Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is based upon the Japanese series Super Sentai. If you are reading this post, you should already know that. I’ve mentioned it in previous posts as I have worked my way through the first season of the show. If you want to get more specific, the first season is based upon the Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger season of the Super Sentai series. Many of the fight scenes when the Power Rangers are in costume have been taken directly from that series and fitted with American dialogue and an American story to market it to American children.
The reason that I am bringing this up again is that I have now ventured into the tail end of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ first season. I believe I said in the second Pudgy Pig episode that the show was reusing footage that it had used in the first Pudgy Pig episode. There is a reason for that. The first season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is sixty episodes of television. The season of Super Sentai that it takes clips from is only forty episodes long. Since there are some major story differences between the two shows, a lot of footage is not used. What is left is the fight footage. That does not leave much to take from.
This all means that there are about twenty episodes of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers that must reuse footage from previous episodes. From this point on in the first season, all of the fight footage is footage that has already appeared in various episodes. Yet there are still sixteen episodes, including the one in this post. That is sixteen episodes at the end of the season that use footage that has already been used in the series. The first of those is right now.
Season 1, Episode 45: Crystal of Nightmares
Exams are coming up and Billy has a great idea. He invites Jason, Kimberly, Trini, and Zack up to his uncle’s cabin for a study trip. They will spend the whole weekend working together to learn everything that they can learn so that they can ace all of the exams. Bulk and Skull follow them up to the cabin to try and steal their study notes. If Bulk and Skull fail the test, they will have a lot of detention in their future.
This all leads to Bulk and Skull breaking into the guys’ room while dressed as maids to look for the study notes. After a few minutes, they have to hide under one of the beds to not get caught as Zack, Jason, and Billy return. Zack starts jumping on the bed and dancing. It leads to a pillow fight between the guys. Then they go to sleep.
Rita Repulsa takes the opportunity to send Goldar down to Earth to activate the titular Crystal of Nightmares. The whole point of the Crystal is to take away any of the confidence that the Power Rangers have in themselves. Much in the same way as the two part Island of Illusion episodes, the nightmares lead to flashbacks of each of the Power Rangers’ worst moments. The moments that scared them the most or left some sort of emotional scar on them. The nightmares bring this moment out and cause the Power Rangers to be much more worried about themselves than they were previously. They lose their confidence.
The only way that the Power Rangers can regain their confidence is to destroy the Crystal of Nightmares. It will be a tough thing to do though. Since they have no confidence, the team cannot defeat a simple group of putties that has been sent down to guard the cave where the Crystal is. Jason manages to flee, however, and gets into the cave. It isn’t that easy though, since Goldar is guarding the Crystal. Jason summons up enough courage to dodge the monster and shatter the crystal. Then morph, Zord, fight, victory!
Back at school, Bulk and Skull fail the exam and get a lot of detention. The gang passes with flying colours. The end.
There wasn’t all that much actual fight footage in the episode that involved costumes or Zords. That’s all the better really, as it does not bring too much attention to the reuse of previous footage. What did bring attention to reused footage, however, was the fact that the story worked as a sort of clip show, bringing up some of the things that had happened in previous episodes. It brought back Billy being eaten, Kimberly being trapped in a jar, and Zack falling down a hill.
The episode still had a new story, even with all of the old elements being reshown. The Crystal of Nightmares was an interesting threat to the group as it turned them into fear-ridden cowards that didn’t have the skills that they were used to having. It made for an entertaining experience as they tried to recapture their confidence and take out the threat of the episode.
Sometimes the threats in an episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers can be too outlandish in that the monsters are goofy or the combination of every Zord is too overpowering for the side of good. A threat that deals with the mental stability of the Power Rangers brings a grounded element to the conflict that is refreshing when so many battles come down to outmaneuvering the opponent in battle. It was nice to have something that wasn’t a simple physical threat.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers might have to resort to reusing old footage at this point in its run, but the writers are still able to make a captivating half hour of television with the use of already shown Japanese footage. I have faith in the other fifteen episodes because of how well done this episode was. The faith does not mean that the next fifteen episodes will be good. It means that I have hope that they will be. Only will watching them let me know if they are good. I hope you stick around for the rest of the episodes as I watch them. I don’t know when I’ll watch them or when I’ll write about them, but I will. At some point, I will.