Episode Title: Green with Evil Part I
Original Airdate: October 5, 1993
It is not uncommon for some well-known television series’ to make big changes as they progress. Take something like Happy Days. The Fonze was just a side character when the series began, but eventually he became the focal point of the show. The show Family Matters introduced a nerdy next door neighbor named Steve Urkel midway through the first season and he soon became the star of the show. Well, we’ve reached the point where the Power Rangers made a major change…bringing in a new cast member who would stick with the show through the run of this series and who would appear in future shows in the Power Rangers universe, as well. Here comes the introduction of Tommy in Green with Evil Part I.
We begin at the Angel Grove Martial Arts Expo, where a variety of demonstrations and competitions are taking place. Jason is going to be competing against a new kid in town, Tommy Oliver (Jason David Frank). The match is quite exciting and ends in a tie between Jason and Tommy. It also ends in Kimberly having a bit of a crush on Tommy. The next day at school, Tommy rescues Kim from the unwanted advances of Skull and the two agree to meet after school at the youth center.
It seems that Rita has her eye on Tommy, too. She decides that he is the perfect choice to be her evil green ranger. First, she tests Tommy with a putty attack, which he easily handles. Impressed with his performance, Rita zaps Tommy into her crystal ball and then outfits him as the green ranger. She gives him his own power coin which will allow him to enter Zordon’s command center and destroy it. Upon arrival at Zordon’s place, he sabotages Alpha with a virus and guts all the computers, making it so Zordon cannot maintain contact with our dimension.
With what little power he has, Alpha summons the rangers to the command center. With teleportation down, they use the Rad Bug to get there. They find things in a shambles but do see on the view screen that Goldar has launched an attack. So, our heroes morph and head for the location. When Goldar grows, they summon their zords and create the Mega Zord. But, just when things seem to be going their way, the green ranger busts into the cockpit and starts sucker punching the rangers. Everyone ejects, and the battle with the green ranger continues in hand-to-hand style. Overpowered, the rangers teleport back to the command center. Confused over what just happened, Jason suggests that this battle has just begun. To be continued…
The big takeaway from this episode is the extremely impressive martial arts skills of Jason David Frank as Tommy. Both the competition with Jason and the battle with the putties show off some top-notch technique. For that matter, the fight between Jason and Tommy in ranger form late in the episode is impressive, too…though I realize those aren’t the American actors. Tommy does come across as intimidating and that helps make him a solid villain as we move forward with the next four episodes. I’m not sure how I feel about Kimberly going all goo goo for Tommy. It’s almost too predictable. I actually think it might’ve been better had Trini been the one with eyes for the new kid.
Admittedly, a lot of this episode is set-up. We are embarking on a five episode story here, remember. It would’ve aired over the course of one broadcast week. This story arch actually aired starting on a Tuesday and ended Saturday. With this being the first installment, it doesn’t have the big payoff we might get in a normal episodes. The Mega Zord vs Goldar action is not quite like we would get in most episodes. It’s just kind of there so that we get a monster battle. The kids expected that sort of stuff. The twist of having the green ranger break into the Mega Zord, though, was fun. I kind of wish he had assumed control of the machine, but perhaps we’ll see that in one of the next parts of the story.
This episode is effective in doing what it needs to in order to get this five part epic moving forward, but I hope the action ramps up a bit in the next few installments. We’ll find out soon enough when we look at Green with Evil Part II, next time. Go figure!