Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 2, Episode 49: Storybook Rangers, Part II

In the first half of Storybook Rangers, three of the Power Rangers were stuck powerless in a book called Grumble the Magic Elf, trying to fight off The Snow Monster while an avalanche headed their way.  Bulk and Skull were creating a monster that they didn’t know Lord Zedd was planning on using against Angel Grove.  It was an interesting episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers that left me excited for a conclusion.

This episode should tie up the loose ends of the story pretty well.  The three trapped Power Rangers will get out of their situation and fight back against the moon dwelling evil-doers that put them in that situation.  They’ll be joined by the other half of their Power Rangers team.  But most of all, Bulk and Skull will create a problem for Angel Grove that the Power Rangers will have to stop.  It’s going to be huge.

Season 2, Episode 49: Storybook Rangers, Part II
Tommy, Rocky, and Kimberly were left in a rough situation as an avalanche buried them in a sort of snow cave.  If they couldn’t get out, they wouldn’t be able to help Grumble the Magic Elf stop being a grumpy elf.  That meant that they would be trapped in the storybook forever.  Luckily for them, Grumble helped them out of their snow trap.  They took Grumble to see Mondo the Magician, but Mondo wouldn’t break the grumpy spell.  They were out of luck.

Billy, Adam, and Aisha wanted to help their friends.  However, there was a bigger threat.  Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa had brought Bulk and Skull’s turkey monster to life and it was running amok through the park.  They had to go stop it.

While the three remaining Power Rangers were fighting off the Turkey Jerk monster, Bulk and Skull were hiding in a tree waiting for their moment to unmask them.  The moment wouldn’t come.  Bulk and Skull fell out of the tree at the end of the fight and by the time they got up, the Power Rangers had already teleported back to the Command Centre.  After their wasted efforts, the two bumbling teens returned their books to the book fair.

Aisha came up with a plan to free her friends from their storybook trap.  She drew some new presents into the story, which allowed Grumble to deliver them to the children and find his happiness.  The story was over and the Power Rangers were free.  Mondo the Magician was also free, which was a problem.  He was attacking Angel Grove.  The Power Rangers had to Zord up and stop his mayhem.

This brings us to the fights in the episode.  The first fight was the previously mentioned battle against the Turkey Jerk monster.  The fight was mostly an Adam fight as he pulled out his Power Axe and went one on one with the turkey.  It highlighted that Adam was one of the most skilled fighters on the team at the time.  They were lucky that he stuck around into Turbo because he made the team stronger.  The other fight was the Zord fight against Mondo which had a lot of swordfighting.  It was a pretty strong fight, feeling less edited than most.  It seemed like they took the majority of the fight unchanged from the Sentai.  The only change was the edit to the exploding monster at the end.  Good stuff to close off the Storybook Rangers story.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers has grown a lot since Day of the Dumpster.  The show went from being very self-contained in each episode to growing the characters out bit by bit, to multi-episode stories where the characters feel fully formed.  It has come a long way.  Changes have happened with three of the main cast members being replaced.  One other major change has been in Billy’s look.  He started out as the stereotypical nerd, in both how he spoke and what he wore.  This season has seen him shed his nerdy look and begin speaking like an average person.  He’s smart but that other stuff was never needed to confirm that.  It should have always been who he was, not what he looked like and talked like.  It’s nice to see this transition out of the stereotype.

There were a couple things that came up in the second part of Storybook Rangers that should be discussed before bringing talk of it to a close.  One was the use of Mondo the Magician.  His Sentai counterpart was a major villain.  In Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, he was nothing more than a monster attacking Angel Grove in one episode.  That’s a large change, and one that was necessary because of how the American show played out.  For some reason, the American producers decided to create their own villain in Lord Zedd instead of using the Sentai villain from the footage they took for the second season.  That left major villains without anything to do in the American show. 

The other thing that should be brought up, which is much less important, is the name Grumble.  Naming the magic elf Grumble wasn’t the first use of the word Grumble in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  Back in the first season, there was an episode called Grumble Bee where the monster was the Grumble Bee.  It’s a strange word that nobody ever uses.  Why was it used for two different characters in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers world?  It was a strange similarity between the two characters and one that I felt the need to make note of.

The book has been closed on this episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and we’re about to begin another chapter.  Coming up will be the final multi-episode story of the second season.  There’s still another episode after it, but first we must go through the two episode story of Wild West Rangers.  This should be a fun one.  Come back soon to see how fun it is.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 2, Episode 48: Storybook Rangers, Part I

The last episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was a standalone tale about Tommy and Kimberly getting extremely competitive during a school election.  Their constant bickering almost tore the team apart as Tommy’s Zord was stolen by Rita Repulsa.  Bulk and Skull were still trying to uncover the identities of the Power Rangers, and Lord Zedd was waiting for Rita’s plan to fail.  It was a step back into the older episodes that, though a refreshing break from the multiple episode storylines, felt weak compared to the more recent efforts.

Perhaps going back into the multiple episode storylines will help.  There are five episodes left in season 2 of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and between the five episodes, there will be three stories.  The first of the three begins with this episode, the first of a two-parter.  There’s sure to be a good story in this one.  That’s right in the title.  We’ll see though.

Season 2, Episode 48: Storybook Rangers, Part I
Angel Grove High School was holding a book fair and the gang was looking for books that they wanted.  Kimberly found one called Grumble the Magic Elf that she loved as a child.  She bought the book and took it home, accompanied by Tommy and Rocky.  They wouldn’t make it to her house, though.

Rita being Rita had the perfect plan for the situation.  She would use the storybook as a weapon and trap the Power Rangers in it.  Lord Zedd joined in on the villainy and made sure that Grumble the Magic Elf couldn’t deliver his presents.  That would cause the story to never end.

Billy, Adam, and Aisha went looking for their friends.  Nobody knew where they were.  They asked Ms. Appleby, who had recently been given the copy of Grumble the Magic Elf by some teens who found it in the park, and said she hadn’t seen them in a while.  The three friends then went to Zordon and Alpha.  They did some of their Command Centre stuff and found the trapped teens inside the book.

In the book, Tommy, Rocky, and Kimberly were having troubles.  Not only did they encounter a grumpy Grumble, but there were also putties that wanted to steal the presents.  And to top things off, they ran into an abominable snowman type of monster that threatened their lives.  Before they could fight it off, an avalanche began and the episode ended.

There was no fighting in the episode, but there was a fun little side story with Bulk and Skull where they were working on building a monster in their garage.  With a monster, they could lure out the Power Rangers and unmask them.  Lord Zedd liked their idea and decided he would use their creation as a monster to destroy Angel Grove.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers sometimes did some inventive things for a television show about a bunch of teens fighting monsters.  It always strived to better itself.  Season 2 did a lot of work in terms of storytelling.  This episode, however, visually did something that other episodes hadn’t done.  The storybook setting for Tommy, Kimberly, and Rocky used a mixture of sets and greenscreen to place the teens in the right location.  Instead of simply putting the characters in a real world location and claiming that it was the book, there was a mixture of sets and moving cartoony backgrounds that allowed the scenery to look like a picture book.  It was something that hadn’t really been done in the show up to that point.

The other visual aspect of the episode was a little bit lazier.  The monsters that were used in the episode, notably Grumble the Magic Elf and the abominable snowman, were rehashes of older monsters.  Grumble was a recoloured version of Mr. Ticklesneezer, a monster seen early in the first season.  The abominable snowman monster, actually called The Snow Monster, was a recoloured version of Primator from early season 2, but with more fur added to fit with the colder location.  The creation of new monsters for the American footage was interesting, and helped to hold together an episode that had no Sentai footage, but felt lazy because they were recycling old suits.  More effort could have been put into making original monsters.

Storybook Rangers, Part I was a pretty good first half of the story.  It’ll be fun to see how it wraps up in the second part.  The American team got inventive with the story, creating one of the most fun unmorphed stories yet.  There may not be the depth that we’ve come to expect out of stories like Missing Green, Green with Evil, or Return of the Green Ranger (they all involve the Green Ranger, eh?) but it’s still a fun time with the Power Rangers.  The next episode will hopefully continue that.  Come back soon to find out.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 2, Episode 47: Best Man for the Job

Previously, on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Tommy went into battle against… Tommy.  The Return of the Green Ranger saw Rita Repulsa call upon The Wizard of Deception to create an evil clone of Tommy.  Tom Oliver had all of Tommy’s skills, and the powers of Tommy’s old Green Ranger self.  The rest of the Power Rangers team was sent back to a colonial times version of Angel Grove and had to survive until they could be saved.  It all ended well as Tommy saved the past, present, and his friends.

Now we’re onto another story about the Power Rangers.  The title doesn’t give away too much and it only lasts one episode.  What will happen with the Power Rangers this time? A monster will show up.  They’ll fight it.  And then they’ll leave Rita and Lord Zedd frustrated.  That sounds about right.

Season 2, Episode 47: Best Man for the Job
Angel Grove held a school election and the Power Rangers decided to get in on the action.  Billy suggested that Tommy run for school president because of his leadership qualities.  Aisha recommended Kimberly for the position because the best man for the job isn’t always a man.  Sometimes it’s a woman.  In the end, Kimberly won the top spot on the school council, and everyone was happy.  Except for Bulk.

When the school election was announced, Bulk thought it was the perfect opportunity to find the real identities of the Power Rangers.  He was going to win the election and gain access to the student files.  For some reason, he thought that the identities of the Power Rangers would be in the files.  He ended up losing in a landslide.  Bulk only received one vote: his own.  Even Skull voted for Kimberly.

Lord Zedd didn’t come up with the evil plan in this episode.  Rita instead devised a plan that would get Tommy and Kimberly to be intensely competitive with one another.  The two teens would be at each other’s throats the entire episode.  Then Rita would steal Saba and take control of the White Tigerzord, thus bringing danger to Angel Grove and the Power Rangers.  It was a good plan that backfired because of friendship.

Two big fights helped to accentuate the story.  The first was a putty fight, like usual.  There was a blending of comedy and action that isn’t usually seen on the side of the Power Rangers.  They would be in the middle of kicking putty butt, and then Tommy and Kimberly would begin arguing on the battlefield.  It was a reminder of Rocky Just Wants to Have Fun and his distraction from the fighting which, though dumb, still made for some fun.  It wasn’t as serious or threatening a fight as usual, but was still a fun one to watch because of the way the comedy worked.  The other major fight was the battle between the White Tigerzord and the Thunder Megazord.  It had some strange editing, the reasons for which will come up later, and some sword fighting.  It wasn’t as strong as other recent Zord battles, yet it was still fun to see the Zords go into battle against each other instead of fighting monsters.  It always feels like a bigger threat to have the weapons of the good guys being used against the good guys.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers came off of a solid three episode story with a standalone episode that was okay.  It wasn’t the worst that the show has ever had, but it was nowhere near the strongest.  The show slipped back into its old ways with this one.  Lord Zedd had been a major threat for the entire season.  He was much darker than Rita Repulsa ever was, giving monsters that felt dangerous.  You always knew that the Power Rangers would come out on top.  However, with Lord Zedd, it was always a tougher battle.  They lost the Green Ranger along the way.  They had to be saved by Bulk and Skull at one point.  With this episode, it felt like we went back to the ultra-cheese of the Rita Repulsa era.  The scope was bigger, for sure.  The threat didn’t feel as big, though.  Her plan was to get Kimberly and Tommy competitive with one another.  That’s barely breaking up the team.

What was closer to breaking up the team was the fighting.  The putty fight had Tommy and Kimberly focusing more on arguing with each other than fighting off the bad guys.  It would be the Zord fight that would be more destructive.  It is always bad to have the Power Rangers going up against their own Zords.  In The Return of the Green Ranger, we saw the White Tigerzord go up against the Dragonzord, then we saw the Thunder Megazord go up against the Dragonzord.  This episode saw the Thunder Megazord fight against the White Tigerzord.  There was something special about the fight that wasn’t the basic idea of it being a bigger threat than usual.  The scene was shot with American footage.  This was the first time that Mighty Morphin Power Rangers had filmed their own footage for a Zord battle.  In season 1, when the show ran out of battle footage, they called upon Toei to film more footage, leading to the Zyu2 footage and the dumber than dumb storylines that came with it.  This time, they went out on their own and filmed a Zord battle to fit the show’s needs.  It made for a stronger story, even if it was dumb.  The American filmed Zord battles would become a fixture in the series moving forward, happening at least once a season.  They would never be the norm, but they would come back throughout the show.

Best Man for the Job wasn’t in the top tier of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but it did its job as a breather between the multi-episode stories that the show was giving near the end of the second season.  It would have been nice to have a thread of continuing story in there, but I’m not going to complain too much.  The show has been stronger as of late, and with the end of the season coming up, it should bring some good stuff.  Here’s hoping that the next episode is some of that stronger stuff.