Tuesday, November 10, 2015

MMPR Season 2 Episode 11: The Song of Guitardo



Character Displays Talent Unrelated to Karate
Middle Aged White Men Unable to Grasp Concept of Gravity








As soon as you see a title like this episodes' it's natural to grit your teeth. Is this going to be a musical episode where a bunch of actors who can't sing are forced to because the plot demands them? Are we going to have to see what a bunch of octogenarian writers think contemporary music sounded like in 1994? Will I be able to enjoy this unironically? As long as we don't have to hear Tommy sing things should go peachy.

Kimberly strums a tune on her guitar for all of 5 seconds before Zack shows up and tells her it sounds really great. Yeah 5 seconds is about all the time you need to hear any piece of music before you get the idea of where it's going. Kimberly asks Zack if he would be willing to listen to the other 205 seconds of her song and give her some pointers with the lyrics, particularly finding words that rhyme with "Tommy", "Green", and "You're Going To Lose Your Powers Soon and I Won't Want To Be Seen in Public With You Anymore : (."

I get the sneaking suspicion Zack's Season 2 dreads weren't his idea

So why is Zack Kimberly's go-to-guy for lyrical advice? Possibly because he's the same person that busted out an improvised song to woo Angela REDACTED at the end of Season 1. It's totally possible Zack is the one helping Kimberly write a ballad because he did the same thing before, or the writers got lucky when they plugged in one of the other Ranger Teens to be in this scene. Call me a cynic, but I'm voting for the latter.

Kimberly shows off a bit of her song, and it stuns me that Amy Jo Johnson actually has quite a set of pipes on her. The song she's singing is, thank fuck, not littered with embarrassingly hammy lines about how Tommy's so great and she sure hopes he'll be okay. It's a standard folksy melancholy tune about life changing. It's not some groundbreaking look into the human psyche, but it's a charming piece of music. One you wouldn't expect in a show that's filled to the gills with enough rock and roll to blow your bowl-cut to the back of the room and spill your dunkaroos all over your Game-Boy. The 90's.

Amusingly, the show cuts off Kimberly's song after another 5 seconds to transition to Lord Zedd's palace where he observes the young songwriter. Zedd decides Kimberly's guitar will make the perfect instrument for the Rangers demise, but Goldar interjects with one of the stupidest lines yet.

"But master, a guitar is wood! It's not alive!"

Thanks for the Snapple fact Goldar, I'm glad we kept you around this season. While this outburst is absurd, the reasoning Goldar gives is even more inane. He informs Lord Zedd that his magic will not be able to make a monster out of something that isn't alive.

Back up just one second. Zedd can't make a monster out of something that isn't living you say?

You mean something like a costume? Or a poster? Or a picture in a book? Or, spoilers, all of the monsters from Dairanger he's going to create later in the season that are all thematically based on inanimate objects?

Well everyone I've come to a conclusion. The writers got lucky when they put Zack in that earlier scene.

Lord Zedd barks back at Goldar "YOU'RE AN INANIMATE FUCKING OBJECT" before declaring he's merely waiting for an insect to get near the wooden guitar so he can morph it into the titular Guitardo monster. Please don't laugh, that's the monster's actual name. Though he'll have some tough competition in the terrible name department as we descend further into Season 2.

Later in the park, the Ranger Teens spend a nice relaxing afternoon picnicking. Billy, Tommy, and Jason toss a football around with each other in some more coincidental continuity until Richie shows up. Trini asks if he wants to eat lunch with them after some brisk outdoorsy boning, but Richie has to unpack his stuff after the move to Angel Grove. Richie then looks Jason up and down and asks what kind of benefits working on a Saban show gives.

Jason says how cool Richie is through clenched teeth when the Ranger Teens hear the sounds of a beautiful princess being attacked by a ferocious beast. Yeah it's exactly what you think it's going to be, and though you have every reason not to believe me, it somehow manages to be pretty funny.

Damskull in Distress

Bulk and Skull plan to summon the Rangers by performing this absolutely absurd routine straight out of an elementary school play. Though this is a pretty stock concept, Schrier and Narvy manage to goof their way into pure charm yet again. When Skull is acting as a princess, he could just do your standard falsetto and crack his voice here and there because wakka wakka man in drag humor. Instead, Skull goes full-on Terry Jones and voices this princess as a shrill British woman. It's significantly funnier than it has any right to be.

Not to mention that Skull dressed as a woman isn't really the joke. You'd expect the joke to be that Skull hates dressing up as a woman because women are totally gay. Well Skull is pissed, but not about being a princess. He's bummed out that he has to be bait while Bulk's wearing an awful looking dragon suit. Personally I'd like to believe Skull finds that dragon costume totally rad and wants to wear it so he can be a Bad Dragon too.

Bulk's atrocious dragon costume is also an inspired touch. It's nothing but shitty green pajamas with holes in them and a helmet with some googly eyes. More important than that though, is what Skull does when Bulk taunts him about being terrible bait. Skull feels pride in his wretched acting as a woman and showcases his womanhood in the most wonderful way.

This is how kids in the 90's learned what breasts were.

The Ranger Teens hear a sketch from Monty Python being acted out in the middle of the park and run to see if they can get John Cleese's autograph. Upon seeing the bullies, our heroes become disgusted that saintly gentlemen like Bulk and Skull would tell a falsehood. Trini tells the morons not to cry wolf, to which Skull responds "AY WOT?" Tommy and Jason tell them someday if they really do need help, nobody will help them because they're complete simpletons who do nothing but waste everyone's time. Can you still call something foreshadowing if it's incredibly ham-fisted and obvious when it's going to happen? Also can I still call something ham-fisted and obvious when it's in a baby show for infants?

Now that Lord Zedd's magic is ready, he prepares to summon the Guitardo monster to hypnotize the Rangers. In a stunning display of backbone, Goldar adds "If the Rangers don't outsmart your monster again." As much as I want to appreciate this line, it totally comes out of nowhere. Ever since Zedd has shown up, Goldar has done nothing but superglue his lips to the overlord's shiny red buttcheeks. Why is he getting a 'tude all of a sudden? It's not like he's some hyper-competent sidekick. Goldar was nothing but a bottle dropping bitch last week, so what gives him the right to be acting all high and mighty?

Bulk and Skull engage in some more shenanigans in the park while trying to lure the Rangers out of hiding, resulting in Bulk getting his dragon helmet stuck atop his bulky skull. Just as Skull attempts to undo Bulk's helmet, a massive cicada lands atop the boy's shoulders and terrifies them. Possibly because it couldn't look less like a real cicada and is clearly a shitty looking dog toy.

Lord Zedd takes the initiative to turn this awful looking prop into his newest monster. Enter Guitardo.

Guitardo US footage
Lord Zedd forgot to magic a guy into that suit.

Guitardo insults Bulk's weight, and chases the two clods around the park while cackling. Serves you guys right! If you lie about monsters chasing you then a giant cicada will emerge, call you fat, and then hassle you up and down the block. Wait how did The Boy Who Cried Wolf go again?

Zordon alerts the Rangers to a dangerous new monster and tells them to haul ass back to base, but make sure to teleport in slow enough to give Guitardo enough time to maul Bulk and Skull. Alpha and Zordon inform the Rangers that the Guitardo creature has devastating mind control powers that must be combated cautiously. Speaking of which, Alpha needs to take Tommy over to the other corner of the Command Center to test how embarrassing his powers are this week.

Thankfully this is one of the few times we have to address Tommy's powers in this episode. Guitardo isn't trying to sap all of Tommy's energy with his mind control music, he's a run of the mill monster doing his thing and we don't need to give him some arbitrary power to drain energy to shoehorn Tommy into the plot. Bout goddamned time.

Zordon tell the teens that Guitardo's music is able to manipulate their minds and will put them in a trance for Lord Zedd if they aren't able to fill their minds with their own thoughts. Billy silently pumps his fist in the air as he realizes he can't shut off his big stupid brain and its ability to rattle off useless trivia every time someone looks at him funny, so this monster will be a cinch.

Inside the Viewing Globe, Kimberly notices that Guitardo has pilfered the guitar she left in the park and turned it into his own devious instrument. I certainly don't know how he was able to pull something like that off. That guitar is made of wood. It's not alive. In any case, Alpha alerts Tommy that his remaining powers could fail at any time, which is different than what we've been told about his powers the past few weeks in the following ways:

It isn't. Alright moving along.

Kimberly says she's sick of all this logistic nonsense and wants her man-candy to be at full strength. She asks why Zordon can't just re-energize Tommy like he did before, which is a question that's respectful to an audience who have been paying attention to this situation as it's progressed. I don't know what it's doing in this show to be honest with you. 

Alpha informs her another surge of energy from Zordon's supply is no longer an option. Kimberly gives sad puppy-dog eyes at her boy when she's literally pushed off screen by Jason's hulking frame. Jason offers a sensual one handed massage to Tommy's ailing shoulder and confirms my suspicions that Tommy's relationship with Kimberly has been a sham since jump street.

The Ranger Teens wish Tommy well before morphing to stop Guitardo. The ugly bug is now armed with a morphed version of Kimberly's guitar and…some wings I guess.

Most guitars are controlled via their central blue button.

Guitardo dicks around on his guitar while the Rangers "react" to him. Unfortunately if you want this scene to sound good, you're shit out of luck Charlie. Just like last week's episode, all of Jason and Zack's dialogue while morphed has been recycled from previous episodes. So the show has to bend over backwards to find lines that 1) Fit the morphed Rangers reactions and mannerisms, 2) Summarizes the situation of whatever the monster of the week is doing, and 3) Not sound like stilted fucking garbage.

To be fair, this only applies to a few lines, but listening to two actors having a conversation when one of them clearly isn't actually partaking creates a peculiarly awkward scene that feels completely lifeless in a way this show usually avoids. You can sell me on multi-colored heroes fighting a man sized cicada while he plays the first few notes of Purple Haze, but as soon as one of those characters isn't genuinely reacting to the conversation you can count me out.

Guitardo spews some energy from his guitar doe and manages to "capture the minds" of all the Rangers but Pink. Now when I say someone has their mind captured what do you assume would happen? They become slaves to Zedd's magic? They're left catatonic and unable to battle? They're cast in a stage adaptation of Peter Pan?

Of course.

Jason responds to this predicament by exclaiming "THIS DUDE'S GONNA BE TOUGHER THAN I THOUGHT!" A statement he will find himself making every time a monster appears capable of tying its own shoes.

Guitardo then cackles at leaving the Pink songwriter all on her own, faced to combat him one on one. So did he miss her earlier? Or was she just concentrating really hard? Who cares.

Zordon tells Tommy that Guitardo has done the unthinkable, that exact thing he said was going to happen. Guitardo now has control over four of the Ranger's minds, or is making them float in mid-air. Look we watched the footage once and that was enough to know what was happening. Just read the script we wrote and shut up.

Tommy proclaims to Zordon and Alpha that this excuse to be a showboating asshole is exactly what he can use to justify getting in on the fight. Alpha tells him the situation is too dire, but Tommy tells him to blow it out his exhaust port because no kid out there is going to buy an Alpha 5 action figure. Zordon commends Tommy for being so profitable and allows the Green Ranger to go bail out Kimbaely.

Just as Kimberly is about to be struck by Guitardo's music, Green shows up and pushes her out of the way. Since Kimberly has successfully evolved into a helpless damsel, she allows Tommy to fight the monster for her instead of bothering to help him whatsoever. Guitardo and Green square off and partake in a fun but brief skirmish until the monster decides to call a time-out. Guitardo asks the Green Ranger to engage in a one on one with him at "the fair" before vanishing. Thankfully California has enacted a strict "One-Fair" policy or else Tommy would be searching for Guitardo for hours.

Tommy rushes after the monster and tells Kimberly she can look after their gravitationally challenged friends. Kimberly contacts Zordon and asks if she really needs to be left on babysitting duties for these chucklefucks, but she's informed the only way the others can be saved is by destroying Guitardo. Kimberly promptly ditches these bozos to go beat the shit out of that giant cricket.

Tommy reaches the fair, which is completely empty. Either Guitardo ate all the civilians there or he picked the shittiest most rink-a-dink carnival in the tri-county area to hold his impromptu concert.

Those dull eyes make me think Guitardo's the second coming of Jeff Healey.

Tommy becomes livid he bought tickets to this shitshow months in advance if nobody else was going to be here, but Guitardo promises a special presentation. The insect guitarist offers to play his newest song, "Green is a Goner", a touching musical presentation about the dangers of marijuana use. 

Guitardo slaps Tommy around using his guitar and knocks the Green Ranger right off his stage. With his foe on the ropes, Guitardo plays another ditty that lifts Tommy into the sky just like the others. Before Tommy gets his mind controlled or whatever horse garbage we're supposed to believe is happening, Tommy plays a few notes on his Dragon Dagger which frees him from the evil music. Just like Christian Rock will do to heathens who listen to Devil Rock like AC/DC. #Switchfoot

Guitardo is enraged that someone is trying to upstage his one hit wonder and blasts Tommy with a new melody, one that causes the Green Ranger to become too heavy to move. Hmm, a monster who can make people float or make people really heavy? Sounds like mind control to me!

Tommy tries to hum another few bars with the Dragon Dagger but Guitardo's weight spell leaves him unable to lift his weapon. As the Dagger clatters to the ground, Guitardo prowls forward ready to finish off the Green Ranger once and for all. Just before he can strike the killing blow, Kimberly calls out the overgrown maggot and tells him to back off her bone throne. Guitardo responds by playing a little number for Pink, but he didn't count on her providing backup instrumentals for him.

I bet kids at home were clamoring to buy a Power Harp for Christmas.

Guitardo attempts to subdue Kimberly, but the music from her improvised harp bursts the guitar from his hand while knocking the monster backwards. Kimberly rushes over to Tommy so she can gloat that finally she gets to be the one who saves him. Tommy responds with his trademark gratitude when Kim says music is the key to beating the monster, "Yeah I know. Get me up from here." Jesus Tommy, did Guitardo control your manners as well as your mind? I'm glad your powers are almost dead.

Guitardo charges at the Ranger pair to get revenge for his busted guitar. Well I mean you did steal it from Kimberly bud, so you should really call this whole thing a wash. Even with their musical weapons aiding them, Kimberly and Tommy are beaten soundly by the hideous bug. Guitardo blasts them both with energy beams from his eyes and prepares their finale. Left without any options, Tommy gives his Dragon Dagger to Kimberly, and says if they combine their powers they might be able to finish this monster.

So Kim performs an, admittedly bitchin', finisher on Guitardo. Sadly that's all it takes to finish him off. It's a really weird mix of feeling underwhelmed and amazed in a 10 second span of time. Much like sex with someone who writes for a Power Rangers blog. But Kimberly firing the Dagger from her Bow looks slick enough that I'll give it a pass.

Yeah this feels like the end of a fight. Whatever.

With the monster unceremoniously destroyed, the other four Rangers are freed from their aerial prison and drop to the ground unharmed. Thanks for all the backup against the monster everyone, couldn't have done it without you. Kimberly's guitar re-emerges in the park now that the monster is destroyed, and Tommy takes a moment to thank Kimberly for saving his bacon against Guitardo. Wait hold on what? Tommy noticing another member of the team making a contribution in battle? I must be in some kind of topsy-turvy Dr. Seuss dimension.

Now that they're back on solid ground, the Ranger Teens restart their picnic inside the Youth Center. Yeah who doesn't live a nice indoor picnic? Well they didn't have any other choice, because it's raining outside. We can ascertain that because Kimberly says that it's raining, and someone off camera flashes a blue light to represent thunderstorms. Look, it would have cost 5 more dollars to have someone drape a hose over the camera, and Saban Productions isn't a money losing business.

Bulk and Skull wander in to beg the Ranger Teens for help in getting Bulk's helmet off. Trini asks why Bulk's not wearing any pants, but Skull is unable to provide a concrete answer. Billy uses angles and trajectories or some other science bullshit to force Bulk's headpiece off. Bulk spins around "comically" in his goofy dragon costume as the Ranger Teens are forced to duck to avoid his flimsy tail. Billy chuckles and says a big, clumsy, unwieldy tail would certainly be problematic during battle. He then angrily glares at Tommy, who smiles dumbly at him, much like a dog.

Feeling the tension in the room, Kimberly busts out her guitar and tells her friends that she completed her song. Trini says she's also written a song that the others might want to hear, and Jason tells her to shut up for once and let Kimberly have some time to shine for once in her goddamned life.

Kimberly plays her song for the others, with a little accompaniment from Zack, and it's a satisfying tender little moment of acceptance. It's not an upbeat peppy number about how everything will be great and all the Ranger Teens are going to live on the moon and have ice cream every night. It's a song about accepting that oncoming change may be painful, but as long as friends stay together, they'll be able to weather anything that comes their way. They'll always be on each other's side through thick and thin, and they'll always be a team.

As Kim's song concludes, Tommy asks if she'd be willing to play it again. He wasn't listening because it wasn't about karate. 



Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Fake Tits



Personal Thoughts


Outside of a few minor issues, this episode is a really solid sit. It's got fun action, a sweet A-story revolving around Kimberly's music, and a nice warm finale that cements the fact that this stuff about Tommy's powers dwindling is about to come to a head. Wrap that around with some mostly top-notch Bulk and Skull scenes and you've got a great experience all around.

For just a neat little bit of trivia, the song that Kimberly plays for Tommy near the end of the episode was composed by Amy Jo Johnson, Kimberly's actress. Evidently in real life, AJJ really had a knack for playing music and the writers wanted to integrate it here. It's strange to me that you'd hire a group of actors with a diverse set of talents and completely ignore their capabilities to focus yet another b-plot on Tommy doing karate. It might help change things up a bit for a show that made its bread and butter in being formulaic.

This episode also does something I really appreciate. Tommy is the heavy lifter for the majority of the battle, but it's Kimberly who bails him out at the end. Kimberly even gets the killing blow on Guitardo. We don't need some nonsense with the Green Ranger hogging all the glory yet again, and that's a welcome change of pace. Not to mention a finishing move that isn't the Power Blaster was next to nonexistent in Power Rangers up to this point. Pretty cool stuff! Shame that this show is so reliant on stock footage that moments like this are a rarity.

Now on to good old Guitardo, the slamming cicada, the rockin' roach. What's he got going on for him? Well he's the penultimate Zyu2 monster and his footage is really interesting.

I mean it probably would be, but it hasn't been released yet. Sorry everyone. Now I have less Zyu2 stuff to talk about. Hey did you notice I liked Zyu2? Guys?

Now we Zyu2 nerdlingers are forced to wait with baited breath for the answer to a few questions. The biggest quandary on most of our minds is "Did Guitardo have a Zord battle?" To which I can answer with a resounding "I unno."

With the other two Zyu2 monsters who didn't have Zord Battles, Bloom of Doom and Invenusable Flytrap, there was some evidence hinting towards their potential giant sized footage. Fans were perpetuating rumors of Bloom's Zord fight involving Lokar, and we eventually saw a script that confirmed Bloom of Doom was intended to duke it out with the Thunder Megazord. There was that picture of Invenusable holding a Growth Bomb on that View Master slide that seemed a bit too specific to be your standard promotional photo. Guitardo? Nothing. We don't have a script for his episode, we don't have any promotional shots, and we don't have the raw footage to confirm or deny.

Here's what I can tell ya. Pink and Green congratulate themselves after killing the monster. That never happened with any ground battle in Zyuranger or Zyu2 before a monster would grow. Not to mention we got a unique finishing move to kill off Guitardo. It might seem a little anticlimactic to bust out something cool like that and then have him grow anyway. That's not to say Guitardo definitely doesn't have a Zord battle we're missing out on, but it seems less and less likely the more you look at the evidence.

Look I just want to see a bug with a guitar fight dinosaurs. Fuck all y'all.







2 comments:

  1. Just made the shocking realization that your images have filenames in addition to alt text and captions. Brb rereading all your articles.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Don't worry! I saved the worst jokes for the file names. Many of them should read "Oh my God it's 4 in the morning why am I still doing this?"

    ReplyDelete