Friday, March 8, 2019

4096 - Power Rangers Reflections Redux #19: Time For Lightspeed



The annual tradition of the current season's Ranger team teaming up with the previous season's Ranger team was something of a regular staple in Super Sentai shows starring with xxx/xxx. Once Power Rangers opted for an approach more akin to Super Sentai - individual seasons would breed new teams and powers based on an appropriate Sentai - it was only a matter of time

Time For Lightspeed, the Time Force/Lightspeed Rescue crossover, isn't quite the memorable episode as what came before, nor is it as good as it could've been. The big issue with this crossover is that it only lasts a single episode, which already cripples whatever storytelling you have and forces you to cram in as much as possible. Even the tenth anniversary episode Forever Red, as good and gratifying as it was, was hampered by a single episode run.

But let's not dwaddle...



The episode begins in a graveyard, where a hand springs from the earth and out pops Vypra, one of the head grunts from Lightspeed Rescue. Last time we saw Vypra, she was tossed into a portal and that's how she "died." So how she went from that to being buried six feet under is about as much of a mystery as how she suddenly got white-ish contact lens that she never had before. Apparently, not only did Vypra come back from the dead, but she is now able to summon five zombie demon grunts that will serve as her foot soldiers for today's episode.

Next up, we head to a museum where Vypra attempts to steal the Solar Amulet, a plastic fireball thing encased in a glass box. Vypra tried grabbing the gimmick by phasing her hand through the glass (and triggering the laser trigger), but finds that her ability to phase her hand does not quite extend to phasing anything she grabs. She mutters "curses" and walks off, only to be stopped by the Silver Guardians. For those who don't know, the Silver Guardians is the private security force created by Red Ranger Wes Collins' rich father and headed by Quantum Ranger Eric Meyers. Said Guardians are just a bunch of guys using primitive weapons who are held off by Vypra's exploding fireballs and demon things, allowing her to escape.

And then the Time Force Rangers show up in time to do... nothing.

After the opening titles, Vypra somehow finds the hideout of Ransik - the usual villain of Time Force, a fugitive from the far future who wants to change the past by sending out evil monsters to threaten the one city. She explains that she needs the Solar Amulet to perform a ritual that can only happen when the stars are in perfect alignment, so she can summon a super demon called Quarganon. The story of Quarganon is an interesting one, because he used to be a fellow named Quarganondorf and... wait, we're not thinking the same thing, are we?

Meanwhile, the Rangers organize a stakeout at the museum, anticipating correctly that Vypra will try again. Ransik and crew show up, one of them uses a device to crack the code and open the door... which is funny because Vypra's first attempt had her just opening the doors as though they were unlocked. Actually, I have to question the passage of time here because there's no way you could have a handy-dandy-fancy key lock a mere TWENTY FOUR HOURS (not even) after the recorded robbery. And if that is the case, then I need to find out who's handling the security because that is a timely response.

But I digress.

So the Rangers rush in to try and stop Ransik, but are cut off by Vypra and her demons, who prove to be so powerful that the Rangers eventually lose their morph. Ransik emerges with the amulet and the whole crew goes bye-bye. The Rangers wonder about the new monsters, noting that they are not mutants from the future. On cue, the Lightspeed Rescue hummer shows up and out walks Carter Grayson, Lightspeed Rescue, Red Ranger. And still sporting the same shirt he wore throughout the prior season... and will continue to wear of all his subsequent appearances, including his recent one in the Legendary Farce.

I guess being a fireman AND a Power Ranger of a government-supported agency doesn't pay all that well.

Back at the Rangers' clock tower, Carter gives us more exposition. Apparently, this Solar Amulet plastic fireball gimmick has powers from the SHADOW WORLD and Vypra can now use the Amulet to summon a SUPER DEMON... named Quadrogannon. The Rangers are aghast; how are we supposed to fight a demon, Jen says... presumably the same way you fought the mutants? Maybe?

Carter says he has friends and this gives us a quick montage of whatever happened to the other Rangers.

Dana Mitchell, Pink Ranger, is now a doctor.

Joel Rawlings, Green Ranger, is apparently married with the former Ms. Fairweather (unless she kept the name) and was about to go on a honeymoon before Carter came a calling.

Kelsey Winslow, Yellow Ranger, is rollerblading in a park... okay.

And finally, we have CHAD LEE, Blue Ranger, who is a lifeguard.

After the commercial break, the villains are in a secluded room where Vypra begins summoning the super demon thing before they are interrupted by our two Red Rangers. In a momentary scuffle, Carter manages to steal the amulet and our heroes escape in the Rescue Rover, only to be pursued by Vypra in her go-kart... which, if I recall correctly, was blown to bits in the previous season... but whatever, if Vypra who was absorbed into the Queen can come back from a grave, then this go-kart thing can be rebuilt.

The Rangers reach a dead end and Carter decides he should smash this fucking thing, but before he can do that, Ransik and crew arrive the other Rangers held captive and the Red Rangers are forced to surrender the plastic thing. This allows the villains to summon the super demon, Quagmiredorf, and things look bleak until the villains are attacked by the arriving Lightspeed Rangers. And just to make things interesting, Eric shows up with Titanium Ranger Ryan in tow... and how did this encounter happen? Who knows? Who cares? Let's watch everyone morph and pose, causing a massive explosion of multi-colored smoke in the background.

So the Rangers fight the bad guys, first dispatching the demon nooks before tackling Vypra and her super mega demon thing. Just as the villains charge, the Rangers summon their Battlizer armor things (well, the ones who have them, anyway) and fire all their weapons, destroying the guest villains and forcing Ransik and crew to flee. Well... that was rather abrupt.

The episode ends with the two team of Rangers at the clock tower, where they trade uniforms and the Lightspeed Rangers drive off into the sunset while escorted by the other fellows. The End.

Final Thoughts
Time For Lightspeed is an underwhelming team-up episode and a lot of this has to do with its being a single episode long. A single episode is fine for a guest spot from a returning hero, but a team-up between two teams needs at least two episodes so that we can get that kind of interaction between the two. Having Wes and Carter get together and do some cool Ranger stuff was neat and only made me wish we had more time for the other Rangers to get their time to shine. Even the ending feels like something that could've been split into several segments over the course of the episode.

The episode also falters from low stakes. Vypra needing an amulet to revive a generic monster of the week that ultimately poses little to no threat to the Rangers is a plot that could've been done with Ransik or Frax or the usual gang of villainy. The Lightspeed Rangers ultimately felt superfluous; more bodies to add to the ending battle that didn't really warrant it... and that's not a feeling you want in a team-up story.

When all is said and done, Time For Lightspeed could've been something special and the show tried its very best to make it so within its limits, but ultimately falls below the mark. As an episode of Time Force, it's a so-so filler episode. But as a team-up episode, it definitely leaves much to be desired.

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