Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Episode 2: High Five

A skeleton Men's Rights Activist gets decapitated
after a warbling man falls off a mountain.

Try and follow me here because this episode gets a little weird.

We start things off pretty casually; Jason is climbing a rope hanging from the ceiling of the Juice Bar while Kim and Zack cheer him on. Trini tells him to be careful or he could hurt himself, and because he doesn't have Chuck Norris to cheer him on he's doomed to fall. This isn't just a ham fisted moral for the kids, Trini just says how much she hates heights and then high-tails it away from the rope.

Billy walks in all excited about some dorky bullshit, and Zack high fives him and calls him "my main brain." The show's realism is lost when Billy doesn't flinch when a member of another race tries talking to him. Haven't these guys ever met nerds before? Just before Billy can explain his technobabble, Jason slides down the rope and lands with his legs around Billy's neck. Man you can just tell Jason's scrote is tickling the back of Billy's neck. Can you imagine being a Power Ranger and still getting teabagged by the jocks?

jason and billy high five
R.I.P. David Carradine

Bulk comes barging in to make fun of them for falling down, because what kind of idiot falls down? Jason says Bulk couldn't make it to the top of the rope and Skull gets in his face to try and talk shit. Jason just stares him down and Skull backs off instantly. It actually made me laugh out loud and I think it's because the guy who plays Skull (Jason Narvy) is just really entertaining to watch. See for yourself.

skull and jason argue high five
That little lip quiver at the end makes my life better

As you might be able to guess, Bulk tries to climb the rope and is unable to do anything but immediately fall down. Tragically there wasn't a pie or bowl of whipped cream underneath him to fall into, but we're only on Episode 2 so I'm sure they didn't want to play all their cards yet.

Rita decides those meddling Rangers have given her one headache too many and plans to trap them in a time warp. She explicitly mentions doing the same time warp thing to Zordon and I'm honestly impressed. The writers are good enough to answer any inquisitive viewers' question about why there's a giant blue head in a jar in the 2nd episode. There's a lot of other things that we just have to accept but it's nice that they gave enough of a shit to explain one of the most glaring things right up front.

Billy blathers about his new invention and nobody knows what the fuck he's talking about, Trini explains it because she and Billy just get each other. That's one of Trini's traits is that she understands Billy's techno jargon for reasons that I'm sure have nothing to with the fact she's the Asian character. Billy invented some wristwatch that can communicate with Zordon, aptly naming them Communicators. The Rangers test out their Communicators and with the click of a button they're teleported to the Command Center, probably because a high school nerd tried to make super advanced technology in his garage.

The teens teleport in and Alpha greets them, calling them homeboys and homegirls and asking what brings them to the hood. Alpha 5 talks like white people on Fox News do today.  Before we can move the plot along too much further, Alpha zaps himself on a control panel and runs around in sped up footage for as long as it takes to pad out the episode.

Rita asks Baboo if he's finished working on her time device and I'm impressed they managed to do anything with Baboo at all. We get a few bits and pieces later of Baboo being some kind of scientist and not just a moron, but whenever he isn't given something to do he's just some jittery idiot. The time device is shaped like a little space shuttle and is said to open up a hole in time that will capture the Rangers with the aid of one of Finster's monsters. Personally I'd think you'd need just the monster or the space shuttle but I'm also not a blue space gorilla so I'll give this one to Baboo.

Finster's monster today is a run of the mill skeleton named Bones. As clever as Finster is at molding clay he might not be the guy you want naming your monsters. We also get to see the really weird method of how he makes monsters. First he makes a clay mold of the monster, then he puts it inside of an oven called the Monstermatic. Then the monster is spit out fully formed in a huge cloud of smoke. It's rad as fuck and is so off the wall I love it.

Finster's Monstermatic
If this thing was missing even a single dial, all hell would break loose.

As soon as Bones is formed he's wearing a fedora which I suspect means he's here to tell the Power Rangers about the important topic of misandry.

Bones MMPR Power Rangers

We're treated to a really blatantly Japanese scene of the time device being launched and rolling down the streets of what is clearly some street in Japan. The cars are driving the wrong way, and there's no attempt to insert any footage of U.S. actors being surprised by the shuttle rolling along, so it's nothing but mediocre dubbing of Japanese extras. It's just one of those weird moments that seems to be nothing but a way to eat up time. You'll notice that a lot with this episode, I'm sure it's a coincidence.

Zordon knows Rita's up to some funky junk so he sends the teens to a mountain near where the time device landed. Zordon informs them the Putties are guarding the area and they'll need to scope things out before he can analyze what Rita's plan is. While this sounds like a pretty straightforward progression, I'll explain in a little bit why this really doesn't make any difference to this episode.

The Putties discover the teens, likely because they're dressed in multicolored outfits in the middle of the desert. Jason tells his crew they don't need to morph because Zordon told them not to escalate fights they don't need to. The only explanation you can give this is because Putties are already considered that pathetic in the second episode. It's pretty awesome honestly because we have Putties to contend with for a whole season and except for one specific episode they're completely useless as a threat after the first episode.

Trini and Billy separate the Putties from the group and split up so that we can create a conflict in a few minutes. Seriously, they split up to divide like 3 Putties from the main group. They probably could have handled at least one of them. Trini Solid Snakes underneath some Putties that end up running off. About 4 seconds later she screams at the top of her lungs for Billy to come down off the top of a ledge. Maybe the Putties she just avoided can't hear her that good because Christ almighty does her voice carry.

Trini keeps screaming at Billy that he's too high up, and a Putty starts to chase after him on the mountaintop. Billy hilariously fumbles his Power Morpher out of his hand and onto the rocks because he can't fight a single Putty on his own. Trini looks back to see if the others can help Billy instead, but the Putties that Zack, Kim, and Jason are fighting have them circled, probably because they want to see Billy splattered over the rocks.
Trini is terrified to go up high but realizes she has to so she can save Billy's triflin' ass. She keeps looking down and psyching herself out because she's scared she's going to fall. It's actually pretty unnerving if you're afraid of heights, but you're not too worried because it's only episode 2 and without Billy Megazord's gonna be walkin with a limp.

Trini makes it to the top and stands right in front of the ledge to provoke the Putty to come at her, only for her to sidestep and let it jump to its death. We hear a really comical sound effect when the Putty falls like he fell into a dumpster. I'm not sure if that's supposed to make us feel better or something, but for my money that's one dead Putty.

What the fuck did he think would happen?

The Rangers might have beaten the Putties, but Bones teleports down to Earth so he can neg all the pretty ladies at the Juice Bar, all by using his totally bitchin' hat for peacocking. Zordon alerts the Rangers and gives a run-down of what Bones can do: fire energy bolts, jump really high, and disappear. Keep track of these things, because he doesn't do any of them in the actual fight.

Figures, he's a brony too.

The Rangers morph and teleport to an amusement park where Bones is hangin' out. Bones spins his head and teleports the Rangers into the time warp. It's a devilish realm of no escape, which he refers to as the Friend Zone. This whole sequence seems odd because Rita talked up the time device thing so much earlier and now Bones just sends them into the warp himself. It also makes the Rangers earlier fight with the Putties and the time device getting activated really pointless, as they ended up morphing right to where Bones was after the Putties lost. It feels like two different plots stitched together to pad out time, probably because that's exactly what it was.

In another dimension, with voyeuristic intention...

Out of nowhere Bones summons some personal foot soldiers who literally just look like stuntmen in skeleton pajamas. It's ridiculous, it's dumb, it's silly, and it's also the best thing. For the first monster of the season Bones is leaving a pretty goofy first impression.

bones foot soldiers

Squatt and Baboo plan on blowing up the time device they spent all that time working on because that's what will trap the Rangers in the time warp? I'm not pretending to be confused or anything I legitimately don't know how this time warp shit works. It only frustrates me further because if a couple of morons like Squatt and Baboo can figure it out it can't be that complicated.

Jason takes Bones by his cape and the Rangers blast him apart with their Blade Blasters weapons. They're little swords that can turns into guns, which you could probably assume. The explosion causes Bones to fall apart into a pile of...bones. The Rangers think they've got him beat but Bones begins to bring his body back together.

It is in this moment I am euphoric, not because of some space witch on the moon

Before Bones can finish bringing himself together, Billy snatches his head and wraps it up in his stupid cape. He tosses it off to Trini who cuts down Bones' stupid stuntmen in Halloween costumes. Trini then throws Bones' head down a giant smoky pit causing his body to explode. Just like all Pick Up Artists it turns out that Bones' one weakness was being touched by a woman.

Goodnight sweet prince

Rita realizes the episode still has another few minutes to fill so she summons another monster, this one named Giant. As you might be able to infer, he's particularly tall, and seems to have the power to RIP OPEN DIMENSIONS, which he uses to grab Jason. What the fuck is even happening anymore?

Y'know guys I really think Rita's just wingin' it at this point. 

The bomb blows up the time device which hurls the Rangers out into the mountainside where Giant is squeezing a toy that's supposed to be the Red Ranger. Also if you look carefully Billy is clearly holding onto something, and if you look even closer it's the Time Device. When the hell did that happen? What? What was this episode about again? Trini was afraid of spiders or something?

Billy time device
Guys! I grabbed this rocket ship, it should help us OH FUCK

Jason shoots the Giant in the eyes with his Blade Blaster and calls on the T-Rex Dinozord to even the odds.  The other Rangers don't call on their Zords because Trini's focus episode needed another ranger to really spice it up. Before Jason jumps into his Zord he proudly exclaims "Let's kick some Giant!" It's like something you'd say as a kid to act like you were swearing but you couldn't get in trouble with your mom, only it doesn't make any sense and sounds horrible.

The Giant and Tyrannosaurus duke it out and it's shot from a low angle at first, it actually looks pretty good and makes it look a bit more realistic. Then they go right back to the miniature mountains and trees and stuff. The T-Rex Dinozord kicks Giant around some more and blows him away with some smoke breath attack that dissolves Giant into dust. I keep assuming they're going to bring up another plot but I think the episode's almost over so I guess that's it.

Tyrannosaurus smoke breath ground breath
Rita's monsters: So deadly you can kill them by breathing on them hard enough.

Back at the Juice Bar, we're introduced to Ernie, the owner of said Juice Bar. He's talking to some extra about the Power Rangers saving the town from "some zombie guy in the park." The news must be pretty quick to have seen anything of that fight considering all Bones did was ride a pony and then teleport the Rangers the second they showed up.

Billy's technology has been fixed by Alpha to make it not complete garbage, and now allows them to teleport to the Command Center and contact Alpha and Zordon whenever they need to. Kim's response "This is so 90's!" leaves me with wide open eyes realizing how much time has passed, and how great Kim would be at writing Buzzfeed articles.

Kim, Billy, and Jason congratulate Trini on conquering her fear of heights, which Kim expresses is "Morphenomenal."An embarrassing word that's somehow managed to catch on to a few choice nerds like yours truly. Zack sneaks up on Trini while wearing a skeleton mask and screams, causing her to climb up the rope lickety split. Her closest friends laugh at her plight as she realizes she traded in her fear of heights for a fear of people in fake looking skeleton costumes. I'd say that's a pretty good trade off.


Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Teleportation (???)

Personal Thoughts:

This episode is unbelievably trippy. The time warp Bones sends the Rangers to is covered with this crazy multi-colored filter and has big weird green pumpkins scattered all over the place. It's so off the goddamn rails because we see the time device sitting inside the dimension but last we saw it, it was outside the mountain creating the warp. I'm not sure why they included the shuttle stuff at all if they were just going to have Bones send the Rangers into the warp himself. Then after they kill him Rita brings in the Giant out of nowhere while they try to ignore the footage of Billy holding onto the time device. It's really clumsy handling of the Sentai footage but it's also got a bit of charm and crazy fun to it. I think that's really one of the big appeals of this show is the mixing of the genres and especially taking a look at the moments where things just dissolve into total nonsense.

By nonsense I really just mean the pumpkins.

To make up for the lack of an official Monster of the Week last episode, we get two this time, Bones and Giant. Two of the lamest names we're gonna get all season, but just you wait till Season 2! Bones' death is one that we wouldn't see much of in this season of Power Rangers, or much at all. Usually the Rangers use their weapons in a stock footage shot to blow up the monster but Bones was defeated by a method specific to his ability to reform himself. It's really fucking cool but it also builds you up for something the show doesn't necessarily hold true to. The Rangers aren't always about finding a monster's weakness and destroying them with it, just using it to sometimes beat the monster up a little bit before finishing it off in one of about 3 different ways.

Speaking of the monsters, Giant and Bones are voiced by the same guy, Tom Wyner. Maybe it was just cheaper to pay one guy while he was in studio to do grunts for two different monsters. I couldn't tell ya. Wyner does the voice of what feels like half the monsters this season, but he's also good at what he does. You might recognize him as the Teddy Bomber from Cowboy Bebop or Devimon from Digimon. Since those are the only two other shows I've ever watched I don't know what else he's been in.

As I mentioned last time the Zord fight with Goldar was all put together by Saban and cut from a handful of episodes. That means that in the original Sentai, the Zord fight with T-Rex and Giant was the first Zord fight we saw. I go back and forth on this if it's a better idea to build up Megazord showing up later on or put him on the table up front to show you this show isn't messing around. I'm leaning towards the latter mostly because Sentai is a brand in Japan, kids know they'll be getting a combining robot in a few weeks of this show. Americans didn't know what this show was so they needed some of the sweet details given to them in advance, so I think it was a really solid move from Saban. What do you think?


  1. The Goldar zord fight was unnecessary because you just gave them powers - do they need machines already? Maybe they could have introduced them like "Hey Jason, here's Tyrannosaurus, you control him," and learn how he works for a bit, then fight Sphinx and bring Megazord together for the first time, etc. Not blow it all like a virgin with his prom date. *smirk* Loving it my man.

  2. "It's a devilish realm of no escape, which he refers to as the Friend Zone."

    You lovely man.

  3. I genuinely feel bad for guys who wear fedoras just because they look good, especially those who'd been wearing them for years before these MRA creeps came to prominence; it's not their fault.

    1. Especially since Columbine ruined trenchcoats. It's damned hard for a man to look dapper these days without associating himself with douchebags. Next thing you know, Trump supporters are gonna start wearing monocles.

  4. Heh, this episode is so unfocused. I was beginning to think Netflix's description was based on someone watching just the first few minutes of the episode.

  5. It always bothered me when the kids said "morphenomenal". My brain would always splice this into "More phenomenal than what?" Curse you 90's and your rad attempts at slammin' heavy-handed buzzwords into pop culture.