Monday, April 17, 2017

MMPR Season 3 Episode 14: Final Face-Off

power rangers goranger

Face-Gobbling Freak Sealed Away by Ancient Hawaiians
Show Accepts Defeat, Films its Own Toys














Sorry about the delay in our usual programming, but now we're back to the series that inspired the movie that's currently taking the world by drizzle. I appreciate your continued patience in allowing me to take some time away from this franchise so I could come back refreshed and ready to enjoy all the rap goblins that will soon be shoveled into my craw.

This week's episode begins with the Ranger Teens enjoying a lovely trip to the museum. It's here that they plan to learn about the customs of the ancient Kahmala culture.

…On second thought, here's a 7th review of the Power Rangers movie, already in progress.

It's been 7 seconds and I'm already frowning. Museums are interesting when you go into them and learn about actual things that existed. Watching someone go to a museum to learn about made-up cultures sounds like it's the televised version of ether. But let me stop the negativity right here and now. I've loved episodes that started with really flimsy premises. "Alpha 5 goes for a walk", "Tommy has to learn to be less forgetful", "A fish bit Billy one time." All of these resulted in episodes I would rank among my favorites in the series, so who's to say this one won't be good?

Feel free to read this part again and laugh at me when I inevitably realize this one isn't very good. You win again, hindsight!

Hold on a second! There's only five Ranger Teens at the exhibit. Kimberly isn't there to enjoy the sights with them. Tommy off-handedly mentions that Kim has been hard at work training for an upcoming gymnastics competition. For some reason she's also updating her resume, and saying that she stopped acting in a show called Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers in the year 1995.

Though boredom has begun seeping into this episode, it's thankfully staved off by the arrival of officers Bulk and Skull. Skull gets pissed they have to spend a perfectly good Saturday at some podunk museum when there are perfectly good cartoons they could be watching. Which is supposed to be a joke about how immature of an adult Skull is, but why would the target audience of this show think it's a bad thing to watch cartoons on a Saturday morning? Kids are going to nod their heads and agree that Saturdays are great for watching Digimon, and adults are going to have left the room because it's a federal crime to watch Power Rangers if you're above the age of 3. Which is why I have to post all my blog entries from my bunker in Uzbekistan.

Bulk helpfully explains their purpose in this scene, and what their B-Plot is this week. If they flunk their assignment on studying Kahmala culture, they're getting kicked off of the force. And as soon as they get kicked off the force, their chances of being knee-deep in poonanny are shot right in the dick. Kudos to "Final Face-off" keeping Bulk and Skull's initial motivation for becoming officers consistent. My only question is how long they think it's going to take for some poor woman to begrudgingly slob their knobs?

The Ranger Teens, however, are incredibly excited to see all the ancient Kahmalan artifacts. Or at least all four masks some intern found at a dime-store prop shop in downtown Simi Valley.

face stealer masks
BOODABAGAH!

While our heroes observe these pricelessly cheap artifacts, a museum employee named Azina pops up and asks how they're enjoying this tedious exhibit. When the Ranger Teens smile indifferently, Azina asks if they've heard the fascinating story of the mythical Face Stealer. Before she's able to do her job, Billy and Adam trample over her and explain the folktale to the audience themselves.

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, a devious creature named Face Stealer stole peoples' faces. Then some brave warriors sealed him away in a golden urn by using magical masks. Masks which were sold for $50 bucks a pop to the Kahmalan youth who combined them all into a badass Megamask that would make all the kids down the road jealous of them.

While the Ranger Teens are fascinated by this urban legend, Bulk and Skull aren't buying it. Bulk derisively demands that Azina give him some actual proof; because there's two things Farkus J. Bulkmeier wants in his life, Facts and sandwiches. And baby, there ain't no bread left in the cupboard.

Azina refers to the junior police officers as "non-believers" which helps make this character look absolutely goddamn crazy. Sorry Azina, I also don't believe that a big shirtless Greek is currently holding our planet up on his back either. Color me a skeptic for not believing that a giant pumpkin went around eating faces.

But this story has caught the ear of one particular believer, Rita Zedd née Repulsa. She figures that this ancient beast could easily wipe the Rangers off of the map if it were under her control. Lord Zedd cackles at his naïve wife for believing some ancient fairy tale. What the what? What are you guffawing about, Zedd? You and your wife are a living myth. You're magic wizards that live on the fucking moon. There's a goblin living in your attic while a leprechaun does your dishes. I have the right to be skeptical about a face-eating monster because I'm a 20-something loser writing about shows for infants. You're Space Satan getting serviced by a golden dog. You should believe every crazy thing that crosses your earless skull.

Though Zedd's skepticism is completely worth it. Why? Because it produces a great zinger from Z. Mocking his wife's gullibility, he quips

"I've got a crater on the dark side of the moon I'll sell you cheap!"

Written out, this line doesn't seem all that amusing. That's fair. But the delivery on this line is so pitch-perfect. It's the tone of a husband who's so proud of himself for pulling a sick diss on his spouse. It's hilarious, because these two have only been married for like two months, and they already both hate each other. It's such a great dynamic. No matter how down I've been about Season 3, the Zedd and Rita stuff is usually a source of relief.

Rita continues to observe Earth with her Repulsascope, but she soon lays eyes on something utterly disgusting.

HOW YA DOIN' SIS?

Rita shrieks her witchy head off at her brother and tells him to stop dicking around. She commands Rito to travel down to Earth with Baboo and Squatt to nab the Face Stealer's urn. Because if these three didn't have episodic chores to do, there would be no reason for them to even be in this show.

As the Ranger Teens drive home, they spot Squatt, Baboo, and Rito attempting to waltz into the museum. Tommy and Tommy's four friends cut Rito off and demand to know why he's attempting to teach Squatt and Baboo things. The aliens panic and summon their Tengas to protect them. The Teens Ninja Morph and waste a few seconds flipping over Rito and the Tengas. A maneuver that would be impressive if it proved beneficial at all.

After a particularly unnecessary round of posing from the Ninja Rangers, the battle begins. Rito ditches the fight so he can go grab the Face Stealer's urn. Which I think is a nice touch. Rito doesn't actually expect the Tengas to win against the Rangers. He's using them as a diversionary tactic so he can get that hunk of junk his sister is riding his bones about.

Oh sorry, are you curious about the Tenga fight? Well it's…satisfactory. Nothing too exciting. Rocky teleports around to avoid being hit. That's kind of cool I guess? Billy and Aisha spin each other around. Adam uses a decoy clothes trick. Pretty standard stuff. I keep waiting for more crazy ninja tricks, but everything that happens against the Tengas seems rather basic. Hopefully that changes a little bit in the upcoming weeks, or I'm going to continue complaining until I mercifully keel over from a big nerd head explosion.

Rito and the dipshits snag the Face Stealer urn, but trouble's afoot! A group of kids are coming to look at the exhibit right now! Thankfully the villains have the ability to teleport away from any oncoming danger. Not to mention they're intergalactic space monsters so they can easily spook any nosy kids getting in their business.

Alternatively, they could do neither of those things and instead partake in a visual gag.

Rito Squatt Baboo
Goldar really let himself go.

This whole joke was built upon an incredibly flimsy premise, but I won't bitch for once. Why? Because wearing silly signs is easily the most that Squatt and Baboo have been given to do in at least 100 episodes.

With the shtick over with, Rito and the goons vamoose. Our heroes scurry into the museum only to find Azina mourning the lost Face Stealer. The Ranger Teens try to comfort the stunned curator, with Tommy inexplicably putting his arm around her shoulder while he says they'll help her out.

"Excuse me ma'am, my girlfriend is about 10 weeks away from leaving town forever. I was wondering if you'd be interested in getting your fuck on with me after I find this Ace Dealer or whatever."

Tommy's caveman-level flirting attempts do little to hinder our villains, as Rito delivers the Face Stealer's urn to his sister. Rito complains that Rita never has dinner ready when he comes home. So sorry about that, Rito. We figured giving you a place to live without paying any space bucks for rent would be enough, but I guess now you expect us to cook your freeloading ass dinner every night? Just leave the urn on the nightstand and get the hell off of our Moon.

Rita zaps the Face Stealer's urn with energy from her wand. Once her magic takes effect, the urn transforms into the vicious beast himself.

Anyone who guessed he'd have faces for eyes, take a shot.

Lord Zedd barges into the chamber and demands to know why this pasty-faced freak is in his house. Finster responds solemnly that he's been here for the last 126 episodes, but nobody ever talks to him anymore. Zedd squints through his eyeless mask and says "Fin-Steer?" The monster maker wipes away a few sparse tears as he heads back into his monster-making chamber, all alone. Just as it's always been. And the same way it'll always be.

Also, the Face Stealer announces himself and proudly declares that he's awoken after 5000 years of slumber. Zedd shrugs off Mr. Stealer's declaration and exclaims that sleeping for 5000 years is "a nap where I come from!" Another line from Zedd I shouldn't enjoy as much as I did, but screw it. I'm only human.

I would like to take note of the monster's name. Face Stealer. A little bit on the nose, don't you think? Why is his name the literal thing he does in life? That'd be like if Bulk's name was "Sandwich Eater," or Billy's name was "Vagina Deflector," or my name was "Parental Disappointer." 

The Ranger Teens (with Kim finally tagging along) reconvene at the Command Center to ask Zordon what to make of all this. Billy ponders if Rita could actually summon the spirit of the Face Stealer. Zordon says he's not certain either, as there's no evidence if this Kahmalan legend has any basis in reality. While you're at it Zordon, do you want to tell us which religions are true and which are a bunch of mumbo-jumbo trash? I really want to stick it to those Mormons across the street.

The Command Center's alarms go off as the Teens see footage of Face Stealer on the outskirts of town. Adam turns to Zordon and asks if the Face Stealer "has the power to steal faces."

No. Absolutely not. I don't know where you would even concoct such a fanciful idea. 

Zordon brushes off this absurd notion by saying they should act under the assumption that this monster can somehow steal faces. Zordon also claims that in order to defeat him, they'll need the additional power of Titanus to stop Face Stealer. Which he somehow knows in spite of the fact he wasn't sure this thing existed 20 seconds ago. Ah, who cares? He must be trying to recoup some of the money they lost on the movie by shilling all those extra Titanus figures they've got at Saban HQ.

The Ranger Teens morph into action to stop Face Stealer. The Power Rangers threaten to tear this big goofball limb from limb, but the monster refuses to listen. He declares that he must enter their village and steal "fa-HAY-ces." Yeah, that's how this asshole says the word "faces" every time it emerges from his gnarled, yellow teeth. And boy howdy does he take the opportunity to use the word "faces" quite a bit. It's the silliest goddamned touch, but at the very least it gives Face Stealer some kind of quirk. I mean if it's between a monster saying a word in a funny way, or a monster speaking entirely in rap, I'll take the former a million times out of ten.

Before the Rangers can battle the Face Stealer, Bulk and Skull rush onto the scene.

...Well, I guess "rush" is a bit generous of a word. Let's say they saunter. Yeah, that sounds more accurate.

The reason for said sauntering is because they heard trouble was happening around here. Not because someone reported that a giant earwig wearing a handbag full of buttons was dicking around, but because there was "trouble." Either someone was vastly underselling that phone call to the police, or Bulk hung up on them after four words.

Bulk and Skull soon realize they've gotten in way over their heads, and the Face Stealer monster takes advantage of the situation. He fires a blue beam at our boys in blue, causing their faces to disappear. How is this conveyed? In the cheapest way possible!

Special Guest Star: The Sun

After that particularly meaningless interlude, the Face Stealer charges at the Rangers. Our heroes try getting the upper hand against this abomination upon Christendom, but their punches and kicks are blocked by his blobby epidermis. The monster quickly corners Adam and launches his face-stealing beam at the Black Ranger. The direct hit leaves Adam speaking in muffles and writhing around like a zombie. That fiend! He found the one way to make these characters even more lifeless.

Aisha rushes towards Adam to try and save her faceless friend, but she's quickly intercepted by the monster, who blasts her as well. Having been de-faced, Aisha's lifeless body flops to the ground while jittering around. I'll give this scene points for trying to be unsettling, because as low-budget as it is, it actually works for me. It's kind of creepy to see two of your main characters reduced to stuttering lumps of flesh who appear to be little more than shambling corpses.

The Rangers who still have life in them, and also Rocky, collect their comatose comrades and teleport back to the Command Center. This deeply bothers Face Stealer, as he's seriously jonesing for some more fa-HAY-ces. I haven't seen someone this hungry for a face since Travis the Chimp.

Back at the Command Center, the Ranger Teens undo Aisha and Adam's helmets to find their faces also missing. In case you needed clarification that's what a monster named Face Stealer would do. Or if you forgot what this monster's powers were when we saw them explicitly illustrated two minutes ago. The Rangers ask Zordon for help, and their mentor responds in kind.

"RANGERS, I LEFT YOU SIX ALONE FOR 5 GODDAMNED MINUTES AND YOU ALREADY MANAGED TO LOSE HALF YOUR TEAM TO THAT FACE-GOBBLING FATASS? HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU EXPECT ME TO BAIL YOU OUT OF YOUR PROBLEMS WHEN YOU GO JUMPING INTO DANGEROUS SITUATIONS WITHOUT ANY REGARD YOU MORPHENOMENAL FUCK-UPS?"

Billy ignores the wise wizard's wicked words and ponders if there's a way to stop this monster's face-chomping shenanigans. Like some woman who spent the entirety of her 20's learning about the fictional culture this creature came from so that she could use her knowledge to bore half a dozen grade school students who were dragged there by their great uncles. Wait just a minute here…the Rangers might have one last chance. Quickly everyone, to the museum!!

The Blue, Pink, Red, and White Rangers show up at the Angel Grove Municipal Museum and run into Azina. The woman who plays Azina reacts to the presence of magical space superheroes inside of her museum much like one might react to finding a pimple on their nose. It's the most comically understated delivery of "Power Rangers, what are you doing here?" If I saw those swamp rat Rangers in my establishment, I'd call the cops. Lest these "heroes" try beating an alien toad woman with sand inside of her tits to death.

Azina nonchalantly asks these multicolored mercenaries why they need her help. Rocky says they need to borrow those magic masks that allegedly stopped the Face Stealer 6,000,000 years ago. She asks why, and the Rangers brush off her concern as to why they're stealing her priceless artifacts. Sure must be great to be a Power Ranger. You can go door to door stealing from the populous of Angel Grove, and the second they try and stop you, chalk it up to being official Ranger business. If they start getting extra mouthy, then you can have Zordon's drone wipe their house off the map.

The Rangers, with their masks in tow, teleport back to the location of the Face Stealer. The monster mocks them until he notices the ancient masks adorning their helmets. This sudden display shocks Face Stealer into making this face

face stealer monster

The Face Stealer freaks out and demands they put those godawful masks away. He tries firing his beam at the four masked Rangers, but his attack rebounds and causes him to repeatedly burst with sparks. The reflected beams break the monster's spell, and force all of the plundered faces to fly from his body. Because this monster was really banking on that face stealing trick to take him all the way to victory, and didn't have a single other plan up his sleeve the minute it backfired. Way to go you blobby bitch.

Aisha and Adam recover their faces inside of the Command Center and ponder what happened. Especially when Adam feels down his body and discovers that he now has bosoms. Aisha panics when she realizes she's now in the body of one of anime's most prominent voice actors, and Zordon vomits in terror as he realizes the gravity of what's just occurred. Now the Black and Yellow Rangers have swapped bodies, minds, and souls.

I mean they didn't, but it'd be kind of cool if they did right?

Zedd and Rita panic that their chalky-faced, obese, face-collecting idiot of a monster is losing so quickly and decide it's time to make him a giant. The enormous Face Stealer stomps around before proudly declaring that all of the faces in the world will soon belong to him. Unless you run into any more masks you pumpkin-eared dumbass.

Alpha 5 cheers as he informs Adam and Aisha that Titanus is fully-charged and ready to help them against the monster. The two Rangers ask Zordon who Titanus is, but their mentor tells Trini and Zack to stop asking such ridiculous questions.

Black and Yellow morph back to the battlefield and summon their Ninjazords alongside the other Rangers. They immediately form the Ninja Megafalconzord and slam into the gigantic Face Stealer with the Ape/Wolf double punch attack. The monster reels from their attack, but he appears no worse for wear. Likely because someone slowed the Japanese footage down so we could shoehorn in an attack from Titanus. Or because this doughy tub of shit is such an incredibly strong monster. Who knows which is true.

Me. It's the first one.

Aisha reminds her pals that they have access to a new-old toy that's been getting hyped an awful lot this week, so maybe they ought to actually bust it out to keep this gravy train rolling. Tommy agrees and summons Titanus to form the unstoppable Ninja Ultrazord. A machine of raw destruction that's capable of amazing feats. Feats such as: looking disgustingly cheap and filmed in the worst-looking way possible.

There aren't enough explosions in the world to make this look good.

Without any joking, what you're seeing is what is in the actual show. Some poor intern had to manually lower a Ninja Megafalconzord toy down with fishing wire in order to create this supposedly badass combination. This show is obviously nothing but a toy commercial, but how in the blue blazes does it have the budget of one as well? Even as a kid, I knew something about this was wrong. It looked less like something that should be aired as entertainment and more like something I would create by shoving my toys together. This is disgraceful.

Not to mention how the Ninja Ultrazord's finishing move looks. Holy shit, take a look at this.

Is "underkill" a word?

Somehow, these three unimpressive energy blasts manage to subdue the Face Stealer, whose essence is soon sealed back inside of his urn. I was going to ask how the ancient Kahmalans were able to stop this rampaging monster, but judging from how pathetic the Ninja Ultrazord's "onslaught" was, they were probably able to beat him by sneezing hard enough.

Now that the battle has concluded, the Power Rangers bring the Kahmalan artifacts back to Azina's museum. Call me a cynical cow, but I might consider warning Ms. Azina that her urn houses an honest-to-goodness demon inside of it. Maybe those masks are enough of an exhibit for the three people that are interested in learning about Kahmalan artifacts. Is it really worth risking another outbreak of stolen fa-HAY-ces? Is the history of a bunch of fictional idiots truly worth the safety of a city filled with even more fictional idiots?

Officers Bulk and Skull intercept the Power Rangers and request that they hand over the artifacts. Junior police business and all that. The Rangers don't put up any fuss and allow these two cretins to take the relics back into the museum. Perfect plan, Rangers. Let's leave the urn that's housing King Piccolo inside of it to the obese cop and his snickering sidekick, Salacious Dumb.

As the Rangers depart, Bulk and Skull proudly present the retrieved artifacts to the museum security. The minute that these two announce their possessions, the security guards get in their face and demand to know why they have all of the museum's stolen property. Hold on just a second now. Stolen? Those masks that Azina gave to the Power Rangers? Did she forget that she loaned those out to the magical superheroes a few hours ago? What the hell is happening?

Wait, I think I got it. Azina isn't really a museum worker at all. She's actually a world-famous thief who was posing as a museum curator so she can steal all the worthless Kahmalan garbage. That was she can sell it for a cool 450 dollars to…

Ah nevermind, the show fucked up.




Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: The Nation of Kahmala





Personal Thoughts:


Y'know, this one isn't too bad. It's nothing particularly special, but not as much of a slog as the Hate Master episodes were. The ending was quite dumb and I never want to see the Ninja Ultrazord ever again, but everything else seemed perfectly serviceable. It's a particularly shallow reason, but part of what entices me in this episode is Face Stealer's ridiculous voice. As much as I mocked it, I can't get over his absurd pronunciation of the word "faces." You'd expect an ancient creature like Face Stealer to have a much more ferocious personality, and his goofy desire to chew on noggins offers an enjoyable contrast towards that expectation.

This was an episode I had taped when I was a kid, so it saw a lot of rotation around the house. I remember being a little put-off by the scene of Bulk and Skull getting their faces stolen, and I think it's because the Rangers have absolutely zero reaction to it. The bullies get their faces covered in plaster, and then Tommy says something about how the legends must be true. Not even a tepid "You'll pay for that, Face Stealer!" The Rangers don't know that Bulk and Skull are even going to survive this ordeal. It's such a weird moment.

Alright, time to address the brachiosaurus in the room. Titanus and his return as part of the Ninja Ultrazord. Something that, obviously, never existed in either Zyuranger or Kakuranger. Which might help explain why they had to create the Ultrazord by filming actual toys. So why did they bring Titanus out of the basement in Season 3? The obvious answer would be: To Sell Toys, but I think there's a bit more to it than that.

Zyuranger and Dairanger both had a huge combination of all their mechs into one super mech; which Power Rangers would refer to as an Ultrazord. The issue comes in when you realize that Kakuranger didn't have anything like that. Kakuranger had two separate Megazords, both of which could combine with the Falconzord, a fleet of five separate robots that could not combine, and Ninjor.

While that's an awful lot of toys you're able to sell, there's no toy that brings all the other toys together into one super toy. If I had to guess, I'd assume Bandai didn't want to risk losing the market of kids who were used to collecting three pieces for their Ultrazord: 1) The Megazord 2) The Sixth Ranger mech 3) The carrier mech. It's no secret that Power Rangers toys were selling like hotcakes, so why would they want to fuck up a winning formula? 

I just wish it didn't have to look so goddamned terrible.





4 comments:

  1. At least they tried to make it look like the Ninja Ultrazord had some kind of firepower. All the Shogun Ultrazord got was 2 energy blasts that were so weak that even the Blade Blasters looked more powerful...

    ReplyDelete
  2. As the Ranger Teens drive home, they spot Squatt, Baboo, and Rito attempting to waltz into the museum. Tommy and Tommy's four friends cut Rito off and demand to know why he's attempting to teach Squatt and Baboo things. The aliens panic and summon their Tengas to protect them. The Teens Ninja Morph and waste a few seconds flipping over Rito and the Tengas. A maneuver that would be impressive if it proved beneficial at all.

    I find myself thinking how much cleverer it would be if Rito had just been like, "We're not going to fight you; we just came here to visit an establishment which is open to the public and which technically we have every right to visit." and the Rangers had been left utterly powerless due to Old Man Zordon's rules about not picking fights.

    In fact, it would have been really cool if that had EVER HAPPENED IN THE SIX THOUSAND GOD DAMNED YEARS THIS SHOW HAS BEEN ON.

    (I am still annoyed by that Dino Charge episode where the rangers, unprovoked, attack a monster which is just out doing its grocery shopping and not bothering anyone.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah but don't you see? The point of this show is that monsters are wrong and always met with callous murder. Anyone who dares to go against our mighty power ranger overlords will be smote as non-believers! Want to exist in society? Better hope you're not ugly or somehow deemed offensive to the general populous you monster!

      Delete
    2. The sooner the babbies learn that you can smite with passive aggressiveness, the sooner they will be prepared for Mrs. Muxley's sixth-grade homeroom.

      I just wish I'd learned...

      Delete