Tuesday, October 27, 2015

MMPR Season 2 Episode 9: The Beetle Invasion

Fictious Sport Confirmed to be Real, Nation Shocked
Lethal Explosive Used to Revive Beetle Chunks

Uh oh everybody, it looks like there's trouble in Power Rangers today. Not with the characters or anything, they're WASPy twats they'll be just fine. No, the problem this week is in the writer's room.

You see, someone came up with a really great script for this episode. The only problem is it revolves around the Ranger Teens learning how to play a sport. What's the problem there? We've already had them play every sport imaginable in Season 1! Volleyball, Soccer, Football, Stilts, Cheerleading, Basketball, you name it and they've done it. So the only way we can get this script to make sense is to grab some obscure sport nobody could possibly give a shit about and have our characters play it. Something like Broomball, but hopefully they'll pick a more interesting sport to keep the audience engaged.

So Ernie shows the Ranger Teens how to play a cool new sport called broomball, which the Ranger boys can't get enough of. Good thing too, because the Youth Center in the city of Stone Canyon has challenged Ernie to a match. Even though Ernie doesn't have a team to play this Z-grade sport nobody gives a hot cup of piss about. Figures those dicks in Stone Canyon would play dirty.

Ernie's in some hot water this time. Where can he possibly hope to find a group of six impetuous, obnoxiously outgoing nerdlingers who would be amused by brushing a ball across the floor with a broom? Well for the first time in the history of this entire show, the Ranger boys show hesitation about playing this sport. Even if it's for the guy who gives them free drinks when they don't tip off the feds about his shady business practices. Gold star for not making these idiots be gung-ho about the lamest sport this side of dwarf tossing.

At least the Teens weren't interested until a couple of Stone Canyon broomballers dropped by the Youth Center. A boy and a girl (each aged 33) start talking some significant shit about how the Stone Canyon Beetles are undefeated. Yeah for a sport that no one else plays that 0-0 record is pretty impressive.

My favorite basketball team is the "Basketball Bulls"

The Stone Canyon preps instigate the Ranger Teens and start laying down some of that world famous Stone Canyon trash talk. They mock the boys for being hesitant to play a game they didn't know existed 22 seconds ago. Yeah these Angel Grove kids are a total bunch of losers for not playing fucking broomball.

Now that a couple douchebags from a town 200 miles over that they'll never see again lightly antagonized them, the male Ranger teens decide they should participate in this game for clinically depressed Swedes. Tommy tells his pals they better start practicing soon, or else they won't have time to squeeze in football practice, hanging out with annoying children, teaching karate to middle aged women who can't act, fighting galactic overlords and their endless legions of horrific monsters, homework, or excluding Trini.

Lord Zedd is on the audience's side this week, as he's having absolutely none of this broomball bullshit. He's got his sights set on draining Tommy's powers yet again, but this time we actually get a reasoning as to why. Zedd wants to get rid of the Green Ranger's powers because they were created with Rita's magic, and he wants no trace of her failures left in his presence.

I actually appreciate this little detail. Not only is Zedd focusing on Tommy because he's clearly the weak point of the group, but he has a personal vendetta against any reminder of Rita's piss poor middle management skills. It makes the transition from Season 1 to Season 2 feel significantly smoother than you'd expect from a show that can't remember the names of the toys it's selling half the time.

Goldar asks Zedd what brilliant and not at all convoluted plan his master has this week, to which Zedd responds by telling him to fuck off. Zedd spots the Stone Canyon jocks putting up a poster outside the Youth Center with their beetle logo embossed on the front. He finds this image perfect for a new creature and blasts it with energy from his staff to create the Stag Beetle monster.

Hoping for a more creative name? Too bad.

Inside the Youth Center, nobody notices the enormous goddamned beetle that just showed up outside and all of the Ranger Teens practice playing broomball. Well five of them do anyway, one of them is left out and take a big fat fucking guess who. Yeah that's right, Trini doesn't get to play Broomball with the others and sits on the bench by herself. Even though only the guy Rangers were invited to play broomball so it would make just as much sense to keep both Kim and Trini out of it. Nope, only Trini isn't allowed to join in on their reindeer games.

But to Power Rangers' credit, this is the first time I can actually admit they had a real reason for keeping her out of the plot.

During this scene of broomball practice, it's clear to see Trini sitting on the bench clapping along with the other Ranger Teens while wearing some kind of knee brace. I don't have all the information for what happened, but as far as I've heard Thuy Trang hurt her ankle while filming a stunt prior to this episode's production, necessitating her not running around playing an almost fictional sport. They don't bother addressing her sitting out from broomball or mentioning her leg at all. Probably because if they did, it would lead to some confusion when the Yellow Ranger is jumping all around without issue in Japanese footage later. Instead they just let her wear a knee brace on camera and hoped the audience wouldn't notice. This marks the one instance in this show's history that someone in the production didn't ignore Thuy Trang.

Coach Ernie tells the teens to give Billy a little more practice, because he's sucking wind at being a broomball goalie. Figures he's the goalie of their team. In the Rocket Power life these characters lead, Billy is the personification of Squid.

Billy bats a ball aside and it lands at the feet of a brand new character that everyone will fondly remember, Richie. Kimberly tells Trini he's new in school and will stay in school until the cast of this show puts up with their poverty wages with a smile on their face and like it. Trini says that he's very cute and looks dashing in red. In fact he looks so good in red, I'll bet he would make our current Red Ranger look like a total putz. Oh well, just another auxiliary character with no purpose other than to fill the background. No shady business in casting someone with a similar build to Jason no siree.

This week, Bulk and Skull have an ingenious plan to scout out the Power Rangers secret identities, and this time it revolves around yet another gag gadget. However this particular item might look a bit familiar to people who've been with this blog for a while now.

The Saigon whore who BIT MY NOSE OFF

Not ringing any bells? Let me jog your memory.

Somewhere out there is a pig in a gladiator helmet without a nose. If you can think of a sadder image I'd like to hear it.

This is the first, and certainly not last, instance of Saban Productions taking an old monster costume to the meat grinder for spare parts. Usually they'll be used in more creative ways, but for now just relish in the fact a heavyset actor was given a script where he was told to hold a pig nose.

Bulk's rapidly deteriorating ability to make plans is on full display as he plans to use Pudgy Pig's lacerated nose to sniff out all the Youth Center patrons. Kudos to Paul Schrier for reading that in the script and not immediately quitting. After sniffing civilians with his mummified snout, he'll match the scents he gets with the scent of the Power Rangers. While this idea may sound like the stupidest thing ever thought up, let's not forget Bulk is the one who came up with it. When everyone in your life smells like cheap gin, dried cum, and despair, you start to assume everyone you interact with has a distinct odor.

Kim and Tommy try to keep their broomball muscles stretched by going for a jog in the park where they're immediately ambushed by Z-Putties. Tommy pretends Kimberly is the audience and informs her she'll need to aim for the Z on their chest if they want to win. Unlike in the dignified sport of broomball where there are complex rules that must be followed at all times, battling Putties remains a simple yet barbaric undertaking.

Meanwhile, Jason and the other three Ranger Teens set up a poster to promote their team who has been name-pft AHAHAHAHAHAHA

This is what two minutes in the writers room looks like.

Kim and Tommy are soon surprised by the appearance of Zedd's Stag Beetle monster. They morph to combat the remaining Z-Putties while the dulcet tones of Ron Wasserman soothe me. Though I spring back up to ask myself why the Rangers morph when they see a monster if they're only going to continue fighting Putties? It's awkward having the monster show up, Rangers morph, then the monster stands in a corner off camera while some Putties get beaten up.

Sick of being ignored, Stag Beetle commands a small posse of Putties to grapple Tommy while she can drain Green's energy. Kim realizes she needs to make some quick work of these clay cocks and reveals some ludicrous karate.

Kimberly Putties
Well you missed all of their Z's, nice shooting Kim.

While Kimberly congratulates herself on her absurd usage of gymnastics, the Stag Beetle finishes draining Tommy's green energy. Way to be Kim, your showboating just cost us Tommy's powers. You think you're an asset to this broomball team? You could be replaced in twenty five goddamned seconds do you hear me? I'll get the fucking girl with the leg brace in over you. If I see that shit on the court you are off my team and out of my sights.

The rest of the Ranger squad get a message from ol' "Too Little Too Late" Zordon who relays to them that Tommy is suffering from power withdrawals in the park. The rest of the Rangers morph and finish off the remaining handful of Putties while Tommy clutches his chest and informs Elizabeth he'll be coming soon.

Stag Beetle disappears with the Green Ranger's powers in tow, and the Rangers take their ailing friend back to the Command Center to figure out where they can ditch his carcass. As soon as they get to base, Zordon asks Billy what the deal is with Tommy, because as a magical giant god-head he's in a reasonable position to defer to the nerd who hasn't spoken to a 3D woman since he came out of one.

Billy uses some bullshit science to detect that while Tommy is physically fine, something is still wrong. Zordon surmises that the Stag Beetle did something crazy and they need to find out exactly what that was. Maybe there was something the creature said you can use as a clue, like "I've drained you of your strength Green Ranger." Though I might be taking that one out of context.

Zordon fears that the Stag Beetle will be much too dangerous to challenge now that it's in possession of Tommy's floundering energy supply. Billy suggests that instead of hiding like cowards from a big scary bug, they could try creating an energy transducer that will regain Tommy's powers for them, which would be far more interesting than an actual fight scene. Then maybe this time Tommy can try holding onto his strength for two goddamned weeks before some other monster steals it again.

While Alpha works on a device to help Tommy, the other five Rangers are alerted that Stag Beetle has reappeared in the mountains. Everyone but Green morphs to stop the monster and politely ask it to return their friend's only remaining hope of mattering in life. The Beetle rebuffs them and begins charging with its sharp claws. The Rangers retaliate with their Blade Blasters which the monster easily deflects, because those toys have been on clearance for months now and nobody wants to buy that shit. 

Zack takes charge in the fight all the while reminding us that he can't stand bugs. Stag Beetle and Black Ranger have a brief skirmish that ends the way most one on one fights end in this show, with Zack getting slapped aside by a big meaty claw. Stag Beetle follows up with a blast of Green Ranger energy from her horns and decimates the Rangers. Jason refuses to surrender and commands his team to try and trap the Beetle so they can retrieve Tommy's powers. This goes how you might expect.

Using that booty so good oughta call her Bugnificent.

After blasting the Rangers again, Stag Beetle is joined by a group of Z-Putties to give em some old fashioned G-Rated genocide. Jason suggests a bunch of terrible battle plans that won't work but his team tells him they need to get out of dodge before they get turned into beetle juice. The other Rangers' body language indicates they're frustrated with Jason acting impulsive, but since this is an episode about Tommy we aren't going to do anything with that.

The Rangers retreat from the monsters' off screen onslaught by hightailing it up a cliffside, while Tommy watches in distress as his team is clowned by an overgrown boxelder bug. Alpha complains that he doesn't have enough time to finish the energy transducer, but manages to complete it in as much time as it took you to read this sentence.

Good timing too, because the Stag Beetle and her Putties have the Rangers cornered on the edge of a cliff. The monster threatens to blast the Rangers with green energy and send them hurtling to their deaths, but Jason eggs the creature on even though they're very obviously at an incredible disadvantage.

Then out of goddamn nowhere, Tommy teleports somewhere off in the distance and yells at his friends off screen to duck. The Rangers, clear over in Japan, hear his command and crouch down to avoid the monster's energy blasts. Tommy holds up the energy transducer, which absorbs the Stag Beetle's energy beams and declares that he's feeling recharged again. Yay all's well and good, crisis averted.

Unless you were one of the other five Rangers who had no idea Tommy was going to help them and just exhibited suicidal overconfidence against the monster of the week. Jason taunted the monster to attack them with zero knowledge Tommy was ready to drop in and help out, nor if his method of help would stop them from being blasted off a cliff. There's an explanation for why this part doesn't make much sense, but we'll discuss it in the wrap-up.

Trini wonders why the Beetle's attack missed them, and emphasizes that the green power blast didn't hit them. Even though none of the attacks the monster fired hit them, and Tommy absorbed every color of energy that monster spewed, not just the green stuff. Because whoever was doing ADR didn't feel like watching the footage this week. Jason says now that Tommy's powers are back, they don't have to allow the monster to murder them anymore. It's good to see Zordon is willing to put the primary five Rangers in mortal danger just so long as Tommy's rental powers can last for a little bit longer.

Jason commands the Rangers to assemble the Power Blaster to defeat the monster, because with Tommy's powers in check they can go ham on the monster now. The only problem is this breaks almost everything we know about how fights in Power Rangers work. They don't pull out the Power Blaster when they're losing and beat the monster. They usually outsmart it or slap it around first. This feels really jarring and makes you wonder why they wouldn't pull their weapons out first more often. It doesn't really fit with every other instance of the Power Blaster we've seen before and rubs me the wrong way.

Not to mention Stag Beetle is totally alone as soon as they shoot her with the blaster. Those Z-Putties she was with? Those chumps must have high tailed it to the bar because as soon as the Rangers bust their weapons out they're nowhere to be seen. Great continuity, A+. Whatever, the Rangers use their weapons and blow away the monster. Rest in peace Beetledick.

A one hit KO is definitely what I tune into this show for.

That's when Billy says the dumbest thing imaginable. He looks at the massive explosion that you see above you and says "I don't think he's done yet guys." He just fucking exploded Billy! How much more done do you need? That is one cooked beetle you moron, of course he's dead.

Then Lord Zedd throws one of his Growth Bombs to Earth and the perfectly fine Stag Beetle catches it. Billy retorts that Zedd's "potion" must have revived the monster. That's weird, if it's a potion that strengthens defeated monsters then why wouldn't he have used it to revive Bloom of Doom when she got Power Blasted? Why would you not just cut the shot of the monster exploding before transitioning to the Zord fight? Or make a US shot of the wounded Stag Beetle standing there after the explosion?

Whatever, Stag Beetle goes giant and the Rangers summon their Thunderzords. Now that the fight's shifted to the big leagues, we can all get ready for another boring splice job Zord fight that poorly illustrates the abilities of both combatants. The best part about this week's hacked together battle is the editors fuck something up when Stag Beetle first attacks. The absolute first moment of this battle has an editing screw-up. It's amazing.

Does the Thunder Megazord usually have four arms?

Then just when you think the editing has had enough of being ridiculous, the Stag Beetle knocks Thunder Megazord over. She approaches the downed Megazord and gives it a nice buggy kick to the chops. Unfortunately the editors didn't have any shots of the Thunder Megazord getting hit while on the ground so this had to suffice.

Stag Beetle Megazord
I appreciate how little the original Megazord's legs resemble the Thunder Megazord's legs.

Sick of being involved in such a tedious fight, the Thunder Megazord whips out its saber and slashes Stag Beetle's pincers off. With the monster wounded, the Thunder Megazord finishes it off with a slash of its Thunder Saber. Shame too, Saban could have used this big bad beetle for a show he would be making only a few years later.

Back at Zedd's place, Baboo says something that doesn't matter and Zedd tells him to cram it down his cramtube. While the Beetle has been squashed, that doesn't change the fact that it wasted quite a bit of Tommy's power supply. With so little energy remaining, the Green Ranger will soon be a thing of the past and nobody will ever remember him when discussing this franchise.

Now to wrap up that dumbass broomball subplot nobody cares about. The Stone Canyon Beetles challenge our heroes on the Angel Grove Sweepers. Speaking of which, this scene is putting me to sweep.

Thankfully this episode manages to insert one good scene of Bulk and Skull using Pudgy Pig's nose to hassle a girl in the audience and demand to know if she's a Power Ranger or not. The image of Skull using a pig nose vacuum on a girl while yelling "ARE YOU A POWER RANGER" like he's Joe McCarthy is easily better than any broomball based material we've encountered today.

Oh and Tommy scores the winning goal after a tie game and everyone cheers because they had nothing better to do with their mundane lives than watch this tripe. The Stone Canyon team shows humility over their loss, which is the first time one of those scumbags from Stone Canyon has ever shown a behavior other than pithy arrogance. Jason gives the team leader a handshake and says maybe they'll win next year. Or maybe they'll all die in the bus crash on the way home and never be heard from again. It's a coin toss.

As soon as the Ranger Teens are alone, Tommy brings the whole fucking house down to remind everyone that his powers aren't long for this world no matter how good he is at broomball. Jason promises they'll find a way to re-energize Tommy's powers and he'll be at full strength in no time. Yeah Tommy your powers will be great in one of the next few episodes, like this one coming up called "Green No More"…oh

Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Broomball

Personal Thoughts

Not one of the best. I used to enjoy this one, but after watching last week's episode this pales in comparison. Last week the Rangers fought as a team to help Tommy. This week feels like the team are just praying Tommy can come to save them as Stag Beetle attacks. Not to mention the broomball subplot is really fucking boring, and ends exactly how you expect it to. The Ranger Teens win a tie game by scoring a goal at the last second. Stunning.

This episode isn't what I would call bad, not by a long shot compared to some of the stuff we have coming, but it also feels like a weaker retread of last week's episode. Maybe if you don't put "The Power Stealer" right before this episode it won't feel so lukewarm. I'm not against having a plot thread continue throughout episodes, but it helps to not feel like that plot is being explored in such a similar fashion two weeks in a row. A monster steals Tommy's energy in some fashion and the other Rangers have to get it back. The episode ends as Tommy reminds us his powers are fading. Cut, Copy, Repeat.

The Stag Beetle is a nice enough looking monster. I appreciate how she doesn't have any weapons so she resorts to slashing people with her massive claws instead. She's also voice acted by Wendee Lee who did work for Scorpina until that character was thrown straight into the garbage. She does a really good job making what could otherwise be a forgettable monster into a more threatening creature.

On the subject of Stag Beetle, she was one of 12 monsters who had action figures released in a 5.5 inch toyline. They were really rad looking and highlighted some of the most fun monsters in Season 1. Weirdly, Stag Beetle is the only Season 2 monster in this set and I'm not entirely sure why. I only mention these toys in particular because I remember begging my parents to buy me a set of these figures when Ebay first came around, and as soon as I got them the Snizard figure broke. Way to go childhood me.

Pudgy Pig, Minotaur, Snizard, Eye Guy, Spidertron, Grumble Bee, Stag Beetle, Slippery Shark, Two Headed Parrot, Nasty Knight, Dramole, Peckster
No Mr. Ticklesneezer toy? Bullshit.

Onto the Zyu2 footage for this week as we discuss the Stag Beetle monster. You can watch her block of footage at the following link. I would link to Pruitt's video, but it looks like a Japanese company flagged it due to it containing some Dairanger footage. Thanks a million Youtube.

The raw footage has people lifting her claws with strings. It's one of the best looking effects Toei has ever made.

Right away the Zyu2 footage has something we didn't get in Power Rangers: a Putty fight! This is pretty interesting because not once did any Zyu2 monster footage start with the Putties (that we know of). They would usually start with the monster showing up and fighting the Rangers, and typically summon some Putties as the fight neared its climax. We lost this scene obviously because the Rita era Putties were no longer being used in Season 2. Instead they were improved by slapping giant kill switches on their chests.

Stag Beetle jumps in after the Putty fight and then things go pretty much as they do in the episode. Aside from one shot that was cut from the US version. See if you can guess why!

Shawty ass so swole got your boy like whoa

I am a bit confused why this shot wasn't okay to use but we got this moment in a previous episode.

The Mammal Ass Exposure Council strikes again

After this, the Stag Beetle blasts the Rangers and summons another group of Putties to help her chase after our heroes. This explains why the Z-Putties suddenly appear in U.S. footage in the Power Rangers episode for no real reason. The scenes of Stag chasing the Rangers through the cliffs had her surrounded by Season 1 Putties the whole time.

Conveniently these shots worked out pretty okay because the Stag Beetle is always off screen away from the Rangers as she's firing, so replacing her footage worked out quite respectably. It didn't feel like the lousy spliced Zord fights since it was already filmed in such a way that you only saw either the Rangers or the monster at one time. This block of footage fits snug as a bug in Season 2.

Then comes what I take issue with, the scene of her firing at the Rangers on the cliffside. All that stuff with Tommy catching her energy to restore his powers was a U.S. invention. Green Ranger didn't appear at all in the Stag Beetle Zyu2 block, just like with Octophantom last week. So all us Zyu2 observers were baffled as to what really happened before the monster got hit by the Power Blaster. Well let me show you exactly what happened…kind of.

Ah, that explains everything.

Um…well you see…uh…yeah. That's how they won. By taking her so high up into the mountains that her electricity would circle around and hit her. I guess? This scene is followed up with the Putties no longer being present, and the Stag Beetle hopping around as fire burns at her feet and she waggles around in a daze. Red Ranger explains what he did which is little help to us since there's no dialogue, and then they attack with the Power Blaster as shown above. A moment which makes more sense here as she has been distracted by the electrical storm attack hitting her before she was hit by the Power Blaster.

At least all that electricity circling is what's speculated to be the case. That black transition box is where the editors would place stock footage, and there's definitely a scene of clouds spewing lightning in Zyuranger for them to use. Occam's Razor would dictate this is the most likely outcome, but looking at this scene now it still feels a bit jarring. It makes the most sense, but it still looks rather confusing.

The "plot" in this block seems to be about the other Rangers, Black in particular, getting frustrated as Jason makes decisions by the seat of his pants that put them into danger. Then he's redeemed when he reveals he was planning this energy redirecting scheme all along. It sounds really convoluted, but at the same time I'm just assuming what's happening since we don't really know what the characters are supposed to be saying. 

The problem is that Power Rangers removes this plot element entirely and leaves the Rangers' fate in Tommy's hands. It makes Jason leading his team through the mountains onto a dead end look completely irresponsible and crazy. Instead of teleporting the team away when the monster fires energy at them that would likely cause them to plummet to their deaths, they wait for Tommy to show up and save their asses because he's the only character that matters. I'm not saying they can't include Tommy in these plots, it's just that this doesn't seem like the right one to shoehorn him into.

What's also interesting about that scene of Stag Beetle and the Putties getting electrocuted is that it's included in the Season 2 opening credits sequence. Even though anyone paying attention could tell the Putties were the Season 1 variety. Any of us Zyu2 nerds would see that scene and know something was cut, but be left wondering what. Was it a Power Blaster shot on the Beetle and the Putties? If so why was it causing lightning to spew? Was it the rarely mentioned Thunder Slingers literally slinging thunder? Maybe it was a black box that barely answers this question but it's all you're getting so deal with it loser.

Enjoy that 20 year wait kids!


  1. I enjoyed the Sanford and Son reference.

  2. The final Bulk and Skull scene is one of their most hilarious for sure.

  3. Maybe the Beetle was punished with lightning by their god Daizyuzin!

  4. Enjoying your recaps. I never noticed Thuy wearing a knee brace here but did read recently about her injury. She definitely didn't get many unmorphed fights in season 2.

    I'm still not entirely sure why Ritchie (and later Curtis) was brought in. Was it to act as a possible replacement red ranger? I didn't think they knew this early on that the 3 would leave. I also read that they were brought in as possible decoys for the white ranger, which might make more sense.