Search This Blog

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Captain Planet and the Planeteers

I was just thinking the other has been a really long time since I had a discussion on an animated program.  Since I changed the movie day to Saturdays, I've not had much of an opportunity to talk Saturday morning cartoons lately.

I think today is the day that I will change that.  After all, today is
Tube Talk Thursday where anything that airs on television goes.  And this includes cartoons.

But what cartoon do I want to talk about today?  I've done a lot of blogs on almost every cartoon that I could possibly think of.  Perhaps if I listen to some music that might inspire me to think of a possible topic.  Let's just set the iPod to shuffle mode., okay, that was awkward.  I don't know what's more embarrassing, the fact that "Step By Step" from New Kids on the Block was the first song to appear on my iPod, or the fact that I'm actually admitting that I have a New Kids on the Block song on my iPod in the first place.

(Just for the record, it IS the one and only song by that group that I have on the iPod.  What can I say?  1990 had some really danceable tunes.)

But, as it so happens, this classic chart-topper by these five Boston guys serves as the inspiration for today's cartoon.  Because I could have sworn that this song was not the only place where I heard this melody. 

Don't believe me?  Well, I'm going to post the closing credits of this cartoon series as it originally aired.  Don't bother listening to the lyrics (seriously, looking back on the show's closing song, the lyrics are about as cheesy as five-year-old aged cheddar).  Just listen to the background music.

Is it just me, or is it THE SAME FREAKING SONG?!? 

I mean, sure, there's slight instrumental changes, and the speed is slightly different, but it's so similar you may as well call the two songs near perfect copies! 

I'm actually kind of amazed that the New Kids on the Block didn't launch a copyright infringement lawsuit against the theme composers.  According to several music databases, the single "Step by Step" was released in May 1990.  This series didn't debut until September 15, 1990.  Unless, of course, the show was developed for the 1990-1991 season, and the theme was composed at the same time as the New Kids on the Block song. 

Whatever the case, I'm sure you've guessed what the theme of the blog is today.  "Captain Planet and the Planeteers", which could very well have been one of the weirdest cartoons that I have ever seen in my whole life.

At the same time, this series debuted at just the right time.  The year was 1990, and 1990 for me seemed to be the year in which everybody in the world went crazy over protecting the environment.  After all, it was the 20th anniversary of Earth Day in 1990, and 1990 was the year in which our town's recycling program kicked off.  It was only natural that a cartoon designed to inform people about protecting our planet and teaching us ways in which we can preserve the Earth as well as our natural resources.

And, yes.  I admit that when I watched the show as a youngster, I didn't mind it.

So, what exactly is Captain Planet all about?  Well, obviously, Captain Planet is designed to be some sort of superhero (voiced by David Coburn).  He has green hair, a silver and red superhero costume, and he probably says his catchphrase "THE POWER IS YOURS" at least once per episode.

But exactly how is Captain Planet summoned?  And, why is Captain Planet summoned in the first place?

Well, it's because of these guys.

Recognize them?  They are what you would call the Eco-Villains...a group of people who are determined to destroy the planet by any means possible in a quest to line their greedy pockets with gold.  They cut down entire forests, pollute fresh water sources with oil spills, destroy natural habitats of animals, and other nasty things.  With names like Hoggish Greedily, Verminous Skumm, Dr. Blight, and Duke Nukem, certainly they didn't sound like people you'd love to have over to your house for tea and biscuits.

(Although, the cast of voice actors who did the voices for these dastardly villains seemed to come from a group of A-list actors!  Would you believe that at some point during the show's six year run, Ed Asner, Meg Ryan, Sting, Tim Curry, Martin Sheen, Gavin MacLeod, John Ratzenberger, and Jeff Goldblum worked on this program?  Who knew that a children's cartoon on the environment would attract such star quality?)

But there was some celebrity power on the side of good as well.  After all, the role of Gaia was played by two different actresses.  In the first three years of the show, Gaia was played by Whoopi Goldberg.  Margot Kidder played her for the last three seasons.

And, just who is Gaia?  Well, I suppose you could call her the secondary main character of the whole series.  At some point one hundred years before the series began, Gaia put herself in a state of endless slumber.  But as it turns out, her endless slumber was interrupted by Hoggish Greedily, who decided to drill for oil just above her little cocoon.

And upon her awakening, she quickly realizes that humans have become much more wasteful, much less aware of the damage that they are doing to the earth, and she decides that the power of Captain Planet must be summoned in order to save humanity from itself.

But Gaia can't summon Captain Planet herself.  She needs help to do so.  She has five special rings - each one containing a magical power that are element based.  And she gives them to five different teenagers all over the world to help fight the battle.

The five teenagers are known as the Planeteers, and they are starting from the top left corner...

GI from ASIA (Element:  WATER)
KWAME from AFRICA (Element:  EARTH)

Okay, so maybe "HEART" isn't a real element...but if you don't have one, you can't care about anything, right?

(Oh, one thing.  When the show began in 1990, Linka was originally from the Soviet Union, which was still in existence.  When the Soviet Union ceased to exist after 1991, the story was retconned, and Linka became a resident of Eastern Europe.)

Anyway, it's only when the five rings are linked together that Captain Planet can show his green-mullet of power and take care of the Eco-Villains once and for all. 

Now, of course, each ring has magical powers, and the Planeteers can use these rings to control their respective element.  If there's a fire blocking the way, Gi could use her ring to quench the fire.  If the Planeteers needed to sail across an ocean to reach an Eco-Villain hideout, Linka could use a gust of wind to blow their raft over the waves quicker.

And, I suppose if you wanted to entertain the possibility, Ma-Ti could use his ring in the same way that the Care Bears could use their tummy symbols to make people sing Kumbaya around an open fire.  But, I don't remember seeing an episode like that.  Most episodes dealt with protecting the environment by having lessons on oil pollution, land pollution, composting, keeping things green, overpopulation, and the dangers of poaching.  But there were a couple of episodes that were deemed controversial.  Would you believe that the show did an episode which had people dabbling in drug use, and actually showed Linka's cousin dying because of it?  What a dark episode!  And another episode dealt with the Planeteers trying to help a young man overcome the hatred from a community after it was discovered that he had HIV. 

What serious topics for a children's show!

Though looking back on it, I'm glad they tackled those subjects.  As hard as it is for parents to talk about subjects like the ones above with their children, it's important that they do.  I do applaud shows like this one for bringing awareness to it, and more importantly teaching children the dangers of drugs, and not shunning someone who happens to have HIV. 

Though, a part of me still finds me disbelieving the fact that the show actually ran until 1996!  How in the world did that show last that long?

BONUS QUESTION:  Which power would you like to have?  Myself?  I'd go with water.  It'd keep me cool in the summer, and I could secretly drench anyone who gives me a hard time.  :)

No comments:

Post a Comment