Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Captain Planet and the Planeteers
Captain Planet and the Planeteers is a popular animated series created by Ted Turner and produced by Jane Fonda to promote environmentalism in children. The series were developed and animated by TBS Productions and DiC. It ran from 1990 until 1991 and continues in syndication. It was continued by Hanna-Barbera with the series The New Adventures of Captain Planet (1993 - 1996).
Awaking from a long sleep, Gaia, the spirit of the earth, found the world struggling to survive with humanity carelessly abusing it. Realizing that the damage went beyond a few messes, Gaia decided to summon the power of five rings, each with the power to control an element of nature. Gaia sent the rings to five chosen youths across the globe: Kwame, Wheeler, Linka, Gi, andMa-ti
These five were dubbed "The Planeteers" and were given the task of protecting the earth from the greatest of disasters and doing their part to keep others from happening.
In situations that the planeteers could not handle on their own, they could combine their powers to summon Captain Planet, who possesses all of their powers magnified, symbolizing that the combined efforts of a team are stronger than the sum of its parts. Captain Planet is humanoid in structure, his skin sky-blue and his hair grass-green. He wears red gloves, boots, trunks, and shoulder attire, with a sunshine yellow globe on his chest. (These are actually a composite of the materials that compose him and not actual clothes.)
Despite his vulnerability to pollution, Captain Planet is a formidable and valiant hero. Once his work is done, Captain Planet returns to the earth, restoring the planeteers' powers. When he does this, he always says "The power is yours", which has become his catchphrase.
The main characters, called the Planeteers, are summoned by Gaia, a modern rendition of the ancient Greek goddess of fertility and the Earth, to defend the world from polluting criminals and natural disasters. The five teenagers, who each come from a different region and represent several major ethnic groups, are each given rings that allow them to temporarily control the four classical elements Earth, Fire, Wind, and Water, as well as a fifth one, Heart, that represents love and communication and enables telepathy. The Planeteers are, in left-to-right order in the title screen above:
|Linka||Eastern Europe 1||Wind|
1: in the first two seasons (1990-91), Linka is mentioned to come from the Soviet Union. Later, the intro was changed to "From Eastern Europe, Linka, with the power of wind!" when the Soviet Union's downfall occurred on December 25, 1991.
As a final twist, if all of the Planeteers are present the powers of the rings can be combined to summon a flying humanoid creature of the earth called Captain Planet. Captain Planet has superhuman strength, the ability to fly, and a seemingly endless supply of puns and cliches. He resolves most conflicts, but is vulnerable to pollution and can only act within his jurisdiction, which ends in the stratosphere. The rings can not be used while he is active, and when he is done he returns to the earth to restore his quickly expended power. Whenever he is summoned, he always utters the catch phrase, "By your powers combined, I am Captain Planet!" Conversely, before returning to the earth, his last words are always, "The power is yours!", echoing the message of the series.
A small group of villains, usually referred to as the "eco-villains", make appearances repeatedly in most episodes. Due to conflict among them due to their varying self-serving interests and backgrounds, they tend to each work alone most of the time. These include Looten Plunder, a wealthy poacher; Duke Nukem, a radioactive mutant who represents the dangers of nuclear power; Dr. Blight, a mad scientist who represents the dangers of uncontrolled technology; Sly Sludge, an unscrupulous garbage collector; Verminous Skumm, a half-man, half-rat who represents the dangers of poor sanitation and urban sprawl; Hoggish Greedly, a cross between man and pig who represents the dangers of unchecked industrialization and greed; and Zarm, a malicious spirit that is Gaia's evil counterpart, also representing human expansionism.
A polluting counterpart to Captain Planet named Captain Pollution appears in the two-part episode "Mission to Save Earth" when Dr. Blight steals the Planeteer's rings, creates polluting duplicates of them, and distributes the duplicates to the other eco-villains. She gives Plunder a Deforestation Ring (opposite of Earth), Nukem a Radiation Ring (opposite of Fire), Sludge a Smog Ring (Wind), Skumm a Toxics Ring (Water), and keeps the Hate Ring (Heart) for herself.
Captain Pollution also appeared in the two-part series premiere of The New Adventures of Captain Planet.
The Planeteers, who on principle can't cause any pollution themselves, prefer to travel the world in a flying solar-powered vehicle.
Many famous actors voiced some of the characters, including, LeVar Burton (Kwame), Whoopi Goldberg (Gaia), Edward Asner (Hoggish Greedly), James Coburn (Looten Plunder), Meg Ryan (Dr. Blight), Jeff Goldblum (Verminous Skumm), Janice Kawaye (Gi) and Sting (Zarm).
Since the planeteers and Captain Planet have abilities that are made to withstand different situations, they must then have opponents to put them to use against. The villains of the series are typically exaggerated and intense, intentionally and slightly unrealistic so that viewers of the show wouldn't consider their parents to be "villainous" for having jobs similar to the villains.
Some of Captain Planet's enemies are simply greedy and careless, such as Hoggish Greedley, Lutin Plunder, and Sly Sludge , while others are simply in it for the opportunity to spread pollution, such as Vermonus Skum , who lives to spread filth, and Duke Nukem , who puts his need for radioactivity before the rest of the world. Most of the villains have a sidekick, though some of the more useless ones were eventually lost.
While many of the situations Captain Planet faces are to prevent catastrophes, there are times where the villains take a move against the good guys directly, having lost patience with trying to get around them. A prime example was the creation of Captain Pollution, who was the polar opposite of Captain Planet.
A memorable feature of the show is every episode's ending with a pair of thirty-second clips in which the characters inform the viewers on ways that they can help the environment. While informative, these clips tend to be the thing that those that dislike the show use to mock it.
Despite the double-edged sword of the clips and morals, the series has had profound effects, such as spawning the Captain Planet Foundation , which takes measures to carry out Captain Planet's goal of keeping the world safe from pollution.
The series lasted for three seasons under the name Captain Planet and the Planeteers (produced by TBS Productions and DiC), before many of the voice actors quit or were replaced and much licensing occurred, changing the title to The New Adventures of Captain Planet (produced by Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, which was acquired by Turner in 1991). Currently, Captain Planet (Both series) run on Cartoon Network and on many other TV stations around the world.
This show has also received a fair share of criticism for being anti-American, seeing as how a good portion of the villains are American while the only American protagonist is portrayed as ignorant or arrogant. In an episode where a villain turned a village in a developing country into an American-style suburb, the villagers lament how they used to live in paradise without knowing it. A few critics have claimed that the show was pro-communist because Linka, the Planeteer from the Soviet Union, was the only character to have her origin specified by nation instead of by continent during the shows introduction. She was idenfitied as being from the Soviet Union until it collapsed. The show also depicted communist and formerly communist nations as pristine lands without many environmental problems, while in real life their environmental problems are devastating. When depicting the uses of renewable energy, the show significantly overstated the output of these sources. For example, the Planeteers travel with in a high-speed, solar-powered aircraft that uses a mere fraction of the solar panels that would be needed to power a single-passenger car in real life. It is also criticized for using caricatures; the villains' motivations have little in common with the people in the real world who cause pollution.
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