Monday, March 6, 2017

MMPR Season 3 Episode 11: Fourth Down and Long

Skeleton Abomination Turned into Children's Plaything
Rocky Defeats Monster Using Dyslexia

Oh…we're getting another Rocky episode this week? Well I mean…I guess that's alright. Maybe Power Rangers is trying to make up for all the time they didn't spend with him last season. That or this season doesn't want to give any attention to Aisha. Oh well, guess we'll focus on her next season.

As you might recall from Season 1's episode "Football Season," I don't know a lick about no pigskin sports. After watching that episode, I'm still not sure if rhinos are part of the team or not. I'm only noting this now so that I won't feel bad when I miss any obvious jokes about football that you good folks are probably making as you watch this episode.

So if I go overboard with jokes about Bulk eating sandwiches, it's because things were feeling a little too dry.

Rocky, Billy, and Aisha are sitting in a chemistry class where they discuss an upcoming football game. Angel Grove High VS. Who Gives A Shit U. Rocky mentions that his Uncle Joe is going to give a pep talk to Angel Grove's team, as Joe used to be a star quarterback in his day. That's right, he scored four touchdowns in one game at Polk High! Mr. Wilton interrupts this expository discussion to tell his class it's time to start mixing some chemicals.

Allow me to pump the breaks and say how stunned I am that Mr. Wilton came back for another episode. Wilbur Wilton smelled of a one and done character. I'm impressed with Power Rangers for actually creating more recurring characters out of presumable one-off guest actors. Usually I wouldn't be that interested in a returning character, but Mr. Wilton showing up in back to back episodes really surprised me.

Sorry, allow me to put that previous paragraph into another context. I don't give a flying fuck about Rocky's uncle.

My problem is pretty simple. I don't mind meeting the extended family of fictional characters. Sometimes it can provide an interesting look at why they behave a certain way, or give insight into who they are as a person. The problem with doing something like that in this show is that I don't know enough about Rocky to notice how similar or different he would be to this Uncle Joe guy. If you ended last week's episode by telling me that Mr. Wilton was also Rocky's father, I wouldn't be able to tell one way or the other. Tell me literally anything about Rocky, and then I might be the slightest bit curious about his football prodigy Uncle Rico.

Rocky asks his chemistry partner, Alan, to read off the next formula they're supposed to experiment with. Alan stammers out a formula, and Rocky mixes the suggested chemicals. As Rocky pours the beaker of fluids out, it starts spewing smoke all around the classroom and causes everyone to panic. I don't blame them for their concerns, this Alan shithead wasn't reading the right formula and now he's got us all infected with Diet Polio.

There's one utterly asinine addition to this scene that I have to mention. When the beaker with the chemicals inside of it starts smoking, the effects department put a really stupid-looking glow over it. As if Alan accidentally created a pocket-sized supernova because he zigged instead of zagged.

I told him not to drop that glowstick in there!

Rita wastes another day of her perennial life spying on the activities of a bunch of high school karate babies. She asks her gaggle of nitwit followers why they can't beat some teenagers who can't even solve a simple chemistry equation. Goldar and Zedd offer no response to this, as they're currently busy throwing a football back and forth. How oddly touching. It's been 50,000 years, but Goldar finally gets to play a game of catch with his surrogate father.

It astounds me how far Season 3 has taken Lord Zedd from when he first showed up. In his debut episodes, Zedd was screaming at his underlings for daring to so much as breathe after a failure. He commanded that Goldar grovel at his feet at any possible moment. Now here he is passing the pigskin with his simpering soldiers. He didn't need to get coerced into doing it. He's clearly having a nice little game of catch with his indentured servants. Hope you don't miss your balls too bad, Zedd.

Finster enters the chamber and informs his queen that he's recently finished a new monster mold. It's for a large centipede creature that he feels will be to her liking. Rita asserts that she's sick of bug monsters, and that her crew needs something really special to defeat the Power Rangers. The moment she says this, Zedd fumbles the football and causes it to bump into Finster's centipede model. Somehow, this combines the two objects into this week's monster du jour.

That centipede's dick is depressingly prominent.

The monstrous quarterback immediately does calisthenics to prove how muscular and badass he is. Rito takes a shine to this new monster and asks him to "go long." Oh I see, because he's a centipede and centipedes are known for being particularly long creatures. 

The centipede monster tosses his special football to Rito, and the bone daddy nabs it. As soon as Rito lays his hands on the ball, he vanishes in a swirl of energy. Goldar looks around for the absent Revolto, only to find that he's been turned into a novelty-sized skeleton-themed football. Zedd cackles at his brother-in-law's predicament before resuming his game of catch with Goldar, only this time they use Rito as the ball.

This episode has only been on for three minutes and I've been asked to take an awful lot of insane shit completely at face value. I can handle a centipede football player. Barely. But his power involves turning people into footballs when they catch his football? That has got to be some of the zaniest nonsense this show has whipped up in quite some time.

While Rita uses her magic to turn her oafish brother back into a corpse, Zedd bestows a name upon his new monster: Centiback. Yeah I agree, send him back. What a bulky doofus of a monster. What's Zedd going to do when Centiback has to take a break fighting the Rangers to make sure he properly injects his HGH?

Back at Angel Grove High, Officers Bulkmeier and Skullovitch investigate the chemistry lab accident. The boys interrogate their classmates as to who caused this accident, but Mr. Wilton completely ignores them and tells his students that it's safe to go back into the classroom. Bulk is uncomfortable for a moment before repeating Wilton's line as though it was his idea. It's a cute joke, but I think it only works because of how well Mr. Wilton completely shuts down Bulk's attempt at including himself. It's an effortless ignoring and it actually gives me a smirk. Not bad for a guy who goes home every night to polish ear necklaces.

When Mr. Wilton asks these two bozos what they're doing dicking around in the hallways, Bulk and Skull respond that they're on celebrity detail. They're going to be protecting Rocky's Uncle Joe from any kind of insane fans or incompetent high school student police officers. Mr. Wilton suggests they get the hell out of his sight, with a delivery that indicates he's going to burst an artery if those two aren't gone in the next 5 seconds.

While most of the students head back into the classroom, Billy looks over Alan's notes to see what went wrong with his chemistry experiment. Alan evidently read all of the chemistry formulas backwards, which is what caused the classroom to erupt with a fun-size nuclear explosion. Mr. Wilton says that until Alan can get his grades up, he's getting cut from the football team.

Oh shit, Alan's part of the football team? I didn't even realize that was part of the plot today. This episode feels like it's throwing a handful of ideas out there and hoping that they stick. Rocky's uncle was a football star and he's gonna tell kids how to throw a 50 yard pass. Also some kid that Rocky's friends with plays football, but he's not good at science or something? Also a centipede has a magic football that turns people into footballs and…I don't know. Just keep writing, SK. We're already halfway there.

After Rocky hears about this issue, he asks Mr. Wilton about tutoring Alan before the big game. Wilbur agrees, but only on the stipulation that if Alan fails, Wilton can gut him and hang him from the rafters to send a message to the rest of those snot-nosed punks.

Alan and Rocky study at Ernie's outdoor café, and Rocky rudely asks Alan why he's so bad at schoolwork. That's exactly what I'm paying a tutor for, shame and guilt. "Man you're such a smart guy, why is it that you always make yourself look like such a fucking dumbass on math tests?"  Alan's response is great, because it amounts to him saying "Dunno Rocky, guess I'm just dumb as shit."

Alan tries to explain that he's always been bad at reading ever since he was a kid, and it's obvious from this speech that we're supposed to glean that he has some kind of learning disability. I'm assuming dyslexia? He says that whenever he reads, the letters all seem to be upside down and backwards. To anyone out there reading this, please stop doing a handstand and tell me if this feels familiar to you.

While the boys are studying, Alan and Rocky realize they're missing Uncle Joe's rousing speech for the football team. They gather up all their stuff and rush to the football field. On the way there, Rocky mentions that his Uncle Joe also had trouble in school when he was a young ankle-biter. Hopefully these young men live in a convenient world where Joe's problem and Alan's problem will line up perfectly and we can all learn an important lesson about how difficult it is to be a football playing fuck machine.

Bulk and Skull catch up with Uncle Joe as well, and they promise him they'll get him to his hotel safe and sound. As long as they can get his autograph. Instead of asking him to sign actual paper, they present Uncle Joe with a pair of parking tickets to sign. He declines signing them, because that's exactly how those crafty bastards nailed Donté Stallworth.

While Bulk forces a sports superstar to sign a traffic ticket, Lord Zedd's Centiback monster arrives on the field. Skull notices the creature and starts choking out a warning to his eternal life partner. Bulk's response is actually pretty great as he slowly stammers out "Not again" over and over. Uncle Joe reacts nonchalantly, as he assumes this is merely some kind of shitty looking mascot.

Centiback lobs his ball at Bulk and Skull, transforming the boys into footballs when they're hit by it. This scene does make something clear for me though. The reason that Joe didn't react when he saw Centiback wasn't because he's been through some hard times. It's because he's portrayed by a terrible actor. Look at the absolute nothing he gives in this scene.

Once you've partied with Rob Gronkowski, you're used to seeing some nutso shit.

Alan and Rocky witness this horrific transmogrification and rush onto the field to save Uncle Joe. No sooner do they arrive than Centiback chucks his ball once again and turns Alan into yet another human football. Centiback attempts to nail Rocky with his magic ball as well, but Uncle Joe decides to react for once in his life and catches it in mid-air. Uncle Joe turns into a football as well, and now I'm at wit's end with this episode.

You spent the past 6 minutes discussing Rocky's football-playing uncle and Rocky's pal who can't read good but wants to learn how to do other things good too. Now that the monster has shown up, we turned both of those potential characters into literal props. I can almost guarantee that they won't be turned back until the last few minutes of the episode, so now none of that shit that was getting set up is going to matter.

Don't get me wrong, I have been insanely bored with just about everything this episode has put out there so far; however that doesn't mean I'm fine with it getting dropped the second the monster shows up. Give me one of two things: a dumb football-centric episode or an episode dealing with a dyslexic athlete's education and also the Rangers fight a scarecrow made of mud. When you ramjam these ideas together, your end result is going to be sloppy as all get out. Especially when you're writing out the two characters you just spent all this time building up.

Last week's episode had a much better flow to it than this one, and I'm trying to pinpoint exactly why. The only idea I can come up with is that this episode focusing on some ancillary character named Alan is keeping me from caring about anything here whatsoever. If you gave one of the Ranger Teens some sort of learning disability (Tommy), that might be more interesting. Instead, some kid goes and asks Rocky's uncle how to read. I know that Rocky's trying to teach this kid how to do chemistry equations, but it still feels like one of our main characters is non-essential to this plot. This may as well be an after-school special, not an episode of a karate action show.

Centiback taunts Rocky about how the score is currently four to nothing, and the infuriated Red Ranger morphs to combat him. For absolutely no reason, Centiback doesn't use his football in the fight against Rocky. That thing that's proven to have a 100% victory ratio when used on people. Make sure to use that magical football on those fat security guards, but don't use it on the kid with superpowers. Get your head in the game you dumbass bug.

Even without the use of his football, Centiback still knocks Rocky around pretty bad. The Red Ranger realizes how bad he's getting slammed and contacts Zordon for assistance. Instead of wasting any time on scenes of the other five Rangers getting contacted, we simply see all five of them jump on-screen, morphed and ready to fight. So far this is one of the only things I enjoy in this episode. It manages to save time on foregone conclusions, like having the other Rangers show up to a fight. We don't always need the scene of Tommy and friends hearing about the attack and agreeing to show up. We already know they're dropping by, let's not make it such a formality.

Now that he's faced with a full team of opponents, Centiback summons the Tengas to help him out. Rocky warns the other Rangers not to be touched by the monster's ball, or Halle Berry. Once both the Ranger team and the monster's team are assembled, we do get a moderately cute visual gag. Does it show that I'm desperately looking for things about this episode to enjoy?

I'm glad I went to college so I can write about bird monsters playing football.

And then that moment is immediately forgotten when Centiback throws his football to a Tenga. The Tenga catches it and…nothing happens. You remember when the entire crux of this guy's power was that he turned people into footballs the second that his ball touched them? Well we can't have a football game with giant pigeons if that's the case, so now his power doesn't work on aliens. Even though the first scene we had with Centiback featured him turning an alien into a football. Are you paying attention to the plot and invested in this episode? Fuck you. Just keep shoving pop-tarts in your face and shut up.

There's a lengthy scene with Centiback and the Tengas playing a big dumb game of football with the Rangers, and there's nothing to say about it. It doesn't work at all. It doesn't make me laugh, it doesn't excite me, and I'm not entertained. It's boring, and that's all. There's literally one thing that got me to perk up in my seat during this sequence, and that's when the guy in the Centiback suit doesn't know how to catch a football.

Take 1! ...Yeah good enough. Let's do lunch.

Following this horrible pass, Centiback chucks his ball at the White, Pink, Blue, Black, and Yellow Rangers. His attack leaves all five of them turned into miniature footballs, which incenses Rocky. The Red Ranger attempts to wage a counterattack, but Centiback uses his roided-out muscles to knock Rocky away. Centiback muses that his team is on the board for a 9 to nothing lead against the Rangers. You're lucky you don't have Tommy on your team, Centiback. I hear falcons have a penchant for blowing leads.

Out of curiosity, did anyone else watch last week's episode? Y'know, the one where Rocky battled a monster that turned all of his teammates into inanimate objects? I think there was also a scene where he asked a man in his 50's for help with regards to schooling. Here's a crazy idea. If you're making a show that is the most formulaic thing in all of existence, try to differentiate the b-plots from week to week so that people don't realize exactly how by the numbers your show is.

Rocky realizes how badly he's getting stomped, so he teleports back to the Command Center. He doesn't gather up the footballs made of his teammates or anything, he just flees from the fight. Because he's the absolute worst. He's the human version of the Cleveland Browns. When asked about the Centiback monster, Zordon informs Rocky that he will certainly not be able to defeat it without the help of his friends. Hahahaha. You dumbass, Rocky. The big floating head demon doesn't think you can beat a centipede wearing shoulder pads by yourself. You are the absolute bottom of the barrel worst.

Rocky briefly ponders before coming up with a potential way to defeat the monster. He notes that Centiback's football uses energy waves to turn people into pigskins. Well it did when someone wrote the script, but whoever's in charge of effects this week didn't feel like including that. Rocky suggests that they could try reversing the frequency by, and I quote, "Turning it upside down and backwards."

Holy fucking shit. You have got to be joking.

This is seriously how they're going to connect the plot with Alan's learning disability and the football monster? By utilizing his friend's inability to read against a monster? What in the holy name of piss are you doing Power Rangers? What if Rocky met someone who was in a wheelchair this week. Would he attempt to defeat the Centiback by "only using my upper torso to move my body?" How about if he met a kid with ADHD and tried to defeat the monster by "moving too fast for the creature to keep up with me." What if he met a kid with crippling depression who defeated the monster by "Writing 12 pages of swearing nonsense about how formulaic it is?"

What an absolutely fucking terrible idea this is. Turning his energy wave upside down and backwards? Just eat a thousand dicks you dumbass show.

Alpha 5 panics when the scanners show Centiback has moved all of the footballs towards the Angel Grove mountains. His Sentai footage weather detector indicates that a snowstorm is going to be arriving there soon. Yeah, good enough way to handwave that upcoming scene. Whatever.

Zordon asserts that Rocky is still a gigantic pussy, and he won't be able to defeat a bug in a helmet by himself. Big Z summons Ninjor to the Command Center in order to help Rocky out. Ninjor asks why they interrupted him during such a magnificent stroke sesh, and Rocky lays it all out there with a pretty great line.

"Ninjor! The other Rangers have been turned into footballs! We have to rescue them."

Sometimes all it takes is one line taken out of context to remind you how goddamned stupid this show is. Don't get me wrong, I'm not docking points for it. It's actually kind of endearing in how boldfaced it is about its own raw ridiculousness.

Ninjor and Rocky are given a pair of Zordon's finest weaponry in order to combat the Centiback monster. A pair of friggin' buckets.

While you're at it why don't you toss this week's script in there.

So whatever, Ninjor and Rocky teleport to the quarry where they encounter the Centiback. They taunt the monster, but Centiback rightly retorts "Tough talk from a guy holding a garbage can." I'm not sure if I can call this line self-aware or not, but since I'm currently praying for something to enjoy, I'm just going to say yes.

Ninjor claims that it's fifth and down for the monster, but Rocky corrects him that the phrase is fourth and long. Ninjor takes a beat and says "Yeah. What he said." Usually these kind of jokes  land like a thud for me, but I kind of enjoy this one. Mostly because I already love Ninjor and his innate goofery, but also because he and I know the exact same amount about football.

Centiback hurls his ball at our heroes, but Rocky manages to catch it in his handheld dumpster. He chucks the ball from his bucket towards the footballs of Alan, Uncle Joe, Bulk, and Skull, turning them back to normal. Alpha teleports the four civilians away from the fight, and Centiback nabs his magic football back. He tries tossing it at Ninjor, but the blue genie monster catches it as well. Ninjor throws the centiball at the Ranger footballs, restoring them as well.

Jesus Christ this episode is stupid.

Rita and Zedd grouse about how poorly their worthless bug monster is doing, and they decide to do what they normally do around the 15 minute mark. They give Centiback a boost and turn him gigantic. His growth also signals the oncoming snowstorm so a bunch of stupid kids don't ask why the Megazord fight takes place during a blizzard.

The Rangers summon their Ninjazords and Ninjor grows massive. Despite Tommy summoning his Falconzord, it never bothers joining the fight. Instead of the show writing around the Falconzord not joining the fight, they have him summon it anyway. Because why bother adjusting things to fit the source material when you can slap a bunch of footage together without giving a shit?

Centiback battles Ninjor and the Ninja Megazord amidst the snowy mountains. After knocking Ninjor around a bit, Centiback prompts the mighty genie to transform into his battle mode. This transformation stuns Centiback, and also presents us with a new move from Ninjor. One that we're only going to see once. Ah what the hell, let's .gif it.

Nothing makes me happier than a sword slash making someone explode.

The Ninja Megazord follows up with a fatal punch from its Wolf and Apezord fists. Because Ninjor will never be allowed to kill a monster on his own. You hear that you blue bitch? Your toy doesn't cost nearly as much as a Megazord does. If you want to finish anything off then try connecting to another toy we sell separately you cheap piece of shit.

The Ranger Teens spend the rest of the afternoon hanging out at Ernie's outdoor café. They try a round of Ernie's patented "Dishwater Milkshakes" to try and forget the horrible experience of being turned into footballs, to no avail. Rocky runs in and informs all of his friends some wonderful news. No, they haven't been released from the horrific shackles that Zordon has encased around them in order to prevent them from ever having a normal life. But Alan doesn't have to quit the football team. Oh thank goodness. I was really concerned this episode wouldn't have a happy ending.

Well it ends with a happy ending for some characters. Lt. Stone barges into the café and demands to know why Bulk and Skull abandoned their duties at the football field. For some reason, Stone doesn't buy it when the boys claim that they were turned into footballs by a magical 8 foot tall centipede. Lt. Stone tells the boys they're going to be sweeping up horseshit from the parades from here on out since they bungled this job so badly. Haha! Take that you two idiots. You got attacked by a monster. Now your police careers have stalled out indefinitely. Take…that?

What a load of shit.

Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Dyslexia

Personal Thoughts

Before I give my two cents on the episode itself, I just wanted to make an official announcement that I'm going to be uploading these posts on Monday. I missed enough Sunday deadlines that I realized this clearly wasn't working for me, so let's try and shake it up by a bit and make everyone's week start a little better! Now onto "Fourth Down and Long." Did I enjoy it?

No. Not at all. If you want to watch an episode about Rocky, go watch last week's. This one bored me to absolute tears and I can't recommend it whatsoever. What a shitshow. The only thing this episode has over "Wizard For A Day" is this one has Ninjor, and I love me some Ninjor. Shame that this episode also has next to no Rito, so you're still missing out on the Season 3 MVP's.

I was seriously stupid enough to think I would like this episode more if I cared about football. Well I can confirm to you good readers that is the dumbest train of logic I've ever gone down. This episode is a rotten egg and I want nothing more to do with it.

It sucks, because I really like the idea of Power Rangers discussing actual issues that its audience may face. Maybe this episode helped kids learn about what dyslexia is. Hell, maybe it made kids realize that they're dyslexic. But those are hypotheticals. I don't know anything about what this episode did other than piss me off. I hope Rocky's uncle Joe goes on a fatal coke binge.

The only thing I really even want to talk about is how Centiback's Sentai episode is one of the most bonkers-ass things I've ever watched. For those of you with the DVD's, check out Ninja Sentai Kakuranger episode 45. It's an episode where Centiback's counterpart disguises himself as Santa Claus and tries to ruin Christmas, which might help explain why it's suddenly snowing in the Sentai footage. In order to stop him, the Kakuranger team has to disguise themselves as Santas, and then travel to a village of Santas in an attempt to find the impostor Santa. If that doesn't sound like a ridiculously dumb good time to you then we have different views on entertainment.

1 comment:

  1. Amazingly, someone on YTMND decided to post that very line with little context over a decade ago: