Season: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, season 1
Episode: “The Yolk’s on You!” (Episode 33)
The Power Rangers Project starts where it all began: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the original Teenagers with Attitude recruited by the original Talking Head, Zordon! As soon as the opening theme begins, the nostalgia rush is on full blast as original villainess Rita Repulsa croaks, “AH! After 10,000 years I’m free! It’s time to conquer EARTH!”
The episode is #33, “The Yolk’s on You!” (Best title.) Angel Grove High School, the primary setting for the series’ first few seasons, is hosting a talent competition. We first see Red Ranger Jason (Austin St. John) and previously-evil-now-reformed Green Ranger Tommy (Jason David Frank, going just by Jason Frank in this season because he had lost his middle name at the time, I’m guessing). The two are performing martial arts for their talent, because apparently that’s all they can do, but the others are all doing different things. It’s unclear what talent Blue Ranger Billy (David Yost) is doing while wearing this hat, though:
Finster, Rita’s minion (who I LOVED), turns one of his pervy clay figures into an even more pervy monster named Fang. Just look at this thing:
Fang’s also got the most stereotypical Hispanic accent. Then again, this was a series with an Asian Yellow Ranger and African-American Black Ranger, so, y’know, par for the course.
Fang is a present for Rita’s birthday (gift cards weren’t around back then, so buying presents for loved ones was always a chore). Rita sends the rest of her minions to help the monster. I had forgotten this, but Rita was a character on the original Japanese series (Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, part of a greater series called Super Sentai, which is where almost all the Rangers unmorphed fighting footage comes from), and as such, was merely dubbed over by an American actress (Barbara Goodson). This led to some ridiculously bad lip-dubbing – an indication of exactly how low budget this whole operation really was.
Back to the story: Tommy is ambushed by Rita’s foot soldiers, the Putty Patrol, who trap him and steal his morpher. The other Rangers are informed of his plight by their mentor and giant talking head, Zordon, but are told to go after Fang (Billy about Fang: “An absolutely atrocious beast!”). Pink Ranger Kimberly (Amy Jo Johnson, also known as QUEEN) wants to help Tommy, because she wants some Green Ranger real bad (Spoiler Alert: she gets some later in the season), but Zordon sees right through her and sends the Rangers to battle Fang. Off to fight a monster – you know what that means!
Hee! I love the morphing sequence so much. (Full disclosure, I totally wanted to be the Blue Ranger back in the day.)
The Rangers’ fight against Fang doesn’t go particularly well – they get knocked around before Rita makes the monster grow. To fight the giant beast, the Rangers summon their Dino Zords and form their Megazord. The giant robot gets trashed easily, though, until Tommy (recently self-rescued from his trap) comes to help with his Dragonzord. If you recall, the Dragonzord lived in the ocean, and every single time it was summoned, it had to slooooowly emerge from the water and stomp on over to the battlefield. It was pure filler, like most everything in Power Rangers, but it was awesome.
Anyway, after the five years it takes for the Dragonzord to get to the battlefield, they change Zord formations twice, finally combining into the Ultrazord and destroying Fang in just enough time to get back for the talent show. The day is saved!
Analysis: This is your total cookie-cutter episode of the first season of Power Rangers. The Rangers participate in a school-sponsored activity, but have to first fight one of Rita’s monsters. Rita makes said monster grow, they call the Zords, and are back in time for their activity. Very fun and sweet, easy to enjoy quickly, but a limited pleasure – kind of like the kids television equivalent of Fruit Stripe gum.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers wasn’t too deep in its first season because it didn’t need to be. Everything about it was awesome on its own merits, from the theme song (“Go Go Power Rangers,” an epic rock track composed by Ron Wasserman) to the Zord battles (giant robot fights giant monster? I’m sold!).
Around this time, Power Rangers was enjoying peak popularity that it wouldn’t see again until the In Space season. However, the stock footage from Super Sentai was running out, and would be totally depleted by Episode 40. True #firstworldnetworkproblem: A series is too popular.
To compensate for the lack of footage, the creators commissioned a whole new set of footage (called Zyu2 by fans, referencing Zyuranger) that would be used for an additional 20 episodes, plus some episodes in the next season. But that season had its own issues with a new villain, cast departures and troubles trying to splice together footage from two different Japanese series. I’ll get into all that next time.