Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Season 2 Overview



I don't think anyone would disagree with me when I refer to Power Rangers 2nd season as a complete clusterfuck. I'll delve into the many reasons why Season 2 was so wretched in this article, but that's not to say it didn't make some good decisions going forward. Probably. I mean there was the episode when…um…

I think we're going to have to map this out.




What Worked


Let's start with Season 2's very first addition, Lord Zedd. The character comes completely out of nowhere, but somehow he manages to be so effortlessly awesome and foreboding. It's stunning how cool this guy is when he's made for a show that's for -3 year olds. From his pulsating brain to the tubes injecting liquid into his body, Zedd makes one hell of an impact.

What I think deserves even more applause is the fact that Lord Zedd was created by the Power Rangers production team. While a lot of the US-original monsters would lack a certain bit of spice, Lord Zedd somehow managed to work perfectly amongst the already bizarre crew that Rita had assembled. It wasn't just how imposing he was, but the fact that he was out and out weird. These little flourishes that Zedd brought to the table make him such a great piece of Power Rangers history, it's no wonder people remember him so fondly.

Season 2 showed us right from the very beginning that it was going to raise the stakes. It aired its first three episodes during primetime, and wasted no time in introducing Lord Zedd first and foremost. He showed audiences that Power Rangers wasn't fucking around this season. Even though Season 2 clearly didn't live up to that promise, it was a noble attempt. The show clearly wanted a different villain to shake up the series, so they canned Rita (literally) and decided they would make something unique. Good idea too, because I don't feel like watching the adventures of three dubbed-over Japanese dickheads from Dairanger.

While we're on the subject of Rita, let's give her some recognition. I don’t know how the hell they did it, but Power Rangers managed to inject Rita Repulsa with all sorts of development and turn her into a much more dynamic character. I listed her as a negative in my Season 1 retrospective, and I was surprised to find how much more I enjoyed her in Season 2.


My issue with Rita in Season 1 wasn't that her plans were formulaic, but more that she as a character was so flat. I know that complaining about Power Rangers characters being flat is like complaining about soup being hot, but you have to look at the character and what she does.

She's a 50,000 year old intergalactic space witch who was trapped inside a space garbage can by a floating blue head blob for nearly an eternity. She uses her henchmen to create demons made out of clay that attempt to murder teenagers. Then during the last 20 episodes of Season 1, she lets Goldar call the shots and does nothing but bitch and moan.

Then comes Season 2, and we get a complete 180. During the first episode of Season 2, we see Rita thrown out of her element and act like we've never seen her before. She kisses the floor Zedd walks on in an attempt to gain his favor, she begs for more chances to kill the Rangers for him, she chastises Goldar for his betrayal of her, but the most important moment is when Zedd sends her off into space in another dumpster. She swears revenge on this incredibly dangerous villain. Rita declares her desire to return and give Zedd the business, which is pretty awesome in its own right considering how threatening he appears. What's even more impressive is when she actually pulls it off.

Rita returning was clearly something that the writers had been planning on using at some point in Season 2. "Putty on the Brain" had an unused segment in its script where Zordon and Alpha would find footage of Rita on the Viewing Globe, and "White Light" had the brief subplot of Bulk and Skull discovering Rita's dumpster after it crash lands on Earth. When she finally came back during "The Wedding," it was during a real fucking slump in Season 2. The show needed something to give it a shot in the arm. It's astounding to me that reintroducing a villain from Season 1 was able to feel like such a massive change, but I'll be damned if it didn't feel refreshing.

Rita and Zedd's marriage could definitely be seen as a negative, and I can understand the people who find it neuters Lord Zedd as a character. There's definitely a lot of truth to that, but I think giving Lord Zedd a foil makes him much more mutli-faceted. As imposing as the guy is, it's tough to find him that dangerous when he has to lose every fucking week. When you turn him into Rita's sometimes doting sometimes henpecked husband, you give him more emotions than "Grr, I am angry my monster has lost. Curses!" You turn him into someone that can make you laugh one episode, and terrify you the next. We all know that Zedd was turned softer so that parents wouldn't complain, but that didn't mean he wasn't a metal-faced monster who wanted to murder a bunch of high-school students.

Let's not forget that Lord Zedd is also the villain who flies around in one of the coolest mechs in all of Power Rangers, Serpentera. The dragon who demolishes planets just because it can.


I won't spend much time on Serpentera, because what else is there to say? It's awesome as hell and the Rangers stand absolutely no chance against it whenever Zedd pulls it out. Its battery may be even worse than whatever shitty Android phone I inevitably upgrade to, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a complete badass before its shutdowns.

I have a pretty tough time referring to this next segment as a positive, but I have to accept it. This is something that I got really sick of during Season 2, but the masses have spoken and I'm inclined to agree. The White Ranger is pretty cool.


Tommy as a character is a total doofus. That fucking karate dog can go fly a kite as far as I'm concerned. But his fall as the Green Ranger leading to his revival as the White Ranger was pretty cool as a kid. Ignoring the laughable attempt at concealing who the White Ranger was going to be. Curtis? Give me a break.

After nearly 20 episodes of non-stop Thunder Megazord action, I was getting pretty goddamned bored. Then comes an episode where Zordon and Alpha 5 disappear suddenly, and we soon find out that they're creating a new Ranger. A new Ranger with a new arsenal and new moves and a new Zord. Even though the Tigerzord wouldn’t do much in future fights outside of launch a fireball, it still felt like a breath of fresh air.

Oh wait was I talking about Tommy? Silly me, I seem to have forgotten about the other Rangers. Who are they again?


WHAT DIDN'T WORK


I might have a few things to say here.

With the advent of the White Ranger, it was pretty obvious to see who Power Rangers saw as its most marketable asset. Tommy fever was sweeping the nation, and the rest of the cast was tossed aside to give the public what they wanted. That's not to say the other Rangers never got episodes focusing on them, but Tommy's presence was always the one that got the most recognition. The fight choreography always saved its most entertaining tidbits for the White Ranger, and it seemed kind of disrespectful. The Power Rangers are supposed to be a team, but they have to let that shitdick dog get all the cool one-on-one fights against Goldar.

Tommy being the focus of attention was a pretty big problem in of itself, but then we run into another issue. What happens when half of our fucking cast quits?

Well that's easy, we replace them with three "characters" that we continue to ignore in favor of Tommy and occasionally Kimberly. We can give each of them an episode or two, and then we'll shoot plenty of new stuff with them after we finish filming the movie! What's that? The movie is running 84 weeks behind schedule? Well guess we can scrap 30 of those Season 2 scripts we had ready. Oh well! I'm sure if we churn out a horrible trilogy of episodes where the Rangers meet Benjamin Franklin and a bunch of giant rats that it'll turn out just fine.

Jesus Christ the multi-parters in this season. Sometimes all you need to tell a story are two episodes. Why did this show feel the need to pad things out so badly in episodes that were barely worth expanding as-is? I'm certain that there was some behind the scenes reason. A contract saying X number of episodes needed to be produced or something of the sort. The problem is that doesn't mean shit like "Return of the Green Ranger Part 2" or "The Ninja Encounter Part 2" had any reason to exist on my television. I'm not crazy about "The Wedding Part 2" or "The Mutiny Part 2" either, but at least those episodes had a little bit of meat on their bones. They balanced their filler out with something interesting. None of this bullshit clicking our heels until 20 minutes have passed.

I'm actually nervous going into Season 3, because it's coated in a thick layer of multi-part episodes. Nobody in the comments needs to confirm whether or not Season 3 is good or bad, but if I seem nervous I hope it's understandable after this pig slop. As long as the Zords are a little more diverse than the Thunderzords, I'll be fine.



If you've been reading my Season 2 write-ups, it probably comes as no surprise that I became utterly exhausted with the Thunder Megazord. I almost feel bad complaining about this, because it's mostly Dairanger's fault for having such boring Zord battles. Power Rangers made the call to adapt that season's monsters, so they were forced into a pretty bad situation.

However, that's not to say that Power Rangers is without culpability in this regard. Dairanger shipped them a bunch of garbage Zord battles, but that doesn't account for the spliced-together Megazord fights we got scattered throughout the season. Especially since almost all of them ended with that godforsaken Thunder Saber.

The Thunderzords have an issue that never seemed to be as frequent with the Dinozords, and that's that the Thunderzords almost never fought on their own. At least with the Dinozords we would occasionally get fights with the solo Dinozords or the Dragonzord in Battle Mode. The Thunderzord fights were almost always finished with the Thunder Megazord, and yet another battle ended with that awful Thunder Saber.

You know what, let me back up my claims with some facts. I'm going to count up every episode in Season 2 that had a Zord fight where an opponent was defeated, and tally it against how many times the Thunder Saber was used to finish the fight. Out of 33 episodes with enemies getting beaten. Drumroll please

Fucking 24 of them ended with the Thunder Saber. Do you know what that means? That means that if you picked an episode where a monster was destroyed, you had a 73% chance of seeing the Thunder Saber finish the fight. I did a similar test with Season 1's Zord battles, and the numbers were a lot closer to a 50% chance of the Power Sword getting used. I really appreciate the diversity in Season 1's Megazord finishers, and that's where Season 2 took a huge nosedive to me. Maybe I did the math wrong, but those numbers add up to Season 2 being a big bunch of horse hockey. Excuse my language.

The Thunder Saber wasn't the only issue with the Zord fights though. We also had to endure a whole bunch of terrible spliced-together Zord battles. Then we got about a quarter of the way into the season and all of the ground fights became spliced-together junk. So while Season 1 of Power Rangers you could flip a coin and end up seeing the Power Sword. In Season 2, you can flip a coin and see if you get a shitty Zord fight or a shitty ground fight. Surprise! It was a double-sided coin. You always lose with Season 2!

Then we get into the biggest dip in quality from Season 1 to Season 2. It had nothing to do with the action or the Zords or the Rangers or the villains. It was how sick and tired I became of Bulk and Skull's Ranger hunt.


 Bulk and Skull, throughout almost all of Season 1, were a genuinely tremendous highlight. They were doing all sorts of absolutely ridiculous shit and you never quite knew what you were getting into when they showed up. The only thing you knew for sure was that it was going to be stupid, and it was going to be glorious.

Then for whatever reason, they kept doing the same thing every single week with dumber and dumber plans. Plans that made them look a little silly I guess? But I miss the weekly excitement over what stupid shit Bulk and Skull were going to get into. Now I have to watch them haul around Pudgy Pig's nose and sniff some woman's hair. I don't need his nose to know this stinks.

Not to say this plot was always bad every week. It actually seemed kind of fun for a little while. Then it kept happening and I wanted them to just vanish off the screen. I don't know when I turned on this subplot, but eventually there was no turning back.


This concludes my thoughts on why Season 2 of Power Rangers was a little good but also pretty terrible. What do you kooky kids thing? Am I crazy? Am I saying things everyone has been saying for years? Maybe I'm an old grouch. I unno. Let me know! Maybe I'm 100% right and everyone should always listen to me.




2 comments:

  1. I like season 3, but there are some bad eps in it. It does have a lot of good stuff in it, though.

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  2. I wouldn't say it was a complete clusterfuck, it did start off rather strongly, but there were a lot of other factors that came into play as the season progressed, most of them behind the scenes things, with three original actors leaving and then scrambling to find replacements and try to work them into the scripts and trying to churn out scripts in a very short amount of time, then having to make the show at the same time as filming the actual movie, and of course complaints from parents about Zedd being too scary and whatnot. Season two definitely isn't perfect, there are things that were done that aren't that great, I will admit, i think the presence of multi parters in season two showcased that the writers did wish to do more serialized storytelling, but some elements did hamper their efforts in their execution.

    But season three does get better actually.

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