Do you remember the animated hero who was going to take “pollution down to zero”? Sadly, Captain Planet never lived up to the lofty goals of his catchy cartoon theme song. Captain Planet and the Planeteers will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year, and it’s still one of the craziest animated shows we’ve ever seen.
SYFY WIRE’s latest episode of Everything You Didn’t Know is diving into the murky waters of edutainment created by none other than Ted Turner! Well, Ted Turner and executive producer Barbara Pyle. He came up with the initial concept, and she fleshed it out. Captain Planet and the Planeteers launched in 1990, and the show had a somewhat uneven tone as it introduced kids to some very real-world problems alongside wacky cartoon villains. Seriously, this series touched upon child abuse, racism, and religious strife while featuring on-the-nose bad guys like Looten Plunder, Doctor Blight, Hoggish Greedly, Verminous Skumm, and Duke Nukem. No, not that Duke Nukem. This show's Duke was more of an evil pig man who loved nuclear waste.
Tom Cruise was originally cast as Captain Planet himself, although he only stuck around for six episodes before bailing. Regardless, the good captain has more than a passing resemblance to Cruise. David Coburn took over the role, and he even re-recorded Cruise’s episodes.
Then there’s the Planeteers: Kwame (LeVar Burton), Wheeler (Joey Dedio), Linka (Kath Soucie), Gi (Janice Kawaye), and Ma-Ti (Scott Menville). As the show’s catchphrase goes, their powers combined to summon Captain Planet from wherever he hung out between episodes. For the most part, they had cool elemental powers over water, wind, fire, and Earth. Except of course Ma-Ti, who was stuck with “Heart.” But was he actually the most powerful Planeteer of them all?
We’ve got the roundup of Captain Planet’s surprisingly long run and more details in the full video!