Friday, May 11, 2018

Power Rangers Reflections Redux #06: Trouble By The Slice

"Did I ever tell you about the time I was baked in a giant pizza?"
Theodore Jay Jarvis Johnson, First Black Leader Of The Power Rangers

Today's episode is the "pizza episode" from Turbo.

Let's do it. Huggies See OUYA!

We begin at the usual Angel Grove beach where Divatox and crew are testing a new gimmick that can cause two objects to switch places (their physical locations, not their brains like that one episode). Divatox is unimpressed by the demo and amps the device up to full power, but her lousy aim hits a rock that deflects the beam back towards her and she disappears. Well, I guess that's the end of the series. Oh well.

Wait... spoke too soon. Turns out the beam somehow teleported Divatox to a sidewalk while people pass by her, seemingly unphased or unafraid of this strange looking person that has been the cause for several months worth of monster attacks. The only person who is seemingly fearful of this strange woman is the one guy she almost gropes in a rambling fashion. Oh, and on top of that, Divatox seems to have suffered a nasty case of amnesia. Because that's always fun, I suppose.

The opening credits play and during the time it plays, I'm suddenly having second guesses about whether it was a good idea to attempt a revival of a long-dormant feature by watching this episode. Also, something else comes to mind; this is an episode from the second-half of Turbo, where all the old Rangers from the MMPR to Zeo days were replaced with new guys and the kid Ranger (Justin) introduced in the Turbo movie is the only surviving member of the great cast shift. I chuckle at the thought of a kid being the "veteran" Ranger on this team... if only I and many others had that kind of amusement during the series' prime days.

So the episode begins with Justin (aforementioned Kid Blue Ranger) and Carlos (the Green Ranger... but not THAT one) talking about Carlos being distraught over some girl. They soon come across some kids playing soccer and Carlos wanting to join in, but Justin has math homework and doesn't care for soccer... that is, until one of the kids lobs a ball their way by accident. The kid then coarses the two into playing a game. The kid in question is Nico, who ends up being Justin's best pal... within his own age group, of course.

Meanwhile, our memory-deprived villainess stumbles across Mad Mike's Pizza Parlor, where we see Bulk & Skull work there as pizza delivery boys. The angle of Bulk & Skull in Turbo is an interesting one of sorts; they were first turned into monkeys and then turned back and now they do odd jobs that last for the duration of the episode. For those only familiar with them on MMPR, this is a bit of a departure from their days as clueless punks who wanted to catch the girls and even had a brief obsession with discovering the Power Rangers' true names.

Anyway, Divatox stumbles into the restaurant and happens to eat a pizza sitting on some table somewhere, catching the attention of Mad Mike, complete with exaggerated Mario-stache but without the pot belly. With no way of paying for the pizza that was just sitting there - what kind of establishment leaves pizza out in the open for anyone to take - Divatox is given a job at a pizza joint... because, you know, what could POSSIBLY go wrong, right?

After the first commercial break, the remaining villains' search for their less-than-noble bares no fruit. After a milk carton joke that falls flat, Elgar (Divatox's bumbling nephew) declares that he's hungry and decides the crew should go for pizza... gee, I wonder where this is going.

Meanwhile, Carlos is overwhelmed by kids playing soccer, which isn't interesting in the slightest. So let's skip over to Bulk and Skull dropping pizzas on the highway and trying to figure out where they're supposed to go, despite the fact that they have no more pizzas left. How hilarious... not really.

So let's jump back to Divatox working at the pizza parlor while one of the underlings look on in disgust. Mad Mike gives several boxes of pizza to a disguised Porto (who no doubt paid for his food or at least have some kind of mind control while another customer complains about getting half-eaten pizza.

Porto spots Divatox working there, who doesn't recognize her former minion. Just as he tries for another attempt, he spots Carlos and the kids walking into the restaurant and makes a hasty retreat. As Justin and his new pal Nico run off to play a crane machine in the background, Carlos then goes to order some pizza while Divatox is setting up the table where the kids are at. Somehow, he does not notice that the main baddy of the series is right there serving his table.

Meanwhile, back in the sub, Porto creates a monster based on the mascot on the Mad Mike's pizza carton and thus we have our pizza monster of the day.

Back at the parlor, Carlos complains about his pizza being half eaten, prompting Mad Mike to confront Divatox over her sampling behavior. Dude, the woman's never worked in a kitchen. It's not her fault that she doesn't subscribe to the notion that any mistakes made in the kitchen stays in the kitchen. Goddamn, where's Gordon Ramsay when you need him?

Actually, never mind. Divatox shows some attitude and "Mad Mike" pisses himself... figuratively speaking.

In fact, let's never mention that weeny again and refer to the monster as Mad Mike as he's the only "mike" that matters. Speaking of said monster, he shows up and wrecks havoc by tossing exploding pizzas at people. Is this an episode of Power Rangers or a trailer for Mighty No. 9?

As Carlos and Justin get a call from Alpha 6 to report to the Power Chamber, the crew manages to find Divatox and restore her memory. After the commercial break, the whole crew are back at the sub and contemplate their strategies. Back at the Power Chambers, the full team of Turbo Rangers are briefed by Dimitria on the monster and are presented with a new weapon; the Turbine Laser.

The Rangers morph and face off against Mad Mike, who proves more than a match for the Rangers. The Rangers summon Lightning Cruiser and Mountain Blaster, the two sentient cars that they had saved in a prior episode, only for Mike to take control by tossing pizzas at the wheel. With the cars in Mike's control, the Rangers make a run for it inside an abandoned building. A few more blasts from the cars later and the Rangers find themselves trapped in a giant pizza oven.

Yup, it's that time.

TJ tries to shoot at Mike through the exposed ceiling, only for his shots to be blocked by a force field. The force field is one-way, however, as Mike tosses a bunch of comedically-large ingredients into the oven before topping the whole thing off with cheese. Despite the Rangers being able to easily swap away the light ingredients, they somehow get incapacitated into the pizza. Also, somehow that cheese is able to melt pretty quickly.

Fortunately, here comes the Blue Centurian to come in and save the day... or not, since Mike easily forces the Centurian outside and in the sight of the two renegade cars. Meanwhile, Mike has somehow managed to drag his Ranger pizza outside and tries to eat it, only for Senturian to free the renegade cars by - and I'm not making this up - flashing a red light to stop the cars, causing the cursed pies to detach themselves... because sure, why not?

Centurian frees the Rangers from their pizza bindings and after a brief scuffle, they use the new Turbine Laser to despose of Mad Mike. End of episode...

Or not. Unfortunately, Divatox launches missiles to make Mad Mike grow and give us the pre-requisite Zord battle that sees Mike destroyed by the Turbo megazord.

Following the final batch of commercials, Divatox zaps Elgar with that teleport beam from the beginning of the episode and he shows up outside the sub. End credits. We get no resolution with the Rangers. We get no resolution with Bulk & Skull, though it's easy to guess what happened to them. We just end with Elgar out of the sub and that's it.


Trouble By The Slice may be known as the one with the Ranger Pizza - an idea brought about as a result of the Carranger source material - but beyond a couple chuckle-worthy moments, this was something of a dry spell episode. The amnesia-stricken villain working at a pizza place might be a tired trope in some regards, but it's one that could've been done well and this clearly was. The comedic bits ended up not being very comedic, the action had no real sense of tension despite the odds, and the Zord battle felt completely superfluous. You could have had the Turbine Laser destroy Mad Mike and be done with it and that would've been fine.

The only thing that really makes it worth while is NOT the pizza gimmick, but rather the introduction of Justin's friend Nico, who would have something of a recurring role every once in a while. Although the kid isn't anything special, just having him around as a friend for Justin within his own age group is a nice thing to have. I don't know why; it just is.

So... yeah. It might have been a memorable moment by proxy of being mentioned on an anniversary episode down the line, but this is one slice of pizza that leaves you a little unsatisfied. And that's a bit of a shame.

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