NOTE: OK, this is the last time. When certain things about pop culture haunt me, I e-mail them to my buddy Neelix to get them off my chest. And here’s the latest.
So, I finally did it. I did my Alien movie marathon. All 4 Alien movies in one day. And you know what? For horror movies, they’re not that scary. Actually, what I find cool about them is how they can be used to trace the history of visual effects over the last 20 years. Alien came out in 1979, and the spaceships are obviously models, and the animatronic alien really didn’t age that well. Things end in 1997 with Alien Resurrection, with CGI aliens and much improved models. Not only that, but they also serve as a testament to how well Sigourney Weaver is aging. 4 movies, made over 18 years, and she’s doable in each one. I love it!
But enough about Alien. What’s bugging me right now is there is this one cartoon that I can find absolutely no fan sites on. I’m talking about Captain Planet and the Planeteers. You ever get that one? It debuted in 1990 following on the fad that was environmentalism. It was a cartoon made with a very preachy save-the-environment message. It was created by worldwide media mogul Ted Turner, too. It debuted in 1990, when it was animated by DIC, the same folks who did Inspector Gadget. But then, in 1993, Ted Turner bought Hanna-Barbera, and the cartoon was moved to that studio, and re-named The New Adventures of Captain Planet. Here’s the premise as best I can remember it:
Gaia, the spirit of the Earth, can’t stand how much we humans have messed up her planet. With all that pollution and stuff, she’s as a mad as hell, and she’s not taking it anymore! So, she created five power rings (no, this doesn’t rip off Green Lantern at all), and gave them to five special young people from all over the world to be the champions of the environment. We had Wheeler, from North America (i.e. USA), with the power of fire. There was Linka, from Eastern Europe (the Soviet Union before it broke up), with the power of wind. Kwami, from Africa, with the power of earth. Representing Asia, Gi, with the power of water. And finally, Mati, from South America, with the power of heart (telepathic communication with animals). These five, the Planeteers, then went around the world stopping all sorts of environmental calamities. But, when things were beyond their power, they “let their powers combined!” and summoned forth…Captain Planet! The super-hero with all the powers of the planet at his command. Very formulaic, but it was on for 6 years.
And of course, the rouges gallery were stereotypes of the people who the environmentalists put the blame on. We had Dr. Blight, the misguided scientist. There was the big businessman, Looten Plunder. Hoggish Greedly, the over-consumer. Sly Sludge, the profiteer. Duke Nukem (yes, the same name as the video game character) was an 8 foot tall behemoth who oozed radiation, thus he represented toxic waste. And finally, there was Verminous Scum, and I don’t know what he represented.
My favorite episode had to be the one where Dr. Blight invented a machine to create evil opposites of our heroes rings. The evil opposites were: deforestation (earth), radiation (fire), smog (wind), toxins (water), and hate (heart). And, when our villains let these powers combine, they brought forth…Captain Pollution, Captain Planet’s evil twin! It was a huge two-part episode, ending with a giant battle between the two captains, with the fate of the planet in the balance.
You know, the four elements of the earth (earth, wind, fire, water) seem to pop up a lot in all forms of kids programing. Another thing I’ve been obsessing on lately is Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog. I think I’ve ranted on it before, but it deserves re-ranting. It was a rip-off of Power Rangers, from the creators of Power Rangers. Set in ancient Ireland, it focused on the ongoing war between the good kingdom of Kels, and the evil kingdom of Temra. Finally, in order to turn the tide, four young people from Kels stepped forward to become…the Mystic Knights, guardians of truth and justice! Using their magic weapons to summon forth their magic armor, and the assistance of Pyre, the Dragon of Dare, they whipped serious Temran ass. Our knights were:
Rohan, knight of fire – The leader of the Mystic Knights. He bears the Mark of Destiny on his arm, which means that he is destined to become the mythic warrior Draganta and lead Kels to freedom. He was orphaned as a young boy, and raised by Ca’hard, the king’s Druid (a wizard, really), to someday realize his destiny. His mystic weapon is the Sword of Kels, which shoots fire. His mystic armor is in a lovely red and gold motif.
Angus, knight of earth – Rohan’s long time best friend. A rouge and a thief, who’s been in and out of trouble with the king’s guards (i.e. the cops) for quite some time. Now that he is a Mystic Knight, he seems to have reformed his ways to become a lovable rouge. His mystic weapon is a mace that hurls boulders, and his colors are silver and gold.
Deirdre, knight of air – The Princess of Kels, and future queen. She disobeyed her father’s orders in order to become a Mystic Knight, and thus protect her future queendom. She’s also got a thing for Rohan, and she’s in a bit of denial about it. Her mystic weapon is a crossbow that generates whirlwinds, and her armor is white and gold.
Ivar, knight of water – Prince of “the land across the sea.” Part of his royal duties included guarding a scared chalice. But, the chalice was stolen from him by a mysterious thief with a scar on his forehead, and Ivar traced the thief to Kels. He soon learned the thief was the Temran general, and the chalice was the source of the Temran ruler’s magical power. So, knowing that an end to the Kels/Temra war is the only way to regain the chalice, he became the fourth knight. His mystic weapon is a trident that shoots lightning bolts, and his armor is an aquatic blue and gold.
Of course, this was from the creators of Power Rangers, so there was soon a fifth knight (i.e. sixth ranger) who joined the team halfway through the series:
Garret, knight of forests – Prince of the neighboring kingdom of Briggard, he was arranged to be Deirdre’s husband when he and Deirdre were but infants. Now all grown, he came to Kels to get married, but found a war going on. The other Mystic Knights didn’t like him at first, for he was a braggart and constant show-off. But, Ca’hard had a vision, showing Garret to be the fifth knight. As soon as Garret learned the noble trait of humility, he was given his mystic weapons, and became the fifth knight. The wedding, in the meantime, has been put off until after the war, and Garret and Rohan often find themselves competing for Deirdre’s affections. Garret’s mystic weapons are the Twin Timber Axes, which fire nondescript energy bolts, and his armor is an earthy brown and gold.
And that was Mystic Knights. Too bad it only lasted for one season. The toys were pretty good too, but didn’t last to a second series. Which is sad, because one of my old ToyFare magazine talks of a Kels Castle playset that “puts Castle Greyskull to shame.” I see they spliced some episodes together into a straight-to-video movie. I should pick it up.
Anyway, the rambling is getting kinda long. But, before I go, I have a question to pose. You know those plastic collector’s cups that fast food restaurants sometimes give away? Do you know anyone who actually collects those? Just curious.