The Power Rangers Project – Power Rangers Zeo

Season: Power Rangers Zeo
Episode: “Another Song and Dance” (Episode 45)

"Is that my voice?" - Tommy

“Is that my voice?” – Tommy

Ladies and gentlemen, Rangers and villains, we have now exited the Mighty Morphin seasons and are firmly into the one-season series. Near the end of the third Mighty Morphin season, a subplot was introduced involving the Zeo Crystal, a power source that the Rangers needed for new powers – and, for the first time in the franchise, new suits. After retrieving the scattered portions of the Crystal (and Yellow Ranger Aisha, Karan Ashley, swapping places with new Yellow Ranger Tanya, Nakia Burisse), the Rangers were given their new powers and Zords.

The Zeo powers were fine – a little vague and undefined, but still nice – and the male Rangers got new colors: Rocky (Steven Cardenas) went from Red to Blue, Adam (Johnny Young Bosch) went from Black to Green, and Tommy (Jason David Frank) went from White to Red. The team was rounded out by Tanya and my least favorite Pink Ranger, Katherine (Catherine Sutherland).

Zordon still advised the team, along with former Blue Ranger Billy (David Yost), who left midway through this season. At the time, it was assumed to be a financial dispute, but years later, Yost would attribute it to being bullied on set because of his sexuality. Before Yost left, Billy was a candidate for the sixth set of Zeo Ranger powers – the Gold Ranger – but instead, another Mighty Morphin alum was brought back: Jason (Austin St. John), the original Red Ranger.

Whew! I think we’re all caught up. Now let’s get to the fun stuff.

Tommy has to sing for his music class, and thus is practicing by shredding some mad air guitar and lip-synching alone. Tanya walks in on him and makes this face:

Oh Tanya, I'm loving you already.

Oh Tanya, I’m loving you already.

Tanya tells Tommy that “there’s more to singing than looking good,” and also judges him for being so white. (Unintentional point to make: around this time, the series played up Tommy’s Native American heritage so hard, then immediately made him the Red Ranger. Well done, Power Rangers.)

Tommy asks Tanya for voice lessons after she’s done judging him, and she agrees. This gives villainess and ruler of the Machine Empire Queen Machina an idea for a plan.

QUEE–er, sorry, Queen Machina.

QUEE–er, sorry, Queen Machina.

Machina is pinch-hitting while her husband, main villain King Mondo, is, erm, destroyed. Because the villains are machines, they can rebuild themselves, which allowed for a nice mid-season arc where the vacuum of power allowed for other villains to try to fill in. One such villain was Machina’s older son, Prince Gasket, and his wife, Archerina.

They look so dashing in profile.

They look so dashing in profile.

I liked Archerina and Gasket a lot. They were much sleeker villains than Mondo (who always looked a little doddering to me), and Gasket actually had some innovative ideas.

Anyway, Machina casts a spell and forces Tommy and Tanya to sing every single one of their lines. This is just as hilarious as it sounds. It’s helped by the fact that Tommy is a TERRIBLE singer. Plus, they have to sing things in rhyme, so Tommy asking “Are you all right?” is responded to by Tanya belting “Do not make light / I’ve had a fright!” It is wonderful.

The Rangers inform the others of what’s happened to them, leading to Rocky and Adam making these faces:

Precisely my thoughts.

Precisely my thoughts.

Additionally, according to Zordon, Tommy won’t be able to pilot his personal zord, the Red Battlezord, because his singing is ruining his telepathic connection with it. To which Rocky says, rolling his eyes: “The last thing we need is to be down a Zord.” Rocky is such a bitch in this season, and I love it.

Anyway, Angel Grove is under attack, so it’s that time again:

(I so wish the morph from this episode was online – Tommy and Tanya still sing when they morph, and it’s a great little continuity nod.)

Gasket and Archerina launch a full-scale attack with a caterpillar monster, while Machina uses her son’s plans to hit a bigger target – the Zord docking bay. In the Super Zeo Megazord and Red Battlezord (reconfigured so Adam can use it), the Rangers fight the caterpillar in the single most ridiculous looking fight:

Keep punchin' it!

Keep punchin’ it!

Jason goes to the Zord bay and fights the foot soldiers, this season called Cogs, to drive them out. Meanwhile, the caterpillar monster divides, and the Rangers start to lose. Somewhere in here, Archerina, watching the battle, simply asks, “Is that singing?” It’s wonderfully underplayed and so, so funny.

Adam loses his connection to the Red Battlezord. “Reestablish the link / Or we’ll all sink!” Tommy sings. I laugh. This is followed up with both Megazords losing control and being forced to dance. Said dance includes shaking their asses.


This is the most wonderful episode.

The Zords go down, and it really looks like Gasket is going to win. They fight the Rangers on the ground, with Archerina kicking Tommy’s ass (“I’d stop that singing,” she advises. Tommy’s response: “I WISH I COULD!”) and the other Rangers getting knocked around by Gasket. During this scene, the show retains the continuity by having Tommy and Tanya sing their grunts. It is wonderful.

Jason saves the day with his carrier Zord, Pyramidas, and Tommy gets an A on his singing project. Rocky throws some shade on Tommy’s singing voice (alternate character interpretation: Rocky was the first gay Power Ranger), but Kat says she likes it, because Kat is clearly deaf. (She was also with Tommy romantically at this point – Kimberly sent a Dear John letter off-camera because the writers wanted to pair Tommy and Kat and also because life is terrible.)

Guess who's back?

Guess who’s back?

At the end of the episode, we see King Mondo has revived himself! His return sets up the arc for the short remainder of the season – and a return to boredom.

Analysis: Power Rangers Zeo as a season is boring. It bored me as a kid and it bores me now. The heavy reliance on the Choriki Sentai Ohranger stock footage for battles (if not plot) and possibly my least favorite combination of Rangers in the seasons I’ve seen added up to a snooze.

That said, “Another Song and Dance” is one of the most enjoyable episodes of the series ever, and quite enjoyable on its own merits beyond being an episode of Power Rangers. It’s really good, embracing the campy sensibilities of the show in ways that a typical episode would never be able to reach.

Not only is it campy – “Another Song and Dance” is hardly a trifle of an episode. King Mondo’s return at the end was big news for the rest of the season, and seeing Gasket and Archerina get so close to success shows that innovative thinking on villains’ part achieves results. The Rangers are lucky most villains stick to the same tired methods.

Still, one episode does not a season make. While Jason’s return as the Gold Ranger was exciting, and this season did a good job of flushing out Adam, Rocky and Kat’s personalities, it was still a rough season.

In many ways, Zeo was a necessary season. There was no way to sustain continuing to use the Mighty Morphin suits, and the show’s tendency to cut-and-paste footage together (one Season 3 episode had footage from five different sources cut together) was untenable. This was a big ol’ reset button, and set the standard for the rest of the series. However, swapping to the Zeo powers marked a return to the status quo of season 1, and no one on set seemed to be having much fun. That is, no one besides Cardenas as Rocky.

rockyI pointed out Rocky’s bitchy quips above, and they’re really indicative of how much more significant his personality shift was than either Adam’s or Kat’s. Sure, those characters got some new details added to their personas, but Rocky almost became a whole new character – hugely believable for a guy who was forced to take a demotion from Red Ranger to Blue Ranger with the seasonal changeover. In a lot of ways, he brought the fun even amidst the monotony, and the Zeo incarnation of Rocky has a special place in my heart.

Unfortunately, like QUEEN Amy Jo Johnson before him, Cardenas left the series before the rest of his team did the same. Cardenas sustained an injury while shooting Zeo that forced him to leave before the next season, Power Rangers Turbo. To say the solution producers came up with for filling his spot was “disappointing” is an understatement. Still, Turbo wasn’t all bad, and we’ll take a look at possibly its best character next time.

UP NEXT: Power Rangers Turbo: “Cassie’s Best Friend” (Episode 38)

The Power Rangers Project – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Season 3

Season: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, season 3
Episode: “Another Brick in the Wall” (Episode 26)

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was, for quite some time, the only series within the greater Rangers series that had more than one season. Perhaps as a direct result of viewer fatigue, season three was the last of the original Mighty Morphin era, and the team would gain new powers and, for the first time, new suits in Power Rangers Zeo. Because of this, a lot of this season serves as set-up for the change-over. One of the biggest examples of that is the introduction of Katherine Hillard (Catherine Sutherland) as the second Pink Ranger.

I mentioned in the season 2 write-up that I think Katherine can’t hold a candle to Kimberly (QUEEN Amy Jo Johnson). So let’s confront my Kat issues head-on with an episode that features her and Blue Ranger/last original team member Billy (David Yost) heavily. Good thing I like Billy!

First, some background: Kat was an accomplice of Rita’s when she was first introduced, but, like White Ranger Tommy (Jason David Frank, still rocking that middle name), was merely brainwashed and brought over to the good side. It was just in time, too, as QUEEN Amy Jo Johnson had asked to depart the series and was in need of a replacement Ranger. Fortunately, because she gave notice, she was given a nice, long sendoff arc. Unfortunately, we got Kat in exchange. Of course, because she is QUEEN, Johnson still got a spot in the opening credits after her departure:

Bow down to the QUEEN, peasant.

Bow down to the QUEEN, peasant.

Kat is doing some work in underserved neighborhoods, and wants to recruit the guys to help. The guys, who know a pretty girl when they see one, jump at the chance. Rita, who’s married to Zedd now (and subsequently, being played by an American actress), is disgusted with her goody-goody tendencies.


The new evil team of Rito and Rita (with Zedd and Goldar in the background).

Rita teams up with her brother, Rito Revolto, to ruin Kat’s plans. Rito was an addition to the stable of villains who initially proved useful by destroying the Thunder Zords, then almost immediately became a giant joke when the Rangers got their new Ninja Ranger powers. He proves himself no more useful in this episode than in the past.

Kat is apparently the kind of asshole who wears a “TEAM LEADER” shirt and pink helmet:

Oh, you suck.

Oh, you suck.

Anyway, she and her team clean up a construction lot (the single cheesiest musical montage ever), but what’s really important in this scene is the moment we all realized exactly how hot Billy got all of a sudden.

Hello, Blue Ranger.

Hello, Blue Ranger.

The others leave after a job well done, but Kat gets attacked by Rito and the foot soldiers for the season, the Tengas. She morphs into her ninja form, a new power this season that acts as a middle ground between unmorphed and morphed battles. It’s worth wondering exactly how ninja-esque a big pink suit really is, though.



She calls for backup, but during the scuffle, an attempt by Rita to repossess Kat misfires and creates a monster from a segment of the brick wall she hits. Said monster traps the other Rangers besides Kat and Billy in colored bricks. There’s a hilarious moment where Kat has a Debbie Downer moment and says it’s all her fault. Zordon basically tells her to stop bitching and come up with a solution. It’s refreshing for reasons we’ll get into in the analysis.

Luckily, Billy comes up with a solution: eroding the bricks away! Kat stays behind to help create a pollution machine to break the bricks while Billy goes to fight the wall monster solo.


Side note: If Billy’s Ninja spirit animal is the wolf, why is his helmet still modeled after a triceratops?

This season is unique among the Mighty Morphin seasons in that the Rangers each get two Zords: the initial Ninjazords, and the human-shaped Shogunzords. Billy uses his Shogunzord to destroy the monster in big form, too, effectively scoring two solo wins in one episode.

Billy teleports back to the Command Center, where the pollution machine works and the Rangers are saved. Zordon immediately congratulates Katherine, which is complete and utter bullshit seems a little unfair, considering Billy just destroyed a monster alone. To her credit, Kat shares the love with Billy – something no one else does.

Back at the construction site, everyone can’t help but tell Kat how amazing the work she did is with the construction lot. She’s even getting an award from the mayor, which seems more than slightly ridiculous. But hey, everyone loves Kat, right? Of course you do.

"You must love me."

“You must love me.”

Analysis: So have you caught onto the issue with Kat yet? Everything she does is wonderful and marvelous and oh thank Zordon that we have such a beauteous creature in our presence. Even in an episode where Billy destroys a tough monster alone – and comes up with the solution to reversing the Rangers’ predicament – everyone can’t shut up about how much they love Kat.

This is frustrating for so many reasons, not the least of which is that Kat was just turned from the dark side a few episodes prior. Not only that, but she doesn’t show a whole lot of qualities, even when not brainwashed, that indicate she’d be a great Ranger. There’s something to this episode’s plot that could have worked – she’s rehabilitating her image – but even from the get-go, there’s no indication that anyone even questions how wonderful and amazing Kat is. It’s all a bit nauseating.

Besides Kat’s introduction, however, season 3 has some major good points. The whole season is much more arc-focused, with a record-low 13 of 33 episodes not being part of a multi-part episode. Even some of the standalones served the greater arc. Unfortunately, the arc obsession resulted in the single least memorable “season,” Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers.

As I mentioned in the intro post, I’m not bothering with Alien Rangers, because it was only 10 episodes long and served as part of this season. However, it saw the Rangers aged down to their younger selves and put the focus on a cast of Rangers from another planet. While this gave the creators the chance to use suits and more footage from this season’s source Sentai, Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, it weighed down the series considerably, and pulls what could have been the best Mighty Morphin season down into a firm third place of three.

Speaking of weighing down the series, the next season, while a change of pace in many ways, took out a lot of the camp qualities in the original Mighty Morphin seasons, but not for the better. Luckily, the episode I’m examining, a musical episode, has camp in droves. Come back tomorrow to read all about Power Rangers Zeo.

UP NEXT: Power Rangers Zeo: “Another Song and Dance” (Episode 45)

The Power Rangers Project – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Season 1

"Behold the giant snow globe!" - Zordon, Professional Talking Head

“Behold the giant snow globe!” – Zordon, Professional Talking Head

SeasonMighty 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:

Considering David Yost came out of the closet years later, this could be seen as a very ahead-of-its-time Brokeback Mountain joke.

Considering David Yost came out of the closet years later, this could be seen as a very ahead-of-its-time Brokeback Mountain joke.

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.

UP NEXTMighty Morphin Power Rangers Season 2: “Forever Friends” (Episode 37)