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Captain Planet and the Planeteers
Captain Planet and the Planeteers title.jpg
Captain Planet and the Planeteers title card.
Format Animated television series
Edutainment
Action Adventure
Created by Ted Turner
Developed by Phil Harnage
Voices of David Coburn
LeVar Burton
Kath Soucie
Janice Kawaye
Whoopi Goldberg
Scott Menville
Joey Dedio
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 113 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Andy Heyward
Robby London, Barbara Pyle, Nick Boxer
Running time 25 mins
Production company(s) DIC Entertainment[1] (1990-1993)
Hanna-Barbera (1993-1996)
Turner Program Services
Broadcast
Original channel TBS
Original run September 10, 1990 – December 9, 1995
Chronology
Followed by The New Adventures of Captain Planet
(1993-1996)
External links
Official website

Captain Planet and the Planeteers is an American animated environmentalist television program, based on an idea by Ted Turner and produced by Andy Heyward, Robby London, Barbara Pyle and Nicholas Boxer. The series was developed and co-produced by Turner Program Services along with the partnership of DiC Entertainment and ran new episodes from September 10, 1990 until December 5, 1992. A sequel series, The New Adventures of Captain Planet, ran for three seasons and was produced by Turner Broadcasting and then-corporate sibling Hanna-Barbera Productions. Both programs continue today in syndication.[2]

The program is a form of edutainment, and advocates environmentalism.[3][4]

Contents

Plot

Gaia, the spirit of the Earth, is awakened from a long sleep by human activity threatening ecosystems, taking place across the globe. Realizing that the damage is extensive, Gaia sends five magic rings, each with the power to control an element of nature and one controlling an extra element, heart, to five chosen youths across the globe: Kwame from Africa, Wheeler from North America, Linka from Soviet Union (changed to Eastern Europe after the Soviet Union's collapse), Gi from Asia and Ma-Ti from South America.

These five are dubbed the Planeteers and given the task of defending the Earth in the case of the greatest of disasters and making effort to keep others from happening. Gaia uses her "Planet Vision" to discover where the most devastating destruction is occurring and sends the Planeteers to help solve the problem. The Planeteers use transportation based on solar power in order to avoid causing pollution themselves.

In situations that the Planeteers cannot resolve alone, they can combine their powers to summon Captain Planet, a magical entity who possesses all of their powers magnified, symbolizing the premise that the combined efforts of a team are stronger than its individual parts. Captain Planet only appears in his Captain Planet garb. These are not clothes but elements of the Earth that are integral to his composition. He is able to rearrange his molecular structure to transform himself into the various powers and elements of nature. Captain Planet's outfit does not represent a specific culture.[citation needed] He has grass-green hair, sky-blue skin, earthy brown eyes, a fire-red chest, gloves, and boots, and a sun-yellow globe insignia. In a manner similar to the early Superman, Planet has seemingly godlike superhuman powers, and seems to gain more proportionate to whatever the situation requires. Nevertheless, he is weakened by pollutants which sap his strength, from smog to nuclear radiation. The Planeteers cannot use their individual powers while Captain Planet is "active".

Despite his vulnerability to pollution, Captain Planet is a formidable and valiant hero. Once his work is done, Captain Planet returns to the Earth, restoring the Planeteers' powers. When he does this, Captain Planet reminds viewers of the message of the series with his catchphrase, "The power is yours!"

Characters

Planeteers

Captain Planet
The Planeteers. Clockwise from left top: Gi, Kwame, Linka, Ma-Ti, Wheeler.

The Planeteers are summoned by Gaia, a modern rendition of the Ancient Greek goddess of the Earth, to defend the world from pollution, criminals, and natural disasters. The five teenagers, each originating from a different region of the world and who together represent several major ethnic groups, are each given a ring which allows them to temporarily control one of the four classical elements — Earth, Fire, Wind, and Water — as well as a fifth element, Heart, which represents love and communication and enables telepathy and empathy, as well as potential mind control.

In order to summon Captain Planet, the Planeteers must activate their powers in a specific order, preceded by the phrase "Let our powers combine;" (followed by all of the Planeteers cheering "GO PLANET!"). It can be noted that during the DiC series, the sequence of special effects preceding Captain Planet's appearance differed each and every time (with the exception of a few select occurrences of stock footage). In the Hanna-Barbera series, there were some creative ideas for Captain Planet's appearance when being summoned; but most of the time, it consisted of flashes of lightning, along with sounds of thunder. Animation in the DiC series was inconsistent, showing some episodes as darker or brighter in color than others, and characters looking different from one episode to the next, and in some cases one segment (or even shot) to the next.

The Planeteers' rings are, like Captain Planet himself, susceptible to weakening when in the presence of toxic waste and pollution to the point that they can no longer use their powers or summon Captain Planet.

The five Planeteers are:

Kwame: From Africa, Kwame possesses the power of Earth. He is 16 years old and has a soft spot for plant life. Growing up in a tribe in his homeland, he is at one with the land and its purpose, and does what he can to preserve it. The de facto leader of the group, he is the voice of reason that keeps the Planeteers in check when the group begins to lose faith in a given situation.

Wheeler: From North America (specifically Brooklyn, NY), Wheeler controls the power of Fire. At 17 years old, Wheeler is oldest, yet least knowledgeable about earth preservation trends. He is the street-smart comic relief for the group whom, while having his heart in the right place, tends to get himself into tight spots when acting impulsively. He also tends to annoy Linka, on whom he has an ongoing crush throughout the series. His compassion and fighting spirit adds to the team's backbone.

Linka: From the Soviet Union, Linka has the power of Wind. At 16 years old, Linka closely studies bird life. She is a master of strategy and logic, as well as a computer expert. She is a no-nonsense girl whose common sense has helped the group when in their most critical moments. She sometimes appears to reciprocate or appreciate Wheeler's soft spot, but is often annoyed at him and therefore does not pursue the altered relation. Later in the series her introduction stated that she was from Eastern Europe, rather than the Soviet Union, after the fall of the former in the early 1990s.

Gi: Hailing from Southeast Asia, Gi controls the power of water. Also at 16 years old, Gi is a self-proclaimed marine biologist. Her compassion for sea life contributes to the overall effort of the Planeteers' protection of animals. Barbara Pyle later specified her nationality to be Malaysian or Japanese.

Ma-Ti: From the Amazon rainforests of somewhere in South America, probably in Brazil (he is of Kayapo descent, a Brazilian indigenous people), Ma-Ti uses the power of heart to instill caring, passion, and sympathy into the people of the world to care for the planet. He can also use this power to communicate with animals telepathically. At 12 years old, Ma-Ti is the youngest and the most impressionable, but his youth and innocence also aids in the level of sympathy that keeps the group together. Ma-Ti also has a pet monkey named Suchi.

It should be noted that this representation of Gaia was depicted not as a Hellenic Greek, but as a mix of the three primary racial ethnicities: dark brown skin, prominent cheekbones, wavy black hair, and blue eyes.

The only ally of the Planeteers (besides Gaia), who appeared more than once in the series, was former Cold War soldier Commander Clash, who helped the Planeteers to defeat Captain Pollution (a malevolent counterpart of Captain Planet) as well as Zarm.

Villains

The evil Eco-Villains united in Summit to Save Earth, Part 1. Clockwise from left: Dr. Blight, Verminous Skumm, Duke Nukem, Hoggish Greedly, Zarm, Looten Plunder, and Sly Sludge.

A small group of villains, usually referred to as the Ecovillains, make appearances repeatedly in most episodes. They are well aware that what they do is wrong, yet do it anyhow, moved by greed, selfishness, or a desire for power. Unlike the multicultural protagonists, the Eco-Villains are entirely white and mostly male, although some have animal-like characteristics. Due to conflict among them from their varying self-serving interests and backgrounds, they tend to work alone most of the time. Each of these villains represent a specific ecological disaster. These include:

  • Hoggish Greedly - A pig-like human who represents the dangers of overconsumption and greed.
    • Rigger - Hoggish Greedly's henchman.
  • Looten Plunder - A wealthy poacher and greedy businessman who represents the evils of uncontrolled capitalism and unethical business actions.
    • Argos Bleek - Looten Plunder's main henchman, and leader of Plunder's private army.
    • Pinehead Brothers - Two oversized lumberjacks, Oakey and Dokey, who work for Looten Plunder.
  • Sly Sludge - An unscrupulous waste disposer who represents ignorance and the dangers of short-term thinking.
    • Ooze - Sly Sludge's sidekick.
    • Tank Flusher III - Sly Sludge's strongman servant.
  • Duke Nukem - A radioactive mutant who represents the perils of nuclear power.
    • Leadsuit - Duke Nukem's cowardly accomplice.
  • Verminous Skumm - A part man, part rat creature who represents the evils of poor sanitation and uncontrolled crime.
    • The Rat Pack - A gang of rat-human thugs under the command of Skumm.
  • Dr. Blight - A mad scientist who represents the dangers of uncontrolled technology and unethical scientific experimentation.
    • MAL - Dr. Blight's evil high-intellectual supercomputer. It had been subtlely hinted that the two might have romantic feelings for each other.
  • Zarm - The former spirit of the Earth, who left Gaia in search of other lands and ended up laying other populous planets to ruin. Represents war and destruction.

All seven joined forces only once, under Zarm's leadership, in the two-part "Summit to Save Earth" episode.

The New Adventures of Captain Planet also featured the Slaughter family led by their mother Mame Slaughter and her second-in-command son Stalker Slaughter. They were a family of poachers, often in direct monetary competition with Looten Plunder.

Various other one-time villains were also used.

Captain Pollution

A polluting counterpart to Captain Planet named "Captain Pollution" appears in the two-part episode Mission to Save Earth when Dr. Blight steals the Planeteers’ rings, creates polluting duplicates of them, and distributes the duplicates to most of the other eco-villains (Greedly and Zarm were absent from this gathering). Each villain received a specific ring:

  • Plunder a Deforestation Ring (counterpart of Earth);
  • Nukem a Super Radiation Ring (counterpart of Fire);
  • Sludge a Smog Ring (counterpart of Wind); (in the comic book version involving Captain Pollution, Sludge was replaced by Greedly.)
  • Skumm a Toxics Ring (counterpart of Water);
  • Dr. Blight keeps the Hate Ring (counterpart of Heart) for herself.

In the later two-part episode A Mine is a Terrible Thing to Waste, Captain Pollution is brought back to life by toxics that seep into the earth. If Captain Planet could be considered to be a nod to Nereus, then Captain Pollution could be considered a nod to Typhon, one of Gaia’s final children, a monster of great evil who spewed toxic smoke. Like his good counterpart, Captain Pollution was voiced by David Coburn in both appearances.

Episodes

A feature of the show is every episode’s ending with a pair of 30-second clips (known as Planeteer Alerts) in which the characters inform the viewers on ways that they can help the environment, by joining organizations or writing government officials to voice their opinions on specific issues.

The clips contained moral messages directed at the viewer, delivered by characters from the show (often Captain Planet or Gaia). Similar messages and delivery styles were used in other cartoon shows from the same era, though the practice has fallen out of use in recent years.

Much like the morality of the show itself, the clips contained information and advice on how to help protect the environment, prevent pollution, save animals, form good relationships with people, and how to keep yourself physically and mentally healthy. One episode even dealt with prejudice against people infected with AIDS-HIV.

The ending credits theme (maintained by both DIC and Hanna-Barbera’s versions) is also considered one of the most memorable parts of the series due to its catchy main chorus and rock track ("Captain Planet, he’s our hero, gonna take pollution down to zero").

Episodes of the show currently air on WPCH-TV and Boomerang[5].

"A Formula for Hate"

The episode titled "A Formula for Hate" (1992) was unique for the series in that it did not deal with environmental pollution or destruction[6]. It was also the first episode in an American children's animated series to directly deal with the AIDS-HIV pandemic (and also the first to directly mention sex on a children's show).[7] In the episode, Verminous Skumm brainwashes a local community into thinking the virus can be spread through casual contact, and thus causing people to hate and fear a young man, infected with HIV, named Todd (Neil Patrick Harris)[6]. Todd's mother was played by actress Elizabeth Taylor, who has raised money for AIDS charities[6].

The New Adventures of Captain Planet

The New Adventures of Captain Planet logo.

The original series was the second longest running cartoon of the 1990s, producing 113 episodes. It lasted for three seasons under the name Captain Planet and the Planeteers (produced by TBS Productions and DiC), before many of the voice actors quit or were replaced and much licensing occurred, changing the title to The New Adventures of Captain Planet (produced by Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, which was acquired by Turner in 1991).

This series had noticeable differences from the original, such as episodes revealing more of the past of each of the characters. This does not directly contradict the first, but expands on it dramatically. Gi tells the story of her pet dolphin, while Linka is revealed to have a mining family who used canaries to detect lethal gases in the mines, and her opening sequence generalizes her birthplace as Eastern Europe to avoid confusion in viewers born after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 (which would place her canonical birthplace among one of the countries that gained their independence when the Soviet Union collapsed). Dr. Blight, with a new voice actor, is revealed to have a sister who is a famous movie actress.

Other changes were also noticeable, most significantly the animation style. While the character models from the DiC episodes were retained (and the original DiC opening sequence used) the new animation relied less on shading and was slightly more colorful. Many of the characters had refurbished outfits. The sound effects utilized when the Planeteers used their rings were changed and the echo in Captain Planet’s voice when he emerged was also gone. Also gone was the DiC season's use of a specific synth rock soundtrack, these tracks were replaced by a large number of orchestral pieces, although the famous end credits theme was retained, now showcasing footage from the Hanna-Barbera episodes. A small number of cast changes occurred, affecting Gaia and most of the eco-villains; similarly, the opening narration was voiced by David Coburn (Captain Planet) rather than LeVar Burton (Kwame), and was eventually replaced by a rap by Fred Schneider of The B-52's.

Other media

Toys

As with many popular cartoons, Captain Planet had a toy line. Released by Tiger Toys in 1990, the line ran for several years, long enough to tie into the New Adventures series. The toys were repackaged and sold by Grand Toys in Canada and Kenner throughout Europe. The toys were of average poseability, with the common five points — neck, shoulders, and hips.

Finding a comprehensive list of what was released is difficult, since not all toys shown in the initial retailer catalog were even released. The collector’s market is small, the toys being somewhat rare on eBay. The Captain Planet Foundation still sells a small number of them online, however. There may have also been further foreign variations of certain toys which may be even more difficult to catalog. Various toys from the New Adventures waves are not as likely to be well-known.

All five Planeteers, five Eco-Villains, Commander Clash, and several versions of Captain Planet, each with a different gimmick or paint scheme, were released, along with several vehicles. A toy ring with lights and sound and interchangeable lenses for the five elements was also released. Four small vehicles were also sold through a Burger King promotion.

Comics

Marvel Comics published a short-run comic series to tie in to the show; however, the comics were a separate continuity. While not effectively part of the Marvel Universe, issue #4's cover was a parody of the cover to Fantastic Four issue #1.

Video games

Five different Captain Planet video games exist.

  1. A video game based on the series was produced for the NES by Mindscape called Captain Planet. The game, which involved a good deal of shooting, received poor reviews from game critics and thus a Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) version of the game was canceled.
  2. A separate side-scrolling game was developed by Novalogic for the Mega Drive/Genesis, but only saw release in Europe and Australia.[8]
  3. David Perry and Nick Bruty developed a ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC game using the license, a 3-level shoot 'em up.
  4. A game was also released for the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST, written by Tony Crowther. This was a platform game, and was briefly bundled with the Amiga 500 "Cartoon Classics" pack released in 1991.
  5. A Commodore 64 game, probably based on either of the 2 above, was in development but never released.
  6. Tiger Toys, owners of the action figure license, also created an LCD hand-held game.

Home video

Several VHS tapes were released, usually with a single episode each. A DVD with four episodes and bonus features exists but is only available as part of a "Planeteer Pack" purchased from the Captain Planeteer Foundation.[9]

Films

Michael Reaves

Writer Michael Reaves reimagined the Captain Planet concept in a script he wrote for a theatrical movie in 1997, entitled "Planet" or "Dark Planet". The script was darker than the series, and set in a post-apocalyptic time period. The script was met with acceptance, but "got lost in the shuffle when Turner and Warner Bros. merged".[10][11]

Ted Turner

In late 2007, Ted Turner was in talks regarding a Captain Planet movie.[12] In early 2008 Warner Bros. denied that a movie was planned.[13]

Online

In February 2009, Mother Nature Network began airing episodes of Captain Planet and the Planeteers on its website. According to the site, it's showing 20 episodes, as well as unreleased footage, through February 2010.[14][15]

Cast

Heroes

Special Appearances

During the series, the end credits listed celebrities with this credit:

Portraying Pollutant Perpetrators

In the end credits, the villains below are listed as this:

NOTE: Richard Gere was originally slated to voice one of the villain characters, but backed out for unknown reasons.

Additional cast

Song

The theme song played in the end credits sequence takes from New Kids on the Block's hit song, "Step by Step". Coincidentally, David Coburn & Scott Menville also voiced characters on New Kids on the Block cartoon. Coburn was Nikko & Donnie Wahlberg while Menville was Joe McIntyre.[citation needed]

The main opening theme song was written by famous pop artist, Phil Collins.[citation needed]

Parodies

In an episode of Fairly Odd Parents Timmy Turner turns on the television. The show playing is called Captain Green and the Eco-teens.

In an episode of Robot Chicken, Ted Turner HIMSELF puts on a costume and blue makeup all over his body to assume the role of Captain Planet. He then runs all over repeatedly screaming "CAPTAIN PLANET!", beating up anyone in his path.

References

  1. ^ Kahn, Eve M. "Television; Cartoons for a Small Planet" The New York Times (March 3, 1991).
  2. ^ "An Aging Superhero Wins a Life Beyond Reruns". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9803E4DC153FF931A15757C0A9609C8B63. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  3. ^ Captain Planet Zooms to the Rescue of the Environment, Washington Post - Sep 16, 1990
  4. ^ Captain Planet: Here He Comes to Save the Day, LA Times - Feb 3, 1990
  5. ^ http://research.backchannelmedia.com/station/show/WTBS
  6. ^ a b c http://www.tv.com/captain-planet-and-the-planeteers/a-formula-for-hate/episode/135178/summary.html
  7. ^ TV CARTOON TACKLES AIDS ISSUE, Miami Herald - Nov 20, 1992
  8. ^ "Captain Planet and the Planeteers on MobyGames". http://www.mobygames.com/game/genesis/captain-planet-and-the-planeteers-. Retrieved 2008-08-24. 
  9. ^ http://www.captainplanetfdn.org/planeteerpack.html
  10. ^ "Michael Reeves interview, in which he recalls the title as simply "Planet"". AnimationArtist.com. http://www.animationartist.com/2000/Interviews/Screenwriters/Michael_Reaves/MReaves.html. Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  11. ^ [http://www.michaelreaves.com/movies.htm "Michael Reaves's website, listing the script as "Dark Planet""]. http://www.michaelreaves.com/movies.htm. Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
  12. ^ "Ted is currently in talks to create a possible movie version of the cartoon – wonder who will play Captain Planet?". http://www.hollywoodtoday.net/?p=3116. 
  13. ^ "Captain Planet Movie Rumors Get Thrown In The Trash". http://www.ecorazzi.com/2008/02/07/captain-planet-movie-rumors-get-thrown-in-the-trash/. 
  14. ^ Mother Nature Network | Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Mother Nature Network
  15. ^ "Mother Nature Network: Online Media Finally Catches up to Sustainability Needs", Fast Company (2009-02-04)

External links


Simple English

Captain Planet and the Planeteers is an American animated environmentalist television program, based on an idea by Ted Turner and produced by Andy Heyward, Robby London, Barbara Pyle and Nicholas Boxer. The series was developed and co-produced by Turner Program Services along with the partnership of DiC Entertainment and ran new episodes from September 10, 1990 until December 5, 1992. A second series, The New Adventures of Captain Planet, ran for three seasons and was produced by Turner Broadcasting and then-corporate sibling Hanna-Barbera Productions. Both programs continue today in syndication.

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