March 29, 2011

Review - Power Rangers Samurai Episode 6 "There Go the Brides" and Episode 7 "I've Got a Spell on Blue"

 "There Go the Brides" is one of the better episodes so far, combining the twists from the Shinkenger episode with great editing. Deker is formally introduced, and Dayu takes the role usually reserved for the Nighlok-of-the-Week. I admit, the many twists the rangers use to fool the villains in this episode are reminiscent of the cheesy escape methods from the old Batman series, but used in Power Rangers it's actually pretty refreshing, since usually the solution to the episode's problem is either a rare power source, a new power-up for one of the rangers, or a new attachment for the megazord.

 Ricardo Medina as Deker is pretty decent considering the somewhat bad reviews he got back when playing Cole. Here, Deker's demeanor is noticeably subdued compared to Cole's. We'll see how the character develops as the series goes on.

 Bulk and Spike get more than their usual number of scenes in this episode, and it's pretty good to see Bulk not getting distracted by his own metaphor involving cake. It's a fair guess that if such a metaphor was said to Bulk back in the Mighty Morphin' days, both he and Skull would immediately get hungry.

 The Moogers growing giant are an example of villain footmen growing to fight the mecha, which is rare even in Super Sentai. Dayu and her troubled past keeps in the tradition of female villains having a dark past motivating their evildoings. The few exceptions to this include Trakeena from Lost Galaxy, Divatox from Turbo (it's well-known she had a long-lost twin, but not much else was revealed), and last but not least, Rita Repulsa, though the latter case was due to limitations of the Sentai footage, not the writing itself.

 Although the plotline of a ranger under an evil spell is nothing new, "I've Got a Spell on Blue" brings up the fact that the rangers cannot entirely avoid putting each other at risk. The usual bad puns are present but fewer in number. I found it great that in the forest, Bulk and Spike were afraid of two different possible threats (bears and mosquitoes), rather than running away from every harmless animal they encountered, like Bulk and Skull in "The Wedding", when they wandered around the Australian outback. A couple of YouTube commentors from Australia pointed out that there would be more dangerous animals in the outback than just koalas for Bulk and Skull to be fearful of.

 Deker's commentary on Jayden and Kevin's fight was a breath of fresh air for a battle scene. Ricardo Medina's beard reminded me of the "Mirror, Mirror" episode of Star Trek, and it helps to convince the audience that even in human form Deker is very much one of the villains, albeit a rogue one.

 Both episodes are certainly more firmly placed with both feet on the ground than earlier episodes, and I'm hopeful this upwards trend will continue.

March 7, 2011

Review - Power Rangers Samurai Episode 4 "Sticks and Stones" and Episode 5 "A Fish Out of Water"

 "Sticks and Stones" was an interesting episode in terms of progressing the story. Through her sister, Emily is immune to the Nighlok-of-the-Week's taunts, but is insecure in all other areas of her life. It was cool seeing the rangers' faces inside their helmets, the closest the franchise's ever come to that before being in an early episode of Ninja Storm, when the rangers' faces are shown through their helmets, which are badly damaged after their zords are damaged in battle.

 It was great to see Bulk and Spike finally involved in the action (at least a bit, anyway), despite failing to subdue the Nighlok. It's not said whether or not Emily's sister Serena passed away, though it's likely the storyline will be visited again later on in the series. Jayden's supposed secret is hinted at by the Nighlok Negatron (not Megatron, Negatron). Could it be similar to the one from Shinkenger? I guess there's only one way to find out...

 "A Fish Out of Water" bucked the trend of starting the episode post-credits with a scene of the villains on the Sanzu River, instead almost literally "cutting to the chase" and giving Kevin a solo mission to retrieve the lost Swordfish Zord. And about the brief flashback sequence with him and his father, am I the only one who thinks the father sounds like Sensei from Ninja Storm?

 Anyway, it was definitely unusual for Kevin to use a fishing rod to find the zord, given how we've grown accustomed to characters just happening upon new zords by chance or having new ones be created. In this case, the rod is too weak to support the zord's weight and the line breaks.

 Bulk and Spike beachgoing reminds me of the MMPR episode "A Star is Born", when Bulk, in preparation for a commercial audition, tries to get a tan and Skull, after spilling all the suntan lotion, uses TIMMY P.'S REAL BRAND MAYONNAISE! as a substitiute. Naturally, this gives Bulk a nasty sunburn that shows the next day. This time, Bulk's beach activity is more creative, being torn on what to build a sand sculpture of.

 Back to Kevin, who uses every symbol on his fishing rod's disc to try and lure the zord. The sequence of this is edited excellently to illustrate his frustration and tiredness in the task. When he collapses, he's aided by a man (doing a good American accent lol), who helps him to finally catch the zord and save the other rangers from the stench effects of Yamiror, the Nighlok-of-the-Week.

 The megazord battle adds to the number of forms for the mecha, but having the swordfish zord's point as a helmet spear for the Swordfish Fencer Megazord? Pure awesomeness right there.

 All the while, a mysterious figure is shown, who welcomes the return of the Samurai Rangers, but has an agenda of his own...