Mighty Morphin Power Rangers S:01 E:16

Episode Title: Switching Places
Original Airdate: October 4, 1993

From Freaky Friday to Vice Versa to Dream a Little Dream…it seems that time and time again the old body switch gimmick gets used in movies and TV. Well, on this week’s episode of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers we return to that well. Plus, there’s also a dog-faced Genie to make things difficult for our heroes in Switching Places.

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As our story begins, Squatt is sneaking around Billy’s laboratory in the middle of the night, switching wires on his new invention. The next day, Billy tries to show Kimberly his new device, which he claims reads minds. When they test it out, they instead end up switching brains. So Billy is now Kimberly and vice versa. Later, Bulk and Skull sneak in, having overheard the talk about mind reading, and also try out the machine…thus switching brains as well.

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Up in space, Goldar, Squatt and Baboo decide that the next monster to attack Angel Grove should be a genie which they have inside a magic lamp. They make plans to send the genie down to earth in the lamp so as not to be detected by Zordon. Meanwhile at school, Kimberly (really Billy) is having hard time with makeup and destroying home ec class. At the same time, Billy (really Kimberly) manages to blow up a computer with just a few wrong keystrokes. The two are furious at each other, but there’s no time for that when Zordon notices the arrival of the lamp. The rangers retrieve it, and take it to the command center. The genie, however, is already on the loose.  As for the rangers, they are soon distracted by a putty attack.

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When the genie begins his attack, Alpha teleports the rangers to its location. Instantly, Rita makes the genie grow (though without tossing the wand). So, the zords are summoned and they form the Mega Zord to attack. However, the team is quickly outmatched by the genie. In fact, the monster is just about to do some major damage with his drill when, back at the command center, Alpha manages to destroy the lamp, which makes short order of the genie. Of course, when Angel Grove is safe again, Billy fixes his machine to switch everybody back to normal.

This episode is kind of a mixed bag. The body switching gimmick is actually kind of fun. Both Amy Jo Johnson and David Yost really seem to get into playing each other. Between this and the story where they turn into punks a few episodes back, these two are proving themselves to be the strongest actors of the five rangers. There are also some funny moments as a result of Bulk and Skull also getting switched around.

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Our monster this time is just okay, I guess. I’m not exactly sure why he’s a genie with an Egyptian style dog head, but it looks cool. However, there’s no sort of animation to this character. I mean, the other monsters are often a bit clunky looking too, but we’ll usually get a moving mouth or big wiggling tentacles…something cool. This dog genie just has his mouth hanging open the whole time and ends up looking not very intimidating as a result.

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My big issue, though, is that the body switch element is not used to its full effect. The rangers go into battle with Kimberly and Billy switched around. So shouldn’t they struggle a bit with having to control a zord that they aren’t used to? I mean, Billy shouldn’t know how to operate the pterodactyl…but he seems to have no problem. Heck, they even shout out their normal dinosaur name! If Kimberly is really Billy, shouldn’t we see her shout “Triceratops…I mean pterodactyl!” I’m sure part of it is that they were limited in what could be done with the existing Japanese footage, but at least make an attempt.

So, while there are enjoyable aspects of this episode, it’s got a lot of holes that made me wish for something a bit different. Our next episode, though, definitely brings us something different. It is the first of an epic five part story that introduces a new character to the series. Join us for Green with Evil: Part 1.

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