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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animated > Children > Action > Adventure > Superhero > Environmental > Captain Planet & The Planeteers – Season One (Shout! Factory DVD Set)

Captain Planet & The Planeteers – Season One (Shout! Factory DVD Set)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Episodes: B-



The 1980s and early ‘90s had a ton of interesting animated series, most of which only lasted a season or two.  One series that had a great impact on children of the time was Captain Planet and the Planeteers.  The series uniquely focused on the troubles of pollution and the efforts of a group of supercharged environmentalist who were out to stop it at all costs.


Captain Planet’s group of ‘Planeteers’ posed the powers of Earth, Wind, Water, Fire, Earth, and Heart; with all but ‘Heart’ being self explanatory and to be honest I still don’t get it.  Essentially the group of youngsters are granted their powers by a set of ‘magical’ rings given to them by The Spirit of Earth, Gaia (voice of Whoopi Goldberg).  Gaia is a ‘Mother Earth’ figure who guides the planeteers in their efforts to save the world from eco-hazards.  It is when the power of the rings are combined, however, that the true magic happens.  The rings have individual powers, but all together they call upon Captain Planet (voice of David Coburn).  Captain Planet is essentially the eco-friendly version of Superman, being all powerful with few weaknesses; making it even odder that the troop of good doers don’t call upon him until all hope is lost.  I suppose there is something to be said for trying your best before calling for help, but with the same formula being used again and again you would think they would learn.


The series (in a strange set of events) was created by none other than Ted Turner and partner Robert Larkin III.  It is said that Turner had a real passion for the project, but with all his eccentricities I suppose it shouldn’t be any big surprise.  The series inspired a generation and brought the issue of environmentalism to the forefront; even later trying to tackle the issue of HIV/AIDS is one very special episode.  The series utilized classic superhero/villain archetypes each episode with an environmental twist.  The villains were the likes of Hoggish Greedly (voiced by Ed Asner), Rigger (voiced by John Ratzenberger), Looten Plunder (voiced by James Coburn), Sly Sludge (voiced by Martin Sheen), Verminous Skumm (voiced by Jeff Goldblum), Dr. Blight (voiced by Meg Ryan) and many more.  Needless to say, Ted Tuner’s pull in the industry on top of the ‘save the world’ theme of the series didn’t hurt in pulling in big names to help out.  The sheer amount of talent that joined together for this series is to this day astonishing.  Along with the main theme of the weekly adventures, each episode ended with two 30second clips that were more direct about the environmental concerns and how we could help change the world.


I would love to say the series has completely held up over the years, but in truth Captain Planet: Season One is just as odd and cornball as many of the other series of the time.  Sometimes fond memories are better left that way and I am sad that Captain Planet has not stood the test of time.  On the other hand I see exactly what was going on, it was a simple way to express concern for growing trends that were hurting the earth.  Children are the future and like exposing them to a new language at a young age, Turner’s efforts to push environmentalism may have been a great start even if it only impacted limited numbers.


The technical features on Captain Planet are nice although not perfect.  The picture on this 26 episode set is presented in a full screen transfer that obviously came straight from analog tape without much effort to clean up the image at all.  The colors are muted, there is grit and grime galore, and blacks are from inky.  The sound is a simple stereo presentation that is far from perfect and often sounds distant and muffled, this on top of crackles and screeches that more of a ‘bootleg’ quality than this reviewer would have expected.


The extras are nice as they contain a featurette entitled ‘Your Powers Combined: The Story of Captain Planet’ that has a host of behind the scene looks and interviews.  Also included are a bunch of story board segments and a Concept Art Gallery.  Nothing overwhelmingly fantastic, but more than most series get.  As a nice touch the 4-Disc set comes in a 60% post-consumer recyclable and compostable, 100% recycled fiber case (in other words…paper case).


Even with its faults, I loved this set.  It brought back good memories and still remained fun; I even think younger audiences could learn a lot from Captain Planet.


-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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