This is an amateur, non-commercial story, which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. And so it goes.

Reality Check

by Jeff Morris

Foreword One and Two Three, Four, Five Interlude I and Six
Interlude II, Seven and Eight Nine, Interlude III, and Ten Eleven and Twelve Thirteen, Fourteen and Fifteen

Alibis, Angles, Tales from the Tropics

a foreword/apology by Jeff Morris





Okay. Onward.

The credit, or perhaps the blame, for this novella rests with Mary Bloemker. At the 1993 MediaWestCon she told us about this wild show called “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”, how we ought to see it, and by the way, in one episode they fought a giant armadillo. Why not come up Sunday and watch it, just to see what it’s like?

In case you didn’t know, I collect armadillo memorabilia. I’ve amassed quite a considerable collection over the years, in no small part due to the efforts of my friends (if nothing else, it makes Christmas and birthday shopping somewhat easier for them). So I was intrigued enough to take a look. . .and from that moment, I was hooked. It was such a goofy, silly show that I couldn’t help but like it. And Mary was so impressed with certain elements (read: beefcake) that she set out to record the first and second season episodes.




What is MMPR? There are two ways to answer that question. On face level, it’s a show about six ethnically diverse teenagers who are granted incredible powers (and giant robots) by their wise mentor to defend their city from the forces of evil. During the first season, the Power Rangers were Kimberly (Pink Ranger), Trini (Yellow Ranger), Billy (Blue Ranger), Zack (Black Ranger), Jason (Red Ranger), and Tommy (Green Ranger). Their foe was the witch Rita Repulsa, who with her minions Goldar, Squatt, Babboo and Scorpina was out to conquer the earth, starting with Angel Grove, the Rangers’ hometown.

The episodes were fairly standard--Rita sends putties to attack, the Rangers battle them as civilians, Rita sends the monster, the kids change into the Rangers, Rita makes the monster grow into a giant, Rangers call upon their robots (called Zords), Zords merge into Giant Robot (Megazord), Megazord kicks monster into next week, Rita moans that she has a headache, kids teach valuable moral, end episode.  The most interesting exceptions were those where Tommy was involved--Tommy started out as the “Evil Ranger”, enslaved by Rita to destroy the Rangers and given the powers of the Green Ranger. Naturally, the Rangers managed to break the spell and persuade Tommy to join their side. Eventually, though, Rita found a way to steal much of his powers, which made him a more-or-less part-time Ranger.

At the start of the second season, Rita was displaced by Lord Zedd, who was supposedly nastier and more evil--so much so that the Rangers’ Zords were unable to meet the challenge. Fortunately, Zordon (mentor to the Rangers) was able to whip up five new Thunderzords that restored the balance and enabled the Power Rangers to triumph once again. A bit later, Tommy lost his Green Ranger powers once and for all, but fear not--Zordon was able to imbue him with the powers of the White Ranger, throwing in a new Zord for good measure. And a short time after that, Jason, Zack and Trini were selected to represent Angel Grove at a World Peace Conference in Germany, so Zordon transferred their powers to three new teenagers--Rocky (Red), Adam (Black) and Aisha (Yellow). It didn’t make a great deal of difference--the Rangers still kicked Zedd’s butt in every episode.

The first MMPR movie featured yet another “all powerful” villain whose might was too much for the Thunderzords (and Zordon, for that matter), so with the help of the wise and beautiful Dulcea, the Rangers took on new powers and robots--the Ninjazords--and defeated Ivan Ooze. The third season kinda/sorta followed the movie in that someone destroyed the Zords and they somehow got hold of the new ones, but frankly, we weren’t watching by then. Mary found this really neat animated program called “Gargoyles” that was on at the same time, so. . . you get the picture.

Now. . .here’s what MMPR is really all about.

The Japanese have a sort of television genre called sentai. There’s a general pattern to sentai programs--five or six young men and women are granted incredible powers (along with flashy uniforms and robots), to be used in the battle against a specific evil force. The powers and Zords correspond to specific “totems”, usually but not always animals. Each season, a new sentai program comes on the air and runs for a specific number of episodes and finishes up with the loose ends tied up. The following season, a new series begins.

Saban, the producer of Power Rangers, bought the footage rights to several sentai programs and used the battle sequences for their episodes. They hired non-union actors and actresses (the teenagers) to fill the non-action scenes. So the first season of MMPR consists of footage from ZyuRanger (which used dinosaur totems for the Zords), second season came from DaiRanger (mythological creatures), third season from KakuRanger (you name it--there were a LOT of robots and costume changes in that show), and the current incarnation, Power Rangers Zeo, comes from OhRanger.

If you can manage to get hold of the original sentai shows, you should--even though you may not understand a word that’s being said, you can usually get a handle on what’s going on. It’s interesting to see the battle clips in their original context, and you get to see a number of things Saban didn’t use--such as Bandora (Rita) doing a karaoke number with Goldar, Scorpina, Squatt and Babboo doing a chorus line behind her. Believe me, you can’t imagine what this looks like until you’ve seen it with your own eyes.

The first season baddies--Rita, Goldar, Scorpina, etc.--come from ZyuRanger footage. Saban bought the costume rights to the characters for subsequent seasons, which is why Rita and Scorpina (in her only post-first-season appearance) look different. Zedd is an original Saban creation.

As for Tommy-the-Quick-Change-Ranger...that’s an interesting story. There was limited Green Ranger footage available from ZyuRanger, due to the fact that a) the Green Ranger on that show came in late and b) the Green Ranger was killed before the end of the season. (Note--Mary and I always talked about doing a story where the American Rangers meet their Japanese counterparts, and can’t figure out why the ZyuRangers are so spooked by Tommy...)  To top things off, DaiRanger had a White Ranger, not Green, so that should explain why our man changed powers. As information, DaiRanger’s White Ranger was a kid in an adult body, which explains his...enthusiasm, shall we say, during certain action sequences.

In addition, an easy way to tell whether Green Ranger footage is original ZyuRanger footage or Saban-based is to look at the Ranger’s shoulder pads--if they’re metallic, it’s Japanese footage, if cloth, it’s American.

Hey, you pick up on this stuff after awhile.

And as to why the lineup changed in mid-season...apparently the actors playing Trini, Jason and Zack demanded to be paid SAG union scale, and Saban showed them the door. They were quickly replaced by three more non-union actors. Of the three, only Walter Jones (Zack) has kept working--he’s Harlan Band on “Space Cases”, the Nickolodeon program created by Peter David and Bill Mumy (HIGHLY recommended). So fleeting is fame…



Patience. I’m getting there.

One of the fun things about watching Power Rangers is that it lends itself beautifully to the “Mystery Science Theater 3000" treatment--in which you can make smartass remarks about the program as you watch it. Frankly, there are so many examples of idiocy in the episodes the only logical conclusion you can make is that Angel Grove is under a stupidity spell. I can’t count how many times I’ve yelled “USE THE POWER SWORD FIRST, DAMMIT!” at the TV set during the battle scenes. There’s Rita’s (and Zedd’s) strange obsession with Angel Grove--every attempt to conquer the planet starts there, not New York, Los Angeles, London, Omaha, whatever. And then there’s Tommy’s infamous gym bag, in which the secrets of the universe must be kept, because invariably when he needs something, he remembers he left it there.

Something else you have to keep in mind with MMPR is that each of the six teenagers fits a stereotype. Jason is “leader”, Zack is “Mr. Cool”, Kim is the Valley Girl, Trini is the calm, serene presence, Billy is the scientific genius, and Tommy is eye candy. Or so Mary declares--quite emphatically. She has commented several times about “the buns of the Gods”. Anyway, during one episode the Rangers ended up at Billy’s house. He’d converted the garage into his personal lab, and Mary at some point commented, “With those glasses, those brains, and those goofy inventions, this has to be a Spengler”. So we got to goofing around with the notion of Egon finding out his nephew was running around in spandex, manning giant robots and saving the world every afternoon at 4:00. And of course, where Egon goes, so goes Janine. At least in my universe, which for all intents and purposes is the universe where my prior novellas (PERFECT WORLD and ALL HALLOWS EVE) take place.

Along the way we worked Scorpina in there somehow (I am a charter member of the Original Scorpina Fan Club, and there are other members, before you ask), and based on Rita’s original assessment of Tommy in “Green With Evil” (she gets an incredibly lusty look in her eyes and says, “Oooh, did you see that guy? He’d make a wonderful Green Ranger!”), and Jason’s strange behavior when Tommy temporarily left the team in the second season, it kind of took off from there... into this.

I just never thought I’d put it down on paper.

Oh, yeah. The title comes from one of several public service announcements the Power Rangers did--Fox aired these immediately after the program, so as to squeeze one last moral lesson to the boys and girls. This one had Amy Jo Johnson (Kim) and David Yost (Billy) emphasizing that MMPR was pretend, and doing the stunts they did could end up hurting yourself, property and other people. Did a lot of good, huh?




Most if not all the plot points in this tale are from the many “stories” Mary and I concocted over time (hey, Illinois is so boring, you have to do SOMETHING to pass the time on the way to and from Indianapolis). There are a few surprises here and there--for one thing, Zack and Rocky, who were never really favorites of mine, came out as incredibly likeable here. And if Kimberly and Janine seem to be getting more than their share of the smart remarks...well, I concede a weakness for witty women. But The Redhead was instrumental in the plotting... and the proofreading and editing.

Shelby didn’t have that much to do with this novella, but hey, she is my daughter, so she gets a mention. After all, she is the result of my best collaborative effort.

The aforementioned Mary Bloemker read every draft and offered a great deal of commentary, as well as veiled threats regarding my future if I didn’t get the critter finished.

During the second draft, I found myself extremely disgusted with the monster I’d come up with for Zedd; Steve Swope just happened to design a creation for the St. Louis Costumer’s Guild newsletter that worked perfectly, so I used the idea here with his permission. You really don’t want to know what the original monster was. Trust me.

Many thanks to Jimmy Buffett, the Indigo Girls, Pat Benetar and James Taylor for giving me great tunes to write by.

Kathy Agel lost her wits and offered to publish REALITY CHECK, an act of insanity for which I’m very grateful. Thanks, ACE.




I would love to hear your reactions to REALITY CHECK, both pro and con (Mary contends I never pay an ounce of attention to the positive comments, but over-scrutinize the negative. . . guilty as charged). I can be reached via email at or via good old snailmail at: Jeff Morris, 1614 Grant Road, Webster Groves, MO 63119.  Kathy will also forward anything on to me, so drop me a line!





My father passed away October 4, 1995, after an unexpected, all-too-brief battle with cancer. While we weren’t all that close during my growing-up years, he was always there when it counted. When I finally reached adulthood, got married, and became a parent, our bond grew much closer and my respect and love for him grew all the stronger.

Growing up, I always viewed Dad as this serious, stern figure. Imagine my surprise when, at his 25th anniversary party, I started hearing...stories about him and the incredible practical jokes he concocted. Up to that point, I’d always wondered where my quirky sense of humor came from. Now I know.

It’s odd how, when it’s your turn to play parent, how you come to really understand what your parents went through with you. I still recall his laughter on the phone when I had to ask him how to remove Shelby’s ca-ca masterpiece from the wall without removing the paint. I got the distinct impression there was some feeling of payback going on there.

There are no regrets of things not said; they were said long before his death. But I miss the times when I could call him at home or work and just talk about this or that, about what Shelby was doing, how work was going. His only regret was not being able to watch Shelby grow up; I am utterly positive, though, that he is watching over her every day, and hopefully he’ll spare a few minutes for his oldest son. I can use all the help I can get.

So, while he never read anything I wrote, and would undoubtedly be utterly at a loss to understand this strange hobby of mine, this novella is dedicated with all my love to the memory of my father, William D. Morris. Hope I’ve made you proud, Dad...





Foreword One and Two Three, Four, Five Interlude I and Six
Interlude II, Seven and Eight Nine, Interlude III, and Ten Eleven and Twelve Thirteen, Fourteen and Fifteen