The Secret Origin of Captain Planet!

A poor bunny rabbit is exposed to the molecular duplication ray — and its evil opposite is created, in this amazing clip from Captain Planet and the Planeteers. The new Captain Planet DVD set is full of equally ludicrous moments.

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Like the making-of documentary, which explains that Ted Turner is the second smartest thing on Earth:

The making-of documentary, By Our Powers Combined, is a priceless viewing experience, for its combination of cheesetastic clips from the original show and insanely earnest interviews with everybody who was involved in making it. In addition to finding out that Ted Turner came up with the basic idea for the show because of his realization that he's the penultimate in Earthly intelligence, there's tons of other insights to be gleaned.

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The producers also talk about trying to get Captain Planet away from the macho, white male archetype of superheroes, by making the Planeteers totally multi-culti and including Gaia as the source of their powers. And the reasoning behind giving Ma-Ti the utterly ridiculous power of "Heart" — which is actually a kind of telepathy and is needed to animate Captain Planet's body.

In general, Shout! Factory has done their usual amazing job with the Captain Planet season one box set, which just came out a couple weeks ago. There are animated storyboards showing how the first episode came together, and loads of concept art. And most of all, the show itself is presented in great picture quality (and in eco-friendly packaging, natch.)

So how has the show aged after all this time? About as well as you'd expect. The early 1990s preachiness (and Captain Planet's mullet, which co-star LeVar Burton makes fun of in the making-of featurette) look totally ridiculous after 20 years. This show was never anything but silly, but it's become almost transcendently silly with the passage of time. It's well worth picking up, so you can expose your kids to the cartoon that may have helped to shape your own environmental guilt activism. And so you can laugh at the incredibly cheesy attempt at shoving a Serious Message down kids' throats — while perhaps feeling a bit sad that it didn't really do much good, in the end.

In addition to the insane storylines, where Duke Nuke'em (not to be confused with the video game) and Ed Asner's Hoggish Greedly attempt to despoil the environment, there are also some utterly amazing PSAs. Like this "Buy Recyclables" one:

And this "Recycle" one:

Here's the awesome intro:

Go... Planet!

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DISCUSSION

The5thElephant
The5thElephant

I have this weird memory of a couple of Captain Planet episodes that always made me go "huh?".

The Fire planeteer always had a crush on the Wind planeteer (she was hot), and in one episode they get hit by a shrink-ray and shrink out of their clothes (apparently it doesn't work on clothes). He almost sees her naked and she tears off part of her clothes to use as a toga. Later on he gets restored to full size, but she doesn't. So he picks her up and puts her in his pocket. Then he needs to blow his nose and he reaches into his pocket and pulls off her toga and blows his nose in it while she screams at him. The episode ends with her still naked in his pocket.

WTF?

Then there was an episode where its the Fire guy's birthday and they go to an amusement park. There is some love-boat cruise ride and he convinces the Wind chick to go with him. They are riding along and then on the side of the river he sees them getting married. Then it flashes to her being pregnant, and they are all old and lazy including Captain Planet. Gaia says some power plant is about to explode or something and Captain Planet is too old and lazy to do anything about it. Then the Fire guy wakes up and he has just been dreaming on the love cruise.

This was highly disturbing for me as a young child, and to this day I'm not sure if I actually saw that episode or just dreamed it.

Anyone else remember these?