Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 27: Wheel of Misfortune

Teenage Boy Hogtied by Space Monsters
Ultimate Destruction Machine Used to Dismantle Wheel

When you think of challenges teenagers have to face what's the first thing that comes to mind? Parents not understanding them? Well sure, but the Power Rangers don't have parents so we can ignore that one. Finding a way to masturbate every day? Oh please, these six have the sex drive of Nikola Tesla. The answer I was looking for was going to school.

Teenagers go to school to study and could t-t-t-totally flunk a math test! But when the Ranger Teens go to school, it's to do something mundane like hold a petition or show off dolls. Do the writers of the show not know what school is? It's not just a Youth Center you're obligated to go to. It's like some weird alien version of what school's supposed to be.

Today the Ranger Teens are acting in a play, which is exactly what children the world over tune into a karate action show to watch. Oh well, I'm sure it'll be great to watch actors of this caliber pretend to be people who are pretending to be other people.

Jason and Kim are practicing for a rendition of Rumpelstiltskin, with Mr. Caplan directing them. You might remember Mr. Caplan as the be-wigged principle of Angel Grove High School, or more likely you don't remember him at all. Jason and Kim are acting alongside Bulk and Skull. You must be shitting me.

I've known Bulk and Skull for 26 episodes, and the one thing you're not going to sell me on is them wanting to act. The show doesn't give any valid explanation. They could be doing this as opposed to getting a detention, or because they get extra credit that they need to pass. Instead we're left with nothing but the idea they're proponents of the fine arts. The two idiots who fall into all manner of dessert.

"Alas poor Skullrick. I knew him well, Pistachio." - 2014, Bulk and Skull in Haim Saban's HAMlet.

Bulk immediately forgets his lines, isn't wearing his costume, and starts macking on Kim. He explains this is all to 90's up the play, as well as make it insufferable. Since she can't ad-lib for shit, Kimberly just grits her teeth and delivers lines about spinning straw into gold or whatever the hell Rumpelstiltskin is about. Kim remembers though, it's a play all about heavy petting.

Bulk starts freaking out because a girl touched him and begins to rapidly rotate the prop spinning wheel. In the process, the wheel spins so fast it blows Mr. Caplan's wig off. The laughs just don't stop coming when we're hanging with Mr. Caplan! Bulk accidentally breaks the spinning wheel, because he laid his ruinous gorilla palms on it, which launches Kim into a fit since it belongs to her grandmother. That means Kim has one less thing to remember her by when she drops dead next week!

Rita's been watching the play practice and she decides she'll use a spinning wheel of her own. That's the best plot you can use with an episode about a play? Rita's not going to send it down while the Rangers are acting in the play, which could actually lead to some level of discomfort for the heroes. They'd have to abandon the stage or avoid fighting until they were off stage or something. Instead Rita just whips up something tangentially related to the play they're doing because we've got footage of a Japanese episode with a giant spinning wheel and I'll be fucked if it doesn't go to good use.

Kimberly goes to the Juice Bar so she can wash away her woes with some frosty chocolate milkshakes. Ernie asks why she's got her resting bitch face on rest mode, and Kimberly talks about how her ugly grandmother's piece of shit wheel is stuck. Maybe that's a sign to throw it in the garbage Kimberly. Knowing how old your grandmother is she probably used slaves to spin that wheel for her. Why don't you tell your racist old grandmother to fuck off.

Rita decides to use her own slaves to grab that wheel for her so she can turn it into the titular "Shitty Game Show Reference." Goldar assures he's up to the devious task, so he prepares his mental fortitude to help his empress in her schemes. With a group of Putties, he carries out his job using all of his might.

Wish this episode was about Goldar putting on his own play.

Tommy takes Kim to go see if he can fix the wheel, but the teens are aghast to find that someone stole it! Oh no, who could have stolen your grandmother's wheel Kim? Maybe it was the janitor who knew exactly where to put it. We abruptly cut to Kim and Tommy at the Youth Center asking people if they saw the wheel, which makes zero sense for a number of reasons.

The Youth Center can't only be populated by Angel Grove High School students, so they won't have a clue what this wheel business is all about. Secondly, why film this at the Youth Center set? If you film this scene at the school set then it makes more sense, the awkward cut just makes Kim and Tommy look like idiots. Lastly, who the fuck watches play practices? Nobody, that's who. Might as well ask if they've seen the captain of the debate team lately.

However this is all worth it to hear Tommy awkwardly asking girls in the Youth Center "Did you see it?" Yes Tommy, we all saw it.

Tommy approaches Bulk and Skull who are, surprisingly, eating. When he asks them what happened, Skull starts freaking out and slamming a toy fly into the bowl of popcorn, because these two are a few chromosomes short of a DNA pie. Tommy gets hilariously serious and says he's not kidding around, because that wheel's his ticket to getting his goop gobbled. This whole scene strikes me as weird and I think I know why now. Bulk and Skull are holding a casual conversation with a guy who blasted them into a dumpster with lasers from his eyes. That seems like something you might want to have a dialogue about.

Meanwhile, Rita is reinventing the wheel and has created her newest "monster." Turning the spinning wheel into her Wheel of Misfortune, and this is absolutely the lamest enemy all season. It's nothing but a spiky wheel. It's less threatening than Mr. Ticklesneezer. You put gloves on and then set it down, crisis averted.

You just rolled that wheel in a thorn bush didn't you?

Kim pouts inside the Youth Center, and the other four main Ranger Teens come in and do one of the weirdest goddamn things I've seen in this show so far. They all sit down around her, mimic her pouting action, and then she notices and smiles at all of them. It leaves me with such a weird feeling since these characters exhibiting some form of playful ribbing feels foreign. It's not bad, but it's such a minuscule thing that it catches you off guard. Kinda like it though.

This is the most acting you're getting out of them all season, enjoy it.

Tommy walks through the park, having run out of people to threaten about Kim's wheel issue, when suddenly a flock of Putties appear and begin to attack him. Tommy's conveniently left his backpack away from the fight so he's unable to call for backup, but it's the Putties, how is he having trouble with them?

Well when Tommy leaps to grab his bag, the Putties trip him and start hogtying him with ropes. Uh oh, looks like Finster cooked up a batch of his patented BDSM Putties just for you Tommy. Let's see you fight with sore ass cheeks dork. That'll teach you to leave your Communicator in a bag. Let's hope Baboo isn't the gimp.

Zordon calls the other five Rangers to the Command Center and asks if they want to watch Tommy get buttfucked by Putties. Also that Goldar took Kim's grammy's stupid wheel and now it's evil. The Wheel of Misfortune is so strong that it can destroy anything it touches, which would be impressive if it was true. The Rangers see Tommy tied up and want to go help, but Zordon says they need to fight Goldar and some lady named Scorpina! Remember Scorpina? Well she's back! In PAWG Form!

The Teens morph to combat Goldar and Scorpina out in a mountainside somewhere. You'd think 5 on 2 would give the Rangers a healthy advantage but not at all. Kim and Billy get punked by Scorpina, while Jason, Trini and Zack all get clobbered by Goldar. Suddenly we cut to Rita on a mountainside preparing to throw her wand. Maybe you could have mentioned her being there too Zordon, what with her being the entire reason the Rangers wear those suits and all.

Rita makes Goldar and Scorpina grow to fight the Rangers, and the Rangers bust out the Dinozords to take them on. Jason opts not to form the Megazord right away, which proves to be his downfall as Goldar unleashes his most insidious tactic yet.

Goldar sucks
The T-Rex curses evolution for giving it such shrimpy ass arms.

Was this your big plan Rita? Lure the Zords out to a mountain then Planet of the Apes them? You've come up with some real stinkers before Repulsa but holy shit. Did you even need the Wheel for this one? Were these two plans you didn't feel strong about that you tried to Macguyver together? This is a fucking D+ at best.

While the rest of the Rangers are getting humiliated in their Zords, Tommy remains tied to a tree by a bunch of gibbering goofballs. If this was the first episode of Power Rangers a kid watched they'd be left wondering what all the hype was about. It's a show about high school actors getting their stuff stolen then tied up? That premise seems like it might get a little old.

Tommy starts to rub his ropes against the tree he's tied to and within 3 seconds he's already almost free. Instead of going shithouse on the putties, Tommy stays against the tree and beckons them over saying how he feels sick and he feigns passing out with a performance that shows why he didn't get the role of the king in Rumpelstiltskin. The Putties head back over to see if Tommy's in the mood for Round 2, but he breaks free of his bondage and beats the piss out of them.

Tommy calls Zordon, who's clearly being dubbed by someone else because they were too cheap to call his regular voice actor in for another ten minutes. "Zordon" tells Tommy that he's commanded Jason to bring all their Zords together to form the Ultrazord, and if this fails the world is doomed. From what Zordon? A fucking spinning wheel and a net throwing dog man? You're a real bringdown you know that?

Tommy morphs to the fight and summons Dragonzord to help Jason out of the net binding him. Dragonzord blasts Goldar and Scorpina back, but suddenly the Wheel of Misfortune shows up! Sure took its sweet ass time to do anything, but it starts spewing sparks and cutting through Dragonzord and Tyrannosaurus. It fails to destroy them though because it's just a big shitty prop held up by some strings.

Wheel of Misfortune
Chinese Fireworks Display.gif

Jason, terrified by a giant wheel, combines the Zord fleet to make Megazord. Didn't Zordon say something about bringing together all the Zords? Fuck it, we got some time to kill. Megazord calls on the Power Sword to try and cut down the Wheel of Misfortune, while Dragonzord tries to take down Goldar and Scorpina.

Here's where things get all disjointed and weird. Rita beckons the wheel to chop the Zords down, and the Rangers react with shock. Then the Wheel of Misfortune starts hovering in mid-air doing nothing, and Rita bellows with joy. Tommy tells the Rangers to look out, because the wheel is just floating there doing nothing, then Jason decides to call Titanus to form Ultrazord. It's choppy and clearly editing around something, and it makes the fight look shitty and boring. When you're fighting a wheel on a string, you're already starting at the very bottom. Don't make it even worse.

For all that's been bland about this fight, there is one bright spot, and that's the introduction of Ultrazord. It's one of the coolest goddamn things in the show and there's nothing that hypes you up more as a kid than seeing all these giant toys come together to form one super toy. Just look at this.

Ultrazord gif

How does Ultrazord finish the fight? It just blasts a huge onslaught of energy at the enemy and blows em to fuckin pieces. It's fantastic. The Wheel of Misfortune is demolished and Rita heads home, knowing she'd fucked this one up from Jump Street. Scorpina and Goldar follow suit because they just saw the Ultrazord blow shit sky high. Rita's Crew may not be smart, but they sure know how to survive.

By the way, remember how the Wheel of Misfortune was made from Granny Kim's spinning wheel? You'll notice there wasn't much focus on Kimberly during the fight. No hesitance to destroy the wheel, no hoping for a way around destroying it. Nothing, she doesn't react whatsoever. It was sure nice of the writers to take every opportunity they could to avoid an interesting story.

The Ranger Teens head to the High School where Kim asks what they'll do about her Grandmother's wheel. Oh of course, there's her concern. Right after the fight's over. Thankfully her concerns are immediately answered when she sees her grandmother's wheel has been magically salvaged and is back where Goldar initially stole it. Stakes? What a bunch of hogwash.

Why is it that every time Rita turns something evil, it has to show up again unharmed? Ultrazord went shithouse on that wheel but thank God it's back, safe and sound. Don't worry about adversity in your life kids, the problem will solve itself no matter what course of action you take!

Later at night, Bulk and Skull are watching cartoons that are interrupted by a news report about how the Power Rangers are awesome and blew up a wheel or something. All of a sudden Mr. Caplan walks in on them and tells them the curtain is up and they're fucking up the whole goddamned play. What a shock, casting Mississippi Fats and Virginia Slim in your play and all they do is dick around backstage.

The play begins, and try and take a guess where it's being held. I'll give you a hint, it's not in Billy's garage, the Command Center, or the Angel Grove High hallway. Jason gives his single line about spinning straw into gold, and Skull parrots it poorly because that's all his character ever does. Kim starts calling out asking where Rumplestiltskin is, because if there's one thing we all know about this story, it's how familiar everyone was with the name Rumplestiltskin.

Bulk fucks everything up by freezing up backstage and not going on during his cue. Bulk starts demanding Kimberly kiss him, while Billy flips through the script looking for the sexual abuse scene. Kim says she'll lay one on him after he spins all the straw into gold, so Bulklethickskin goes to gather up the straw. He bends over in front of the audience to pick up the straw and instantly rips his pants. The audience is left to see Bul-


Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Racist Grandmothers

Personal Thoughts

Man this episode is one of my least favorites. The Wheel of Misfortune is such a bland monster, the Ultrazord's introduction belongs in a fight with a far more impressive enemy, none of the Rangers but Tommy and Kim have anything to do, and I've done enough theater in my life to cringe every time I have to see someone messing up lines. It's the worst form of secondhand embarrassment and it kills me every time.

What amazes me is there were a handful of shots in the Zyuranger episode this came from that of the Pink Ranger in her Zord's cockpit that were cut. Why not use those in this episode to have Kim saying something about how she doesn't want to fight but she has to, or have her say anything at all. Give this fight some stakes!

I have to confess the issue of Scorpina not being around isn't really the fault of Power Rangers. They're limited to what Zyuranger does, and the way they adapted these episodes left a big hole without Scorpina in it. There was an episode of Zyuranger that hasn't been adapted so far with Scorpina in it, but we'll get there in a little while.

If I had to guess why Scorpina was in Zyuranger so rarely, it probably goes to the fact she's not just a rubber suit. Scorpina is an actual person in a costume delivering her lines, not just a stunt actor in a monster suit being dubbed over by a voice actor. It's presumably more expensive to have a regular actor on set involved in the action than it is to have some guy in the Squatt costume wiggling around.

My issue with Ultrazord's debut here might be a little biased, but it's because Power Rangers had a good opportunity given to them that they didn't bother with. In Zyuranger, this was the second time the Power Rangers used Ultrazord. The first time they use it is coming soon, but it leaves a bit of a plot hole here. Ultrazord is formed by the Megazord wearing the Dragonzord on top of it, and we've never seen that formation before. It seems fine for now but again, give it a couple weeks I'll explain why this is all bullshit.

It's just an unceremonious way to introduce the Ultrazord. It's used several times in the future and absolutely every one of its uses is better suited to a debut than this. It's just getting used on some dumbass wheel that's floating around. Who gives a hoot?


  1. "Wish this episode was about Goldar putting on his own play."

    -There needs to be fanfic of this immediately.

  2. For an episode about Kim, it's not really about Kim. The one part that I did like was Kim saying "The End" after Bulk ripped his pants, taking it upon herself to end the play as quickly as goddamn possible, and then the episode immediately ended.

  3. This is one of my favorite episodes just for how bad it is. The part where Kimberly scerams at Bulk for breaking the spinning wheel is hysterical for some reason, after that, in the Youth Center, when Tommy and Kim are forcibly stopping strangers asking if they've seen the spinning wheel, when Tommy gets "serious" with Bulk, when Zordon tells the Rangers the spinning wheel is evil...all classic moments. You hit the nail on the head with this review. It's so off-the-wall, it's great

  4. Tommy muttering, "I don't have time for this" at the putty attack is even funnier if you imagine him being mostly upset over the dwindling prospect of him getting laid that night...

  5. What's funny is that this episode actually originally aired AFTER "Island of Illusion" so the Ultrazord error was corrected although the 2010 rerun had them in the order Karsau presents it as in this blog. Another funny story, since I don't know if this was established before, but "Gung Ho!" originally aired before "Life's A Masquerade." As a result, the first aired episode resolves a plot set up in the episode that came after it. Why is that? Because FOX Kids wanted the Halloween episode to air closer to Halloween instead of a week early.

  6. So, no one's going to point out how, after Goldar and Scorpina retreat, we get a clear shot of the Dino Megazord holding the Power Sword? The reason for this is that, in Zyuranger, there exists no real establishing shot of the Ultrazord except for the unusably brief one seen during the transformation gif which they coul;dn't use because the explosioon would make no sense. Then again, why not cut into the Megazord cockpit and show them celebrating instead?

  7. The Rangers didn't get a chance to form the Megazord before Rita ordered Goldar to throw the net. Otherwise, the Power Sword would've had a chance to destroy the wheel before anything bad happened.