Children of the 90’s, this one’s for you. Remember Captain Planet and the Planeteers? (Sing it with me: Captain Planet, he’s our hero. Gonna take pollution down to ze-ro!)
Best. Cartoon intro. Ever.
Just in time for Earth Day 2011, Shout! Factory is releasing Season One on DVD. Preorder it on Amazon here.
I get asked to review a ton of crap on everydaytrash.com, but I have to say I was thrilled to receive the pitch for this product. My sister and I used to love this show. She’s almost five years younger but I think even as a kid she was aware of the abundant kitsch comedy: the contrived diversity, the earnest but nearly racist attempts at cultural sensitivity, the two-dimensional portrayal of environmental problems…we thought it was hilarious. Also, that theme song. So catchy.
For those not familiar with the show, Captain Planet explained environmental threats in a manner similar to the way the Bush administration explained terrorism: overly simplified and featuring a cartoon villain.
The premise: Gaya (aka Mother Earth, aka Whoopi Goldberg) selects one teenager each from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America and gives each a ring that allows them to control one of the four elements: Earth, Wind, Fire, Water. The indigenous kid from the Amazon gets the ambiguous but very meaningful power of “Heart.” The European delegate is a hot Russian blond. The North American speaks like a wise guy from 1940’s Brooklyn. LaVar Burton voices Kwame, the generic black African, with the appropriate amount of enthusiasm warranted by the gig (which is to say approximately 1/100,000,000th of the energy he poured into Roots). These are the Planeteers. When really bad guys — with names like Vermenous Skumm (voiced by Jeff Goldblum), Sly Sludge (Martin Sheen) and Dr. Blight (Meg Ryan)–come along and dump toxic waste where they shouldn’t or plot to raze ancient forests, the team has a secret weapon. When they pump a fist in the air and shout out their elemental power, light shoots from their magic rings and mingles to create Captain Planet, environmental superhero.
I kid, but where else were we going to see hero images that included brown people and women? I enjoyed rewatching the pilot and am saving the rest for a marathon with my sister. These DVDs would make a great gift for liberal parents and nostalgic 20 and 30 somethings.