Living on Netflix: Power Rangers – Life’s a Masquerade

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Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and all the images you see in this recap are owned Saban Brands

Episode directed by Robert Hughes

It’s that time a year for us to start enjoying all the SPOOKINESS in the world as well as the endless amount of crappy horror sequels that we PRETEND to enjoy ironically but actually like them quite a bit (*cough* Children of the Corn 3 *cough* The Fly 2 *cough*).  However, for those of us who just aren’t feeling it this time around I made a list of really great Halloween specials that will get you in the festive mood without all that gratuitous blood and gore that just feels a bit unnecessary right now.  Let’s face it, the world is in pretty rough shape, and while I LOVE me some bone crunching, blood gushing, slasher trash… I just can’t get into the spirit the way I could in previous years and I’m guessing there are others who would agree with me or at the very least were looking for a bit of variety to their Halloween playlist.  Now I capped that list off with something that came as a HUGE surprise to me which is the episode of Power Rangers that we will be looking at today!  Power Rangers vs Frankenstein!?  Not only does that sound like the most amazing premise of all time, the episode ACTUALLY manages to live up to the absurd awesomeness that you’d hope to get from that!  Just how well did they pull this episode off!?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with the Power Rangers Jason, Billy, Trini, Zack, and Kimberly (along with the newly reformed Green Ranger Tommy) helping Ernie set up the Angel Grove Youth Center for the Halloween Party where all the teenagers can go and celebrate away from the horrible influences of sex and booze!  As always, Bulk and Skull are on hand to help; not necessarily to help any of THEM, but to help the audience enjoy the episode that much more because Bulk and Skull are the absolute best thing about this series.  I LOVE these two and I always find their shtick hilarious, though the initial gag this time around is a bit odd as Skull apparently has nothing better to do than hit himself in the head with a staple gun.  Okay… I mean I guess he’s frustrated that it’s not working, but that has to be like… the WORST way to go about it!  At least Bulk’s gag here is a lot simpler with the classic PAINT CAN ON HEAD bit, though the paint here is obviously some sort of cream.

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“You look like Storm Shadow crossed with the Pillsbury Dough Boy!!”     “Oh a wise guy, eh?  COME HERE, YOU!!”

As much as I’d like this episode to simply be a series of Two Stooges sketches, there IS an actual plot here which is the same plot in every Power Rangers episode.  Rita Repulsa is bored because there’s no TV on the moon, so she creates a monster to mess with the Power Rangers instead of sending said monster off to ANY OTHER CITY ON THE PLANET.  Seriously, the Rangers don’t even have driver’s licenses!  What the heck are they gonna do if she decided to attack Los Angeles instead of Angel Grove?  Take a bus!?  Anyway, in keeping with the Halloween spirit Rita Repulsa makes a Frankenstein monster to terrorize the populace, but not just ANY Frankenstein monster.  This dude has the a flat top head, scars on his forehead, and bolts in his neck which are ALL things pretty tightly under Universal’s copyright, so I don’t know how Saban managed to bring this episode over here without causing a trademark nightmare.  It’s a good thing too because this is probably one of the best monsters the show has ever had; mainly because it’s not a guy in a rubber suit which means the actor is better able to give a performance with facial expressions and has much less restrictive movement.

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That’s just a dude!  Rita’s ultimate weapon is a cosplayer with crappy monster hands!  IT’S PERFECT!!

There’s also one other twist to the usual formula here which is that this monster doesn’t have some HUGE diabolical scheme where they steal children away, sow the seeds of evil plants, or whatever goofy ideas the previous monsters had that were TOTALLY gonna take over the world somehow.  Instead, Franken-bro here just starts roaming the town looking for the Power Rangers (while also going RRRRAAAAHHHHH a lot) with no other plan than to strangle them to death once found!  Hey, it makes sense to me!  If I was an evil warlord, step one would be to crush all resistance and THEN reveal my master plan instead of just hoping the Teenagers with Attitude won’t stop them for the thirtieth freaking time!  While Franken-bro is off on the hunt, we cut back to Bulk and Skull in a costume changing montage as they try to find something to wear for the party.  Oh yes.  This is a thing that happens, and it is amazing!  I just love the idea that FOR NO REASON, the two of them have a chest of rather nice and well-fitting costumes that they can put on at a moment’s notice; and an eclectic collection at that!  They eventually settle on THE BEST costumes which are fifties Elvis and post peanut butter, banana, and bacon sandwiches Elvis.

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“Bruce Campbell’s got NOTHING on us!!”

While the duo are testing out their dance moves, Franken-bro JUST SO HAPPENS to appear outside their window, shakes his head with shame, and then moves on to search for the Power Rangers elsewhere.  Man, I knew he was the villain before, but THAT right there crossed the line!  How DARE he belittle the work of these two geniuses!  From there we cut to the Halloween Party (which is taking place in the middle of the day for some reason) and it’s… well it’s certainly a party I guess.  Zack (Black Ranger) is trying to hit on one of the ladies there with absolutely no success, Bulk and Skull FOREGO their Elvis costumes to instead go as themselves (WHY!?  THOSE COSTUMES WERE GREAT!!), and Tommy still hasn’t shown up due to him still getting his “costume ready” which I assume is code for “this party blows and I won’t come within half a mile of it”.  Actually I tell a lie as the party DOES get somewhat interesting when Alpha shows up with the youngsters, and the dude CLEANS UP!!  HE IS A LITERAL CHICK MAGNET AND IT IS AWESOME!!

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Chicks dig robots, bro!

While Alpha is off collecting more numbers than a phone book, the party gets yet another unexpected guest as Franken-bro finally finds where those pesky teenagers are hiding, but no one notices because his costume is just as bad as everyone else’s.  Needless to say that shenanigans begin ensuing as no one at the party is aware of the imminent danger he poses nor is he particularly competent enough to cause actual harm.  I still question though why one of the party girls still thinks they’re dancing even though he takes half a dozen swipes at her head and eventually tosses her ass across a room.  NONE of the Rangers by the way find this behavior peculiar enough to intervene, which leaves it up to Bulk and Skull to try and chase out the rambunctious partier!  SEE!?  They’re the REAL heroes of this show!!  Okay, it doesn’t WORK as they end up being the ones chased, but it’s more than anyone else did!

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“Wait!  Maybe this is all a big misunderstanding!”     “RRRRAAAAHHHHH!!”     “No, I think his intentions are pretty clear.”

While none of the Rangers lifted a finger when Franken-bro was throwing ladies across the room, the kerfuffle with Bulk and Skull DID manage to get the attention of Billy (Blue Ranger) who starts following Franken-bro and this is where the story takes an odd detour.  For whatever reason, Franken-bro stops chasing after the Rangers and just… goes to a cave somewhere.  Apparently Rita Repulsa’s putty minions JUST SO HAPPEN to be digging up clay which Rita and her goons need to make MORE monsters… and for some reason Franken-bro is urgently needed there for… some reason?  I just don’t get this.  He had a perfectly good mission already, so why is he just abandoning it to do… whatever the heck it is he’s doing at the cave!?

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“Gotta go to work!  Work all day!  Putty Patrol are we!!”

Now as awkward as this transition is, it DOES lead us to one of the most badass moments OF ALL TIME which is when Franken-bro finds Billy skulking around and they start to fight.  Now Billy gets to transform into the Blue Ranger with armor and super Kung Fu skills, but that doesn’t mean Franken-bro is going into this without some tricks of his own.  The dude TAKES OUT HIS NECK BOLTS AND USES THEM AS FREAKING NUN-CHUCKS!  HOLY CRAP!!  Have you EVER heard of anything that freaking METAL!?

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“What a useless blue guy!  RRRRAAAAHHHHH!!”

Okay, they aren’t EXACTLY nun-chucks as the chain between both ends is WAY too long, but I’m gonna stick with that because NECK BOLT NUN-CHUCKS just rolls off the tongue and sounds like the most hardcore band name of all time!  Credit to Billy though for having the guts to face this magnificent bastard head on, though it goes about as well as you’d expect for the first fight scene in the episode.  While Blue Boy is getting his ass handed to him, Rita is apparently flying around the city of Angel Grove on a ball of… something (I guess it’s clay?) and is causing earthquakes or something because why the heck not.  The sudden shifting of tectonic plates is FINALLY enough to goad the remaining Rangers into action so they meet up with Billy and head to the command center.  By the way, Tommy FINALLY shows up to the party but gets there about five minutes after the Rangers left and the place is crawling with putties at this point which means it’s time for some more KUNG FU ACTION!  Okay, it’s not GREAT action, but it serves it purpose of keeping Tommy out of the loop and away from the REAL fight scene which is between the Rangers and Franken-bro; the better of the two fights by the way even if doesn’t last all that long.  I DO like the rubber suits that a lot of the monsters wear in this show, but getting someone who can ACTUALLY throw down and show off some moves can sometimes be even more impressive and the guy playing Franken-bro is freaking excellent here.

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THIS IS THE I, FRANKENSTEIN MOVIE WE SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN!!

Oh it gets better from there!  While I could have used a bit more hand to hand fighting in this episode, we ARE running out the clock by this point so it’s time to get to the REAL battle which is between GIANT FRANKEN-BRO (make my monster grow!!) and the Megazord!  I’m not gonna lie!  This may be the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in my life!  Franken-bro, whose weapon has been upgraded from nun-chucks to a kusarigama, hands the Megazord its ASS like nobody’s business!  The Megazord doesn’t stand a freaking CHANCE and it’s absolutely glorious to watch!  How overpowered is this dude?  The Rangers get desperate enough that they call in the Mega Sword IMMEDIATELY and even score a direct hit on Franken-bro… who then proceeds to laugh it off like he’s John freaking Cena getting hit by a water noodle!  MEGA SWORD!  TO THE CHEST!  HE DOESN’T SELL IT IN THE LEAST!  THIS DUDE IS UNSTOPPABLE!!

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“And his name is RRRRAAAAHHHHH!!”

This is just a shameful display for the supposed protectors of Earth who get smacked around more than a tennis ball at Wimbledon.  Is there ANYTHING they can do to mitigate this unholy beat down!?  Well yes!  Tommy has just finished taking out the putty trash and transforms into Green Ranger so he can summon the Dragon Zord!

And they still can’t take down Franken-bro!  The dude even drops his weapon and fights the TWO ZORDS BARE HANDED, and they still can’t put a scratch on him!  I swear I don’t need to watch any more Power Rangers; I just need to watch an entire series about this guy!  Like, what is it about him that makes him so strong?  The dude is wearing a cheap suit, fake monster hands, only half a mask, and yet he’s ripping them to shreds!   The only sad thing about all this is that I will never in my life experience such joy as I do watching Franken-bro swing the Dragon Zord around by his tail and smashing him into the Mega Zord.  This is it!  This is peak humanity!  WE WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO TOP THIS!!

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“Can you SSSMMMEEELLLLLL, what the RRRRAAAAHHHHH is cooking!?

The Rangers only have one thing left that could stop possibly Franken-bro (what they should have probably LED with, but whatever) which is to combine the individual Zords with the Dragonzord to make the Dragon Megazord.  Now this is DIFFERENT from the Mega Dragonzord which is the combination of the Megazord with the Dragonzord… though I don’t know why they didn’t just go with that version considering the Zords had already combined into the Megazord like ten minutes ago which means they had to break apart before combining with the Dragonzord, but whatever!  This little rant and/or clarification doesn’t even matter anyway because Red Ranger flubs the line!  Yeah, ALL my research indicates that this is NOT the Mega Dragonzord, but Jason says that’s what it is anyway!  I expect a BIT more consistency from my westernized kids shows based on a super heroes from Japan!  Getting back to the episode, Franken-bro (who is an HONORABLE fighter) doesn’t attack his opponent while they are getting ready for round two, though I guess he DOES use the hour or so it takes for this robot to be constructed to go find his neck bolt nun-chucks… but wait, I thought that turned into a kusarigama when he got big!?  GAHH!!  Once the intermission is over Franken-bro continues to put up a decent fight, but the match is over once the Dragon Megazord pulls out its power staff and shoves it right into Franken-bro’s chest in one of the most hilariously awful effects I’ve ever seen.  Death by Photoshop.

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“THE FORTUNE TELLER WAS RIGHT!!  RRRRAAAAHHHHH!!”

And so the greatest threat the Rangers have ever faced has finally been defeated as Franken-bro goes RRRRAAAAHHHHH one last time before exploding; leaving us to only imagine what could have been if he had lived to fight another day.  Okay, TECHNICALLY he didn’t die in the Super Sentai version (Kyōryū Sentai Zyurange) and instead transformed into Mutitus, but in Power Rangers he’s gone for good and that makes me very sad.  He was a PHENOMENAL villain with the perfect combination of camp, menace, and outright badassery that made him stand out from the other villains of the week this show throws at us!  Well at least the Halloween Party at the Youth Center is back in full swing with Alpha still covered in adoring fans and Bulk and Skull striking out yet again.  Seriously, they should have stuck with the Elvis costumes!  But wait!  Is that a familiar RRRRAAAAHHHHH I hear!?  Could it be!?  YES!  FRANKEN-BRO HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE AND IS CRASHING THE PARTY AGAIN!!  No wait; it’s just Tommy who finally changed into his costume.  Well I guess THAT mystery is solved…

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TOO SOON!!

And so ends one of the most amazing Halloween specials that you’ll ever see!  It doesn’t really FIX any of the problems that I normally have with this show (rather boring main characters and some awkward editing choices to fit in the Super Sentai footage), but the stuff that they usually get right is cranked up to eleven with the most glorious of fight scenes imaginable and what is easily my favorite monster in the whole series.  Sure, I’m a bit biased considering how much I genuinely enjoy the classic Universal Monsters, but the utter simplicity of his design along with his very straightforward plan makes for a tight and well-crafted episode.  There’s almost no fat to trim here as the monster’s plan isn’t overly complicated or requires that much set up, so it’s pretty much a straight twenty minutes of nonstop energy that hits all the right notes and carves out an identity for itself that makes it stand out from the rest of the series.  To me, this is everything I think of when I try to conceptualize what Power Rangers is on a fundamental level, though you might want to take that with a grain of salt as I’ve yet to finish the series which means there might be even BETTER episodes out there.  I mean… I can’t imagine what those could be unless the Rangers ACTUALLY end up fighting Godzilla at some point, but regardless of whether this is widely considered to be BEST episode, it’ll certainly put a smile on your face and is a perfect addition to your Halloween celebrations!

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