Is saving our planet the thing to do? Is the power really yours? These questions and more are answered in Captain Planet and the Planeteers. This classic Saturday morning staple came out in the early 90s and stuck around for quite a while. It's been unseen on DVD, however, and somehow it only seems right that Shout! Factory would get their hands on it.
Captain Planet and the Planeteers was a creation by DIC Entertainment and later wound up in Hannah Barbara's hands. The show lasted for six seasons and a total of 113 episodes. That first season has been collected by Shout! Factory and today we're looking at the eco-friendly release with 26 episodes on four DVDs.
Captain Planet and the Planeteers takes place in the present (or the equivalent of back in the early 90s) and features a cast of children as its protagonists. Gaia (Whoopi Goldberg), the spirit of the Earth, has come out of a deep slumber to bestow the power of the elements to some kids in order to combat pollution threatening the planet. Kwame (LeVar Burton), Wheeler (Joey Dedio), Linka (Kath Soucie), Gi (Janice Kawaye), and Ma-Ti (Scott Menville) are each given rings of power and join forces to fight against pollution.
Naturally that wouldn't be nearly as interesting if there wasn't another angle to it. By combining their powers the Planeteers can summon Captain Planet (David Coburn), who is a super-powered being capable of using all the elements put together. His only weakness is smog, or nuclear radiation, so he's naturally a powerful force for good. To give our protagonists an equal batch of adversaries, the show also introduces the Eco-Villains, which is a rogue's gallery of creeps and mutants who love to pollute.
With the premise and characters in place Captain Planet and the Planeteers sets forth on a largely episodic collection of adventures. In each episode the Planeteers have to save some manner of the planet. For instance there's an episode where an oil rig threatens the safety of the oceans, another where one of the Eco-Villains destroys the ozone layer over a part of the planet, another that focuses on deforestation, and even some talk of nuclear war. In each instance the Planeteers learn something about themselves, teach the audience the wrongs of what their combating, and in the end they have to call Captain Planet out to save the day. It's formulaic almost to a fault, but then again so were most children's cartoons of the era.
Despite it's shortcomings Captain Planet and the Planeteers remains largely entertaining. The talented cast of voice actors, which includes Martin Sheen, Sting, Meg Ryan, Jeff Goldblum, and the aforementioned stars such as Goldberg, Coburn, and Burton, really give credibility to the series. It elevates the material and thanks to some often witty writing, the series has a certain timeless nature to it. If you were a fan of the show when you were younger, then this collection is an easy sell. It's nostalgic in many ways and it's of good quality. Recommended
Due to the different nature of the packaging for this release, it's worth mentioning because it may impact collector's decisions. Captain Planet and the Planeteers is presented in packaging that is 100% recycled fibers. It's cardboard all around and the discs are housed in cardboard sleeves. This could promote problems for the discs as far as scratches go, so keep that in mind. I get that it keeps with the theme of the series, but for practicality's sake it doesn't work as well.
Captain Planet and the Planeteers is presented on DVD with its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The picture quality is decent, but it definitely shows its age. I'd equate the quality to the show's original broadcast. There's a hefty amount of grain, dirt, and speckle in the image as well and colors are rather faded. It's not terrible looking by any means, but it definitely looks like a show that's over twenty years old.
Likewise the sound quality is rather hit or miss. The 2.0 English stereo track definitely won't knock your socks off and there's not much to appreciate in this department. The audio is flat and often muted, though overall it's okay; just don't expect much from the track.
For supplemental content there's a concept art gallery, animated storyboard, and a little promotional spot for "The Captain Planet Foundation". Also included here is "Your Powers Combined: The Story of Captain Planet", which is a 27 minute look at the creation of the series. Creative forces for the show are interviewed and LeVar Burton and Ed Begley Jr. also join in on the conversation.
Captain Planet and the Planeteers Season One is a worthwhile investment for fans of the series, or anyone familiar with Captain Planet. It's an entertaining show with memorable characters and it's something that sticks with you for a while after you watch it. There's a timeless nature to it all, which is probably due to the fact that the planet's still in rough shape, but I'd say it's largely attributed to the quality writing and voice acting. Sure you have to take some of the episodes with a grain of salt, but it's a children's show so that comes with the territory. Consider Captain Planet and the Planeteers recommended.