We’re at the Youth Center, and Jason is showing off those arms of his climbing up the kind of dangling gym rope that defeats many an onscreen nerd. Kimberly and Zach are there for moral support, but Trini abandons her Tai Chi class to admonish him anxiously: “Jason, be careful! If you slip, you could really hurt yourself!”
Turns out our Trini doesn’t like heights. Or, according to Kimberley: “Looks like somebody’s got a case of height fright.” Because that’s a thing people say.
Soon Zach’s “main brain” Billy arrives with some news to “disseminate” (oh, Billy!), but he gets, ahem, roped into Jason’s antics and the two put on a bit of a show. Zach thinks they should join the circus, but Bulk shows up, Skull in tow, to observe: “The circus don’t take geek clowns.” Of course, Bulk ends up challenged to climb the rope, and failing, to general amusement. Just one more humiliation for the big guy in the Mom jeans.
Leaving the scene of the crime, some Billy Technobabble soon informs the gang that he has made them each a wrist communicator to keep in touch with Zordon. “This is morphenomenal,” Kimberley comments off-handedly (because that’s a thing people say) but when the kids try them out, they get immediately transported to Twinkle Light Command. Hopefully no one at the Youth Center noticed when they turned into streaks of Microsoft Paint.
Alpha’s gone gangsta and greets them with: “Welcome, homeboys. Homegirls. What brings you to the hood?” (So, Alpha’s basically my Dad.) Zordon, meanwhile, is pleased with Billy’s “latest invention” – wait, how many has he seen? This is only the second episode! – and it just needs a few tweaks from Alpha to be an effective wrist-based communicator and teleporter. Billy is sixteen.
Then, Alpha goes NUTS.
This is never explained.
Meanwhile, on the Moon, the villainous Rita Repulsa demands a progress report from minion Baboo (the one that looks like a cross between Scorpius and a Flying Monkey) on the “time device” which we are told will open a tear in the fabric of the universe in order to trap the Power Rangers inside it forever. Seems a bit extreme, but hey, Rita thinks big.
Then, ever the efficient manager, she checks in on Finster, her chief monster maker who – and this cannot be emphasised enough – has the power to create life out of clay. What does he need Rita for again? Finster is the power behind this throne, for sure. Finster’s latest masterwork, Bones, delights his Queen by being “so gruesome and ugly, just what I wanted!” so off he goes into the Monster Matic, only to come out looking like a homemade Halloween skeleton. Not really gruesome. Kind of adorable, actually.
With everything thus prepared – what could possibly go wrong? – the time device is launched to Earth to briefly terrorise the folks of Angel Grove. Want to know something weird? The time device invented by aliens looks exactly like a remote-controlled NASA space shuttle. EXACTLY. It’s uncanny.
Alerted to the device’s presence if not its intent, Zordon sends the kids to deal with some Putty Patrollers on the city’s outskirts while he figures it all out.
A note about these Putty Patrollers. They are, we know, made in Finster’s kiln and are essentially mindless drones who are good at flippy kicks. But what is with the bibbling? They sound like baby turkeys, or at least what I imagine baby turkeys sound like. Of course, this is the least of the things I don’t get about the Putty Patrol. Because they are brought to life from clay.
The kids’ cunning hiding place of RIGHT OUT IN THE OPEN is quickly penetrated by even the dim-witted Putties, and Kimberly wants to morph, but “No,” protests Jason, “Zordon says we gotta try and take care of things on our own before we use our powers.” He did? Why? He recruited you to save the world, and gave you powers to do that, what possible value could he see in just having you be your random teenager selves against a bunch of magical karate golems?
It’s one way of getting the actors some more screen time, I guess. It is not them inside those suits, you know. (I actually didn’t, for an embarrassingly long time.)
So there is fighting, and acrobatics, and then Jason tasks Billy and Trini with leading some of the Putty forces away. The two split up, and it’s all going swimmingly until Trini sees Billy climb a rock and her whole “height fright” thing comes back around. (You see how they did that?) According to the effects, Trini is afflicted by legit vertigo, but she overcomes this documented medical condition in order to save Billy, trapped on an outcropping and having dropped his power morpher. It’s not the last time the hapless Billy will need to be saved, you can be sure.
“Hey, dirtbag! Leave him alone!” Trini yells, and then casually tricks the Putty into leaping to his presumed death, without a moment’s remorse. “That was truly morphitudinous, Trini,” Billy comments (spelling mine), and I suddenly recall how “morph” is the “smurf” of this franchise.
Back at the main battle, Jason, Zach and Kimberly scare off the remaining Putties with some second rate Cirque de Soleil, and so Rita has no recourse but to AT LAST send in the fearsome Bones, who lies in wait for them at an amusement park, for some reason. (An amusement park deserted for some reason, despite it clearly being a non-school day, traditionally when you might expect to find such a place open to the public.) Zordon has a suspicious amount of information about this newly-created monster – he shoots lasers from his eyes! He can jump far! He can turn invisible! – and so he gives up entirely on that silly “take care of things yourselves before using your powers” idea, and intones: “It’s morphing time!”
Oh, Zordon. That is NOT how you say it.
The Power Rangers call out their creatures, don the suits and soon they are facing the villainous Bones, proof indeed that the Putty Patrollers’ arts-and-crafts genesis is not the reason they sound like a broken fish tank filter, when he starts throwing around lines like “Here, let me help you get ahead!” as he literally takes off his head and throws it at them. Such fun with puns! They all end up in a sword fight in Rita’s time warp, and oh yeah, the Power Rangers have color-coded swords now. They’re called Blade Blasters, so presumably they also blast things? One hopes better than they blade them.
A bunch of even cheaper Halloween skeletons show up to do battle as well, and Baboo and his bumbling sidekick Squatt (the one who looks like a cross between Pumbaa and a Smurf) try to set off the dynamite that will trap the Power Rangers in this smoke machine-filled nightmare forever. The kids manage to take out Bones, but he reforms, and Big Brain Billy realizes that they need to destroy his head to permanently take him down – which will pretty much kill anything, in fairness. Trini does the honors, tossing the skull into some convenient lava, Frodo-and-the-Ring-style, with the immortal words: “So long, bonehead!”
I can’t help thinking he would have appreciated that send off.
With her time warp plan a failure, Rita chooses not to bother with another jump to the left, etc., but instead sends down – of course – a giant, this one a kind of knight… thing on which we have zero backstory, perhaps because the Ren Faire was in town the day they were shooting, or something? The kids activate their Dinozord power, and Jason takes him on mano e Tyrannosaurus Rex. “Morphenomenal!” exalts Zach, as victory nears, and finally, someone utters the word with the right degree of contextual enthusiasm.
Back in Angel Grove, word is out about five new superheroes, calling themselves the Power Rangers, who saved all those people in the amusement park from a zombie. What people? Oh, you know, all those ones that were absolutely there the whole time, yes indeedy, of course they were. Billy lets the others know that their wrist devices are up and running, and they can both talk and teleport to the Command Center at will. “This is so 90s!” declares Trini giddily, and yeah, no, it’s not. It’s not even so… wait, what are we? The 10s? Kimberly then busts out “morphenomenal” again. That is four times this episode, plus a “morphitudinous.” Aren’t they cute?
The episode ends with Trini at the top of the climbing rope after Zach scares her with a skeleton mask—a totally understandable mistake for her to make, since it is at least as convincing as the monsters they fought. But, really, are we to believe that Trini would run away from a threat rather than try to fight it off, and protect her friends? Did they not just girl power the hell out of her with her efficient saving of Billy/murder of a Putty Patroller? Make up your mind, show! Is it too much to ask for a little consistency of characterization?
What am I saying? Of course it is.
Morph you next time!
NEXT EPISODE: The kids take out the trash. More details next Tuesday…
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers
“High Five” (S01E02)
Written by Steve Kramer | Directed by Adrian Carr
September 7, 1993 | Fox Kids