Power Rangers Retrospective Part Two: TEAMWORK FRIENDS TEAMWORK FRIENDS TEAMFRIENDS

When we last left off, our heroes had come together as a team of color-coded superheroes with giant robots, and overcame a monster with a flipping incredible design. This week, they learn about the value of teamwork! And working with your friends! And teamwork oh my god can we talk about something else PLEASE.

None of the monsters are as cool as Bones, though. Sad.

Episode 03: Teamwork

Well, that’s an episode title that isn’t on the nose at all. Yes indeed, the theme for this week’s installment is, in fact, teamwork – but it’s something of a bizarre take on the subject.

Kimberly and Trini gathering signatures

The episode opens at the high school, with Kimberly and Trini collecting signatures for a petition to shut down a local toxic waste dump. Here we meet Mr. Kaplan, a teacher (Principal?) who occasionally pops in during school-related scenes.

Mr. Kaplan and his mustache in all its glory
Also featured: his amazing mustache.

He’s actually a pretty chill guy. He asks how bad the dump really is, and apparently it’s pretty bad:

Trini: You should see the place, Mr. Kaplan. It’s an industrial waste disaster.

Kimberly: Who could stand to pollute like that?

Rita knows she's up to no good.
WHO INDEED

That’s right, Rita’s newest plan to destroy the Earth is to ruin the planet with pollution. With this one toxic waste dump outside a small California (?) city, this ancient planet-destroying sorceress will destroy the whole world!

First of all: I love everything about this.

Second of all: I have so many questions.

Is she financing the dump? If so, with what money? Is this the only dump, or does she have hundreds of them established all over the world? Is there a RitaCorp LLC out there?

Part of the plan is still, apparently, defeating the Power Rangers, which is just bad strategy on her part. The advantage of this kind of slow indirect destruction is that a blunt police force like the Power Rangers is generally ineffective against it. There’s no putties to fight or monsters to blow up, just the slow and insidious destruction of the planet at the hands of its own inhabitants. If she hadn’t intervened directly, they might never have realized that Rita was behind it at all.

Anyway.

The boys walk up on the petition drive and seem interested enough, and definitely eager to sign. But when they ask if they’ll come with the girls to deliver the signatures to the dump’s owners, they balk.

The boys, balking.
Suddenly they all remember they promised their mothers to mow the lawn.

Hang on, back up. They’re going to deliver the signatures where? That’s not how that works! That’s not how anything works! The dump owners don’t give a flying fuck how many signatures you’ve got. You take those signatures to your local elected government!

Anyway.

The boys each give an excuse, which become less and less credible.

I’d love to but I have a karate class that I have to teach later and, I mean, it’s a great cause, but…I can’t bug out on my students.

Jason looking totally convincing

I must also decline. I’m president of the science fair committee, and today is our first meeting.

Billy looking totally convincing.

Uh, I’d love to, ladies, but Alpha…he said he had something to talk to me about, right away. I promised to meet him, sorry.

Zack looking totally convincing.

These boys are lying through their teeth. Everything about their lines and delivery screams it. They’re making up excuses in order to blow off a chore they don’t want to do.

Kimberly seems fine with it, but Trini scolds them a bit:

Kimberly and I will go alone. But, it would be a lot more impressive if we acted like a team.

And there you have the message of the episode in a nutshell. They boys should stand by their teammates and put up a united front, instead of blowing them off when it’s inconvenient.

Remember that. It’ll be important later.

Before we can move on with the plot , though, it’s time for another Bulk and Skull interlude.

Bulk belching.

This time they’ve got a third member of their little party, but since she never speaks or is spoken to, and I don’t know if she ever appears again, we’ll probably never know her name. They mock the girls’ environmental consciousness by deliberately littering in front of her. When some unsuspecting passerby spoils their fun by picking up their litter, Bulk and Skull attack him with the contents of a nearby garbage can.

Passerby gets rekt by Bulk.

Kimberly intervenes, and Bulk and Skull charge her from both sides…and wind up in each other’s arms.

Bulk and Skull stare deeply into each other's eyes.
And IIIIIIIIIIIIIII will always loooooove yooooou!

They promptly lose their minds and each stumble backwards into a garbage can.

Bulk, getting what he deserves.

And that’s all we’ll see of Bulk and Skull until the end of the episode. Meanwhile, Rita is excited to see the girls approaching her toxic dump. Baboo raises a pretty reasonable objection, namely that if they figure out that Rita’s behind the dump the whole plan will be ruined, but the others roll right past him, sure that with just the two girls alone, they can easily take them out with putties and a monster.

Kimberly and Trini spend some time wandering around the Indusrial Waste Dump, which actually does look pretty nasty. Just as they’re about to give up and go home, though, they get attacked by a bunch of Putties. The ensuing fight scene is not one of the show’s best to date; a lot of shots zoomed in too far to see anything, with blows that are obviously just hitting air.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, we get to see what Alpha wanted to see Zack about: he wanted a demonstration of breakdancing.

Zack breaking it down for Alpha

See? That’s the hip-hopkido and that’s what it’s all about.

Now, hold the phone. Let’s just blow past the obvious racial factors in play here. This means that Alpha really did want to see Zack. The most obviously false and shaky excuse of the three is true, meaning that all of them are probably true. So, basically, this morality play about teamwork doesn’t make any goddamn sense! The boys weren’t blowing the girls off to get out of a chore, they had actual prior commitments! What the hell?

Zordon senses that the girls are fighting putties, and teleports Jason and Billy to the control room. They transform and teleport out to the dump (which, surprising nobody, has now become Nondescript Quarry), but before they can get to the girls they need to fight the monster of the week: the terrible Minotaur!

The Minotaur

Meanwhile Goldar shows up with some more Putties for the girls to fight, so they transform as well and take on Goldar. Both sides are faring poorly; the Red Ranger’s weapons bounce right off of the Minotaur, while Goldar is giving the girls a serious run for their money. And then, to make matters worse, Rita tosses down her staff and, through the power of stock footage, makes the Minotaur grow to enormous size.

The solution, of course, is giant robots. The Rangers all summon their zords to fight the Minotaur. Each of the non-Tyrannosaurus zords get to show off their weaponry: the Pterodactyle’s got lasers from its wings, Triceratops has a tail laser and grappling hooks from its horns, Sabre-Toothed Tiger has a tail laser, and the Mastodon can blow freeze blasts out of its trunk. Unfortunately, all these weapons just inconvenience the Minotaur a little, and when they assemble them into tank-mode Megazord, they get their asses completely kicked. This isn’t working, so Zordon calls the Power Rangers back to the control room to give them new weapons. Jason gets a sword, Zack gets an axe, Billy gets a double-headed spear, Trini gets a pair of daggers, and Kimberly gets a bow.

The Power Rangers posing with their weapons.

They teleport back to Nondescript Quarry, where the Minotaur…is small again? Why? Who knows. Regardless, they let loose on the thing one time each, and they seem to send it reeling. Then Zordon declares that it’s time to combine their powers for one big attack.

Zach tosses his axe forward…handle-first? Wait what? Why does it look like a gun now?

The power axe...kind of?

And then Kimberly tosses her bow and they combine together.

It looks like a crossbow.

Oh no. I see where this is going. Then Trini.

Now it's a crossbow with two extra gun barrels

Then Billy. Please stop.

And now it has four barrels.

And then Jason. Jason’s is the most hilarious; all the others, their weapons transform into something that looks like a gun, but Jason just fucking sticks that sword on top for no damn reason.

A crossbow with five gun barrals and a random sword on top.

This is the Power Blaster, and it’s one of the stupider-looking stock ways the Rangers can kill a monster.

The power blaster...power blasting.

Anyway, they blast the monster, and it goes away. The villains start arguing over who fucked up hardest here, while Rita bemoans her useless minions, unaware that fighting the Power Rangers at all was her own dumb idea. She fucked up her own plan all on her own.

…or did she?

See, Rita may have done everything in her power to give the game away, but in the epilogue scene, the heroes talk about getting rid of the waste dump like it’s something totally unrelated to Rita. Somehow, they haven’t clued in. That toxic waste dump is just left out there, slowly corrupting the planet as part of Rita’s evil scheme. And since the show is never going to address this again, it will stay out there forever.

Rita wins.

Oh, and Alpha has apparently taken up breakdancing.

Alpha trying to breakdance.

God help us all.

Billy’s Worst Line: Billy actually only has a couple lines, and none of them are too bad this week. The biggest dud is “It’s a most menacing minotaur”, which is pretty tame by Billy standards.

Episode 04: A Pressing Engagement

It took me much longer than I’d like to admit to work out the pun in the title of this episode. I kept looking for matrimonial references when the obvious solution was dangling right in front of my eyes: ‘Pressing’. As in, bench-pressing! I hereby surrender my official Punmaster badge and leave the field of battle in disgrace.

Because, you see, this episode has a persistent subplot about Jason’s attempt to break the bench press record. If he can do 1010 consecutive bench presses, he’ll beat Bulk’s record, and he’s coming up at 1000 now.

Jason bench-pressing

Unfortunately, he’s got Ernie here (proprietor of the juice bar) counting for him, and he keeps losing track. He gets up to 1005, and then someone distracts Ernie and he loses track.

Ernie. Being Ernie.

“Can you start again?” he asks Jason, who responds by giving up. The really dumb part about this is that they all know he’s done at least a thousand, so why would he have to start from the beginning at all? Even if you’re really not sure where you left off, just start him at a thousand and he only has to do ten more.

They also keep cutting to Kimberly doing gymnastics in this light pink leotard.

Kimberly in a light pink leotard. Very 90s.

I’m not saying it actually makes her look naked, but that’s sure what my brain keeps registering for about half a second whenever they cut to it.

Jason keeps trying for the record, but things keep getting in the way, like Kimberly popping a chewing gum bubble into her and Zack’s face in what is probably somebody’s fetish.

Kimberly with a face of bubblegum.

Zack with a face of bubblegum.

And then Bulk comes by to rib Jason, and then starts giving him the Heimlich Maneuver for some reason? And then Jason retaliates by tickling Bulk until he splits his pants, in a scene that looks torn straight out of Tickled. It’s a bit weird.

Bulk and Jason getting a bit homoerotic.

If it seems like I’m summarizing this stuff in a hurry, it’s because this B-plot has almost nothing to do with the main plot. Even less than usual. Not even on a thematic level.

Rita’s watching all of this from space and, somehow, it gives her an idea: instead of trying to fight all the Power Rangers at once, she’ll separate Jason from the others and take him down on his own. Then, the rest of the Power Rangers will be at her mercy. This is…actually, kind of a good plan in principle. As you’ll see, though, the devil is in the details.

Finster, after giving it some thought, creates King Sphinx, a monster with big wings.

King Sphinx

The plan is to send down Goldar with some putties to lure the Power Rangers out, then use King Sphinx’s wings to blow the Power Rangers away – literally. By flapping his wings he creates big gusts of wind that send them flying very far away. Once they’ve blown all the others away, Rita will grow Goldar, and they crush Jason on his own.

Squatt and Baboo sitting in the bleachers.
Also these guys will just sit around and not do much.

So, uh, one problem with this plan should be obvious: the Power Rangers can teleport. That’s how they get around! Blow them away and they’ll just teleport right back two seconds later.

But for the moment, it works. Jason, Zack, and Kimberly get lured to a park in the center of the city. They transform and teleport in, and start fighting Putties until King Sphinx shows up and blows Kimberly and Zack all the way back to the Youth Centre, untransformed and very confused.

Zack and Kimberly sitting on a balance beam.
Is this a balance beam, or are you just glad to see me?

The fight moves to a Nondescript Quarry, but for once the show actually marks the transition by having King Sphinx grab Jason and teleport him away. The effect is, however, somewhat spoiled by the two of them immediately rolling down a hill like a couple of dumbasses after arriving.

Jason throws down with Goldar and King Sphinx at the same time, and the fight scene’s not bad, a couple obvious special-effect-cuts aside. I suspect that it was altered very little from the Zyuranger original. Jason’s at a clear disadvantage against both of them, but that just gets compounded when Rita casts Stock Footage and makes both of them grow.

Meanwhile, Trini and Zack, having apparently forgotten all about the teleporters and communicators they have, run over to where Billy and Trini are…wait. Where the hell are they?

Everyone but Jason standing in...some sort of...household mad science lab?
No Dee-Dees Allowed!

There was an exterior shot of a house before this, so by process of elimination I guess it must be Billy’s house, but…what is all that shit in the background? Billy, what the hell do you do with your free time?

They remember they can teleport and head back to the command center. Everything looks hopeless, but Zordon has the solution: the Power Crystals!

Billy's Power Crystal

Okay. I’ve watched this part of the episode three times, and I still have no clue what these things are or what they’re supposed to do. I’ll just let Zordon give his explanation:

The Crystals contain the essence of your morphing power. Use them to find each other in any peril, and with your Zords, to draw power from the very heart of the morphing grid.

So, they’re a power-up item, that’s pretty straightforward. Not sure what the heck a ‘morphing grid’ is, but sure, whatever. But the other part, I can’t follow. ‘Find each other in any peril’? They already know where Jason is, and there’s no actual reason why they can’t just teleport to him. But no, instead they have to have Zordon send their Power Crystals to Jason, and then when he grabs them, they’ll all be summoned to him. This seems like an absurdly roundabout way to accomplish something they already know how to do.

Jason’s sword starts glowing, and then it shoots off a huge energy bolt, totally destroying a nearby rock face. He runs over to it, dodging eye lasers from Goldar, and starts digging around in the dirt until he finds the Crystals.

Jason holding all the Power Crystals.
Jason has officially hit the Freezie motherload.

He throws them and they turn into beams of colored light, which in turn turn into the other Rangers.

I’ll spare you the time and effort of reading a detailed blow-by-blow of the next few minutes, since it’s mostly stock footage. Power Rangers summons their Zords, turn into tank-mode Megazord, do some shooting, transform into battle-mode Megazord, and then fight Goldar and King Sphinx. The only slight wrinkle in the formula this time is that during the Megazord transformation sequence, the Rangers all touch their consoles with their Crystals, making a bit of a light show. What actual effect this has is unclear.

Even for the Megazord, though, fighting both Goldar and the Sphinx at once is a bit of a tall order. That is, until Jason decides that it’s time to call up the Power Sword from the first episode…and this time, actually use it!

The Power Sword In Action
BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL!

The ensuing new piece of stock footage is labeled with so many filters it’s kind of amazing. It wrecks King Sphinx in one hit, and Goldar backs down again, teleporting back up to the moon. For someone who talks a big game, he sure backs down immediately every time.

Oh and then Jason breaks the weightlifting record and everybody cheers and Ernie bought them a cake to celebrate.

A cake that says Happy Birthday Mom on it.

You tried, Ernie. You tried.

Oh, and then Bulk shows up all salty about getting his record broken and he winds up getting his face shoved into the cake, even though he didn’t really do anything to karmically deserve this in this episode.

Bulk with a face full of cake.
Hello darkness my old friend…

Goldar’s Mighty Morphin’ Back-Down Count: 2

Bulk Food-Based Humiliation Count: 2

Billy’s Worst Line: He actually almost made it to the end of the episode without saying anything at all, but he jammed his foot right into his mouth at the last second: “Hey, your outstanding performance will have a lasting legacy.” This, about the bench press record at a Youth Center gym. Fuck off, Billy.

Next week, we’ll start getting into some really lame monsters. Bones, these guys ain’t.

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