MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS (1993-1997)
Episode: Happy Birthday, Zack (1×10)
Director: Jeff Reiner
Teleplay: Stewart St. John
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 12, 1993
Reason for Inclusion: One of the five episodes available on VHS.
The Juice Bar at night. Billy is rocking around, jamming to some music and thanking Kimberly for the suggestion. Ernie is working with the Cake-o-Matic to try and create a, you guessed it, cake…unfortunately it seems to be spitting out car wash soap.
Meanwhile on the moon, Rita is spying (of course) and decides that they will send a monster as a present. Cause, ya know, a gift card is just so impersonal.
Trini is painting a sign, Billy is working on the Cake-o-Matic and Jason arrives to help out. Jason thanks Ernie for letting them work after closing time on Zack’s surprise party. Ernie tells them it’s no big deal. He also then brings up the topic of the Power Rangers…making them all nervous. Jason tries to play it cool like “Oh, the ones with the colored costumes,” as if there’s a zillion teams of superheroes with Zords running around Angel Grove. First Ernie declares that they’ll do for Angel Grove what Batman did for Gotham City and then says that he’s heard that they’re regular humans with awesome costumes. Jason counters that he’s heard they were space aliens. This blows Ernie’s mind.
Bulk and Skull show up, because that’s what they do. They blow their noses on the banner, pop balloons and make a general nuisance of themselves.
Meanwhile back on the moon, Rita is eagerly awaiting the monster. Finster announces that it will be the Nasty Knight (not quite alliterative), which causes Rita to cackle with glee, remembering the time they used it on Tarmac 3.
Back at the Juice Bar, Trini is making a new banner (sans boogers) and Billy compliments her on it…with technobabble. Jason asks for a translation to which Kimberly tells him she doesn’t speak Billy. Ernie comes in and gives them the heads up that Zack is on his way, so they hurriedly clean the place up and hide from Zack. He’s looking for them, but Ernie says he hasn’t seen them all night.
Meanwhile on some part of the moon that has grass, Rita and Finster are forging an evil sword for Nasty Knight. She then uses an incantation to bring him to life.
The next day the other Rangers act like they have no idea that it’s Zack’s birthday. Depressed, Zack decides to ditch school and wander through the mountains.
Rita surprises Zack with the Nasty Knight. He quickly morphs and begins to do battle with his Power Axe. Goldar randomly gets in on the mix and things are not looking good for Zack.
Until, of course, Zordon summons the other Rangers to his aide. However, the Nasty Knight makes short work of their weapons.
In desperation, they do a rarely used (maybe never used again move) where they bring their Blade Blasters together to make a gigantic light ball thing…which Nasty Knight deflects back at them.
Rita makes him grow and the MegaZord gets summoned…and Nasty Knight makes quick work of the Power Sword. However, Zack realizes that what Nasty Knight is doing is turning their own energy back on them, so if they reflect his energy, plus a little more for good measure, they should be able to take him out with no problem. The idea works, and Nasty Knight is destroyed. The Rangers rejoice and Rita gets a headache.
Back at the Juice Bar, Zach and the others arrive to a dark room where we discover the surprise party. Zack is thrilled and a dance party ensues. Oh, and more issues with the Cake-o-Matic.
This was one of the three episodes I owned on VHS as a kid, so I watched it fairly regularly. It’s one of the episodes I like best, still. The story is basic and the battle with the Monster of the Week is actually exciting for once. There really isn’t anything too notable about this episode beyond that it was well constructed (which given the nature of early episodes is kinda notable) and was released on VHS.
The song they use at the end “Today’s Your Birthday” or something is actually rather catchy, I wish I knew who had recorded it.
One of the things I will give this episode is the writing. The lines are at times quite funny, and no one really gets stuck with a dud. Even during Kimberly’s “Make up an excuse for why I forgot something” scene, it seems plausible. The acting is also better in this episode than most. I’m not sure if it’s because they didn’t have to do much more beyond basic conversational dialogue, or if it’s because they all really liked Walter Jones and the emotions of “Let’s plan a party” were genuine, but whatever they did, they should have found ways to do it over and over and over.
There also isn’t much that looks like a hold-over from Zyuranger. In that episode the sword was forged by a child, and the child shows up in the cock pit at the end, but they did a smooth edit, so you’d never notice. The only thing that is a hold-over is the footage from Tarmac 3, however since that’s supposed to be another planet entirely, you don’t really feel like something is missing. Bravo to Stewart St. John on this episode for that too!
There are three more episodes left to review until we get to the Green Ranger Saga, all of which were written by St. John…which is a good sign, so we’re quickly approaching the end of the Five-Ranger Era.
A very solid A episode. Lots of re-watchability factor with this episode. Some very solid writing, and solid acting across the boards.