Ranger Station Episode 6: Food Fight
With almost 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, the Pudgy Pig goes on a rampage, and Zyuranger gets weird. Really weird.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 6: Food Fight
Director: Robert Hughes
Writer: Cheryl Saban
Original Air Date: September 4, 1993
A week's worth of debate has brought us no closer to figuring out what the heck Goldar actually is, other than that there seem to be a few of you out there who think that Goldar is a Flying Monkey as a nod to Wizard of Oz. And look, I don't want to start anything here because we're all just here to enjoy a show for tiny babies together, but that is patently ridiculous. There is no way --- no way --- that Goldar is a flying monkey, and I will not hear another word to that effect. For now, the debate continues.
Anyway, this week's episode brought back a few childhood memories for me. As you can probably tell from the fact that I write about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers for a living, I was a very cool child. So cool, in fact, that I was a charter member of the Geography Club in middle school, which was less about knowing where things were in the world, and more about eating a whole bunch of different foods from different countries, and/or Taco Bell.
As a result, I can find a whole lot to relate to in this week's plot, which opens at the Youth Center's Cultural Food Festival, which, judging by the presence of hula girls flirting with Ernie, is almost certainly going to get someone sued:
Also, please make sure to enjoy the fine foods of different cultures, such as USA and Asian.
It's worth mentioning that we're six episodes into this show, and that the characters have almost certainly known each other longer, but Ernie still thinks it's a good idea to get Bulk and Skull --- who seem to have pretty similar food-based motivations to Geography Club Treasurer Chris Sims --- to carry a pair of cream pies across the room. Like, dude. Ernie. Ernie. You have seen what happens whenever these two people get anywhere near desserts of any kind. You are setting yourself up for failure.
Amazingly, they do not immediately go face-first into a couple of pies. Instead, they stockpile them for an attempt to ruin the event with a massive food fight, involving the shocking return of Punk #3 --- and the debut of Punk #4!
With the extra set of hands hurling baked goods across the rec center, the whole thing quickly devolves into chaos, which leads what I believe is the first appearance of the running gag about Mr. Caplan's toupee, truly a cornerstone of the series.
While all this is going on, Rita is suffering from a stomachache, and seems to be taking the Rangers' enjoyment, and decides to attack them with a food-based monster: The Pudgy Pig, who has been given the mission to eat, and I quote, "all the food on Earth."
Later, Zordon will estimate that Pudgy Pig will be able to accomplish this feat within the next 48 hours, which, even though he's able to devour the contents of a corner store in a mere thirty seconds or so, seems like he's overselling things just a bit. But what do I know, I'm not the one who lives in a tube containing Pure Good Energy.
Back at the Youth Center, things are finally brought under control when Jason, wearing an Uncle Sam top hat and a pair of American Flag armbands, uses a chain of sausages as nunchuks to dazzle Bulk into submission. It may in fact be the single most American thing that ever happened on Power Rangers, but as good as Jason's outfit is, Bulk's reaction is even better:
Unfortunately, the festival has been left in a shambles, and without any food to sell, they won't be able to raise money to buy the playground new equipment, leaving all the children of Angel Grove to continue injuring themselves on substandard monkey bars.
It's at this point that our heroes learn about Pudgy Pig's attack on groceries and head out to stop him. It's harder than it seems, though, mostly because Pudgy Pig eats their weapons as soon as they start fighting, leaving them unarmed and unable to form their Power Blaster. And if that wasn't enough of a problem, they're knocked out of their transformation while the Pudgy Pig heads over to the remnants of the Cultural Food Festival and devours everything that's left.
Everything, that is, except for the spicy foods, a product of the great nation of HOT HOT HOT.
This leads them to their actual plan of making the monster barf up their weapons so that they can kill it.
No, really. That's the plan.
To that end, they morph and load up some delicious decoys with spicy radishes, and Pudgy Pig voms all over the docks, giving the Rangers their weapons and letting them do what might be the single grossest version of their finishing move.
Interestingly enough, this is one of the few episodes that doesn't involve the Monster getting a second wind courtesy of Rita and her magic wand. Instead, the Power Blaster does the job all on its own, and while Rita goes full Cobra Commander --- "How can anyone conquer a world with these nitwits?!" --- the teens return to the Youth Center just in time to feed Mr. Caplan one of Alpha's spicy decoy sandwiches.
If it seems like we got through this week's episode of Power Rangers a little quicker than usual, that's because I wanted to devote as much space as possible to "Terror! Eaten In An Instant," its Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger counterpart. Why? Because this --- and keep in mind that I'm saying this a week after we talked about the episode where an invisible goblin lures children to a bus driven by monsters so that a space witch can rip out their souls --- is where things get really weird.
And it all starts when Boi, the Yellow Ranger, meets a small child named Minnesota Fatso, who falls on him from a tree.
As you can probably already tell, Minnesota, whose real name is Mamoru, has a lot of problems, and one of them is that he doesn't get to spend much time with his parents, owing to his father's very demanding job as a grocer. They're only ever together at meals and, well, they make the most of the time, enjoying each other's company and eating what appear to be twenty to thirty good-sized entrees at a time.
Boi, for his part, is completely weirded out by this.
But I mean, really, he's a 140 million year-old prince from a tribe of magic people who lived among dinosaurs, so who's really the weird one in this scenario? Here's a hint: It ain't the folks who really like French fries. Either way, Bandora cannot stand to see even one child be happy, so she decides to ruin Minnesota's day by sending a monster to attack him, digging one of Pleprechaun's rejects out of the trash.
Ever since I heard the thing about how Bandora's monsters were all drawn from Western mythology, I was wondering just what was meant to be represented by a pig wearing a Spartan helmet. This, I thought, would be where we finally moved away from stuff like minotaurs and titans and towards the weirder monsters that we're going to get later on, but no. It turns out that the Super Sentai franchise has a very, very strange interpretation of the events of The Odyssey:
The Pudgy Pig is actually Dora Circe, Zyuranger's interpretation of the witch who famously turned Odysseus's crew into pigs. Eh, close enough.
Like his American counterpart, Dora Circe quickly sets about devouring as much food as possible, starting with the Minnesota family's lunch and then moving quickly to their grocery store for good measure. Three days later, dejected from the loss of his family's food and livelihood --- and also literally starving --- Minnesota wanders back to the park and meets Boi, out doing his daily backflips. He agrees to help, and with that, the Zyurangers are on the case.
Goushi, the Black Ranger, quickly digs up some information from their big book of plot expositions, and they discover that it can only be defeated by poisoning it with (holy) moly, a magic herb that was given to Odysseus by Hermes. The problem is, it's been in short supply in Japan lately, and as evidenced by a fight where they get their magic weapons eaten, they don't stand much of a chance without it.
Naturally, it's time for a quest out into the woods, and this is where things get weird.
Their fight with Dora Circe is interrupted by a strange man who starts driving golf balls into the giant pig's nose before creating a dimensional warp to a forest full of dancing mushrooms and then singing a song about how bad they are at being superheroes. He is Gnome, "the fairy who lives in the woods," and he just happens to have some moly in stock if the Zyurangers can win his game.
The game in question: Eating a gigantic feast of their own.
Alas, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, and while they do their best to scarf down an entire banquet's worth of food, they all end up tapping out. Except, that is, for Boi, who perseveres even through his hatred of carrots because he knows that Minnesota Fatso is depending on him back home. It's that determination that wins Gnome over, and he sends them back to Japan with the moly in tow so that they can stuff it in a sandwich and make Dora Circe ralph up the Howling Cannon and follow it up with a very quick demise.
With that, Dora Circe is defeated, and the Zyurangers get to go have dinner with the Minnesota family. Fight on, Dinosaur Squadron Zyuranger!
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: Once we have accepted monsters as a concept, a giant pig that eats everything in sight feels pretty natural. When you find out that it's actually a reference to Circe, however, well, that'll raise a couple of eyebrows. 5/10
- Deviation From the Source: All things considered, this one's actually pretty close, although I think we can all agree that it could use more of Minnesota and his family. 2/10
- Bulk and Skull Friendship: When Pudgy Pig attacks the Youth Center, there's an amazing moment where they stand up to the monster, oinking at it in defiance of their strange fate. Please tell me someone out there is writing all of these moments down to make a music video, preferably set to Evanescence. 7/10
- Moral Lessons: I'm not sure that we really learned anything in this episode. I mean, it turned out they had the money for the playground equipment anyway, so...? 1/10
- 90s Fashions: 9/10
Total For Episode 6: 24/50
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