Tuesday, January 26, 2016

MMPR Season 2 Episode 22: The Ninja Encounter Part 1


Baby Rolls Down Hill For 20% of Episode
Tommy Encounters Critical Situation, Braids Hair























As much as I talk about remembering Power Rangers, this trilogy of episodes is a complete blank spot to me. Mostly because it only exists to introduce a few characters who will become blatantly important in the next few weeks. The idea of Power Rangers blowing three fucking episodes on introducing them? Utterly ridiculous.

Credit where it's due, today's episode starts off with a scene that actually has all six Ranger Teens present. It's made up of stock footage from "The Song of Guitardo" where they were all on a picnic. This is significantly more palatable than last week's tripe about Trini, Zack, and Jason being off-camera for the entirety of the episode. At the very least it tricks you into thinking these three haven't dropped this show like a bag of tumors.

The show films new scenes of Kim, Billy, and Tommy laughing about how much fun they're having with their other three friends who are definitely there. These scenes look alright, but by virtue of the fact that they're shot to blend in with old footage, you'll notice that Tommy is wearing green instead of white. Which is ludicrous of course, because Zordon's number 1 rule of being a Ranger is that you always must be wearing clothes that match your Ranger color at all times. Otherwise how will the kids watching know which one you are? At the very least I could have used Tommy telling Billy and Kim that it's laundry day and he had to wear some old clothes.

While the Rangers enjoy their picnic, three completely unimportant and arbitrary teenage characters, a girl and two boys, rollerblade through the park.  They meet up with a guy named Mr. Anderson who's pushing a baby stroller down the path they're skating. Personally I would advise being a bit more observant with your surroundings and not moving your baby into oncoming rollerbladers, but that's why I'm not a parent. The three teenagers greet Mr. Anderson and ask how his baby Jacob is doing.

I'll forgive you for calling me a liar when I tell you that these plot points almost kind of matter.

Back at the Ranger Teens' picnic, Billy tells the crew that something is on the mini-TV he brought out to the park. Kimberly asks if he needed to bring that thing out here on a nice day in the park, and Billy rolls his eyes that this sexhaver is trying to tell him where to get off. Stock footage of Trini laughs to pretend she's actually watching these events unfold, as Billy turns on the TV to show a commercial for the Global Ninja Competition. I'm assuming it's supposed to be a commercial anyway, since it's clearly filmed inside of the Youth Center like 90 percent of this show is.

Three hammy assholes in black cloaks give a WWE-level performance in front of the camera about how they're the greatest ninjas in the world and they can't be beat, brother. Tommy says he likes these guys because they too are dumb and like karate. Unfortunately they're unbeaten in battle, which means only the toughest and most powerful competitors could possibly defeat them. Billy says they'll be battling against three of Stone Canyon High School's top ninjas. Y'know I hate reminiscing about my high school days, but I was always so annoyed by those pompous dickheads on the ninja team. Shame you guys couldn't sneak into a good college huh? Assholes.

Lord Zedd has something far more insidious in store for those ninjas than a Bachelor's in karate. He plots to kidnap them and transform them into his own set of evil warriors. Something I love about Power Rangers is how loosely the concept of evil is defined. Lord Zedd is a galactic overlord who has subjugated countless planets and surely cost numerous beings their lives. He feels that a worthy addition to his army of devastation would be a group of triplets who were just shit-talking Mean Gene.

Out in the park, Mr. Anderson has his baby Jacob out of the stroller resting on the bench with him. Though from the way the actors are seated, it looks like this dude is trying to hit up that baby for some Sesame Street and Chill.

Mr Anderson and Jacob
Come here often?

Jacob reaches his tiny little baby hand into the stroller to feel around for a glass of titty milk, but accidentally knocks the stroller down the hill because he's a stupid baby. The stroller very gently taps into a motorcycle that's been awkwardly parked on the grass. We pull back to discover the owner of this bike is gasp one of those asshole ninjas! After Mr. Anderson puts his baby back in the stroller, the ninjas start getting all up in his face for raising such a dickhead of a kid. The three ninjas strike back and demand the 43¢ it would cost to fix the damage to their bike.

Mr. Anderson gets gently pushed backwards, which bumps Jacob's stroller down a hill. Mr. Anderson goes running after his negligently cared-for child. The three rollerblading teens from before notice the kid on a fast track to deathsville, and rush after him.

Which is perfectly fine, except this fucking scene goes on for four goddamned minutes.

I could summarize everything that happens from minute 3 to minute 7 by saying "Various characters engage in baby chase shenanigans", and you good people wouldn't miss a thing. Usually Power Rangers is pretty good about not wasting the audience's time with pointless filler bullshit, but this scene goes on so long I thought my DVD was skipping.

Jacob rolls down a hill for four solid minutes while his stroller maintains the exact same momentum the entire time. He doesn't slow down when his stroller rolls through the grass, he doesn't speed up when his stroller hits an incline, and that's the perfect metaphor for this shitty scene. It's the same thing for an obnoxious amount of time that I would be an absolute fool to describe in any further detail.

So here's how this scene plays out.

The three rollerblading teens rush after Jacob, as does Mr. Anderson. They zip past a confused looking man who's arbitrarily hauling lumber around the park. He's not actually here to do construction work or anything like that. He's only there to give these teens a cool obstacle to duck under while they're on their skates. Meanwhile, Mr. Anderson runs down the hill while practicing for his "Other M" audition and starts screaming "THE BABY! THE BABY!!!" Oh now I get it. It's an allegory for motherhood. Clever stuff Sakamoto!

What were we talking about? Oh yeah the stupid baby is still dying. Billy, Kim, and Tommy bid farewell to three Ted Raimi's pretending to be their friends and hear Mr. Anderson crying out for his baby. They rush into action to try and catch the kid, all while Fake Jason, Zack, and Trini continue walking home without giving a shit.

Now I know you couldn't possibly involve those characters in this plot, what with their actors wanting nothing to do with your franchise anymore, but then you can't film a scene of them walking 2 feet off-camera when someone is screaming "SOMEBODY STOP THAT BABY!" It makes them look like deaf apathetic dicks. When the Ranger Teens who haven't quit the show (yet) run to help Jacob, you can still see the fake Ranger Teens walking a little bit in the background. While I appreciate Power Rangers having the courtesy to hire some fake shemps to pretend Jason, Zack and Trini are still there, at least have them be far enough off-screen so it doesn't look so odd that they don't get involved in these baby-rescuing hijinks.

fake Ranger actors
Trini recently turned into a middle-aged mom.

The baby's stroller "speeds" towards two construction workers who bolt out of the way of the carriage. Instead of putting their goddamned hands out to stop the thing, two burly idiots see a child coming at them and treat it like it's a werewolf headed their way. Thankfully their cowardice means that this scene of a baby rolling down a hill can continue for even longer as Jacob rolls past Bulk and Skull. This results in one of the only worthwhile moments in this entire tedious scene.

Bulk puts down a hot dog he was about to eat, and yells out "THE BABY!" He grabs a helmet and a shitty looking scooter-skateboard before proclaiming that he and Skull have got to stop that baby. It's only funny because these characters are such weirdo trashbags, and the idea of them acting like heroes to the community out of nowhere is really abrupt and comical. For once I'm not sure if that was the intended joke of this Bulk and Skull interlude, but it's a bright spot in this dismal scene so I'll give it a pass.

Baby Jacob rolls past a pair of apathetic old people sitting on a park bench who pay absolutely no attention to the child in imminent danger. The woman turns to the man and says "Horace don't you think we should do something?" The man responds, "Now Gloria, this young generation is so entitled. He needs to learn to do it by himself." Then the audience all learns an important lesson about pulling up their bootstraps and the pleasures of never owning a house.

The rollerblading teens zip past the old fossils and leap into the air. Then they illustrate why they're so capable of rescuing this kid by themselves. They apparently have goddamned superpowers.

That or they found a spare zipline hanging in the park.

One of the rollerblading teens decides this scene didn't have enough comic mischief in it, so he knocks over a ladder that he skates past. The ladder topples over and brings some poor idiot down with it as he lands from the top of the tree onto the ground below. He makes a stupid face at the camera because this episode is the sausage parts of a Three Stooges short.

Bulk and Skull ride their scooterboards as fast as they can until they both collide headfirst into a banner for the Team Ninja Competition. The two dipshits go careening into a bush because they're comic relief, they can't possibly hope to do something heroic. Let that be a lesson to all you class clowns out there, let your conventionally attractive multi-ethnic groups of friends do all the cool things while you hang out in the back and act like assholes.

At long last, the stroller rolls towards a steep hill. The rollerblading girl and Kim leap into the air to look cool before saving that stupid baby. Since this scene has gone on as long as is legally permissible, the girls rescue baby Jacob and relieve us from the Power Rangers version of purgatory.

Kimberly returns Jacob to Mr. Anderson who thanks her for saving THE BABY! MY BABY!!! The Ranger Teens and the Roller Teens congratulate each other on being such obnoxious extroverts about this situation and introduce themselves to one another. The rollerbladers are named Adam, Aisha, and Rocky.

Rocky Adam Aisha
You don't need to remember them, they won't be here very long.

Bulk and Skull stumble onto the scene where they see the baby has already been saved without their help, and grumble about the fact they're such total losers. Aisha, Adam, and Rocky join the Ranger Teens in laughing at these miserable fuckbois despite having never once met them in their lives. That's really all you need to know about how depressing it is to be Bulk and Skull, even complete strangers can't help but cackle at their misfortune.

Our three new friends inform the Ranger Teens that Mr. Anderson is their teacher, and they're from Stone Canyon High School. Tommy asks if they're in town to watch the Team Ninja Competition to which Adam chuckles and says "You could say that." Then Tommy frowns and says "...But I already did." Kimberly hugs Tommy tight and tells him how smart he is. Rocky looks around uncomfortably wondering what the hell is going on in Angel Grove.

Lord Zedd informs Goldar that the preparations for his plan are now complete. It's time for him to capture the three ninjas and keep them hostage until they knuckle up and join his evil army. Socially awkward Goldar asks what he's supposed to tell these three people he's never met before. Zedd spins a yarn about telling them they were hand-picked from thousands of candidates to partake in this venture. Thousands? You saw these guys like 10 minutes ago Zedd. I'm starting to think that Lord Zedd isn't quite as big and bad as he wants us to believe if this is the kind of shit going on behind the scenes. "Yeah Goldar, tell them they've been handpicked by Jesus himself, and they're gonna make out with total babe aliens every night. Don't mention Squatt and Baboo though, we need to ease into that."

At the Youth Center, the three Ranger Teens sit and watch the Team Ninja Competition. The three douchebag ninjas are in the ring ready to mix it up with the three Stone Canyon ninjas decked out in white outfits. Though their identities are meant to be obscured, obviously we're looking at cloaked versions of Aisha, Rocky, and Adam. In case you forget, the characters dressed in white are the ones we're meant to support and the ones dressed in black are the evil villains. 

The Ninja Competition gets underway as the Stone Canyon ninjas fight with the three ninjas from Mega Mountain. Nothing much eventful happens because the only karate I can follow is the kind that beats up space monsters. The only way I know the evil ninjas are supposed to be bad is because Kimberly states "Those champions fight dirty." Tommy responds with a big grin and says "Yeah, but the challengers fight clean!" If this sounds like a line I made up to make fun of Tommy for being an unquestionably pure karate weirdo, look upon me and despair.

That smile is what I imagine whenever I write a joke about Tommy

The bell rings and the judges announce the Stone Canyon ninjas to be the winners of the match. Mr. Anderson gets incredibly excited at this victory, so excited that he has to hand baby Jacob over to Bulk and Skull before cheering his students on wildly. Rocky, Adam, and Aisha unveil themselves with respectfully little fanfare. It's only natural since nobody aside from the Ranger Teens were in the dark about their identities.

As I contemplate fast-forwarding through the episode, Skull grabs baby Jacob's hand and does a ridiculous high-pitched cheer. This moment is funny enough as it is, but even funnier than that is the baby actor is obviously uncomfortable during the scene and looks like he's about to cry. I appreciate that Power Rangers managed to get a kid who would only cry in scenes he's supposed to be happy, and wouldn't be crying in scenes where we're supposed to believe his life is in danger.

Tommy congratulates Rocky on a match well fought, and Rocky responds "It was really great to meet y'all." Which might sound more natural if this character were supposed to be some kind of redneck cowboy, but instead the writers have no idea who he's supposed to be so they're just going to throw lines at the wall until something sticks.

Lord Zedd demands to know why his asshole ninjas haven't been kidnapped yet, and Goldar proclaims that it's because they lost the competition. Zedd becomes furious and says he will not settle for second best, not after he scoured through thousands of candidates for this position. Zedd dismisses the idea of hiring a bunch of goody two-shoes losers to do his bidding, but decides he has no choice and commands Goldar to capture these three and bring them to the dark side. I'm not sure why Lord Zedd is so averse to capturing the 2nd place ninjas. His entire Moon Crew is made up of silver medals that can't beat a team missing half its members.

Goldar appears in front of the Youth Center and startles the Stone Canyon teens while they talk with Mr. Anderson. Kim, Billy, and Tommy notice the big gold goofball, but before they can help out, they spot a group of Z-Putties who materialize in a human pyramid formation. I guess they were getting board of standing around warbling and decided to do something a little more creative. Good on them I say.

Goldar fires an energy beam from his sword, which draws the Stone Canyon trio and Mr. Anderson into his clutches. While Goldar uses his magic on the four, Bulk and Skull wander into frame and see what's happening. Bulk reacts realistically upon seeing this gold-plated chimp.

How much popsicle do you have to eat to spew that much?

Goldar vanishes with Mr. Anderson and the Stone Canyon trio, but Bulk immediately ponders what happened to THE BABY? THE BABY??? they met earlier. He and Skull rush over to Mr. Anderson's car and find Jacob safe and sound. The boys are equal parts relieved because the baby is safe, and disappointed because that means they can't make out with each other in the back of Mr. Anderson's Oldsmobile.

The Ranger Teens finish dispatching the Z-Putties but they're too late to rescue the Stone Canyon crew and realize how shitty they are at prioritizing. Tommy and the crew contact Zordon, who tells them to head back to the Command Center before Zedd manipulates a group of teenagers to act out his machinations for him. I mean seriously, what kind of asshole would do something like that?

Before the Ranger Teens teleport into the Command Center, Tommy awkwardly starts shuffling his hair and putting it into a ponytail. It's one of the most absurd things in this episode and it makes me laugh every single time. There are lives on the line and Tommy abruptly starts messing with his hair before the Rangers plan how to save the hostages. It's absurd and would be nonsensical if you don't look at the behind the scenes reason for it.

As soon as Tommy does up his hair, Alpha says he'll contact Jason, Trini, and Zack and have them come to the Command Center. As soon as all six Rangers are grouped together again, it's in stock footage from back when Tommy used to wear his hair in a ponytail. Instead of allowing for a continuity error in a show as Teflon towards goofs as Power Rangers, the show decided to have Tommy awkwardly futz with his hair before showing up in the Command Center.

That's Tommy's Serious Hair.

Stock footage of the Ranger Teens listen to Zordon explain Zedd's plan to turn the Stone Canyon teens into his warriors. Kimberly asks if Lord Zedd did anything to that baby she wasted most of the episode chasing after, but Zordon assures her the baby will be fine. The teens look to the Viewing Globe to see none other than Bulk and Skull have taken it upon themselves to look after Jacob. Alpha says the baby will be safe for now, as long as the boys don't get bored of this and leave him in a dumpster.

We meet up with Rocky, Adam, and Aisha inside of Zedd's Dimension of Despair. If you immediately assumed that this so-called dimension is nothing but a cave filled with dry ice, then congrats! You're getting pretty good at this show!

Goldar congratulates the three ninjas on being selected to be placed in abject servitude by Lord Zedd. Rocky asks who this Zedd clown is, indicating that an evil galactic overlord who threatens the planet with 300 foot tall space demons on a weekly basis isn't newsworthy over in Stone Canyon. Adam and Aisha tell Goldar they'll never use their magical flying rollerblading skills for evil purposes. Sorry Goldar, but they're Soul Skaters. They skate for fun. Goldar tells them they don't have a choice, and they'll be putting tweezers on his nipples in no-time. Adam asks what that has to do with being evil, and Goldar starts sweating before teleporting away.

The chained up teens ask Mr. Anderson why he looks like such a sour apple right now, and he tells them it might have something to do with the fact that he doesn't know where his fucking baby is. Worry not Mr. A! Bulk and Skull are taking good care of your dumb kid as we speak. Skull rolls a toy along the park bench and tells Jacob "go get it!" like he's a dog. When the baby shows little interest in playing with two strangers dressed like greasers, Skull assumes something is wrong. Yeah clearly this kid must have been vaccinated.

When Skull suggests that the baby might be hungry, Bulk pulls out a big bag filled with food. Bulk shows the baby all sorts of chow he's got inside this duffel bag. Pretzels, a pizza, corn, burritos, you name it. When the baby shows zero reaction to any of this chow, Bulk becomes annoyed and responds "I don't know what's wrong with this kid he must be weird." A line that elicited an out and out laugh from me. Thank you guys, I needed that this week.

When Skull finds a bottle for Jacob, Bulk nabs it and starts sweetly singing "I'm A Little Teapot" while he tries feeding the baby. Two cute looking ladies walk by as Bulk realizes he's putting on a falsetto and singing a children's song in front of two total babes, so Skull tries to salvage the situation. He puts on a bullshit macho voice and asks Bulk "So how about that football game." What the hell, I didn't authorize Power Rangers to include a scene from my life in their show. This is bullshit.

Inside the Dimension of Despair, Z-Putties stand guard around the Stone Canyon group. Adam and Rocky tell Aisha their only chance to escape is for her to pick the locks around their chains. Aisha pulls out a hairpin and starts fiddling with the lock. The Z-Putties continue to stand around the entrance to the cave while warbling and….wait seriously? That's it? Are you kidding me? That's the cliffhanger? Go fuck yourself.





TO BE CONTINUED






Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Portable TV's




Personal Thoughts


This episode is a bit of an odd duck to me. I don't hate it, and I certainly don't love it. There are some good moments with Bulk and Skull, but other than that there isn't much worthwhile content here. Some of the stunts look pretty good, but in the case of scenes like Jacob's carriage getting lost, they wear out their welcome really quickly. These episodes are going to provide so little in terms of content that I'm baffled as to why Power Rangers bothered to stretch this into 3 parts. You may as well leave a post-it note on the fridge that says "Aisha, Adam, and Rocky are new characters."

You may also notice something in particular is missing in this episode. For an episode of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, there isn't one goddamn bit of morphing to be found in this episode. There's action in the karate tournament, but not one ounce of it involves spandex-clad superheroes. This might be the only time in the entire franchise that no morphed Rangers appear in the entirety of an episode, but correct me if I'm wrong. Not that I've ever been wrong before, that's a ludicrous assumption.

The guy who plays Mr. Anderson also played Monty the vampire from "Trick or Treat", and the homeless man that sold Zack pearl earrings in "An Oyster Stew." I found him a lot more interesting in those episodes when he wasn't playing a character whose only motivation is that he's a father and doesn't want his baby to die. He's not a bad actor or anything like that, but I'm also curious as to why they kept hiring the same guy for bit parts. Was he the only one in the union willing to work for Saban Fun-Bux™?

I'll be out of town next week so you'll have to wait a bit for the "thrilling" "conclusion" of this series of episodes. In the meanwhile I should have a guest post lined up and ready for that week, and I know you goofy grapes will enjoy it! Thanks as always for reading, and enjoy the rest of your day.




4 comments:

  1. I also love the part when the 3 fake actors walk past the other 3 at the tournament and choose to go sit somewhere else. I like to pretend that there was some beef between Jason and Tommy (lovers quarrel perhaps) at that point and that's why they were never seen hanging out together again!

    Also you probably already know this, but the baby was played by none other than JDF's son!

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  2. Unusable monster costumes; lack of actors for Jason, Zack, and Trini; the toning down of violence and Saban being the real life version of Mr. Krabs is why MMPR Season 2 is the most ghetto PR series. MMPR Season 3 possibly wins second place.

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  3. Damn you, blogger. This reviewer was so funny it made me _watch_ Ninja Encounter, and Part 1 was just as hilariously mediocre as you said...

    ...and then I got to Part 2.

    You will not like Part 2. NOBODY should like Part 2. Saban padded it like a corrupt cop pads his "file" to prove you committed a crime, and the crime is liking Part 2. It is the death of time and hope.

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  4. Huh, kinda surprised to learn there's an episode with no morphed Rangers in it

    ReplyDelete