Tuesday, January 12, 2016

MMPR Season 2 Episode 20: Opposites Attract

Children Instructed To Scream in Despair
Zordon Just Kind of Winging it at This Point

Hey everybody! You see that title up there? I hope you're ready for it to pay off in exactly one way throughout the entire episode.

We join Trini and Billy in the Youth Center where Trini asks what stupid science malarkey Billy's cooked up today. It turns out that Billy has created some polarizing blah blah blah to justify the fact that Lord Zedd needs to create a magnet monster later in the episode. Billy is going to use this 29¢ prop to monitor a solar storm and collect data for the other members of the science club, a group of characters we mercifully never have to meet, lest we have to watch a gaggle of Eddie Deezen impersonators mugging at the camera.

Kimberly comes in, decked out in girl scout regalia, with a similarly dressed girl named Laura following behind her. As soon as Billy lays his eyes on Laura he offers her an exaggeratedly breathy "Hi…" to trigger her creep flag. In case the subtlety of Billy's lustful intentions were lost on the 2 year olds watching at home, the background music drops in the sound of a harp to indicate this Laura girl is going to be Billy's main squeeze for as long as she can stomach him.

I really don't like to critique the acting of supporting characters on this show, but something struck me about the woman who plays Laura. The problem with her, especially in this scene, is that this lady looks like she's about to fall asleep every time the camera is on her. For a show that promises to be as action-packed as Power Rangers, you'd think the production crew wouldn't hire someone with Mono.

Power Rangers Laura
As portrayed by Joel Hodgson

Sleepy-Eyes Laura and Regular-Eyes Kimberly are taking the Angel Grove Angelettes out on a hike through the mountain. Why are they named Angelettes you ask? Because it would cost money to call them Girl Scouts and those little brats aren't getting one red goddamned cent from Power Rangers.

The Angelettes are going on a specialized hike with Laura and Kim's help to earn a new merit badge. It's a badge that will be quite difficult to earn, as it will require the young ladies to somehow manage to use a compass. Jesus Christ you're setting the bar pretty low for these kids. I won't complain though; as long as those Angelettes sell me some of those delicious Lemonade cookies you can teach them whatever insultingly simple concepts that you want.

Trini mentions to Billy that Laura's a particularly nice girl, and might even be nice enough to give Billy a hand-jibber if he plays his cards right. Billy stutters about how he can't possibly be interesting to someone who's an "outdoors type." You mean someone who doesn't smell like Dorito dust and AXE? Yeah she looks like a regular Jane of the Jungle, Billster. Billy mentions that his idea of a good time is reading a science magazine, so he and Laura certainly wouldn't have much to talk about. Hey Billy, maybe you could use your science know-how to whip her up something she could use. Like a pillow and some Nyquil.

Lord Zedd has more pressing matters than Billy's depressing sex life this week. This solar storm is a phenomenon that will only occur once every century, so he'll need to take advantage of it now to finish off the Power Rangers. Zedd plans to create a monster that can take advantage of the Earth's unstable polarity and use its own magnetism as a weapon. Looks like the only way the Rangers will be able to succeed today is by consulting the Insane Clown Posse for help!

Bulk and Skull drop by to remind us that they're still on Saban's payroll, and also that they've got a surefire way to prove who the Power Rangers really are. The boys are going to use a box of assorted garbage that will connect them to a satellite in the sky. Then they'll be able to use this to…man they really ran out of ways to shoehorn in this secret identity plotline didn’t they?

Billy heads back to his lab where he tests his magnetic data through the use of multi-colored beakers filled with dry ice. While Billy researches a bunch of science facts I couldn't be asked to care about, my eyes wander around the set. While this show usually knows to put something vaguely scientific in the background of Billy's lab, this week the set-dresser must have been feeling pretty tired. Instead of hanging up some crappy model skeleton or dumping a couple globes in the background, Billy has one of those glowing orbs that you would buy from a novelty store in the mall. Great, on top of being a nerd Billy has to be interested in kitschy crap too.

When Billy isn't studying magnets, he enjoys putting glowsticks in his mouth and raving

Kimberly and Laura reach their destination in the forest and instruct the Angelettes to get their compasses out. Kimberly gives each of the girls a map and reminds them to utilize the buddy system in case they run into trouble. Then the episode takes a brief turn for the weird.

Kimberly reminds the young girls that if they're in trouble, all they need to do is scream for help. Jesus. Maybe I'm just an inhuman monster but as soon as Kimberly said that I started laughing. Why would this episode's writer use the word "scream" for this line? Couldn't you have just said "call" or "yell"? Scream has much more drastic connotation and makes it sound like you expect these girls to run into a pack of ravenous wolves out in the woods. If you find yourself lightly off the beaten path on the map, you could maybe offer a brief shout to see if anyone is nearby. You don't need to instantly bloody your lungs when you hang a Louie and everyone else took a Ralph.

Bulk and Skull sit patiently in the woods as they wait for evidence from the satellite to reach their absurd looking pile of trash. The device is comprised of a long string of Christmas tinsel hung from a tree leading down to some Christmas lights on top of a guitar, a magnet, and a bunch of inner tubes. This thing sounds less like a mechanical device and more like the objects you need to find in an I-Spy book.

I mostly mention this scene because it opens with the camera panning all the way down a tall tree. The tinsel is hung from really high up and follows all the way down to the roots. I appreciate Power Rangers taking the time to at least commit to this gag by hanging a shitload of tinsel on this tree instead of having Bulk and Skull sitting around looking up at the sky. It's attention to detail that, while not necessary, gives me a sense that there was care put into filming this scene.

Later that day, we find Billy outside, SAY WHAT?! Did he get lost out there? I never pegged Billy for the outdoorsy type. Anywho, Billy sets his polarizer aside when Goldar appears with some Putties. Goldar demands the Blue Ranger hand over his magnet device or consequences will never be the same. Billy, the nerdiest most dweeby goofball that ever walked this cursed Normie Earth, responds like this.

R.I.P. Goldar's space dog titties

The Z-Putties take on Billy now that their boss has been thoroughly emasculated. Goldar drags his worthless carcass across the ground and finds Billy's polarizer while he's busy slapping the Putties around. Billy demands that Goldar drop his new toy before he gets another serving of shoe to the nips. Goldar tries to act all hard, while conveniently ignoring the fact he just got his ass beat, and teleports away with the polarizer in hand.

There's a pretty amusing moment when Goldar teleports away as he stands next to a Putty. When Goldar vanishes, the Putty realizes that he's been left without protection and nervously flails around before Billy beats the shit out of him. I deeply appreciate when one of these stupid clayface nerds is given a personality that transcends "warbling idiot."

Now that Goldar's nabbed Billy's polarizer, he leaves it on the ground for Lord Zedd. Zedd fires his magic beam at the device and transforms it into his newest monster of the week named  Magnetbrain. A creature who I actually think looks pretty cool. Though that might be because we're coming off of a monster as crappy as Pursehead.

I'm not quite sure why he has ears for nipples.

While the young Angelettes learn to Never Eat Soggy Waffles, Magnetbrain's spell causes their compasses to go haywire. Not only that, but Magnetbrain and his powers overload Bulk and Skull's machine in the woods, as well as short-circuiting numerous appliances in Ernie's Juice Bar. Since those are the only three places we're filming today, let's assume his power also works everywhere else in the world.

Bulk and Skull are elated that they've finally made contact with the Power Rangers, probably. The two boys dance around until Skull notices that they've contacted someone even more dangerous than the Rangers. Some idiot in a shitty bear suit.

Skull the twink looks on in terror.

Kimberly and Laura try and keep the Angelettes safe, but Magnetbrain's powers toss all of the girls to and fro. Laura refuses to open her eyes any further and asks if this is what Billy was talking about earlier, but Kimberly surmises Billy would have mentioned if there was going to be a godless hell-storm raining down upon them today. Kimberly slinks away from the group to contact Zordon, who tells her to leave those dead-meats behind and get her ass into the Command Center.

Zordon illustrates Magnetbrain on the Viewing Globe and refers to him as Zedd's "Magneticbrain." Which supplies some ammo for my newest fan theory that Zordon is only guessing a monster's name whenever it shows up. "RANGERS! THIS DEVIOUS CREATURE IS NAMED Mag...net.....Face....HE IS THE MOST DREADFUL MONSTER EVER CONCOCTED!"

Zordon tells the Ranger Teens that Magneticbrain's power is so great that he'll be able to demolecularize the entire planet causing it to disintegrate. Holy shit! I wasn't giving this Magnetbrain guy enough credit. All this from a monster made out of one of Billy's dork toys? Well thanks a million buddy, I hope the science club was worth all this.

Kimberly says she's worried about Laura and the girls, but Tommy steps up and tells them this sounds like a job for the White Ranger. Billy tries to interject and says he'll be the one to go rescue the girls. I'm not sure if this is because he feels guilty for inadvertently creating the monster, he wants to look cool in front of Laura, or maybe he wants to get another shot in at Goldar. Zordon tells him none of those reasons are good enough because he doesn't have any new toys to promote so he'll have to help out the other Rangers with Magnetbrain. Tommy heads off to go rescue a bunch of kids from Goldar: History's Greatest Jobber.

The primary four Rangers and Trini head into battle with Magnetbrain. As soon as the Rangers show up, Magnetbrain does a little jig while he twists his staff around. He then recites a little rhyme about his magnetic intentions.

North is south, up is down. I'm about to crash this town!

...And I kinda like how that sounds. To heck with y'all, I love Magnetbrain. I apologize for nothing.

The five Rangers pose as Magnetbrain observes them off-screen and says he'd love to come beat them to a pulp, but he'll have to stay far away until the episode says it's time for him to grow giant. With a blast of energy from his staff, Magnetbrain sends all five Rangers twirling about as they pretend like they're reacting to something they can actually see. As the Rangers reel, another squad of Z-Putties emerges to keep them occupied while Magnetbrain stands around menacingly.

White Ranger arrives in the forest and threatens Goldar not to hit on Billy's girlfriend before he has a chance to. Goldar brings out yet another group of Putties to attack Tommy, and the White Ranger leads them away from the Angelettes. Not for their safety, but because if one of those kids slapped a Putty on the Z and realized how easy it was to beat them, the Rangers would be out of a job.

As Tommy clears out the Putty brigade, Goldar promises to wipe the floor with White Ranger for making him look so depressingly incompetent. Tommy and Goldar engage each other in a swordfight, and it's a battle that looks pretty damn cool. Particularly a shot from each of the fighters' perspectives while they hold their sword beneath the camera. One of the Angelettes spots Tommy saving their bacon and declares "Wow! The White Ranger!" This guy's only been around for like two weeks, toys news sure travels fast in Angel Grove. Unless she was just guessing this guy's name based on context clues and wanted to look cool in front of her friends.

Back at the factory with the other five Rangers, the Putties appear to be defeated before Magnetbrain taunts the Red Ranger for not fighting him. The monster chucks a blue cyclone of energy at Jason, who falls from a tall scaffolding onto the pavement. Jason whips out his Blade Blaster and tries to fire, but Magnetbrain launches another attack that causes the gun to backfire in Jason's hands.

Zack tries to back Jason up with his Blade Blaster, but Magnetbrain blasts him as well and knocks both Rangers backwards. It might just be my catastrophically low standards, but I can't tell you folks how nice it is to see a monster that's attacking the Rangers again. What a time to be alive. Thank you Magnetbrain, you leather daddy weirdo.

We cut back to Tommy and Goldar battling and conclude the fight about 20 seconds later; which probably isn't how you want to edit two simultaneous fights. If you have White Ranger beat Goldar while the other Rangers are still struggling with Magnetbrain, you leave the audience asking why he doesn't show up to help them. Oh well, Tommy kicks Goldar in the chest and forces him to retreat before presumably going to mack on Laura and her sleepy-eyes.

The other five Rangers team up after shithousing the Putties, but Magnetbrain reminds them he's still around. Jason commands his team to form the Power Blaster and…wait a sec what?! They're going to use the Power Blaster on a monster? It's been so long since that's happened!  I forgot just how much I missed seeing monsters getting blasted on the ground.

The Rangers were smart to use Spark Shock on Magnet Man

Lord Zedd helps his man out by tossing a Growth Bomb down to Earth. Magnetbrain visibly pulls the bomb out from behind his back, because someone in editing wasn't paying attention, and makes himself grow. The Rangers summon the Thunder Megazord to battle the massive Magnetbrain. The monster hurls an enormous magnet at the Megazord, which surges with electricity and bursts the Rangers with sparks. Thunder Megazord uses its great strength to tear the magnet in half, and slashes Magnetbrain to death with the Thunder Saber. I'll miss you and your big horseshoe face Mags, THNKS 4 TH MMRS

Instead of being livid over his own failures as per usual, Zedd notes aloud that he should have known that science and monsters don't mix. So the lesson you learned from a monster that was about to split the entire planet in half was that you should shy away from monsters like that? Why, of all the monsters you've created, are you singling Magnetbrain out as a failure? It's almost like Power Rangers is trying to tell me "Don't worry, none of the monsters in Season 2 are going to be nearly as cool as Magnetbrain was." Don't dream everyone. It's not worth it.

Back at the Juice Bar, Kimberly and Laura present the Angelettes with bravery badges for not screaming wildly when Goldar showed up. Though they will have to relinquish their buddy system badges for not screaming wildly when Goldar showed up. Sorry girls, Kim made that rule explicitly clear.

Billy comes in with his polarizer device safe and sound after Magnetbrain's destruction. Laura stops him to tell Billy how interested she is in science and how she would just love to hear all about charged particles and inverse recoil gravity streams through the 7th nebula. Billy smiles, content in the knowledge that this dirty valley girl has some interest in something that really matters.

Hey remember how this episode was called "Opposites Attract?" You would think that maybe they could have had a scene with Laura and Billy hanging out despite not having much in common and still enjoying each other's company. Well fuck that, two people can only like each other if they have an interest in the same tedious nonsense. Billy can't offer to teach her about science while she offers to teach him how to survive on four hours of sleep a night. So opposites only attract when we need to make a pun on the magnet monster that's going to be in this episode, sorry for the mislead everyone.

With the episode about to end Tommy pulls all of his friends close and says how dear he holds the friendship he has with the six of them. Nothing in the world could ever break apart the bonds that Trini, Jason, Zack, Billy, Kim, and he share. 

Say! Have any of you guys heard about that World Peace Conference going on? I heard they're looking for three robust young candidates to join their ranks and leave Angel Grove forever. Anybody interested?

Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Narcoleptic Scout Leaders

Personal Thoughts

This episode was strange to watch with fresh eyes. I remember really truly loving this episode as a kid. Not to say I hate or even dislike it now, but there's not a whole lot going on in this one. I think my fondness might stem from the level of effort they put into filming some of these scenes. The scenes of characters getting hurled around by Magnetbrain's magic are filmed at a nice angle to make it look like something crazy is happening. Usually you'd expect Power Rangers to ask the actors to spin around very slowly and act like they're in terrible danger. Here you actually feel like they're experiencing some otherworldly magnetic deathstorm which is all I could ever ask for.

As you can probably tell I also really loved the fight with Magnetbrain. The preceding Putty fight with the Ranger five was also really good stuff and set in a pretty smooth looking factory setting. There was also a bunch of smoke and dust getting kicked up in the background to make you believe Magnetbrain was messing with the polarity of the planet during the battle, which was definitely a nice touch.

Speaking of the main brain, there's something I really get a kick out of with Magnetbrain. I'm not sure what it is, but I just really love this monster. His design seems a lot sharper than some of the other Dairanger monsters and resonates with me for some reason. I have fun with him, what can I say? He's also a boss in one of the Super Nintendo Power Rangers games. Goddamn those were some fun beat-em-ups. Go play one after work or whenever you take the time to read this junk.

The battle with Magnetbrain is some of the best editing around Dairanger footage this show has done yet. Even if they end up repeating a scene of Mags throwing his energy tornado about three times, it's still the monster interacting with the Rangers. I don't ask for much, but that doesn't seem like a particularly high bar to reach. Honestly it may sound like I'm damning it with faint praise, but the Magnetbrain fight is pretty good all things considered. Check it out for yourself and compare it to just about any other Season 2 fight where the Rangers can't be on-camera with the monster and you'll see how superior it looks.

Speaking of footage, you'll notice that White Ranger didn't show up to battle Magnetbrain at all. That's because in Dairanger, Magnetbrain appeared before the White Ranger had been introduced. Not to mention there wasn't a whole lot of White Ranger footage that Power Rangers had to use even after he had shown up. He rarely joined the other five for fights, and sometimes would only show up in the Zord fight out of the blue. So if you read about him fighting Goldar or some Putties a bunch, that's probably why.

I alluded to it briefly at the end, but say good-bye to Jason, Zack, and Trini. This will be the last episode to feature non-recycled footage of them whatsoever. It was at this point they finally stopped showing up for any form of filming because they knew they weren't going to get the pay raise they were requesting. Don't worry! If I know anything about this show, it's that they'll handle this issue so respectfully and succinctly, you won't even be able to notice!


  1. I think this is actually one of the strongest season 2 episodes. The pacing is good, the monster actually poses a threat, and we get some good action with the Rangers fighting the putties and magnetbrain, Goldar vs the white ranger, and especially Billy owning Goldar and the putties single handedly and unmorphed. (I actually have been looking forward to you reviewing this episode, because I thought you might highlight this as a defining moment for him, as he went from being stuffed in a trash can by bulk and skull to singlehandedly shit-housing space aliens.)

    We also get to see some more development in billy as he first overcomes self doubt in thinking Laura wouldn't like him because he's nerdy, and then also realizes that you can be outdoorsy and nerdy, just like Laura. Also, I like Laura; her sleepy eyes just look like she got her daily vitamins, T,H, and C, which only endears her to me.

    Also, maybe its sentiment but since this episode is the only one where the original 6 feel like a team since Tommy became the WR, and it's also the last we see of Jason, Zack, and Trini in original footage, this episode occupies a special place in my heart. It's also the

    1. Man thank you for saying so much about this episode I felt but poorly articulated. I really do like it, something must have just been sticking in my craw.

      I feel kinda bad not giving this one better love, because it's totally good. Just know it's a total recommend.

    2. Watching Billy single-handedly pound Goldar - and then be fired up to go back after him - was one of the highlights of my young fangirl experience. :-D

  2. Yo, Billy, whatever happened to that cute deaf girl, huh??

  3. Little girl 1: "Wow, the White Ranger!"
    Little girl 2: "Yeah, and he sounds just like Kimberly's boyfriend!"

    ...wait, that isn't what happened? Never mind.

    In retrospect, knowing the on-set bullying David Yost faced for being gay, I kind of roll my eyes at every time they push in Billy getting heart-eyes over a girl...and not the same girl, even, just different ones every time they try to have him front-and-center. But, also, that means the episode focuses on Billy, so...*shrugging Blue Ranger fangirl noises*

    1. Y'know, I read at some point that "fishwife" is old-timey slang for a woman who a gay man marries as cover (similar to the slang term "beard"). I have an ugly notion now that marrying Billy off to an Aquitanian might have been one last dig at David on the way out.