Monday, December 19, 2016

Power Rangers Dino Charge Retrospective: Part 2

Power Rangers
 Welcome back to my Power Rangers Dino Charge retrospective, where we continue on with the fifth episode of the series, "Breaking Black."
Contrary to the title, there will be nothing in this episode related to "breaking" Chase, nor will there be anything drug-related happening. Shame, because it must have taken plenty of drugs to think that Chase's origin is anything resembling original. Or to consider this episode anything resembling good.
Chase is being careless, but an old friend of his, Moana, a Maori mystic woman who gave him his Energem when he saved her cat, asks him to watch her shop for a while. He agrees, but one of Sledge's minions, Spellbinder, robs the shop of an amulet. He then uses that amulet on Chase, and rather than taking his Energem from him and then proceeding to use him to get the other four Energems, he skips Step One and proceeds straight to attempting to steal the others from the rest of the Rangers. Spellbinder's cape manages to fend off some of the Ranger's attacks, but Moana tells the Rangers that Chase focuses best when he's riding his skateboard, and Shelby uses this information to snap Chase out of the spell. Yes, this is literally what happens. No, I don't know why. This episode sort of feels like it should have been later on in the series, after Chase got together with his girlfriend, and with a fairly massive rewrite. Once we get there, we'll start to see more orphaned concepts attached to incredibly dumb premises for no discernible reason.
We get to the end of the episode where Koda tells Chase it's his turn to mop the floor when it's actually Koda's. Starting the tradition that otherwise mediocre or good episodes get capped off by dumb shenanigans. This is going to stick around, unfortunately.
The next episode is titled "The Tooth Hurts." It's all about a cavity monster who makes everyone's teeth hurt. Yes, that's as stupid as it sounds.
Chase and Riley begin butting heads over training their training regimens. Chase follows his instincts, while Riley follows a strict method. Yeah, that's original. That dynamic hasn't been done to death and back in basically everything ever.
Poisandra sets about getting herself a wedding cake made (After sixty-five million years) by using one of Sledge's prisoners, a chef named Cavity, to make them.
Question. How does a chef that bakes weird, ultra-sweet cakes that makes peoples teeth hurt wind up on the radar of someone like Sledge? Or even his boss, Lord Arcanon? It's not like he's adept at creating cakes that kill people, but hey, I've gotten my idea of bounty hunters from Star Wars and the old west, where people usually have to have done something to get on the radars of a crime-lord like Arcanon. Maybe he borrowed money from one of Arcanon's loan-sharks (Assuming he has loan-sharks) and he sent Sledge out to handle it. Except that didn't happen, because the writers didn't think of that.
Anyways, once the Rangers catch wind of the situation, they go out to try and handle the situation. For some reason, rather than splitting Riley and Chase up so that they can stop clashing, Keeper says nothing and the two of them let Cavity get away. They later begin learning to work together and manage to overcome their differences to destroy the monster, to the surprise of nobody.
In addition to the points I brought up in the last review, we get to a few of the flaws in Sledge's plan. He has at his disposal an entire brig full of various dangerous monsters, and an entire army of Vivix footsoldiers. He could wage a campaign of espionage and infiltration that could break the very hearts and souls of the Rangers without them ever finding out what he's doing. This will be fleshed out further on in the series when we're introduced to a few more of the covert monsters in Sledge's prison.
The next episode marks the debut of the Ankylosaurus Zord, and the debut (Or rather, the continuation) of one of the series few overarching plot-threads. Who holds the Aqua Energem?
Now, call me crazy, but I personally would have made the Aqua Zord the Plesiosaurus, but that's more of a criticism of Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger than it is of this show. Power Rangers couldn't have changed that unless they re-painted a Warrior-class and Auxiliary-class Zord and completely remade two suits. Then they'd have been stuck with plenty of unusable stock-footage. Considering how poorly this series spent its $35 million budget as it is, I doubt there was much left for fixing a rather obvious coloration error. Anyways, I'd much rather have them spend their budget on important things, like making sure the episodes are edited properly. Oh, wait. Yeah, we'll get to that sometime towards the end.
Anyways, back on track, the Rangers are on the hunt for the other Energems. Shelby comes up with a plan to eliminate fossils of dinosaurs that are already associated with an Energem, and Kendall begins working on Chargers which can hone in on the location of the Zords and the Energems. I say "Zords" as well, because that's what they pick up, the location of the Zord. Not, in fact, the location of the Energem itself. We'll get to the problems with this sometime later.
Anyways, Poisandra enlists Stingrage, one of Sledge's prisoners (Who can sting people or animals and put them into a berzerker rage. Name's a bit on the nose, no?) to track down an Energem. He, Poisandra and her sidekick Curio get to where the Zord is and Stingrage stings it. The Rangers arrive on-scene, but Stingrage stings Koda, and overwhelms their defense.
Now, do you want to know how Poisandra figured out where the Zord was?
Kendall didn't encrypt the transmission! In her own words, "Anyone could have intercepted the signal."
Yeah, no shit Sherlock! Apparently it doesn't require any common-sense to be a museum curator, because this is so far beyond basic that it literally makes no sense why she didn't encrypt their communication signals!
Anyways, long-story short, Shelby manages to calm Ankylo down, the Rangers beat Stingrage with its help, and Kendall gives Shelby fossilized Triceratops dung as a gift. Naturally, she overreacts the hell out of it.
Question, how do you know the fossilized dung is in fact from a Triceratops? Wait, you wouldn't.
This brings us the the last episode before the ridiculous Nick-mandated hiatus that mars the airing schedule of every Neo-Saban Power Rangers series. Well, that and their seasonal episode-limit. This is "Double Ranger, Double Danger."
After the Rangers blocked off their signals, Sledge tasks Poisandra with stealing their Energy-Tracer. Poisandra recruits Duplicon to help her out.
Tyler spends some time moping over his missing dad before aliens approach the site, and Kendall sends him off with the tracer instead of accompanying him herself. Yes, they sent him alone with the tracer while Kendall, who has no powers at this point in the series, stayed behind to fight them off. I'd think you might want to pack it into Tyler's Jeep, let Kendall drive and have a Morphed Ranger come along for the ride as backup.
Anyways, Tyler manages to get away, and Duplicon's cloned Rangers catch up to him (In Morphed form) and they ride off. Shelby, unmorphed, calls him up to figure out why he left without them. The cloned Rangers take this opportunity to assault Tyler and abscond with the tracer.
The Rangers regroup and face off with their clones. They kill them rather unceremoniously.
Tyler faces off with Fury. Fury gets the upper-hand, and almost kills Tyler, but a golden light emerges from his body and messes with him. Rather than take a few seconds out to blast him to kingdom come, Tyler pisses off to help out the other Rangers. Who could have handled their situation on their own if it wasn't for the obsession this series has with making Tyler use the Dino Spike to finish off villain. There's no reason they couldn't have handled that on their own. I'm almost positive that Jungle Fury handled monsters stronger than Duplicon with just the core three! Various flavors of Kamen Rider have taken down monsters more of a threat than Duplicon on their own!
Poisandra almost makes off with the scanner, but Fury attacks her and takes it himself so he can gain favor with Sledge. Rather than hopping up onto the walkway to wrest the machine from him, Tyler orders Chase to destroy the machine. The tracker is destroyed, but the Charger isn't, and Fury recovers it and escapes.
This brings us to by far, one of the biggest problems with Power Rangers on Nickelodeon. The summer hiatus. "Double Ranger, Double Danger" was aired on April 4th, 2015. The next episode, "When Logic Fails" aired four months less a day afterwards on August 3rd. Except it only aired that early in Brazil for some reason. In the states it was released on on August 15th, and aired on television proper the next week on the 22nd. Two more weeks and it would have been a solid five months between new episodes. That's plenty of time to utterly forget a series exists and lose interest entirely.
There are a few simple rules that television shows should probably follow: You don't have more than one week between episodes from the same season. You never move a show from its airday or timeslot, be it in the middle of a season or between them. Also. This is very important too. Do NOT air episodes on different dates internationally! If you do, you're going to wind up in the exact same position Saban has been in for at least the last two years now! I was watching the fandom closely on social media, there was hardly anyone waiting on the domestic airings to watch the new episodes. No, everyone was flocking to the Brazilian encodes because they featured the original English audio track in addition to the native dub. Two episodes were aired on Cartoon Network in Brazil before the hiatus officially ended. Not that there should have been a hiatus to begin with, but wouldn't you want to synchronize your airdates so that everyone gets it at the same time and maximize simultaneous viewers? As many companies in Japan have found out, the best way to prevent people from pirating your product is to air it internationally as quickly as possible. Sadly, Saban hasn't curried on to that idea yet, because this issue persisted well into the second season, and has in fact, gotten worse! The only episodes that I know of that didn't air outside the states before they aired in France were probably the first half of the season, and the Christmas special! Yes, even the finale aired first in France before it aired in the states! At least that didn't happen for the season one finale, thank god!
Aside from all the meta-series quibbles, this is easily one of the worst episodes of the season, if not the whole series, for a number of reasons that we'll get into once I start breaking this stuff down.
Before Chase destroyed the eTracer, Fury was able to get a reading off the machine on the location of the Pterazord. The Charger is completely discharged, so there's no chance of being able to summon it without the Gold Energem. Sledge is irritated with Fury for getting the eTracer destroyed, and tosses him off the ship, but not before the cat-man takes the Charger with him.
In this scene, Wrench, Sledge's engineer, says that the only way to charge the charger up is to use the Gold Energem.
This raises a question that will hang over the entirety of the series, because it's never answered. There are a total of eleven Energems. Ten associated with a dinosaur and zord. There are a total of thirty Chargers used in the show, five of which have no dinosaur relation, and thirteen of which are associated with dinosaurs that have no corresponding Zord. (At least in the TV show) The question Wrench raises with his statement is one you may have thought of by now, but if not, I'll say it anyways.
What do the other Chargers run on? I get how the main ten work, they have Energems paired that can fuel them. The others though? They've got nothing backing them up. If this hadn't been brought up, I would have just rolled with it for the most part. All you'd have to do is say that Sledge and the gang don't really have the gear hooked up to charge it up properly and you're golden. The Energems can be a damn good source of energy for the Chargers, but regular old Electricity can work just fine as long as you've got enough of it, basically operating on the same rules that Stargate does. I presumed at the time that the Zords are intended to work with the Energems as the Morphers were demonstrated as doing in the first episode, but considering what we learn towards the end of season two, and the fact that there's a Zord that runs exclusively on Dino Chargers due to it not being paired with an Energem, I have the rather distinct feeling that they weren't paying the closest attention to the rules set down in this series. If they were even trying to follow rules when making this show, which is questionable, considering the amount of long-standing franchise rules they appear to be determined to undermine. Not to mention how often they've contradicted what were supposed to be hard and fast rules about how this series arsenal is supposed to function.
Episode Nine is where we see more than a hint that Riley is the geek of the group. Namely, he starts going full-on Sherlock Holmes to some extent, and being the only one with common sense for the entirety of the rest of the episode. Everyone is meandering about until Riley points out that the villains need to find a way to charge up the Ptera Charger.
Meanwhile, Fury and Wrench, accompanied by a prisoner named Puzzler are infiltrating the only other lab with the tech that could do that. I presume they're related to Alphabet Soup in some way, but we don't really find out why they have this technology.
Fury and Wrench leave Puzzler to guard the outside of the building, (He's a gigantic yellow thing with green maze lines all over him.) but he sees a pair of children playing chess dumbly and tries to give them advice. Naturally, this scares the crap out of them. The fleeing children tip off Chase that something's wrong, and he encounters Puzzler. Puzzler overwhelms him, but the rest of the team arrives before Chase can be killed. Puzzler flees, and the Rangers give chase. Puzzler decides to turn the building into a maze so he can have a chance of surviving his encounter. He also cranks the temperature down below freezing in an attempt to kill the Rangers. Which should't work for a number of reasons. First off, their Energems are supposed to protect them from freezing, as was demonstrated in the first episode. Second, they could literally just Morph and they'd be fine. Nobody has ever died in a Ranger suit. They're the most sophisticated life-support system in the universe, demonstrated by the numerous times that they've allowed Rangers to operate in a vacuum and not suffocate and die. "Forever Red" had a team of Red Rangers on the moon, In Space had them doing that all the time. Lost Galaxy too, probably, since it was a space-themed season too. My point is, this is a non-issue for the Rangers.
The maze is about what you'd expect out of a supernatural labyrinth. The illogical geometry, infinitely looping staircases, doorways that lead straight off a cliff, and jammed vending machines. No, not kidding. While all the other Rangers are preoccupied with other dumb things, Koda decides to get food. Once the machine jams, rather than smash the glass with his cave-man strength, or his gun, or his sword, he tries reaching inside, shaking it, doing generally dumb things. Because his character, which has some of the most potential to be interesting, is regularly reduced to "comedy" antics.
The only one to come close to actually doing something sensible is the focus-character of this episode, Riley. He climbs through the vents and sees Fury and Wrench harnessing the yellow glob thing inhabiting Fury to power the Pteracharger. Fury pilots the Ptera Zord out, and Riley escapes the maze. Now, rather than simply killing Puzzler and rescuing the rest of the Rangers, Riley challenges him to a game of 3D Chess. Riley beats him, frees the other Rangers, they kill Puzzler, and things wrap up. RIley isn't even the one to pull the trigger on Puzzler, Koda is the one to do it.
For a mid-season return, "When Logic Fails" is a pitiful excuse for anything. It's hard to describe exactly how underwhelming this was to behold upon initial viewing when it was aired. First off, this episode establishes Riley as the teams smart guy, despite the fact that this is never referred back to in anything more than a filler episode. Additionally, they dropped nothing more than one hint towards him being this much of a brain, and that was the name of his dog, Rubik! Riley just pulls this Sherlock Holmes-vision out of nowhere, and it never, I repeat, never makes an appearance after this.

That about does it for this part of the breakdown, I do apologize for the length of the wait, but I've been some combination of sick and busy for the last two weeks.
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