Welcome to the most 1990s thing that ever existed.
For anyone who doesn't know, 'Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers' was a live-action television series about teenagers who come together to use recycled Japanese action show footage to sell toys to American kids. It first aired on Fox Kids in 1993 and is still on, jumping from Fox to ABC to Toon Disney to Nickelodeon, changing its name and cast as many times as it needed to remain fresh. The most recent incarnation is 'Power Rangers Super Samurai,' but they've been Turbo, Zeo, in Space, in a Lost Galaxy and affixed with everything from time travel to dinosaurs and something called 'jungle fury'.
Today, Sports On TV tackles the show that brought the Power Rangers to the dance -- the first three seasons of 'Mighty Morphin' -- featuring the original cast (mostly), the original bad guys and all the horrible dubbed-in dialogue and grainy footage that made the franchise a 20-year success. Yeah, I can't figure it out either.
As an added bonus, you can MAKE YOUR MONSTER GROWWWW and unlock the Rita Repulsa badge by sharing Sports On TV: Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers' 20 Greatest Sports Moments on Facebook and Twitter. All you have to do is click the handy-dandy share buttons at the bottom of the post, and the badge is yours. What better way to say "I know a lady who spent 10,000 years on the moon"?
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Episode: "The Trouble with Shellshock" (season 1, episode 22)
What Happens: In an episode that is mostly about the Power Rangers battling a turtle who hits baseballs at them and has a magical traffic light on his head (featuring the immortal line, "wait'll those teenage mutants see what a full-grown turtle can do!"), the Ranger teens bond with their new friend Tommy by beating him at basketball, and at one point work together to throw local Abbott and Costello Bulk and Skull into a hot dog cart. But no, seriously, the turtle was gigantic and the traffic light on his head could make people stop or go (or "caution," I'm assuming) at his command. No clue on the baseballs.
Key line: "Time for my vernacular, spectacular, veracious, bodacious, autophonic, morphonomic ... jam!"
Basketball scenes bookend this episode. In the first, Black Ranger Zack reveals that the only thing he's better at than using an axe to command a mastodon robot is 90s-style trash talk ("Aw, losing's gonna hurt so bad, you're gonna have to call a doctor, an ambulance, medics!" Tommy's sad response is, "yeah, for you!").
In the closing scene, Zack hustles Tommy into buying his friends lunch, but gets shown up when Blue Ranger Billy challenges him to a double-or-nothing one-on-one showdown. Zack doesn't think much of it, because he's the only black guy in Angel Grove and Billy is a nerdy, unassuming, 38-year old high school freshman. Billy says that confusing shit in the Key Line section and dunks with his chest to the rim, which is somehow even less believable than an 80-foot tall baseball turtle who commands traffic.
Episode: "Football Season" (season 1, episode 58)
What Happens: Green Ranger Tommy wants to join the football team, but he's never played football ... he's so good at karate that when he tries to do any other sport, he just does karate. No, seriously. Juice Bar proprietor and former collegiate fullback Ernie offers to train him, so he holds up tackling dummies and Tommy helplessly does karate at them. Meanwhile, the gang cools down by playing flag football (not really "playing flag football" as much as jumping through the air and aimlessly running around like they're in the middle of a 'Glee' dodgeball game) and get attacked by Rhinoblaster, a monster that yells sports terms and commands a team of fully-uniformed Football Putties.
The entire episode is dialogue like this:
Key line: "If you think you're gonna mess up our town ..." "Then you're way offside!" "So pack up your ball and go home!" "'Cause we don't want you on our field!" "So punch yourself outta here!" "Or you'll face the ..." "Power Rangers!"
Rita Repulsa occasionally decided to send these sports-themed monsters after the Power Rangers, which makes little-to-no sense, as she's an Asian lady whose been trapped in a sewer drain on the moon for 10,000 years and shouldn't have any concept of popular American sports. Maybe the monsters pick that shit up on the way down. Maybe one of the henchmen is into sports, like that one guy who wrote on the 'Clerks' cartoon and made Kevin Smith include Patrick Ewing jumpshot jokes. Maybe Goldar was really into soccer in the 90s. Who knows?
The best part of the episode is that Tommy struggles to differentiate football from jump kicks for 21 minutes, then in minute 22 turns out good enough to not only make the team, but to be its STARTING QUARTERBACK. Ernie taught him now to run into a tackling dummy without yelling HI-YAH and somehow that makes him a great fit for QB. At least I HOPE it's the Angel Grove squad he made, because he may or may not be starting for Penn State:
Not to make light of a horrible situation, but how awesome would it have been if the Penn State trial had ended with a huge spear falling from outer space and Jerry Sandusky turning into a giant?
Episode: "A Star is Born" (season 1, episode 32)
What Happens: Tommy tells his friends that he's auditioning for a karate commercial, and they're super impressed with him maybe being on TV despite the fact that their extra-curricular activity is literally piloting enormous animal robots and saving Earth from an evil moon lady's oddly-themed monster giants. Bulk reveals that he too, is trying out for the karate commercial. So you think the monster that shows up is gonna be a karate monster, right? Or a commercial monster. Nope! Angel Grove gets attacked by BABE RUTHLESS, a monster who is Babe Ruth-themed because he says baseball things and his hands kinda look like catchers mitts.
Key line: "With Dragonzord in battle mode, we've got us a whole new ball game! ... All right Rangers, it's the bottom of the ninth, and we need a home run!"
There aren't a lot of baseball episodes of 'Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers' because American teens in the 90s wanted to surf and skateboard and X-Games all over everything, but the Japanese LOVE baseball, so a lot of the monsters in the Japanese footage have random baseball hobbies. Babe has two big moments:
1. "Throwing a baseball" at the Zords, which takes the form of a big red yoga ball and makes a dodgeball noise.
2. Running directly into the Dragonzord's spear. Like, directly at/onto it.
He's such a bad monster that he dies with like 6 minutes left in the episode, so the Rangers fight a SECOND thing -- a cocoon-spewing worm being controlled by foxy sometimes-antagonist Scorpina. It does a little better (it gets killed by the Dragonzord's spear, but at least it doesn't run right the f**k into it), but it doesn't yell TWO BALLS AND NO STRIKES BETTER TAKE A PITCH WOO-HOO~ or anything so there's no point in talking about it.
Oh, and it turns out that Tommy AND Bulk get parts in the commercial, but Bulk is only in it to make fun of him, because in Angel Grove people only care about your feelings if you're physically fit, high-fiving and saying things like "all right you guys!"
Episode: "Grumble Bee" (season 1, episode 51)
What Happens: Zack, Kimberly and Jason get attacked while playing basketball, because they get attacked whenever they're outside somewhere for more than five minutes. Unfazed, they use the basketball as a weapon against the Putty Patrol, passing it to each other and just sorta killing space monsters by tossing a ball at them. Eventually Goldar shows up, wraps up the teens in a rope (!) and holds them hostage on the basketball court. Yes, all it takes to stop the Power Rangers after 50 episodes of growing monsters and evil mind control schemes: a length of rope.
Key line: "You think you're pretty smart, Power Rangers! But trust me, your lessons have just begun!"
The actual plot of "Grumble Bee," Blue Ranger Billy gets a B on a test and gets unreasonably bummed out about it, so Rita exploits his self-doubt and sends down a self-doubt-themed monster (named Grumble Bee) down to attack Angel Grove with ... school? Or something. I'm not sure. It's a bee, and B is a grade you can get in school, so
The highlight of the episode is how the Rangers escape the "magical rope". They don't come up with a plan to escape, they aren't saved by their friends, they don't use any weapons ... Zordon and Alpha, FROM THE COMMAND CENTER, watch them on their TV screen and somehow manage to "loosen the force field," then "focus on one part of the rope" to loosen it enough for the Rangers to escape. F**king Alpha FOCUSES ON THE ROPE because their command center is equipped with GOLDAR'S MAGICAL ROPE-REDUCING RAYS OR SOMETHING. Worst escape ever. If Jason had gone, "oh, it's not that tight, let's just lift it up over our heads" it would've been a better resolution to the drama. They should've just sent those three scuba diving if they didn't need them in the episode (more on that later).
Episode: "Mirror of Regret" (season 2, episode 30)
What Happens: Season 2 (aka "the season when we realized we shouldn't color-code Rangers by race") Black Ranger Adam gets attached to a small kid having trouble in karate class because he too was small, and having trouble with things. Lord Zedd picks up on Adam's ugly duckling syndrome and sends Goldar down with The Mirror Of Regret, a thing I guess they just had lying around the moon fortress that can show you horrible times from your life. Goldar hits Adam with a memory of not being picked for soccer (see the Key Line), causing him to stand in the park looking upset for like ten minutes. Adam finally breaks free of the spell when Goldar accidentally shows him that small kid from karate class practicing and getting better, and we learn why they don't bring the Mirror Of Regret to Earth more often: its powers only work if nobody else in the entire world is doing okay.
Key line: "We don't want you on our team, Adam. You're a pip-squeak!"
Honestly, Adam's horrible soccer memory is pretty depressing. The kids are standing in a line, and the adult doesn't just lump him in with a group of fat kids and losers ... he picks EVERYBODY except Adam. Poor baby Adam just walks away like a sad Charlie Brown and sits in the grass while the others play. When the ball rolls over to him, Adam's all, "hey, would it be all right if I play, because this is pretty f**ked up" and the dominant kid is all NO WAY YOU ARE SLIGHTLY SMALLER THAN US SMALL KIDS YOU CAN'T PLAY, AND ALSO YOU'LL NEVER BE A POWER RANGER, NOT EVEN AFTER THE BLACK GUY LEAVES
This is one of those low-stakes episodes where they don't even break out the dinosaurs, they beat the monster (Skelerena, half skeleton, half hyena) (seriously) with a "power cannon". Welp, at least they didn't beat it with their little laser gun daggers.
"Mirror Of Regret" is only the second best soccer moment in 'Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers' history. The top prize goes to ...
Episode: "Second Chance" (season 1, episode 55)
What Happens: Juice Bar impresario Ernie holds soccer tryouts and a kid named Roger fails to make the team. Because Angel Grove operates under the most ridiculous set of rules ever, Ernie decides to hold a SECOND tryout to give Roger another shot. This time Roger has the Ranger teens helping him practice, but he's still god awful, so much so that even Rita Repulsa makes fun of him from outer space. This lady's been in a tube for longer than Christians think the Earth has been around and SHE knows you're bad at soccer. To mark the occasion, she sends down the mighty SOCCADILLO, a soccer armadillo (natch) who says soccer things as he fights. Such as:
Key line: "Point for me! Opponent got nothing in goal!"
Roger is never shown getting any better, but somehow ends the episode by making TEAM CAPTAIN. What is it with the Power Rangers that they can't have the kid barely make the team (on his totally unfair to everybody else second tryout) and be humble about it? He's got to be Team Captain and humiliate Bulk and Skull in the process.
Two fun facts about the kid that played Roger ... first, his name is John Jacobson, but his stage name is the most 1990s kid stage name ever: SKYLAR DELEON. Second, Skylar grew up to be a for-real murderer, luring an elderly couple out onto a yacht and killing them so he could use their boat to launder money. Now he's on death row. Sorry, not a very fun fact.
Episode: "The Beetle Invasion" (season 2, episode 9)
What Happens: In an episode that is mostly about an 80-foot tall stag beetle from outer space who steals the Green Ranger's powers, the Angel Grove teens get jealous of Stone Canyon's championship broomball team and try to beat them in a competition. The Power Rangers can't just play something and have fun, they have to win it and have a trophy and also be that thing's captain. They are the John Cena of robot-controlling teenage super teams. Anyway, the winning goal is scored on a dive by the now powerless Tommy, who vows to get his powers back and return to the team. Spoiler alert: He shows up a few episodes later as the White Ranger, and his intro dialogue is, "hey guys, I just figured out I could be a different color Power Ranger by changing clothes!"
Key line: "What's the matter, Rangers? Something bugging you?"
If you aren't familiar with the Canadian gem that is broomball, let me catch you up to speed. In broomball, you hit a ball with a broom, and ... well, that's it, really. It's hockey for people who can't skate, or for skittish 1940s maids who have already killed the cat and need something else to hit. The Power Rangers play broomball in this episode because I guess you can only tape them dunking off a trampoline so many times.
Once again, Juice Bar magnate Ernie gets to coach the Angel Grove Broomball team and be the sage voice of sports reason despite being literally immobile, sucking the city's supply of 4X Hawaiian shirts dry and being the least athletic person in the history of the show. Seriously, they make fun of Bulk for being a fat, clumsy idiot and then go chat up Ernie when it's time to win trophies. It doesn't make any sense. You guys are high schoolers who can defeat golems from another dimension with your bodies, I'm pretty sure you could figure out how to hold a football without the fattest dude in town going, "now remember, hold the football".
Episode: "Lions & Blizzards" (season 1, episode 44)
What Happens: Bulk is about to run through the tires in an obstacle course. GUESS WHAT HAPPENS. If you guessed this exact thing from 'Saved By The Bell,' you are correct.
In today's episode, the team with the f**king POWER RANGERS on it wins the annual "Oddball Games," a day of obstacle course running, potato sack races, and tug-of-war. Black Ranger Zack tries to impress a "babe-asarus" on the opposing team by tug-of-warring her face-first into the mud, but it doesn't work. Eventually she gives in and agrees to go to the movies with him, but the date is cut short when Rita turns the Oddball Games Championship Trophy into a LION WITH A GOAT CHEST and Zack has to bail mid-movie. He gets a bucket of popcorn dumped on his head when he returns, but hey, at least a big lion didn't murder everyone in town.
Key line: "Scabs, weasels, moons of Cryon, make me a monster, half goat, half lion!"
Remember that scene in The Incredibles they ripped off from an issue of Impulse where Dash wants to join the track team and use his super speed to destroy everyone and be a golden God, but his parents convince him that he should participate and have fun, but probably not lord his powers over normal people?
Yeah, nobody ever had that talk with the Power Rangers. In every episode they're either super slam dunking, using "teamwork" (and also SUPER POWERS) to beat poor Stone Canyon regulars in rec league sports or making sure they're all on the same team in the Oddball Games so they'll win a trophy. Even if they weren't super heroes, they're still Peak Fitness Karate Teens and should probably have the wherewithal to distribute themselves accordingly. I don't blame Rita for turning that thing into a monster.
Episode: "The Mutiny, Parts I-III" (season 2, episodes 1-3)
What Happens: On the moon, the pretty-bad-at-her-job Rita Repulsa gets a shock when her boss (and future husband) Lord Zedd returns to the galaxy and decides to ship her away in a space dumpster. He overhauls the fortress, gets Goldar's slack-ass in line and proves in 20 seconds that he's a better villain than Rita by saying, "oh, hey, these Putties are getting the shit beaten out of them on the reg, we should probably put them in armor". Meanwhile, on Earth, the Ranger teens participate in a charity ATV race. Ugh, I'd rather be on the moon.
Key line: "Please, give me another chance!" "Silence! Those Power Rangers are mere infants; You were defeated by children! You dare call yourself an empress of evil? You're not fit to destroy a cockroach!" "I have always said that!" "You gold-bellied rat!"
In another instance of TV magic yanked from 'Saved By The Bell,' the teens dress in full bodysuits and helmets with dark visors so you don't see their even less teenage stunt doubles ATV'ing around Angel Grove. The helmets are color-coded, though, so you can tell which driver is which. I guess they couldn't trust Actor David Yost to pilot a four-wheeler without flipping it, breaking his leg and suing the hell out of Haim Saban.
The best part of the episode is that the four-wheeler race starts in episode 1 and doesn't end until the end of episode 3. They have this huge battle in between where Pirahntishead (guess what kind of monster he is) steals their Zords, Alpha and Zordon make a bunch of new ones and Billy has to create a lightning charging thing to force a morph, then just go calmly back to finishing f**king muddin'. It's amazing. It takes them literally three weeks to finish the race.
Man, riding a four-wheeler when you're used to riding a magical sabretooth tiger mech must be the biggest downgrade ever. If I was a Power Ranger, I'd get arrogant and just drive that thing to the grocery store, because f**k you, I can.
Episode: "A Different Shade of Pink, Parts I-III" (season 3, episodes 24-26)
What Happens: Looks like Tommy's discovering a different shade of pink in that picture.
In a big season 3 three-parter (!), Kimberly is lured away from her Ranger duties by
Rita Repulsa Lord Zedd some sort of balance beam monster Gunthar Schmidt, a famous gymnastics coach who wants to whisk her away to a training facility in Florida to train for the Pan-Global Games. With the Pink Ranger indisposed, the angry married people on the moon send down monsters to attack and Kim has to make the most important decisions of her life: that doing gymnastics at a real-sounding sporting event is more important than keeping her hometown safe from the almost constant threats of devastation it faces, and that a random Australian blonde who has spent most of the time we've known her being hypnotized wouldn't run into similar problems as a Power Ranger.
Key line: "White hair, broad accent, who does that remind you of Skull?" "The president of the United States?"
By the way, check out the natural moodlighting at this gymnastics tournament:
Kimberly Hart has two important distinctions in my history of fictional celebrity crushes.
1. She wasn't my first crush (that goes to Julie from 'Growing Pains'), but she was the first crush who did things that made me mad at other fictional characters. I was in the throes of puberty when the Power Rangers got big, so when she started a romance with Tommy it was less, "ew, romance" or "swoon, romance" and more, "WHO DOES THIS ASSHOLE THINK HE IS GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY BEAUTIFUL PINK RANGER". That period where you think famous people you've never met are destined to be with you is the WORST.
2. She was the first example of me only watching something because a pretty girl I liked was in it. That carries on to my modern day DVD collection, which features A Love Song For Bobby Long, Eight Legged Freaks and A Good Woman. This is the arc that replaces Kimberly with Kat, and while Catherine Sutherland was a perfectly cromulent beautiful 21-year old, she wasn't the little backflipping-in-overalls Northeasterner I'd come to love. Kat showing up is more or less when I stopped following the show, which explains why I'm not recapping the time the gang played hopscotch in The Lost Galaxy, or whatever.
Episode: "Something Fishy" (season 1, episode 43)
What Happens: Because Rita watches the Power Rangers with a telescope to discover tiny idiosyncrasies she can exploit instead of just putting a bunch of guns and magic wands on an unstoppable space monster and dropping it into the bedrooms in the middle of the night, Rita finds out that Billy is "uncomfortable with aquatic life" and sends down a starfish-throwing fish. Yep. This is especially bad for Jason, Zack and Trini, because they've been scuba diving all day and couldn't get to their wrist communicators. Billy ends up having to face the monster alone, which debilitates him until he realizes he could just not be afraid of fish.
Key line: "It all started when I was a kid, I was attempting to recreate what I'd learned in school about whirlpools. But my moving finger proved to be an enticement to one of the fish below. The fish actually bit me!"
A fear of fish, really? You live next to the ocean, bro.
This episode debuts the classic "we couldn't get Zordon's message because we were scuba diving at the worst possible time" gag. The Power Rangers were ALWAYS scuba diving, to the point that Alpha eventually starts bitching about whether or not they're scuba diving whenever he can't get ahold of them. The best part of THAT is that they don't even come up with new scuba diving footage ... it's always Jason, Trini and Zack (with a snorkel on his head) being all, OH SORRY ZORDON WE WERE UNDER WATERS on that beach. I guess when the plot of your show is "a monster attacked and we just heard about it," you can recycle stuff like that.
Power Scuba makes its grand return in...
Episode: "Zedd Waves" (season 2, episode 26)
What Happens: Kimberly, Tommy and Billy attend the Stone Canyon Triathlon to support their new friends Rocky, Adam and Aisha, and to talk amongst themselves about the upcoming World Peace Conference in Switzerland (cough). Lord Zedd decides to break up the triathlon with a radio disc jockey monster who hypnotizes people and tries to kill them with bombs (don't ask me). The plan works to perfection, even ensnaring the Rangers themselves, but thankfully Aisha knows enough about BROADCAST WAVE REVERSAL GUNS to repair Billy's This Specific Monster Destroying Machine and save the day. Where are Jason, Zack and Trini, you might ask? Why, scuba diving, of course!
Key line: "The next six callers get to hail Lord Zedd!"
Rocky, Adam and Aisha sacrifice a triathlon win to help the Power Rangers fight monsters, so the Ranger teens apologize to them. The Rangers don't apologize to anybody ELSE who got hypnotized or manipulated at the triathlon, or to the people who live in those buildings they destroy with their big robots, but causing you to finish lower than you'd expected to at a local race? Apologies.
'Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers' is a pretty hard show to enjoy on an adult level, but the way they defeat the monsters always cracks me up. Aisha knowing how to fix Billy's radio wave cannon aside, Tommy's battle with bomb-tossing Casey Kasem samurai (?) Beamcaster is the best. Beamcaster has random objects that he can turn into bombs (including a frog), and Tommy does that Power Rangers thing where you do a front flip while waving your arms around as a firework goes off behind you. Eventually Tommy uses his incredible intellect and super hero powers to start CATCHING THE BOMBS AND THROWING THEM BACK AT BEAMCASTER LIKE HE'S A SUPER MARIO 2 BOSS.
I also love that Kimberly, Tommy and Billy wanted to go one town over to support their friends, but Jason was all, "nah, I gotta scuba dive". Scuba diving is extremely important to 1990s teenagers.
Episode: "Forever Friends" (season 2, episode 37)
What Happens: Yellow Ranger Aisha is pulled in both directions when her best friend Shawna goes up against Pink Ranger Kimberly in a gymnastics competition. Lord Zedd tries to exacerbate this basic life problem by kidnapping both Kimberly and Shawna, then sending a monster made from a wood shop saw to attack Angel Grove. That goes where you think it goes, and the episode ends with Aisha's two best friends throwing down in an hilariously unprofessional-seeming display gymnastics, finding out they've tied (tied!) and becoming best friends themselves. Shawna is never seen again. Maybe the saw guy killed her.
Key line: "Rangers! Ready to be polished off? "No way! It's you who's in for a good shalacking!"
The image at the top of this slide is Shawna's score, awarded for some forward rolls and jumping jacks. Compare and contrast that with Kimberly's performance, which looked like this. Yo, Shawna, I'm really happy for you, and I'mma let you finish, but Kimberly was the greatest syndicated early-90s kids show gymnast of all time. Of all time!
Crap, I think I'm going through puberty again.
Episode: "Fourth Down and Long" (season 3, episode 11)
What Happens: It turns out that Red Ranger Rocky's uncle is Joe Haley, "the best pro quarterback around!" Rocky brings Uncle Joe to school to meet Allen, a troubled teen who can't manage the stress of the upcoming Angel Grove High/Stone Canyon football game. Rita and Zedd make his troubles even worse by sending down THE CENTIBACK, a centipede quarterback who turns people into footballs by ... well, hitting them with footballs. I think it's a Poké Ball situation. Centiback catches Uncle Joe, Allen, Bulk and Skull, but is ultimately defeated when Rocky discovers his weakness: being quartered by an enormous sword, then punched.
Key line: "And at half-time, the score is 9 to nothin'! In favor of the visiting team. Red Ranger, it looks like your season is over!"
This is an episode involving "Ninjor," a briefly-seen Rangers ally who created their Power Coins, lives in a temple, and, as best I can explain it, is a size-changing ninja robot who sounds like Dudley Do-Right. My brain is not capable of saying anything else about him.
I would love to sit down with Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa and ask them why shit like this was in their plan to conquer Earth. You guys can throw spears from the moon to Earth, right? And you can see everybody in the world with your telescope. Why not throw down a spear into the President's chest, then send down Goldar or whoever to say, "Rita's in control of the world now, if you guys have a problem with it I suggest you stay in your house, because the next time you see daylight you're catching a spear to the heart". At least send your monsters to D.C. or Beijing or something. You're repeatedly attacking a town with nothing but a playground and a juice bar with homemade monsters that turn people into footballs. WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH.
Episode: "A Pressing Engagement" (season 1, episode 4)
What Happens: If Ray Jackson and Frank Dux hadn't bonded over Karate Champ and gotten along, they'd have been Bulk and Red Ranger Jason. Jason wants to break Bulk's local benchpressing record (for reps, not for weight) but keeps getting distracted and having to start over. One time Ernie loses count. Another, Kimberly is blowing a bubble and Zack rides by on a skateboard (because 'the 1990s') and pops it. Eventually Jason mans up and breaks the record with 1,010 bench presses and Bulk ends up with his face in a cake. Oh, and the Power Rangers fight a Sphinx, for some reason.
Key line: "What number is he on?" "[Mouth full] Thousand and two." "Okay, once more, without the sub." I'm guessing the "ugh, you run a juice bar, how are you this disgusting" was left on the cutting room floor.
Honestly, are people more like Jason or Bulk?
Jason's having confidence issues because he can do up to 1,004 reps on a bench press like five times a day, is the leader of the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers and drives to school in a Tyrannosaurus that comes up from the center of the Earth. This guy HAS to break the bench press record of Bulk, the fat guy at school who has one friend. Not only does he succeed, but he does so with everyone cheering him on. Bulk doesn't just have his record dashed, he goes headlong into a celebration cake.
There's an important lesson for you, kids: If you can't be the best and most important person in the room, you are a joke and should hate yourself.
Episode: "Power Ranger Punks" (season 1, episode 12)
What Happens: In one of their best and worst plans ever, Rita's henchman Baboo send the Putty Patrol down to attack the Ranger teens during a game of volleyball and more or less roofie their drinks while they're busy fighting. I'm not kidding, that's a great plan. The Power Rangers are barely ever paying attention, and you can poison their juice or whatever and take them out without having to get cut with a big sword. Kimberly and Billy get thirsty after the fight and drink up, but instead of using poison or acid or whatever, Baboo has spiked their drinks with a PUNK POTION. A, uh, potion that makes them act like punks. Kimberly and Billy spend the rest of the episode teasing their hair and harassing kids for their lunch money.
Key line: "My horn! Now you've made me hopping mad!" Guess what kind of monster says that!
The Ranger teens frequented the volleyball court (including a volleyball tournament in season 3's "Ninja Quest"), but I chose this moment for two reasons:
1. That super, super dumb plan, and
2. The fact that the Power Rangers are almost totally immobile on sand.
If you attack the Rangers in the park, they can beat you up and play basketball at the same time. They just go EHYEAHHH and sidestep you and kick you in the stomach until you turn to clay and fall apart. But here, even basic Putties give them a hard time. Rita should've used her big telescope to piece this shit together, but I guess I shouldn't be expecting deductive reasoning from a lady who spent millennia in a moon pipe and can't get her voice and mouth to work together.
Also, serious question I just thought about: Who the hell built pipes on the moon 10,000 years ago?
Episode: "High Five" (season 1, episode 2)
What Happens: Trini reveals her crippling fear of heights while watching Jason climb a rope, and it becomes a liability when the Putty Patrol chases her and Billy up the side of a mountain. Billy is in trouble (and drops his Power Morpher like a goon), so Trini has to face her fear, climb up to protect him, then immediately climb back down to help the rest of the Rangers escape what appears to be a Putty gangbang. It's the second episode, I'll cut them some slack.
Key line: "Welcome home-boys, home-girls! What brings you to the hood?" "Too much TV!"
"Putty gangbang" seems like a weird combination of words, but Zack, Kimberly and Jason are totally, helplessly trapped when the Putties
go scuba diving give them a group hug. It's not like they're being hugged and attacked, either, the Putties just hold them in place. That would've been a great time for Rita to drop a skeleton monster on their heads or toss a spear at them from the moon, but nope, the Putties just mindlessly hold each other until Trini and Billy show up to kick them in the chest.
Trini doesn't officially face her rope climbing fear until the end of the episode, when Zack sneaks up behind her in a skeleton mask and scares her up it. You just can't go sneaking up on a Power Ranger like that. Even the Putties and monsters attack them head-on. He's lucky she didn't summon a tiger mech to kill him with rockets.
Fun fact: The actress who played Trini has been dead for 11 years. Additional fun fact: I am terrible at "fun facts".
Episode: "For Whom The Bell Trolls" (season 1, episode 9)
What Happens: The Ranger teens celebrate Angel Grove High School's Hobby Week by showing off their hobbies in front of class: Jason shows off his bo staff skills, Kimberly does a handstand on the teacher's desk and Zack shows off his surfing skills, which seem to be standing on a surfboard and remembering surf slang. We don't ever actually see him surf, although we know he spends a lot of time in the water, because he's a f**king certified scuba master. Trini makes the mistake of bringing in a creepy doll collection and explaining how certain dolls have special powers, so Rita Repulsa goes OH OKAY and turns them into monsters. Again, nobody surfs.
Key line: "Whoa, catch some vertical air ... yes! Then it's just cruisin' in the tube!"
How weird was Trini? She was a high schooler who was afraid to climb a rope or walk up a hill and had a massive creepy doll collection. When Zordon asked for "teenagers with attitude," what was he actually asking for?
By the way, now seems like as good a time as any to bring up something I discovered (that most Power Rangers fans probably already know) while doing research for this column: Water Jones, the guy that plays Zack, is missing the middle finger on his left hand.
I KNOW, RIGHT?
Episode: "Enter... The Lizzinator" (season 1, episode 57)
What Happens: Kimberly's cousin Kelly (played by an uncredited actress I'm going to pretend is a young Jewel Staite, to explain the Black Rangers -> Space Cases connection) wants to join the junior high cheerleading squad. Kelly isn't very good, but Kim was a legend, so not only does she have to deal with being a ginger with no rhythm, she's got to live in the shadow of the hottest girl in the history of Angel Grove. Rita uses Kelly to lure the Rangers into a fight with what the Power Rangers wiki calls "the nigh-invincible Lizzinator". I think I saw Howard Stern make Tila Tequila ride that once.
Key line: "What, Putties can drive? Whoa! Yep, they can drive!"
That key line doesn't have anything to do with cheerleading, but it's one of my favorite Power Rangers quotes ever, right behind one of the monsters being "a twisted mass of metal and glass".
Like always, with the right combination of hard work, determination and "knowing the Power Rangers," Kelly makes the squad. So emphatically, in fact, that the team rushes her yelling CONGRATULATIONS KELLY YOU MADE THE TEAM and the episode ends with a freeze-frame high-five. Where did she get this confidence? BY SCUBA DIVING OF COURSE! No, that's wrong. She got Rita's henchmen to do Rita-themed cheerleading routines until they passed out and forgot they were supposed to be watching her.
Sadly at no point does Kimberly react to Kelly's confidence issues with the sentence, "would you stop complaining about the junior high school cheerleading tryouts, twenty minutes ago I was literally almost ripped to pieces by a dragon".
Episode: "The Wanna-Be Ranger" (season 2, episode 4)
What Happens: Remember season 1's "The Trouble with Shellshock", wherein Zack is overconfident about his basketball skills and gets shown up by the "vernacular" dunks of Billy? Well, here comes "The Wanna-Be Ranger," a story about an evil Billy look-a-like that begins with the Rangers "playing basketball" by just dunking over and over. The girls don't dunk, of course, but they sure are great at passing and free-throws!
Key line: I'm going to let this one speak for itself. Skip to the 1:00 mark and enjoy.
Yes, that scene ended with the Black Ranger showing up as a gorilla.