Ranger Station Episode 33: The Yolk’s On You!
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 finally time to face it: Tommy's kind of a terrible superhero.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 33: The Yolk's On You!
Writer: Cheryl Saban
Director: Terence H. Winkless
Original Air Date: November 16, 1993
All right, look. I know y'all like Tommy. Heck, I like Tommy! Remember when we finally got to "Green With Evil," and how we were all super-stoked about this game-changing epic that spanned five episodes and introduced us to the guy that we all remember as 1993's coolest karate superhero? Remember how he broke into the Megazord and punched out the Power Rangers? That was great!
But in the weeks since then, it's been rough going. We've had some pretty cool scenes of JDF standing on the beach screaming and swinging around a sword and those are awesome, but when it comes time for him to actually battle the forces of evil, there's something missing. And now, I think we've finally come to the point where we have to admit that Tommy... Well, how can I put this delicately?
Tommy's basically an idiot.
Don't get me wrong, he'll get better as the show goes on, and even here, it's not really his fault. Like I've mentioned before, the show has to constantly write around the fact that in the source material, Burai --- the Green Zyuranger, for those of you who don't read the second half of the column --- is usually stuck in a pocket dimension trying not to preserve the last 25 hours of life that he has left, and only shows up at the climax of the episode. Because of that, the writers on Power Rangers constantly have to figure out how to keep Tommy out of the action, too, which leads to stories where he's always off not paying attention when a giant monster is trying to murder a town.
Personally, I think there were probably better ways around it, but the ideal situation --- new footage of the Green Ranger being kept busy with other monsters or villains --- was probably way too expensive for a show that, while certainly a success, was still a new and relatively low-budget affair. Still, though, you'd think they could've found something to keep Tommy out of the action that didn't involve the character wandering around in a haze all the time or ditching his communicator watch like it was giving him a rash.
And it's especially bad in this episode. The non-monster plot involves a talent show at Angel Grove High, and in addition to Billy's cowboy-themed country & western act, Jason and Tommy are, of course, performing synchronized martial arts. When Tommy forgets the belts, however --- and why does Tommy have Jason's black belt? --- he runs off to get them, and ends up jogging straight into a trap laid out by Putty Patrollers.
And when I say "trap," I mean a full-on cargo net covered by leaves in the middle of a public park.
As for the monster plot, well, in a departure from the usual setup, Finster decides to take it upon himself and send a new monster down to Earth to take out the Power Rangers without waiting for Rita to give the order. But why? Is Finster planning a coup? Has he given up on a life of artistry and decided to make the most of his sinister creations?
Nah, it's a much simpler reason. Mark your calendars, folks: November 16 is Rita Repulsa's Birthday!
I feel like we should all celebrate this year with something appropriate, but I don't really know if there's a type of cake that correlates with Trying To Murder Children In The Name Of Satan. Maybe just stick a couple of ice cream cones on one and pretend it's her hair?
Anyway, the monster in question is Fang, an aquatic monster with an accent that could best be described as "dubious." Aside from that, though, it seems that he's taking advantage of not having to report directly to Rita by taking a lunch break before he sets about taking down the Power Rangers. Or at least, that was the plan before Squatt and Baboo showed up to help themselves instead.
So, what does a monster eat?
"Gooney Bird eggs."
As you may already know, "gooney bird" is a slang term for the albatross, but given that the eggs in question are about a foot tall and full of the slime that comes with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles playset, I think it might've been intended as the name of some unknown creature. Either way, I think we can all agree that the term "gooney bird" is... uniquely unsavory.
With a monster thrown into the mix, Zordon calls the Rangers to let them know what's happening. Hilariously, he shows them Tommy, trussed up in a cargo net being menaced by Putties, and then insists that "he is capable of handling his situation," which would be a much more convincing argument if he had been shown to be capable of walking through a park by himself. But yeah, Fang's probably a bigger threat, I guess.
The thing is, Fang initially doesn't want to fight the Power Rangers. He's more concerned with getting his revenge on Squatt and Baboo for robbing him of a tasty meal. Goldar, however, is a master strategist, and decides that it's time to engage in the art of... deception.
Ugh. They say it so many times, and I hate it so much.
Fang's big strategy in this fight is to pretty much just throw rocks at the Power Rangers until they die, and it proves to be shockingly effective. The Ranger scatter, and without Tommy, they're forced to retreat while Rita magic-wands Fang into being giant-sized --- and once they form the Megazord, Fang is still egg-crazy enough to nearly beat a giant robot into a pile of scrap.
Seriously, it's bad enough that Jason actually tries reasoning with him!
Eventually, Tommy manages to wriggle out of the cargo net and get his morpher back, and when the Dragonzord joins the fight, the Rangers are able to take Fang out before he destroys the Angel Grove Dam and floods the city, thoroughly obliterating him with the the power of Titanus and the Ultrazord.
At the talent show, Tommy and Jason --- and their belts, returned at last --- perform a pretty impressive martial arts routine, but that is mere prelude to the show's real headliner: Bulk and Skull performing a "heavy metal" track about how cool they are.
At first glance, the 39th episode of Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, "Tears of the Subterranean Beast," seems pretty similar to its American counterpart. I mean, no, there is sadly not a talent show involved, and Burai doesn't spend 15 minutes wandering around the woods bumping into trees, but since the episode is built entirely around the monster fight, it ends up hitting the same beats once the action starts.
There are, however, a couple of key differences. The first is that the monster, Goda is not one of Bandora's creations --- for those of you keeping score at home, the shot of Finster beaming Fang down in Power Rangers is actually recycled from "Food Fight"/"Terror! Eaten In An Instant!" Instead, she's just a regular legendary monster who has been sleeping beneath a mountain until she's released by an earthquake. You know, regular, average stuff.
Since she's not one of Bandora's monsters, she also can't speak, which is a pretty interesting distinction when you consider that Grifforzar originally couldn't talk either.
Second, and much, much more important, is the fact that no one in the Japanese version of the story ever once mentions (ugh) "Gooney Bird eggs." Instead, when Bandora notices that there's a powerful new monster running around and sends the usual gang of idiots to recruit her to the cause, the raw eggs that Bookback and Totpat decide to eat after they find them laying on the ground --- a sensible course of action --- turn out to be Goda's eggs. It's her grief over losing her children that sends her into the rage that Grifforzar directs against the Zyurangers, which I think we can all agree is a little more convincing than a murderous rampage set off by missing lunch.
It also adds a nice bit of pathos to the story that's completely absent otherwise. There's a scene where the Zyurangers see Goda literally weeping on the ground trying to put the broken eggs back together, and for all the complete and utter goofiness of tears running down a rubber mask while dinosaur royalty watch, it's pretty heartbreaking.
Bandora, however, isn't one to let someone be sad when that despair can be turned into murderous rage, so after the initial battle against the Zyurangers ends in a hasty retreat from the good guys, she shows up to make Goda an offer. With her magic, she's able to repair the eggs, but only if Goda agrees to kill the Zyurangers.
Oh, and also if she literally sells her soul to Bandora.
With her soul removed, Goda grows to giant size, and the Zyurangers call in Daizyuzin to help them deal with her. But rather than just summoning Godhorn and exploding her, they try to reason with her and offer help. Sadly, Goda is too far gone, even going as far as almost stomping on her one remaining egg (and this week's Imperiled Child, Ippei) before Burai stops her. Sadly, Gozyuzin has to put her down.
But then we get to what might be the weirdest part of the episode: The scene where the Zyurangers have what appears to be a Christian funeral for the monster they just killed.
Like... That's pretty weird, right?
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: Fang is slightly more interesting than Goda, but only because it's seriously weird to imagine a monster made for the purpose of killing the Power Rangers being seriously into lunch, let alone a lunch made of albatross eggs. 4/10
Deviation From the Source: In all honesty, Zyuranger doesn't bring a whole lot to the table this week. There is, however, a completely amazing scene where a van shows up, drives off a cliff and explodes that was cut out of the adaptation. But since it was replaced with Bulk and Skull's song, I think we can call it even. 2/10
Bulk and Skull Friendship: Bulk and Skull wrote a song about how great they are. They wrote a song about how great each other are. 8/10
Moral Lessons: Don't forget your black belt or you might be attempted-murdered in a park. Write things down if you need to! 5/10
'90s Fashions: See Below. 10/10
Total For Episode 21: 29/50