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.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (“Green with Evil”, Part 3)

Season 1, Episode 19
Date of airing: October 7, 1993 (FOX)

In which Scorpina appeared for some reason other than fighting the Power Rangers for five seconds and then get overlooked by Rita to fight them again, so the evil lord sends Goldar of all monsters. At least Scorpina managed to be my favorite villain of the show yet, and it’s not just because she happens to be the second female villain. It’s mainly because she is the first minor villain not wearing a full-body costume or a mask, which makes things a little more personal and tense for the Power Rangers, because now they could look the monster they’re fighting in the eye for once. Judging by how Scorpina was treated in this episode though, chances are she still has a shot of becoming the main villain of the episode and for Rita’s magic wand to make her big. It’s about time that the Megazord is going to fight against a monster with an actual human face.

Kimberly practices her scissor leg move to become the next Black Widow.

The episode was good enough, but it had a few weird things, one of them being the crude editing during the final minutes. Scorpina was fighting against the Power Rangers, and one cut later it’s Rita we see, who is putting make-up on in front of a mirror, in which we get to see Scorpina a few seconds later. Dialogue scenes before that moment made it clear that Goldar thought Scorpina was overpowered by the Power Rangers, which is why he wanted to get her back, but that getting-her-back scene never happened. Does it mean the Power Rangers just fought about five seconds with Scorpina and she was never really able to showcase why Rita decided to get her into this battle?

Another weird thing was Goldar, who apparently is blind in the American version of the Super Sentai show. Jason was lying on the ground right before Goldar’s feet, yet Goldar still couldn’t see the teenager. Okay, there was the mist making things a little different for Goldar to see, but hell, Jason was able to see Goldar perfectly from his point of view, so it should have been possible for Goldar to hit Jason’s head with his sword and decapitate the superhero without his superhero outfit. The whole fight between Jason and Goldar in the misty dimension that had the same starlight background as the command center set (which means we know where the set was built on the MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS soundstage) was a little worrying from a creative standpoint, which is why I was quite happy that the Green Ranger showed up and wanted to take over the murdering of Jason. Which means the show just went into its first scene in which an American cast member fought against a Power Ranger from the Super Sentai show, even though Tommy was in fact in the Green Ranger suit and not his Japanese counterpart. It looks like the producers really were trying to get everything out of Jason Frank’s martial arts skills.

Even Rita just wants to look fabulous every now and then.

In fact, the characters were fighting out of their costumes quite a lot. Okay, maybe not Billy and Trini, who continued to hang out with Alpha 5 to fix the computer system, but Kimberly and Zack had something of an extended and more choreographed action scene against the Putties, which can only mean that the cast either got used to the action scenes and were trusted to do a few more of those, or the producers were pressing the cast members to do more action scenes and that is where the behind-the-scenes problems arose between the cast members and the producers. Which brings the question how long Jason Frank was able to put up with the producers’ demands, because right now I don’t even know how long he made it on MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS. By the way, let Tommy’s inability to kill Jason be a lesson to all supervillains, both fictional and real: Never laugh like you just heard a great freaking joke right before putting your sword into the hero’s body. The villain’s laughing gives the hero enough time to develop an exit strategy.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (“Green with Evil”, Part 2)

Season 1, Episode 18
Date of airing: October 6, 1993 (FOX)

Oh boy, was this episode inconsistent with the established rules of the show. Then again, MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS never established rules to begin with, as the American writers never bothered to describe what the morphing grid is or what the power coins really do except giving the teens superpowers when morphed into sweet superhero costumes. I still don’t know what the power crystals do either except join the dinozords into one Megazord, but I always got the feeling you could have done that without the crystals. And this episode went even a step further with the inconsistencies. The four Power Rangers minus Jason were able to get their dinozords into the Megazord, although I have no clue how Jason’s Tyrannosaurus became part of the Megazord, since Jason’s dinozord was not called. Then again, Kimberly didn’t call her pterodactyl either and she still got it. By the way, this is the second time that I have noticed Kimberly not calling her dinozord, while the other Power Rangers were able to do it. It’s the second time Amy Jo Johnson was not given the opportunity to voice over her Pink Ranger and call for her dinozord. It’s the second time I’m thinking that the American producers didn’t like Johnson very much.

If Spider-Man ever turns up with green web shooters, consider him evil.

When I forget all about the inconsistency of Jason’s dinozord being in the action when the Red Ranger himself is out of commission, this was a fine episode. I’m kind of loving Tommy as the villain here, even though he could not get any more silly talking to his empress from a distance, because the American producers couldn’t fly in the one Japanese cast member to film a cameo here or maybe put a stunt actor into the suit, like they did with Goldar. That begs the question if the Japanese cast members and producers even allowed to be associated with the American remake of their show or if everything was peachy between the two groups of producers (who knows, maybe the Japanese hated Haim Saban for making their work more successful and a much bigger pop culture deal than the Japanese ever managed to do?). Anyway, Tommy is a big villain now, he is fully into the world of being an evil Green Ranger, and all he needs now is his own dinozord, whose reveal could have been splendid and exciting if the opening credits wouldn’t have taken away that little surprise from the viewers. And yes, I am very much surprised that Tommy is already credited during the intro — if I had been a producer of the show, I would have waited for the “Green with Envy” story to end before telling the viewers that Tommy is now a central character. Because now it kind of foretells that Tommy will be a central character, which means he will be a Power Ranger.

The chaos after the command center got trashed was solid enough. Trini and Billy were in fix-it mode, and for a few seconds Kimberly and Zack had the opportunity to be in their own little storyline, as they were absent from both Jason’s and the command center arcs. The writers could have focused a tad bit more on Kimberly’s crush on Tommy and given her an opportunity to be heartbroken over the fact that Tommy behaved like an asshole. And Zack could have been given the opportunity to be the impromptu leader of the Power Rangers, now that Jason is missing, but that didn’t happen either.

Jason shows off his biceps.

So here we are, with Jason, fighting for his life probably, because I never knew whether or not Goldar was even allowed to murder Jason and if that was one of Rita’s goals. But if Rita wanted to take over Earth, all she needed to do was kill the Power Rangers, yet Goldar was still playing around with his prize. It’s almost like the villains want the heroes to survive this round. Plus points for the American producers to get the Goldar suit and put an actor in it for interactions with Jason, even though I was amused by the fact that Goldar’s mouth wasn’t moving when he was talking. Now I must remember if his mouth moved during the Super Sentai scenes.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (“Green with Evil”, Part 1)

Season 1, Episode 17
Date of airing: October 5, 1993 (FOX)

Oh boy, I am so happy I made it to the Tommy and Green Ranger arc, because when I started watching MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS, I assumed I would be gone from the show a few episodes in, unable to deal with the cheesy silliness of it all. It turns out watching 100 episodes of GENERAL HOSPITAL prepared me for cheese and silly in television, because now I’m totally into this show, and the introduction of Tommy could level up my interest of the show even more. And that’s not just because of the new character and the introduction of the Green Ranger. It’s because this time around the story does not end at the 20-minute mark. This time MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS delivers a multi-episode storyline, almost turning the show into a serial for a hot week.

Tommy shows off his evil moves.

Of course, one might ask why Rita had a power coin and why she wasn’t using it earlier. One might ask why the series hasn’t established yet that Rita is essentially just another Zordon, and like him she was able to get some Power Rangers of her own together. One might ask how she was able to manipulate Tommy into acting like the villain, although the episode employed magic to explain this silly part of the show. And one might ask how Zordon even knew Tommy’s name when he ransacked the command center and ripped out all the control panels and infected Alpha 5 with a computer virus. Yes, the first part of the Green Ranger arc is quite silly, but dammit, it’s the first part of a bigger arc and for once Rita’s plan to destroy the Power Rangers and take over the planet looks quite manageable. Hell, she didn’t even need a monster, and instead just enlarged Goldar for a third time in the show, and this time her favorite golden-colored monster was actually able to fight against the Megazord with the mega sword, instead of running away like a scared little cat like he did the previous two times.

I was quite surprised by the level of martial arts in this episode. Austin St. John and Jason Frank looked like they could have starred in their own THE KARATE KID movie or spin-off slash sequel, begging the question if one or both actually auditioned for projects that could have kept the franchise running a little longer and past THE NEW KARATE KID. The moves of the two actors during the competition was slick and I almost did not want it to stop because of its slickness. Finally, the American producers brought together two cast members who were able to do the martial arts moves without mistakes or without looking like amateurs, and that probably means Frank was about to do a whole lot more of the martial arts scenes, since he seemed to be the only cast member able to pull off those stunts. I almost convinced myself to look up on the internet how Jason Frank liked being part of the show, considering the multitude of injuries the cast members have gone through, plus the mediocre pay and the heavy shooting schedule. Will the Green Ranger be history before I’ve gotten used to him as a major character in the show?

Tommy shows off his angry finger.

After this episode, it’s going to be interesting to know how Tommy is being handled as a character. He is obvious the villain when in his supervillain outfit, but when he is normal Tommy, will he also behave in an antagonistic manner and be a dick to Kimberly? After all, the teens don’t know that Tommy is the Green Ranger, and finding out who it is may be an integral plot for the next few episodes. It’s almost like Tommy is Angel from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. He just wrapped a girl around his fingers and now it’s time to be bad. That certainly is a story to go for in this show, and it proves that MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS can be rich in variety.