Monday, February 27, 2017

MMPR Season 3 Episode 10: Wizard For A Day



Demon Birds Unable to Differentiate White People
Skeleton Man Performs Clay Abortion








This episode has me genuinely interested. There's something happening in this one that I've been awaiting for quite a while now. That's right, I'm excited for an episode that focuses on Rocky. If you read that sentence facetiously, I wouldn't blame you.

No, seriously, I want to know something about him. Anything about him. Of our current six Rangers, he's unquestionably the least developed. He's been a total non-entity of a character ever since he first showed up. His debut episode treated him like a golem that had the script fed into it.

We've seen an episode that focused on him…I guess? It was mostly an episode where Rocky was the main character, but nothing he did really mattered by the end of the episode. Maybe that's going to be the case today as well, but I'm at the point I don't particularly care. I'm already 120 episodes deep into this series, and I've seen this show neglect its characters to a criminal degree.

At this point, I feel like I'm hoping for something that's never going to show up, like stakes, character development, or my parent's approval. Maybe whoever puts on that spandex suit is destined to become a boring, one-note, whitebread plank of wood so that only the costume matters to children. That way the actors have absolutely zero negotiating power come contract talks. I'm sitting here and waiting for something to change after nearly 3 years of writing this shit. At some point, maybe I'm the asshole?

Nah, this episode where Rocky switches places with a teacher is sure to turn it all around.

Oh I apologize sincerely. Did I say this was a Rocky episode? I must have been confused, as this episode begins with Tommy doing karate inside the Youth Center. That must have been a stipulation in Jason David Frank's contract; "Any episode prominently featuring another cast member must also include no fewer than 5 of my totally sick karate kicks."

Rocky stumbles into the Command Center, carrying a massive stack of textbooks. Tommy feigns interest in this nerd's book-learnin' and asks him why he's being such a huge dweeb. Rocky says that he got selected for the Teacher For A Day project, where he'll trade places with one of his teachers. Something that sounds like a gigantic waste of time for all parties involved. Oh, one of my classmates is going to do a lecture today? Sounds like a great opportunity to blow off class and smoke weed under the bleachers.

Right off the bat, I like that Rocky isn't excited about this project. You know why? Because it sounds like a giant pain in the ass. Think back to your days in High School. Would you honestly want to try educating a group of your peers on some bullshit topic? How seriously do you think they would take you? Why don't we let the teacher do the teaching and sit quietly in our seats while we think about how gorgeous Amber in 6th period is. Once I tell her about that episode of Power Rangers where Tommy and Kim get together, she's going to be putty in my hands.

But there's another reason that Rocky is worried about this project. He's taking the place of the science teacher, Mr. Wilton. A real strict son of a bitch that nobody in the school likes. Wilton drops by the Youth Center and promptly swings his metaphorical dick around. The second that he starts talking, the four Ranger boys fold their hands and react like he's a drill sergeant. I can't blame the guys either. Just peep the look in his eyes when he's telling Rocky how to be a teacher.

Kubrick Stare.jpg

Ol' Crazy Eyes Wilton tells Rocky that he needs to discipline those godless hooligans he calls his students if he has any hope of staving off their ceaseless chatter. Well it's a good thing that Rocky is subbing in for Mr. Wilton tomorrow, because it sounds like he was one day away from a nervous breakdown.

Part of this wacky project will also involve Mr. Wilton taking Rocky's place as a student. Wilton seems to think this will go off without a hitch, since he did quite a bit of learning while trapped inside of a cage in Da'Nang. He learned their schedules. Their habits. Their weaknesses. But he feels this plan will only work as long as the Ranger Teens treat him exactly like they treat Rocky. Before the others can even react, Mr. Wilton violently lurches forward and bellows, "Is that clear?!" Billy and Adam nervously agree with this asshole's psychosis, while Tommy nervously stammers out, "I uh…I like your tie."

Put this episode in Guinness, because a line from Tommy got an intentional laugh out of me. Way to go you karate canine.

Rita and Zedd apparently don't have much going on this week, because they've been watching these events unfold. Rita laughs at the concept of Rocky trading places with his violently aggressive teacher. Rito is taken with this idea and asks to take the place of his violently aggressive overlord. Rito can be the evil skinless creep who sends clay demons at teenagers, while Zedd and Rita can sit in the background and offer incidental lines about how stupid they are. Rita scoffs, but Zedd gets a huge laugh out of the idea. He decides to let Rito take his place for the day so he can get a bit of a vacation, and so he can show Rito how tough it is being the big cheese around here.

Nothing makes me happier than how simple the setup for this plot is. Rito says that he wants to take over for Zedd, and Zedd is captivated enough by the idea to allow it. We don't always need some bugnuts scheme where Zedd plans on turning the Rangers into cats. Then he can create a monster out of a burlap sack that can capture the Rangers and throw them into a river. Rito offers a silly idea, and Zedd just goes with it. It's really charming, and it gives Rito some screen-time so we can enjoy his comic buffoonery.

…I swear that last line wasn't meant to be sarcastic. I wouldn't blame you if you didn't believe me.

Officers Bulkmeier and Skullovitch aren't involved in any goofy swapping in this episode. Unless you count them swapping their dignity for a paycheck every week. The junior officers have been assigned to traffic ticket duty, which Bulk assures Skull is a temporary gig to make sure they don't crack under pressure when it comes time to get the big case going. Like the case of the missing pizza. Oh wait! I solved that one.


Bulk stops writing traffic tickets when he notices Rocky carrying a bunch of teacher's books. When Bulk asks Skull if he knows what this means, Skull thoughtlessly responds, "There's a new teacher in school that looks just like Rocky?" It's not a line that made me laugh, but boy howdy that delivery gave me a smirk.

Bulk asserts that Rocky might be cheating! Skull reacts in utter shock at the audacity of someone cheating, which actually gives me the full laugh. Skull's look of utter disdain at the prospect of someone cheating on a science test works so well because I've watched these two un-evolved apes act like the biggest scumbags possible for an entire season. There's something particularly entertaining about them acting like they're now the last bastion of morality in this crazy world, considering they spent half of Season 1 falling into various deserts and eating bugs.

Bulk says this situation requires his investigation, and this is a moment I need to go into detail with. Something that seriously deserves all of my attention. Why?

Because it's easily the hardest Power Rangers has made me laugh since I've began writing these things.

Bulk mentions that he needs to investigate Rocky, and he and Skull pose dramatically. Immediately after this pose, we cut to this scene.

That little Curly Howard grin at the end tho.

And I got an out and out gut laugh. It says absolutely everything that needs to be said without Bulk breathing a word. He says he needs to investigate Rocky, and then we see him hilariously hiding in a trash can. Your mind puts all of the pieces together and allows you to put together Bulk's utterly insipid logic without having one line of dialogue about it.

But what makes me laugh just as hard is the contrast between the two scenes. We first see Bulk posing like he's some kind of superhero, and instantaneously turn around and show him pretending to be a garbage can. That juxtaposition is so well done that I'm still not sure how this show pulled it off. It's sincerely one of the most perfect moments I've ever seen in Power Rangers. No matter what follows this scene, I'd be lying if I said this episode wasn't getting a recommendation.

One final thing that makes this scene even fucking funnier is the fact that Bulk (and Skull) are hiding in trash cans in the middle of Angel Grove High School's completely empty hallways. The amount of effort they put into this absolutely moronic bullshit is so utterly unnecessary that it makes me laugh all over again. They're disguising themselves for absolutely no reason, which makes this scene loop all the way back to funny again. It's goddamned perfect.

So anyways, Bulk and Skull channel their inner Trashman as they start eatin' garbage and opening Rocky's locker. They find his cache of teacher's editions, and confiscate them for use as evidence in "The People Vs. Rocky DeSantos."

Rocky heads to class, but soon realizes that he's left his books in his locker. Naturally when he goes to retrieve them, they're no longer there. The only thing present in the hall are two conspicuous-looking garbage cans stationed right in front of his locker. Rocky runs back to the class he's supposed to lecture and provides the students a stunningly-poor display of chemistry. He stumbles his way through the presentation as he spills all sorts of chemicals together, prompting a big batch of dry ice to spew everywhere. The students laugh uproariously at his failures, as Rocky develops psychic powers and throws carbon dioxide at all his peers.

While Rocky is floundering, Mr. Wilton is having a joyous time acting as a student in some nameless teacher's classroom. Every time the teacher asks a question in class, he immediately answers it without giving the students a chance to respond. The nameless teacher chastises Wilbur for not giving anybody else a chance to answer any questions. Wait a minute. Wilbur? His name is Wilbur Winton? Who came up with that shit? Stan Lee?

Billy nudges Mr. Wilbur Wilton and politely informs him to "lighten up." Mr. Wilton violently tells that nerdlinger to stop talking during class. Then he chews out some dickhead kid who's slumped over in his chair like an asshole. Mr. Wilton says this is no way to run a classroom, and apparently the teacher agrees with him. She tells him he's been an absolute pain in the ass for long enough, so he can head right to the detention hall. Oh SHIT! This lady realizes that Wilbur isn't going to be a student for more than a day right? How's she going to react when he's her coworker again next week?

"Yeah Rebecca, what the fuck was up with last Friday when you sent me to the principal's office in front of those shitheel kids? Do you want me to lose face? If those kids aren't horrified of me then how am I supposed to get off at night?"

This scene is played pretty well, in spite of the lady playing the teacher not knowing what emotions are. All of the students who see Mr. Wilton getting sent to the office are all clearly stifling a laugh at his predicament. Even Billy and Aisha are smirking about it. I like that we can actually see these characters acting like genuine teenagers instead of six reincarnated Jesuses.

Back on the Moon, Lord Zedd smugly indulges Rito by asking him about his plans. "Well, what are you going to do about the Power Rangers, master?" Rito comes up with the absolutely flawless idea of sending a monster to destroy the Power Rangers. Rita snickers with Lord Zedd as her husband responds, "Gee. I wish I'd thought of that. No wonder he gets the big bucks."

I'm saying this right now, I could watch an entire season of nothing but Lord Zedd being a smarmy dickhead. Imagine that menacing voice growling out the phrase "big bucks." It's the best goddamned thing. It's even cuter that Rita is all snuggled up to Zedd while he's being an asshole. She starts laughing every time her hubby lands a zinger on the oblivious Rito. It's actually kind of endearing.

#RelationshipGoals

Rito realizes that his ingenious plan has hit a bit of a snag. He doesn't know how to make a monster. Now that he's the big cheese, he throws his weight around and requests an audience with Finster. Oh man, this episode was already riding high. Now Finster's here too? Automatic A+.

Finster carries in a small clay mold and asks what Rito needs help with. Rito tells Finster that he needs a monster made to off the Power Rangers, posthaste! Finster responds, "No." Much to Zedd and Rita's amusement. He says he isn't making a monster for some bleached bag of bones. He only serves Lord Zedd and Rita. Rito says he'll create a monster by himself then, and grabs the clay model Finster was holding. The second that he tries to fiddle with it, the head comes off the model as it crumbles apart in his hands.

This in itself is funny enough, but there's a great line from Rito that almost definitely sounds like an ad-lib from the voice actor (Bob Pappenbrook) when he gives the clay back to Finster. Right before the scene transitions, Rito says to Finster, "Aw look, 'ya broke it!" It's an obscenely simple joke, but Rito's bumbling underscored by Rita and Zedd's dismissive laughter really got me.

The laughs take a backseat right about here though, because the next thing we see is Rocky dejectedly walking through the park. He runs into Mr. Wilton sitting on a park bench, looking almost as sullen as Rocky does. Rocky and Wilbur briefly discuss how hard it is to live in the others' shoes. Rocky is frustrated that his classmates are still laughing at him even after he put on a fancy new tie. Mr. Wilton however, is frustrated that things have changed so much since he was in school. Back in those days, you could smack a student with a sock full of oranges and nobody said nothing bout nada. 

Rito continues to canoodle with a handful of clay while Goldar reports to his temporary master that the Red Ranger is all alone in the park. Big surprise there. Upon Goldar's suggestion, Rito sends the Tengas down to Earth in order to take advantage of the lone Ranger, and Mr. Ed's good friend Wilbur.

Sorry about those last two references. My demographic chart showed that I needed to appeal more to the octogenarian crowd. So there you go baby boomers! Hope you enjoy reading this in your freezing cold guest bedroom while your grandchildren wait for your impending death.

Rocky heads to the Youth Center, but Mr. Wilton stays behind at the park. Mostly so he can narrow down which students he should kill first. For some reason, the Tengas appear to mistake this 40-something balding man for a 20-something high school student. The birdie boys capture Wilton, and his screaming alerts Rocky that something is wrong. Rocky contacts Zordon about the Tenga situation and morphs into his ninja form to hold off the beasts before they can peck Wilbur's eyes out.

The Red Ninja tussles with a few of the Tengas while a pair of them continue to hold Wilton hostage. It doesn't make any sense why Zedd's henchbirds are still trying to keep hold of this old man when Rocky is clearly right in front of them, but this episode has been good enough that I'm willing to give it a pass. Power Rangers runs on convenience, so it's only fair to let it pass here and there.

The other five Ranger Teens get word about the Tenga attack, so they Ninja morph to the park in order to provide Rocky some backup. This prompts a battle with the winged beasts and…it's fine? I didn't mind it. I think I'm just hoping for more crazy ninja shenanigans than I'm getting here. The most otherworldly thing that happens in this scene is Rocky teleports from the base of a tree onto one of its branches. You idiots crossed a dessert to get those powers and that's all they can do? Ninjor ripped you chumps off big time.

While the Ninja Rangers are preoccupied, Rito teleports down to Earth. The Bone Daddy currently has Zedd's staff in tow, which he plans on using to turn the Rangers into monsters. I was going to say that plan doesn't seem like it's likely to work, but then I realized that's sort of the entire point of this subplot. 

Rito fiddles around with Zedd's staff as he attempts to figure out how it works. The bumbling bag of bones accidentally aims it at the captured Mr. Wilton, and turns him into…uh…this fucking abomination.


Al Jolson?

This is Marvo the Meanie. A name that I'm going to try and say as little as possible in an attempt to retain my dignity. I don't even know what that name is supposed to mean. He's some kind of elf man made out from a science teacher. In what way does any of that make him a meanie? And where did Marvo come from? Maybe Mr. Wilton just wanted to change his atrocious first name into literally anything else, but he had to make sure his name still had alliterative appeal.

The Rangers panic when they realize that Mr. Wilton is a monster, but Marvo asserts that he's no longer Mr. Wilton. No, now he's much less of a threat to society than he was before. Rocky and the others desperately try to stop Marvo from attacking them, but the monster gleefully smacks the shit out of them. Oh yeah, and just in case you were worried, Marvo makes a whole bunch of jokes about science and classrooms and all sorts of stupid shit. The worst one is probably this stinkeroo.

"Here's my formula for world domination: One part Marvo, no part Power Rangers!"

But you know something? I'm still having fun. Are Marvo's shoehorned science references lame? Unquestionably. That's okay though, because this entire situation is cosmically absurd. The Rangers' science teacher just got turned into a mushroom-clad elf wearing shoe polish all over his face. Now he's punching them around while talking about sending them to detention permanently. It's so goddamned stupid, but it's exactly the kind of cheese I'm looking for. There are two types of opponents I enjoy in Power Rangers: Enemies that can demolish the Rangers and look like total hardasses, and goofy, baffling creatures whose very existence contradicts the idea of a benevolent God. Marvo is obviously the latter, and I'm completely fine with that.

The Rangers threaten Marvo with violence when he refuses to stop beating the shit out of them, but the monster laughs off their futile warnings. He asks them if they'd like to attend his new chemistry lecture, one that he promises will change them. He fires a laser beam at Billy and Aisha, transforming both of them into tiny beakers of Ranger-colored chemicals.  Rocky warns the other Rangers that they should cover their mouths, because those chemicals could possibly be toxic. Maybe if Rocky had looked a little closer at one of those teacher's editions, he would have learned that wearing magical dinosaur space helmets will also assist in preventing the inhalation of toxic chemicals.

Marvo gets a kick out of all the molecules he's been scrambling, so he fires another beam off at the Rangers. White Ranger dives to knock Red Ranger out of the way, which leaves Rocky the only Ranger not transformed into a vial of chemicals. At least I think they're supposed to be chemicals. I could be wrong.

I think he turned Tommy into milk

Rito gathers up the five liquefied Rangers as he muses to himself, "The problems of six little Rangers don't add up to a hill of beans in this crazy world. In fact, they barely add up to a pint." He swishes one of the Ranger liquids around to accentuate that last line, and he cackles with delight. I'll now be collecting from all the people who were betting on Casablanca not being mentioned in this episode of Power Rangers

Rito threatens Rocky with chemical-ization, but the Red Ranger doesn't back down. Rocky charges at Rito and knocks the beaker holder with all of his friends on it out of Rito's hands. Once he grabs the container, Rocky takes the other Rangers back to the Command Center where hopefully Zordon can fix this mess. Or possibly find a good place to dispose of all those hazardous chemicals.

When Rocky arrives at the Command Center, he explains the situation to Alpha 5 and Zordon. Zordon's eyes go wide as he starts bellowing in terror. "I MIGHT BE A GIANT HEAD MADE OUT OF MAGIC AND PIXIE DUST, BUT WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU SAY JUST HAPPENED? YOUR NEAREST FRIENDS WERE TURNED INTO INANIMATE JARS OF CHEMICALS?! THAT'S THE MOST HORRIFIC THING I'VE EVER HEARD, AND MY MIND IS IN A CONSTANT CIRCULATION OF THE ENTIRE COSMOS. I'VE WATCHED THE EXTINCTION OF ENTIRE SPECIES PLAY OUT IN REAL TIME AND FELT NOTHING. THIS? THIS MAKES ME WANT TO VOMIT UNTIL I CHOKE TO DEATH!"

So Rocky decides he'll need to solve this without Zordon's help. Alpha offers a bit of assistance as he looks up various formulas or some such other nonsense. Thankfully we don't spend too long on this, and Rocky uses the magic of montage to bring his friends back to normal. It's at this point that the Rangers learn the only way to bring Mr. Wilton back to normal is by destroying the monster. Which means there's unfortunately no way to kill both Marvo the Meanie and Mr. Wilton.

The Rangers head back to the park where they encounter Marvo once again. They take the time to dodge his chemical beams, and Rito is perplexed that his monster's one trick isn't working. Rito won't allow his monster to be defeated, so he uses Zedd and Rita's staves to make Marvo grow giant. The exact same thing that happens every single week, but don't blame Marvo. He's a chemistry teacher, it only makes sense he'd follow the formula. 

Death is too good for me.

The Rangers call on their Ninjazords, but don't bother to call Ninjor this week. Marvo is enough of a jabroni to take on without him. The Ninja Megafalconzord  does its standard double punch move, but it's not quite enough to finish off Marvo. Rocky says he wants to take responsibility for this situation, so he uses the Ape Ninjazord to finish the fight himself. To be fair, it looks pretty dope.

Ask me if I needed to .gif that pose. That way I'll know whose opinions don't matter.

With Marvo defeated, he transforms back into the unassuming Mr. Wilton. The Rangers ditch their Zords to ask Mr. Wilton how he's doing now that he's no longer some kind of mushroom monster. The only thing Wilbur has to offer is "What an…interesting experience." A line that I want to make fun of, but I just can't. This man became an otherworldly space creature due to the machinations of a reanimated corpse, and all he can say is that it was "interesting." Next time that the physical properties of my body are completely reconfigured, I'll hopefully find it "interesting" instead of attempting to rip my own face off while screaming forever.

Back at the Moon Palace, Rito begs Lord Zedd and Rita for another chance at the big leagues. Zedd shuts him right down and informs his brother in law that he's fucked up enough for one day. He isn't getting another chance to do shit until he cleans up Finster's lab after the big dumbass mess he made in there. Zedd grumbles to himself that he still needs a chance to get a vacation. Hopefully a vacation to the Dominican where he can sell Rito, Squatt, and Baboo to drug cartels for a nice juicy dose of horse.

Back at the Youth Center, Rocky, Adam, Billy, and Tommy all witness Mr. Wilton describing his harrowing experience of becoming a monster. Mr. Wilton then thanks Rocky for teaching him a valuable lesson about being a teenager. Or being a monster. I don't know. The episode is almost over so who gives a shit?

Bulk and Skull barge in and accuse Rocky of theft, cheating, and arson. Because the other two charges wouldn't stick unless something juicier was added. Mr. Wilton threatens the boys with his psychopathic rage, and informs the junior police officers that they're not the only ones in this city who carry guns. Only his have actually tasted blood, and they're thirsty for more.

The episode ends with Bulk and Skull, completely naked, hogtied in a cornfield. Then Mr. Wilton loosens the grips around their ankles and asks which one of them wants to live more. He throws a pistol between the boys, and we cut to black as a desolate piano song plays. The audience then ponders if their dearest friend would be willing to kill them if put into a similar circumstance. Yet another beautiful and artistic ending courtesy of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.



Your Weekly 40's Nostalgia: Casablanca



Personal Thoughts


This one was really goddamned good. The monster stuff wasn't all that special, but everything else was totally on point. It was funny, it was cute, it was charming, and it was an overall satisfying experience. I remember having this episode taped as a kid, but I didn't remember being too crazy about it. I'm not sure what changed over the years, but I'm still pleasantly surprised. I even felt bad for Rocky "Living Punchline" DeSantos. He's in a bad situation in this episode, and his embarrassment really isn't his fault. I don't know his character much better, but I came away from this episode liking him quite a bit more.

I've got to say, Rito is becoming one of my favorite characters, and this episode cemented why. He's a bumbling tit, but he's so endearing in his stupidity. Squatt and Baboo are lazy buffoons, but Rito is more proactive in his idiocy. It's a big difference and it makes Rito infinitely more enjoyable to watch than those two sex offenders.

Marvo the Meanie isn't that great of a monster, but I enjoy his design. There's some kind of mushroom decoration going on with him, but I can't quite tell what his design is supposed to evoke. Sounds like it's time for me to refer to one of my favorite resources, a Super Sentai monster wiki!

I like to use this thing whenever I'm watching a Sentai series, because it has a bit of interesting information about the monster designs. It'll mention if a monster's costume was later reused for another monster, it'll mention the monsters powers and abilities, and it'll mention what motif was used in designing the monster. So let's check out what the designers had in mind for Marvo the Meanie!

Jesus Christ Japan.

You might assume that was just a poor translation by Google and I'm reading too much into things. But I made sure to double check the kanji that was originally there, and I received the Japanese Wikipedia page for "Negroid." 

So if you're wondering why I look up information about monsters, it's so I can find hilariously stupid shit like this.

One final cool thing I found was Marvo the Meanie's suit being used for something interesting. Super Sentai would host a yearly live event where the year's team would show up and battle alongside whatever other superheroes Toei had at the time. These stageshows would usually have one of the main villains, a group of the enemy foot soldiers, and a monster. As I was editing this post last night, I stumbled upon a Youtube video that had commercials for these live events. The Kakuranger liveshow had Rito, some foot soldiers, and Marvo the Meanie! Not exactly the most pertinent piece of information, but I thought it was cool that I learned about it at the very last second. Check out the video for yourselves for some beautifully cheesy 90's stageshow action. See ya next week!



1 comment:

  1. There is not even a question about whether that Ape Zord pose should have been made into a gif. Moments like that are why the gif was invented.

    ReplyDelete