Tuesday, April 26, 2016

MMPR Season 2 Episode 34: Where There's Smoke, There's Fire



Lord Zedd Uses Magic to Create Horse
Posters Utilized in Fight Against Fire









Well it sure took a while, but we've finally got an episode of Power Rangers focusing on Aisha. You would think as soon as the new Ranger Teens debuted we might take an episode to look at each of them as individuals. Nah, instead we got a couple episodes focusing on Adam and one episode where Rocky finds a Japanese arcade game "TOO FUN!" All Aisha has done is lie to Kimberly about being her best friend and sat on the arm of a chair live on television. She's seemed sweet with the little the show has given her to do, but she's a female character in a 90's sitcom. What other trait would you expect her to have? All I want is a little extra depth to who she is. You replaced Trini "Blank Slate" Kwan with this girl, so go the distance and give her one distinguishing characteristic.

Angel Grove High has a special guest presentation from a total stud muffin known as Firefighter Newman. He starts talking about the best way to prevent fires and something blah blah who gives a fuck? Look at this dang hunk.

I got a fire on my face that needs put out, point that hose over here.

Similarly, Kimberly and Aisha find Newman to be a golden slice of beefcake that demands their immediate attention. Kimberly stares at this golden Adonis with starstruck dreamy eyes, all while Ms. Applebee babbles about whatever this week's plot is. Apparently her students all had to write an essay about what fire safety means to them in order to be selected as a junior fire captain. SHIT! Was that was my essay was supposed to be about? I wrote a 30 page thesis on Fireman Newman's sweaty glistening pecs.

Fireman Newman says one essay spoke to him in particular, as he locks eyes with me and we both wonder what could be in a more accepting world. Then Bulk has to ruin the moment when he assumes his essay is what Newman was talking about. Bulk stands tall before declaring his actions as junior fire chief will include things like skipping school and honoring the age-old tradition of second breakfast. 

As it turns out, the embodiment of physical perfection was not enthused with a bulbous meat-golem like Bulk, and instead has selected Aisha Campbell as fire whatever captain. Tommy leans over and asks who that is, and Billy goes "the Yellow one." Then Tommy scratches his chin a little bit, and Billy continues "She does a lot of kicks." Tommy's eyes light up as he nods approvingly.

Lord Zedd proclaims he's also become quite intrigued by fire safety, and plans on making Angel Grove a certified hot spot. Goldar suggests he could send down the Putties with matches, and Zedd verbally bitchslaps him for the dumbest goddamned idea ever concocted. I'm not being pithy and making up a dumb plan, Goldar actually told Zedd he could have some Putties start lighting things on fire with matches. That's the kind of line you give to Squatt or Baboo since they're supposed to be ignorant. Why are you giving this kind of suggestion to Goldar? He's supposed to be an evil lackey, not Beavis.

Aisha, now an official member of the firefighters union, gets in front of the class to discuss the tenants of how not to burn to death. She informs the students how dangerous it is to overload an electrical outlet with too many plugs. As she's giving this lesson I start to wonder something. How many high school students learned fire safety? Isn't this more appropriate for elementary school?

Obviously this show is for kids aged -3 to 2, so the Ranger Teens giving lessons that younger viewers can learn from makes sense. What I don't understand is why you're placing these characters in high school and then having them learn about fire safety. Wouldn't this plot make more sense if the Ranger Teens were teaching little kids in the Youth Center? Why are teenagers who were just caught necking in the gym going in to learn about how fire tends to be dangerous? With all due respect Ms. Applebee, unless fire can pay my way through college I don't really give a hot fuck.

Aisha explains the type of scenario where you might find yourself overstimulating an outlet. But enough about my special day with Firefighter Newman.

Aisha meanders about plugging in too many cords while you're treating your hair, while you curl your hair, but when you also want to put gel on at the same time, and you've also got to plug in your human female makeup applicator as well as the machine that won't stop nagging at you to do the dishes. I'M WRITING A SCRIPT FOR TOMORROW NANCY, WOULD YOU GET OFF MY ASS FOR TWO GODDAMN SECONDS?!

While this moment is a real bore, I'm embarrassed to admit I got a chuckle out of it. Not because of Aisha's long and tedious explanation of hair-care, but because of the cut to Kimberly in the audience taking in every word she says.

Billy is perplexed when women talk about things other than neutrons.

Bulk and Skull drop by to show how not bothered they are that they weren't picked to be Firefighter Newman's pets. They've dressed themselves entirely in firefighter regalia and are accompanied by an adorable little Dalmatian. Enjoy that pooch for the 20 seconds it's on-screen though, because this scene is all about Bulk and Skull humiliating themselves. In case you somehow weren't familiar with their reason for existing.

Bulk interrupts Aisha's boring presentation with his own presentation: A slideshow about his father's inability to operate a barbecue. Bulk proudly proclaims these slides represent the world-famous 1993 Bulkmeier Family BBQ; an event which firefighters around the country refer to as "The Big One."

Okay I'll admit it. That's a good line.

Bulk starts to plug in the slides, but Aisha warns him he shouldn't use the outlet she's been putting plugs in. Bulk tells her that he knows exactly what he's doing, in spite of every other example he's given that proves otherwise. Bulk crams the plug in and causes a small shower of sparks to erupt from the socket. This marks the first time in Power Rangers' history that something other than a demonic lipstick-giraffe burst into sparks.

Aisha unplugs the powerstrip and promptly douses it with a fire extinguisher. As the class stops panicking, Aisha reminds her fellow students that water and electricity don't mix. Uh…thanks? Were you trying to elaborate on something that actually happened? Bulk didn't dump water all over the powerstrip or anything, he just overloaded it. What kind of shitty line is that? There was no water to be found in this scene at all. Bulk illustrated the point Aisha was trying to make before Aisha arbitrarily added in a completely separate point.

Inside the Youth Center, the Ranger Teens work on fireproofing Ernie's Juice Bar, possibly because his entire store is one blown fuse away from a plane ticket to Mexico and a new social security number. Oh sorry, I'm mistaken. They aren't fireproofing things so much as they're putting up posters about fire safety. The kind of thing that's really not going to prevent a grease fire from starting on one of Ernie's patented Greasy Tuesdays. It'd make sense if these posters had tips about fire prevention, but they're posters that literally say "Fire Safety Week."

I don't know why this little detail annoys me so badly, but it seems like such a quick fix from a production standpoint. All that needed to happen was have the prop team go down to Kinkos and make copies of some generic fire safety poster. Even the most meaningless PSA poster offers some kind of advice for an emergency. If I'm trapped inside of a burning building and run into a poster that says "Fire Safety Week", I'm not going to enjoy the irony as my innards are roasted like a Christmas turkey.

Aisha starts to get really overzealous about this fire prevention bullshit and asks Billy and Kimberly to put more posters up in the Youth Center's hallway. She says this as if these posters are going to do anything other than take up space. How about this show spends a couple bucks and buys some fire extinguishers she could put up? Then she can be placing them in unnecessary places in the Juice Bar, and you can still make your point that she's being too eager about this junior firefighter thing.

Tommy tells Aisha he's going to meet Rocky and Adam for a run in the park, and she mentions that he could put up some posters about fire safety on the way there. At first she asks if he could drop by the mall, but then she adds more locations to his list while Ernie rolls his eyes at her fanatical fire-safety bullshit, and I guess we're supposed to be on his side about this. I mean yeah she's sort of acting annoying, but this is supposedly a good deed. If she's fixing things that are actual fire hazards and not just shoving posters everywhere that is. 

Tommy says this fire shit is really getting in the way of his karate time, and Kimberly says this is a good opportunity for Aisha. Well look at that! A line that would almost lead us to believe there's something to Aisha. Is she a shrinking violet who has trouble speaking her mind? Is she really unsure of herself and found confidence through fire precautions? Keep guessing, because the show doesn't feel like telling us.

Zedd's Flamehead (ugh) monster is nearly completed, but he doesn't want the Ranger Teens getting wise to his schemes. He summons a smattering of Z-Putties to confront Adam, Tommy, and Rocky as they run through the park. Once the Putties arrive, they give me something I never realized I needed until now.

PUTTY JAZZ HANDS

Adam asks his friends what the Putties are doing here, and Rocky responds "THEY'RE CRUISIN' FOR A BRUISIN'!" Holy fuck.

What else could I possibly add to that?

The Ranger boys have a reasonably satisfying battle with the Z-Putties before beating them all into assorted clay chunks. Tommy surmises that there's trouble afoot, so he had better get back to the Youth Center and warn the other Ranger Teens that Zedd is up to something. Probably something fire-related if past interactions with him would serve as evidence.

Back at the Youth Center, Ernie asks Aisha how his store is looking. She gives him a list of things wrong with the Juice Bar, and they're only minor flaws. Pretty basic issues like "microwave plug that's been chewed by rats needs to be replaced", "aerosol cans should be moved away from candles", and "oily immigrant corpses can't be stashed underneath the Fryalator." Ernie says he can probably fix all those problems next week, so long as his new cook "works out," but Aisha says next week could be too late and these problems need to be fixed right away.

Billy tells Aisha that Ernie is probably doing the best he can, and even if he wasn't why should they care? It's not like they own stock in the Youth Center. Aisha tells him she's responsible for the safety of everyone there, so she doesn't have time to take any chances. I mean you already were responsible for the lives of everyone there since you wear magic pajamas to fight intergalactic mutant beasts, but I'm sure fire is also just as devastating.

Billy continues to give Aisha grief about taking this situation so seriously, and it's the most ridiculous thing coming from one of these characters. All they do is act like psychotic perfectionists who can't imagine things not done perfectly. Hey Billy, do you remember the time you got a B on a test and it sent you into a shame spiral? Why don't you cool your jets you hypocritical ass.

Tommy shows up and tells his friends that he did a bunch of cool karate moves on some grey-colored guys in the park. Then they all fell apart when he hit them in the chest really hard. Also Adam and Rocky were there too. Aisha asks if everyone's okay, but soon changes her tune when she sees her fliers are still in Tommy's back pocket. She starts throwing all sorts of shade at Tommy for not doing her nonsensical bidding and stopping by numerous locations to remind people that fire exists.

Well there we go, Aisha's one attribute is that she's obnxious. Wonderful. Does anyone still have Trini's number?

Out in the middle of nowhere, Bulk and Skull discuss this firefighter scheme and how it will eventually lead them to the Power Rangers or whatever. Skull says he's not cut out to be a fireman because he feels his calling is supposed to be in politics. Fitting this joke is in an episode about fire safety, because it's the worst attempt at a burn I've heard in my entire life.

Lord Zedd finally takes the time to create his new monster and zaps the Earth with a bolt of lightning. His magic summons forth the aforementioned Flamehead monster. Also something must have gotten in the way of his beam because that's not the only thing that emerges.

Flamehead
An image that manages to get stupider the longer you look at it.

The Flamehead monster starts spitting flames everywhere and decrees that the Rangers had better show themselves or she's going to turn Angel Grove to ashes. While she and her horse gallop through the woods, Bulk and Skull discuss what they can do to be near a fire when it starts. Lucky for them, Flamehead spews a massive stream of fire right behind Bulk, which prompts the boys to lose their collective shit and jump into a nearby lake. Are you two nuts?! All you're doing is leading that horse to water, and you're not going to want to know what he'll do next.

Flamehead and Flamehorse continue stampeding through the woods, only to arrive near Tommy, Adam, and Rocky. The boys morph to cool down this lady and her severe case of Honolulu hotfoot. When the monster is confronted with three Rangers, she barfs another fire stream at them, causing them to go flying in the air. White Ranger stands his ground before leaping into the air and kicking Flamehead right off her horse. His attack knocks her helmet off and reveals Flamehead's horrible secret. Her head is made of flames. Oh the shame!

Also really goofy fiery buckteeth.

Flamehead puts her helmet back on so nobody has to see her awful haircut, and then asks where the hell her horse went. Oh that's right, it's gone forever. We could only afford it for one day and it took us like 8 hours to get that shot of the monster getting kicked off of it right. So now it's gone, probably burned to death. All because Lord Zedd thought this monster was boring and had to spice it up with a horse.

Back at the Youth Center, Billy, Kim, and Aisha hear a news report about mysterious fires erupting in Angel Grove Park. Aisha says this falls under her jurisdiction as firefighting captain, and she needs to do something about it. Though it might also be a matter for actual real-life firefighters who do more than shove posters everywhere.

The Ranger Teens head to the Command Center where Zordon warns them about the Flamehead monster. Aisha tells Billy and Kimberly they should stay behind, and this flame-spitting dipshit is hers to finish off. Blue and Pink roll their eyes at Aisha's impetuous behavior, because it would be incredibly dangerous for one Ranger to go off on their own to fight a monster.

Unless Tommy does it, then it's cool.

After some protesting, Aisha is allowed to help out the other three Rangers without Billy and Kim. She morphs to the battleground and gets ready to fight, but not before Zedd can send in another group of Z-Putties to do his bidding. While Black, Red, and White try to fight the Z-Putties, Aisha butts into their fight and knocks the Putties away by herself. The three Rangers step aside to comment on how dangerous Aisha's behavior is. Instead of trying to, I don't know, talk to her about what she's doing or tell her they should retreat. It's not like we'd know what she's doing is wrong unless we had a bunch of our heroes standing around grousing about it.

Not only that, but why is Aisha fighting Putties by herself so dangerous? They're fucking Putties. She's fought these things without having Ranger powers for months now. So she's acting out and showboating. That's obviously not a good thing (unless Tommy does it), but it's not like she's running headfirst into flames. She's effortlessly killing mindless foot soldiers. You guys do this every week, why is it so different now that she's exerting herself?

Zordon becomes wary of the situation and teleports the four Ranger Teens into the Command Center. He declares that he allowed Aisha to go by herself so she could learn an important lesson about knowing when to ask for help and thinking clearly. Which isn't really a lesson that applies to her earlier behavior about taking her fire captain role too seriously. It's a lesson she's supposed to learn due to behavior she exhibited after being sent into battle alone.

Not only that, how fucking lazy is it for Zordon to actually blurt out "THIS WAS MEANT TO TEACH YOU A LESSON!?" Instead of actually, you know, having Aisha learn a lesson herself? That is some massively half-assed writing. Why even have characters learn things when we can have the giant monster head tell them what they should be doing in life? Thanks for keeping us on the straight and narrow Zordon! Those pesky personalities of ours keep trying to get in the way.

So whatever, Aisha gets shamed for trying to have humanity and the other Rangers say they're there to help her out. Yadda yadda teamwork is good, no I in team, all that shit. What an important lesson that sort-of I suppose almost relates to this episode. The Rangers all morph back to Flamehead's location where Aisha comes up with a new idea. If the Rangers combine their powers, they can reflect the monster's attack right back at her. No points for guessing if this works.

Featuring a cameo from a Dairanger villain's arm on the left.

Lord Zedd turns Flamehead giant, and for whatever reason that makes her lose the hood she had while she was small? Probably because some monster designer would be pissed if he didn't get to show off the spooky fire head design he came up with. The Rangers summon their Thunderzords, except for Tommy who decides kicking that lady off her horse was enough effort for him. The Thunder Megazord is formed and swiftly cuts down Flamehead with its Thunder Saber. Flamehead's explosion scatters numerous flames to and fro, which will certainly create a lot more business for the fire department. Glad to see we picked the right candidate for the position Aisha. Thanks for nothing.

The Ranger Teens reconvene at the Youth Center where Aisha apologizes for taking a position she was tangentially given by a fireman so seriously. Billy tells her to shut the fuck up because Bulk and Skull just walked in the door and they probably have something wacky to say.

The bullies bemoan the fact that they were kicked out of their firefighting club for refusing to fight fires, and Skull sadly adds, "They took away the dog." Easily the best line of the episode depending on how you read it. Ernie interrupts the boys' tragic life-story by heading around back to bring out a surprise for Aisha. Kim says they wanted to thank her for all the hard work she does, and how nice she is to not bitch and moan that they never pay attention to her. Ernie brings out a big cake covered in candles, which gives Skull 'Nam flashbacks.

Bully the Less grabs a pitcher of water and hurls it in Bulk's face, and then the episode ends. You know what? Fuck this episode. You give me a cake, an honest to goodness cake, and you can't even have Bulk fall into it? What are you every paying these two for? The first line of their contract is "Must fall into food items once every five episodes." What kind of sociopath wrote this shit? When Bulk stops falling into cakes, you can count me out. Get out of my face.




Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Fireman Newman's Firmly Toned and Chiseled Buttcheeks





Personal Thoughts:


I really want to like this episode more than I do. It feels like a breath of fresh air after the absolute nothing we got the last two weeks. It's not great at all, but it's better than terrible? I keep wanting to say it's not worth checking out, but there are some decent things in this episode. I think I'm mostly annoyed that this is one of maybe three focus episodes Aisha will be getting during her Ranger tenure, and it certainly isn't much to write home about. This seems like an episode you would do after you've established Aisha as some sort of character. When your first presentation of someone is an episode where they're not acting like they typically do, what the fuck are you even doing?

But that's not to say this episode is irredeemable. I've been complaining about Season 2's splice-fights for longer than anyone would care to read, but this episode manages to rise above the sub-par shittiness of the usual Season 2 fare. The battle with Flamehead has an actual ending for Christ' sake. They defeat the monster before it grows! Whoever was editing this week was definitely on their A-game. As a matter of fact, the editing was so good that I cut a joke from this draft out of respect.

During the scene where White Ranger kicks Flamehead off her horse, there's an editing mistake I didn't notice for a very long time. White Ranger jumps up and kicks in US footage, then you very briefly see a foot connect with Flamehead in Japanese footage. The foot is actually the white sneaker of one of the Dairangers, but it's cut so quick that you can barely make it out. It's honestly really good editing. This was the best shot of the shoe I could get from the DVD, which not only speaks to the quality of the editor, but my incompetent image capturing abilities.

White Ranger Makes Foot Guy Appear

Why did they have to keep Flamehead off-screen? 'Cause they didn't have her costume silly! I actually know what happened to part of her outfit though. That spooky flame head she has when the hood falls off would later be repainted for a background monster in 1994's Ninja Sentai Kakuranger. Much like Fourhead and Genie before her.

Kakuranger Flamehead Hooded Heat Haze
If more than zero readers care about recycled monster costumes, this was all worth it.

Oh yeah, and there was another awful page from the script this week that absolutely floored me. I jokingly said how meaningless Aisha's efforts were if all she did was put posters all over the place. Well I shit you not, here is a line that Zedd was supposed to have in this first draft of this episode.


Holy lord. If this episode had that line I would have turned it off and posted nothing but a video of me self-immolating. Fire safety sucks dick.






6 comments:

  1. Just curious. Between the Fireman Newman parts and the bit about Adam's abs a few weeks back I was wondering if you are Gay or Bi or if it's just for jokes?

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    1. I just like havin' fun! Who doesn't love a good hunk right?

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  2. I'm pretty sure everything Ms. Applebee teaches is elementary-school level. This may also be why the rangers are still in her class when they get turned into little kids later on (the first time I think).

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  3. I have to admit, I think Aisha mentioning not to use water on an electrical fire was a good inclusion, as undoubtedly there would be little kids at home asking why she didn't just use water on the fire. As a parent, that's one less question I have to answer. :)

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  4. I remember liking this episode when i first saw it, and I liked how this explored an aspect of Aisha that I don't think ever got explored again, being dedicated to something to such an extreme that it borders on overzealous behavior. granted, this is stuff that I haven't watched in a logn while, but it is stuff I'm willing to reexamine in my adult years.

    While I will always love the MMPR era, I am not blind to some of its formulaic flaws when it came to some of the storytelling being somewhat basic and somewhat simplistic, but there is still an overall charm to things mostly stemming from the performers.

    and while it did kinda showcase the heroes as being paragons of virtue, and seemed to always be doing good things and volunteering here and there for all kinds of charities and whatnot, it still instilled within me a sense of right and wrong, the idea of doing good just for the sake of doing good.

    Sure the whole Fire Safety thing did come across as being a bit simplistic and almost elementary school level. I also agree that this episode could've worked if they had already established certain aspects of Aisha's personality beforehand, but I'm thinking the writers were still kinda scrambling to come up with things to have these new Rangers do given they had just lost three familiar faces and it must've played havoc with the writers on the show trying to come up with something new to explore on a daily basis. and the fact that parents were complaining about Zedd being too scary, that probably didn't help things either.

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    1. I think that unless you actively embrace the formulaic flaws in the MMPR era, there's actually very little about it to make it any more worth engaging with twenty-five years later than any other piece of children's TV of the era. The fact that it's interesting in how it goes wrong is the biggest thing it has over the dozens of shows that didn't last twenty-three seasons.

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