MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS (1993-1997)
A note to readers beforehand:
Because the first season is 60 episodes (and many episodes are the same basic plot), I will be highlighting 26 episodes in total. The ones I will focus on either introduce something new weapon-wise, key plot points in the over-all series, or had some interesting relevance to the series overall. And then of course my favorite episode is being included, because, well, it’s my blog series and I can :).
This note has been retconned into the original post.
Also, an apology on the delay, we had an AC Unit malfunction that displaced me from my DVDs for a few days.
Episode: High Five (1×02)
Director: Adrain Carr
Teleplay: Steve Kramer
Cast: Amy Jo Johnson, David Yost, Walter Jones, Thuy Trang, Austin St. John, Paul Schrier, Jason Narvy, David Fielding, Richard Steven Horovitz, Richard Genelle, Barbara Goodman
Original Air Date: September 7, 1993
Reason for Inclusion: Introduction of the communicators and Blade Blasters. Also was one of the original 5 episodes released on VHS.
Jason is proving to everyone that he had no problems with middle school gym class by climbing the rope to the ceiling in the Juice Bar. Kimberly is wearing a particularly early 90s outfit. Trini warns Jason to be careful before revealing that she is terrified of heights. Billy arrives to tell the Rangers something, and somehow ends up with Jason’s legs wrapped around his head, swinging from the rope.
Bulk and Skull arrive to mock the Rangers and Jason, naturally, challenges Bulk to climb the rope. Instead, he pulls the rope free from the roof and doesn’t go anywhere…he also pulls some of the roof down with him.
Meanwhile, on the moon, Rita plots to trap the Rangers in a Time Warp, similar to what Zordon is contained in.
Billy informs the Rangers that he has created wrist communicators, so that they can communicate with each other. However, it has a side-effect unforeseen by our intrepid Billy, and they find themselves teleporting to the command center.
Alpha 5 greets the Rangers with…well…jive talk. He actually calls them homeboys and girls and asks what has brought them to the “hood.” Zordon applauds Billy’s communicators, but tells him that Alpha needs to finish tweaking things. In attempting to do so, Alpha shorts out and has one of those 90s move really fast around the room to zany music moments. Trini seems to be the only one reacting to it, and Jason seems to be sort of…not paying attention to it at all.
Meanwhile, on the moon again, Rita asks Baboo and Squatt if they have finished the time device…which rather looks a lot like a regular space shuttle. They confirm that it is finished, and that when it lands on Earth, it will open a hole in time, and that Finster’s monster will trap them in said hole. Rita asks Finster which of the “babies” they will be using this time, and Finster selects Bones. A new one that looks like a skeleton in a pilgrim hat and cape.
Baboo and Squatt launch the time device towards Earth. It travels along the ground and people freak out at a remote control space shuttle on a skateboard.
The Rangers are alerted by the high-tech alarm system that something is up. It seems Rita has sent some Putties down for the Rangers to fight. Zordon sends the Rangers to do just that while he analyzes the time device.
The teleport to the Putties, and Jason is now inexplicably wearing a hoodie under his tank top. They begin to battle. Jason suggests to Trini and Billy to split up the putties. The two agree and head towards some rock formations. However, Billy and Trini split up further and Billy winds up perilously close to the edge of a “cliff.” Can Trini save him?
Of course she can. It’s Power Rangers. Billy tries to morph but drops his morpher off the cliff. Of course. Trini starts to scale magical rocks that weren’t there earlier in her attempts to save Billy from falling. She of course succeeds and Billy is saved. Trini and Billy trick the Putty to jump off the cliff and Billy uses what I think is supposed to be a portmanteau of “Morph” and “Fortuitous” but I’m not sure how to describe what just happened.
They rejoin the others, who are not faring so well. However, with the team reunited they are able to break free and form a human chain of Zach, Jason and Kimberly, who knock the remaining Putties into cacti, causing them to flee.
The victory is short-lived as Zordon informs them that Rita has sent Bones to the amusement park. He tells them to watch out as Bones has multiple attacks, including laser beam shooting eyes, Klingon-style cloaking device, oh, and he probably controls the time device. The Rangers morph into action.
Bones transports them into the Time Warp (although in this one you don’t need your hands on your hips, or your knees in tight). The Rangers pull out their Blade Blasters for the first time (these are the strange red sword/gun combo weapons on their hips), and proceed to fight men wearing spandex Skeleton Halloween Costumes.
Baboo and Squatt arrive with a bomb to destroy the Time Device and trap the Rangers in the Time Warp. The Rangers see this and inexplicably ignore it to fight Bones. They fire a blast from their Blade Blasters and explode Bones…however he quickly reassembles. Billy figures out that to destroy Bones, they have to destroy his head, so he grabs the head off the neck (Way to protect yourself, Bones), tosses it to Trini who throws it into a fiery chasm, effectively ending him.
Then, if this episode hasn’t gotten weird enough, Rita uses an incantation (for possibly the only time) and calls forth a Giant (Which looks more like a really tall mediaeval knight)…which she sends to Earth…along with her castle.
It reaches it’s arm through a concrete wall…and into the Time Warp and yanks Jason out. The bomb finally goes off and somehow this frees the Rangers from the Time Warp? Maybe? Jason breaks free and calls upon his Zord. This is one of the only time Jason fights in a Zord while the others stand around and do absolutely nothing.
Back at the Juice Bar, Ernie is telling a pretty blonde co-ed about the battle at the Amusement Park while the Rangers listen. Billy tells them that the communicators are fully functional, to which Kimberly declares “This is so 90s!” (I couldn’t agree more). As the team congratulates Trini on conquering her fear, Zach sneaks up behind her and scares her, forcing her up the rope at lightning speed. Everyone laughs and the credits roll.
This episode is not one I have seen with much frequency. I know I saw it in the 90s, when I rented it from Movies ‘N’ Videos (redundant title, no?)…and possibly once in re-runs. Subsequently, I don’t have much nostalgia towards it. I was never a huge Trini fan, and since it was her video that this episode was featured on, I don’t think I probably watched it beyond the one time. (I did own “Day of the Dumpster,” “Happy Birthday, Zach” and “No Clowning Around.”)
This was definitely not one of the more…solid…episodes. I frequently found myself re-watching moments to make sure I didn’t miss some key moment that would explain what I had watched. There wasn’t one. However, the episode is notable for several things:
- First use of the communicators (God, how many of these did I make out of notebook paper and tape in the 3rd Grade?) as both a communication device and a transportation device.
- Zordon coins the term “It’s Morphin’ Time!” This phrase becomes associated with all things 1990s.
- First use of the Blade Blasters/Power Blasters. I’m not sure they ever get referred to as Blade Blasters again, and all the merchandising called them Power Blasters. These are weapons that they are always equipped with and never seem to use.
- One of the few instances with the Tyrannosaurus DinoZord is used by itself.
- The introduction of “Ranger with problem they must overcome.” This trope is used a lot on this show. This is part of why there won’t be reviews of all episodes.
LOST IN TRANSLATION
The episode seems normal enough from the outside, but once we get into the third act, it’s like all hell breaks loose. The plot really becomes incomprehensible, the visuals start to get very trippy and weird. This is a case of “Lost in Translation.” This will be an occasional feature that will highlight either where what was happening in the Japanese series causes an episode to make very little sense or where some pertinent production info is needed.
In this case, we need to backtrack a little into the pilot. In the Zyurangers series, the space ship we see arriving on the moon is actually arriving on a planet named Nemesis that is close enough to travel to from Earth, and features more than the two morons who opened the gigantic clay jar. Apparently, more adults and children were on board. Witch Bandora (aka Rita) and her Gang make quick work of the adults and hold the children hostage. They set out for Earth with ZoraTitan (The Giant in “High Five”) and begin to wreck havoc. Mysterious Wizard Barza (Zordon’s equivalent) works as an apartment super in disguise, and attempts to stop Witch Bandora. She proves too powerful and he is forced to bring five warriors out of suspended animation. The five warriors defeat the clay bad guys (Putties, not sure what they were called in Zyu), however ZoraTitan takes away the space shuttle with the children.
In episode two, Witch Bandora sets her palace on the moon. She and her gang create DoraSkeleton (Bones) and send the space shuttle to earth as bait for the Zyurangers. Being the good guys, they fall for it and are pulled into the strange other-world that DoraSkeleton actually belongs in. The bomb is placed there to destroy the Zyurangers, and they have to rescue the shuttle. ZoraTitan reappears in our world and the final battle ensues.
Obviously, this is quite different from what we got in America. What it seems happened was they were able to create the pilot using very little footage from the Japanese pilot, and with good reason. The plot line is a touch darker (people die), and they had already decided on the big floating head that is Zordon. However, they were left with two monsters from the first two episodes that needed to be used. Bones fit in smoothly (for the most part); he was the Monster-of-the-Week. However, The Giant posed a bigger problem, so they wrote in that strange incantation.
I have to question the writers of the episodes here. They have two monsters with footage, that seem to have been independent of each other…so why not make The Giant the Monster-of-the-Week for an episode and Bones the Monster-of-the-Week for a different episode? The show ran into issues later in the first Season (around episode 40) because the series was so popular they needed more episodes, but had run out of footage. A few characters were reused (more to come on that in later posts), so this would have allowed for an extra episode of footage. So many questions are raised, even though it does sort of explain the weirdness that was this episode.
Overall, this episode ends up with a C. The episode is not that great, especially once you take into consideration what they were initially working with. It isn’t the worst episode of the series, but it really shows that they were working with very little at the beginning and hadn’t figured things out yet.