Friday, August 19, 2016

MMPR Season 2 Episode 50: Wild West Rangers Part 1



Romantic Cactus Turns Into Green Goo
Johnny Yong Bosch Comes to Set With Tuberculosis










You know what I feel like Season 2 has been missing in its back half? Multi-part time travel episodes. Yeah we sent the Rangers back in time to when they were grade-schoolers so they could fight a giant camera, and sure we sent them back in time to the 1700's because they

But those plots don't even come close to the potential excitement of this week's premise! What if Kimberly was sent back to the old west? A time when games of poker were settled with six shooters, disputes were settled at high noon, and Zordon could legally enslave human beings to be child soldiers. Could the writers of this show sit down for a couple hours and hammer out which of these time travel plots they should actually bother doing? This season invokes time travel more often than Power Rangers Goddamned Time Force.

This week's episode starts off promisingly; as we get to see our beloved karate-dog Tommy staring longingly at a cactus. It feels like something that you'd put in an art film to symbolize a man who desires an opportunity to reconnect with nature. But this is Power Rangers we're talking about. The only trees Tommy gives a shit about are the ones he karate chops in half before asking Kimberly why she has two dads.

The other male Rangers are enjoying a nice relaxed day in the Juice Bar until Tommy barges in and flaunts his prickly piece of junk. He tells the guys that his dad got it for him while he was vacationing in Arizona. Wow! A souvenir even tackier than a coffee cup shaped like a titty. It's good to see that a lack of social grace runs in the Oliver family genes. Adam responds, "I didn't know you were into plants." Which is only notable because of how tragically obvious it is that Johnny Yong Bosch has a cold in this scene. He sounds so congested and miserable. He must be over the moon that it's a Kimberly episode this week.

Tommy presents Kim with his horrible gift, and she spares his feelings by pretending she likes it. At least that's what happens when you read between the lines. Nobody in the history of garbage children's television has been happy to receive a cactus. As soon as Kimberly turns away from her re-gifted bag of needles, a bolt of electricity zaps the cactus and teleports it away. A present so horrible that God did intervened and threw it away for her.

When the Ranger Teens look at where the cactus was previously, all that's left behind is a small pile of green goo. Looks like the prop department had an extra container of Gak left over from the movie production!


Billy suggests that he and his cohorts should take this gunk back to Zordon, and the Ranger Teens depart. The six of them trigger their Communicators and beam to the Command Center, but Kimberly doesn't teleport with them. For some reason, she's left behind in the Juice Bar and calls out for Tommy and the other Rangers. Out of absolutely nowhere, a terrible looking visual effect of a multi-colored hole appears behind Kimberly and sucks her up.

If nothing else, at least this episode isn't dragging its feet. We're not even 3 minutes in and Kimberly's already traveled through time. Now to see if this one can stick the landing.

I don't even know who I'm trying to convince anymore.

When the other Ranger Teens arrive at the Command Center, they inquire where that one basic white girl went. Alpha 5 informs them that she must have gotten caught in a time hole. Now Kimberly could be anywhere in time! The distant past, the not-too distant future, or whatever time period would be cheapest to emulate on a horrendously low television budget.

As it turns out, this magical time rift was no naturally occurring phenomenon. It was actually the doing of Lord Zedd. I'll give you all a moment to pick your jaws up off the floor from that revelation. Not only that, but he's the one who used magic lightning to kidnap Kimberly's cactus. Why would he do such a devious thing? Come on now. We've been watching Season 2 together for almost a year now. Why does Zedd do with any inanimate object he zaps?

Is there a need for the string of cacti on his belt?

Zedd plans to send his new monster, Needlenose, back in time to destroy Angel Grove before the Rangers were ever born. Oh okay that makes sense. That's actually a pretty good scheme! So why did Zedd also send Kimberly back in time to potentially thwart Needlenose? Ah well you see, there's a perfectly logical explanation for that.





Anyway, Kim is soon dumped out of the time hole into a big grassy field. She tries to contact Zordon, Tommy, or anyone who could possibly help her out of her current predicament. Well everyone except for Billy. If he helps Kim out, she knows she'll owe him a stark, sensual debt. And Mr. Cranston always collects.

Well Kimberly needn't worry for too long, because she's about to run into some familiar faces. Some of the dumbest faces she knows.

Fresh off the set of "The Hateful Ate."

Uh oh! I'd recognize those two anywhere! It's One-Eyed Bulk and Doc Skullovitch. The two famous hoodlums of the wild west. By the way, those names? Probably some of the best naming that has come out of Season 2. It's a shame whoever named these two couldn't lend their efforts to some of the monster names like "Tube Monster" and "Pursehead."

Not to mention I got a completely pointless laugh from One-Eyed Bulk. No, the laugh isn't because that's what my partner calls his penis. It was because One-Eye looked at a covered wagon he intended to pillage, but couldn't quite make it out, so he flipped up his eye patch to squint with both eyes.

I'm sorry. It got me.

Doc and One-Eye stop in front of the stage coach, and pull out a pair of six-shooters to hold up the drivers. What what what?! Realistic firearms in MY baby karate live-action cartoon?! I'm shocked. I would have expected these two to pull out toy laser pistols so that parent groups wouldn't be all up on Saban's nuts about violence in the media. Plus one to this episode for not giving them squirt guns or something equally asinine. Only a couple more points and we'll be up to zero!

When One-Eye and Doc pull their guns, the men driving the stagecoach hold up their hands and panic. From here we can see exactly why they're panicking, because they're the Wild West variants of Adam and Rocky. I'd be worried too if someone in this show pulled a gun on me. Back in those days you didn't want to get caught dead being a black or red Ranger.

Don't worry though boys, because you've got a hero on your side. No, it's not the girl watching this all unfold from the bushes who has magical pterodactyl powers. It's actually this shimmering hunk of manliness atop a white horse.

You know what this means? We get to hear Jason David Frank attempt a southern accent!

One-Eye balks as he realizes he's come face to face with the one and only White Stranger. A name that elicited a smile from me. It's the same sort of lazy name I would have come up with, and I appreciate its simplicity. I don't know why, but such a simple and charming pun always knocks me off my feet. With the addition of two letters, I've become a grinning nimrod (the scarlet sentinel.) 

Then my worst fears come true. Doc and One-Eye aim their pistols at the White Stranger and fire. Do bullets come out? Well of course not. Comical little flags that say "BANG" come out of their guns. I'm about to bitch and moan over how simplified and childish this is, especially for a show made for children. Then One-Eyed Bulk has a line that manages to salvage it for me.

"You brought the wrong ones you dimwit!!"

I don't know what it is about this line that makes me find it so funny. The idea that these two illustrious outlaws would carry Looney Tunes guns for absolutely any reason whatsoever. Not only that, but Doc Skullovitch is somehow stupid enough to not label his silly prop guns to differentiate them between his real guns. Obviously this is an attempt to sanitize the possibility of actual gun violence, but that line almost feels like they're making fun of that fact. For once, I'm giving this one a pass.

The bandits flee in embarrassment as the White Stranger notices Kimberly hiding in the background. As soon as she spots her beau in spurs, Kimberly faints. I'm not sure why. If I saw Bulk in an eye patch wielding a six-shooter I would be a lot more terrified by that than Tommy wearing a shitty cowboy hat.

Back at the Command Center, Billy titters at the console in the hopes that he can find Kimberly. Billy mentions that he's having trouble focusing in on her location, but then Tommy whines about it for a few lines and Billy magically finds her signal. So why not start this scene with Billy finding Kim's location? We already knew they couldn't find her. Does all of the technology in the Power Rangers universe run on convenience?

After an image of Kimberly pops up on the Viewing Globe, it begins to short out. Billy says he'll need to…none of this matters. He'll be able to find her when the episode is ready to continue this plot. I will never in my life even pretend to care about Billy's technobabble bullshit. I can accept a gun with a bang flag, but don't you spit your Nerdlinger Nonsense at me Cranston.

Back in the olden days, Kimberly finds herself awakening inside of…oof. Ernest's Juice Saloon. Oh I get it!! Because Ernie…yuck. Well they can't all be Doc Skullovitch and One-Eyed Bulk. Don't worry, we're going to prove that in this following scene!

Kimberly is greeted by a table of people who look exactly like her pals from Angel Grove, but questions where Tommy is. Adam informs her there's no Tommy around here, and to stop calling him Adam. His name's Abraham. She's also introduced to his friends William, Miss Alicia, and Rocko. Not that I even need to tell you, but these are the Wild West versions of Goldar, Miss Applebee, and the Rockstar.

William's Wild West Wink

The Wild West crew explain that Rocko and Abraham picked Kim up after they were saved by the White Stranger. I mean if you want to call it being saved then by all means, but I think you were safe from those idiots and their toy guns with or without his help. Miss Alicia asks Kimberly where she got those fancy frilly pink clothes she's wearing, and Kim responds that she bought them at the mall. Ms. Alicia shows no knowledge of the concept of a mall, and Kimberly looks like she's about to start crying.

WOMEN

BE

SHOPPIN'

As corny as that last bit was, I can appreciate this episode for doing something that "Return of the Green Ranger" did not. Kimberly looks really fucking frazzled over this entire situation. She looks horrified that she's stuck in the past with no hope of escape. She doesn't know where she is or what to do or where to go, and she looks completely aghast. Now compare this to that atrocious 3-parter we had to stomach where the Ranger Teens barely seemed to give a shit they were back in colonial times. Maybe because those episodes were poorly written dreck and this episode is at least decent.

Kimberly runs out to confirm her fears, and nearly has a panic attack at her situation. The locals look at her as though she's some kind of new-age trollop, or at least some form of disgusting carpetbagger. She continues to stumble around as everyone looks at her like a freak, but I have to take issue with the placement of this scene.

We've already met the friendly Wild West Ranger Teens, so we know that Kim has a place she can be safe. I think this episode would play a lot more effectively if Kim was dumped into the town, discovered where she was, and then got caught up in the White Stranger situation. It would make this episode seem like things were actually dangerous for Kim by making it look like she was all on her own in the old west.

But when I'm only picking nits, that's a damn good sign for this episode.

Lord Zedd informs his cronies that the time portal will be shutting soon, so he needs to make haste in sending his creatures through. Zedd zaps Needlenose with energy…and I'm still not following the logic of how Kimberly was sent through time before Zedd's creatures were. The single reason I can think of is because it's convenient to the plot. When Goldar is constantly talking about how the hole is about to shut, I don't know why Zedd's forces weren't the first thing to go back in time. One of the big things that bums me out about good episodes is when sloppy execution draws attention away from what I'm watching.

Granted since this is late Season 2, I should be thankful it hasn't given me ocular gonorrhea.
Billy manages to pinpoint Kimberly's location in the year 1880, and the Ranger Teens prepare to mount a rescue. Before they can, the alarm goes off and alerts our heroes to Needlenose and Goldar's presence on Earth. The two monsters have a group of Z-Putties accompanying them as they head towards the time hole. The teens decide that Kimberly can handle herself for now, because stopping the monsters has to come first. They morph and land in a desert area, even though the time hole was in Ernie's Juice Bar. Unless Ernie set up shop in a desert so the feds wouldn't snoop around his business.

White Ranger threatens Goldar and his crew, but the Rangers are surprised by another batch of Putties appearing to ambush them. Oh "no." Both sides of the conflict utter some repetitive and meaningless dialogue until the next commercial break hits, but once we're back from a word from our sponsors, the battle ensues. Tommy and the other four Rangers who wish they were Tommy go ham on the Putties to the tune of Ron Wasserman's 90's-ass rock music. It feels like it's been months since I've heard that, and hearing it now feels like balm on the horrible cuts the last few episodes have inflicted upon me.

Back in the past, the 1880's Ranger Teens ask Kimberly why she looks like she wants to leap into the nearest noose. They escort her back into the Juice Saloon, but little do they realize they're in Doc and One-Eyes' sights! The outlaws pull out their guns and threaten the Western Ranger Teens as well as Kimberly. Kim is in no mood to be fucked with right now, so she goes all "Walker: Texas Ranger" on the two bandits by kicking their guns out of their hands. Somehow this works perfectly and causes One Eye to lose his balance.

First bath he's had in months.

Back in present day, 1994, the Z-Putties depart from their battle with our heroes. The Rangers go to chase after them, but Needlenose launches pins from his big prickly body that leave the Rangers paralyzed on the ground. Needlenose compliments himself for his amazing aim, as well as his vaguely Mexican accent. He sounds like Cheech Marin after inhaling a bunch of helium, then drinking a gallon of bleach.

Doc Skullovitch and One-Eye are escorted off to prison to be hanged for their crimes as the 1880's Teens compliment Kimberly's quick reflexes in the face of danger. Kim decides that she's sick of this plotline about a bunch of rubes not knowing why she looks different than them, so she escorts the 1880's teens back into the Juice Saloon where she can explain what happened to her. Off-screen, naturally.

William asks if Ms. Kimmy is trying to hornswoggle him (his words, not mine) with all this talk of Power Rangers and monsters. Holy moly are you trying to hornswoggle me?! Why did Kimberly tell these hillbillies about being a Power Ranger. Zordon told you not to reveal your identity to anyone and you just did it off-camera to a bunch of hayseed morons. If a butterfly flapping its wings can change history, then Kim is going to return to the Planet of the Apes. 

I don't care if they look just like the other Rangers, you're dealing with people who find the concept of living to the age of 50 to be a fairy tale. Why are you telling them that you fight space golems made out of cactuses?

A young man rushes into the saloon to warn everyone that there's danger outside. Kim and the 1880's teens rush outside to find exactly what he was talking about. A huge battalion of Z-Putties have managed to travel back in time as well, and they're causing a whole mountain of mischief. I can now thankfully ignore all the dumbness of Kimberly spilling the Ranger beans, because I got to see some of the goofiest Putty shenanigans ever put to film. This particular bit is easily my favorite.

Only real crowboys get to mount this big ol' bucking broncus.

Back in present day, Needlenose and Goldar leave the paralyzed Rangers reeling on the ground as they teleport away. The two villains soon arrive at the Youth Center where they vanish through the time portal. The Power Rangers soon follow after them, but they're too late. The time portal has closed, and they have no way to chase after Zedd's evil forces. Hope that teaches you an important lesson on regifting shitty novelty plants Tommy.

Needlenose and Goldar arrive in the Wild West, but little do they know that Zordon already has his contingency plan set in motion. Get ready boys, because soon you'll come face to face with Dr. Zordon's Giant Metal Spiderzord.


TO BE CONTINUED




Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Someone Willingly Vacationing to Arizona




Personal Thoughts




I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I enjoy this episode far and away more than I have the previous few Ranger adventures. I'm not even all that interested in wild west aesthetics. There's simply something about this episode that clicks for me. Maybe it's the fact that Kim is already in the wild west before the first commercial break, maybe it's the silly Southern accents that everyone is affecting, or maybe it's Bulk's dumbass eyepatch. Something about this episode manages to keep me invested, which is better than I could say for most of the garbage Season 2 has tried shoving in my face.

I'm curious why this episode had to focus on Kimberly in particular. Nothing against Amy Jo Johnson, but last week's two-parter was basically all about her love of storybooks. I don't know why Power Rangers is taking such great efforts to ignore half its team. We haven't learned a goddamned thing about Adam in months, and I'm pretty sure Aisha is an alien trying to infect human society. If you told me that Rocky got stabbed to death in an alley fight and he hasn't been in any of these recent episodes, I'd probably have go back and check. 

How embarrassing is it that Bulk and Skull are more fleshed-out characters than half of the people you're selling toys of? Tommy might be profitable, but that doesn't mean he can carry the Lionzord's share of the focus. This concludes the segment where a million-dollar franchise should listen to advice from some guy who works in a dog factory.

Something I find pretty cool is that Zedd's creation of Needlenose actually took place inside of the Moon Palace. Usually when a monster is created, it's zapped with energy while the item its made from is still on Earth. I don't know why, but I appreciate this a lot more than the same bland monster creation scene that's showed up ten billion times by now. Obviously it helps that Saban and Co. had the Needlenose costume from Dairanger, and they put it to good use by having him actually engage in a fight with the Rangers. It's the lowest possible bar to set, but here we are. I'm complimenting Power Rangers for having fights.





6 comments:

  1. Any episode that doesn't focus on Tommy is a welcome one.

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  2. You said it yourself a while back: Amy Jo Johnson is the best actor of the Ranger Teens. They centered so many episodes around Kimberly because Amy Jo could actually pull them off.

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    1. It's frustrating though, because they could have still had the other actors...y'know. Act? They knew what they were getting into when they recast the other three Rangers, so why didn't they look for another Amy Jo Johnson?

      I'd never say that Karan Ashley or Johnny Yong Bosch are horrid actors. So why they were given next to nothing to do after they were cast is beyond me.

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    2. After Tommy debuted as the White Ranger everything revolved around Tommy. With the Kim/Tommy relationship a Kim episode also lets you spotlight Tommy (in this case as the "White Stranger", even in a Kim episode Tommy is the damn hero). I actually get pissed off every time Tommy saves Kimberly because it's almost never the other way around.

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    3. Bingo! It annoys me to no end that Kimberly only mattered by proxy because of her lamprey-like attachment to Tommy. Just because Tommy is moving merch doesn't mean he's the only Ranger that needs to matter. You can give the other Rangers cool shit to do. Do they need to be blowing Tommy to be involved in plots?

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  3. Too much Pink energy can be dangerous - said no one ever! Wait...

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