Episode Title: Different Drum
Original Airdate: September 10, 1993
I’m sure everybody has those dreams that seem very real at the time, then you wake up and realize it was all just in your head. I remember having a dream like that when I was in high school. See, I was an awkward teenager who really really just wanted to have a girlfriend. One night I had a dream where I had a girlfriend. All I really remember about the dream is waking up and being really bummed that it was just a dream, and that the dream girl who actually saw fit to date me was deaf. In today’s episode of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, it is a deaf teen who ends up helping the Rangers save the day in Different Drum.
As our story begins, there is a lot going on at the Angel Grove Youth Center. Kimberly is leading her aerobic dance class as the others watch. One of the students is Melissa, who is deaf. After Billy accidentally disrupts the class when he trips and falls onto Ernie’s supply cart, there is more trouble when Melissa accidentally runs into some of the other dancers, which causes some conflict. See, Kimberly forgot to sign the next move for her. Meanwhile, Bulk and Skull challenge Zack to a bit of a dance battle of their own. By the time the class is done, the other girls have apologized to Melissa and the group heads off to the mall.
However, this all coincides with Rita sending down a new monster…a gnome with an accordion that when played causes people to go into a zombie-like trance. The first victims end up being the girls on the way to mall. However, since Melissa can’t hear the music, she is not affected. She follows the girls as they are lured by the gnome to a cave and then goes to tell Kimberly what happened.
Melissa then leads the five rangers (of course she doesn’t know they are the Power Rangers) out to the cave. Kimberly then uses sign language to tell Melissa to go hide. The others then morph and the battle begins. They first battle the gnome with their various power weapons and then bring them together into the Power Blaster…blasting the gnome into gravel. However, Rita throws her wand and the creature reforms and grows. The only thing to do is summon the zords, come together, and get set for some Mega Zord action. They quickly dispense with the gnome and rescue the girls. Then all head back to the Youth Center where the other rangers try to learn some signing to talk with Melissa. Oh, and then Melissa even asks Billy to dance. Awwwww!
Ok, when ranking Rita’s monsters, this gnome thing is probably the lamest one we’ve seen so far. He looks a bit like Billy Barty’s character Gwyldor from the Dolph Lundgren Masters of the Universe film. He hypnotizes people with his magic accordion, which is an ok gimmick if he actually did anything cool with it. Instead he just summons the girls to dance around in the cave. If you’re going to hypnotize a bunch of teenage girls, at least have them go down and terrorize the Angel Grove Mall! Go nuts at Spencer Gifts or bust up the Orange Julius stand!
The angle of having a deaf girl be the one who, in a small way, saves the day is a good plot device. However, I think they could’ve gone further with this as well. Why not have the Power Rangers become hypnotized by the gnome’s music too…leaving it totally up to Melissa to find the way of defeating him. Here’s the big thing that’s bugging me, though. She brings the five ranges to where the gnome is hanging out. Then she’s told to hide and the next thing we know we’ve got zords busting the place up. Now Melissa may be deaf but she’s not blind! I’m pretty sure she’s figured out that Kimberly and her four pals are the Power Rangers.
A few other things to note about this episode. First it takes a long time to get going with the actual monster action. We spend about eight minutes (which is nearly half of the episode) focusing on the dance class at the Youth Center before the gnome arrives in Angel Grove. We also see a return of the individual power weapons that come together to form the Power Blaster, however they have different names now. Before they were just Power this, Power that. Now we have the Cosmic Cannon, Battle Bow, Dino Daggers, Mighty Mace, and Power Sword. It’s also interesting to note that Zordon and Alpha do not appear in this episode. The Rangers figure this one out all on their own.
In the end, we still get a pretty fun episode, despite having a pretty lame monster. Next time, though, we get a giant pig…and no, it’s not Bulk. Prepare yourself for Food Fight…next time.