Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 2, Episode 48: Storybook Rangers, Part I

The last episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was a standalone tale about Tommy and Kimberly getting extremely competitive during a school election.  Their constant bickering almost tore the team apart as Tommy’s Zord was stolen by Rita Repulsa.  Bulk and Skull were still trying to uncover the identities of the Power Rangers, and Lord Zedd was waiting for Rita’s plan to fail.  It was a step back into the older episodes that, though a refreshing break from the multiple episode storylines, felt weak compared to the more recent efforts.

Perhaps going back into the multiple episode storylines will help.  There are five episodes left in season 2 of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and between the five episodes, there will be three stories.  The first of the three begins with this episode, the first of a two-parter.  There’s sure to be a good story in this one.  That’s right in the title.  We’ll see though.

Season 2, Episode 48: Storybook Rangers, Part I
Angel Grove High School was holding a book fair and the gang was looking for books that they wanted.  Kimberly found one called Grumble the Magic Elf that she loved as a child.  She bought the book and took it home, accompanied by Tommy and Rocky.  They wouldn’t make it to her house, though.

Rita being Rita had the perfect plan for the situation.  She would use the storybook as a weapon and trap the Power Rangers in it.  Lord Zedd joined in on the villainy and made sure that Grumble the Magic Elf couldn’t deliver his presents.  That would cause the story to never end.

Billy, Adam, and Aisha went looking for their friends.  Nobody knew where they were.  They asked Ms. Appleby, who had recently been given the copy of Grumble the Magic Elf by some teens who found it in the park, and said she hadn’t seen them in a while.  The three friends then went to Zordon and Alpha.  They did some of their Command Centre stuff and found the trapped teens inside the book.

In the book, Tommy, Rocky, and Kimberly were having troubles.  Not only did they encounter a grumpy Grumble, but there were also putties that wanted to steal the presents.  And to top things off, they ran into an abominable snowman type of monster that threatened their lives.  Before they could fight it off, an avalanche began and the episode ended.

There was no fighting in the episode, but there was a fun little side story with Bulk and Skull where they were working on building a monster in their garage.  With a monster, they could lure out the Power Rangers and unmask them.  Lord Zedd liked their idea and decided he would use their creation as a monster to destroy Angel Grove.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers sometimes did some inventive things for a television show about a bunch of teens fighting monsters.  It always strived to better itself.  Season 2 did a lot of work in terms of storytelling.  This episode, however, visually did something that other episodes hadn’t done.  The storybook setting for Tommy, Kimberly, and Rocky used a mixture of sets and greenscreen to place the teens in the right location.  Instead of simply putting the characters in a real world location and claiming that it was the book, there was a mixture of sets and moving cartoony backgrounds that allowed the scenery to look like a picture book.  It was something that hadn’t really been done in the show up to that point.

The other visual aspect of the episode was a little bit lazier.  The monsters that were used in the episode, notably Grumble the Magic Elf and the abominable snowman, were rehashes of older monsters.  Grumble was a recoloured version of Mr. Ticklesneezer, a monster seen early in the first season.  The abominable snowman monster, actually called The Snow Monster, was a recoloured version of Primator from early season 2, but with more fur added to fit with the colder location.  The creation of new monsters for the American footage was interesting, and helped to hold together an episode that had no Sentai footage, but felt lazy because they were recycling old suits.  More effort could have been put into making original monsters.

Storybook Rangers, Part I was a pretty good first half of the story.  It’ll be fun to see how it wraps up in the second part.  The American team got inventive with the story, creating one of the most fun unmorphed stories yet.  There may not be the depth that we’ve come to expect out of stories like Missing Green, Green with Evil, or Return of the Green Ranger (they all involve the Green Ranger, eh?) but it’s still a fun time with the Power Rangers.  The next episode will hopefully continue that.  Come back soon to find out.

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