Friday, June 17, 2016

MMPR Season 2 Episode 41: The Wedding Part 1



Finster Afflicted With Midlife Crisis
Magical Superpower Depository Used For Gardening











Thank you lovely readers for tolerating the brief delay, but I think the build-up was worth it. I vividly remember this upcoming trilogy of episodes being a marked improvement over the dreck Season 2 has shoveled in our faces. Ever since the 3 new Rangers joined the team, Power Rangers has behaved as though this was a massive change to the status quo. Yeah I guess it's interesting there are three new actors, but all you've done is put three chunks of cardboard in those spandex suits. It's been over a dozen episodes and I'm still not sure if Rocky is a real character or a fever dream. I thought some new characters might shake things up, but it couldn't have felt more underwhelming if Trini, Jason, and Zack were replaced by identical twins.

But fear not! The writers of Power Rangers Season 2 kept an ace in the hole. No, it's not a new costume for Tommy, it's a certain entity floating in space that they've kept ready for just such an occasion.

Before we delve into all of that, the Ranger Teens are about to get some exciting news from Principal Caplan! Angel Grove High's class of recurring characters is going on a trip to Australia. No, I'm not making that up. The Rangers Teens and Skulk are going to be sent to another fucking continent. I don't know what kind of rich prep school you guys went to, but my high school just sent some of us to Mexico to get shithoused on Tequila and take pictures with homeless people.

No honestly, why are you sending high schoolers to Australia? You want them to get eaten by mutant tarantulas? Did a location scout find a park in California overrun with kangaroos you can pass off as Tasmania? Are you filming a movie down there on the cheap?

Huh? What's that? Oh…I see. That makes sense. Thank you very much.

The Simpsons are going to Australia!!

As soon as the scene transitions away from Angel Grove High School, we cut to footage of a grainier quality to signify the show is clearly no longer filming in California. Even though the scene we're watching is supposed to involve them leaving Angel Grove. Ernie tells the Ranger Teens to keep a close eye on Bulk and Skull. Ernie clearly knows if these two are left unchecked down under, they'll violently demand that the natives introduce them to Crash Bandicoot.

The Ranger Teens chuckle and oblige wh-I'm sorry, but this footage is so obviously off. It's absolutely jarring and I can't stop noticing it. This looks like something filmed for public access. I keep expecting one of the Rangers to discuss how they'll soon be departing for the first voyage of the Mimi.

Kamen Rider Kuuga.jpg

Our heroes discuss their upcoming trip in awkwardly dubbed dialog, which renders a line from Aisha completely mute. Why'd they have to dub over all the lines in this scene? Who knows. Maybe Tony Abbott saw a boat carrying Saban's recording equipment and ordered it blown up in case any refugees were onboard.

Billy vomits out some dubbed over exposition about how lucky they are that their vacation coincided with Lord Zedd's hundred year sleep. I wish I had a nice hundred year sleep too, I could be halfway through all the nonsense Billy is spoutin' off.

Before anybody asks, this isn't a sleep that lasts one hundred years, but rather a sleep that Zedd partakes in once every hundred years. Because the former would just be fucking absurd. Though if I accept the idea of a radiator-faced sorcerer without skin born from the deepest reaches of space, I can't call foul on the fact that he takes a nap every couple of decades. Fool me 101 times Power Rangers, shame's still on me.

Lord Zedd uses his patented Zedd-O-Vision to determine the Ranger Teens' location. Since they're going to be south of the equator, they're about to leave Angel Grove completely defenseless. The show fails to elaborate on how the Ranger Teens were able to remove Zordon's explosive ankle monitors. Zedd throws a little hissy fit that he's going to be stuck napping when he should be sending some kind of umbrella cyclops fish to destroy the world, but Goldar reminds the evil emperor that his evil energies must be recharged. Goldar also tells Zedd that the magic nap won't work unless Zedd wears those really tight bicycle shorts while he's asleep.

Lord Zedd won't have much time to worry about his chafing genitals though, because he's about to get a visit from an old friend that he shitcanned a while ago.

AH! AFTER 100 EPISODES I'M FREE

But forget that intergalactic power struggle, the Ranger Teens have a continent to scope out! The students of Angel Grove scope out the Sydney Opera House…and I think a bay or something. Look, we filmed them in front of the most famous building in Australia. Isn't that enough for you people?

All the rest of the footage of Australia is relegated to a brief montage set to some poppy music about being on your own, which doesn't quite mesh with a scene of friends hanging out together. Nor does it fit this scene that is inexplicably in a montage of Australia location shots.

Anyone else ready for Zedd's kangaroo monster this week?

Back inside the Command Center, Zordon asks why Alpha 5 is acting like such a whiny little bitch today. Alpha complains how much he misses the Rangers since they've been gone for a whole 20 minutes. Zordon reminds Alpha that their death merchants aren't needed so long as Zedd is in the midst of some evil napping, and maybe he could take two seconds to chill his fucking circuit boards. Alpha 5 says some permutation of "Ay-Yi-Yi" about 40 more time, and then the scene sputters to a close.

As Rita's dumpster heads towards the Moon, Goldar lays his master down to sleep. It's the most bizarre and surreal thing to see a golden monkeyman helping a leathery-skinned space wizard go down for a nap. Treating Lord Zedd like he's some kind of oversized toddler doesn't seem like it has a place in this universe, but here we are. Much like an infant, Zedd gripes at Goldar constantly before the golden buffoon wishes him "sour dreams." Ugh. Of course he does. I'm also taking away 100 points for this show not making a joke about Lord Zedd catching Z's. It's right there on his helmet and you fucked it up.

Back down under, the Ranger Teens, as well as Bulk and Skull, enjoy a nice delicious Australian breakfast.

Look, to hell with this. Can we focus on the fact that our lead characters were sent to another fucking continent in the first two minutes of an episode? It was treated like the most blasé thing ever. What's that? We're going to experience another country's beauty and natural splendor? I guess that's worth a coy smile. All of the excitement of going to a new country and exploring a new culture is brushed over in favor of Bulk snuggling with a kangaroo doll. It's the most unbelievable bullshit in a show where we just had a scene of Lord Zedd in a stocking cap getting tucked in for a nap.

The scene that would usually consist of the Ranger Teens discussing how amazing this opportunity is was instead used to hype up Zedd's galactic nap. That's the kind of thing you can have Zordon talk about. He's the one who knows all the garbage the writers come up with, so why not give the Ranger Teens time to act like actual people going on a trip to a strange new foreign land? That is incredible and all we get are scenes of ostensible humans smiling during a montage of Australia b-roll. You've got three episodes of this mini-series Power Rangers, try to pace yourself a little better than putting the Rangers halfway across the globe in the span of three minutes.

Then there's a cute scene of Bulk and Skull attempting an Australian accent to order food from the breakfast buffet. It doesn't end in them getting humiliated or falling into a pile of koala shit, but instead focuses on the fact that these two guys are actually funny. Seeing them act smug as they embellish their voices with terrible Aussie accents is wonderful. It will never cease to amaze me that scenes with the comic relief bullies manage to be paced better than scenes featuring intergalactic superheroes trying to retain a secret identity.

Speaking of our cardboard leads, they notice the skies flash with thunder and briefly darken as soon as Rita's dumpster crash lands on the Moon. They wonder if it's anything they should be worried about. No probably not you guys. Australia is simply in the perfect location to see Aurora Borealis, even when it's localized entirely in your kitchen!

Aisha tells everyone else to shut the fuck up about freak natural occurrences, because they've got much more important issues to tackle. Mostly how they're supposed to get all their souvenirs home!

Women

Be

Shoppin'.

Rocky posits a horrendously unfunny joke by saying they could take them home by tugboat. Try saying a deplorable joke like that in front of actual human beings. You'd get crucified. Though as you might expect, the rest of the Power Eunuchs think it's the funniest goddamned thing ever said.

Power Rangers Tugboat fake laugh
...You don't need to mock me Tommy.

Rita somehow manages to undo the seal to her space dumpster and finds herself back home at the Moon Palace. The only problem is she's still shrunk down to the size of an action figure. She's not going to get a whole lot of conquering done like that. The only thing that's going to happen with her now is Saban snatching her up and selling her to the highest bidding toy company.

Rita wanders inside the Moon Palace and immediately demonstrates why stealth isn't her strong suit. The second she gets there, Rita runs her screechy little mouth off and screams to ask if anybody's home. Haha what a funny joke Rita. Remember how the last time you were in this palace you got shoved in a trash can by Goldar? The last thing you need to be doing is trying to get the attention of the guys who booted your witchy ass out of here.

Deep inside the Moon Palace, there is one villain who is still chugging along. Plugging away and trying to do their best. My man.

Lord Zedd stole his headband!

Finster wallows in the sadness that he used to be somebody around here. He used to matter. Now he's stuck watching Zedd make monsters out of trophies and slapping an eyeball on them. Finster reminisces about when Rita was around and he got the goddamn respect that he deserved. Now he's treated like a joke, just old and out of the way.

If you think I'm making any of this backstory up, you're sorely mistaken. This show took the time to give the monster-making dog elf a character. No, even that's underselling what Power Rangers just did. The writers acknowledged the fact that they have done absolutely nothing with the character, and proceeded to have the character himself comment on his exclusion. They turned their sloppiness into an actual believable character moment for Finster.

Now you good people know I have a distinct love of Finster, so it may sound like I'm drumming up something that isn't really here. I really don't think that's the case, because the little we've seen of Finster as a character allows this scene to make total sense.

He's an artist who has distinct love for his craft, and he makes a point to emphasize the art of monster-making. He wouldn't make Pudgy Pig initially because he found the creature to not be up to snuff, he models each of his creations by hand before popping them into the Monstermatic, Rita would often ask his advice on which monster to use. Rita was the same villain who screamed at Goldar for offering suggestions, so the fact she values Finster's input speaks volumes towards how he clearly knows what the fuck he's doing. Now he's shoved into the background and given no chance to provide input. What fate could be worse for someone who values that level of respect? It's perfect.

Now maybe they can give Squatt and Baboo anything to do other than spout off one terrible line per month.

Tiny Toy Rita™ walks into Finster's chamber and screeches at him to not yearn for the past any longer, since the witch is back, and there's hell to pay. She demands that Finster use his space know-how to turn her full-size again, which is no problem for Finster of course.  He conveniently has a Re-Bigulator for just such an occasion! Did I underline the word convenient in that last sentence? Cause holy shit.

To the surprise of those without brainstems, Finster's device works perfectly in restoring Rita to full size. After she turns big again, her reaction is actually pretty adorable.

I ship it.

While Zedd naps, Rita discusses with Finster how she can regain control of the Moon Palace. Finster assures her that he has been making some absolutely ferocious monsters during her absence. Rita says that monster malarkey isn't going to get her anywhere this time, and she's going to have to step up her game. She needs a potion, but not just any potion. No, she needs a LOVE potion. A love potion so strong that it can make Lord Zedd fall in love with her, which in turn will allow her to control Zedd and the world. I was about to ask where she got this plan, but it must have been next to her in that garbage can.

Rita decides she's going to need to murder the Power Rangers first. That way she can use their decapitated heads as a wedding present to Lord Zedd. Do spouses often give each other wedding presents? I'm pretty sure that's not how weddings work, but as an incel I'm not interested in being around human females. This scheme makes even less sense when you remember Rita is going to be drugging Zedd into marrying her. Why would you also need to give him a gift when he's going to be under a spell? It's almost like the Power Rangers are a complete afterthought in this episode and the real focus is on the villains.

Anybody else ready for Season 3?

Alpha 5 realizes his boredom has become even worse during the past four minutes, so he decides to take a walk around the desert surrounding the Command Center. I know how he feels. When I'm feeling blue, nothing perks me up quite like a sweltering valley filled with dead plants and jackalope carcasses. Alpha decides this godawful desert could use some spicing up, and taps into the Morphing Grid in order to create some flowers. The Morphing Grid. The thing that gives energy to the Power Rangers. Alpha can use that to sprout some petunias.

There aren't enough "Sure, why not's" in the universe to give this show.

Unfortunately for Alpha, his departure from the Command Center has left him vulnerable to a fiendish plot. Finster appears behind Alpha, aided by a pair of Z-Putties, and places a small disc into Alpha's back. What does this mean? It means now the villains are in control of the comic relief robot. May God have mercy on us all.

The ~Evil~ Alpha 5 returns to the Command Center and starts to backsass Zordon for being an overinflated bag of shit for so many centuries. Zordon asks what the hell his triflin' robo-ass is doing, but Alpha 5 finally grows a backbone. The Android with Attitude tells him to eat a fat set of balls, because he's done taking orders from an old man who enslaves teenagers to serve as pawns in blood feuds with witches. Zordon's brow furrows as he realizes it's time to make an Alpha 6.

~Evil~ Alpha contacts the Ranger Teens in Australia and tells them they need to morph and teleport to the abandoned Specter Theater in downtown Angel Grove. Once they're there, he'll give them further instructions. Zordon tries to chime in and tell the Rangers his robot is acting a fool, but Alpha 5 presses a random combination of buttons that mute Zordon's voice. Alpha feigns panic as he tells the Rangers he'll contact them soon. Hopefully after they're greeted by a scorpion combined with John Wilkes Booth.

The Ranger Teens ditch their glorious vacation in Australia so they can morph and figure out what's going on in some haunted theater or whatever the fuck. Thanks for taking us out of paradise Alpha. Were Scooby and the gang busy? The morphed Rangers arrive at the Specter Theater where they're shocked to find absolutely nothing wrong. Not even one ding dong ghost. Maybe the editors are scrambling to find a Sentai monster that looks like Slimer, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, or at the very least Ernie Hudson.

Zordon, somehow in control of his voice once again, demands to know what happened to Alpha 5 out in that desert. Alpha hilariously calls Zordon "baldy," and tells him he's dealing with the new and improved Alpha 5 now. ~Evil~ Alpha informs Zordon that working for him has been a real drag, and he's quitting this lousy job. I don't know about you guys but I really prefer the new angle this show is giving Alpha 5. I hope he stays a devious little fuck for the rest of the series.

Alpha becomes sick of Zordon gassin' on about how something is wrong, and decides to give Zordon a little makeover. An image that I absolutely must share with all of you.

If you don't find this amusing, please leave this blog and never return.

I'm going on record right now that this is easily the best thing Power Rangers has done with Zordon. 

The Rangers continue to wander around the spooky abandoned theater, doing nothing of note because Alpha has a CD-Rom in his back turning him into Poochy. The Rangers are soon startled when all of the exits in the abandoned theater are sealed shut with crackling red energy. If you're too much of a chicken to watch an actual horror movie, I would suggest this G-Rated attempt at one.

Back on the Moon, Rita has been given an intergalactic facial by Finster. No...the other kind of facial. Ya weirdos. Rita asks if this treatment is enough to make her beautiful for Lord Zedd, and I'm yet again left wondering why she needs to do all this nonsense. You're using an honest to goodness love potion for Christ' sake. Did Finster preface this potion brewing by informing Rita that he has no idea what he's doing? Is Rita's self-esteem so low that she assumes even a love potion won't cover up her glaring flaws? It's sad to see someone with such terrible body dysMORPHia.

Well no need to worry about Rita's crippling self-doubt, because Finster's moon mud did just the trick. I think.

Thanks for the race lift Finster.

Inside the Specter Theater, Tommy tries to get back into contact with Alpha 5. His efforts are fruitless however, as Alpha 5 is currently giving Zordon a unibrow and silly hillbilly teeth. The Rangers then decide this incredibly suspicious behavior is worth waiting out, and remain stationary inside the theater. Aren't you guys supposed to be smart or something? How do you see exits slamming shut and loud thunderstorms outside and assume Alpha can't answer your call because he's in the shower? Could you dweebs offer some level of suspicion for once? "Gee golly whilikers everybody, this ghostly mansion sure is spooky. Better stick around for another few hours in case Alpha sees that we called!"

While Lord Zedd slumbers, Rita sneaks into his chamber with her love potion in hand. She has a pretty great line when she says to nobody in particular, "How'd ya' like to wake up next to that every morning?" Maybe I'm a simpleton, but I love when a children's show has a character say, "What an ugly son of a bitch. I can't believe I'm going to have to feel his turgid skinless balls on my back when the alarm is going off. Hope he's ready to get fucked twice a year with one blowie on the Fourth of July."

As the love potion pours into Zedd's tubes, Finster is hard at work creating monsters. He plans on recreating some of Rita's favorite monsters to attend the wedding, and some of the meanest monsters to ambush the Power Rangers. Or at least monsters that Saban still has in storage that weren't stolen by disgruntled employees.

Inside of the theater, the Rangers feel a bizarre surge of energy. They look up on one of the rafters of the theater only to see the Invenusable Fly Trap emerge. Hey! You're just pissed the Rangers killed you so easily last week. Get out of here you nobody.

But Fly Trap isn't alone! Soccadillo and Saliguana also appear inside of the theater. When the Rangers leap down from the rafters to escape the monsters, they run into Eye Guy, Grumble Bee, Peckster, and Dramole. Sweet shit, this is a who's who of mediocre old monsters! The Rangers refuse to participate in any battle where they don't have a significant advantage in numbers, and attempt to teleport out. The teleportation fails and the Rangers are left standing in the midst of a giant monster free-for-all.

The Rangers realize their only remaining option is to fight their way through the creatures, and they call on their Power Weapons. Unfortunately, the power of the Specter Theater and nagging parents groups prevent their weapons from materializing. The monsters cackle at the emasculated Rangers, and our heroes realize what happened.

They spent 20 minutes trapped in a flying death machine sharing the same recycled air as Bulk and Skull. They listened to the sound of those idiots chewing, farting, and choking in their sleep. These 6 magical heroes finally land in Australia and before they can even see one goddamned koala, this robot demands that they drag their asses back home to go fight intergalactic ghouls. And what do they find? That rin tin tin hunk of shit Judas'd them to a space wizard. 30 pieces of silver is all that's going to be left of him as soon as they escape, and they'll spread his beep boop ashes all over the Sydney Opera House. 


TO BE CONTINUED





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Personal Thoughts



Oh fuck yeah, this trilogy is (mostly) my jam. I seriously expected to be disappointed while rewatching this episode, but I'm pleasantly surprised. Rita comes back and starts throwing her weight around, Finster finally comes back into the limelight, Alpha 5's attitude adjustment is awesome, and we get cameo appearances from a bunch of old monsters. It's everything I could ever ask for and more. You might notice something missing from what I enjoyed about this episode though. The Rangers themselves.

The Ranger Teens feel pretty unnecessary in this episode, which is peculiar considering they're in fucking Australia. It's brushed aside so casually like the show barely wants to acknowledge they're sending the characters somewhere totally off the wall. Probably because the show just wanted an excuse to film scenes of the Rangers in Australia while they were filming Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie.

That's another point worth making about this episode, all of the action scenes were filmed in the US with stunt actors, while the Ranger Teen stuff was all in Australia. That's why so much of this episode is focused on Zordon and Alpha as well as the villains. You can film stuff revolving around them since all those actors are still in the United States. The writers presumably had wanted to bring Rita back for a while anyway, so these episodes were a natural fit to film while the Rangers were down under.

Speaking of Rita, I kind of love the absurd way they justify changing her actress. We can't keep using stock footage of a Japanese woman if Rita is going to be in a bunch of scenes with Zedd, so we'll recast her as a young Latin actress because she got a "makeover." A makeover that fundamentally changed her ethnicity and facial structure. Eh fuck it, it's moon magic. Next scene.

There's something pretty nifty with regards to the Specter Theater. The establishing shot of the theater is Sentai footage, but not from Dairanger. This footage actually comes from the next Sentai series, Ninja Sentai Kakuranger. A series that Power Rangers hadn't even adapted yet! I don't know why I find something like that so amusing, but it feels like a subtle confirmation that this gravy train is going for a third season and none of you bastards out there are gonna' slow us down!

Also kind of cute is the name, Specter Theater. I'm not entirely sure if it's intentional, but the monsters in Kakuranger are known as the Youkai; a type of traditional Japanese spirits and monsters. Another word you could use to refer to the Youkai would be "specters." Since the footage of the Specter Theater was housing literal specters in the source footage, I get the impression it might have been a slight nod to the Japanese material.

That or I'm looking way too deep into this. Who knows?







4 comments:

  1. When this trilogy of episodes came about, I was originally on the fence of the idea of Rita coming back, largely because Zedd was meant to be the new bad ass villain, but upon reflection it actually adds some good nuance to things, especially as it lead into season three. But part of me was not all that for this idea because it seemed to take away from Zedd's menace, no doubt also brought on by those idiotic Parent activists groups who complained and bitched and moaned about the villains being 'too scary'. I prefer scary and imposing villains with a touch of humor not villains who are just one big joke.

    Anyway, kudos definitely has to be given to the writers who really upped their game with what they wrote for Evil Alpha and even for the villains themselves.

    I also rather dig the idea of super villain couples, and heck as things headed into season three, they created a nice balance for Zedd and Rita, showing them devising strategies together and at times actually showcased genuine affection for one another.

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  2. We've been looking forward to THIS set of reviews!

    I thought the Ranger acting was better in the Australia montage that usual - more relaxed and natural - and then I realised that's because it's not acting, that's the actors being filmed on their day off bumming around Sydney.

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  3. One day, years and years later, out of the blue, I suddenly became really, really bothered by the vaguely rapey overtones of Rita drugging Lord Zedd into marrying her, and the show just rolling with it like it's a cute silly villain thing. For kids!

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  4. Hey Saban, your footage is broken. You're ALREADY in Australia.

    Next time maybe don't film a shot of a train with a clear CityRail logo, yeah?

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