Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 23: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Deadly Spider Socked In Kisser
Sociopath Nerd Murders Defenseless Animal

Before we get started today let me ask you a question; did anybody you went to high school with actually petition for things? Was that a common trend that I didn't catch the boat on? This episode starts with Trini asking for signatures on a petition to save some statue in a park. That's fine and all but what decision maker is sitting on their thumbs waiting for the high school population's take on the situation? What makes this statue so special anyway?

The fact that it's a dime store Virgin Mary?

Well as the legend goes, the Forest Spirit Statue has the mystical ability to protect the citizens from harmful insects. Zack says he's all about that imaginary hogwash reason for a bunch of students to give a fuck about some ugly statue in the forest, because he sure doesn't like bugs! Mark that one in your journal of character traits for Zack everyone, you should be up to four by now. Trini shows the student body a weird collection of bugs in containers she's amassed to prove a point that tarantulas are scary and without that statue helping them, everyone would be sleeping on a bed of spiders until the day they die.

Trini mentions how the statue has flowers in its hair to remind us of the good that insects do for humanity, which Skull is perplexed by because he only knows bugs as those things he has to eat at dad's house. Bulk decides to cause some G-Rated ruckus by throwing the bugs around, starting with a box filled with cockroaches. Oh are those some of the bugs the Forest Statue keeps away? Tell that to all the kids living in Angel Grove's low income housing Trini. The roaches eating their dinner every night are only there because they aren't praying hard enough to your magic statue. As we learn why the caged bug sings, one terrified extra in a goofy purple sweater flees the scene in abject horror!

Don't run away too fast, Gary!

Everyone starts freaking out trying to get rid of the bugs, as Zack sees a big tarantula on his shoulder and screams his balls off about it. Tommy jumps into action to try and smash it with his binder, but he misses and lightly taps Zack on the shoulder. Tommy we've let you on this team for two weeks and all you've done is lose a fight to a turtle and miss killing a big ugly bug. Maybe we need to rethink this Green Ranger deal and demote you to Alpha's assistant.

Later that night, a mass of Putties accompany Squatt and Baboo to look over the Forest Spirit Statue to see what's so special about it.  Usually just the Putties would be good enough for this job but after the Shellshock debacle last week, Rita's got the two morons on grunt work for the rest of the season. The Putties nab the statue, as Rita wanted something to really tie the living room together.

The next day at school, Trini bemoans that she lost all of the science teacher's precious bugs, but Jason says they can replace them with a little insect hunting. Much more comforting, we have roaches, grubs, termites, and a tarantula roaming around the school but all we need to do is find more bugs. Enjoy lunch kids! Billy saunters up to the rest of the Ranger Teens and shows Kimberly a little special something he's been hiding in his overalls pocket.

A little white surprise for Kim

Kim says Billy's new pet is adorable, because nothing turns teenage girls on more than rodents. Billy balks at the idea of having something bring joy into his life, and informs her this mouse isn't a pet, but his "research assistant" Jack. We know what scientists do to mice Billy, stop with all the semantics. The rest of the Ranger Teens continue giving Jack a bunch of doe eyes, ignoring that Billy will soon be killing him to make even more worthless science garbage, until Bulk and Skull show up to antagonize our heroes for the second time in 3 minutes.

The scene progresses into more nonsensical slapstick when Bulk tosses a book at Billy, causing him to drop Jack. The mouse instantly scurries up Skull's pant leg, causing the lesser bully to freak out and do a C-Grade Elvis impression for a few seconds.

Bulk's thousand yard stare tho

Skull leaps into his lover's arms as Bulk looks confused at what the hell happened. Billy reaches into Skull's collar, plucks Jack out, and informs the mouse he's squandered his final day. Michael Clarke Duncan then comes out while sobbing and begging Billy not to kill his friend Mr. Jingles, because he's a smart mouse, like a circus mouse. Not a dry eye in the house.

As shenanigans partake on Earth, Finster marvels over the Forest Spirit Statue that Squatt and Baboo stole. He quips that such a beautiful piece of artwork must have taken an Earthling over an hour to produce. Man, that is a great line. Even when he isn't given much to do, Finster remains the best character in this show. Rita yells at Finster for suggesting they put this dumb looking statue anywhere in her palace, because she's a horrible boss that doesn't explain any of her half baked schemes to her employees and nags at them when they don't know what she's thinking.

Rita has Finster create a new monster to hide inside a duplicate copy of the statue that she'll put in the park. Why make a duplicate statue? Because space magic can't hide monsters inside of statues, it can only build statues around the monsters. What kind of show do you think Rita's running here? The fake statue will be covered in spiders and moths, but not just any moths; these are moths made out of sleeping powder! They could potentially reside from a planet Rita conquered, but the writer didn't feel like thinking up a name so they're just dust moths. Fuck you.

That moth was three days away from retirement!!

While Rita covers a statue with bugs made out of magic dust, some of the Ranger Teens are out collecting bugs to make up for all the roaches that are now roaming their school. Zack isn't accompanying them because he's terrified of bugs, and Tommy doesn't go with because he needs to make a dramatic entrance later. This scene isn't particularly important but it merits mentioning only to show you what Billy's wearing during this expedition.

Billy stupid hat

Rita sics the Putties on the bug collecting Rangers, and if you guessed that her henchmen get beat to shit without much trouble, you get a gold star! The editing in this fight is a little choppy as the Putty fights tend to be, but it's starting to get better. Aside from the dumb moment where Billy has his net around a Putty's head and spins it around. Remember when Billy learned karate and could hold his own in a fight? Neither do I.

While his friends grab grubs, Zack teaches a bunch of kids his Hip-Hop Kido style of martial arts. Hand to God, that's the actual name of this, Hip-Hop Kido. It seems to involve dancing while doing kicks every couple of seconds, which would make for a pretty entertaining match against Anderson Silva. So Zack turns on his jambox and starts strutting his stuff to show this class of kids exactly what his style is all about. Y'know what Hip-Hop Kido means?

Zack Dancing

It's glorious isn't it? What more can be said? If asked to create a time capsule to teach future generations what the 90's were about, all you would need to include is this image and the population of Earth would say "Oh...okay. We understand." It's perfect.

A group of diffident little dorks watch as Zack teaches them how to kick ass while making panties drop, and try to follow his moves. One of the kids does a mediocre little kick which Zack feigns pride in. It hit me while watching this episode, all of the students are white aside from one black kid in overalls. This class isn't about karate, it's a bunch of awkward white kids who want to learn how to dance! Also an alternate reality version of Billy.

Zack runs off to his car to find some funkier jams, which he refers to as his "fuckmix." As Zack leaves a bunch of children unattended, a group of Rita's magic sleep moths descend upon the unsuspecting kids. As the moths splatter what looks like talcum powder all over them, the kids clumsily flop to the ground and pretend to be asleep. Guess dance-karate isn't a great form of self defense after all, ya nerds.

Zack comes back to the scene of the crime to what looks like a bunch of dead kids. Zack tries to wake the kids up but realizes they're out cold, likely from all those super sweet jump kicks they were doing. He calls Zordon on his Communicator to ask how his entire class got murdered while he was 12 feet away, but Zordon explains about Rita's butterflies made of sleeping powder. They don't just spread it, they're literally made of it, and now they're flying towards Zack!  Zordon says he'll watch over the kids, so Zack runs away from the butterflies as well as his students, because fuck knows a black man doesn't want to be caught near a dozen unconscious white kids.

Zack tries to find sanctuary from Rita's magic Oogie Boogie bugs, and remembers what Trini said about the Forest Spirit Statue protecting from evil insects. Zack approaches the statue and finds it coated in all sorts of bugs. Instead of thinking maybe this statue isn't actually magical, Zack becomes conflicted upon seeing that it now has snakes in its hair and not flowers! That means it must be EVIL! Zack morphs and blows up the statue, because no other action could make sense. Don't ask Zordon if he senses anything, don't be skeptical, just blow up the fucking statue because it has a different thing in its hair. Well good on ya' Zack, because now we see what was inside the fake statue.

Oh he's a Salticidae!

Zack is super cheesed that Rita's using a spider monster and reminds the audience he is none too fond of bugs. In case you forgot the last four times someone mentioned it. Out of absolutely nowhere, Goldar jumps into the fight to help Spidertron finish the Black Ranger. This is his first scene in the episode, couldn't they bother shoving a scene in of him bellowing out how he'll fight the Black Ranger? You must be joking, we need to use that time for more dancing!

The rest of the Power Rangers hear about the trouble their arachnophobic buddy is in, so they morph over to help him. Sadly this means we've concluded the riveting "Rangers go hunt bugs" sub-plot. Spidertron ups the ante by spraying them with webbing that couldn't look more like silly string if it tried. Goldar and Spidertron prepare to finish the Rangers off, but Zack manages to get free and blast the monsters with his Blade Blaster. That's the second time in two weeks a Ranger has used their Blade Blaster to stop an imminent threat. Sounds like a certain toy might not have been moving as quickly as they wanted.

Rita makes the Spidertron grow, and strangely Goldar doesn't grow with him. Goldar grows all the time, why not let him grow now? Who cares, he showed up and disappeared because the footage said so. Megazord shows up to fight Spidertron and busts out one of its newest techniques!

Spidertron gif
8 Legs Meet 1 Fist

The big fuzzy spider vomits up more silly string to tie Megazord up into a web. He blasts the Megazord so hard that Jason forces it to disengage into the five individual Dinozords. Well 4 really, Kim's Zord doesn't do anything the rest of the fight. This battle actually becomes kind of interesting since we rarely get to see the separate Dinozords do their thing, Triceratops fires its laser tail at Spidertron, and Mastodon gets to use its frost breath attack. Spidertron makes a goofy shivering noise as it shakes all the frost off, and blasts the individual Dinozords. Again, please pretend Kim's doing anything.

The T-Rex gets knocked back by Spidertron as Jason asks Zordon to call on Tommy for help. We see exactly why Tommy hasn't been able to help though, he's busy swinging a sword around in the woods. Call me cynical but this is the exact same set-up as last week. T-Rex gets downed, Jason asks Zordon to call Tommy, cut to Tommy doing karate somewhere instead of paying attention to his Ranger mission. This is all supposed to make sense of the Green Ranger showing up late in Sentai footage, but the method the writers used to make that work just makes Tommy look incredibly dumb.

Dumb or not, Tommy morphs to the scene and sends out the Dragonzord. Since Dragonzord's toy is newer on the shelves, he does a lot better against the spooky scary Spidertron. The monster is still putting up quite a fight, and locks Dragonzord up in a web while firing a bunch of gross looking missiles from inside his shoulders. Jason says that the Rangers need the Megadragonzord, which is what the writers thought the Dragonzord in Battle Mode was called because they can't keep continuity for shit. Zack, Trini, and Billy form the Dragonzord in Megadragonzord Mode and we finally get to see what its finishing move is. Is it a sword strike or a blast of energy or us-

Dragonzord Battle Mode Finisher

SHIT. That's so perfect. Even as a kid this felt like something that shouldn't be in a kid's show, but that's what makes it great. Imagine being Saban Brands and buying a show you have to sell to kids, and you get to an episode where a monster gets its stomach drilled open. Eh fuck it nobody's gonna notice, we'll be off in the air in a couple months anyway.

Zack runs back to check on his students as they slowly start to wake up. Spidertron wasn't said to have anything to do with the sleeping powder moths, so it's possible Rita's magic is so shitty that all it does is put people to sleep for 6 minutes. You have a big demon spider and the best you can do with it is make a couple kids nod off for a little bit while he's sitting in a statue? Aim higher Repulsa, you can't have fallen off the wagon that badly this soon after that Green Ranger mess.

Trini assures the Rangers that not only was the real Forest Statue found, but their petition paid off and it's there forever. So Rita gave back the old statue after she stole it and made a fake one? Did she just dump it into the trash on Earth. You'd think a sore loser like her would blow it up after Spidertron got penetrated. Was any kid honestly on the edge of their seat hoping that statue Trini arbitrarily cared about would get rescued?

Zack then starts bragging about how proud he is he's totally over his fear of bugs forever and never has to worry about that. I now ask you, the audience at home, to complete the scene mentally before it's described to you. What do you think will happen now that a character has described how they're absolutely NOT afraid of something anymore? Did you guess they would be placed inside of a compromising situation proving their phobia is still relevant? Correct! You may use this as proof that you are not currently suffering an aneurysm.

Though Zack might not be so lucky

Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Jack

R.I.P Jack: October 19th 3:00 P.M. - October 19th 6:30 P.M.

Personal Thoughts:

This one isn't a bad episode at all. It's forgettable and doesn't add much, but there's something particularly remarkable about it as well. They introduce a new character trait, and that's fine, but what's even crazier is they actually stick with it. This show very rarely gives the viewers any new information about the Rangers as characters because all they do is have them act generically good and fight monsters. The honest truth is the writers are perfectly consistent with these characters and that's fine, but they're typically so fucking boring as people that it's difficult to connect with them.

All we can do with this show is realize that the characters are a bunch of stereotypes. It's the Breakfast Club with more karate and monsters. That's fine if you know what you're getting into, but it's sort of sad to go back to this show hoping you were missing some sort of characters here and realize they're all as flat as week old soda. Maybe I should be more surprised it took me 23 episodes to figure that out.

Spidertron is such an ass ugly monster, but he's perfectly creepy and I love that about him. It's funny that Zack's bug phobia came solely out of adapting an episode where the Black Ranger has to fight a spider monster, but little things like that are what's so charming about this silly ass show.

Before we're done I wanted to briefly discuss the Dragonzord in Battle Mode. This is its debut fight and it doesn't do anything other than use its finishing move right away. It doesn't seem all that more suited to battle if that's all we're going to see out of him. However let's go back to the Battle Mode's Power Staff finisher, because it's super fucking cool. What I'd neglected to mention about its use was that we didn't see the unedited version of Spidertron being killed. Take a look!



It strikes me as funny what they decided is okay to showcase. The shot of Spidertron with a big hole in its midsection that we see Dragonzord through? Perfectly acceptable. The shot of the spinning drill through his back? WHAT ARE YOU NUTS? THIS IS A KID'S SHOW!

If I had any foresight at all I would have started this blog two weeks earlier, oh well. Happy Halloween! Don't get a bunch of spiders in your candy!


  1. After Tommy hits Zack you can see the actor holding back laughter.

  2. Part of Zack's Hip-Hop Kiddo demonstration is in the opening theme, which means they must have taped up until this episode before the theme was edited together (and certainly before the series started airing).

    Anyone know anything about the post-production work on this series? Were earlier episodes edited together before the theme was ready, and then they just plopped it in?