Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 1, Episode 44: Lions and Blizzards

The writers of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers spent their time through the first season writing in recurring story elements and gags that would pay off in later episodes.  The romance between Tommy and Kimberly was established when Tommy was introduced, and the two would be seen together all the time throughout his first tenure with the show.  Jason is always working on becoming a better martial artist and leader for their group.  Bulk and Skull are always being hit in the face with food, falling in or on something, or trying to upstage the main characters.

In the most recent episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers the writers brought back one of the most entertaining recurring gags of the entire first season.  Zack once again tried to score a date with Angela.  He has attempted this various times throughout the season.  Once he even attempted to woo her to show Tommy how to get Kimberly.  Needless to say, it didn’t work that time.  Would it work this time?  The recap of the episode will tell you all that and more.

Season 1, Episode 44: Lions and Blizzards

Something is happening in Angel Grove.  It isn’t another attack by Rita Repulsa.  Oh no.  Not yet, at least.  The thing that is happening in Angel Grove is a competition that includes an obstacle course, wheelbarrow races, and a bunch of those kinds of things.  The winning team will earn the Noble Lion Trophy.  It basically ends up being Jason and the gang against Bulk and Skull.  And after a tug-o-war that sends Bulk and Skull into some mud, the gang wins the trophy.

Bulk and Skull don’t take the loss easily.  They want the trophy for themselves, so they steal it.  The gang wants it back.  Jason and Kimberly go one way, the other three go another.  But they aren’t the only ones who want the trophy.  Rita Repulsa has plans to turn the Noble Lion Trophy into a monster so she sends down some putties to fight with everyone.

Something about this fight against putties is different than any of the others.  A new song plays while the gang fights.  At least, I think it’s a new song.  I don’t remember hearing it before this episode.  The song is called Fight and is by Ron Wasserman.  It only plays during the fight against the putties and once the putties are defeated, the song ends.

Rita makes her move for the trophy when Bulk and Skull stop to wash mud off themselves.  The trophy turns into a bipedal lion with a goat’s face for a chest.  It attacks Bulk and Skull and sends them flying into the pond in Angel Grove Park.

Meanwhile, at the Gym and Juice Bar, Angela asks Zack out on a date.  Everyone is surprised.  Zack and Angela head out to the movie theater to watch something together.  That’s when a storm begins and everyone is told to go down into the basement in case a tornado comes through.  Jason, Kimberly, Trini, and Billy go to the Command Center instead and find out that the monster Goatan is attacking the city.  They try to get help from Zack but they can’t contact him.  They go to fight off Goatan without his help.

Eventually, Zack steps out of the movie using the excuse of getting popcorn.  He asks Zordon what’s going on then goes to help the rest of the Power Rangers defeat Goatan.  When they form the Megazord, Goatan covers them in snow and ice.  How do they get out of it?  They spin the Megazord around a lot and shake all that stuff off.  Then they kill Goatan.  Yeah, that’s what happens.

Zack goes back to his date with popcorn and acts like he didn’t disappear for a long time.  Angela doesn’t like this and throws the popcorn on him.  The rest of the gang is at the gym and juice bar.  Bulk and Skull get brought in by the police and put into the care of the rest of the teens.  The episode strangely ends on Bulk finding a frog in his clothes.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, the Zack and Angela gag is one of the most entertaining in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  Usually it is due to the buffoonery of Zack trying to ask her out and her turning down his offer without a second thought.  The fact that they actually went on a date and Zack had to ditch her to save the world is a great punchline.  The part where he can’t even tell her he was doing that makes it all that much sweeter.  I appreciate that the writers spend the time sprinkling these details into the show.

Also sneaking into the episode were a couple instances of Bulk and Skull falling into things.  Bulk fell on the obstacle course, both characters fell into mud during the tug-o-war, and then they fell into the pond when Goatan attacked them.  I’ve said in previous posts how I like when they get more to do than this slapstick comedy, but when they go overboard with it, it works quite well.  Having them spend an entire episode falling into things is better than one scene of them falling into something and nothing else in the episode.  They’re being built into real characters between these moments which helps too.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is a show that is still very much episodic.  However, it is beginning to grow into something more than the simple episodic children’s show it began as.  It is forming characters and figuring out when to use recurring shtick.  I, for one, am glad to see it growing as I’ve been complaining through this entire first season rewatch that the show needed to build itself a little more.  I was hoping for a more serialized thing, but it’s a kid’s show so I can’t expect that.  It is better than it started out as though.  That’s a good thing.  It can only grow from here.  I’ll see you next time with an update on how much the show has grown between this episode and the following one.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 1, Episode 43: Something Fishy

An interesting thing to look at in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is how they translate the Japanese footage of the Sentai series for American audiences.  The story is surely not the same, but they need to find a story for the footage to work in.  Whether that turns out to be a character story or a simple action story, the footage needs to fit properly.  It is especially important in the character stories though, as the Japanese footage tends to have focus on one of the Power Rangers over the rest.

The most interesting character episodes at this point in the series are episodes focused on Billy or Trini.  Neither of them have been built up to any real extent yet.  Most of the series focus is on Jason and Tommy, with some on Zack and Kimberly.  Trini and Billy are mostly left in the dark in terms of getting their characters any realization.  It’s nice to see either character get the spotlight because it helps to showcase who they are.  The audience learns to care about the characters, if only a little bit more than before.  The viewers get to find out what makes the characters tick.

The episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers that I am about to write about is a Billy-centric episode.  It helps to build his character into more than just that guy who fixes things for the group.  We discover more about his personality and what makes him the person that he is.  It’s a good thing that he is getting some layers, considering that he is the longest lasting continuous Power Ranger from the beginning of the show.  It’s about time I wrote about what this episode did for the character.

Season 1, Episode 43: Something Fishy

The gang is getting ready for a trip out to the beach to go scuba diving.  The problem is that Billy does not want to go.  So Kimberly stays behind with him to have a picnic at the park.  Bulk and Skull want to get in on the action and decide to go fishing at the park.  They interrupt the picnic to show off all of the garbage that they have caught.

During the picnic, Billy reveals a story about when he was a child.  He went to the park and was playing in the water.  One of the fish decided to grab onto his finger and bite it.  Ever since that time, Billy has been afraid of both water and fish.  This comes into play when Rita decides to send another monster down to Earth.

The monster this time is called Goo Fish.  It’s some weird looking fish thing with a fish for a head, but the rest of its body is also a fish.  It can shoot out goo from its mouth, and the goo can turn into a glue like substance.  When the Power Rangers go to fight it, it traps all of them except for the Blue Ranger.  Billy’s fear of fish is a problem though, and it is tough for him to overcome the fear.  Eventually, he pulls himself together long enough to free his friends.  That’s when Rita sends down her staff.

Goo Fish grows.  The Power Rangers get their Zords and make the Megazord.  Goo Fish shoots some goo and traps Megazord.  Whatever will the Power Rangers do?  Here’s what.  Zack comes up with the idea that they should convert the goo into energy.  Jason converts the goo into energy, gets the sword, and takes down Goo Fish once and for all.  Yeah, I don’t quite understand either.

Back at the Angel Grove Gym and Juice Bar, Bulk and Skull decide to show off the big fish they caught.  Skull pulls out a giant can of tuna and Bulk gets mad.  Then Billy and Ernie (the guy running the gym and juice bar) show up with their fishing prizes.  That’s right, Billy is no longer afraid of fish or water.  Bulk wants to see what Billy caught and gets attacked by a lobster.  The episode ends right there.

What we learned about Billy in the episode was a little bit of his childhood backstory.  Does it build up his character and give him some sort of skill that will propel him forward?  Not at all.  But knowing about his struggles with fish helps to make him more relatable and sympathetic.  That is something that you need for a hero.  It makes Billy better-rounded than he previously was.

Now, if only the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers writers could make Trini a little bit more interesting.  There are still a few episodes before Tommy returns to the group.  Hopefully one of the episode is Trini-centric and makes her more than just that fifth person in the group.  This would be especially nice considering that she, like Jason and Zack, will leave partway through the second season.  I would like to get to know the character before that point.  Right now, I have no idea who Trini is as a person.

Like I said, there are still a few more episodes before Tommy returns.  That’ll be the next multi-episode story.  Until then, we have a few more stand-alone episodes to get through.  I’ll be here to hold your hand along the way.  I’ll see you soon for the next episode.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 1, Episode 42: A Pig Surprise

As I move forward in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series, there is less and less Japanese footage from Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger that can be used.  With the Sentai series being only fifty episodes long while the American series’ first season is sisxty episodes, there are ten episodes to account for.  This means that some footage or monsters may get used multiple times throughout the season.  It also means that American footage will become more fundamental in the show moving further into the series.

The forty-second episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers helps to show this need for repetition as it brings back a monster that many people remember from their youth.  Some of the monsters that are incorporated into the series stick with you.  Pudgy Pig is one of them and his triumphant return was one of the most entertaining monster appearances of the show up to this point in its run.  The way to show that would be to describe the episode for you, so here we go.

Season 1, Episode 42: A Pig Surprise

The gang is in Angel Grove Park helping out the animal shelter.  Okay, I lied.  Most of them are there.  Jason, Kimberly, Billy, and Trini are all helping to find caring homeowners to take in some animals that need love.  Dogs, cats, and any other cuddly creature that needs a home.  Even a pig named Norman that gets dropped off by an old woman.  Of course the people that want Norman are Bulk and Skull.  That was expected, wasn’t it?

If you’re wondering where Zack was, he was running toward the park.  He was late for the animal shelter rally thing.  As he runs through the woods he sees the old woman.  But she isn’t really an old woman.  That is a disguise.  She’s a putty!  Zack must fight off a gang of putties using his dance skills.  He flips, he spins himself over the branch of a tree, he even does the worm to dodge kicks.  Zack ends up winning the fight.

Bulk and Skull are off playing with Norman and picking up all the ladies when Billy discovers a device.  The device has a timer on it and has something to do with Norman.  When the timer gets to zero, Norman transforms into Pudgy Pig.  He doesn’t want to harm anyone.  He just wants some food.  Zack shows up at the Angel Grove Gym and Juice Bar (what I’ve been calling the Youth Center) in time to see Pudgy Pig cornering Bulk for a sandwich.  He tells Bulk to give up the sandwich.  Then Pudgy Pig disappears to a farm.

The Power Rangers go after Pudgy Pig in what looks like a repeat of the fight they had with him in his first appearance.  That was way back in episode six, titled Food Fight.  After he flees the scene, they chase him to a farm.  This American footage shows Pudgy Pig dancing to try and earn the affection of a female pig.  He’s not a fighter.  Pudgy Pig is a lover.

That is when Rita sends Goldar down to attack Angel Grove.  The fight that the Power Rangers have against Goldar also looks like repeat footage.  It looks like a recycled fight from the first episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  The fight ends with Goldar running away before he can be hacked with the Power Sword.  So the day is saved.  Or is it?

Billy figures out how to reverse the device from earlier in the episode and manages to turn Pudgy Pig back into Norman.  Norman gets to live a happy life with the female pig on the farm.  The next day, or a couple days later (I don’t know the timeframe of the show), the gang is in class.  A guest speaker comes in with a pig.  Bulk and Skull freak out and huddle in a corner of the classroom screaming because Pudgy Pig caused them to now have a fear of pigs.  The end.

As you can see from that description, the two big fights of the episode seemed to be recycled footage from earlier episodes.  I mean this as recycled Mighty Morphin Power Rangers footage.  I know a lot of the footage in the show is taken from the Sentai series, but that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about there not being enough Sentai episodes to sustain a fresh full season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  It’s a good thing that they know how to write stories around that to make it not feel as repetitious as it really is.

This last third of the season is going to be interesting to see.  I don’t know how much of the footage will have already been used in the show before this point.  I’m sure that it’s difficult to make as many episodes of the show as they are making without eventually running out of footage to use.  I don’t have a problem with it as long as they keep coming up with new stories to use the footage with and don’t actually repeat the story of an episode.  If it comes to that point, I will know for sure that they are running out of ideas by having such a long season.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is a show that does not strive for much but manages to still put a solid effort into the work being done.  Even though the acting is not always great and the stories tend to boil down to robot versus monster, it is still fun to watch every time.  I don’t get tired of it at all.  That’s why I keep watching.  I don’t know if anybody is still reading these things, but I hope you keep reading for the same reason.  It just a plain fun show.