Friday, August 5, 2016

MMPR Season 2 Episode 48: Storybook Rangers Part 1


Living Nightmare Reborn as Gift-Giving Elf
Zedd's Skinless Abs Given a Tickling










Am I the only one noticing how many multi-part episodes this season has been backloaded with? Return of the Green Ranger, The Wedding, Rangers Back in Time, and now Storybook Rangers. This isn't meant to be a complaint, not even from a nitpicky bitch like me. I'm only noticing how heavy into multi-parters this series has started to get. It's a trend that's going to become even more prevalent in Season 3, and I'm curious if this is because the writers of Power Rangers were stepping out of their comfort zone to get more creative with the material they had available. I mean why else would you churn out two episodes with a dud monster like Photomare?

This week, the Ranger Teens are enjoying the Angel Grove High book fair. An event that convinces gullible assholes to purchase overpriced, mediocre books. If you want a novelty book on how to perform tepid magic tricks, this is the place to be!

Billy finds a book entitled "Science is Cool: and Other Things to Say to Humiliate Yourself in Front of Women." Aisha finds some book about getting into the fashion industry, Rocky finds a book about meditation or some other vaguely martial-arts related thing, and Adam doesn't find any books because he isn't allowed to have a personality. Kimberly tells Tommy how much she loves these book fairs, and lets him know that fairy tales are her favorite. She tells him how much she always wanted to be a princess and get rescued by a valiant knight on a white horse. Did you hear that? It was the sound of Mary Wollstonecraft putting a musket in her mouth and firing.

The only thing sort of cute about this grating line is when Tommy asks if a knight riding in on a white tiger would suffice. Is that cute or am I so deeply digging for anything to enjoy in this ridiculous series that I'm enjoying something that's utterly terrible?

I have Sabanholm's Syndrome.

Tommy rubs together the wet matchsticks he calls braincells and comes to a complex conclusion: Kimberly like fantasy book! She picks out a book she used to read when she was a kid called "Grumble the Magic Elf," and he gives a couple dollars to some extra who's barely paying attention to the scene. Kim thanks Tommy for buying her a moldy old book that smells like an ashtray and kisses him on the cheek. That may not sound like much to you, but in Power Rangers, that's the equivalent of 9th base.

Grumble the Magic Elf pictured exactly where it belongs.

Speaking of things that belong in fairy tales, the evil moon witch observes our brave heroes and plots to do something nasty. Goldar comes by and demands to know what this horrible harpy is planning so he can blab about it to Lord Zedd, but Rita tells him off by calling him a 24-karat freak. I almost want to go back to Season 1 and watch Goldar and Rita's relationship back then so I can compare it to how vastly different and absurd it's become now. The only two characters in this friggin' show that have been developed are the gold ape mongrel and his shrieking witch boss. What a world we live in.

Back at the Book Fair, Bulk and Skull appear to be breaking out in hives while in the presence of all this educational material. Bulk says the thought of being surrounded by all these books and dweebs makes him want to get home to his comically food-themed bedroom where he can cry himself to sleep. The only reason our resident morons are here is so that Skull can buy a book for his mom. That shouldn't be a problem Skull. I think this book fair has a nice selection of 12 step program books.

Bulk is disgusted by all this ink and paper until he locates a book worth reading. No, it's not "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," it's a book about creating your own monster. Skull asks who would be stupid enough to buy a bullshit book like that, and Bulk proudly retorts "We would!" A great line to set up one of the dumbest ideas these two have ever come up with.

Bulk thinks the only logical way to uncover the identity of the Power Rangers is to create a monster of their own, and when the Rangers come to fight it, they'll rip off their helmets. Pack it in everyone, it's not getting dumber than that. We're finishing Season 2 off with some of the dumbest garbage since…well since Season 1.

Tommy, Kimberly, and inexplicably Rocky walk home from the book fair while discussing all the cheap books they wasted their money on. While they walk, Kimberly discusses how much she loves the book her dad read to her in order to make her forget about his impending divorce. Rita is equally interested in this storybook, as she blasts it out of Kimberly's hands with her wand. It (appropriately) lands in a nearby garbage can, where the three Ranger Teens inspect it.  As soon as Kim lays a hand on the book, she and the boys are immediately transported inside of it through the magic of "We needed a plot this week and someone wrote the title Storybook Rangers so whatever let's go with it."

Once the Ranger Teens arrive inside of the book, they're met with lo-pfffft ahahahaAHAHAHAHA WHAT?! LOOK AT THIS SHIT!

This would have looked terrible in Steamboat Willy

Holy Christ what is this garbage? Did this even look good back in 1995? What an absolute travesty. Did anybody ever read a storybook that looked like this? If so, what books did your parents read to your sibling they actually loved?

Tommy, Kimberly, and all the rest try contacting Zordon. Since the episode would be over in about six seconds if they reached him, their Communicators fail to work. Way to go Billy, your dumbass science can't even protect us from magical fairy tales. Thanks for nothing.

While our heroes sit and pout over their fate inside of a technicolor nightmare, they meet a familiar looking creature who causes my blood pressure to skyrocket.

YOU

Oh you have to be fucking me. That's not Grumble the Magic Elf at all. That's Mr. Goddamned Ticklesneezer. I thought I was done seeing that abomination of God when Season 1 wrapped. Nope! Of course not. The show needed a monster costume for this episode so they had to dig out the doofiest-looking piece of shit, glue some vampire fangs to his mouth, pop on a Santa hat, and presto! Abra Kadogshit.

Though he's made from the scourge of all mankind, Grumble endears himself to me almost immediately. The first thing he says to these whitebread losers in his storybook is "Who are you, and what are you doing here?" When Kim mentions that she's read his story over 100 times, he asks her if she wants a medal. They're not incredible disses, but he's so absolutely cynical about these losers polluting his book that I can't help but love him. What's not to like? He's unhappy, he's easily frustrated, he complains, his skin is an unhealthy color due to a lack of sunlight, and he stays up until 2 in the morning writing a blog about a television show nobody has watched in 30 years.

Kim recites the plot of this mundane story to her friends, and points out that Grumble has been put under a spell by an evil wizard to act like a dickhead. If he ever wants to stop being unhappy, he'll have to deliver a cartful of toys to orphan children to break the curse. It's sort of like the plot to Beauty and the Beast if the handsome prince were a 7 foot tall unfuckable blue goblin.

Lord Zedd has finally gotten himself involved in the plot this week and saunters into frame. After a completely necessary explanation of what Rita did about three minutes ago, Zedd plots his own addition to her scheme. If he can make it so that this storybook never ends, then the Ranger Teens will never be able to escape from it. In order to accomplish this, he'll send his Z-Putties to steal all of Grumble's toys so they can never be delivered.

Well that settles it everyone. Lord Zedd has successfully completed his transformation into a mustache-twirling cartoon character.

Meanwhile, a pair of good-looking young hunks enjoy themselves in the park. They notice the "Grumble the Magic Elf" book sitting in the trash and decide to take it back to the book fair. I don't know who these guys are supposed to be or what the hell they're doing in this show. 

Is that Johnny Yong Bosch's stunt double?

The Ranger Teens trapped inside the storybook attempt to follow Grumble so that they can find the end of the story. The vampire-elf tells them to politely get fucked and leave him alone so he can live out the miserable existence he's been subjected to. Grumble breaks the fourth wall of his reality a number of times, referring to it as a book and discussing what page he's currently on. What that must mean is that Grumble is forced to relive this godforsaken story every single time somebody flips it back to page 1. A pain I know all too well. Week by week.

That or he may have to reset himself every time he reaches the end of his story. Can you imagine anything more despicable? Hope you've got an extra potent bag of sleeping pills in that sack of toys Grumble. The only thing I want this Christmas is the gift of permanent sleep.

The Z-Putties trail those two hunky extras from earlier and teleport themselves inside of the book. Why do they need to be so covert against normal humans? They could run up to these beefcakes and gobble in their faces in order to steal that book. The Z-Putties have somehow become even more insignificant of a fighting squadron as this season has continued, and that is a god damned miracle.

One of the Putties inspects Grumble's toy-cart while Tommy tries to talk some sense into the giant Smurf-man. I don't have any idea why the Putties are dicking around about this task, but even Zedd comments on it. He bitches and moans about how pathetic his Putty forces are in a completely useless scene that feels like some serious filler. The only reason the Putties are so pathetic this week is so there can be a pointless scene of Zedd complaining about them and zapping them so that they can become more focused on their goal. In a show as blatant about filler as Power Rangers is, this still stands out as a despicably egregious example.

With Zedd's jolt of pointless lightning, he causes the Putties to become semi-competent and strike a battle pose against the Ranger Teens and Grumble. The clay-faced numbnuts try their best to steal the toy sled from Grumble the Disgruntled Goat, and the Ranger Teens stand around uselessly. As soon as Kim suggests that they attack the Putties, the goons disappear with all of Grumble's toys. But what of the little orphans and their toys?! Now how is this blue demon ever going to be happy again? Questions that might matter if this wasn't some piece of shit Mother Goose malarkey.

At least we get another solid dig at the Ranger Teens from Grumble. After realizing the Ranger Teens cost him his ticket to freedom, he quips "I just met you clowns and I already dislike you more than anyone I've ever met." A line I'm putting in my back pocket for the next time I meet someone out in the real world I don't like. Hahaha just kidding. I wouldn't leave my house.

Rita and Zedd celebrate their ingenious plan by having a little fun with each other. I'm not sure if this is what any of you loving couples out there do for foreplay, but I won't judge. This is a kinkshaming-free blog.

Does anyone else have ticklish abs?

While the rest of the plot struggles to make itself matter, Bulk and Skull have their own plot to work on. The two dimwits use their newfound book on monster-making to try and create a devastating creature inside of Skull Sr's garage. Well Bulk is trying to, Skull is reading the book on preparing a Thanksgiving feast he bought for his mom. What better way to win your mother's heart than to not so subtly imply that her cooking blows skunk ass. No wonder Skull's parents named him Eugene. 

Bulk realizes that he doesn't have enough batteries to juice up his monster cooker. What? So he asks Skull to continue creating the beast while he heads to the store to buy some. Exactly the kind of white-knuckle action I tune into this show for. The fat bully trying to find the cheapest 9-Volts at Target. Someone bust out my copy of "Grumble the Magic Elf," cause I'm getting ready to fall asleep.

Inside of the Youth Center, Aisha asks Billy and Adam where the only other three people they know are. She gives Tommy a nice dishing by saying it's natural that he would be late, but the others shouldn't be. I deeply love that everyone knows what a witless buffoon Tardy is. This character flaw is one of the few bits of continuity this show maintains, and it always makes me happy to hear it brought up. It's like a beautiful Christmas present delivered by a troll with dollar store fangs.

Back at the book fair, our resident heroic hunks deliver the cursed copy of "Grumble the Elf Saves Christmas or Something" to Ms. Applebee. She pines over the days of her lost youth when she used to read this book, and how much better it was when it was a book about some asshole dwarf who wouldn't stop putting things inside his Goodie Bottles. She puts the book back on the table so that she can sell it to some other putz and continue double-dipping on these teenagers until she sells that book enough times to buy a buff husband from Slovakia.

Aisha, Billy, and Adam arrive at the book fair and ask Ms. Applebee where their friends are in the funniest possible way. Aisha asks "Ms. Applebee have you seen Tommy or Kimberly." After a noticeable second of silence, Adam adds in, "Or Rocky." It couldn't be a more perfect summation of what a forgettable dweeb the current Red Ranger is. I'm almost positive the show didn't mean for it to be a joke, but holy smokes it's the biggest laugh I've gotten out of Power Rangers in quite some time.

Billy and friends try to get into contact with Tommy and Kimberly.


Or Rocky.

But to no avail. Their glorious leader isn't answering his magical wristwatch cellphone. Realizing that the situation might be more severe than they anticipated, the Ranger Teens report to the Command Center to ask Zordon what he makes of all this. Zordon says that PERHAPS Rita and Zedd are behind this evil trap, like they always are every single week that you can't find a group of your friends for longer than an hour. For once in your meandering lives could you dorks assume the worst? You live with a space-Satan and Cone-Boobed Witch at your throats and you assume half of your team decided to go take a nap together?

While Bulk waits in line behind some wrinkly old bag with a purse full of crumpled-up coupons, Skull works tirelessly to complete the monster. At least he would if he hadn't lost track of the monster-making book. Skull runs around the garage in some less than entertaining slapstick, searching up and down for the monster-making book. After falling down the stairs an 8th time, Skull finds the book underneath a desk and snatches it up. Wait a minute here, he actually grabbed the book on cooking a Thanksgiving meal! What kind of shenanigans are going to occur from this development?!

Wasn't this episode about a Christmas elf storybook? What the fuck is happening?

Back inside the storybook, the Ranger Teens find themselves inside of a chilly snowbound land covered in plenty of the white stuff. Styrofoam. Our heroes pretend to be freezing their asses off when Kim realizes the unfortunate reality of where they are. She tells her colleagues that they're at the part of the book where a horrible Snow Monster resides. And he's none too fond of uninvited guests. Oh no! What kind of horrible monstrosity is going to be living here?!

IT'S THE YETAY!

Wait a gosh damned minute here, that's no Snow Monster. That's Primator! They just glued a big Edgar Winter wig to him and painted his skin a little gray. Of all the monsters to recycle, why would they use one that's featured prominently on a VHS tape that a bunch of moron kids are going to see whenever they go to the library? Do you think they'll forget about Primator? Well I never did Saban. YOU'LL NEVER MAKE ME FORGET ABOUT HIM.

So the Snow Monster or whatever the fuck gets all pissy that some humans are chilling in his valley. 

Did you cringe at that pun? I hope not, because you're in for a doozy when you watch this episode. 

The Snow Monster has about a dozen lines, and during that time he manages to growl out approximately 45 cold or snow or ice puns. It's the most intolerable goddamned thing. A lot of monsters will make silly puns about what they are, but Snow Monster can not stop with the "chilly reception," or "I'm keeping you on ice," or "Anyone in the mood to give me a snow job?"

Inside of the Command Center, Billy manages to pull up a feed of the Ranger Teens being hunted by the Snow Monster. Zordon tries desperately to find their location, but all he can uncover is that half of his team of death merchants have been trapped inside of a storybook. Due to the fact this episode is only Part 1, Zordon is unable to lock-on to the location of the book itself. Now how are the Rangers going to defend themselves against their cold-blooded adversary?

SNOW. ICE. POPSICLES. DEEP FREEZE. CHILL OUT.

The Ranger Teens inside of the storybook come to a particularly out of the box solution to this issue. They whip out their Morphers to become Rangers and roast this gray dipshit. Well they try to, but the cold temperatures have somehow managed to freeze their Morphers. All you kids at home that tuned in to watch a fun fight with a monster inside of a storybook? Fuck off. If we did that, then how could we fit in some more references to cold climate through a gorilla in a wig? Isn't that what this Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers show is all about?

Rita and Zedd toast to their continued evil, and discuss how Bulk and Skull are playing right into their hands. Their plan is to create an actual monster out of whatever the hell Bulk and Skull are attempting to create. Why they couldn't make a monster of their own is anybody's guess, but at the very least this offers something different. Zedd didn't spot a big jar down on Earth and transform it into some pot-bellied jar-headed dork in hammer pants. He's taking the initiative to create something from a unique source. Now to cross our fingers that it isn't the dumbest thing that this show has ever given us.

…You can uncross your fingers. It's just a waste of your energy.

Back inside of the storybook, Snow Monster lazily chucks some Styrofoam boulders at our heroes, and narrowly misses them. Well narrowly is a strong word. He hurls them about 20 feet away from the Ranger Teens so they aren't hit with a big cheap prop that wouldn't even bruise them.

Aisha asks if there's any possible way whatsoever that they can get inside the book to help out the others. Billy tells her no since the episode is almost over and they have to build to a cliffhanger of some sort.

Once we transition back to the storybook, Snow Monster's voice sounds completely different and a whole lot deeper for no reason. It's the best and weirdest thing that couldn't be anything but a fuck-up in the recording booth. It's clearly the same guy doing the voice, but significantly deeper, dumber, and gruffer. From one scene to the next, Snow Monster started talking like Fat Albert. Who's in charge of this shit? Stupid yeti-voice nonsense. 

Growly-Voiced Snow Monster chokes out another 20 ice puns before lunging at the Ranger Teens. As soon as he lands on the snowy ground, he causes a massive avalanche. At least that's what the characters tell me, because it looks more like someone dumped a bag of feathers in front of the camera.

The Ranger Teens scream in panic as the Snow Monster growls, and we finally get the answer to what killed the dinosaurs.




Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: THE ICE AGE




Personal Thoughts


Compared to "Return of the Green Ranger," this one is a lot of fun. It's incredibly dumb and really ridiculous, but there's some charm to how stupid it is. I'd be hard-pressed to call it good, but at the very least I can call it interesting. The one big problem I have are the absolutely unbearable ice puns from Snow Monster. I fucking loved Primator, and to have him turned into some pun-spinning shitbag. I know it's dumb to attach a personality to a big clump of rubber and fur, but I really loved the episode Primator was in. Now he's reduced to throwing foam boulders and saying things about cold feet. Piss off.

Speaking of recycled suits, Grumble the Magic Elf isn't just made of Mr. Ticklesneezer. His stomach and legs are recycled from Season 1's Gnarly Gnome. This is one of 3 times that Power Rangers will use hacked apart pieces of that fat pedophile, so keep your eyes peeled! We'll see him a few more times. But tell your kids he's not alive anymore, they have nothing to be afraid of anymore.



I have to say I'm astonished that ever since Rita has come back, Squatt and Baboo seem to be much more prominent. Well that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but they're at least getting more than one line a week. They're almost up to a whopping four! I don't have any idea if the writers had some flash of inspiration for these two. I assume that they're around more often now that the scenes in the Moon Palace are all new footage. They used to be mostly stock scenes of Lord Zedd firing energy from his staff and growling at Goldar. Now that Rita's back, the crew has to film additional scenes to account for her presence.

But man I really miss Finster.







2 comments:

  1. "Rocky finds a book about meditation or some other vaguely martial-arts related thing"

    You say that but have THE TRUTH REVEALED about Rocky's amazing literary prowess! http://cdn1us.denofgeek.com/sites/denofgeekus/files/styles/insert_main_wide_image/public/2016/06/power-rangers-camus-sartre-stranger-aisha-zedd-goldar-hamilton-comics.jpg?itok=L7XPlSlO

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    Replies
    1. Of course Rocky is into French Existentialism. Of course he is.

      Actually, I can kinda buy it. An insignificant, thinly-drawn character doomed to simply go through the motions not because of anything in his character or personality, but simply to meet the needs of a shoddy plot? He's basically Rosencranz. Or Guildenstern. Whoever. Also, Tommy is clearly a Berthold Brecht character, with a deep and rich inner life full of his own thoughts and ideas, but cursed by the plot to never do anything but blather about karate.

      That storybook land. Back when I was a child, like a million years ago, there was this crappy low-budget storybook-land theme park not too far from me. I loved the fuck out of that place. Looked about on par with what we see in this episode. According to legend, when the park opened in the early 50s, Walt Disney himself actually visited it. It's said that the inspiration for the Magic Kingdom was him looking around the place and saying, "Come the fuck on, I can do a million times better than this hellhole."

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