Tuesday, May 2, 2017

MMPR Season 3 Episode 16: I'm Dreaming of A White Ranger


Santa Forced to Make Evil Space Dreidels
Zombie and Dog-Man Accosted By Snowballs  










There aren't many things that I consider a blog tradition, but there is one that I hope always stays accurate. Every single time I get to a holiday episode of Power Rangers, it's posted on the complete opposite-ass end of the calendar year. It makes me so happy, because I could have planned this out better, or put this episode off until later. No. That's not nearly as fun. I want you chuckleheads out there to feel the embarrassment I do. I want you to read about a Christmas episode in fucking May. So get a nice hot cup of cocoa, light a nice hot fire, snuggle up with your warmest blanket, and then look outside in horror as you realize Frosty the Magic Puddle is currently floating down the drain.

Well get in the holiday spirit everyone! Cause Tommy and the gang sure are. Everyone has decorated Ernie's Youth Center, because he's certainly not going to hire actual employees to do that for him.

Nevermind all that, because this episode just dug its heels into the dirt and hit a dead stop. The scene transitions over to a choir of dead-eyed child actors singing a soulless cacophony of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas," set to Kimberly's guitar playing. Nothing against Amy Jo Johnson's guitar skills, but they sure as hell can't make a bunch of droning producer's children sound anything other than "testicle-rupturing."

Have you ever been to a children's recital? Wait, let me rephrase that question. Have you ever been to a children's recital without knowing any of the kids up there? Because buddy, I've been dragged to a couple of those things and let me tell you. Children may be our future, but they sure as hell don't sing like it. Just stick a kazoo in their mouths and tell them to shut up.

Apologies to all the parents out there. I'm sure your kid is the exception.

Cripes, that's a lot of bile towards children. I'm sorry! I simply wanted to explain how this episode started off on the complete wrong foot. If I'm watching Power Rangers, the only music I want to hear had better be by Ron Wasserman. I don't want to hear kids singing the classics when I could turn on the radio and hear a litany of 50's, alcoholic, wife-beating crooners doing the same thing.

Maybe I should have reviewed this in December. I feel like I'm not quite in the Christmas spirit.

Tommy barks up a storm about how much he loves seeing people celebrate Christmas, and how excited he is for Santa Paws to come visit. Then Adam and Billy mention something about underprivileged kids having a place to stay this Christmas. I guess he means the Youth Center? How nice of Ernie to let those children stay in his restaurant/gymnasium/tax shelter so they can enjoy Christmas. But only if they sing. God help them if they don't sing their little fucking orphan hearts out.

Ernie excitedly whips out a star for the top of his tree, and offers it to one of the Ranger Teens. Which one? I'll give you six guesses and the first five don't count.

Before Tommy can backflip the star on top of the Christmas tree, he notices a dejected-looking young girl sitting by herself. Because he's just the world's nicest guy, Tommy offers the star to this young girl so she can have one positive memory on this piss-awful holiday. Well, my family might have abandoned me in the gutters of Angel Grove's Homeless District, but at least some big white dog lifted me up so I could decorate a tree.

power rangers christmas tree
Spoilers: This is the most action-packed scene we're getting in this episode.

Kimberly becomes sullen as Aisha asks what's gotten her tights in a twist. Kimberly says that she really appreciates having Christmas with Aisha's family, and also that pooch that licks her face when she talks about martial arts, but this is the first Christmas she's had without her mom. While that's definitely a hard pill for anyone to swallow, I have a hard time feeling bad for Kim in this context. You have every right to be sad, but you're also in a room full of depressing orphans who have been forced into musical servitude. You might not be with your mom this Christmas, but these kids haven't had a mom since Christmas #1. Count your blessings.

But screw those mopey Ranger Teens, because we've got better characters who are in the holiday spirit. Bulk and Skull! Well, Skull is excited. Bulk is absolutely miserable about this party. Lt. Stone assigned our favorite idiots community service detail at this party, and that means Bulk has been forced to portray Santa Claus. Which isn't so much community service, but some of Lt. Stone's low-key attempts at reminding Bulk that he's fat.

Oh right, this is a Christmas episode of a children's show for babies. Let's not forget the obligatory scene where someone hangs up mistletoe! Kimberly and Tommy set up the bang-plant atop the Youth Center's doorway before Skull comes barging in. He plants his sloppy lips all over Kimberly's cheek and mentions how much he loves this holiday. Man…right after last week's nice and tender episode about Kim and Skull being pals, this is what we have to see? Some sloppy smooch Kim clearly doesn't want? Power Rangers, you will not ruin "The Potion Notion" for me. Try all you like, but I'm not going to be deterred.

While everyone on Earth is enjoying the beauty of the holidays, Lord Zedd can't handle this merriment bullshit one bit. He vows to make sure this Christmas becomes something far more insidious and vile than anything that has ever come before. Rita immediately chews his skinless ass over this and screeches, "You say the same thing every year!" Zedd retorts that she couldn't possibly know that, given that they've only been married for a year. I only feel the need to mention this because I'm almost certain Power Rangers is going to forget it sometime within the next few months.

But Zedd isn't in the mood to disagree with his nagging wife any further this week. He's got a whopper of a plot, and no nagging witch is going to bring him down. Zedd plans to take control of Santa's workshop, kidnap his elves, and force them to create evil toys that will take over the minds of children all across the globe. Zedd illustrates his fancy new invention, the Hypno-Spin. Or as we in the real world call it, a fucking dreidel.

Dreidels taking over Christmas? Richard Spencer was right!!

Before we continue on with our regularly-scheduled programming, let's make sure we all understand the plot of this episode. Lord Zedd, the intergalactic overlord of all that is evil, is planning on kidnapping Santa Claus, an overweight man who provides toys to children every year, so he can force Santa to give out shitty Hanukah presents to all the kids of the world in order to control their every waking move.

This show is the dumbest goddamned thing ever put on film.

Oh now I remember this episode! It's the one where my dad went on one of his tirades.

"Yeah I'll bet Santa's gonna start givin' all our kids dreidels. Can't even have CHRISTMAS break anymore. Gotta be HOLIDAY break or else everyone's gonna get all mad. Looks like all them evil space Jews are tryin' to ruin my holiday! I'm sure glad it's the 90's and I have to invent things to be angry about."

Speaking of Hanukah, Aisha directs the Youth Center choir in a rendition of…some Hanukah song. Probably by Adam Sandler. I unno. All I know is Wasserman didn't write it so I don't give a rat's ass.

For some reason, that distressed girl from earlier is still upset while singing about lighting menorahs. A preposterous notion, given that lighting menorahs is possibly the most entertaining things ever invented. Kim and Aisha ask young Becky why she's so sad, and if Tommy allowing her to put the star on the Christmas tree meant anything to her. Becky apparently didn't care about the wonderful thing our lord and savior Tommy Christ did for her, and is more upset that nobody will be at the recital to hear her sing.

Yikes. Sure hope Santa Claus has a couple of parents in his gift bag, because I don't know how the Ranger Teens are supposed to end this episode right.

Well we're about to find out, because we transition from the Youth Center to the goddamned North Pole. Oh sweet lord we're really doing this aren't we?

This isn't going to be some cutesy episode where Zedd commands Finster to make a reindeer monster that can dump dreidels all over Angel Grove. This is an episode that will introduce Santa Fucking Claus into the Power Rangers mythos. Father Christmas himself exists in the same world as a talking head-jar wizard stuck inside of a time warp by a space witch with titty cones. This is all under the same roof! Nothing is off limits in this franchise. Santa Claus is a flesh and blood character who is constantly busy making toys with oompa loompas while a metal-clad devil wizard throws bombs at trumpets to make them 400 feet tall.

Santa and one of his elves discuss the toy-making schedule, but they're interrupted by Rito and his Tengas. In case you didn't realize just how off the goddamned wall this episode is, please feast your eyes on a scene of Santa Claus being accosted by a skeleton man and his bird cronies.

Jack Skellington wasn't the same after 'Nam.

Rito introduces himself, but Santa Claus doesn't need to hear this shit. The world's happiest man says he's well aware of Rito and how naughty he's been this year. Wow Santa, I don't know how you pieced that together. The giant skeleton with a rictus grin isn't going to be getting a stuffed bear this year? That must have been weeks worth of research you holly jolly fuck.

Rito informs the elves that they'll be put out of business if they don't help out in Lord Zedd's evil scheme. The head elf looks towards Santa and says "Biz…nass?" Santa's eyes go white in terror as Rito explains what a business is to the elves, who promptly realize Santa hasn't been paying these magical mutants for centuries. He's the Ernie of the North Pole. Even with all of his evil powers, Rito is unable to stop as the elves tear Santa limb from limb and hang pieces of their twisted leader from the tree. Rito beckons the Tengas to leave this sordid hellhole, because even Zedd has his limits on the kind of evil he wants to work with.

Back at the Youth Center, Kim has a one on one with Becky about why she's so upset. Kim even mentions that people are meant to be happy on Christmas Eve, so why don't you take your familial tragedies and piss 'em down your leg, Becky. People want to hear you sing and you're ruining their goddamned Christmas. So what if you don't have any parents? Kim has 8 and she's doing just fine.

That's when Becky drops a bomb on us. The last thing I expected out of this episode. Becky actually does have a dad! Sweet Jesus, I've been watching this episode all wrong! She's sad that her dad won't come watch her lip-sync Silent Night? Is he some kind of abusive alcoholic piece of shit dad that doesn't love her or something? Nope. Even worse than that. He has to work!

Look, I'm not a heartless sociopath. I understand that children want their parents to see them in their endeavors. Kids think that they work hard to half-memorize those songs, so they want their parents to smile at them in a crowded gymnasium filled with shitty fold-out chairs.

…Man, I owe my mom and dad an apology.

Becky says that it hurts her feelings that her dad doesn't spend enough time with her, and spends all of his time at work. Which is a pretty reasonable problem that kids might run into, but the way Kim talks to her about it rings really hollow. Kim suggests telling her dad that his spending so much time at work hurts, and he should spend more time at home with her. Are you kidding me? This guy's barely making "Mr. Aisha" money, how can he possibly support his child in the Clinton economy without squeezing every penny from his bosses' pockets?

Now that that b-plot is over, Zordon contacts the Rangers to tell them there's still half an episode left to fill. He summons the Ranger Teens to the Command Center where he informs them of a drastic situation in the North Pole. Rocky starts laughing to himself as he asks Zordon what the real issue is. Zordon glowers at Rocky and goes "I AM SERIOUS AS A GODDAMNED HEART ATTACK, RED RANGER. SANTA CLAUS IS IN SERIOUS DANGER AND IT'S YOUR ASS ON THE LINE IF HE ISN'T SAFE, PRONTO."

So yeah, the Power Rangers have to save Santa.

…I just wanted to let that sentence breathe on its own for a minute. It's the beginning of May and I'm watching a bunch of multi-colored moppets rescuing jolly old Saint Nick. What have I done with my life?

The Ranger Teens prepare to head off to the North Pole, but there's one small stipulation. Due to the North Pole's unique polarity, and an influx of holiday magic, the Rangers will not be able to morph once they get there. No, I'm not being an asshole or making that up. That is the reason that Zordon gives to explain why we won't see any morphed Rangers in this episode. Great. That's exactly what I was hoping for in this episode. A guarantee that there's not going to be any fucking action.

Alpha beams the Rangers to the North Pole, which means he can finally get underway on the production of "Alpha's Magical Christmas 2: Who's Buying This Shit?" Once our heroes arrive, Aisha mentions how "cool" it is to be at Santa's house. Rocky retorts "Cool? It's freezing!"

YOU KNEW WHAT SHE MEANT YOU DICKHEAD. Now do you see why I never write about you? Go kick snowballs up the hill, Rocky. Getting real sick of your shit.

After walking past some dime-store prop snowmen, the Ranger Teens knock on the door to Santa's workhouse. When nobody answers, Tommy sneaks a peek into Santa's palace and sees one of the best visuals I could have asked for.

Tasteful use of bows stuffed in Santa's mouth.

Lord Zedd spots the Ranger Teens in the North Pole, and refuses to let them muck up another one of his schemes. Big Z commands Goldar to go down to the arctic to go murder those teenagers. Goldar agrees with this sentiment, because he has no personal autonomy and can't get out of bed in the morning unless Zedd wills it. Such is the life of a spineless toadie.

But I don't give a shit about the real Santa Claus. That guy hasn't sent me an Ultrazord in nearly 20 years! The only Santa I'm interested in is Bulk wearing a big, fake, asbestos-covered beard. While Bulk and Skull aren't in costume yet, their police duty calls when Becky reports a missing person: Kim! Skull awkwardly mentions that she certainly wouldn't be tied up in the trunk of his car, and all those kisses were certainly on the up and up!

Bulk and Skull offer little assistance to this child, what with their inability to feel empathy. Bulk and Skull then offer a bright spot in this episode as they start lying to this child. Skull mentions that he and Bulk need to get dressed up, but he says it in an awkwardly over the top manner that Becky notably reacts to. It's this ridiculous attempt at trying to mask that Bulk is going to play Santa, but Becky looks at them like they're absolutely crazy.

There is a great line from Bulk when he says that he's good friends with Santa, and he'll make sure Santa figures out where Kimberly is. The reason it works so well is because Bulk plays it so perfectly. It's the exact tone of voice you use to kids when you're lying to them about some bullshit magic we tell them the world has. Parents reading this should know what I'm talking about, because nothing feels better than lying to your kids. Why else do you think they say "I love you?"

The Ranger Teens huddle together in order to formulate a plan for saving Santa Claus from Rito's grasp. Billy notes that Zedd's monsters likely won't be able to use their magical powers in the North Pole, what with the influx of holiday magic flying every which way. I mean why not? It's a holiday special, so who cares? Rules are clearly already off the table, so let's just do whatever until we hit 20 minutes.

When the Ranger Teens sneak into Santa's sweatshop, they catch the attention of one of the elves. She ceases production on one of Zedd's new Hypno-Dreidels to talk with Kim and Aisha. Even though the Tengas appear to be keeping a pretty close eye on the activities of these elves. Since this is such a small set, it's hard to believe none of the villains missed one of their slaves running off to gallivant with a couple of Power Rangers. Then again, Rito is probably busy hogtying Santa with tinsel. Which is still the best damn visual I could ask for in a Power Rangers Christmas special.

As Rito barks orders at the elves, Kim and Aisha emerge from behind the presents and challenge the bone daddy. Well, they don't really challenge him so much as they offer some weird line that comes across as less threatening and more flirty. "Why don't you come outside and see what we brought you?" Kim asks in a ditzy tone. Maybe I'm reading too much into that delivery, but if I see Rito chase Kim underneath some mistletoe, then this episode is getting turned off in a heartbeat.

Rito barges outside and finds the rest of our heroes awaiting him. Mr. Skeltal tries firing a laser beam from his sword at the Teens, but nothing happens. Damn! If only I could use my sword to kill these humans in non-laser related ways, I wouldn't be in such trouble. You win again, Power Rangers!

Suddenly, Goldar shows up to assist Rito in his elf-slaving endeavors. But he and Rito are no match for the ingenuity of the Power Rangers! Even though they can't morph, the Ranger Teens think on their feet and…ah fuck me. This is what we're doing?

You've gotta be fucking kidding me.

Hey Rito, remember when you destroyed the Thunderzords? And now you're getting beaten by lumps of snow delicately tossed at you by high schoolers? Don't worry pal, I hear you get to be a total badass next season.

Rito and Goldar retreat back into the workshop, but they're quickly tripped by the elves using a large piece of wrapping paper. The Tengas rush after their fallen masters, but they trip on marbles that have been scattered across the floor. So if you were hoping to see scenes from Home Alone acted out with Rito and Goldar…okay I'm not even going to be sarcastic. I'd watch that shit in a heartbeat. Tommy McOliver karate kicking a paint can into Joe Pesci's face so hard that it explodes, "Deadly Friend" style? Sign me the hell up.

With the villains subdued, the elves wrap Rito, Goldar, and the Tengas up in a giant red bow. Tommy contacts Alpha and has the Moon Crew teleported back to Zedd and…wait what? That's it? Are you serious?! They beat Zedd's henchmen with snowballs and marbles? Zedd isn't even going to make a monster out of an elf? Goddamnit. There's still like 6 minutes left in this episode. How are we going to fill that out without any karate action or Japanese robots punching blackface mushroom men?!

With a montage of toy creation, of course!

Santa enlists the Ranger Teens help in producing more toys, which only makes sense considering that's why Zordon hired them too. Santa thanks our heroes for saving Christmas, and explicitly refers to them as Power Rangers. What the what? That's one of Zordon's big rules, Kringle! You're not supposed to know who these dweebs are. Ah what am I worried about? Zordon's rules probably include a Santa Claus.

Bury me up to my neck in snow at the north pole. Death is too good for me.

Santa realizes he still has a box of those shitty old dreidels that Zedd was trying to hock, so he makes the best out of a bad situation. We smash-cut to Zedd's Moon Palace where Rita opens up her gift full of Hypno-Dreidels. What a gyp! She didn't even get that exclusive Saban Brand Deluxe Ninja Megazord that retails at $29.99, or the Deluxe Falconzord, which comes at the unbelievably affordable price of $14.99!

But there is one more present on the moon, and it's going to Goldar. Oh boy! Did Lord Zedd finally realize that his adoring servant is deeply in love with him? Nope. It's just a gift from Rito. Goldar actually sounds taken aback by this at first, but Rito chimes in with an adorable, "Happy holidays, ya big lug!" as he playfully jabs Goldar in the chest.

Well, it took us a while, but I definitely found a scene worth loving in this episode. It's actually pretty damn cute! It's a shame we had to spend half this episode's runtime listening to a bunch of dubbed-over elves discuss their toymaking schedule.

Oh wait, we're not quite done with this one. That's okay though, because it's all worth it for what the episode had been building up to. Santa Bulk!

Skull brought his outfit from home.

Bulk is seen talking to two children, and he immediately turns to Skull and mentions how much he despises children. Skull criticizes him for not being in the Christmas spirit and being a total Grinch. Or Scrooge. Whichever one we're allowed to say without running into copyright trouble.

Skull drags the next kid out of the line and onto Bulk's lap. The "joke" is that this kid has an incredibly long list of demands, which annoys Bulk. The actual joke is that the kid who is supposed to be reading this prop list of toys is clearly just making shit up and not even trying to stick to the words written on his list.

The Ranger Teens waltz back into the Youth Center, and Becky gives Kim a hug for not abandoning her. Was that what she was upset about? Is she still upset that her dad still has a career as well?

But lucky for Becky, it turns out her father used one of his hard-earned vacation days GODDAMNIT to come see her sing or whatever. Daddy Becky says she comes first from now on, and that stupid job he uses to pay their lame-o bills is never going to be an issue again. Also, she gets to sleep in this cool new cardboard box that her dad found outside!

Daddy Becky cheers his daughter up by asking if she would treat him to some hot chocolate. Which…doesn't strike me as part of a healthy father-daughter relationship. "Yeah I came to see your stupid play, now bring me something to drink so I can enjoy it you little shit. And stop asking me when I'm going to get remarried. If you would have brought me hot chocolate sooner, your last mom wouldn't have left!"

Man, this episode has brought out the Grinch in me.

Becky leaves her dear old dad alone for a moment and rushes back over to Santa Bulk. The exasperated pseudo Claus asks Becky what stupid toy will make her go away this year. Becky says that she doesn't need anything else, because Santa got her the one thing she wanted: a visit from dad. Becky gives Santa a Christmas kiss on the cheek and says "I love you, Santa."

And even Bulk's cynical heart is melted in this moment. As she leaves, he tugs his beard down and flashes one of the most genuine smiles I've ever seen. No matter how easy the material is, this moment actually got me to smile. Paul Schrier somehow elevated this nothing of an episode by portraying a decent human being.

And even better is when the camera shifts up to Skull, who's seen hilariously sobbing at this beautiful display. Power Rangers, you slick bastards! You tug on my heartstrings and then offer me a joke? Alright fine…maybe this one isn't total trash.

Wait a sec, the last minute of this episode is the kids singing again? Ahahaha yeah, nah. You can get fucked. We're done here.




Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Holiday Magic



Personal Thoughts

I don't really know what to say. It's not really that good, but it's also a fucking Christmas special. What could I have possibly expected? It's whatever. I'm not even going to act like I'm aghast that this episode wasn't astounding or whatever. It's a dumbass Christmas episode I'm watching in fucking May. It's corny, it's silly, it's dumb, but who cares? It's not worth being mad over for fuck's sake.

This episode was originally released on VHS before it was aired on TV, and there were a few minor differences between versions. I'd make a list of them, but I'm not watching this dumbass thing again. If you are curious what was changed, check out Sir Stack's Morphylogeny page on this episode, he breaks it down quite well! It's mostly just extended songs from the kids I guess? Which you ain't getting me to watch no siree. The only notable cut scene was the Ranger Teens' friend Katherine wishing them a merry Christmas via Viewing Globe. Who's Katherine? You'll learn next week!

Oh yeah and according to Rangerwiki, Rito's gift to Goldar was a new sword. Take that with a grain of salt though, because Rangerwiki has been right like twice in the past 20 years. Either some weird fan added their head-canon to the wiki, or this moment will be elaborated on in future episodes.






  




4 comments:

  1. It must be the magic of the spirit of the season to get another review this soon! I would watch the uncut version of the special for myself, but that would probably require finding the oldest VHS copy in some auction, since nobody seems to have bothered transferring it up to modern media. Much like the cameo appearance from Rocky, Adam, and Aisha in Alpha's Magical Christmas, it must have been fun to be introduced to Kat in a video that came out before the Rangers had even gotten their ninja powers in the TV series.

    But hey, this episode could have involved Centiback infiltrating a large team of Santa Clauses to replace all the presents with centipedes that turn into tattoos!

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  2. It's kind of interesting to watch how the series is slowly evaporating your patience, like someone taking a sander to a block of ice.

    At least you're halfway through, and then Zeo starts?

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    1. You say that like Zeo was good.

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    2. Zeo is fantastic.

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