Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Captain Planet (1990-1996)

I don't think there was a single 90s child alive who did not adore Captain Planet. It's okay, admit it. This is a safe place. You luuurved it! You went around pretending that plastic ring you found in a Kinder Surprise was actually sent to you by Gaia the Earth Mother (she owns the Kinder factory, so she can do that kind of thing) and you had the power to summon a awesome blue-mulleted superhero to save the planet. Didn't you? DIDN'T YOU? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Quick story. Captain Planet was on ABC Kids when I was in kindergarten, and even though this event took place when I was four, I remember it very clearly. One day, after Captain Planet had finished, I was running around the room jumping off couches pretending that I was Linka and I was saving the world. After all, didn't Captain Planet just finish telling me that I, too, could be a Planeteer? I did have the big guy's permission. Anyway, I was running around doing my eco-warrior thing when I smacked my head on the wooden knobby thing at the end of our sofa...and gave myself a black eye. Yeah I know, ouch, right? What makes the story worse is that when people asked what happened to me, as they usually do when they see a four-year-old with a black eye (or a person of any age with a black eye, really), my mother made me explain exactly how I got my injury. Let me tell you that there are people out there who find, "I ran into the sofa playing Captain Planet" to be hilarious, even when it's coming from a bruised and battered four-year-old. Normally, I'd be a little lenient on Mother Dearest -- if this was anyone else's parent, they'd probably have been trying to make sure people didn't think they was beating me or something -- but since Mother Dearest is the direct root of my psychological problems, I'm pretty sure she knew exactly how scarring it would be to have every adult within a ten-mile radius laughing in my face. Thank you, Mother Dearest; my therapy bill's in the mail.

Back to regular programming now. Captain Planet and the Planeteers was a cartoon series created by Ted Turner that ran from 1990-1993 and was followed by The New Adventures of Captain Planet, which ran until '96. That is a damn successful cartoon in anyone's books. It followed the adventures of Kwame, Wheeler, Linka, Gi and Ma-Ti, five kids from all over the world who have been conscripted (there really is no other word for it) into fighting the good fight on behalf of Gaia, the Earth Mother. Our planet is, like, dying, you guys, and only a bunch of racially-diverse teenagers could possibly save it! Woot!

The villains were pretty awesome, too, sometimes even more awesome than the Planeteers. (Sacrilege!) Dr. Bligh wore a pink jumpsuit and had cute hair. Looten Plunder was well-dressed and ruggedly handsome. Duke Nukem wore an ill-fitting Hawaiian shirt, but not in an uncool Robin Williams way. But of course, they were evil, so we couldn't like them. (Outwardly.) And oh yeah, they each represented an ecological disaster or destructive human attitude.

Which brings me to what the slightly bruised four-year-old in me really, really doesn't want me to admit -- watching it as an adult, this show's kinda lame . Even for me, who upon viewing it was hit with a giant pleasure wave of nostalgia. It's overly preachy, and always comes with a lesson we must learn throughout the episode. Considering I was the Captain's most avid viewer and I grew up with nary a social conscience (or indeed any real morals to speak of) in sight, I think that's a giant FAIL, Mr. Turner. Then again, that may have been a concussion issue.

Oh, and Captain Planet was a walking (flying?) bad joke. Seriously. In every episode, without fail, he'd arrive to save the day spouting the most ridiculously awful puns you've ever heard. Joey Gladstone wouldn't even crack a smile. I don't even know what was going on in that department.

Apart from action, hijinks and a side of guilt, Captain Planet also had what is possibly one of the best voice casts ever assembled. The main cast featured the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Kath Soucie, Meg Ryan, Tim Curry, Margot Kidder and Frank Welker, and the guest cast -- Steve Guttenberg, Neil Patrick Harris, Elizabeth Taylor, Mark Hamill, Ed Begley Jr., Helen Hunt, Danny Glover, Ricki Lake, Don McLean and Rita Moreno just to begin with -- is Simpsons-esque, to say the least. Go Planet!

Also, according to the IMDB message boards, people are absolutely dying to see a live-action movie version of Captain Planet. And you know what? I agree wholeheartedly with this idea, so long as Al Gore's not in it. (Apparently that dude's all for the environment, or so I've heard.) If we are going to have eco-conscious celebs involved, I could definitely see Leo DiCaprio as Captain Planet. Really. He'd singlehandedly revive the mullet. Hmm, on second thought, maybe this isn't such a good idea...

(Episode recap to come, I promise.)


  1. A wonderful blog. Brings back many wonderful childhood memories.

  2. Well, I remember this. Now, my kids are going to watch it with interest. I have seen their taste in shows and it is just like mine. Now days, we are watching shows by Andy Yeatman together on Netflix. I must find this show as well because it was one good show at that time.