Episode Title: Zedd’s Monster Mash
Original Airdate: October 28, 1994
Well, here in 2018 we’re just wrapping up the Christmas season. But in our journey through Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, it’s Halloween 1994. Of course, with Lord Zedd on the loose, scary things are afoot in Angel Grove. Get ready for some trick or treating in today’s episode, Zedd’s Monster Mash.
We open at the youth center where Billy, Kimberly, and Tommy are working on a community outreach program where the teens serve as chaperones taking groups of kids out to get candy. Though not there yet, Zack, Jason, and Trini are on the way. Now, just like it was in the real world of 1994, a lot of the kiddies are dressed as Power Rangers for Halloween. So, Lord Zedd sights an opportunity. He has several putties disguise themselves as kids in Power Ranger costumes. He even is able to make them shrink a bit in size. So, this group of “kids” goes out with Tommy to trick or treat. At the right moment, they change back into their true form and zap Tommy off to Lord Zedd’s Haunted Forest. There he ends up face to “face” with a creature called Doomstone…a thing with a tombstone for a head. This monster then conjures up several other creatures from the past, including Pumpkin Rapper, Robogoat, Primator, Rhinoblaster, Invenusable Flytrap, and Snizzard.
When Tommy doesn’t come back to the youth center. Kimberly and Billy sense a problem. They head off to the Command Center for a briefing by Zordon and then are zapped off to the Haunted Forest to help Tommy. Now, Tommy hasn’t been able to morph since the monsters have swiped his morpher. So, first priority is to get it back. A big battle breaks out and eventually they get the morpher back. Then, Jason, Zack, and Trini show up (already morphed) to join in the battle. Most of the monsters are taken out, but Zedd makes Pumpkin Rapper grow to giant size. That means it’s time to break out the zords! Both the Thunder Megazord and the White Tigerzord are created to slice up that pumpkin.
This episode is a strange mishmash of things that never quite comes together. The producers seem to be just throwing a ton of stuff out there hoping that something will make sense. Once again, we have a very strange monster at the center of things…Doomstone. It’s basically a guy in a black jumpsuit with a big tombstone for a head. The thing has one big eyeball poking through a crack in the stone, but the thing also looks way too rubbery. As the thing moves the tombstone head bounces and flops around, making it look pretty cheesy. Even the other “classic” monsters don’t contribute all that much. Some of them barely even put up a fight. Only the moments in which our heroes battle putties are really satisfying in this episode. The highlight is a moment when Kimberly (in her ranger garb) sails through the air doing multiple mid-air flips and eventually smacking into a putty.
There are other things, though, that cause this episode to fumble a bit. From the very beginning of this episode something seems a bit off. To the kids watching this show back in October of 94, it probably wasn’t all that noticeable. They were probably too wrapped up in an episode that gave them not one, not two, but seven monsters. Not to mention a weird cameo appearance by a creature made out of keys that locks Tommy into the Dark Dimension. There was plenty of action, plenty of giant robots…they probably loved it. But if you watch this episode today with a keen eye, you can see that we are at the breaking point caused by some of the behind-the-scenes turmoil centered on several key cast members.
The episode opens with Billy, Kimberly, and Tommy getting ready for the Halloween festivities…but where are the other three rangers? Well, eventually they do show up, but already in their full Power Ranger outfits…helmets and all. So, we never see their faces. That’s because by the time this episode was filmed, Austin St. John (Jason), Walter Jones (Zack), and Thuy Tran (Trini) had decided they were done with the show. Most sources seem to indicate that the primary dispute centered on the fact that the show had been extremely profitable and the actors felt they deserved a bit more. Keep in mind, there was massive merchandising, talk of future movies, and to complicate matters, the show was non-union. So, though the producers of the show are still creatively working around this situation, our last episode, Opposites Attract, actually marked the last time we would see these three actors on the show.
Walter Jones would continue to work on various shows. He appeared on such programs as Family Matters, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Moesha, and CSI. Austin St. John had much less of a presence on TV following his time on this series, save for a 17 episode run on the 1996 incarnation of the show, Power Rangers: Zeo. For a time he worked as a paramedic. Thuy Trang would go on to a few film roles, including appearances in Spy Hard and as the villain in The Crow: City of Angels. Sadly, tragedy would end the life of Thuy Trang at the young age of 27. She was involved in a car accident on Interstate 5 between San Francisco and Los Angeles on September 3, 2001. She died before reaching the hospital. Fellow rangers Austin St John, David Yost, Amy Jo Johnson, and Walter Jones were all in attendance at her funeral. Only Jason David Frank was unable to attend due to a death in his own family at the same time.
So…what is going to happen to Jason, Zack, and Trini, you may ask? Well, at the beginning of this episode Billy and Kimberly do talk about an upcoming “peace conference,” where people will be chosen to go around the world to talk to kids about world unity. Remember that as we move forward. We’ll find out more about the future of the Power Rangers team next time in The Ninja Encounter Part 1.