Grove could have offered him. The Rangers aren't particularly proud of their accomplishments however, as they realize Lord Zedd certainly has more in store for them than just a battalion of Putties. Zack then says "Got a feeling it ain't Pudgy Pig." Holy moly is this show actually making fun of that fat nobody? Is Power Rangers becoming self aware? Spoilers: No.

Lord Zedd decides to create a monster of his own by blasting lightning out of his staff at a nearby river. Creating the newest threat against the Power Rangers. Pirantishead.

That lightning just wiped out 4 species of fish.

Zordon alerts the Rangers of the new monster that has been created out of a piranha in an Angel Grove River. Unfortunately with Zedd on the loose the Rangers don't have time to deal with whoever is dumping South American fish into their waters. Zordon tells Tommy he should sit his green ass out of this one since his powers were failing him so badly against a bunch of chickenshit Putties.

The rest of the Rangers teleport to the city where they see Zedd's monster completely demolishing buildings just by blowing on his fish nunchucks. Keep in mind the monster isn't even giant yet, he's just standing on top of a building blasting the business district a new asshole.

Realizing how bad things are going, the Rangers decide this is a fight worth escalating before it gets worse. They summon their Dinozords to try and stop all the damage the monster is doing. But Pirantishead just laughs and starts blowing on his flute-nunchucks again. This time producing an icy blast that freezes the Sabertooth Tiger, Triceratops, Mastodon, and Pterodactyl Dinozords in place. So what can the Rangers do to stop him now?

Absolutely fucking nothing. Hail Lord Zedd.



TO BE CONTINUED



Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: The Letter Z



Personal Thoughts



There's so much to dissect here so let's cut the intro here short. This is an excellent episode that throws so much new stuff into the air. It manages to lay so much groundwork for what's to come in the new season in such a short amount of time that I'm actually impressed.

Let's start with the biggest new change, Lord Zedd. Sweet shit Lord Zedd. This guy is such an imposing presence that he almost feels like he doesn't belong in this show. He is the epitome of how you raise the stakes. He shows up, makes complete clowns of Rita Repulsa and Goldar, then ships Rita off while assuming command. While it's jarring seeing Goldar turn into a complete groveling worm, it isn't that unbelievable for Rita. She doesn't really feel like the head honcho. Just someone who's in charge of a handful of people less competent than she is.

The reason Zedd works so well is because he's not too big of a tonal shift. He's a much more serious villain but he's still as bizarre and unique as all of the Moon Crew was. Just that his weird features didn't include being a vampire bat wearing a monocle. His were glowing red while screaming at people and turning snakes into weapons.

I mentioned a few times in Season 1 that all of Rita and her clan were from Zyuranger footage, which was near completely used up when Season 2 came around. So how did Power Rangers plan on working around that? Well it seems like they were exhausted being tied to Sentai footage for their main baddie, so they opted to create a new villain that was completely unique to the Power Rangers brand.

So from here on out, the scenes in the Moon Palace would be 99% U.S. footage. It would give the show wiggle room to expand on their villains. Zedd could be flexible and different, and could show a variety of emotions. He could be something unique. They could do more than cut to shots of him yelling and whining about his headaches every week. I also find it funny that they made a villain who doesn't have a moving mouth, likely because the crew was sick of having to match the lip flaps of a Japanese woman for so long.

With regards to Rita, I'm actually kind of sad to see her go. I made fun of how annoying she was earlier, but starting with this episode she started to show a lot more spunk and energy than before. She would snap at Goldar and call him a traitor, she'd hysterically beg for Zedd's mercy, and she'd threaten to return while stuck in the space dumpster. She's got attitude, she's sassy, she's more than she was before. You wanted to see more of that out of her before she got literally shitcanned.

The reason they're able to do this with her is obviously because they were using a U.S. actress as a stand-in for Rita. Look up at the image of Rita kissing Zedd's feet and you'll notice an older Japanese actress has suddenly turned into a young Spanish actress. Though to the show's credit, the actress is almost only shot from behind or covering up her face with her arms as much as possible. You can barely ever notice it if you aren't paying close attention. Pretty clever filming I have to say.

Oh yeah there's another woman on Rita's crew isn't there? Scorpion something? Well forget about her because she's outta here like last year. Scorpina disappears from one commercial break to the next. She's there when Rita is plotting in Japanese footage in one scene, then when Zedd shows up she's completely absent. It's really bizarre they chose to have her present at all in that case. I'm sure they could have found Zyuranger footage that didn't have her front and center. It's only jarring because we cut from a shot of the whole Moon Crew in Japanese footage to a U.S. shot of everyone except Scorpina. It's a little sloppy but not worth pissing and moaning about.

I'd be remiss not to talk about the totally rad new Z Putties. This episode doesn't do a great job of showcasing what they're like through the series, mostly because it makes them look impressive. I'll try not to be a big baby about the fact that Zedd literally designed them with targets on their chests, it just feels a little too easy. Season 1 Putties didn't have some fool proof way to beat them. You just wailed on them for a while until they were defeated. I wouldn't say they're a bad addition just yet but they at least give us that nice stop motion clay explosion I giffed earlier. That actually looks pretty neat.

Just like their master, the Z-Putties are a completely original creation. In the Sentai series following Zyuranger, Gosei Sentai Dairanger, the foot soldiers were some waiter looking guys named Cotpotros. I'd imagine they weren't used because they don't look particularly threatening or worthy of Zedd's imposing presence.

You here to threaten me or get my drink order? Fuck outta here.

There isn't much to say regarding the monster this week quite yet, but it needs to be noted that Pirantishead is yet another Zyu2 monster. Though he's going to lead to a lot of interesting new developments with how they handle the remaining Zyu2 footage. So get hyped because I'm so ready to go ham on this geeky junk.

I mentioned quite a bit early in Season 1 which episodes I had recorded on VHS or not, but the Mutiny miniseries hold some of my fondest memories. These three episodes aired in prime time, once a week, to hype up kids for the upcoming season. It was so exciting and it felt like you were watching history in the making. Everything was changing and you were just along for the ride.

I'm pretty sure I still have the VHS tape with these three episodes on them somewhere. It was labeled "Power Rangers 7" because that's how many goddamn tapes I filled up with this shit. It's embarrassing to admit, but if I could find it I would probably still keep it. I'll likely never see a VCR again in my life but that tape represents the amazing memories of watching Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers at the wackadoodle hour of 7 PM. What a time to be alive.

Just so you guys can relive this with me, here's a video of the promos that aired during The Mutiny Part 1. They hold a special place in my heart so let me share them with you and imbue you with a bit of the spirit from the 90's. I'll see you good people next week. Thanks for reading!





8 comments:

  1. Maybe Zedd didn't get rid of Squatt and Baboo because he didn't know they were there? I don't remember them coming out from behind that wall for quite a while.

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  2. Such great memories! I remember being awestruck seeing the Rangers in costume with their helmets off in the command center��. That was the coolest thing to me as a kid, and still one of my favorite additions season 2 made

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  3. The special prime-time airing made this episode one of my few legit at-the-time early Power Rangers memories (I was 15 in 1994, which is probably the worst possible age to watch Power Rangers).

    The Z-Putties are almost the platonic ideal of the classic Power Rangers sweet spot between clever and ridiculous: villains who are completely 100% unbeatable unless you know their secret weakness... Only said secret weakness is "Being punched squarely in the large, clearly marked weak spot in the center of their chest."

    But you mention the rangers taking precautions about their secret identities. Try as I might, I've never been able to quite get my mind around why they need to bother. Your traditional superheroes do it out of some bullshit about protecting their friends and families, but I'm not sure there's been a season where the bad guys didn't know the rangers' identities from day one. Seems more like Zordon's just being a dick.

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    Replies
    1. If the answer to a question is "Was Zordon just being a dick?" usually it's safe to assume the answer is yes.

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    2. Years ago on Rangerboard, someone or other made the really awesome suggestion that the best twist-reveal ever would have been to make Zordon the big bad of PRiS and reveal that the entire reason he'd started the rangers in the first place was to manipulate children into wiping out the competition.

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  4. The main problem with the Z-Putties is that every time they get punched in the chest and aren't destroyed it drives me nuts. :) I didn't see the Mutiny in prime time, but when I first saw it my mind was blown at the crazy stuff going on.

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  5. Squatt and Baboo actually perform a very important function in this evil organization; they're ass kissers and potential scapegoats.

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