Power Rangers Retrospective Part Three: The Monster Mash

Last time, the Power Rangers fought pollution and some pretty decent-looking monsters. This week…is not last week. This week is dedicated to some truly stupid-looking monsters, with some seriously weak plans to take over the world.

05. Different Drum

Kimberly

We open in the Youth Center and Juice Bar, where Kimberly is leading some sort of…well, it looks like an aerobics session, but everyone keeps talking about it like they’re a bunch of dancers, so I guess it must be a dance class. Her leotard is a less distracting shade of pink this time, but I have to admit, the sweater around her waist looks a bit weird. My best guess is that the producers put it there to cover her ass when she turns around.

A bunch of teenagers doing aerobics. I mean dancing.
They didn’t bother doing it for this random extra, though.

Haim Saban’s Slapstick Boner rears its ugly head again in this scene, and hard. First, Billy is participating in the class…which goes about as well as you might imagine. Then, for no apparent reason, he winds up on top of a runaway cart that wreaks havoc through the whole room before unceremoniously dumping him onto the stage.

Billy laying in a pile of his own shame

“Hey, Billy, bit of advice…this is not the way to meet girls.

That’s a nice thought, Kimberly, but I’ve yet to be convinced that a single member of the Power Rangers is straight.

Then, after Billy crawls back to the table, groaning and carrying on like he was just in the Somme instead of on a dessert cart, Bulk and Skull walk in and, in classic Bulk fashion, declare that whatever other people are doing is easy stuff for babies and he can do it ten times better. So he and Zack get into a dance-off.

Bulk and Zack about to get into a dance-off

Bulk’s actually better on his feet than you’d think and what the hell is Zack wearing?

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Oh Zack. Oh baby. No.

Anyway Bulk makes a fool of himself a couple times and then goes flying over the counter and gets a face full of cake. Because of course he does. And so, with Haim Saban’s endless thirst sated, the rest of the episode can progress!

Bulk with a faceful of cake

One of Kimberly’s dance students, named Melissa, is deaf, and Kimberly (who apparently is fluent in sign language?) forgets to sign her the steps, so she winds up running into another student who gets a bit cheesed off with her. Melissa sits down in a sulk, and Kimberly goes to apologize to her and reassure her that she’s a good dancer. Better than Billy, anyway, am I right?

Kimberly and Melissa laughing at Billy

Billy failing to dance

Yeah, they just chirp on Billy’s dance moves in sign language for a bit. To be fair, he is pretty terrible, but still. Rude.

Meanwhile, on the Moon

Rita

Rita’s watching all this and has decided that she hates music, and so she will use music to destroy the power rangers! Literally every single one of her minions (except Goldar, who is mysteriously absent this episode) tells her that that’s a terrible idea, but she won’t be dissuaded, and she just screams incoherently at them until they do her bidding.

Rita screaming at Finster

I actually kind of love this characterization of Rita. She just has an impulse and follows it, and has nobody to restrain her when she’s on a fool’s errand.

She makes Finster throw out the monster he’s working on and puts him to work on a musical monster, “like the Pied Piper, only meaner”. He produces what he calls the…Gnarly Gnome…

The Gnarly Gnome outside the Youth Center

It has a hypnotic accordion. It’s really dumb looking. That’s about all there is to say. It does, however, get to actually occupy the same space as face actors, which is a bit surprising!

The episode’s page on the Power Rangers wiki suggests that this is the first monster for which Saban got ahold of a replica suit and made their own footage. That’s actually a pretty big deal, because if they get to do that more often, the episodes might stop being so broken!

Anyway, the plan is to use the Gnome to lure a bunch of local teenagers away in order to draw the Power Rangers out, and then take them over with the hypnotic song. This isn’t an obviously terrible plan at all.

Melissa makes up with the girl who snapped at her earlier, and they are going to go to – where else – the mall with a bunch of friends. But no sooner had they left the safety of the Youth Center than they’re all mesmerized by the Gnarly Gnome’s hypnotic song…all of them except Melissa, that is, who can’t hear the song! Dum dum duuuuuuuum!

The Gnome leading the girls away

Melissa follows them to a cave where Squatt, Baboo, and a bunch of putties are waiting. She can’t actually get inside, though, because the entrance is blocked off with…cargo netting?

Melissa, thwarted by cargo netting

Fort Knox this isn’t.

She runs off to get help. She has some trouble communicating at first, until she grabs a pad of paper and explains the whole situation.

Meanwhile, the Gnarly Gnome is making the putties and the captured girls dance for his amusement. Squatt and Baboo are cooking for him, because why not, it’s more useful than they usually are.

Baboo in a check outfit
Welcome to Chez Baboo

After the meal, the Gnome declares it to be naptime, which causes Rita to pitch a fit.

Rita, pissed.
It’s so hard to bake good help these days.

While scrambling to get ready for the impending Power Rangers attack, the Gnome turns invisible for all of five seconds? This will never come up again, he just does it, Baboo tells him he can’t get out of fighting by running off like that, and he becomes visible again.

Meanwhile, Melissa’s led Our Heroes to the cave. Kimberly tells Melissa to back off and let professionals handle this:

I want you to to hide here and wait, okay? Go up behind those bushes. Hurry!

Sounds like reasonable advice. Except that, while the first sentence was signed to her, the latter two were just shouted at her back while she ran away. Great job, Kimberly. I’m sure that really got across.

For some reason the Gnome now has a rake. I guess he must be a garden gnome.

Homer SImpson laughing at my amazing joke
Sometimes, I even make myself laugh.

They transform, charge down, and I’m going to be honest, it’s pretty much just stock footage from here on out. The power rangers throw/shoot their weapons, the Gnome reels, they combine their weapons to form the Power Blaster and vaporize it. Rita makes it grow, they summon their Zords and combine them into the Megazord and they punch it out. The Gnome manages to get one good hit in by using hypnotism to confuse the Power Rangers, but when he tries it again the Megazord just no-sells it. Then they summon the Power Sword and wreck the Gnome for good with one final burst of stock footage.

The Megazord

The only noteworthy thing about that whole sequence, really, is that all the weapons apparently not have different names? Apparently now they’re the Cosmic Cannon, the Battle Bow, the Dino Daggers, and the Mighty Mace. And the Power Sword is the Megasword. Don’t start memorizing these new monikers any time soon, though; wiki says they’re never used again.

Rita is, of course, upset that her terrible idea that everyone told her wouldn’t work didn’t work. And, of course, it’s everybody else’s fault.

Rita losing her shit
Rita cannot fail. Rita can only be failed.

In the epilogue sequence, Melissa is being lauded as a hero (and correctly so, I guess!), while Jason demonstrates his inability to form basic sentences in sign language. You can’t pick that shit up in an afternoon, Jason; it’s a full-blown language!

Melissa asks Billy to dance with her, which is kind of a weird development given that her only previous interaction with him was making fun of his terrible dancing with Kimberly. But since ‘dance with me’ in this context apparently means ‘join the ongoing aerobics class’, I’m not sure what this is supposed to connote.

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Jason: “You know, Zack, when you put your mind to it, sign language isn’t that hard to learn.”

Zack: “Aw man, it’s a whole new world of rapping.”

First of all, Jason you just made an ass of yourself with sign language not five minutes ago so maybe you should chill with the assertions that it’s easy. Second of all, I will apparently never stop cringing at Zack in this episode. Haim Saban, why do you do this.

And then out of nowhere, Billy pulls out some sick dance moves and it feels like it’s supposed to be a joke but it comes out of nowhere and there’s no punchline so it’s just kind of. There.

Billy looking suave
Ladies.

So yeah. That happened. Next episode will have a better monster, right?

Bulk Food-based Humiliation Count: 3

Billy’s Worst Line: “I’m intrigued by the rhythmic modulation, yet daunted by the coordinating movements of the appendages.” Oh, fuck off, Billy.

06. Food Fight

Oof. No, it does not have a better monster.

The Pudgy Pig

But I’m getting ahead of myself. This episode opens on a food festival – basically, a multi-ethnic bake sale the teenagers are holding for a daycare/preschool/something. You know, for a group of teenagers supposedly possessed of attitude, these kids sure do spend all their free time doing volunteer work.

Ernie charges Bulk and Skull with setting up a cream pie display, and I think you can imagine how that goes.

Ernie with a pair of Hula dancers

After they finish flirting with the hula dancers, Bulk and Skull set up the display, but then start planning how best to disrupt the festivities. Oh hey, that girl minion’s back! And she brought a friend!

Bulk, Skull, and their minions

Bulk takes aim at Mr. Kaplan (who he now identifies as the Principal, so there’s that laid to rest), and tosses a pie his way. He aims too high, though, and the pie only manages to pull the hairpiece off of his head…and cream Skull in the face.

And then it’s off. Skull yells “FOOD FIIIIIIGHT” and, since that always works on television and film, in an instant every single unnamed extra starts tossing food around at each other.

I will see you to the gates of Valhalla, gooey and sweet.
I will see you to the gates of Valhalla, gooey and sweet.

Serious question for my readers: has this ever actually happened, anywhere, even once?

The highlight of the scene is definitely Mr. Kaplan pulling his toupee out of a punch bowl, wringing it out, and then putting it on, and then telling students off while it drips orange down his forehead.

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He’s not the only person unhappy with this, though. Rita woke up sick today, and the sight of all that food is turning her stomach.

Rita, clutching her stomach

This gives her an idea, though, and off she charges to harass poor Finster into creating a food-related monster.

Rita: “Finster, I need you to make me a monster, and not like your usual ones. This one has to be special.”

Finster: “All my monsters are special-“

Rita: ANGRY PTERODACTYL NOISES

Finster: “Sorry, my queen.”

You really have to feel for Finster. All he really wants out of life is to be left alone to sculpt monsters, but he’s saddled with an overbearing patron who insists on micromanaging his creative process against his advice, and when it turns out he was right in the first place, she blames him for making her look bad! A familiar plight for freelance web designers everywhere.

She asks for a pig. He tells her that he has one, but warns her that it’s “not his best work”. She makes him stick it in the Monstermatic anyway.

The Pudgy Pig
This screencap is also not my best work, but fuck it.

Finster wasn’t kidding about it not being his best work. Rita seems pleased, though. She sends it down to Earth to eat all of the food.

That’s right. All of the food on Earth.

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I kind of love this? I mean, it’s stupid as hell, but like slowly killing the planet with pollution (a project which is, as far as anyone knows, still ongoing), it has a kind of brilliance to its stupidity.

Back on Earth, Our Heroes set about trying to salvage the food festival by shutting down the perpetrators of the food fight. Bulk gets served up no fewer than three doses of ritual food-based humiliation: First, Jason pretends some sausage links are nunchaku, and it psychs him out so much he drops a cream pie on his own stupid head. Then Skull tries to throw a bowl of fruit at Kimberly, misses, and hits Bulk instead. And finally, Zack plays matador to his bull, and baits him into sliding along an entire massive table of food, ending by launching the punch bowl and sending it splashing all over Mr. Kaplan, who finally loses his temper and shuts this whole mess down. And Mr. Kaplan blames…Our Heroes?

Mr. Kaplan

Yeah, sure, clearly this is the fault of literally the only people in the room who weren’t tossing food around. Mr. Kaplan angrily puts them in charge of the cleanup, and then charges off. Fortunately for them, Zordon calls them to the control room to deal with the whole Pig thing, so they don’t actually have to cleanup anything.

On the viewing globe, the Rangers see the pig eat through a small shop’s produce section. To the thing’s credit, it does so at a pretty decent clip; it takes maybe twenty seconds to clear out the whole store. But then Zordon says something absurd: at the current rate, it will eat all the food in the world in just forty-eight hours. What? Power Rangers writers, do you have any concept of scale? If it takes him twenty seconds to clear out a little bodega, I’d be amazed if he could clean out Angel Grove City in two days, let alone the state of California, let alone the entire world.

Oh, and Alpha hasn’t gotten to do much lately, so he shows up in a chef’s hat and with an egg beater. Because reasons.

Alpha

They transform and run off to fight the pig, which is waiting for them on a rooftop. Big problem, though: it starts eating their weapons! It sucks up Trini’s daggers and Kimberly’s bow, and then whenever the boys run in to attack, he grabs their weapon and sends it down the hatch.

Complete with a fart noise every time. Because of course.
Complete with a fart noise every time. Because of course.

After it chows down on each other their weapons, it blows air out of its nostrils, sending the Power Rangers spinning through the air, eventually landing, untransformed, in a nearby park. Zordon then informs them that the creature’s moved in on the food fair, and they run off to get it!

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Yes, we once again have a monster which exists in the same space as human beings! I don’t know if this is going to be a regular thing from now on or not? It goes nuts chowing down on what food remains at the Food Fair. Bulk and Skull give it attitude for a moment…

Bulk and Skull imitating pigs

…but then it gives them attitude right back, and they run away. “Where are the Power Rangers when you need them?” Ernie exclaims before fleeing the scene. A good question indeed. Unfortunately, by the time they manage to run down there (forgetting their teleporters once again), it’s eaten everything and teleported out.

Or, well…not everything. Trini notices that one table was untouched in the monster’s rampage: the spicy stuff.

Billy suggests that they hide some spicy radish inside an otherwise innocuous food and trick the pig into eating it. The spicy food will make it throw up their weapons and they can go for round two.

Kimberly: “Morphenomenal idea, Billy.”

Kimberly. No. We’ve talked about this.

Each of them armed with a seemingly innocuous piece of food, they transform and teleport to a food-packing plant where the pig is waiting for them.

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My favorite bit of this is the hilariously oversized piece of egg-and-tuna sushi Billy’s offering up. They all toss their food down to the pig, which gobbles them up gleefully. Trini shoves the radish into her sandwich before launching it, and as soon as the pig bites into it, it…oh, christ.

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It’s just yellow smoke, but it’s clearly supposed to be projectile vomit. Gross. Food goes flying everywhere, as do the Power Rangers’ weapons, which they retrieve.

The pig’s looking kind of deflated after vomming all of that up, so it’s no big surprise that a couple attacks with their weapons and then a blast with the Power Blaster finishes it off.

Rita, of course, blames everything on Finster. She can’t think of an actual reason to blame Squatt and Baboo, but she yells at them anyway.

I HATE THAT HEDGEHOG
I HATE THAT HEDGEHOG

How can anyone be expected to conquer a planet with these nitwits!?

I don’t know, Rita. They’re not very smart, but they’ve been more consistently right than you. Maybe you should listen to them instead of throwing them under the bus to save face.

Back at the Youth Center, Zack describes their exploits as “Morphenomenal”. Le exaggerated sigh. All’s not well, though; the pig may be dealt with, but the food fair was still a bust, and it left them just shy of the money they needed for the playground equipment. Alpha teleports in some sandwiches to help. Which is a weird thing for Alpha to do, but whatever.

Mr. Kaplan returns, in a much better mood this time. “I know you kids weren’t responsible,” he says in a friendly tone, apparently forgetting that ten minutes ago not only did he blame them, he pointed at them specifically and said they should be ashamed of themselves.

They manage to con him into buying one of their sandwiches for twenty bucks (????), which apparently puts them over the top. Plot twist: the sandwiches are loaded with spicy radishes, and Mr. Kaplan’s mouth is now on fire! Kimberly gives him a big jug of water and he downs it so fast that he basically dumps it all over his face, whipping off his hairpiece yet again.

Mr. Kaplan with his toupee off again
I liked it. And I was good at it. And I was…I was alive.

Fortunately, he takes it in good humor: “Hot…but not bad!” he says, and then everyone laughs like he just said the funniest thing ever. Freeze the frame, roll credits.

Billy’s Worst Line: He…actually doesn’t have one? Every single one of his lines in this episode sounds like something a real person would say.

good job

Bulk Food-Based Humiliation Count: 5

Morphenomenal Count: 5

Next week: More adults randomly blaming the Power Rangers for things they clearly had nothing to do with. And hopefully, some better monster designs?

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