Monday, July 16, 2012

Sunday Funnies: Captain Planet (1990)

Cable mogul Ted Turner decided he had an idea for a cartoon for his flagship network, TBS, back in 1990. The end result was a Sunday afternoon adventure series, Captain Planet & The Planeteers, which was originally produced by DIC in conjunction with Turner Program Sales, and aired as a lead-in to WCW wrestling programming, right around the dinner hour.

The theme, of course, was protecting the environment. Captain Planet (David Coburn) would be summoned by the rings worn by 5 teenagers from different parts of the world, and, aside from the Planeteers, answered to Gaia (Whoopi Goldberg). The opposition came from adults more interested in their own self-interests, while allowing pollution to despoil the earth. The celebrity-laden talent roster included Meg Ryan, Jeff Goldblum, and Edward Asner, among others.

After the episodes cycled though ad infinitum over three years, Turner changed animation houses, switching from DIC to Hanna-Barbera, resulting in The New Adventures of Captain Planet, which soldiered on for 2 more seasons. The original open was redone, but was later replaced by a rap performed by B-52's frontman Fred Schneider, featuring some of the worst rapping of all time. The switch to H-B also allowed Planet, depending on where you lived, to be added to the final incarnation of Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera, coupled with 2 Stupid Dogs & Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron. Reruns aired on Saturday mornings, again leading into WCW wrestling. Coincidentally, there was a rumor circulating that a gimmick tag team in WCW was being put together to correspond to another cartoon that never saw the light of day around the time that Planet debuted. Luckily, no one saw fit to try to shoehorn the Captain onto WCW.

Anyway, here's the original open & close to Captain Planet, with narration by Kwame (LeVar Burton, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Reading Rainbow):

Currently, reruns, at last check, were airing weekdays on Boomerang.

Rating: B+.


magicdog said...

I always hated this show. It was nothing more than environmentalist propaganda. Wait, it was environmental LIES and outright distortion of facts!

It never made sense for the villians to want to destroy the planet in the name of profit. There's no point in doing that when there's no place to spend you money or destroy the potential to make more by killing your customer base!

Plus, the kids ultimately couldn't defeat the baddie without summoning Capt. Planet. It was inevitable.

hobbyfan said...

No wonder there were as many haters as there were fans.

When they switched to H-B, they started putting a little more focus on the kids. We were introduced to an ex-girlfriend of Wheeler's (and this was while he had the hots, throughout the series, for Linka), for example. The Captain would of course turn up once or twice per episode.

Also when they went to H-B, they made one casting change, as Margot Kidder replaced Whoopi Goldberg as Gaia, and I think it was during this period they did a Family Feud send up with Gene Wood and, subbing for Richard Dawson, Casey Kasem. I have to find that episode and put it up sometime.