Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (“The Rockstar”)

Season 1, Episode 30
Date of airing: November 4, 1993 (FOX Kids)

Never hire bad child actors to portray boring characters on a kids television show, because if you rewatch that show when you are a full-blown adult, having watched seasons of prestige television, you might find yourself laughing and wincing about the amateurish acting of some of the cast members of this very kids show. It is probably a good thing that the actor who portrayed Jason’s cousin Jeremy in this episode was not credited (begging the question how guest actors were paid for appearing on MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS, and we all know that the leads were very much underpaid and ripped off), because in hindsight not even that guy wants to be reminded about how artificial and fake his performance was. Although who knows, maybe he had the time of his life guest-starring in the hottest television show of the summer of 1993. Getting martial arts lesson from a professional on the beach is already a pretty solid thing to go through, but when you also get the opportunity to fight a couple of putties, you might think that life was never going to get better after this.

Bulk trains for an eating contest.

This episode really tried to have the American cast act and react opposite he Japanese Super Sentai scenes, which was very evident when Jason was dealing with Scorpina and the Rockstar (which is a hilarious name for a rock-based monster villain). I do not think MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS has ever played like that with some fo the Super Sentai scenes, and with both the American and the Japanese scenes intercutting each other in the very same scene. That reminds me once more why it is such a shame that some of the Japanese cast members could not be hired for the American “remake” of their show, because I would have loved seeing Jason and Scorpina eye-to-eye, especially since it would have been perfect to do so in this episode, with Jeremy already having run away to protect the map, and Jason facing one of his greatest villains. It is one of the disadvantages MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS has when compared to the Super Sentai show: In the American version, the cast could never fight against villains with a face and always had to go against the costumed putties. And all I really want right now is for one of the teens with attitude (who have clearly lost their attitude ever since the opening minutes of the series premiere) to face one of Rita’s minions before jumping into the superhero suit and helmet.

Mirror, mirror in Jeremy’s hand, who is the laziest villain in Power Rangers land?

The story of the mirror of destruction was obviously lame. Jeremy happens to fish the treasure map out of the beach, and the mirror happens to be gently buried under half an inch of sand somewhere in the park mere minutes away from the beach, which is why Rita and her goons could not find it (they probably thought it was half a world away, like I did). Convenient storytelling is convenient, and also killed the notion of the search for the mirror being a treasure hunt and a race against time. Also, it was convenient that the Megazord was not immediately destroyed when it looked into the mirror and that holding the arm before your eyes prevented you from going into the afterlife. Besides that, Rita and Scorpina deserved to have lost this battle like they deserve to lose every battle. Scorpina had the mirror in her freaking hands, and all she waited for was for Rita to throw her magic spear. She could have opened the mirror right in front of the Power Rangers and they would have been history. But no, Scorpina had to grow into a supersized monster again, and once more she did not make her queen happy. The villains in this show are still crap and Rita should maybe think about putting an advertisement into the papers. I am pretty sure some American gangsters and criminals were interested in eliminating the Power Rangers for Rita. Why not outsourcing that job while she focuses on world domination?

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (“Island of Illusion,” Part 2)

Season 1, Episode 29
Date of airing: November 3, 1993 (FOX Kids)

This episode was hilarious, and I don’t mean that in a positive sense. The island of illusions premise is being robbed of an interesting storyline and replaced by an event we have to go through six times, and as a reward the characters get their communicators and their power coins back, although I have no idea how that happened. Instead of fighting illusions by trying to figure out what is real and what isn’t, all the teenagers with attitude were facing was something that made their confidence fall off a cliff, they start disappearing, and for thirteen minutes straight, each of the six Power Rangers were going through the exact same thing. Quagmire showed up six freaking times to tell the Power Rangers the same confidence message six goddamn times, because the Power Rangers couldn’t remember how one of their own stopped the illusion and became whole again. Also, how lame is Rita as a villain when the only thing she was able to do was to let the Power Rangers face something that could be considered their fear, but as soon as they beat that illusion, they’re free and all they have to do is wait for their other friends to go through the exact same threat. Rita could have sent a few more monsters onto the island, pair them up with some illusions, and voila, she could have been the ruler of Earth. I certainly hope that her walk of shame to the pharmacy to get those pills against headaches is going to be long and painful for Rita.

Alpha Five gets an electrifying slap on his butt and now he’s tweeting about #MeToo.

This certainly was the most ridiculous episode of them all. It was more a clip show than a television episode taking as much Super Sentai footage as possible. It was an episode that repeated the same premise six times in thirteen minutes, and it was an episode that didn’t make the cast members look like great actors. I was chuckling during Tommy’s “But our communicators are gone” line, proving that the only thing Jason Frank is good for is his deadly chopstick moves. Even more ridiculous was the slapstick comedy elements back at the command center, where Alpha 5 got zapped in the butt by the computer a few times, making me think that the little robot likes it a lot rougher in the sheets. I know that MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS is also a kids show, but Alpha 5 getting it in the butt was a little too weird and a little too erotic for the kids who came home early from school to watch this show. It’s probably one of the funniest visuals of the entire show, but for the sake of the show and its tiny narrative, it’s ridiculous and a waste of time. Especially since there was no purpose to Alpha 5 fixing the computers — he never fixed them, and if he did and the episode just didn’t show it, it’s not like the Power Rangers communicated with Zordon after they got their tech and powers back.

Rita is so big and strong, she can carry an island all by herself!

So, what remains? Maybe we could talk about Bulk and Skull in angelic costumes, but the fact that this was the vision Kimberly got all confused makes me believe she cares about the two bullies a little too much, which begs the question why is she thinking about these two assholes so much? Here I was, thinking that Kimberly and Jason would finally start flirting a little more obviously, but no, the writers have to keep them apart so that Kimberly can see two of her human tormentors in freaking angel costumes on an island of illusion. Big sigh, continued eyesroll.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (“Island of Illusion,” Part 1)

Season 1, Episode 28
Date of airing: November 2, 1993 (FOX Kids)

With the Power Rangers in another dimension, about to fight their own fears and insecurities, Rita and her monsters have all the time in the world to take over said world, right? It should take at least half of the next episode for the teenagers with missing attitude to get off the island of illusion, which means Rita and her idiot monsters have at least ten minutes to win planet Earth for themselves and wreck it like they are humans in the year 2050, not giving an ounce of crap for the rock they’re living on. But this is still MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS, a television show in which good always wins over evil, and that means Rita will not use the opportunity to invade Earth. If she loses again at the end of the following episode, she can only blame herself for that loss. If she gets headaches again, she can only do the walk of shame to the pharmacist to get some pills against that.

Monsters from the past return to haunt the superheroes today.

The episode was good enough, although I was a bit confused over Zack’s stand-alone story of not being confident enough to win the dance battle. I could see that his missing confidence will have something to do with his fear and his disappearance into nothing, but a) Zack is a good-enough dancer to never even doubt his abilities to win a competition, which makes his character in this episode inconsistent compared to previous episodes, and b) it’s a convenient plot device to depict the powers of the island of illusions and how it works and threatens the existence of the Power Rangers. I guess the second point was easier to be established when one of the Power Rangers was already having doubts in his abilities, but seriously, the first point should have negated Zack ever being in the spotlight of the story. If it had been up to me, maybe Trini would have been better for the story, as the writers haven’t established special abilities for her character — she might have a few hobbies here and there, but compared to kung fu masters Jason and Tommy, dance master Zack, science and tech master Billy, and human conscience master Kimberly, Trini seems like the perfect person to be trapped by a random magical trap Rita would lay out for the Power Rangers. Trini is the perfect victim for any of Rita’s plots, but no one even thinks about that…

I did laugh about Rita burning Finster and his inability to make good monsters. “Finster, I made my own monster and it’s winning” was one of the most hilarious lines Rita has uttered in this show so far, but it does make me wonder how she could realistically keep her monster goons around, when all they did was fail while she managed to win on her own for the first time (at least for now). Also, why does she always have to show up on Earth when one of her monsters is battling the Power Rangers? It’s not like making her presence known to the superheroes gives her an advantage in the battle, although it is refreshing to not always have to see Rita in her moon base and instead come crawling out to be a spectator. Also, plus points for Scorpina still being part of Rita’s goons of monsters, although at this point I believe all of her scenes are part of the same Super Sentai episode, which just happen to be sporadically placed into episodes of MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS for some reason. She is my favorite monster of all and yet she doesn’t get enough fighting time to prove herself, let alone maybe try and take the leadership position away from Rita.

Zack has no interest in doing the show anymore, so he disappears.

And finally, consider me impressed that some of the previous monsters showed up fora hot second on the island of illusions. This two-parter could almost be a”previously on” or Best Of Rita’s monsters in the next episode, as the teenagers with no attitude have to fight the monsters again they have already defeated, although this time around without their power coins. They are in luck they have Jason and Tommy, because their fighting skills will never be matched.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (“Wheel of Misfortune”)

Season 1, Episode 27
Date of airing: November 1, 1993 (FOX Kids)

In which the Power Rangers were dealing with a cursed spinning wheel, which was destroyed by the Ultrazord, freshly introduced to the show for the first time after being name-dropped in the previous episode, but Kimberly was still asking herself where her grandmother’s spinning wheel was, as if she could not remember a single thing that happened when she was in her superhero outfit. It’s one of the signs that tells you the writers did not always know what to do with the show and how to write an English-language story around the Japanese action scenes without losing all of the consistency. It’s also a sign that the American producers did not give a single damn about creating additional material around the Super Sentai footage to make their show a little more consistent in the narrative. It probably would not have been this expensive to shoot a few seconds of film that would have explained the change from a spinning wheel to an enchanted super weapon that did not do anything to the Power Rangers or their zords, and then back into a spinning wheel again. The wheel just spun in the air, it sparkled a bit, and then the fight was already over and the episode went back to its theater roots from the beginning of the half hour.

It’s a group play in the superhero genre.

The latter may have been the most interesting part of the episode. Maybe it’s because I’m getting way too much into (musical) theater these days, with Disney+ giving me ENCORE! and with myself rewatching some of the Disney musicals in the process and being reminiscent about my three years of high school theater. This episode almost gave me all the good flashbacks while the students were rehearsing for their own cheap version of Rumpelstiltskin, not to forget the minute of the actual performance that closed this episode, making me wonder what a more satirical, comical version of a Disney fairytale would look like on stage and how much I would pay for it to go see it live. There wasn’t missing a lot for Rumpelstiltskin to be modernized for a contemporary comedy audience, considering how sexist and horny Bulk was with his portrayal as the little monstrous villain in the stage production. And he was so close getting his lips on Kimberly…

By the way, the writers definitely went into what Kimberly and Tommy would look like when they are in love with each other. The two have been flirting before, but this episode made it obvious that a romance is about to come (his wink, her smile when he is around, his efforts to help her when needed). If only the writers had time to actually get to that romance — every time there is a chance for something good to happen between Tommy and Kimberly, he gets randomly attacked by putties (the episode gave no reason as to why this attack was necessary, although maybe I could rhyme it myself together by Rita trying to keep the dragonzord out of the battle) or something happens to her that makes her life a little sadder (in this case, the disappearance of her grandmother’s priceless spinning wheel).

Bulk still tries to et his first-ever kiss from a girl.

I did however celebrate about Scorpina’s return, even if it was just a quick and short celebration. I still don’t like the fact that she is in full costume when enlarged to be a super monster, but here is to hoping that the Super Sentai series had a few more female villain in its run, because MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS definitely needs some of them. Future seasons of the show also need some more female villains, so here is to me hoping…

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.