Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 1, Episode 50: Return of an Old Friend Part II

I always appreciate when Mighty Morphin Power Rangers takes some time to change up what the series is a little bit.  I’ve said that over and over, again and again.  It wouldn’t be right for me to write a post without saying it.  Everything would feel wrong with the world.  But my sentiments are true.  I feel like the show is of better quality when it is about to change.  The writing seems stronger.  The stakes are higher, the characters have more emotion and grow, and it strays from the standard formula that the show has.  It is more entertaining too.

This multi-episode story Return of an Old Friend is no different.  It brings Tommy back into the fold, though with a twist that I will get to later.  It puts the lives of the Power Rangers’ parents in danger.  The powers of the Power Rangers were taken away, leaving only the coin of the Green Ranger as a chance of safety.  It’s the direst situation that there has been on the show up to this point and an exciting change of pace for a show that seemed to be running low on ideas.  (I know that might have to do with the Zyu2 footage.  Doesn’t make it any less apparent.)  Tommy is the most important element, though, as he is an intriguing character that actually brings a lot to the show.  Having him back can only improve things.

With all of that said, it’s going to be tough to write about this episode without giving the summary of the episode.  I should get on that.

Season 1, Episode 50: Return of an Old Friend Part II

The episode starts with a sort of recap of where the Power Rangers are at in terms of danger.  The first scene is them in the Command Center showing Zordon the one Power Coin that remains.  They mention that Tommy might have the coin but he doesn’t have his powers.  Then we see their parents trapped in the alternate dimension.  This is a dangerous predicament.

Zordon tells Alpha to bring Tommy to the Command Center immediately.  When Tommy gets there, Zordon uses some of his energy to give Tommy enough power to go out and fight Goldar and some putties.  During this fight, Tommy gets his Dragon Dagger back.  He uses it to summon the Dragonzord which then fights with a giant Goldar and a giant Scorpina.

Near the end of the fight, Goldar mentions that the Power Coins were left unguarded.  Tommy goes to them and electrocutes himself while getting them back.  When he has them in his grasp, he gets brought back to the Command Center unconscious.  The rest of the Power Rangers take their Power Coins and give Zordon his energy back.  Then they go into battle.

During their battle with the monster, it takes control of the minds of Jason, Zack, Billy, and Trini.  The four of them team up and attack Kimberly.  This only works until the electrical energy of the Power Coin protection gives Tommy back his powers.  Tommy joins the battle and frees them of their mind control.  Together, the six Power Rangers team up, Zord up, bring in Ultrazord, and kill the monster.

After the battle, Zordon tells Tommy that his regained powers are only temporary, and asks if Tommy wants to stay with the Power Rangers.  Of course Tommy does.  These are his friends.  He will do his best to stick around with them, and help them protect the world.  He loves them.  Especially Kimberly, though he at no point says it in this episode.  It’s just clear from all the time he’s been in the show.

The gang goes back to the Angel Grove Youth Center where their parents have been returned with no recollection of what happened to them.  They all tell their families how much they love them.  Kimberly introduces her parents to Tommy.  Remember, the two of them were sort of a thing back when Tommy was a Power Ranger before.  This romance was instantly rekindled when he returned.  Oh, and then a food fight starts, while the gang runs into the locker room and laughs about it.  The end.

So Tommy is once again a part of the Power Rangers team.  He has been re-introduced in a rather successful way, with the stakes being the highest they’ve been since… Well, since his powers were taken away, I’d say.  Sure, Doomsday had the entire town being taken away.  But the Green Candle saga had a Power Ranger lose their powers, and the Return of an Old Friend saga had a combination of the two as the parents were taken away and the Power Rangers lost their Power Coins.  It was the toughest situation that they have ever been in, which made it more entertaining.

This was also the first time that you hear the Go Green Ranger Go song.  I’m not in love with the song.  That doesn’t mean it’s not great for Tommy to have a theme song when he’s fighting.  I just prefer Fight or the Power Rangers theme song to this new one.  Still, I enjoy the fact that the show has branched out into featuring more music during fight scenes.  It breaks from the similarity that some of them have, and it usually backs the scenes pretty well.

Now that Tommy has returned, things should pick up a little bit.  And with the conclusion of the first season being only ten episodes away, I would hope that the show kicks into a higher gear to have a great finale.  And looking at the episode titles, some seem like they’ll be a lot of dumb fun.  The Halloween rapper monster is coming up soon.  I’m looking forward to that one.  But I’m most looking forward to Tommy being back.  He brings a lot to the show even if I can’t articulate it well.  I’ll see you next time when I watch the first episode after Tommy’s return.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 1, Episode 49: Return of an Old Friend Part I

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is a show that has, recently in my viewing, not had any sense of real stakes.  Sure, there were monsters attacking Angel Grove.  But that happens every episode.  Once in a while, something needs to be tossed into the formula to heighten the sense of danger.  Well, it looks like I got that with the episode I’m going to be writing about today.  I got the highest level of danger yet.  Angel Grove is nearly helpless.

When I say nearly, there is a definite reason why.  You’ll find that out as I go over the episode.  It’s a rather small amount of hope that the people of Angel Grove have right now.  And it’s really a last resort, what is going to be happening in the follow up to this episode.  You know, it’s hard to write about any of this right now without spoiling the episode.  I’m going to get into it pretty quick this time.  Right now.

Season 1, Episode 49: Return of an Old Friend, Part 1

It’s parents day at the Angel Grove Youth Center.  Everyone’s parents are showing up.  And they all seem to be wearing the same colours as their children tend to wear.  Jason’s family is in red, Trini’s is in yellowish, Billy’s are in blue… You know.  Even Bulk and Skull’s parents are there.  Everyone is at this parents day gathering.  Well, almost everyone.

When Kimberly’s divorced parents show up and Kimberly is not there, Trini goes outside to find her.  Kimberly thinks that it is her fault that her parents separated.  Trini consoles her.  Then some putties show up and there is a big fight.  Jason and Zack are called outside to help.  Billy still hasn’t shown up because he is working on a new invention.  What is it?  It is not explained.

The putties are only a distraction, as Rita sends some monster into the Youth Center to spray gas and take everyone at the party to another dimension.  Billy shows up to find the place empty.  The monster then sprays him which causes his mind to be controlled by Rita.  Rita sends him to the Command Center to get the Dragon Dagger for her.  He does as she demands and unhooks Alpha while he is at it.

When the Power Rangers show up, they are told about what is going on.  They go into that dimension where Jason was trapped in Green With Evil, and they confront Goldar and Billy.  Goldar decides to fight them all.  This really is one of the best fight scenes in any episode so far.  And it’s backed by the best Power Rangers song so far, Fight.  Goldar ends up winning the fight, taking the dagger, and freeing Billy of his mind control.

Goldar soon summons the Dragonzord, and the Power Rangers must form the Megazord to fight it.  After the fight, Goldar makes an ultimatum.  Relinquish their power coins and lose their powers, or their parents are lost forever.  Zordon tells the Power Rangers that the choice is up to them.  They choose to save their parents by giving up their power coins.  Goldar laughs at them, says he was lying, doesn’t release their parents, and runs away with the coins and the Dragon Dagger.

The Power Rangers say that there is no hope.  All is lost.  Jason informs them that he still has one power coin.  The show immediately cuts to someone walking into the Angel Grove Youth Center.  It’s Tommy.  He’s back.  He wonders where everyone is.  The song Go Green Ranger Go plays a tiny bit.  And the credits start.

So, yeah.  Tommy’s back.  If the title hadn’t tipped you off, now you know.  He’s back.  And Jason is going to give him the power coin for the Green Ranger.  I’m glad that Tommy’s back because he’s one of the more interesting characters in the show.  They built his character just right when he was introduced.  He has enough background and personality to make him enjoyable to watch.  And he fits into the group well.  It’s great to have him bringing this other side to the group once again.

Though, I could be talking out of my butt here.  The guy has been gone for a long time now.  He could end up leaving again sometime soon.  I don’t know for sure.  I know he’s around until Power Rangers Turbo, but I don’t know if he’s around the whole time.  There may be some more gaps that he isn’t in.  I still say he’s a good addition to the group for the amount of time that he is with them.

As for the stakes, having the Power Rangers essentially powerless is an interesting twist that I didn’t expect.  It makes the situation direr than it has been up to this point.  I am more invested in the characters finding a way to defeat Rita Repulsa than I have been since the Doomsday episodes.  That’s not saying much since that was the last multi-episode arc, but when you have a bunch of low risk single episodes between then and now, this is a refreshing change of pace.  If every episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers ran like this one, I would be an extremely happy viewer.

This is only half of the Return of an Old Friend saga, though.  There’s still one more episode, and I’m even more excited for this one.  I want to see Tommy Oliver kicking some butt.  I want to see the Green Ranger back in action.  I want to see how the Power Rangers get out of the dangerous situation that they are in.  I hope that you guys are interested in this too.  I’ll be back soon with the recap of the second half.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 1, Episode 48: Plague of the Mantis

My least favourite of the Power Rangers thus far in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is Trini.  She is the least defined of the characters.  The performance of Trini lacks any real charisma or power (not meant to be a pun).  And she’s just an all-around boring character.  It pains me whenever there is an episode devoted to Trini because I know that it won’t really build up her character.  It’ll only show her character for more time than usual.

That was the case with the episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers that I’m going to write about today.  It was a Trini-centric episode all about a style of Kung Fu that she was using.  It’s a style that will likely never show up again, but one that was important for this single episode.  An episode that wasn’t really all that bad.  It was just lacking in any real character development.

Along with the serialization that I would like to happen in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, I would also like to see the characters get deeper backstories.  I want to know them and care about them.  I would say that I care about most of them at this point, with Trini being the real holdout on that front.  I simply don’t care about what happens with her because I still fail to know who Trini is as a person.  She’s the weakest character and it makes me sad to not be invested in her.

Anyway, I’m going to dive into the episode at hand right now.  This is the final episode before the next multi-episode arc, and I’m glad to be moving onto the next stage of the series.  So let’s get going.

Season 1, Episode 48: Plague of the Mantis

The episode starts in the Angel Grove Youth Center as Trini is learning the ways of the mantis.  She is doing this through Kung Fu poses with Master Li.  But she hasn’t been able to truly master it in the way that she wants to.  She does not know what a mantis would do.  Bulk and Skull show up and think that they could come up with a get rich quick scheme by making Kung Fu out of a different insect.  The one that they choose is the cockroach because, why not. 

As the two buffoons are showing off their new Kung Fu style, Rita Repulsa is coming up with her newest plan to conquer Earth.  She’s going to send a mantis monster down to distract Trini.  It will prey on the honor and fairness taught to her through the mantis Kung Fu.  She’s in the park practicing the poses when Zordon tells her to investigate something going on.  She discovers the mantis monster and tries to fight it.  When the rest of the Power Rangers show up, the mantis flees because the fight is not fair.  It says that Trini has no honor.  She feels bad about it.

Later, while Trini is at the Youth Center, a note is left for her.  It says that Master Li wants to meet her in the quarry.  She goes there to find the mantis monster.  She gets in another fight.  The rest of the gang sees the note and knows that something is wrong.  They go to find Trini and end u ambushed by a bunch of putties.  At the same time, the mantis monster unleashes a bunch of putties on Trini, showing that it is dishonorable and unfair.

That’s when everything turns into your typical episode fight.  Monster grows, Zords form Megazord, Mega Sword or whatever it is called comes down from the sky, slash, monster explodes.  The fight is over and the Power Rangers are victorious.

Back at the Youth Center, Trini has finally mastered the mantis Kung Fu style.  Meanwhile, Bulk and Skull are putting on a show about their cockroach Kung Fu.  They stumble, bumble, and break open a jar of cockroaches.  The bugs run all over Bulk.  Everyone laughs.  The end.

So, basically, what we discovered about Trini that episode was that she likes fairness.  That doesn’t really add much to her character that wasn’t already known.  And it’s not like any of the other characters don’t like fairness.  As a character, she still doesn’t have anything that makes her stand out other than her ethnicity.  Her character is basically just a translator so that other characters know what the science stuff that Billy says actually means.

I might just be being hard on the character and not letting myself be invested in her.  But I think it is the character of Trini herself that isn’t well enough written.  I think that with better writing I could care about the character, but the lack of time or effort that they put into building her into an interesting character prevents that from happening.  I want to like the character.  However, I don’t care about her or what happens to her.

Now, I’m sure she won’t have too much to do with the next two episodes of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  They’re clearly going to be focused on Tommy coming back.  I mean, they are called Return of an Old Friend.  He is the Old Friend.  And he’s returning, which means a change for the series.  I’m excited for the two episodes.  I hope you are as well.  I’ll see you next time when I write about Part I of that two-parter.