Episode 2 – “High Five”
This episode fully reveals this show’s development challenges. Apparently, Power Rangers was a full Japanese show before coming to the states. So, all of the footage involving the Rangers in their suits is old footage from the Japanese show. This explains why the Rangers are so hesitant to morph until they’re really ready to and the lightning-fast changes of scenery. It’s never more clear than in this episode, where logic is frustrated at every turn.
This show is rapidly becoming a familiar formula, though it’s unafraid to perform some gutsy twists on a familiar theme. The kids, while hanging out together at the gym, confess to having an odd and usually unimportant problem, that’s probably not worth talking about. This time, it’s Trini’s fear of heights. Meanwhile, Rita has her rat-man (who looks like a cross between Splinter the Rat from TMNT and Yoda) make some putties and send them to a seemingly unimportant rock quarry (though judging by how many fights take place here, it’s very hotly contested and may have some as yet unknown cosmic significance) to lure the Power Rangers. Bulk and Skull behave appropriately and are completely shut down, Zack finds a reason to dance, then they are summoned to the hotly contested quarry by Zordon, are attacked by puttys and then the monster, who grows large and must be dealt with by one or more or a combination of Zords.
This episode features some interesting but incoherent twists on the familiar formula with head-scratching results.
Trini overcomes her fear of heights by climbing to a high hilltop to save Billy from certain sexual harassment by a particularly aggressive putty. Seriously, the guy can’t deal with one putty. Trini’s presence somehow causes the putty to throw himself off the cliff. Billy then invents a new adjective and then has the gall to abbreviate Trini’s already very short name. “That was truly morphitudinous, Trin” They then save the rest of the gang from a vicious looking group hug.
Then they rush off to deal with the skeleton who, very recently was (I’m not making this up) RIDING A MERRY-GO-ROUND while turning himself visible and invisible at will.
The oddest twist here is that, the monster, a skeleton dressed like a Musketeer, has an unexplained ability to construct an alternate existential reality that involves a magical floating lotus tree. The Rangers, unfazed by the new psychical space, prove themselves able to eliminate putties in or outside of their minds.
Bones doesn’t prove to be very threatening, especially because his most devastating power, the ability to turn invisible, is only used for a few seconds before transporting them to the lotus tree world. Instead he decides to use his “ability to jump long distances” (why?) and he’s quickly decapitated by the Rangers. Trini calls him a bonehead.
This is wh0ere things get slippery. In a seemingly unrelated turn of events, Rita sends a large, Harryhausen-esque centurion who then punches through a skyscraper in an indeterminate city which is apparently where the Rangers were all along and grasps Jason and pulls him out out of lotus-tree land and into the same damn rock quarry where every fight seems to take place. Then the rest of the Rangers are launched to the same location by a bomb planted by the blue guy and the space bat-monkey. Jason then manages to blow the guy away using only the Tyrannosaur Zord.
Rita’s strange, labyrinthine plan doesn’t pay off, but kudos to her for trying something different. Other moments worth mentioning: Alpha 5 running around in fast motion in Zordon’s fortress, beginning what will be frequent occurances of disturbing fast motion shots. Also, the final scene (also a fast motion moment) has Zack sneaking up behind Trini under the climbing rope at Angel Grove and scaring her into climbing to the very top. Trini thus betrays a strangely mutated “fight-or-flight” impulse where climbing a rope to escape danger is actually preferred to running laterally away from danger. Clearly, she’s not listening to her inner Saber-tooth tiger.
Episode 3 – “Teamwork”
Trini and Kimberly are getting together an initiative to clean up a dump site outside of town. The boys can’t help them out because of perfectly understandable scheduling conflicts, but Trini’s lays on a guilt trip in an unsuccessful attempt to ruin their day. Jason has a Karate class to teach, Billy has to do something worthless and Zack has a private meeting with Alpha 5.
Trini and Kimberly go to check out the industrial wasteland they’re trying to clean up and are instead (guess what?) attacked by the puttys.
It’s important to note here that this episode marks the first punch and kick thrown (one of each) by the puttys. Instead of hugging and touching, they’ve started switching tactics to more direct methods of physical (rather than psychological) harm. It’s less effective, though, since Trini and Kimberly are better adapted to dealing with assault and battery rather than molestation.
Meanwhile, Zack’s urgent meeting with Alpha 5 turns out to be teaching him how to dance. More important than cleaning up pollution? I’d say so. Zordon finally catches onto the fact that Trini and Kimberly are being puttied, but that Rita Repulsa has also dispatched a large minotaur to an indeterminate location (also apparently a landfill) and that they’d probably better deal with that first.
They arrive, but rapidly become overwhelmed. At this point, I have to comment on Rita’s strategy evolving. Instead of creating one monster to try and kill the Rangers, she instead throws just about everything she has at them, short of coming down herself. King Sphinx swordfights with Jason. The blue guy and the space monkey start throwing rocks, the puttys grow webbed hands and start slapping them around and the minotaur scores some nice shots with his sword (that somehow spark instead of drawing blood). Then, to make matters worse, Rita throws her staff to earth which causes the minotaur to grow large.
The zord tank can’t cut it, so Zordon summons them back to his fort, gives them their Power weapons (complete with adjectives) which can join to form a large super gun. (power weapons sold separately, batteries not included!)
Through the power of teamwork (which works best if you have interconnecting weapons and dinosaur robots), they manage to ace the ‘taur, though it takes a fully formed megazord to do it. I wonder if they get embarrassed when they have to join the whole megazord to take out their foe. If they just got over it, I’d say form the megazord immediately and stomp on the bad guy before he’s even allowed to grow huge, but I digress.
“Gee, things sure work out a lot better when we work as a team, huh?” Shut up Trini. We’re not cleaning up your dang pollution. Just stop it, okay? Anyway, the gang ends up back at the school and FAST MOTION ALERT: somehow clean up the mess caused by Bulk and Skull in five seconds. The fast motion in this show reminds me of disturbing episodes of claymation TV shows.