Valentine’s Day Special: ComicsAlliance Reviews ‘Power Rangers’ Love Potion Episode
Chris: Hello everyone! Our original plan this week was to do a review of Supaidaman Episode 9, but with Valentine's Day in the air, we thought something special might be in order. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the story of Shinko Yamashiro being menaced by a piece of jewelry that is actually a robot beetle from space has all kinds of romance, but you have to admit that it lacks a certain... something.
Caleb: Love potions. It lacks love potions.
Chris: That's why we've turned instead to Supaidaman's tokusatsu descendant, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, for this week's breakdown of... "The Potion Notion."
Caleb: You ready to "Go! Go!", Chris?
Chris: Ready as I'll ever be, but it's worth mentioning before we start that much like the Christmas episode that we hit last year, this one's from Season 3, which is after I'd stopped watching it as a kid.
Caleb: Even if you love the Power Rangers, Season 3 is pretty weird.
Chris: Just from the two episodes we've recapped -- which were actually done back-to-back -- that seems like the case. If nothing else, this one makes it abundantly clear that they're bolting a completely different plot onto a monster that they've imported from the Japanese version of the show. And honestly, I kinda love that.
Caleb: Yeah, Season 3 really cobbles together various Sentai series and it shows. But how can anyone object to watching Rita become an utter nag?
Chris: Pretty easily, if you happen to turn 14 when it's happening. But let's dive in!
Caleb: Our episode opens with Bulk and Skull flattering the adorably platonic Tommy and Kimberly. Turns out the recent Jr. Police recruits are peddling tickets (seriously, they're both lugging around rolls of hundreds of tickets) to a romantic ball and need all the attendees they can get to appease their boss.
Chris: Can you explain the whole "Junior Police" thing to me again? And why not selling hundreds of tickets to what is essentially a school dance would lead to them being "thrown in the brig?"
Caleb: The Jr. Police are kind of like... Super Hall Monitors? Free security guards for the school -- sort of like interns? Bulk and Skull are naturally pretty bad at it, so I assume selling these tickets is an attempt to make up for previous failures.
Chris: Please tell me that there was an episode where Bulk and Skull were scared straight by being put into a prison where a hardened criminal moon-monster yelled at them. "You wanna end up like me, boy?! Gettin' damn near vaporized by a giant robot made of f***in' dinosaurs?! 'Cause that's the road you're walkin' on!"
Caleb: Sadly nothing quite so spiritual. It was a more gradual change. Kind of like Flash Thompson being inspired by Spider-Man. If I remember correctly, they basically just showed up with uniforms on one day and were like, "This is what we're doing now because... Power Rangers."
Chris: Well, that's something. I do think it's a nice bit of foreshadowing -- or at least as much foreshadowing as you can have in a show that runs 20 minutes, including credits -- that when Bulk is trying to butter up our happy couple, Skull is just cold giving Tommy the hairy eyeball.
Caleb: Tommy IS "Mr. Perfect," and sort of easy to resent. If only Skull knew the true price of being awesome, and the warrior's pain within.
Chris: The tragedy of having hair that long.
Caleb: Meanwhile, up on the moon (which is probably where Newt Gingrich got his idea for a moon base), Rita is nagging her recently acquired evil husband to spend some quality time with her. Zedd, being the master strategist that he is, has already covered his bases by prepping a monster and planning a second honeymoon with his wife. Their hideous monster underlings are unironically disgusted by the prospect of those two being physical, except for Rita's clueless brother Rito, who is stoked to be in charge while they're away.
Caleb: Just in case you don't remember, Rito is the guy whose plans to kidnap Santa Claus were foiled by an enchanted snowball fight. He's basically an evil version of Bulk and Skull as one skeleton dude.
Chris: I distinctly remember that all of the segments with Rita were just Japanese footage that had been overdubbed, but while these are definitely dubbed, it's also very clear that everyone involved is actually speaking English, which raises so many questions.
Caleb: Yeah, basically MMPR kept swapping Sentai series (which were separate shows) and shoehorned them into a single... I guess "saga" is the word I'm looking for? As a result, a ton of cool Sentai stuff was left on the cutting room floor and Americans got Rita and Zedd acting like The Honeymooners. It's a little charming, but mostly just insane. Fortunately, we're the irony generation and can really dig on it... right?
Chris: When Zedd told Rita that one day, bang, zoom, right to the moon, he was speaking literally.
Caleb: A season ago it would've been ultra-literal, because he hated her and wanted her dead. As wonderfully narrated by monster crafter Finster as he puts the finishing touches on this week's monster for Rito, their marriage was accomplished by a cosmic love potion. So yes, this week the Rangers face a monster with love manipulation powers enow to wed Rita and Zedd. And I don't use "enow" lightly.
Chris: Just one of the many ways that you're like Thor. And by "many" I mean "exactly one."
Caleb: Anyway, Rito kicks it Rito style and Mickey Mouses some plot details via hilarious exposition and a bubble-shooting heart gun and "Miss Chief" is born.
Chris: I'm going to go ahead and say this now: Miss Chief is my favorite part of this episode, because she has absolutely nothing to do with what the costume was originally created for. It is clearly meant to be a Fireman-type monster, to the point where it wears a Fireman's helmet with "MAD FIRE" written on it. Which is fantastic all on its own.
Caleb: Much of what I love about the "Saban Model" is that episodes of this show aren't written so much as they are "solved." It's the tokusatsu equivalent of cable cooking show challenges.
Chris: They also have the feeling of things that were written under a one-hour time limit. "You must create a 20-minute story of teenagers fighting a fireman monster. Today's secret ingredient -- LOVE POTION!"
Caleb: Allez cuisine! What happens next is probably proof of this concept. Miss Chief (I guess she's a fire chief?) makes sure we all know she's invisible to everyone and starts playing Cupid with her love bubble gun.
Caleb: Kimberly falls for Skull first, much to the emasculation of the lovable badass Tommy, and dumps her beau for Bulk's best friend. Then, their boss Lt. Stone gets hot for teacher in front of the rest of the Rangers. As a side note, Bulk falls for Yellow Ranger Aisha, who has already put together that a monster is messing with their school. That may seem like a leap in logic, but Aisha is usually among the most competent Rangers.
Chris: It would only be a leap of logic if this sh** didn't happen every day in Angel Grove. This scene does raise a few questions, though.
Caleb: Let's address them, then.
Chris: First of all, if Rita and Zedd can make a monster invisible, send it to school and then get it close enough to Kimberly that it can dose her with love potion from a spray bottle, how in the hell are the Power Rangers still alive?
Caleb: Uh... only love monsters can turn invisible. Also, turning invisible must also make them intangible... except for their love bubbles, so like, they can't hurt them. Also, Rita and Zedd aren't very creative.
Chris: "Turn invisible and stab those children in the face while they sleep" doesn't require a whole lot of creativity, to be honest. Second question, does it seem odd to you that Skull seems pretty confident in himself about stealing the girlfriend of a dude who has the power of Jesus and martial arts on his side?
Caleb: A year ago Skull had the power of punk rock and anarchy on his side, which may have lingering effects of suburban sex appeal.
Chris: Fair enough, but he doesn't even question it. He's just like "Oh, I guess Kimberly loves me now, suck it Tommy." Third, not really a question, but I had forgotten that Bulk's real name was "Bulkmeyer." And that Skull's is apparently "Skull."
Caleb: Well, his full name is Eugene "Skull" Skullovitch. Bulk's first name is Farkas. So they both go by nicknames inspired by their last names. Like jocks!
Chris: For those of you reading along at home, I can assure you that Caleb did not have time to look that piece of trivia up.
Caleb: Confounded by all the love, the Rangers meet up at one of the parks they get tons of exercise at in their free time. Tommy has managed to drag his lovestruck girl along, who proclaims her love for Skull. They all try to be diplomatic about the situation, but basically just come out and say, "Kimberly could never fall in love with Skull because he's an ugly creep and Tommy is handsome and cool. Rita and Zedd must have created an invisible love monster or something."
Chris: I like that their first instinct is to go talk to Zordon. Because who knows the ways of the teenage heart better than a giant floating head who lives in a mountain with an androgynous robot?
Caleb: Yeah, they sure do rely on those two weirdos. Zordon will have to wait, though, because Goldar and some birds have come to fight them in their halfway morphed ninja forms. Meanwhile, Rita and Zedd's trip gets interrupted when their spaceship runs out of gas due to Rito's incompetence. Oh snap!
Chris: Which gives us the chance to see Rita chew some scenery with a bizarre chair dance that thrusts her crazy cone bra directly into the faces of 1996's most impressionable children.
Caleb: Fortunately the show cuts back to wholesome violence as the the ninja kids say goodbye to a retreating Goldar and crew before confirming Kimberly's love potion affliction at Zordon's base. He and Alpha are basically helpless to reverse the spell since, you know, Zordon is super lazy, and it's up to the team to "tamper with the delicate balance of human emotions" themselves. By beating someone up.
Chris: It might be the really awful acting, but Zordon seems bored as hell in these episodes, to the point where he's sort of making up additional challenges just to keep things interesting. "You can't use your ranger powers at the North Pole because of... uh... Christmas magic." "I can't fix you because your emotions are delicate, so go fight until it clears up."
Caleb: And so our game show metaphor returns. Back on the moon, Goldar discovers what Rito's been up to. Also, that Rita and Zedd (known as "Ed" to Rito) are engaged in a farce of a marriage. But whatever, let's see the Rangers fight a monster!
Chris: It's also worth noting that the other rangers are surprisingly relieved to discover that their friend has basically been super-roofied.
Caleb: Good thing Goldar is sending down an antidote to the cosmic roofie bubbles -- essentially out of spite -- to put a stop to both the good and bad guys' problems.
Chris: Finster shows up to send Miss Chief back to the Moon Castle and stop the obviously toupee-sporting principal from getting into a fistfight with Lt. Stone, which points to a pretty interesting aspect of this episode: Zedd and Rita actually wanted to take a week off and spend some time doing whatever it is that skinless demon monsters do with surprisingly attractive immortal space witches.
Caleb: Hold hands. Talk about the future. It should be noted, however, that their son does pop up in a future PR series and he is the ugliest S.O.B. in the entire franchise.
Chris: Oh dear.
Caleb: Let's not get off topic talking about ol' Thrax, though. That's a review in itself. With the Earthlings cured, Finster returns to the moon. Lots of love potion gets sprayed, leading Rita to temporarily fall in love with Goldar and his demonic red eyes. She's cured before Zedd notices, which is good because he's kind of super evil. Zedd then gets the plot going again, sending Miss Chief down to do her thing. Grow and fight a Zord and die. Such is the lifecycle of a monster.
Chris: Get ready to make fun of me, but: This was the part of the show that totally confused me, mainly because I was unaware that the Power Rangers could turn into ninjas, and then also turn into Power Rangers.
Caleb: Yeah, they stacked some transformations in as part of forcing aspects of Ninja Sentai Kakuranger into the show. Basically to make more toys to give the Rangers something to do in the MMPR movie. Sadly, the coolest aspects of Ninja Sentai Kakuranger are crammed into the "Alien Rangers" saga.
Chris: It's also kind of weird that they have their old dinosaur-themed helmets, but their robots are, like, a frog and a gorilla.
Caleb: It's a splendid cocktail of motifs, indeed.
Chris: So, since it's time for the big finale, how about a Monster Breakdown?
Name: Miss Chief
Appearance: Evil firefighting robot... lady?
Primary Weapon: Love potion bubble gun.
Secondary Weapon: Manhole cover-sized throwing star.
Tertiary Weapon: Dying super fast.
Rating: Love out of 5
Caleb: The episode shifts back to Zedd and Rita's forced love reveal. Even after being exposed to the love antidote, Zedd still loves Rita. Goldar does his best to point out how stupid everything they do is, but he's forced to apologize. This is a metaphor for how we should all watch MMPR episodes.
Chris: I think I'll just stick with watching them for money.
Caleb: Fair enough. The episode ends at the Jr. Police Ball, and everyone is dancing and getting their platonic love on. Kimberly -- or is it Lana Del Rey? -- decides that she should dance with Skull to make up for totally f***ing with his mind earlier while under the influence of love potion. He accepts and they agree to be friends, which is totally good enough for him. Poor creep.
Chris: She just morphed him straight into the Friend Zone.
Caleb: How could he resist with such an awesome band playing? Seriously, is that Paula Cole?
Chris: I think it's Natalie Merchant.
Caleb: So Chris, should we even bother saying what the craziest parts of this episode were? Or should we agree that the entire thing is a pitch-perfect work of love potion madness and get back to playing videogames?
Chris: Well, since I already talked about the utter weirdness of cramming the fireman monster into their love potion story, I'll just go ahead and point out that this Megazord they have is completely f***ing insane.
Chris: First of all, I would be super-pissed if I was the guy who got stuck driving the giant frog, and second of all, the way it ends up combining, it is a robot with a giant frog head codpiece.
Caleb: Frogs are important to ninja mythology, but yeah, its placement isn't the most flattering.
Chris: Also, I was pretty weirded out by the one girl wearing a Cosby Sweater when Kimberly was trying to seduce Skull. Anything stick out to you?
Caleb: Mostly just how much Lana Del Rey is aping Kimberly's style in this last scene at the dance. Amy Jo Johnson's music career could've gone so much further if she'd have been born in '86 and mumbled about videogames.
Chris: Wearing overalls that are also short shorts will put a crimp in most plans, I find.
Caleb: And with that, we bid "The Potion Notion" farewell and wish you, gentle readers, a much less insane Valentine's Day.
Chris: Be here next week when we return to the saga of Takuya Yamashiro with Japanese Spider-Man Episode 9!