“Day of the Dumpster” Review

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers crashed through our televisions in 1993, changing lives and angering moms everywhere. It started a legacy that continues today. And it all started with “Day of the Dumpster.”

What Happened

Ah, the nostalgia of the opening sequence. I love this music. This theme basically defined my childhood. #nostalgic

We open to a space shuttle arriving on an odd-looking planet which is apparently our Moon. A pair of astronauts with the ability to defy the laws of gravity stumble upon a strange object that they casually describe as “a giant space dumpster” and decide to carelessly open it without any further inspection. They’re shocked and frightened to find out that a band of aliens was trapped inside. (I would be, too. Which is why I would’ve radioed back to NASA or whoever before opening it. This whole thing could’ve been avoided with one radio call.) The aliens’ leader Rita destroys the “giant space dumpster” and announces her “coming out party” which is when she destroys the nearest planet. Boy, were we unlucky she got dumped on the Moon. Doomed by proximity.

With the threat of destruction looming over the planet we head to the Angel Grove Youth Center. Angel Grove Radio gives us a convenient layout of the setting, followed by a concise introduction to our main characters that nails their basic personalities with just a few shots. Jason and Zack practice karate, Jason in karate garb and Zack is his… whatever you call that style. Kimberly the sassy gymnast, Trini calm and focused. And Billy, awkward and nerdy.

Enter Bulk and Skull. Easily the best written characters of the show, this duo would provide ever-evolving comic relief for many enjoyable years. And they’re spot-on here. Naive, cocky, self-centered bullies who are foiled at every turn. After failing at securing a double date with Trini and Kimberly, Bulk and Skull get all bully-ish and try to use “karate moves on the girls.” (Physical bullying of girls? Talk about touchy issues on a kids’ show.) Unsurprisingly, they end up flat on their backs.

For the very first time we see Rita in her Moon castle looking down at Earth through her NSA-like telescope. (How the heck did she build a castle and get all that crap already?) She likes what she sees and orders her resident evil scientist Finster to make some Putty Patrollers.

Back on Earth, Billy is having trouble keeping up in his first karate class. Jason lends some friendly advice. They’re joined by Bulk and Skull who are looking to learn the skills necessary to not get flipped over and tossed on their butts by girls half their size. (I’m being generous to Bulk here.) Bulk botches a “tornado kick” in Powers Rangers’ first epic fail.

After karate class, Ernie brings the Rangers-to-be their drinks and he’s baffled that somebody ordered spinach juice. (Seriously, who the heck orders spinach juice?) Suddenly, the ground starts shaking. It’s an earthquake! Quick, everybody run and scream! That’s obviously the safest thing to do during an earthquake! At least Ernie tried to tell everyone to stay calm while he “accidentally” threw the tray of drinks in Bulk’s face. I swear he says “Sorry, Paul” when that happens. I’ve listened to it a million times and I don’t hear a “k” sound at the end. (For those who don’t know, the actor that plays Bulk is Paul Schrier.)

As pandemonium ensues at the Youth Center, we’re taken to a strange room where we meet Alpha and Zordon: a robot holding a teddy bear and a giant greenish floating head in a tube. We don’t have much time to appreciate the hilarious creativity of these two characters before they get down to business. Zordon says the earthquake is actually Rita attacking Earth. He tells Alpha to teleport to him five “overbearing and over emotional humans.” Alpha rightly exclaims “not teenagers!” Why would you want five overbearing and over emotional teenagers to save the world for you? Why not ask for five trained and experience warriors who know what the heck they’re doing?

Alas, Alpha teleports our stunningly color-coordinated group of teens from the Youth Center to the Command Center. The earthquake stops. I guess Rita saw them teleport and decided against attacking the Youth Center. The teens marvel at the control panels and their new robotic friend before Zordon zaps himself into the tube (in what I can only imagine was a timed grand entrance since he was just in the tube a minute ago).

Long story short, big Z tells them the planet is under attack from a witch on a flying bicycle and a flying gold monkey. (They must have the Wizard of Oz in Japan.) The teens are all like, “Nah, you playin’, Z,” and Zordon’s like, “Look at these vids in my big crystal ball. There’s no way I faked ’em.” That totally convinced them, so Z’s like, “Here’s the morphers, dudes! You haven’t said yes yet and you haven’t even agreed to the rules but I totally trust you! Go kick some witch butt with dinosaur powers!”

Ahem, ah… sorry about that. I tried reviewing that scene seriously but I just couldn’t do it. Anyways, Zack and Kimberly are weirded out by everything and start to leave. Billy looks at a console while Jason and Trini (who so far have seemed like the more serious and disciplined characters) are still looking up at Zordon. Jason looks seriously conflicted and his demeanor and hesitation to leave give us the first real serious moment of the show. It’s a deep few seconds. Despite basically saying “eff this,” the teens leave with the morphers and Zordon doesn’t bother to ask for them back. Or zap them off just like he zapped them on.

Back on the Moon, Rita is intrigued by Zordon’s choice of warriors. (Who wouldn’t be?) I guess she stopped attacking Angel Grove to see what was going to happen with the flying color blobs, because here she instructs her minions to attack Zordon’s recruits outside the Command Center.

Jason tries to talk the group into considering Zordon’s proposal. Zack’s still skeptical but before they can really talk about it they’re surrounded by Putty Patrollers. They have no choice but to fight. Cue the dance music! Wait, what? Ah, play the stereotype, Zack. The black guy’s a hip hop dancer. (He’s also the Black Ranger, but that’s been beaten to death over the years so I’m going to choose to ignore it.)

They put up a good fight but can’t handle the Putties on their own. Jason remembers they have the morphers so they use them. The teens finally make the “metamorphosis” and become the Power Rangers. (Which apparently also makes trees appear behind them.) #nostalgic

Rita changes her mind again and sends Goldar to attack Angel Grove with some more Putties. The Rangers effortlessly take down Putty after Putty, angering Rita. She yells at her goon squad until one of them (Squatt) suggests making Goldar grow. She throws her magic wand from her castle to the Earth, splitting the ground open and making Goldar grow to the size of a skyscraper. (A big magic wand that can break the speed of light? Where can I get one?)

The Rangers perform their first “pose and taunt” sequence, telling Goldar that they’re “not backin’ down.” They call on their Dinozords which look as impressive as “giant robot dinosaurs” sounds. They form the Megazord’s tank mode and charge at Goldar. He unleashes an energy blast from his sword, rocking the Rangers. They come back blasting lightning at him, sending him tumbling to the ground. Switching the Megazord to battle mode, the Rangers take the fight vertical. #nostalgic

Goldar swings his sword relentlessly. The Rangers are able to dodge a couple swings and knock him down with a backhanded forearm. Goldar gets back to his feet and lands a sweet flying dropkick. The Rangers are in trouble, so Jason calls for the Power Sword. That must be one powerful sword because it sends Goldar running scared. The Rangers call it a victory.

Rita whines and complains because destroying the Earth wasn’t as easy as she thought it would be. Baboo bangs Squatt on the head on the few times and blames him, telling him he should’ve helped. Which is ironic since he was the one who told Rita to make Goldar grow. We hear, “I have a headache!” for the first time though, so it’s all worth it.

The Rangers celebrate at the Command Center. Zordon finally tells them the rules. Lucky for him, they’re agreeable to them. Zack shows doubt again, but Zordon gives them an inspiring speech about how great of a team they make and that the world needs them. They enthusiastically commit to the cause and the Power Rangers are born!

 

My Thoughts

#Morphenomenal

In 20 minutes, “Day of the Dumpster” was able to introduce every main character, perfectly displaying their personality traits. The scene in the command center after Zordon gives them the morphers is my favorite. It establishes Jason and Trini as the level-headed members of the group, focusing on Jason’s internal conflict. A mere close-up and conflicted facial expression helped him stand-out as the potential leader. Zack and Kimberly show their care free attitudes by shrugging the whole thing off almost immediately. And Billy’s turn away from Jason and Trini to look at console showed his insecurity. He wasn’t sure whether to stay with Jason or leave with Zack, so he looked away from both of them and focuses on something familiar: the tech. All this in a matter of seconds.

Also in that 20 minutes, the plot was laid out flawlessly. The only major thing missing were the weapons, but that would’ve been a little much for the basic fight that they had. At times the episodes seemed rushed and they took some liberties with suspension of disbelief, but every character action and reaction was believable and the entire package made for the perfect intro episode.

#Nostalgic

Watching this is so nostalgic for me. That warm, fuzzy feeling is present throughout the entire episode. I could watch it over and over… which I did for this review and it didn’t bother me one bit.

As a kid, you don’t see the overt stereotypes that are littered throughout this show. Pretty much every character except Alpha is a cliche of some sort and that is on full display in “Day of the Dumpster.” But when you’re four years old, who the heck cares? Cool good guys are beating up evil aliens. This rocks!

#nostalgic moments:
Opening Theme
Morphing Sequence
Calling the Zords

#BulkAndSkull

Bulk and Skull are my absolute favorite characters in Power Rangers history. They always seemed to be the best written characters in the show and their evolution from high school bullies to devoted police officers was inspirational. Their antics in “Day of the Dumpster” capture their early personas perfectly and in my opinion, their scenes are the highlights of the episode.

#Nitpicking

I’m a filmmaker, so I can’t watch anything without analyzing every little technical aspect of the plot, dialogue, acting, directing, camera work, effects, etc. From a technical standpoint, “Day of the Dumpster” is a train wreck.

Aside from the two fight scenes, the episode is all exposition. By that I mean they used the dialogue to explain the characters, setting, and concept instead of using plot development and substantial character development to naturally tell the story. Given the 20 minute runtime, I can forgive most of it. As I said before, they managed to coherently pack in everything needed to set up the show.

There were bad cuts all over the place, questionable micro plot choices, and terrible voice dubbing. (Yes, I know it’s iconic of this show, but this is my nitpicking section, so get over it!)

 

The Breakdown

Quality Bolts: 4/5
I gave it 3 because it was an average episode, but I added a 4th because of how well they packed the introduction into just 20 minutes.

Nostalgia Bolts: +3
Opening Theme
Morphing Sequence
Calling the Zords

FINAL RATING: Rating Lightning BoltRating Lightning BoltRating Lightning BoltRating Lightning BoltRating Lightning Bolt ClassicRating Lightning Bolt ClassicRating Lightning Bolt Classic

Stars of the Show:
1. Jason – The scene in the Command Center was great and, in my opinion, his stand-out moment in this episode. Jason showed the kind of bravery and nobility that I always dreamed of having as a kid.
2. Bulk and Skull – Their comic relief stole the show. ‘Nuff said.
3. Zack – The perfect foil to Jason’s confident attitude in the Command Center, Zack was the voice of reason for this episode. (Probably more like the voice of skepticism, but whatever.)

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
Alpha – for just being so darn cute and lovable… and that teddy bear!
Squatt – for taking the abuse despite being the only one with a good idea.
The poor astronaut dudes that opened the dumpster – I feel so bad for them. All they wanted to do was learn and discover. Instead they released Rita. Poor suckers.