Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (“Gung Ho!”)

Season 1, Episode 26
Date of airing: October 25, 1993 (FOX Kids)

In which Jason and Tommy were sequestered to a test of teamwork in this episode, all while their Power Rangers friends were battling against supercharged putties that could have killed them, meaning Zordon sent his two greatest fighters into their meaningless adventure during one of Rita’s latest attacks. If I had been a teenager with attitude in 1993 or 1994 and Zordon would have sent me hiking up a slope to get some weapons while my best friends were getting pummelled left and right, I would not have been so accepting about Zordon’s little ruse like Jason and Tommy apparently were, but maybe the two fighters didn’t have time to be angry at Zordon for this little stunt, since they were right about to start the Ninja competition. It’s funny though how the retrieval of the weapons was just an exercise and Zordon just dropped the line of Titanius being a “valuable ally and friend.” Zordon is a major douche, but then again, the writers just made the decision to have Jason and Tommy go through this team-up trouble for this episode, even though the two seemed perfectly fine working together in previous episode, making me ask the question why the two needed to learn how to be a team.

It’s ninja time on the super karate television show!

I was a little surprised that the fight against the super putties was so damn short. I was eating my dinner while watching this episode and I usually take only half the running time to much it all down, but I was still chewing during Rita’s “They give me such a headache” scene, signalling the end of the battle of the episode, which in MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS terms means it’s about to be the end of the episode. Consider me surprised that I wasn’t finished with my dinner and the episode was telling me it was about to end. Turns out the American writers and producers were more interested in the competition at the end, which five minutes (a quarter of the episode) were spent on, still making me ask when the first episode will come that only has American-produced footage and zero seconds Japanese Super Sentai stuff. It’s quite obvious that MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS wanted to showcase their two greatest assets in the cast and have them fight for four minutes, but here I am, thinking that the producers must have contemplated for a long time to just have Jason and Tommy in an episode, doing their thing, and save on Super Sentai footage for an additional episode. Then again, maybe the Super Sentai footage needed to be used to cut down on money and time for the production of the American episodes, and producing an entirely American episode was a no-no for the studio and network who just wanted the sweet, sweet advertising cash?

The Red Ranger will now carry the shield for an incredibly boring mission.

Meanwhile, Rita’s ideas of sending the Power Rangers into the afterlife become more boring with each episode. While I’m happy that the super putties she mined from a previous episode finally made an appearance here, she could have answered that attack with a super putty monster, because really, if you want the Power Rangers to die, maybe they should be killed by supersized monsters. Rita thinking that her super putties were able to do the job show once more that she does not have the brain power for total world domination.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (“Life’s a Masquerade”)

Season 1, Episode 25
Date of airing: October 30, 1993 (FOX)

Costume parties and Halloween aren’t just perfect days for vampires and demons to come out of their dark holes and mingle with the humans without having to fight them or get destroyed by the Slayer, it’s also a great day for Alpha to mingle with its friends (seriously, is Alpha a male robot or a female robot?) and win the costume contest, feeling like it belongs here and doesn’t just have to be Zordon’s right-hand robot, never to leave the command center. Let’s just hope this episode isn’t the only one that sees Alpha out of the center and among the people to live a life, and judging by the fact that Alpha once went out of the center to save two Power Rangers from being ugly punks, the chances are pretty good.

The episode was like Alpha’s chances of mingling with the crowd, thanks to the costume party premise, which I’m always in for. The teens were nicely dressed in recognizable characters, although consider me a little curious why Zack was the only one allowed to run around without a shirt on, but maybe that six-pack he sported was the reason for his shirtless appearance (does it mean the other guys did not have a six-pack at the time of production?). I also liked the fact that half of the monster’s appearance was sponsored by the American producers, with Frankenstein’s monster mostly hanging out with the American cast members, before the Japanese actor took over during the Super Sentai scenes. It makes me wonder when the first episode will come with an American-produced monster only, and the villains from the Japanese Super Sentai series are only witnessing the action from the moon base and commenting. That would mean the Power Rangers would have to do all the action, without the zords and probably with a little more training and fight choreography, and there will most likely never be an episode that does not take some of the action from the Super Sentai show, because it’s cheap as hell for the American producers.

An American horror icon in a Japanese action show.

But as it turns out, the American version of Rita’s monster was rather dumb. It behaved like Frankenstein’s monster would behave without a brain, but when the Japanese version entered the fray, it very much smashed up the Megazord and was pretty close to destroying it. This is one of those episodes which I would lose to see its Japanese original of, because I would love to know what their monster was doing before the action scenes and what the Japanese were seeing when using one of America’s most famous movie villain monsters (Something else America stole from the Brits). Side note: The monster of this episode was the first one without an extravagant costume when enlarged. It’s the first monster with half his face still being visible during the fight with the Megazord.

Meanwhile, there better be some news coverage about the battle between the enlarged monster and the Megazord. After all, the Megazord was thrown on top of two residential buildings, which means people freaking died during this episode. Before, you could have explained away that the monster and the Megazord crashing into the buildings every once in a while didn’t kill any civilians, because crashes like those can be survived, but the complete destruction of two entire buildings? Yeah, there is no way the city was evacuated this quickly and there is no way that, if you look at the show from a more realistic point of view, people died when those buildings collapsed under the weight of the Megazord. Here is another thing I’m asking myself: When will that ever become an issue for the characters? Do they even know innocent civilians are dying during battles? Did the writers of both shows ever talked about it in the writers room?

The Megazord has finally been defeated. Or has it?

By the way, whatever happened to the super Putties Rita has created with clay that looked like shit? Those things never showed up for the battle, begging the question if they can be used for a future fight and if the creation of the super Putties is a way for the show to become more serialized.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (“The Spit Flower”)

Season 1, Episode 24
Date of airing: October 19, 1993 (FOX)

Was Tommy a little bit disappointed that Zordon kept him from joining the Power Rangers in their second bout against the Spit Flower or did Jason Frank put a little bit of his own disappointment over the shooting schedule of the show, as well as the payment, and this episode is essentially the first sign of the unhappy cast, and the first sign for the producers to not come around with 60 episodes per season (although maybe part of the season’s length can be explained by the show’s sudden success and Saban’s wishes to get more of that sweet kat-ching)? Tommy’s rather resigned “okay” with the addition of his lowered head made me think that it isn’t even an accidental way of portraying his disappointment, which begs the question why Frank decided to act like this during the command center scenes. But then again, maybe I’m just seeing way too much into it and am cobbling together a conspiracy theory that makes me recognize unhappy MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS cast members in every episode, now that the show has been established, it’s celebrating success and the cast may have even begun at this point to ask for a raise, and becoming angry campers when they were denied.

Kimberly was never this defeated before.

The episode was, and I’m quoting Tommy here, okay. It’s one of those monster actioners that are the same old stuff the show has brought for a while now, which means the show can only succeed when the non-Power Rangers scenes are good, and most of them happened to be good. First of all, there was some depth to Kimberly when she cried over her destroyed model float, which is a state any of the characters haven’t allowed to be shown in for the viewers. Secondly, it’s the way the characters were humanized for these 20 minutes, connecting over the loss and destruction of Kimberly’s model float and feeling with her about the inability to take part at the parade. But when we think about it a little longer, Rita may have just uncovered a way to destroy the Power Rangers: through emotions. Kimberly was down and crying, and if Rita would have continued that attack right away, maybe it would have taken a while for Kimberly to get back into action — preferably before she turns into a fury and takes full-on revenge for the Putties that destroyed her model float. But there is a sweet spot for that and Rita didn’t use it. Consider me disappointed that she isn’t smart enough to recognize when she has an actual plan of action here. At the end of the episode she was asking why she is never able to win, and here is the answer: She does not see the big picture.

It’s the invasion of the bully eaters.

The monster itself could have been great, but was kind of boring. Of course a weakness with the Spit Flower’s body was the point of destruction and not simply just the talents and moves of the Power Rangers and their zords. What a shame the biting baby flowers couldn’t do more, because those beasts were hilarious. They made Bulk and Skull look like hot dudes from the flower power era, but that wasn’t even the funniest part. When Bulk fished out one of the biting flowers and showed us its plastic Dracula teeth to put in your mouth for Halloween, I almost lost it. The production value of MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS is so freaking low, it can’t even ask the prop department to make some scary-looking animal teeth for hungry flowers. This was as close to a SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE sketch as the scene could have gotten.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (“Itsy Bitsy Spider”)

Season 1, Episode 23
Date of airing: October 12, 1993 (FOX)

The Japanese version of Spider-Man should have been in this episode for shits and giggles, and it would have been the best episode of all time. The spider monster’s ability to shoot out webs and trap the Megazord alone was one of the hilarious aspects of this half hour of television, and I would have loved it if the spider monster had gotten a little more screentime or would not have been destroyed at the end, just to give me hope that it might turn up in a later episode (I’m still hoping for Scorpina to make a return at one point). Meanwhile, this episode was actually good enough to have its young viewers face fears of insects. I was one of those kids who didn’t have fun being around spiders and moths and mini mosquitoes (all while playing with ants or ladybugs and crushing the former under my shoe), so this episode may have helped me to at least see spiders as lethal beings of Earth who could also be fun to look at, because they were being beaten by the Megadragonzord. If the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Sony’s Spiderverse ever get to adapting Man-Spider, it better be looking like the monster in this episode, although a little less like a man in a suit and more menacing.

Not my Miles Morales.

The American producers were still putting a lot of effort into making the talents of their cast shine, with Zack doing his hip hop kido class, while Tommy was doing a weird thing with his sword in the middle of the woods, obviously not being seen by anyone, because why would he want to teach martial arts to the youth in Angel Grove? Of course, when Walter Jones and Jason Frank have some quick-feet talents, the producers should use them, but at least the writers could have stuck them into actual classes or courses, just so MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS can function as a bit of an educational half hour of television, considering some of the characters are also teaching self-defense to kids and teenagers. It’s something viewers could have tried at home as well, and that would mean MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS was not a violent kids television show any longer. Anyway, what I want to say is, put Tommy as an instructor into a martial arts class and make use of his character, when the Green Ranger is already not fighting with the other Power Rangers.

The Megazord is trapped in a web of intrigue.

The show needs another multi-episode arc at this point. The single stand-alone episode with a big monster and a Megazord fight are getting boring now, and after I was treated like a king with the five-episode “Green with Evil” arc, what I’m missing now is that kind of events which gives way to a story continuation, instead of having to find an ending after 19 minutes, while also trying to find a way to bring Bulk and Skull in, so they can do something dumb and think they can make me laugh. Now, if Bulk and Skull would turn into Laurel and Hardy, maybe the two could be more useful to the show, but after 23 episodes they haven’t gotten a lot of character moments yet. In fact, they got none.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (“The Trouble with Shellshock”)

Season 1, Episode 22
Date of airing: October 11, 1993 (FOX)

With Shellshock being the monster of the episode, the American writers couldn’t hold themselves back delivering a TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES reference, although I am surprised it came from the monster’s mouth and not one of the Power Rangers, when he specifically used the words “teenage mutant” right after Rita enlarged him. Besides that, Shellshock was a hilarious villain. The traffic light on his head looked freaking ridiculous, but color me surprised that it was used as a perfect weapon. Freezing the Power Rangers into non-movements was an intriguing idea, but I still don’t know why Rita isn’t just taking the best of a few monsters and mashes it all together in one super big monster boss. Because seriously, the traffic lights were a good weapon to at least temporarily incapacitate the Power Rangers, which is all the time Rita and her monsters need to quickly take over the world. But I guess Rita is still not tat smart, as evident in this episode — she sleeps through the making of the monster, which means she can sleep through an earthquake. And a supervillain who can’t even be woken up when trouble is aloof is no great supervillain. But damn, was I thankful that Rita was sleeping through most of the episode. It was quite refreshing not to hear her shrill dubbing voice for a few minutes, and I say that as someone who actually appreciates the crazy voice-acting Barbara Goodson brings to americanize Rita for the Western culture.

All this yelling and bullying her monsters makes Rita sleepy.

Shellshock’s weapon served another hilarious joke for this episode: He made the Yellow Ranger run through the entire world (apparently) to get a certain flower that acts as an antidote for the weapon Shellshock used. That by itself is laugh-out-loud worthy already, because I didn’t even know one of Rita’s monster’s weapons came with an antidote, and I still remember the time Baboo poisoned two of the Rangers and turned them into punks, because at least with a poison you can easily explain the sudden need for an antidote, but with an entire weapon? Anyway, the Yellow Ranger was running and running, and when she was on Shellshock’s head to use the antidote, she was running on the spot, which looked fabulous. Hell, she was even doing running motions while in the air when she jumped onto Shellshock’s head (which does tell you about the meticulous work the producers of the Super Sentai series put on display). It’s one of those things that make MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS a silly and funny show, reminding me that I did the right thing to pick up the show and go through it.

The dancing Yellow Ranger brings flowers.

In the meantime, the American producers were definitely focusing a little too much on Tommy’s karate moves. His were the ones the editors slowed down during the fight with the Putties on the basketball court, and his performance with the billiard cue was the one that was put way too hard into the spotlight. Yes, we all know that Jason Frank can fight, and we were expecting for you to make use of his martial arts skills in front of the camera, but damn, this is now the Tommy show. By the way, the basketball court fight scene had some terrible editing, begging the question how much of it was filmed and how little of it was used for the episode. There was a shot that showed one of the Putties in front of Zack, with the basketball, who seemed to be falling flat on his face. One cut later, Zack was dribbling the basketball towards the net and that led to the end of the fight sequence. My curious mind would love to know what happened here during the editing process.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (“Green with Evil”, Part 5)

Season 1, Episode 21
Date of airing: October 9, 1993 (FOX)

It’s that easy to bring the zords back into action? All that is needed to resurrect them is Zordon and he just does his little magic trick of pulling the earth open for a second to unbury the zords, which are still whole and functioning and not at all dirty or completely burned up, considering they dropped into the hell fire? Damn, the Japanese writers were even more convenient about the superpowers of the superheroes than the American writers would have been, but then again I would not have known how else the zords could have returned, and if an alternate explanation had been equally horrendous and ludicrous at the same time. It’s super convenient though how quickly the Power Rangers had their zords back, right on time to battle the Green Ranger’s Dragonzord, and how Jason’s tyrannosaurus zord was able to take on the fight against Rita’s latest monster all on his own. It’s so cool that it’s Jason and the Red Ranger who are the boss on this show and that the other four rangers have nothing to say about saving the world. And yes, there is a little bit of sarcasm in that sentence.

The world is ending and all these people can do is watch the news coverage of it.

Of course, the writers were barely able to make anything out of Tommy getting freed from Rita’s spell, as it happened quickly. You didn’t even have time for a bathroom break and suddenly Tommy already joined the Power Rangers, because of the way the corresponding Super Sentai episode may have been structured. There wasn’t even time to let Tommy curse himself to Hell for having done all the bad things, or for letting Angel Grove almost get completely destroyed, or for betraying all the friends he may have gotten during the five seconds between his arrival in Angel Grove and the moment Rita turned him into a villain. There would have been a perfect episode for that story, to let Tommy have the teenage version of PTSD, just to make the narrative a little more realistic, but I guess not even the Super Sentai show bothered to get into five minutes of grounded storytelling. But hey, now that there are six Power Rangers, the show has a whole new reason to take the next fifteen episodes and turn them into cutouts of each other, because both the American and the Japanese writers were thinking that with six superheroes fighting for peace and Earth, it’s enough of a premise change to excuse the repetitiveness of the show.

Rita failed in her plan to take over Earth all on her own. She had a bunch of monsters and fighters to her disposal this time around, but during this half hour Scorpina was even more of a cameo statuette than she was when she first fought the Power Rangers, just to be quickly called back by Goldar for some reason. Rita could have sent the Green Ranger and his zord, Scorpina and Goldar down to Earth to fight the one and lonely Tyrannosaurus zord the Red Ranger was fighting in, because really, that should have been the go-to plan just in case things were going south on Rita. Well, let’s see how she likes her headaches now.

Together at last, to beat Rita’s team-upon monsters.

I found it funny though that Angel Grove does not seem to be fully destroyed after Goldar’s rampage. First of all, the monster had to be going through town for an hour or two at least to cause some major damage, but then I remember Roland Emmerich’s GODZILLA, and he didn’t make a mess out of New York City during the couple days and nights he was on the island. Secondly, the teens at the gym and juice bar were watching television and be sad about the fact that this sort of destruction was happening in their town. Guys, gals, the world was freaking ending and you only cared about watching the destruction unfold on television instead of running away and find safety? It’s one of those hilarious pieces of MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS in hindsight, but also one of the moments that pull me out of the show completely and remind me that what I am watching here is utter cheesiness and silliness.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (“Green with Evil”, Part 4)

Season 1, Episode 20
Date of airing: October 8, 1993 (FOX)

This could have been the season finale for the show, because the danger of the Power Rangers not only losing their dinozords, but also losing the ability to morph is an interesting one, and it certainly could give the writers a way to explain for an episode or two why the Power Rangers don’t have any powers anymore and the American cast has to act for an entire episode. I’m still waiting for the powerless premise to appear, but it almost looks like the writers were ready to test it out with this episode and see how the episode would turn out to be. And consider me intrigued when the Power Rangers lost their dinozords — of course, their mechanical helpers will return after the events of the next episode, but for this half hour it turned out to be a great way to bring some tension into the plot, and to make sure that MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS isn’t doing the same episode each week. Not only is this storytelling unique for the show, which the writers should try to emulate in more multi-episode story arcs, but the fact that the writers went with a five-episode epic makes the show more interesting after it went through the same imagery and jokes over the first fifteen episodes.

The Megazord always helps the transit passengers.

The Megazord was fighting against three enlarged monsters, which was also interesting, although I was a tad disappointed during the fight, because Scorpina, Goldar and the Green Ranger weren’t ganging up on the Megazord and instead just waited for it to fail because of the solar eclipse (which apparently wasn’t news in this series universe, but it certainly was for the audience). One of the monsters could have kicked the hell out of the Megazord like a boxer, while another could have stood behind the Megazord to pummel it from in front and behind. Besides that, I was also disappointed that enlarged Scorpina was in a full-body costume, which means MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS is still waiting for the first monster to have a real face when enlarged and battling the Megazord, but now I’m assuming this may have been a non-negotiable rule of the Super Sentai series, because there is a chance the audience would have to suspend all disbelief when seeing an actual human in enlarged form, instead of a monster in a costume.

Meanwhile back at the command center, the characters continued to try and fix the computer system, so they can get Zordon back, which only gives you one answer of how to prevent this from ever happening again: Get Zordon into this dimension, so he can act as the Power Rangers’ boss in flesh and blood, with his own office and maybe even his own story. After all, did the writers ever explain where Zordon actually is and why he can’t just manifest? Rita seems to be perfectly capable of changing dimensions, since she locked Jason in one to get murdered by either Goldar or Tommy two episodes ago, and Madame Woe once sent the Power Rangers into her own sub-dimension, so I don’t think that travelling dimensions is a huge problem in this series universe. Do I think way too much about it or is this considered proper nitpicking?

After being helpful to the bus, the Megazord decided to take a trip into Earth’s solarium.

At the same time, Goldar was pretty much ruining the entire city of Angel Grove, which means the next episode better establishes how many people were killed or that the city should look like it just went through the battle of the monster titans, similar to how the world was burning and destroyed at the end of GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS. But of course, the show won’t get into that because it’s not kid-friendly to depict the deaths of thousands, if not tens of thousands of citizens, after Goldar laid waste to an entire city.