Theo, Lily, and rookie Casey, members of the secretive kung fu academy Pai Zhuq (Order of the Claw), are chosen to become the latest guardians of the ancient imprisoned spirit, Dai Shi. However, Jarrod, who was rejected from becoming a chosen guardian for his arrogance, accidentally unleashes Dai Shi before fleeing. When Dai Shi destroys Master Mao’s physical form, the trio head to Ocean Bluff, seeking their new Master only to find he is actually the seemingly inept owner of the Jungle Karma Pizza parlour, RJ. When Dai Shi attacks, Casey finds himself struggling to find his Tiger spirit. Jarrod turns evil.
Traditionally, Power Ranger pilots are very weak. The very first episode for example was a glossed over script that ran extremely quickly just to introduce the characters and most series’ that followed did the same. Jungle Fury benefits from having a two-part opening however and this really helps launch the series although to be objective there are still some issues to contend with.
So the episode opens with members of the Order of the Claw battling it out to see who the best three are. Clearly this is Lily, Theo and Jacob but Jacob is a bit of a douche which he demonstrates aptly when he makes a younger “Cub” get a towel for him but not before fighting a Tom Green lookalike. Another “Cub” jumps in and demonstrates his power summoning the spirit of the tiger and thus we are introduced to this series’ Red Ranger Casey and Jacob is given the boot. This gives the series more credence than previous series in my opinion because it becomes immediately obvious that not everyone in the Order is good whereas before our heroes were always extremely clean cut good guys.
Straight away one of the thrills of this episode was seeing Nathaniel Lees from the Matrix movies. I am a huge fan of the Matrix – well the first two movies and Animatrix anyway – and I was hoping he would be a more prominent figure in the show. Alas it was not to be. Real shame that. I did cringe at his Obi Wan scene however where he appears to them as a ghost – or whatever.
Ok as a red blooded male I have to get this out of the way; the eye candy for the dads watching this show is superb with Anna Hutchison (Lily – Yellow Ranger) and Holly Shannahan (Camille) both looking stunning throughout. The worry with any new Power Ranger series is getting another bimbo like Kimberley was in the first series of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers but fortunately the writers refrained from this with Lily.
So in this show the equivalent of Zordon is…a…hippy named “RJ”! Don’t get me wrong I am all for new ideas but given the opening I was a bit taken aback by this. RJ seems too undisciplined to be a Master and seems more of a comic relief to the story as does the brief appearance of Fran. Instead of a viewing globe he has a bunch of old TV sets; well I guess it fits his character but it seemed a bit too goofy. I think Master Mao was too obvious a choice for a regular “Zordon” and that the writers wanted to throw a curve ball to the audience and it succeeded. I did laugh when Casey, Anna and Theo mistook the guy in the pizza place for their Master and he just asks for the check.
One of the most interesting moments in the episode in the grand scheme of the Power Rangers is how RJ explains that they aren’t real Power Rangers. He explains, through a friend-of-a-friend gag, that their sunglasses-morphers more or less hack in to the morphing grid. In nearly all the previous incarnations of the show we see Power Rangers appear through a variety of methods but this is the first one to give us a real sense of where their powers are coming from even if it’s somewhat vague. I liked that. It would have been too easy for them to say that being the best in the Order of the Claw automatically makes you a Power Ranger. It also means that Jacob/Dai Shi can summon the animal spirits without morphing meaning we keep the good guys distinctly clear from the bad guys. Also, since the Super Megaforce Power Rangers can utilize the Jungle Fury powers then it must be that they have made an imprint on the morphing grid to become legendary rangers.
All in all I think “Welcome to the Jungle” is the strongest pilot episode of the Power Rangers franchise so far.
Memorable Quote: (Flit the Fly) I can’t believe my eyes and I’ve got hundreds of them.