Flash, The Wonder Dog
Our story begins near the top of a clock tower. A beautiful young girl is being threatened with certain death by noon if she doesn’t reveal the secret recipe to the nefarious black-clad bad guys. The clock is ticking, and doom appears inevitable. But then, a howl comes out of nowhere!
It’s Flash, the Wonder Dog! In the tradition of such heroic hounds as Rin Tin Tin, the costumed canine appears on the scene. Then we learn it’s a TV show, with Dale watching every pulse-pounding moment of it. This is a rather unique thing—a TV show within a TV show. Only one other time did it happen in the series, that being the Red Badger in “S.S. Drainpipe”. Of course, Flash is also a not-so-subtle allusion to Thunderbolt, the TV canine hero in “101 Dalmatians”. Dale’s whooping it up over Flash, and then Chip comes in and turns off the TV, causing Dale to go ballistic for a moment or two. Gadget starts to come into the room, then wisely backs out.
Meanwhile, someone else has been watching Flash, and not a fan by any means. Fat Cat, hater of dogs everywhere, is disgusted by the very idea of a canine hero. He summons the Goon Squad, revealing his plan to kidnap Flash and ruin his good name. At the studio, Flash has finished up for the day, and we learn that despite Dale’s assertion that Flash is real that he is in fact an actor who ironically is afraid of heights. Flash returns to his dressing room, where the Goon Squad pounces on him and drags him off in a large sack—unnoticed by anyone of course.
Dale is shocked by the news that Flash has disappeared and begs the Rangers to help find him. While they’re searching, Fat Cat is losing no time carrying out his promise. He and the Goon Squad get dressed up in Flash costumes and go about bringing dishonor on Flash’s name—dumping cement onto a contractor’s car, ruining crates of food, drinking a baby’s bottle dry, and vandalizing a freshly-painted billboard. The irony here is that none of these people could tell that these doppelgangers weren’t Flash—it’s yet another indicator that the humans in the Rangers’ world aren’t that bright.
In the RangerPlane, Dale gives Flash’s siren howl, and Flash responds. He’s in an old abandoned building, guarded by Mepps. Mepps appears asleep, even when Monty’s cheese attack comes and he swipes the cheese from Mepps’ sandwich. However, the cat is faking. But before that becomes a problem, Dale finds Flash. Zipper unlocks the door, allowing Flash to escape, but there’s Mepps who tries to stop them. He’s not much of a threat, and soon they are past the dim-witted cat and home free—or not.
The crumbling building leaves Flash hanging, while the Rangers work out a method to give him a soft landing. Gadget uses a hook release and control on the RangerPlane that’s only used in this episode, and soon an awning’s in place. It’s none too soon, as Flash comes zooming down. Dale begins to realize that his hero is a fake after all, and he’s very upset and disappointed. Flash comes over and tries to make it better, but the chipmunk won’t be consoled.
Things are no better at Ranger Headquarters—even Gadget can’t cheer up the cheerless chipmunk! But then a news flash about the fake Flashes comes over the TV, and the Rangers know that Flash couldn’t have been the guilty party. Dale’s back in form now, leading the way to help Flash. But at Fat Cat’s lair, the crime kitty is angrier than ever—they’ve replaced Flash with his sidekick, Conrad the Wonder Bird. “Why couldn’t they have the hero be a cat!” Then Mepps reports losing Flash and Fat Cat sends his goon down the drain thanks to a secret trap door—one of the few if not the only time we see this device. Now Fat Cat’s determined to go to the studio and take out Conrad as well.
At said studio, Flash arrives only to find that he’s public enemy number one. He rushes into the studio, asking Conrad for help, but everyone thinks he’s attacking the cockatoo. Soon a mad dash through the studios’ TV shows is on, and one in particular bears noting. The old fellow dressed in a lab coat that the boy refers to as “Mr. Whizzer” is a direct reference to the classic “Mr. Wizard” TV show hosted by Don Herbert that ran on NBC for 20 years from the early 50’s to the early 70’s, and then had a run on Nickelodeon in the late 80’s as well which would explain the writers’ referring it then—assuming they didn’t grow up watching the show.
Fat Cat has put on his Flash costume and now has Conrad in his clutches. Flash climbs up to a catwalk, from where he can see the disguised crime kitty holding the humans at bay—and of course they still can’t tell the difference between him and Flash. Gadget takes over the TV control room (and who better to do that), telling Zipper to reactivate the cameras. Dale urges Flash to save Conrad and the wonder dog overcomes his fear of heights and sails into Fat Cat, unmasking him on live television. Fat Cat threatens to pluck Conrad, but Chip and Dale fire up the firehose, and send them sprawling. Flash is a hero again, but this time he earned the title.
The Rangers leave, content, but then Flash calls after them. The reinstated wonder dog thanks them, then Chip presents Flash with an honorary membership in the Rescue Rangers—the only one they gave out during the series. Then Flash hugs them, saying, “I wish I could give you guys something.” Gadget giggles, pointing at the muddy pawprints left on the chipmunk’s behinds, “I think you just did Flash. You made them honorary wonder dogs!” Chip and Dale give the siren howl, laughing, and the episode iris out to black.
Evaluation: Four Acorns out of five. A very fun and entertaining episode, with an imaginative plotline and good material for the characters to work in. Flash is yet another one-shot character who could’ve returned again, as he has in some RR fanfiction. There’s also the suggested moral of earning the title of hero rather than pretending, which is a good notion. The character models for the Rangers weren’t the best in this episode and made them look a little too much like toys to me. Other than that, it’s all positive. WOOF-WOOFWOOF-WOOOOOF-WOOOF!