Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (1993-1997): 1×03 “Teamwork”

MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS (1993-1997)

Go Go, Power Rangers!

Go Go, Power Rangers!

Episode: Teamwork (1×03)
Director: Robert Hughes
Teleplay: Cheryl Saban
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 8, 1993
Reason for Inclusion: Introduction of the Power Weapons/Blaster, Mr. Caplan and the Angel Grove High School Set.

An exterior shot that isn't the Juice Bar!

An exterior shot that isn’t the Juice Bar!

ACT ONE

Kimberly and Trini are trying to get students involved in a petition and clean-up event of the local dump site in Angel Grove.  Their principal, Mr. Caplan walks up to express his skepticism. Trini informs him that it’s a toxic industrial waste zone…and he gives her this odd, awkward, badly acted head nod like “I never thought of that.”

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Meanwhile on the moon, Rita takes all the credit for polluting Earth.  Apparently, Rita doesn’t know about the 80s.

We return to the school hallways, where Kimberly and Trini continue their cause. Billy, Zach and Jason finally show up and congratulate them on the signatures.  Trini tells them that she and Kimberly will be delivering the petitions that afternoon and she invites the boys to join them. The boys all flake out with “reasons.”  Trini tells them it’s ok, but they would be more impressive presenting a united front.

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The camera pans over to Bulk, Skull, and inexplicable Punk Rock Girl.  Bulk loudly announces the end of his soda and drops the can on the ground, telling the girls to “clean that up.”  Skull of course parrots this action.  Kimberly and Trini roll their eyes as a fellow classmate walks by.  The fellow classmate sees the can and tries to put in the trash, inexplicably angering Bulk, who dumps the contents of the trash can on said student.  Trini gets as upset as Trini is capable of getting (she seems upset but in a nice way) and calls him out on it.  Punk Rock Girl kicks the trash can towards them, which Kimberly flips over.  Skull makes a “witty” comment, Kimberly smarts back, Bulk and Skull charge at her and end up hugging. They freak out (Yay homophobia for a comedic effect?) repel backwards and end up lodged in recycling bins of their own.

Don't get used to her, she's only in one more episode...two tops.

Don’t get used to her, she’s only in one more episode…two tops.

Back on the moon, Rita spies on the Waste Dump (that she claims is hers), and decides she will send the putties down to take care of Kimberly and Trini.  Finster sets to work creating another monster.  Who will it be this time?

The camera pans across footage of urban decay that is supposed to be a dump site.  Kimberly and Trini arrive and are mildly creeped out by the possible Serial Killer Hang Out, and are about to give up and go home when the Putties arrive.

Hmm...is this the right place?

Hmm…is this the right place?

We cut to Zach teaching Alpha 5 how to dance (his excuse for skipping out) and are treated to the Hip-Hop-Kimbo…whatever that is…

Alpha's hip, yo.

Alpha’s hip, yo.

The dance lesson (not something you learn at the Jerome Robbins School of Fighting) is interrupted by Zordon who tells Zach that Kimberly and Trini are in trouble.  Alpha 5, predictably, freaks out and repeats over-and-over-and-over “Dudettes in trouble!”

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ACT TWO

Zordon summons Jason and Billy to the Command Center and updates them on the situation.

We cut back to the moon where Finster and Rita have the Mighty Minotaur ready to fight and send him to earth.

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Zordon sends the three boys to deal with the monster.  Billy and Zach jump at his shield and are repelled (shocker!), prompting Jason to say that this guy is tough (No…not really).  Jason then uses his blade blaster on the Minotaur, however the beams are reflected back at the three Rangers.  We cut back to the girls who are still trying to take on the Putties.  We then cut to the Command Center where Alpha 5 reveals that Goldar has now shown up in the mix.  Zordon tells Alpha to communicate to the girls that they need to join up with the guys, because working as team is their greatest strength, and also this episode’s theme.

However, instead of meeting the boys, they decide to tackle Goldar Alone?, thus forgetting the theme and lesson.  Inexplicably, they are in the desert.  We continue cutting back and forth between the girls, the boys and Zordon.  Randomly, Squatt and Baboo show up and start pelting the boys with boulders…because they are by the sea…or in a rock quarry…or something.  And of course, Rita decides to make the Minotaur grow.

Hi Squatt! Hi Baboo!

Hi Squatt! Hi Baboo!

The Minotaur grows and, through clever camera angles and green screening, appears giant to all of them.  Kimberly, inexplicably, is now taking care of a small child while fighting. Jason asks the girls to call their Zords and we get to see some Zord action!  Inexplicably, Kimberly does not call her Zord, yet it appears anyways…

Here we see him close in the foreground to look bigger.

Here we see him close in the foreground to look bigger.

Greenscreen!  Notice the child?

Greenscreen! Notice the child? Maybe not, but trust me, there’s a child.

This time, the Zords fight on their own. The Pterodactyl, Triceratops and Sabre-Tooth Tiger can shoot laser beams, Mastadon can shoot freezing steam stuff and Triceratops can also shoot it’s horns like grappling hooks.  The Minotaur charges and Jason suggests combining the Zords into Tank Mode, and they again shoot more lasers.  Zordon decides that the Minotaur is too tough and brings the Rangers back to the Command Center.

Yay lasers!

Yay lasers!

Zordon presents the Rangers with new Power Weapons that can be combined together to create the Power Blaster.  He gives Zach the Power Axe, Kimberly the Power Bow, Billy the Power Lance (which can be used as one whole lance or two half-lances), Trini the Power Daggers and Jason the Power Sword.  The Rangers rock back into battle.

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With their new weapons that are able to take down the Minotaur with the Power Blaster…which was always my favorite weapon.

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Rita, naturally, has a headache.

Back in the hallway, the Rangers have learned the lesson about teamwork. However, the hallway is still a mess from Bulk and Skull’s altercation earlier.  Mr. Caplan shows up and laments the mess and blames the Rangers for it.  He leaves to speak to another teacher and while he’s gone the team decides to clean up the hallway.  Mr. Caplan returns, confused and leaves in a huff…because that’s really all that’s required of his character.  Zordon pages the Rangers to congratulate them on their team work, and to apologize for the static on the line. It seems that Alpha has been practicing his dance moves and is short circuiting the wires in the  Command Center.

Do the macarena!

Do the macarena!

COMMENTARY

This episode is another that I really don’t recall seeing much.  I think some of it (I’ll discuss below) has to do with the translation issues.  This is an incredibly early 90s episode though. I remember very clearly that this was the time when they really kicked the Recycling/Save the Environment stuff into high gear with elementary school kids.  In fact, I seem to recall that there was even a quasi-special (like a 5-10 minute thing, or possibly just a commercial) about the Power Rangers recycling.

The theme of this episode is shockingly heavy-handed, even as far as this series goes. In case the title didn’t give it away, or Trini’s statement in the first 3 minutes, the show is about how the Rangers are better as a team than individually.  This also goes along with what they try to teach us as we grow up.  That being said, I do think team work is a great thing in certain aspects, but honestly, you have to be able to rely on yourself to get through life, because as you get older, people will always throw you under a bus.

This is our second episode in a row where the Megazord hasn’t really come into play (Tank Mode totally doesn’t count)…this seems to be common in more episodes than I remembered.

The episode is the first to do several things:

  • Introduction of the Power Weapons and Power Blaster.  While they aren’t used very often, they were my favorite weapons…and I absolutely loved the play version that was made.  I was less thrilled by the ones that came with the Auto-Morphin’ Ranger action figures, as they broke easily. (I only got to make the blaster once thanks to the lance breaking.)
  • Introduction of the Angel Grove High School Set.  This and the Juice Bar are about the only two interior locations we see, with some minor exceptions.
  • Introduction of Mr. Caplan, the school principal.  His toupee will become a joke.
  • One of two appearances of a female with Bulk and Skull. No clue what her name is.
  • One of the few instances of an out-of-order Morph sequence (Zach Morphs after Billy), and the first time the Rangers don’t all Morph together.
  • A rare, in-costume, male Yellow Ranger in English footage.  I’m not sure if this was to keep the shape of the Yellow Ranger in sync with the ZyuRanger footage or not, but there are clearly no boobs on Yellow Ranger.
  • The first time we see char marks on the Rangers costumes during battle.
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This happens sometimes…and usually before the actual blow hits.

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See? No boobs!

LOST IN TRANSLATION

This episode was less trippy than the last one.  The biggest differences being that this was a two-part episode in Japan, and that the basic plot was actually used later in the series.  Unlike the last episode (“High Five”), this one is significantly more cohesive, and with less reason to be.  In Japan, the Rangers are sent to the Land of Despair where they have to find the Legendary Weapons.  Apparently, this also involves saving a child, which is why Kimberly is seen with one during the Minotaur sequence, and why she doesn’t actually summon her Zord (the footage wasn’t usable because of said child)…even though they probably could have found footage somewhere to use in its place.

The Land of Despair will show up, but not until later on in Season One (Episodes 28 and 29 to be exact, which will be about 5 months from now, depending on how I handle The Green Ranger Saga) and then it appears as The Island of Illusion.  I don’t know how much comparison I can draw between the two, since there is very little info on The Land of Despair online (at least, that I have found now).

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall, this episode ends up with a B-.  The acting, Mr. Caplan aside, is pretty solid. The writing isn’t bad, and the story makes sense.  I take off points for some of the odd continuity errors, and the ridiculous Alpha 5 dancing gag.

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