Tuesday, September 29, 2015

MMPR Season 2 Episode 5: Putty on the Brain



Friendly Gesture Met With Devastating Assault
Billy Invents Another Piece of Fucking Shit that Doesn't Work











For those of you who have been reading up until now, tell me the two Rangers you expect to be hanging out together in a given episode. Tommy and Jason? Trini and Kimberly? Billy and Trini?

That's odd, sure seems like someone's missing here…Oh that's right, nobody is hanging out with Zack.

It hadn't struck me until now how rarely any episode that focuses on Zack usually neglects the other Ranger Teens for all sorts of unstated reasons. The majority of Zack's focal episodes would center around his throbbing hard-on for Angela. Now that his once beloved gal-pal has been thrust into the Chuck Cunningham Dimension, Power Rangers doesn't have anyone to bounce Zack off of. This week is going to fix that problem. Zack's going to get to socialize with a fellow Ranger Teen and have a damn good time of it. Who does he get to hang out with this week?

Oh.

Zack's at a crossroads and doesn't know what to do. He's gotten saddled with Billy for an entire episode and there's nothing he can do about it. The only way to make the best out of this bad situation is to try and cool Billy up a little bit, so anyone who sees the two hanging out together won't think Zack's hanging out with the kid in blue overalls.

Zack has just the thing to hip up a 90's nerd stereotype, a flashy pair of shades he picked up at a swap meet. Zack's got a pair for both him and "Billster" (Zack's words, not mine), and says the sunglasses will help them in science class. Obviously this isn't a sincere suggestion from Zack, but an attempt to trick Billy into wearing anything that will make him less of a vagina deflector.

Though these shades may make Billy and Zack look like a couple of 90's heartthrobs, Lord Zedd decides these new accessories are just what he needs to take out the Power Rangers. Zedd uses his magic to infect the sunglasses with an evil spell that will taint the boys' vision, causing them to see their fellow Ranger Teens as Putties as well as the subliminal messages our alien overlords have planted in our media. Goldar finds this as good a time as any to bring up a small wrinkle in Lord Zedd's plan. What if the Ranger Teens take the glasses off?

Zedd immediately berates Goldar for asking such obvious questions. He informs his glorified dancing monkey that mere humans could be cured by removing the glasses, but his spell is fine tuned to interact with the Ranger Teens' powers and cause it to fuck with them even if they take the shades off.

Let the record show that Power Rangers just addressed a potential flaw in its own bullshit logic and was able to create a relatively reasonable explanation for itself. I'm…honestly really impressed by that. We're not even two minutes in and this show is answering questions before we need to worry about asking them.

Billy and Zack put on their kickass new shades to impress their only four friends, but become horrified when they see their friends have been replaced by embarrassingly ineffectual henchmen.

I didn't know they let THESE types enroll in Angel Grove High.

Before we get on with Billy and Zack's spooked reactions, I have to take special notice that the Tommy Putty chuckles and tells Billy and Zack he almost slept through first period because he forgot to set his alarm. While this would be a nothing line in any other character's mouth, don't forget this is Tommy we're talking about. A guy with a history of being forgetful. Are you telling me the writers for Season 2 didn't immediately forget everything that was written in Season 1? What a beautiful time to be alive.

Billy and Zack get into a defensive pose as the Putty versions of Tommy, Kimberly, and Jason start to engage them. Though the Putties speak with the voices of their friends, Billy and Zack still assume their school has been invaded by mystical space golems than only they can see. When Zack calls them Putties, Kimberly tells him to quit acting like such a goofball. Usually when my friends appear terrified to see me and begin guarding themselves as I approach, I too assume my colleagues are exhibiting some of that good old-fashioned nuttiness I've heard so much about.

Mr. Caplan interrupts his students to remind them he still wears a wig. He gets too close to the three Putty Rangers, which prompts Billy and Zack to leap at Caplan to protect him from their imagined threat. The boys knock their principal to the ground and are summarily promised a detention after school. Not for knocking Principal Caplan over, but for thinking the school would be an appropriate place to start dropping acid.

After Billy and Zack are sent to the trauma ward for screaming about being invaded by Putties, Bulk and Skull wander the hallways to remind us what their motivation is this season. Bulk says they're going to need to record the voice of any person they come across to test if they might be one of the Power Rangers. When Skull mentions they have to suspect absolutely anyone and everyone, we get a scene that can only work when performed by two men who so beautifully personify buffoonery.

Skull's look of suspicious disgust keeps me warm at night. 

Miss Applebee catches her stupidest students in the hallway and requests they feed the class iguana for her while she goes to the teacher's lounge to wonder where it all went wrong. A life of teaching a couple clowns how to fall into cakes? Educating some goody two shoes dweebs about how important question marks are? Who gives a shit? Why not take off work early, go to the pub, and drown your sorrows in gin?

Bulk dumps a shitload of iguana food into the reptile's cage, as he has no concept of portion control for man or beast. Unfortunately, Lord Zedd has his eyes set on the iguana as the perfect candidate for his newest monster. As Bulk chuckles about the iguana's impending obesity, a bolt of Zedd Magic™ strikes the creature and produces Zedd's newest monster. The Saliguana a.k.a. a member of the reptilian world order.

This is what Libertarians actually believe. 

Bulk turns to Skull and asks if he feels they overfed the iguana, and both boys run out screaming while the monster huffs and puffs now that its eaten its own body weight in Iguana Chow.

Later in the afternoon, Billy and Zack are still going through Putty Traumatic Stress Disorder as they see their friends as Putty Patrollers. Putty Tommy offers kind words to Zack before he takes his test, and Miss Applebee obnoxiously says "no talking during the test!" After that she asks Kimberly to hand out the exams to the rest of the class. So what are you bitching about lady? Students can't cheat on a test you haven't given them yet.

Zack watches in terror and confusion as a Putty Kimberly hands out tests to the rest of the class and slowly approaches him. As soon as she offers him a paper he can only offer a perplexed "Kimberly?" to his friend's hideous new form. Miss Applebee takes disgust with another human being speaking in her presence and tells Zack off for his continued existence. They're taking a geography test lady, slow your fucking roll.

After the test has been taken and Miss Applebee has gotten her peace and goddamned quiet, Billy and Zack spend their afternoon in detention alongside Bulk and Skull. Zack asks Billy why those Putties were in the classroom, and why Miss Applebee has a formaldehyde face. Without skipping a beat, Billy immediately assumes Lord Zedd must have put a spell on them. Really refreshing to have the episode not dick around with presumptions that we as the audience know aren't true. All we need are a few scenes of the guys in Putty related shenanigans, then we can move on to greener pastures with the concept.

Bulk and Skull, surprisingly cool as cucumbers after meeting with a gigantic lizard monster, ask Billy and Zack about their badass cool guy shades. Bulk, either put on those glasses or start eatin' that cupcake.

The morons put the shades on and immediately become infected by Zedd's spell. They look at Billy and Zack and are met with the most terrifying image known to man.

Aim for the Z, or knock those stupid glasses off his face.


The two dipshits become petrified by their classmates and toss the shades off immediately. Bulk and Skull haul ass out of detention and decide their crazy haunted school is no place to be. The only question I'm left with is this: Why aren't Billy and Zack seeing each other as Putties as well? Bulk and Skull had the magic in them and saw those two in Putty Vision, but for some reason it doesn't work that way when the Rangers wear their shades? Honestly this doesn't bother me all too much, and was something I only noticed on this rewatch. Chalk that up to the fact this episode has been good enough to keep me from picking nits.

After detention, Billy and Zack walk home from school and further discuss what to do. Billy again determines exactly what's going on and notes that this spell is causing them to see their fellow Ranger Teens as Putties. At that very moment a group of Z-Putties appears in front of the two and stand silent and ominous. Billy and Zack try to communicate with these Putties but are immediately met with a punch to the chest. Just because none of us give a shit about your doll collection is no reason to get so nasty Trini.

No of course these Putties are the real deal and attempt to take advantage of the boys' confusion. Zordon brings the other four Ranger Teens to the park in order to help Billy and Zack, but all that the boys are able to see is a giant Putty orgy on the playground.

Here's where the episode crosses its wires a bit. Billy and Zack go on the offensive and say the Putties blew their cover because the Rangers would never attack them. The problem with that statement is that the Putties were attacking them before the Ranger Teens showed up. None of the Putties were attacking Billy and Zack after the other four teens arrived to help. I think I understand what the show was trying to accomplish, but it still comes across as muddled. 

A Putty fight ensues on the playground and it's a damn good one. Lots of Putties getting kicked into the sand and fighting on unique terrain. Kim fights a triumvirate of Putties on top of a balance beam before ending with a superfluous pose, Jason shithouses four Putties trying to get his goose, and Zack encounters a sinister Putty with an undying lust for violence.

STAND YOUR GROUND ZACK, HE'S GOT A GUN!

Luckily Zack realizes the Putty that was politely waving at him was actually Trini just before he kicks her right in the throat. Jesus, we're 9 minutes into the episode and the first scene Power Rangers can bother shoehorning Trini into is Zack trying to spinkick her head off? Way to give the girl some self confidence.

With the rest of the Putties defeated, Zack and Billy inform their friends about Zedd's spell causing them to see their friends as Putties. Zack clumsily name drops the episode's title and tells his friends that he's got "Island of Illusion Part 1." Zordon brings all six Ranger Teens back to the Command Center to give them the score. He describes Lord Zedd's spell in detail to kill some time while the audience goes to get some snacks.

Zordon follows up all that exposition with even more exposition on Zedd's Saliguana monster. The same one who's been a complete non-entity for the last five minutes. Zordon scans the beast and finds that it contains the powers of the mythical salamander, which can live in and breathe fire. It also has a non-mythical variant that makes a killer bottle of brandy.

Billy says the only way to stop the monster is by creating a device that will ice the lizard and chill its body. They could also try using a rock or ground type move for critical damage. Oh shoot, you could also try hitting it with your weapons. That usually seems to do the trick.

Zack and Billy head to Billy's garage to create a gadget to fend off the Saliguana while Alpha tries to find a way around Zedd's magic. Billy figures that an iguana's cold blooded nature will make it unable to stand something cooling it over, so an Ice Device may be just what they need. Alls I know is if nobody in this episode tells the Saliguana to "chill out", I'm going to break this DVD in half.

Trini teleports into Billy's lab and decides to test out Alpha's plan to circumvent Zedd's scheme. As soon as she shows up, Trini morphs into the Yellow Ranger and ceases looking like a Putty to Billy and Zack. Phew that was close, what were the odds that one of the Ranger Teens might morph during a stressful situation? Now as long as the other four Ranger Teens stayed morphed for the rest of their lives, Zedd's spell means nothing. Way to go Alpha!

Though one problem has been poorly solved, another has emerged. The Saliguana has appeared on the beach outside Angel Grove where we can assume he's attacking all the sunbathing beauties.


Jason instructs Billy to bring his new ice dildo or whatever to the battle. Billy whines that he hasn't tested it yet and it might not work, but what else is new with all of Billy's half assed science crap? Just make sure you check the batteries this time dickhead.

All of the Rangers morph aside from Tommy who says his energy is running too low to participate in the fight, so he's going to hang back and listen to Zordon express his views on other ethnicities for a while. The primary Rangers, as well as Trini, morph to the beach where they're greeted with a battalion of Z-Putties ready to clobber them. The Rangers wail on the clay clumps and it strikes me that I'm not as engaged in this Putty fight as I was during the first one.

Why's that? I'm not quite sure to be honest. It might have something to do with the plot of this episode revolving around Putties so heavily, that halfway through you're just ready to be done with them. Not only that, but the crux of this episode was Billy and Zack having to fight Putties without hurting their friends. Now that we're near the midpoint of the action that's completely dissipated and ceased being relevant. The choreography is good, the moves are fine, the karate and stunt work is juicy and ridiculous just the way I want it, but something about the presentation just can't stick the landing.

After Billy and Zack demolish the Putties, the Saliguana charges in and tells them they'd better hurry up or they won't have time to burn off some Sentai footage this week. Zack engages in a quick match with the overgrown lizard and knocks him onto his scaly ass. Billy warns Zack that Saliguana could unleash his fire breath at any given moment and toast the shit out of them. Zack shrugs this off because he's forgotten everything Zordon's told him in the past five minutes.

Saliguana becomes furious that he's being treated like such a forgettable nothing of a monster and spews flames from his maw. Billy and Zack are both toasted but roll aside before being turned into puddles of blue and black ooze. Zack tries busting out the Ice Device and sprays a stream of dry ice magical ranger smoke at the beast. Unfortunately it doesn't work at all and leaves the Rangers blazed and knocked to the ground.

Billy then tells Zack to try and figure out what's wrong with the device he created, because whoever was doing ADR this week didn't remember which Ranger was which. Billy defends Zack by leaping at the Saliguana and doing what he does best.

Getting his ass beat.

Zack realizes his buddy is about to be Iguana Chow if he doesn't do something so Zack jumps into the air and corkscrew kicks Saliguana off of Billy. With the monster distracted, Billy realizes the problem is that the techno elements of the warp core drive on the Ice Device were discharging at a subatomic rate, therefore ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

The long and the short of it is that Billy just needs to attach another dinky little microchip to the piece of junk he didn't build right in the first place. After doing so, the Ice Device manages to overwhelm the Saliguana's fire breath and infuriate the monster. Going to have to subtract a point from this episode though, Saliguana at no point tells the two Rangers he's going to beat them black and blue. Swing and a miss Power Rangers.

The other three Rangers show up and combine their weapons to finish off the weakened Saliguana with the Power Blaster. Unfortunately Lord Zedd throws his Growth Bomb to Earth to turn Saliguana giant sized before he can be killed for good. The Rangers summon their Thunderzords to combat the giant Godzilla wannabe.

Time for another lousy spliced together Megazord battle!

Thankfully, the Thunderzords don't immediately form into the Thunder Megazord. The only reason this is significant is because we finally get to see the individual Thunderzords do something outside of "be five toys, then become one big toy. Sold separately." The Red Dragon Thunderzord Warrior Mode gets torched by the Saliguana before joining the other four Thunderzords in a formation known as the Thunderzord Assault Team.

The other four Zords in their most impressive display yet.

The Saliguana tries again to blast the Thunderzords but their advanced agility proves too much for him and the monster becomes furious at his own miserable lack of strength yet again.

The Rangers bring their Thunderzords together to form the Thunder Megazord. Since Saliguana's dumbass fire attacks haven't worked, he instead tries to use his tongue as a lasso to tie up the Megazord. Sounds all well and good until you remember we're watching hackjob Zord fights that can't show contact between the two combatants. Instead let me try showing you the footage and you tell me if you can spot anything wrong.

Apologies to the colorblind readers who can't play along at home.

Credit where credit's due, this is the first time a Zyu2 VS. Thunderzord fight didn't have a clear shot of the original Megazord on screen being obscured by clouds of explosions and sparks, so at the very least they have that going for them.

The Thunder Megazord busts out its Thunder Saber and chops the Saliguana's multicolored tongue off. The monster, now with no tongue and no flame, tries to taunt the Rangers with his limited array of skills. Sadly the Rangers don't respond well to bullshit machismo and slash the big bitch lizard down with their Thunder Saber. Congrats Rangers, you murdered the class pet. At least we can blame it on Bulk and Skull feeding it to death.

Back at Angel Grove High, Billy and Zack see the rest of the Ranger Teens walk in and realize they still look like Putties. While the boys consider blinding themselves Oedipus style, Jason tells them to wear their super cool sunglasses one more time. Upon putting the shades on, a bolt of blue energy surges through the shades and vanquishes Zedd's curse. Alpha managed to transmogrify a light wave refractor to energ…it was magic. Alpha used magic to fix the problem.

And because things need to end on a less grim note, Miss Applebee's iguana shows back up and crawls up Skull's leg to say hello to its only friends. A single tear is shed by Bulk as he holds the reptile up to his chest and thanks the angels for bringing his son back safe and sound. If you want to judge this beautiful family then go ahead, but never question the love Bulk has for his lizard monster son.



Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Iguana Chow



Personal Thoughts



Mark this week as another pleasant surprise. I used to remember being lukewarm on this episode, but it turned out to be a lot more enjoyable than I recalled. While the Saliguana monster had little screen presence, most of the other bits and pieces of the episode were good enough to make for an altogether satisfying package.

When I was a young lad watching this episode, I remembered a question on my mind that I still have no real answer to. When the Ranger Teens are portrayed as Putties, we as the audience can still hear their dialogue as though they're regular people. Though if that were the case for Billy and Zack, why do they only react to the visual? Do they not hear their friends voices coming from these bizarrely ambivalent Putties? Were they just taken by surprise and rendered deaf? Were they unable to actually hear their friends and the show didn't convey that point? Am I thinking too much about this? Yes.

Lucky me, I get to take a tiny bit of a Zyu2 break this week, because Saliguana is one of only two Season 2 Zyu2 monsters not to have his footage released yet. That's pretty unfortunate all things considered, because Saliguana has the shortest runtime of footage out of any of the unreleased Zyu2 crew. Clocking in at only 3:17 of utilized footage. While there's no way to say for sure how long Saliguana's footage ran for, it's obvious that we're missing something. As for what? I can only speculate.

The Z-Putty fight on the beach could potentially mean there was a battle with the original Rita style Putties that was cut out, as they were obviously considered obsolete in Season 2. Replacing the original Putties with Z-Putties would be a recurring trend with Season 2 Zyu2 monsters. Did it happen here? Maybe. Who knows. I don't. Do you? Bullshit. Nobody knows.

What I'm most curious about is how we only see one fight with Saliguana. He's at the beach and scuffles with Billy and Zack before getting his fire breath extinguished and then Power Blasted.

A good deal of Zyu2 monsters have an initial battle with the Rangers where their powers are demonstrated, they beat the heroes, then the Rangers retreat. In this case there is no build-up battle against Saliguana. He's just a one and done. I suspect we may have lost an entire scene of battle against him. Granted there's no way to be sure, not unless Jeff Pruitt happens to release this monster in another Zyu2 batch. If you're reading this Jeff, thank you for making my formative years better by choreographing teenagers slapping around stunt actors in gray pajamas.

The last thing I wanted to note is the script of this episode. It mentions the Green Ranger showing up after the Saliguana grows. Why this interests me is because there is absolutely no indication that Green Ranger was in this batch of footage whatsoever. He didn't appear when the Rangers used the Power Blaster, he didn't show up to bring out Dragonzord, nothing. He was nowhere to be found in any of it. Maybe they wanted to have a scene of him fighting Putties but the script specifically mentioned him showing up alongside the other Rangers as they summoned their Zords.

So what the hell's going on here? We may never know. Now please cross your fingers with me my dear friends and hope the Saliguana footage will leak eventually. It gives me a reason to continue with this ridiculous life I've lived.





1 comment:

  1. Reminders of Bulk and Skull's comic mastery reminds me if how much I overlooked as a child. Just one of the many reasons I come back week after week

    ReplyDelete