Ranger Station Episode 32: A Star Is Born
With 800 episodes over the course of 22 years, the Power Rangers television show is arguably the single most successful live-action superhero franchise of all time, and certainly one of the strangest. Adapted from Japan's long-running Super Sentai series, created by manga legend Shotaro Ishinomori, the Power Rangers combined the giant robots and monsters of their Japanese counterpart with a completely different set of secret identities and problems, and became a pop cultural phenomenon. That's why we're looking back with an in-depth guide to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, including its source material, Kyuoryu Sentai Zyuranger, in ComicsAlliance's Ranger Station!
This week, it's The Most Power Rangers Episode Of Power Rangers ever!
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 32: A Star Is Born
Writer: Cheryl Saban
Director: Terence H. Winkless
Original Air Date: November 15, 1993
I don't know if anyone actually reads the "Final Scores" section at the bottom of each of these columns, but on the off chance that you've been wondering, there's a reason I've been doing it for every single episode. When this project started, one of the things that I really wanted to do was to figure out what the qualities were that made Mighty Morphin Power Rangers what it is --- those essential elements of Power Rangersness that set the show apart not just from other live-action adventure shows, but even from its source material.
Those five elements that make up the Final Scores are what I came up with as those definitive pieces, and since we started, I've been trying to figure out which episode would fit them the most. Not the best, you understand, but the one that had all of those elements happening at maximum at all times. The episode that was the most purely of itself.
Anyway, I say all that now, because I'm pretty sure this is the single most Power Rangers episode of Power Rangers ever.
For starters, we are once again dealing with one of those weird sitcom plots grafted onto a show about fighting monsters, and this one has the added benefit of being yet another plot contrivance that's going to keep Tommy out of action while the rest of the Rangers work around Zyuranger footage that doesn't have Burai in it.
It seems that Tommy and Bulk are both auditioning for "a karate commercial," a phrase used pretty consistently that also raises a lot of questions. Like, is it a commercial for a specific dojo, or are they actually promoting the concept of karate? Is there a National Karate Council, like the dairy people who thought that milk needed a million-dollar advertising campaign with a catchy slogan so that people wouldn't forget that it wasn't just for wetting your cereal? And if that's the case, why wouldn't you just get Jason? That dude's been teaching karate at the youth center since the first episode! Tommy just goes out into the woods and screams while air-kicking!
Anyway, the audition is going to keep Tommy from going to the beach with the rest of the Rangers, but for some reason, that doesn't stop Bulk and Skull from hitting the sand to do some tanning, with predictably slapstick results:
And friend, if you think that screenshot has some subtext to it, just wait. The scene ends with Skull massaging handfuls of mayonnaise into Bulk's chest.
Meanwhile, up on the moon, Rita Repulsa has decided that she's 100% over this whole conquering-the-world business. At least, for today.
With Rita taking a sick day, the job of world-conquering has been delegated to the ever-zealous Goldar, who comes up with a three-part plan for defeating the Power Rangers once and for all.
First, he sends down Scorpina with a gang of Putty Patrollers to attack them at the beach. Then, once they've been sufficiently softened up, Scorpina whips out her "pet worm," which quickly spins a giant cocoon around the Rangers. The Putties dump the cocoon into the ocean, and the Rangers are trapped for the duration of a commercial break, right up until they remember that they are all carrying laser guns that are also knives and blast themselves out.
But no sooner have they done that than the final piece of the plan is revealed: Babe Ruthless, a vaguely baseball themed monster with catcher's mitts for hands, who shows up giant sized:
In a nicely done, very interesting move, Babe (and Goldar and Scorpina) isolate the Tyrannosaurus Zord to prevent the Rangers from forming Megazord, stopping the Rangers from immediately taking out the monster. It's a pretty good strategy, and it works, largely because, with Tommy at the audition, there's no DragonZord around to make up the difference.
As for the auditions, Bulk ends up stealing the show with a display of what could only be called "martial arts" in the most abstract sense of both of those words:
As a child, there were very few things in this world that were funnier to me than someone pretending to do very bad karate, and you know what? It holds up. Paul Schrier is a gift this fallen world does not deserve.
Tommy's audition goes much better --- complete with a slow motion backflip --- but it keeps him so busy that he doesn't notice Zordon calling on the communicator to tell him that there's trouble. And honestly, at this point, with this sort of thing happening almost every week, you have to think that the Rangers would start to think their new friend is a bit of a flake.Then again, I suppose that he does show up when it counts, and this episode is no exception.
Once the Dragonzord is involved --- and once the Tyrannosaurus Zord swings its tail like a baseball bat to return a giant, decidedly non-baseball-like orb --- Babe Ruthless is pretty much done for.
Interestingly enough, this episode actually does use the full shot of the monster being drilled through the abdomen, complete with the shot from behind that shows us the Dragonzord through the resulting hole.
With Babe Ruthless gone, that still leaves the worm that Scorpina was waving around earlier, which has now been upsized to become this horrifying monstrosity:
The worm --- which is never properly named --- tries to pull the same cocoon trick on the Megazord, but once again, the Dragonzord shows up to bail the good guys out, giving us not one, but two lengthy monster-explosion sequences in a single episode.
With that, Rita realizes that she can never take a day off without her minions being twice the failure that she is, and the Rangers head back to the Youth Center for a well-deserved smoothie. But what of the Karate Commercial? Who got the part?!
As it turns out, Bulk and Tommy are both in there, as the "bad" and "good" examples of how to master karate, respectively. Which, when you think about it, is a pretty cruel thing for an advertising agency to pull on Bulk.
As you might've already guessed from the double-monster ending, this week's Power Rangers draws from not one, but two episodes of Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger: Episode 23, "The Knuckleball of Infatuation" and Episode 38, "Princess Mei's Seven Metamorphoses."
"The Knuckleball of Infatuation" takes place shortly after Daizyuzin's revival at the end of the Japanese version of the Green Ranger Saga, and in typical fashion, there are some kids in danger of being murdered by space witchery. In this case, it's a girl named Satoko, whose classmate, Yoshida, has decided that being mean to her is the best way to express his crush.
This, along with Grifforzar and Lamy's blissful marriage, leads Bandora to build herself a new monster in an effort to punish all who feel love: Dora Pixie.
Dora Pixie, being a child, is super into baseball, so when it's time to start throwing weird love potion pills directly into people's mouths, he can do so with shocking accuracy.
His first few targets are the other children playing with Satoko, leading them to chase her around the park, but before long, other romances spring up. And they get weird.
By the time the Zyurangers see a trio of children chasing a car and talking about how they want to marry it, they start to suspect that something weird might be going on. Unfortunately, Dora Pixie catches them before they're able to transform, and without their helmets, Dan and Boi make easy targets. They get dosed, and immediately fall in love with Mei --- and their feelings are so intense that they end up having to be locked in a cage.
Yoshida, meanwhile, steals one of the love potion balls in an effort to make Satoko like him back without all the hassle of confessing his feelings. Totpat and Bookback want their ammunition back, though, and so they chase him down, just in time for the Zyurangers to show up with their plan to break Dora Pixie's horn, and with it, the spell.
It's not as easy as it sounds, though, especially once Goushi gets hit:
Fortuantely, Yoshida's able to help after a change of heart, and when Mei breaks Pixie's horn, everything more or less goes back to normal. Except of course for the fact that Dora Pixie turns into a more horrific version of himself and grows 20 stories. I mean if you really get down to it, that's actually pretty normal for this world.
Dora Pixie attempts to brainwash everyone again by shooting them with magic love gas from his horn (feel free to make your own jokes out of that little bowl of word salad), but when Burai shows up with Dragon Caesar, they're finally able to take him out with a well-timed Concussive Dragonstrike.
In "Princess Mei's Seven Metamorphoses," we open with even more danger, as a bunch of children are having a good time at an amusement park, only to suddenly fall comatose after being smiled at by a woman in sunglasses.
That's her there in the background, and if you can't tell, she's no ordinary woman. It's Lamy, visiting the park in the service of evil. She doesn't have a debilitating smile, though --- she's actually just getting close enough for Bandora's new monster, the caterpillar-like Dora Silkis, to shoot a string directly into the children's hearts and, from what I can tell, harvest their immortal souls.
Eventually, Mei and the rest of the Zyurangers track her to the park's amphitheater where they discover her true identity and get some strong words.
With Golem Soldiers keeping the rest of the Zyurangers busy, Mei and Lamy go at it with bow and scimitar an extended (and awesome) one-on-one fight --- a fight that only ends when Lamy webs up her opponent's Dino Buckler with Dora Silkis, preventing her from transforming, and then lands an uppercut so hard that Mei ends up landing on a nearby roller coaster at the top of its track. Once that's done, the rest of the Zyurangers are trapped in a giant cocoon and booted into the ocean.
Lamy doesn't play around.
With the Rangers out of the way, Lamy attempts to get back to work, but she's blocked away from her young targets at every turn. First, a clown handing out wanted posters --- of Lamy herself, of course --- gets in her way, and then a mysterious masked cavalier shows up with a rapier in hand to challenge her:
What follows is a battle of disguises: Lamy, dressed as a police officer, elderly grandma, and bowler-hatted Charlie Chaplin lookalike is foiled by Mei in the guises of a restaurant waitress with a giant pepper shaker, schoolgirl, nun and bride. It's as that last one that Mei snatches Dora Silkis and attempts to squeeze it to death in her bare hands.
Unfortunately, Dora Silkis has grown too powerful on the souls of children, and Mei once again ends up webbed to a pillar and in danger of being murdered:
At the last second, a quartet of monks show up to stop Lamy, only to drop their disguises and reveal that they are, in fact, the other four Zyurangers, who escaped from the cocoon. There's just one problem: Dora Silkis's bite doesn't just cause comas, it also causes the children who have been infected to rise up, take up any nearby weapons, and battle the adults.
Fortunately, that doesn't seem to be a huge issue. After Dora Silkis gets a dose of Sovereign Fusion from Daizyuzin and Dragon Caesar, everything pretty much gets back to normal. Fight on, Zyurangers! Just, you know, maybe a little less fetishy next time.
In Ranger Station, each episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers will be graded on a scale of one to ten in five categories, with a final score awarded with a maximum of fifty points.
Weirdness of the Monster: This issue gives us not one, but two monsters to choose from, and Babe Ruthless is by far the weirdest, if only because the American version's baseball theme is only sort of there. What makes it, though, is when you watch Zyuranger and find out that it's actually a tiny child that is later impaled by the Dragonzord. 9/10
Deviation From the Source: Most episodes of this show have nothing to do with one episode of Zyuranger. This one has nothing to do with two. Kimberly never dresses up and no one falls in love --- and I'm shocked that this show didn't jump at the chance to do a love potion story when they had the opportunity. 10/10
Bulk and Skull Friendship: I don't know if I made this clear enough, but there was a scene in this show where Skull just straight up rubs mayonnaise into Bulk's tender flesh. 10/10
Moral Lessons: Karate! It exists! 9/10
'90s Fashions: This is the only area where this episode falls short, but only because fashion is cyclical. Seriously, their clothes could not be more 1993, but go look at the header image on this very post and try to tell me that you can't picture people wearing those exact outfits to the beach this summer. 7/10
Total For Episode 21: 45/50