Updated: Oct 6
It's finally time to talk about it. Something special and monumental. Special in a lot of ways. What is it, dare you ask? Well, I'm going to delve into that 17th episode of VR Troopers. Yes, VR Troopers. While it wasn't exactly memorable or classic, that shows DiD many things for me... and to me. Especially the token gal of the group, Kaitlin Star. For those who don't know, Kaitlin Star had a moment within the short-lived English adaptations of three different series from the Metal Hero Series Franchise. And while it's not the best and definitely not going to win anyone's top five DiD scenes (other than mine), I can honestly say that Kaitlin's Front Page has had a lasting effect on me to this day. With that said, #TuT is going to dedicate this post to Kaitlin Star's Distress with some screen caps, and commissions, and highlight some DiD-Fics that managed to even make the light of day! With all that said, let's get into it, shall we?
Kaitlin Star was captured by Skugs and tied to an explosive barrel. It's a Damsel in Distress episode. What more can one ask for? So how did she get herself in this predicament?
Some (not-so) shady guy in a hat and trenchcoat visits Underground Voice to give Kaitlin a front-page (I know, right?) story, and, of course, like the really good journalist that Ms. Star is, she decides to question and poke at this man who, most definitely isn't hiding anything or trying to lure Kaitlin Star to a distressing situation... or anything. An illegal weapon testing site sure deserves more questioning. To Kaitlin's dismay, however, the man didn't want to give Kaitlin anything else. The man didn't want the fire of the story to go away. He wanted to keep Kaitlin on her toes and see the story for herself.
And this man's secrecy isn't giving him any points in Kaitlin's book. That is not a very amused look from the Trooper, for sure.
But finally, the man got tired of Kaitlin's questions. He gets up and leaves Kaitlin with more questions than answers.
Our gal is left confused, frustrated, and still aching to ask questions. Maybe a gag would do to curb all that asking? We wish, right? Well, time to go to that secret illegal weapon testing site! Surely there's a front page for Kaitlin to take!
Ziktor. Evil man. A true crime boss that he is. He came up with the most nefarious villain ever. He set his goons to tie up a poor damsel while she's wearing a really short skirt!
Wait, when do we get Kaitlin all tied up? What's up with all this exposition? Relax! Just putting another screen cap for fun since we all love seeing Kaitlin Star tied to that sexy green barrel that is totally filled with flammable liquid.
Alright so back to the actual story. Kaitlin didn't exactly jump into the story as a total damsel. She DiD think about bringing the other Troopers along. Unfortunately, Ryan and JB were both busy. So... did Grimlord plan this one too?
Kaitlin arrived at the spot and that map on a Brand Notebook Filler Paper, Wide Ruled, 8" x 10 1/2", 3-Hole Punched really was helpful and accurate! That (not-so-shady) man in a trenchcoat and hat really knew how to draw said map with his pilot ballpoint pen. Completely impressed with the (not-so-shady) man's drawing skills and jittery at the idea of a new story from the front page, Kaitlin goes forward and on to greener pastures. She's for sure going to get a promotion on her own terms and not because she's a pretty face (and the fact that she's a Trooper--the most useless trooper, of course. Dare I say, the Damsel of the trio?).
Kaitlin starts snapping pictures. I'm sure somewhere deep down she sees that green barrel and feels a rumble in between her.... stomach. But while Kaitlin is stuck in that feeling, our little Journalist gets a visit from the local personnel. One of those "consequences" of snooping around, ya know?
These folks aren't very happy that a snooping, perky, and thirsty-for-thrill journalist would dare show herself and sulk behind the shadows trying to get some photos of their illegal activities.
And then Kaitlin lies about being a businessman from out-of-state taking pictures of beautiful rock formations. The lying was pretty transparent. Do you know what was also transparent? These guys are Skugs. And they fumble to try and kidnap Kaitlin.
There's a fight, of course. And for some reason, these Skug can't kidnap a lone Damsel despite there being three of them.
She's surrounded and the Skugs are unsure of what to do. There are some mediocre and cheesy 90s battle grid sequences where we can't even tell if it's actually the actress, Sarah Brown, that's inside that 'suit'. She does the voice which definitely fits the mood of the time for sure. Meaning, not the best syncing. I noticed that during these times in television, the gals don't really get hit which creates a complication if you are doing a #DiD episode. Eventually, Kaitlin got overwhelmed and got captured offscreen--lame I am aware, but hey, the DiD'ing around begins!
One scene she's beating up Skugs, the next, she's getting tied up. Now I'm not against a damsel getting tied up, FAR from it. But I'm also a sucker for the onscreen capturing. Like, how did they get her out of the grid? Carry her? Did they tie up her hands before forcing her down on the ground and tied her to the barrel? Why didn't they gag her? These details are a must for the DiD community, something that they want to know. Something I continue to ponder about for these couple of decades.
Now before I go further, it's pretty obvious that the ropework is kind of... laughable. The ropes are loose. Are her hands even tied? Why are the Skugs so bad with knots? And why didn't Kaitlin get a gag? I know--this shouldn't be giving any DiD-lover any kind of tingles because of how awful the DiD scene is. And not to mention, VR Troopers isn't exactly a show that was oozing with gold script and plots. But there is definitely a charm that many can't deny including myself.
For one, the actress who plays Kaitlin Star, Sarah Joy Brown, is quite the looker. VR Troopers didn't shy away from making sure that young boys were aware of that. She wore a lot of clothing that highlighted those legs of hers. This scene definitely could have been done with jeans or something, which would still have been fine but I'm going to gamble that it would have been nowhere near as enticing as what she is wearing in this episode.
Now I'm going to go back and forth talking about the DiD scenes and talking about 'what's going on with the episode. I'm sure most folks care about how Kaitlin is doing rather than the amazing storytelling and high-octane action.
So JB and Ryan head to the Command Center and the Virtual Professor has no idea that Kaitlin is missing. Yes, Professor. She's missing. Check the Battle Grid log entries.
Grimlord is all excited about this turn of events. Sad thing is, deep down inside, he knows it's going to fail.
They found her! They should've zoomed in to see how they can untie her. And it's absolutely a trap, isn't it?
Never fear, Kaitlin Star! The heroes are on their way looking all cool with their bikes!
The next portion when we get to see Kaitlin Star, it's a widespan shot of her. Here, from this angle, we get to see just how 'considerate' Kaitlin's bindings are. And she's really got nothing to do but try and free herself, right?
Here's a question: why isn't she gagged? I mean, Sarah didn't have the best lines so we weren't missing anything so a gag wouldn't have hurt. Or maybe after she said her cliches, could she have been gagged for aesthetics? Then, of course, there's the rope work. One has to wonder, just how much did we have to depend on the suspension of disbelief? I mean, we suspended a lot but for me, that is mostly on the fact that the actress herself really sold it with what she's got. On one hand, the loose rope work actually allows for some mobility, making her struggling a bit more enticing if we are looking at it by allowing her more body movement. Some shots look really good because she's allowed to contort her legs one way and the other way. But a taut rope digging into her bare skin would have also done wonders for sure.
I'm also curious how long Sarah was actually "tied up". And I want to see the behind-the-scenes since most of the battle sequence was stock footage from Japan so the focus for the most part --I assume-- was mostly on her. I'll get something...eventually.
Guess it's time to talk about the episode, right? Okay so Ryan and JB arrive (how long was she tied up exactly?) and let it be known that rescue is coming. Of course, the guys are full of bravado until Kaitlin drops the 'bomb' (pun)... it's a trap!
I always adored how exaggerated Kaitlin's warning was to her friends. I guess it wouldn't have been as memorable had Sarah Brown not delivered it as exciting and animated as she did. And while a bit cringe, the moment definitely served to add fuel to the fire.
But I am not complaining because Kaitlin Star has more time to squirm and struggle into the camera. A bit of a close-up up too. And yes, she still needs a gag.
The fact that Kaitlin can move her legs the way she can really does add to the scenes even if it means that it's obviously loose bindings on Sarah. I wonder how much she would have complained if she was tied a little more realistic? Guess a good gag would've stopped all that nonsense, right?
Regardless, it's Trooper transform time! The boys are off to fight their monster of the day.
The next moment doesn't serve much beyond seeing more of Kaitlin. Though the nature of this scene isn't too fruitful for us DiD lovers. This one is a rehashed scene for the last portion of Kaitlin's DiD moment--and what I mean by that is that we will see this same scene when the drones all explode. And while it's not the full shot, it is blatantly a repeat moment. But the one thing I will say is that it gives us more of Kaitlin's emotions.
If you pay close enough, you can actually see "Trooper Ryan" in the reflection of the green barrel. And clearly, Kaitlin is looking up and has a relieved look on her face. Again, meant to be for after the battle but they just decided to rehash it. Couldn't they have just used another shot of Kaitlin?
Five minutes left? So... how long was she tied up? An hour or two? I'd say a few hours--least that's my head-canon. And Kaitlin really has the audacity to rush her fellow Troopers when she's the one tied up? Should've gagged her!
Now let's talk about Kaitlin's exposition dump. She tells them that Grimlord's monster(s)-of-the-day are fearsome creatures with awesome powers. Okay, well, not verbatim, but the message is the same. How does she know that? Were they showing her how powerful they were when she was sitting there all tied up for the past few hours? Or maybe everything is more powerful than her since she's all tied up? Honestly, in her Trooper form, she's still pretty weak. Yes, not very helpful intel there, Kaitlin. It should have gotten a gag, I swear.
Also, I have to point out: that that barrel that is supposedly explosive is empty. Kaitlin manages to shake it during her oh-so-important dialogue.
It's clear that Sarah is trying to convey that she is 'talking' to both her Trooper buddies as they are fighting opposite sides. While that is a good way to kind of try and mask the fact that no one is fighting and she's just talking to the air when watching the entire battle scene, the way the environment drastically changes when switching from Ryan and JB, the stock video from Japan become even more obvious.
Sarah Brown's worried expressions are something to take note of, of course. She does well despite what she's given.
Ryan's response is "not powerful enough" and proceeds to get punched to oblivion. Meanwhile, JB didn't watch the lamia's arrows and got disarmed.
And so the battle ensues as Kaitlin is playing her role as a Damsel in Distress. She's helpless, watching uncomfortably as Grimlord's Drones completely wipe the floor with her teammates. Ropes biting against her bare skin, the weather is unbearable, and she's sitting her cute little butt on the hard ground. Shaking her head in disapproval as her friends continue to take a beating, the wind blows her hair to her face, giving the journalist more things to worry about. Okay, a lot of that is headcanon, of course. Well, the hair getting to her face is probably annoying. Wonder if one of the folks on the set pushed her hair out of the way since, you know, Kaitlin is really tied up.
So what is Kaitlin shaking her head to? Because her team is losing at the moment? She disapproves of this lack of urgency to free her from her bondage!
She's pretty focused on what's going on. Kaitlin definitely has every bit of reason to not approve of the current situation.
So now the final moments of the fight are making every second very distressing for Kaitlin. It's intense as both her friends aren't losing the fight, but they're not exactly winning her confidence that they'll make it out.
I honestly really like this fight between Metalder and this boxing bot. Too bad, just like a couple of other shots for the show (egregious examples: "Hey" and "Rescue"), are recycled and not even in a discreet way either.
Life is a struggle, isn't it? So was Sarah told to improvise? Did they just say "go", act like you are in danger, and try to move around a bit? Again would like to be a fly on the wall for this one.
This scene is definitely necessary. It breaks up the stock videos of Speilban and Metalder. It also shows the drama--Kaitlin is really waiting for the rescue!
The Skugs are all celebrating because their side isn't doing too badly against the Troopers. Nothing like Skugs showing excitement with a Damselfied Kaitlin Star. But FINALLY, the Troopers remembered that they were super-duper-killing-blows that could end the fight at any given moment!
Kaitlin spending the entire episode being a damsel didn't matter at the end of the day. Why is that? She doesn't have a finishing move for the 'monster-of-the-day'. I mean, she got captured by Skugs so... yeah?
Finally, the rescue is happening (again, the rehashed scene)! Ryan comes over and does the whole: "Katilin, you alright?" Her response? It should've been mentioning something about being tied up for the past few hours sitting uncomfortably on the hard ground. Instead, it's: "No! You guys it's a bomb!"
Grimlord's mad. I'd say you can teach your Skugs how to tie better knots and gag the damn damsel!
Back at Underground Voice. This is probably days after the distress situation Kaitlin found herself in (a few hours of rubbing her wrists and a good hot shower later too).
As predicted, Kaitlin gets the front page so all that DiD'ing around wasn't for nothing. She's pretty excited, walking up to Ryan and JB as if she didn't walk up to that story, got captured, spent the day tied up, and once again, remained a useless member of the team. But as always, we have to end it chirpy. Her boss tells her she has to find out the VR Troopers' secret identity--it gets awkward and the scene ends with Kaitlin reassuring the team that she can keep a secret and that the three of them are the VR Troopers. Again, Kaitlin is so proud of herself considering she spent the time being a total damsel. Good for us but seriously takes some wind out of her sails. Truly.
My final thoughts? Well, this episode--isn't exactly a masterpiece. VR Troopers, truth be told, is a broken mess that already has the shadow of the Power Ranger Series to go against. But beyond all of that, as a #DiD lover, this episode means a whole lot to me. And while the rope work, the lack of gag, and the overall execution of this episode (of this entire series) are questionable, no doubt they knew what they were doing.
Sarah Joy Brown is a beautiful actress and casting her as the token (Damsel) female VR Trooper was a smart choice.
(Believe me, these outfits GOT and WILL get more attention from me)
And they definitely know how to ensure that her finest assets are on full display for almost all episodes. Not to mention she's doing all the kicks and flips that just look flaunting. And I'm all for it.
This episode alone just proves that there's plenty of attention to Kaitlin that they wanted to disguise within a kids' show. Or maybe I'm just a heavy DiD enthusiast and I'm perverted. Whatever may be the case, Happy 29th Anniversary to this episode (since it was first aired) that helped pave the way for this DiD-Fan!
And going to leave you with a recently uploaded video of #Kaitlins_Font_Page.
Until Next Time~