Ranger Station Episode 8: I, Eye Guy
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, the Power Rangers hit a nerd fair while the Zyurangers fight an actual Dracula, so I think we know who got the best out of the source material this time.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 8: I, Eye Guy
Director: David Blyth
Writer: Stewart St. John
Original Air Date: September 14, 1993
Before we head back to the early '90s for this week's episode, in which an eye monster attacks a science fair and nothing of value is lost, it's worth noting that this past weekend marked a milestone for the Power Rangers: The 800th episode of the franchise (and the 13th of the current series, Dino Charge) aired on Saturday. And that, my friends, is a pretty big deal.
So big, in fact, that the people who handle press for the Power Rangers --- and if those people don't refer to themselves as Mighty Morphin Press Relations, then what are we even doing here --- sent me a box of custom-made cookies to mark the occasion:
For the record, they actually told me that they were for me to share with my staff, something that I readily agreed to because I work from home and therefore my "staff" consists of me and a bunch of Destro figures, and action figures tend to leave plenty of cookies for their office supervisor to snack on while he watches Power Rangers.
In any case, it was pretty neat to see all the rangers' masks represented in fondant, and as an added bonus, they threw in this little edible gem:
792 episodes ago, though, there's nothing happening that's quite as fun as eating your workplace. Instead, we're taken to the suburban garage that doubles as Billy's laboratory. It's here that we learn two things: First, Billy has a younger protege named Willy who also favors overalls for his day-to-day look, although he tops it off with what appears to be a corduroy train engineer's cap to create the dorkiest outfit of all time.
Second, Willy has invented a sophisticated form of VR (Virtual Reality) that he calls a "holo-game."
Except --- and before I get into this, I want to remind you that nitpicking is exactly what I'm here for --- it's not actually a game. There's nothing interactive about it, it's just a first-person shot of a camera on a rollercoaster, and while I guess little TV screens mounted on sunglasses are a pretty impressive science project for a middle schooler in 1993, this is the same garage where someone built a car that can fly at Mach 4 last week, so maybe this kid needs to step up his game.
Either way, it's pretty impressive to the Rangers. Kimberly finds it so realistic that she begins to flip out because she's getting dizzy from the intense thrills of roller coaster stock footage. Just for the record, that's Kimberly, the Pink Ranger, who pilots a flying robot pterodactyl on a regular basis.
The holo-game is Willy's project for the Junior Science Fair, an event that Rita Repulsa, who apparently finds the very existence of intelligent children to be an affront to her evilness --- wants to stop at all costs as the first step in a very vague plan for the conquering of Earth. She sends down a gang of Putty Patrollers to kidnap Willy, and the ensuing fight scene is weird, even by MMPR standards.
The main thing here is that Jason starts calling out battle formations and numbered attacks like this is something that the Power Rangers have been drilling for since this thing started two months ago.
It works, though, and the Putties are sufficiently thrashed so that Willy and his holo-game can continue on their way. Clearly, Rita's going to need a stronger monster if she's going to conquer a middle school science fair, and Finster suggests that they go with Eye Guy, a monster they've used before "on Rigel Two."
Spoiler warning, but they're using footage from Zyuranger for this flashback, and while that's all well and good, there's something a bit off with this part, too. As we're told in the theme song at the start of literally every episode, Rita has been locked away for ten-thousand years. The little girl in the Zyuranger footage is very clearly human, so if this is Rigel Two, then we are being asked to believe that there was another planet that developed human life. But that little girl is also carrying a baseball bat, and if you're asking me to believe that another planet developed baseball ten-thousand years before we did, well buddy, that is where I am drawing the line.
Anyway, back to Eye Guy. He's one of the more memorable monsters from the show, mainly because he's a pile of eyes in a vaguely human shape and is therefore exactly what I've been seeing in my nightmares for the past 22 years, and he also has the ability to create a pocket dimension within his main eyeball that he uses to kidnap extremely smart children.
He's going to take his sweet time getting there, though, so for now, we turn our attention to the science fair, where Bulk and Skull are not at all happy with their hangout being taken over by nerds.
This leads immediately to not one, but two examples of public humiliation, both of which feel like the seeds of erotic fan-fiction. First, Skull sprays Bulk with a gun that dissolves his pants, raising the question of why someone invented a spray-gun that dissolves pants and then entered it into a science fair. The second, and somehow even more improbable, is that they're launched into a complicated "Fashion Machine" that strips and dresses them in what I can only assume are horrifying robot claws.
The whole thing results in Willy being disqualified from the science fair for his part in the brawl, and while that doesn't really seem fair, it's nice to see somebody told them that they shouldn't be treating Bulk and Skull like this for once. Willy, however, doesn't see the bigger picture, and gets so bummed out that he heads to a nearby creek to stare wistfully at some water.
It's there that he's attacked by Eye Guy, who sends him into a terrifying dimension where he's trapped in a gyroscope ride:
So basically, he gets a free trip to Six Flags.
When the Rangers go after him, Billy ends up finding his hat and realizing that something is amiss, they head to the Command Center to find out all about Eye Guy and how he's planning on kidnapping even more small children to put them on carnival rides. That's an act of aggression that cannot be allowed to stand, so the Rangers quickly transform and head out to the quarry to go teach Eye Guy a lesson.
It's at this point that Rita & Co. learn the folly of sending a monster who is literally made of eyes to go fight five teenagers who are armed entirely with sharp objects. Needless to say, it's not a very challenging fight. The one wrinkle is that Eye Guy has the ability to reform after seemingly being defeated. It's the large central eye that's his actual weak point, so Billy just goes ahead and stabs with a spear, an act that officially makes this Frederic Wertham's least favorite episode.
Sure enough, it works, and it works again at giant size when they stab him right in the eye with a sword the size of a cell phone tower. Again: This was a bad plan on Rita's part.
Once that's done, it's back to the science fair, and since Willy just ran out and left his invention on the table, the Judge (and Ernie) decided to just give it a spin and experience the thrill of roller coaster stock footage for themselves.
And, of course, they're so impressed that they give Willy first prize.
This week marks the first time that we've actually skipped over an episode of Zyuranger, but don't worry: it'll be back when we get to Episode 16. For this week, we're skipping ahead to Episode 12, "Papa's A Vampire?!" And it is great.
Okay, so, you know how we've been trying (unsuccessfully) to figure out what kind of monster Goldar/Grifforzar is supposed to be over the past few weeks? Well, we were so busy with that that I never stopped to think about the fact that I'm not actually sure what the other members of her crew are. Well, today, my friends, we find out one of them definitively.
Yup: Totpat, better known to American audiences as Baboo, is actually a vampire --- which, if we're assuming that the archetypal vampire is Count von Count from Sesame Street, would at least explain the monocle.
Totpat, however, has yet to actually suck blood from a human, and he's very eager to get that rite of passage over with. Fortunately for the good guys, though, they have a new ally in the fight against evil: Michi, who is now officially my favorite character on this show.
Michi is a young girl who, having realized that Bandora is sending an awful lot of monsters down to Earth to kidnap kids, has decided to become an amateur monster fighter herself. Which basically means she's walking around Japan with a baseball bat looking to beat the living hell out of anything that looks like it came out of Pleprechaun's oven.
She is the best.
As it turns out, that's the family business, sort of. See, Michi's dad is a cop, and while they're presumably on the same side with this whole fighting-the-forces-of-evil thing, he apparently hasn't noticed all the giant monsters being slaughtered by robots lately, and doesn't think his daughter knows a monster when she sees it. As a result, their relationship has become pretty strained, with Michi going as far as calling him a coward in front of the Blue Ranger.
Ouch. Dan tries to make peace, but Michi is determined to beat down a monster and get her dad promoted to detective.
Bandora, though, has other plans. She's got a new monster, Dora Argus --- named, of course, for Argus, the 100-eyed giant from Greek mythology --- and she's given him the standard mission.
Oh, and also he's supposed to "help Totpat suck as much blood as he can."
As for how he goes about that, it's a pretty roundabout process. First, he zaps Michi into what appears to be an elaborate hallucination but what may in fact be a pocket dimension (lots of those going around these days), where she sees her father as a full-on Dracula.
Michi, with her baseball bat sworn to the cause of justice, cannot allow such a monster to walk the Earth. She tells the Zyurangers about her suspicions, but they don't initially believe her, even though vampires aren't exactly any less likely than 140 million year-old dinosaur ninjas. Dan, however, agrees to find the truth, and the other Zyurangers follow his lead --- and as a result, he gets zapped into the pocket dimension along with Michi when Dora Argus shows up for another round at her.
Dan, however, is able to fight his way out with his spears, and while he rallies the rest of the team to challenge Dora Argus and Totpat...
... Michi is left in the pocket dimension, menaced by a vampire version of her father. To her credit, she does not back down, instead going straight at him and trying to take him down with the power of Jesus Christ.
Alas, Bandora's monsters don't operate on quite the same rules as their more standard counterparts do, and this vampire isn't really a vampire at all. It's just another aspect of Dora Argus, shape-shifted to shock Michi into letting her guard down so that Totpat can get on with the exsanguination.
But as usual, the Power Rangers are on the case, and at the last minute, Dan makes the save, Dora Argus gets a visit from the God Horn's Super-Legend Lightning Cut, and Michi and her father are brought back together at last.
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 you divorce him from his mythological origins, Eye Guy is both horrifying and monumentally ineffective. Can you even imagine trying to punch the MegaZord when even the best case scenario is that you're hitting a giant robot with your eye? 7/10
- Deviation From the Source: Willy sure as heck ain't no Michi. 7/10
- Bulk And Skull Friendship: Skull may have been the one who dissolved Bulk's pants, but he was also the one to step up and defend him when Billy said that "an IQ was required" to be present at the science fair. 6/10
- Moral Lessons: "Don't worry about getting kicked out of a science fair for violence because virtual reality rollercoasters are the wave of the future" is a dubious on pretty much every possible level. 2/10
- '90s Fashions: Outside of Zack's amazing medallion, there's not much to report this week, except for the fact that I thought Jason had a huge sweat stain on his tank top and it turned out to be a drawing of a wolf. 4/10
Total For Episode 8: 28/50
Best Power Rangers Fan Art Ever