Tuesday, May 10, 2016

MMPR Season 2 Episode 36: The Great Bookala Escape

Teenage Superhero Kindly Mocks Intergalactic Imbecile
Mighty Metal Beast Stopped With Comically Minimal Effort

Am I showing off my Stockholm Syndome by saying "I hope this episode is good?" I'm positive that I'm repeating myself, but these last few episodes have felt like such a chore. It's been a month long slog of mediocre misadventures. "Where There's Smoke, There's Fire" was probably a decent episode, but it was sandwiched in-between some real stinkers. It makes judging the episode on its own merits difficult, because I wonder if I enjoyed it because it did something well or because it wasn't "Rocky Just Wants to Have Fun."

Maybe I'm being too hard on some decent episodes. Do I simply need to, in 90's parlance, "Take a Chill Pill?" Or is it entirely possible that I've grown up enough to realize that this children's television show isn't going to stand up to absurd scrutiny by a man in his mid-20's?

Not on your fucking life.

Billy, Aisha, and Adam enjoy a nice day in the park by throwing a Frisbee all around. They won't have time to play for long though, because the episode's plot comes careening towards them. A tiny, white, cheaply-made spaceship flies past our heroes and scares the daylights out of them.

The UFO also passes by Bulk and Skull who are out looking for flying saucers, as they believe the Power Rangers are aliens. Why? So we can loosely tie their activities into our alien plot this week. While Skull marks the ground with one of those baseball field chalk machines, Bulk takes a few snapshots of the flying saucer. Before Bulk can congratulate himself, Skull reminds his plus-sized pal that he's been holding onto the film in his jacket. Because if Bulk actually got a picture of a UFO, this sub-plot would be immediately over and we couldn't cut back to it whenever the episode is running short.

Aboard Serpentera, Zedd and Goldar fume as they realize the spacecraft they were following has landed on Earth. Zedd mentions that the ship he's seeking out has a powerful energy source in the form of a diamond, and he'll use it to fuel Serpentera. Though I'll be honest with you Zedd, that UFO was the size of a spaghetti strainer. Serpentera is bigger than three of Milton Berle's penises. Just because that diamond can fuel a fun-sized UFO doesn't mean it can fuel your gargantuan death dragon.

The spaceship flies past the three Ranger Teens again and is unable to maintain its momentum. The ship crashes into a tree and spays sparks everywhere, as is customary in the world of Power Rangers. We can also see why the Ranger Teens were scared of the ship earlier. It's coated in hypodermic needles!

Bookala Ship
Or that alien needed his intergalactic insulin.

Adam tries touching the crashed UFO, but it burns his finger for some reason. Possibly because it was last seen flying through the endless depths of the cosmos at speeds unknowable by our human minds, or maybe the alien inside it had the windows rolled up. Billy observes the UFO and claims there's a monitor on it, which indicates a heartbeat. That must mean there really is a living creature inside it. Or it's a flying sentient space-heart, I'm not sure which is more likely in this show.

The Ranger Teens hem and haw over how special and amazing this experience is, but it rings a bit hollow to me. These guys encounter alien monsters every ding-dong week. This is the first time they've run into one that isn't trying to turn them into pinballs or barf silly string all over, and they go gaga. Wouldn't you be a lot less enthused with aliens when you know they're real?  Every time an alien has come to Earth in this goofy-ass show, it's been to murder the Power Rangers in some intricate way. Why are they so excited to see another one? How do they know it's a benevolent creature? If there were ever a time for cynicism and doubt, this would be it.

Billy contacts Zordon and says a bunch of scary dishes glued together flew at them, and it has an alien inside it. Zordon puts two and two together as he claims that spaceship must be why Serpentera is currently flying straight towards Earth. Zordon, you can't drop the S-bomb on us like that willy nilly. That god of hyperdeath is something we need to be alerted about well in advance. You can't drop that in as a PS while we're tooling around with a UFO in the park.

The Ranger Teens wrap the UFO in a blanket as though it were a newborn kitten, but Lord Zedd has them in his sights. He fires Serpentera's cannon at the park and lights the place up. Of course since this show was made with 8 dollars, Serpentera's explosive energy blast is represented by a little flashbang and some smoke. As opposed to the previous energy blast it launched which looked like this.

Credit where it's due though, I'm happy to see U.S. footage of Power Rangers using more explosions to represent action instead of relegating it to off-screen footage.

The Ranger Teens teleport away, and Lord Zedd bellows at Goldar for missing them so badly. We're treated to another lovely line from Big Z when he tells his flunky, "I'm surprised you even hit the Earth! It's only 6000 miles wide!" I'd imagine that's not scientifically accurate, but it's funny enough that I don't care.

This is followed up by one of the more self-aware lines this show has ever produced. Goldar apologizes for his failure, and tells Lord Zedd that Serpentera needs to recharge. Zedd groans and states "I hereby proclaim, no more using the word recharge!"

I might be assuming too much here, but it seems like this line can only represent frustration from the writers at Serpentera's arbitrary limitations. You're writing an episode about an alien meeting the Rangers, and some asshole from upstairs reminds you that the script must include the newest toy they're selling. Only it's a nigh-unstoppable villain that will end every single fight early because it needs more gas.

You can imagine how frustrating it would be to shoehorn that into your script, and try and avoid it being horrendously predictable and boring. That's what makes me think Zedd is basically acting as the writer's mouthpiece here. Even if my guess is completely wrong, that doesn't change the fact this is a damn good line. When Power Rangers leans back and addresses its own flaws before I can, the show earns my respect.

Back in the Command Center, the Ranger Teens group together and observe this bizarre spacecraft. Zordon says Zedd must have been looking for this piece of shit because it's powered by a rare lightning diamond. A power source that would give Serpentera an unlimited amount of energy. At least until the gas companies get wind of this and bribe some senators to shut the whole thing down. Alpha says they can try and communicate with the alien inside the spacecraft, and Kim asks what it could possibly be. Zordon spouts off a line that deserves to be quoted, because goodness is it a doozy.


All that praise I had for self-aware writing I had earlier? Imagine I said the exact opposite for this line because holy fuck. What that line is meant to convey to the audience is "This alien's name is Bookala from the planet Bookala." What it conveys to those who are listening is, "The writer of this episode wrote down one name and didn't feel like coming up with a second." There's a joke in an episode of South Park, "Starvin' Marvin in Space", about an alien species named Marklar who come from the planet Marklar. They would also replace every noun in their language with the word Marklar as well. Well imagine that joke about bizarre alien culture done completely straight-faced here without any hint of irony.

Upon Zordon's instruction, Billy places the lightning diamond into the Bookala's hand. Once the diamond touches the tiny alien's palm, he grows human-sized and we get to see exactly how bizarre he looks.

You can't fool me! That's Sgt. Kabukiman!

The Ranger Teens naturally gasp at this dead-eyed, makeup-coated, giant-faced freak, but Zordon tells them not to be afraid. The Bookala is merely a good-natured intergalactic traveler, and is actually very intelligent. A claim that will be disproven almost immediately.

When Billy calls the alien a universal traveler, Bookala attempts to replicate human speech in its own cloying and obnoxious way. He speaks slowly and phonetically, and sounds like a baby Dom Deluise who's smoked for 90 years. I think we're supposed to find him cute and endearing, but instead he comes across as terrifying. A giant kabuki alien slowly trails the word "lea-rningggg" from its painted red lips in a childish tone as it stares at me with its cold dead eyes. I don't think that's some precocious intergalactic scamp, I think he's a soulless abomination of all that's good and holy.

Zordon tells the Rangers they need to get Bookala back to Bookala as soon as possible. Not because Zedd is on his tail and trying to steal his lightning diamond, but because he's integrating into our society and planning on murdering us all from within. Aisha suggests a plan in order to trick Lord Zedd. The Ranger Teens can create a fake Bookala doll, and use it to distract Zedd while the real Bookala makes his escape. Oh boy! Just what this episode needed. More giant headed doll monsters.

Not to mention, how does Aisha think this plan is going to work? Lord Zedd spies on the Rangers at every possible opportunity. That's how he comes up with all those incidental plots that relate to the various difficulties you guys are experiencing week after week. That's how he fired all those dragon beams at you a couple scenes ago. He's not guessing where you might be and attacking at random. He can see all the shit you guys are doing, so I don't know how you guys think you're going to pull the wool over his eyes.

Billy promises this hideous kabuki man that they'll soon have him in his spaceship on the way back home.  Bookala gurgles out a grotesque, "…Hooom?" This leads Kim and Aisha to chuckle about how Billy's found a new friend. Yikes. If he isn't already emasculated enough being friends with Rocky Dennis Face over there, now the only women that Billy knows are insulting his dogshit social skills.

Inside Billy's garage-lab, Aisha and Adam help create a fake Bookala while Tommy and the other two watch for Zedd. Billy fixes up Bookala's spaceship while Aisha finishes working on the Bookala doll and Adam creates a fake lightning diamond. I don't really understand the need for both a fake Bookala and a fake diamond, one or the other seems like it would be perfectly sufficient. Unless of course there's a plot-related reason one of these items was created. Possibly because our villain can only make monsters by zapping things with his staff and we wrote ourselves into a corner.

Bookala mutters something about bathing in the blood of innocents while Billy works on his ship. He also commends Adam's fake diamond by saying "Ho Ho, you. Very good very good your work." For a creature learning our language off the cuff, why does Bookala already have an annoying verbal tic?

When Bookala notices Billy is finished working on his ship, the alien becomes excited to be back home soon where he can inflict a thousand years of darkness on his own tribe. Bookala finds a tiny snowglobe and shakes it around to illustrate what it looks like on his horrible planet of pasty-faced freaks. Billy frowns and says Snow never comes to Angel Grove. Bookala also becomes sad now that he's learned his good friend Billy doesn't get to see a Canadian reggae artist play that song about someone licking your Bookala now.

The Ranger Teens don't have much time to enjoy their hideous monster friend's comical antics though, because Zedd's zeroed in on their location. He fires a blast of electricity into Billy's lab (somehow) that creates one of the most worthless monsters in the history of forever. Meet Weldo.

And his dumbass kabuki wig.

Adam, Billy, and Aisha morph to defend Bookala from the incredibly powerful…Weldo. Jeez. I can't even say that name without feeling embarrassed. When your name is only one letter away from "Waldo," how do you expect me to take you seriously? What a ridiculous creature.


Weldo fires beams at the Rangers and Bookala from off-screen as they retreat out of the garage. The monster follows them outside, where Tommy, Kimberly, and Rocky morph and join them. The six Rangers stand tall against the dastardly…Weldo. The mechanical monster demands they hand over the lightning diamond or he's going to kill that sociopathic pale alien they're harboring. Weldo blasts Bookala with a laser beam, sending the supposedly kind-hearted alien flying. Billy runs to his new friend's side and becomes furious at Weldo for harming Bookala. That's when we see how big of a loser Weldo really is.

You've got to be fucking kidding me.

Holy shit. This is unbelievable. Billy killed a monster with his basic sidearm weapon. That thing that your kids probably couldn't even buy anymore when this episode aired. The Blue Ranger finished Weldo after he had been around for barely two minutes. I can't believe what a shitty waste of space monster he was. He got killed by that weapon that couldn't kill the very first monster the Power Rangers fought. They didn't use the Power Blaster or the Power Cannon or any of that fancy shit. Billy zapped Weldo once and he died. That would be like if the police hit someone with pepper spray and killed them. Congratulations Weldo, you are officially the biggest pussy in the history of Power Rangers.

Tommy alerts Alpha 5 that their plan is ready to begin. Alpha teleports Bookala into the Command Center, and the Rangers place Bookala's ship out in the open where Zedd can see it. Zedd becomes furious that Bookala is trying to escape him, and apparently didn't get intel from that shitty welding monster he created that Bookala is clearly not in the ship at all. Not only that, but if Zedd could aim his beam accurately enough to create Weldo from junk inside Billy's garage, how did he not see the fake Bookala doll near the real Bookala?

I am real sick of saying the word Bookala.

Zedd sends Goldar and a batch of Z-Putties down to Earth so they can assault the Rangers and take that diamond. For as awful as the Weldo "fight" was, this battle with Z-Putties and Goldar is actually really nice. It's got some juicy Wasserman rock while the Rangers clown the Putties, and Goldar actually puts up a really good fight against the Rangers. Whether that's because they want him to take the fake diamond and chose to lose to him on purpose is up to your interpretation. Personally I'd like to think Goldar was able to be a competent fighter for once in Season 2, but I might be living in a fantasy. This world is nothing but Bookala's snowglobe, and it's up to him when he shakes it.

Once Goldar snags the fake diamond, he brings it back to Lord Zedd. I'm more curious why Zedd was willing to let the guy piloting his gigantic serpent death Zord teleport out of the cockpit for an indeterminate amount of time. Does he have autopilot on that thing or is Goldar not actually piloting it at all? Like when you give your baby a steering wheel toy to play with in the car, only for a big ugly gorilla wearing a gold bucket.

Alpha 5 sends the real Bookala back to his spaceship, where he prepares to depart back to Bookala. The Rangers offer a fond farewell to this big lunkheaded creep who's been spitting out incomprehensible garbage ever since they met him. While the rest of the Ranger Teens try to pretend they care this big monstrosity is leaving their lives forever, Aisha says what we're all thinking. She says if he ever finds himself on Earth again, make sure he stays away from them.

The rest of the Ranger Teens look upset by her gentle ribbing, but she promises she was only joking. Bookala responds, "Joe…King?" and begins to cry profusely because he's from another friggin' galaxy and has no concept of sarcasm. Bookala hugs Billy tight and mumbles, "FRIEND BILL-LEE. BOOKALA NO LONGER WANTED NOW YES? HO HO. OH NO!" Then Billy stares Power Daggers at Aisha and reminds her it's not too late for her to be kicked off this goddamned team.

Before he leaves, Bookala tells the Blue Ranger that he will always have a home on Bookala. Well imagine he says that in broken grammar and an obnoxious voice and you'll be painting a more accurate picture. Billy wishes his friend farewell, but not before Bookala gives him a final parting gift. No, it's not Reese's Pieces. It's something even better.

Bookala snow
Okay fine, this part's a little cute.

Bookala uses the power of his lightning diamond to turn small enough to fit back inside his spaceship. The Rangers watch as his repaired ship flies into the sky and back into outer space. Of course that's not before his ship passes over Bulk and Skull's heads. The bullies feverishly take pictures of the UFO, and assume this image will prove they met the Power Rangers. Or something. Look I'm not entirely sure what they thought this was going to prove. Maybe they just wanted to sell some pictures to the National Enquirer for an easy couple of G's.

Serpentera is almost ready to land on Earth, but suddenly its cockpit starts blacking out and sparking. Goldar retrieves the diamond from the control panel and realizes he's been duped by the Power Rangers. Lord Zedd comes to the understanding that absolutely any task he assigns Goldar will always lead in horrendous humiliating failure, and decides he should send down a monster instead. No, not a monster like Weldo. This monster promises to be as strong as 3000 Weldos! Or approximately 2 Ticklesneezers if you're measuring this in Monster Metric.

Zedd fires an energy bolt at the discarded fake Bookala doll and creates an Evil Bookala! I would show you fine readers a picture of him, but it's the exact same costume as the Bookala who you've already seen. The only difference is the effects department made his eyes glow green, and his voice is much deeper and raspier. He also doesn't do that awful cutesy way of talking anymore, which makes him infinitely more tolerable than that shitty alien who was trying to molest Billy earlier.

The Rangers confront this evil Bookala and tell him they know he isn't the real Bookala. Well good, because that clearly wasn't Zedd's plan at all. That's why he created the monster right in front of you. Then whoever is writing lines for these scenes gets confused. When we cut back to Serpentera's cockpit, Zedd says "Not swallowing it ey?" As if that's what he intended to happen. Whatever, let's get to the part where he makes the monster big.

Zedd tosses a growth bomb to his bouncing baby Bookala, and the primary five Rangers summon their Thunderzords. The Thunder Megazord challenges the Evil Bookala, and we get to find out what kind of terrifying techniques this monster has up its sleeves.

Well it was either this or he could throw snow at them.

The Thunder Megazord slashes Bookala's tongue off, and finishes the monster with the Thunder Saber. I would go into more detail about what happened but it's literally impossible. These Thunder Megazord fights last less than a minute. At least we got that exciting battle with the indomitable…Weldo to satisfy us earlier.

The Rangers celebrate ridding themselves of that horrible kabuki beast by practicing karate in the Juice Bar. Kimberly runs in with a postcard from "Trini and the guys" and pretends that it was actually written by three characters who will never show up again. The letter spouts off a whole bunch of bullshit about how special this trip to Switzerland has been, and how much they love being somewhere where Haim Saban can never bilk them out of money ever again.

Bulk and Skull drop into the Youth Center to provide photographic evidence of the Power Rangers' secret identities. Which they assume they got pictures of because they photographed a UFO. I don't really follow this logic either, but the episode's nearly over so who cares?

The boys accidentally took pictures of themselves and not the spaceship. That's the twist. Then everyone laughs at them for being such tremendous losers and not looking at the goddamned pictures before showing them off. Bulk remembers his mother's cryptic final words, "They're all going to laugh at you!" as he wonders why he's doing this anymore. Who is he trying to impress? Who's ever going to believe him even if he does find out who the Rangers are? Is he doing this for Skull? What's the point? Skull's impressed by dead bugs. Why does he keep doing this week after week? Why can't it be like the old days when he could fall into a cake and then go home with some dignity? Now he's stuck making himself look like a horse's ass every single day because of his poorly thought out hobby. Looks like mom was right after all Skull. They all were going to laugh at us.

Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Killer Kabukis From Outer Space

Personal Thoughts

I'm left feeling strange. This episode seems like it's mediocre bordering on bad, but I can't bring myself to hate it. It actually inspires me to think something about it, which is a lot more than I could say about "Scavenger Hunt" or "Lights, Camera, Action." There's enough weird stuff going on that the episode is elevated above being bland. Bookala, as much as I can't stand his horrible voice, is something you wouldn't see on any other show. It's something that can capture my interest. I appreciate the balls it took the writers to look at a kabuki monster and go "Yeah fuck it he's an alien now. Start writing."

I don't know anymore. This episode has something going for it that I can't quite put my finger on. It's dumb, but dumb enough to keep me invested to see what crazy shit happens next. Maybe I'm just happy not to be bored.

There were two scenes cut from the script that I really would have enjoyed seeing. The first was a scene of Serpentera flying through space and firing on Bookala's ship. It sounded a lot more interesting than seeing Bookala immediately landing on Earth and crashing his dumbass ship. The second scene I wish remained was a moment where the Rangers use their Power Cannon on the Evil Bookala. I'd appreciate that happening because holy shit they haven't used that thing once since it first showed up. Try to promote your toys Power Rangers, for Christ sakes!

If you can believe it, there's some interesting things that can be said about Weldo. The first is that in Dairanger, he's another form of the Evil Bookala monster. It's the form Evil Bookala takes when he possesses a robot though the power of evil magic or whatever. The reason we only had footage of Weldo getting hit and no Zord battle is because he turned back into Evil Bookala as soon as he was beaten. I thought it was kind of neat that they kept the monsters together in one episode when they originated from the same source episode.

More intriguing to me is that Weldo is a big fucking mess of recycled props from previous Super Sentai shows. The face and kabuki wig are original materials, but the rest of his body is cobbled together from other sources.  I'm using a Japanese source for the information, so it's not like I'm some brilliant suit detector, but here's what it has to say.

Weldo's arms come from Choudenshi Bioman's main mecha, Bio Robo.

I see those two circles above the wrist! You're not fooling me!

Weldo's hands come from Kousoku Sentai Turboranger's primary mech Turbo Robo.


They must have been de-shined at some point.

and Weldo's shoulders/chest/stomach are from Choujuu Sentai Liveman's villainous monster-growing robot, Guardnoid Gash. Specifically his chestplate shaped like a face.

歌舞伎ロボット, Weldo, Kabuki Robot

Thanks to the person who uploaded this since my Liveman episodes all look murky and shitty.

At least that's what the website had to say, but I think those are all accurate calls.. I enjoy stupid shit like this because I like to imagine all the children's hopes and dreams shattered as they realize the Bio Robo they grew up with got hacked apart to make a monster that appeared nearly a decade later.


  1. I think we were spoiled by having Zyuranger as our first Power Rangers adaptation. Whoever directed the Zord battles really took the time and effort to make sure we never got the same fight twice. Tired of seeing the Megazord finish off the monster? Let's use the uncombined Dinozords instead! Disassembling the Megazord and finishing the fight with Dragonzord Battle Mode getting too predictable? Let's write the Pink Ranger out so the other Rangers have to use Dragonzord Battle Mode from the start! How about we go completely overboard and have the Ultrazord blow up a giant wheel (OK, that one was actually really lame)! Dairanger set a precedent in Sentai going forward where most of the Zord fights were treated largely as afterthoughts, which is a shame. My memory of subsequent seasons is really hazy, but I think outside of possibly Ohranger and Gingaman, and maybe a handful of Kakuranger episodes, I don't think we ever had as good as Zyuranger.

    1. Watching Dairanger I can tell the emphasis was on the ground battles, and the Zord battles weren't focused on as heavily. You're spot on that Zyuranger was a great jumping off point for Power Rangers, and we're lucky we didn't get something like Liveman. Nothing against the series itself, but its mech battles were really fucking bland.

      Kakuranger starts off with some fucking awful Zord battles. The Shogunzord battles are some of the most uneventful fights I've ever seen. Every once in a while one of the Shogunzords would fight with an opponent one on one, but the Shogun Megazord would always resort to its finisher basically as soon as it was formed. Though I'll say I was a huge fan of the Ninja Megazord. Probably because it wasn't such a bulky goddamned mess.

      I don't recall much of Ohranger's mech battles, but Gingaman typically had some decent ones. So long as we weren't dealing with the non-transformed Galactabeasts. Those things looked like diseased hunks of rubber with faces. Holy shit.

    2. The over-the-top conceptual weirdness of the Galactabeasts - giant rubber rock monster animal thngs which turn into robots when you stab them in the head, said robots can turn into a giant robot, oh, and some of them are dead rubber rock monsters and their rubber rock monster form only appears as a force ghost - wrapped all the way around for me from godawful suckage to "I can't force myself to look away this is so insane"