Captain Planet and the Planeteers: If it’s Doomsday, this must be Belfast

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

Reality, as Stephen Colbert once patiently explained to George W. Bush, has a well-known liberal bias. The flipside of that is that fiction tends to be conservative. In a typical narrative there are good guys, there are bad guys, and there are few problems caused by the latter that can’t be solved by the former punching them repeatedly in the goolies. In the real world the big problems that bedevil mankind tend to be big, messy and complex and fixing them is an absolute slog with no clear-cut right or wrong and often very little visible sign of victory or even progress.
Take, for example, the question of how to best leverage the advances of industrialisation to improve the standard of life for the maximum number of human beings without causing irreparable damage to the bio-sphere and rendering the entire planet and uninhabitable hellscape? That’s a bit of a poser. And how would you dramatise that question, particularly for a young audience? Say, for example, in a thirty minute animated series running for over a hundred episodes?
 To create a cartoon show that deals with this problem maturely and intelligently while still working as a compelling and dramatic piece of entertainment would take something close to genius.
Ted-Turner-9512255-1-402

Yes. That is what it would take.

So around 1990 millionaire Ted Turner decided to create a cartoon show about heroes who took on the issues of environmental devastation and social injustice instead of doing stuff that was fun. It was called Captain Planet and the Planeteers and the premise was this: Gaia (Whoopi Goldberg), the spirit of the Earth, wakes up from a long nap and sees that human beings have been trashing the place for the last thousand years or so (well, maybe if you had actually been around to tell us to knock it off we would have known better, lady). Despite the fact that she was asleep at the switch and this is kinda her mess to clean up as much as anyone’s, she enlists five teenagers with attitude respect for nature and all its living things. They are Kwame (Levar Burton) from Africa, Wheeler (Joey DeDedio) from North America, Linka (Kath Soucie) from the Sovie…I’m sorry, EASTERN EUROPE, Gi (Janice Kawaye) from Asia and Ma-Ti (Scott Menville) from Latin America. She gives them five elemental rings with Kwame, Wheeler, Linka and Gi getting the powers of Earth, Fire, Wind and Water and Ma-Ti getting stuck with the power of Heart because poor Latin America is always the pathetic butt monkey.
“It’s true.”

“It’s true.”

Whenever they’re faced with a threat they can’t defeat alone they summon the Zords combine their power to summon Captain Planet. Who has a green mullet.
Now, as a premise it’s not…terrible. And on paper the show had a lot going for it. The animation was better than a lot of Saturday morning fare of the time and the cast was RIDICULOUSLY high-powered thanks to Turner roping in his Hollywood friends to voice the various villains including Martin Sheen and Meg Ryan back when she was probably the most successful Hollywood actress on the planet. But it also had problems, not least of which was the fact that Captain Planet is, no question, the worst superhero ever to achieve mainstream success.
Why was he so terrible? Was it the puns? The awful puns? The terrible, excruciating, abominable puns? The puns that made you want to curse God for giving you ears? The puns that made you smell colours, taste sounds and gibber in unknown tongues? The puns that made you want to tear off your skin and fold it into a little swan? The puns that made you head to the nearest clock tower with a high-powered rifle and start picking off the fleeing figures below while muttering “There’s Captain Planet. There’s Captain Planet…”?
No, it wasn’t the puns.
I first realised the utter crapitude of Captain Planet  as a child, when I watched the episode “A Good Bomb is Hard to Find” where the Planeteers travel back in time to prevent Doctor Blight from selling a nuclear bomb to Hitler.
Adolf_Hitler_(Captain_Planet)

“Hey boss, how can we make sure people know it’s supposed to be Hitler?” “Hitler had a moustache, didn’t he?” “Yeah.” “Give him a moustache. That way they’ll know.”

Captain Planet comes face to face with Hitler and immediately curls up in a little ball because the hatred coming off him is so strong that it’s a form of pollution. It was at this point that I stood up, pointed an accusing paw at the TV and loudly declared:
“NO! NO! A superhero who comes face to face with Adolf Hitler and does not punch him right in his stupid face is not a superhero! Good day sir!”

“NO! NO! A superhero who comes face to face with Adolf Hitler and does not punch him right in his stupid face is not a superhero! Good day sir!”

“But what we’re trying to show is that prejudice can…”

“But what we’re trying to show is that prejudice can…”

“I SAID “GOOD DAY” SIR!”

“I SAID “GOOD DAY” SIR!”

Think about that for a minute. They created a superhero whose kryptonite is evil. Captain America is one of the greatest superheroes ever because in his very first appearance he punched Hitler right in the face. He didn’t collapse weeping in a puddle because HITLER DIDN’T COME WITH A GODDAMN TRIGGER WARNING!
Warning for: Hatred. Genocide. Inaccurate moustache.

Warning for: Hatred. Genocide. Inaccurate moustache.

As notorious as that episode is, there’s one that (in my  neck of the woods at least) is even more infamous; “If it’s Doomsday, this must be Belfast”, better known here as “The one where the IRA got a nuclear bomb.”
I have never actually seen this one but this thing is legendary in Ireland. I have, no lie, been waiting to do this review all year. I have a feeling this is going to be the greatest experience of my life.
Let’s take a look.

Our episode begins with  a giant yellow rock monster in a Hawaiian shirt pacing around in a gigantic sewer and yelling “What’s keeping Scumm?! 50,000 thousand nuclear bombs in the world, and all I ask for is 1!”
Wow kids, did you know there’s 50,000 nuclear bombs in the world? Well now you know!
"And knowing is half the battle!"

“And knowing is half the battle!”

So this guy is regular Captain Planet villain Duke Nukem or, to give him his full title, The Right Honourable Duke of Nukinghamshire.

The Duke, seen here attending the Epsom Derby with Her Majesty.

The Duke, seen here attending the Epsom Derby with Her Majesty.

The Duke is then joined by Verminous Skumm, a mutant rat guy and okay I should probably explain this. See, rather than showing ordinary human beings as being responsible for pollution, this show instead used supervillains (or “Eco-villains” as they’re called) to represent the various problems facing the environment. So Nukem obviously represents nuclear power, and Verminous represents crime and disease because he’s a rodent and shit, it’s not like we need positive representation or anything. I should also explain that this episode was made in season three when most of the A list talent had realised that there was going to be 113 fucking episodes and they had other shit to do. So while Nukem and Verminous were originally voiced by Dean Stockwell and Jeff…uh,uh…Goldblum? here both characters are voiced by Maurice La Marche, who’s made something of a career out of voicing nefarious rodents.

Although personally, I always felt he was a misunderstood hero.

Although personally, I always felt he was more of a tragic hero.

Anyhew, Nukem is addicted to radiation and Verminous tells him that he’s got three nuclear bombs but that he’s hidden them in three different locations across the globe. Nukem, understandably, is pissed off at this and yells “You moronic Mouse! How am I supposed to get my radiation?”

"Hey! Hey! There is NO need to bring species into this."

“Hey! Hey! There is NO need to bring species into this!”

Verminous says that if his plan works getting radiation won’t be a problem. We then cut to the Planeteers island base where they’re sitting around a TV watching whales. Because of course they are. These guys defy parody. This actually makes me angrier than it should. I mean, how difficult would it be to have them watching…I dunno, a football match. A soap opera. A movie. Something relatable. Something that actually tells us about their likes and dislikes, actually giving us a little smidgen of character but nope. Whales. They’re watching whales and cooing about how awesome they are. Gi asks if everyone knows that whales may be as smart as humans. And no, Gi. We did not know, that. Because it’s not true. Wheeler asks, logically enough,  if whales are so smart why haven’t they invented anything? And Gaia answers “Like weapons that could destroy the Earth?”

Oh Snap

 Damn Wheeler, if you have the Fire Ring how come you’re the one who just got burned? Of course, if whales did have a nuclear deterrent we might have thought twice about hunting them to near extinction. Anyway, Verminous appears onscreen and tells Gaia that he’s going to prove to her that humans are full of petty hatreds and will destroy each other.

"Have you not heard of my servant Job?"

“Have you not heard of my servant Job?”

 Verminous explains that he’s planted the bombs in Belfast, the West Bank and South Africa and given detonators to a Catholic and a Protestant, a Jew and an Arab and a black person and a white person.

skumm

“Now, this bomb is armed! This bomb is mobile! And the identity of the triggerman is a mystery. And at the first sign of interference from the outside world, or for those people attempting to flee, this anonymous Belfaster – this unsung hero – will trigger the bomb!”

Now, all sarcasm aside, that’s actually a pretty compelling scenario right there and in the right hands you could even make something that was both thrilling and had genuinely relevant things to say about the conflicts in those nations. These aren’t the right hands, these aren’t even close to being the right hands, these are mangled stumps but still, the premise definitely has potential so points there. Gaia tells Skumm that he won’t get away with nuclear terrorism and yeah, dude, you are so dead. Every intelligence agency on earth is now gunning for your head on a platter. I hope whatever point you hoped to make was worth it because you are a dead fucking rat walking. Gaia tells the Planeteers that each of these conflicts is a blood feud that has gone on for generations and Kwame says that they must go there and stop all this madness. Oh hallelujah. Our Troubles are at an end. Gaia says that if a nuclear bomb went off, even Captain Planet wouldn’t be able to save them.

Not even Captain Planet!?! BUT HE'S SO USEFUL!

Not even Captain Planet!?! BUT HE’S SO USEFUL!

  The Planeteers volunteer to go with Wheeler saying “You gotta let us try!” and Linka adding “Da!” which made me laugh because I know it’s Russian for “Yes” but it’s sound like she’s saying “Duh! Gaia! You idiot!”

Gaia smiles and says “And Skumm says there’s no hope for humanity.”

We are so fucking dead.

We are so fucking dead.

So Wheeler gets dropped off in Belfast to find the detonator. Ma-Ti asks him if he wants help and Wheeler says “Are you kidding? Belfast is my kind of town. I feel like a native already.”

"Okay, so we're starting a death pool. I say he gets murdered in five minutes, any takers?"

“Okay, so we’re starting a death pool. I say he gets murdered in five minutes, any takers?”

So Wheeler ambles through Belfast, here rendered as a few cottages amongst vast piles of rubble with the letters “IRA” scrawled on every available surface beneath a weird green sky (eh, that’s really more Strabane). Wheeler muses aloud if he’s in a Catholic neighbourhood or a Protestant neighbourhood. Now, I’m obviously not from Northern Ireland but I’ve ended up there a few times when I got lost on a moonless midnight road or fell through an eldritch portal and trust me, that is not a question you ever need to ask.

The signs are there if you know where to look.

The signs are there if you know where to look.

 Anyway, Wheeler comes across an Irish Catholic called Seán O’Reilly (what, Paddy McIrishname wasn’t available?) who’s in the middle of throwing a petrol bomb at a nearby house. Wheeler blows up the bomb with his fire ring and Seán asks “What’d you do that for?”

Not…y’know…”What’s with the fire powers?” or “Who are you, mysterious stranger?”

No, no. The fact that someone might not be okay with arson with attempt to commit homicide is clearly the mystery that must be resolved first and foremost. Wheeler tells him he might have hurt somebody.

Alice Facepalm

Thanks Wheeler. He probably thought he was helping them with their heating bill. Seán says that he doesn’t care because it’s a Protestant place and OH MY GOD THIS ACCENT. I want to cage it and tour the countryside with it in a carnival, inviting the locals to come and gawp. Now, I’m not unfair. I don’t expect an American cartoon to be able to find someone who could do a flawless Belfast accent (although, for any aspiring voice actors out there the trick is to replace all the vowels with “o”. Bolfost.). But my Christ what the voice actor is doing sounds like the deranged mutant offspring of the Lucky Charms leprechaun, William Wallace and John Lennon. It is almost beautiful in the purity of horror that it evokes. Seán asks Wheeler what his name is and Wheeler introduces himself with a handshake.

"Will you be my friend, murderous arsonist?"

“Will you be my friend, murderous arsonist?”

Wheeler sees that Seán has one of Skumm’s triggers and tells Seán that he’s here to “Stop the violence”. Seán says that it’s a pity he didn’t get here a year ago before the Protestants burnt down the bakery where he worked and put him out of a job.

Man, I’m so glad I live in the South. Here, relationships between Catholics and Protestants are peaceful and we don’t harbour ridiculous stereotypes about each other. I actually have several Protestant friends, despite the fact that their eyes are too close together and they shit standing up.

"Hey Mouse, can I use your bathroom?"

“Hey Mouse, can I use your bathroom?”

"Now Peter, you know you can't."

“Now James, you know you can’t.”

Wheeler points out that Seán doesn’t know where the bomb is and that it might go off in a Catholic area, and Seán says that might wake up the rest of the Catholics.

Well, yeah. I imagine a nuclear blast would be rather hard to sleep through. It’s also around this point that the episode breaks my goddamn heart. See, I’d read on TV Tropes that in this episode Seán uses the term “Fenian Prods” and I had an entire rant prepared on how stupid that was (if you don’t know “fenian” is a slur against Catholics and “prod” is a slur against Protestants which would make saying “Fenian Prod” the equivalent of, I dunno, “Darkie Cracker”). It was going to be epic. Seriously. This was going to be my Sistine Chapel of Snark. But having watched the episode he clearly says “FLAMING Prods”. Although actually, that might explain why they burned down Seán’s bakery.

"Because I wouldnt make cakes for their gay Protestant weddings!"

“I wouldn’t make cakes for their gay Protestant weddings!”

Meanwhile in the West Bank, Gi meets an old Jewish man named Moishe (Kenneth Mars aka King Triton) who also has a trigger. Moishe invites Gi inside while outside, a Palestinian woman named Nahjat throws a rock at Moishe’s window before being stopped by Ma-ti. Something I learned from this episode; Palestinians spend between seventy and eighty per cent of their day throwing rocks. They fucking love that shit. Anyway, the Israeli security forces suddenly show up.

Cheese it

Gi pleads with Moishe to do something and he says “What? I should congratulate her on her aim?” One of the Israeli soldiers says that Nahjat’s brother is “a troublemaker too” and Gi asks Moishe “still want to see her arrested?”

Um…yes? What the fuck difference does that make? Moishe has a change of heart and asks the soldiers to let her go. Gi and Ma-ti explain the situation. Nahjat says that her family home was bulldozed by the Israelis as punishment for her brother’s militant activities and that Skumm gave her the trigger as a way to take revenge on the Israelis. Gi says they have to work together to find the bomb and Moishe and Nahjat are all “Me! Trust an Arab/Jew (delete as appropriate)?!” and Gi says “You’d rather trust a mutant rat?”

"Nice. Real nice, Gi. I'm getting really sick of this whole "rodents can't be trusted and want to nuke everybody" subtext."

“Nice. Real nice, Gi. I’m getting really sick of this whole “rodents can’t be trusted and want to nuke everybody” subtext.”

"You nuke people all the time."

“You nuke people all the time.”

"Only when I have no choice."

“Only when I have no choice.”

"Like when people disagree with you over The Little Mermaid?"

“Like when people disagree with you over The Little Mermaid?”

"IT WAS THE START OF THE RENAISSANCE WHY DO PEOPLE NOT GET THAT?!"

“IT WAS THE START OF THE RENAISSANCE WHY DO PEOPLE NOT GET THAT?!”

Meanwhile in Soweto, Kwame and Linka meet a black South African named Marcie who tells Linka to get lost because whites recently attacked a local funeral. Before Linka can finish her “#notallwhitepeople” speech three masked white guys with guns show up and threaten them. The leader, Peter, then tries to kidnap Linka, saying “White girls shouldn’t mess with kaffirs!”. Linka wrestles with him, pulling off his mask in a scene that probably wasn’t meant to look like they’re just one second away from passionate hate boning.

 

My God, theyd have the blondest children.

My God, they’d have the blondest children.

Linka asks him what his name is and he says that it’s Peter, and weirdly, he says it with a better Northern Irish accent than Seán. Was there just a mixup at the casting agency? Anyway, now it’s time for a commercial break. Huh. Neat. I never get to take a break when I’m reviewing movies. Imma get me a sammich.

“Uh Mouse? Shouldn’t we be, y’know, looking for Walt? What with him being kidnapped and all?”

“Uh Mouse? Shouldn’t we be, y’know, looking for Walt? What with him being kidnapped and all?”

“Don’t worry . SMOWE’s looking into it for me.”

“Don’t worry . SMOWE’s looking into it for me.”

***
“Look, I know it’s been a long time. And I know I wasn’t exactly at my best the last time we met…”

“Look, I know it’s been a long time. And I know I wasn’t exactly at my best the last time we met…”

“But I’ve changed. I’ve been through a lot. I’ve been to hell and back. Literally.”

“But I’ve changed. I’ve been through a lot. I’ve been to hell and back. Literally.”

“And I need you. The blog needs you. Will you help us, Batman Africa?”

“And I need you. The blog needs you. Will you help us, Batman Africa?”

“Talk. And make it quick.”

“Talk. And make it quick.”

“Walt’s been kidnapped.”

“Walt’s been kidnapped.”

“BluCatt. Alias Don Bluth. Former animator. High level mage. Skill of Disney, mind of a Looney Tune. But he’s not working alone”

“BluCatt. Alias Don Bluth. Former animator. High level mage. Skill of Disney, mind of a Looney Tune. But he’s not working alone”

“Who else?”

“Who else?”

“Horned King, Charlie McCarthy, Comrade Crow, the whole damn rogues gallery.”

“Horned King, Charlie McCarthy, Comrade Crow, the whole damn rogues gallery.”

“Oh man, not a villain team-up?”

“Oh man, not a villain team-up?”

“Yeah, I hate those”

“Yeah, I hate those”

“What’s their plan? Where are they holding him?”

“What’s their plan? Where are they holding him?”

“I have a mole on the inside but he’s gone quiet recently. But he did tell me this: BluCatt is not the mastermind behind this, he’s just a front.”

“I have a mole on the inside but he’s gone quiet recently. But he did tell me this: BluCatt is not the mastermind behind this, he’s just a front.”

“So who’s the brains? Horned King?”

“So who’s the brains? Horned King?”

“No. According to my source, BluCatt’s taking his orders from the Unscrupulous Mouse.”

“No. According to my source, BluCatt’s taking his orders from the Unscrupulous Mouse.”

“Mouse’s brother? Weird…”

“Mouse’s brother? Weird…”

***

Mmm…that was some good cheese in that cheese sandwich. Alright, where were we?

In Northern Ireland, Seán has found the bomb and it’s in a Protestant neighbourhood. Meanwhile, Wheeler goes looking for him while shouting Seán’s name which attracts the attention of some local Protestant thugs and HAAA AHAHHHHHAA HAAAAA ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! THESE ARE YOUR “PROTESTANTS”?

Protestants

Their eyes are nowhere near close enough together! And I’ve never seen a protestant with less than seven fingers on each hand. And where, pray, are the secondary ears and the teeth marks from where they’ve been gnawed by nuns? Fucking amateur hour. They don’t even look like they shit standing up.

"Cmon Mouse I really need to go!"

“C’mon Mouse I really need to go!”

"NOT AFTER LAST TIME!"

“NOT AFTER LAST TIME JAMES!”

Anyway. these so-called “Protestants” advance on Wheeler looking to beat the snot out of him. Wheeler puts his hands in the air and says “Guys! It’s okay! I’m an American!”

"Nice knowing you, Wheeler."

“Nice knowing you, Wheeler.”

Wheeler runs away and collides with Seán and the leader of the “protestants” introduces himself as “Stuart Cooper” which Seán sneers is a “Protestant name if ever I heard one”.

"And these are my friends, Johnny Consubstantiation and Billy Popepuncher."

“Allow me to introduce my friends, Johnny Consubstantiation and Billy Popepuncher.”

They grab the two but they don’t kill Wheeler which means I’m out fifty big ones, dammit. Stuart accuses Seán of burning Protestant homes and Seán yells “You Prods took our land and our jobs!”

Wow…

That’s…um…actually a halfway insightful observation.

See, there tends to be two viewpoints of the conflict in Northern Ireland in American media and they’re both wrong. First is framing the Troubles as an Irish-English conflict and completely disregarding the Unionist element. In this view, Northern Ireland is inhabited by people who want to be part of Ireland but the dastardly English won’t let them and so they have to wage a guerilla war to gain their freedom. You hear this version in a lot of Irish American circles and it’s bollocks. The vast majority of English people would be only too happy to see Ireland reunified and to wash their hands of the place as it’s a security and financial black hole, even post-conflict. What this reading overlooks is that a majority (a slim one sure, but still a majority) of people in Northern Ireland identify as British and want to remain within the United Kingdom. That’s the first view.

The second recognises the existence of Unionists but still frames the conflict as a religious/ethnic one between Irish identifying Catholics and British identifying Protestants. That’s more accurate but still misses the major point. The source of the Troubles is economic and always has been. One group had access to jobs and political power and the other was excluded from same. That’s what it was about. Religion and flags and marches and language were never the game, they were just the team colours. A way of keeping the sides straight. Hell even in the very beginning. The Protestant settlers who were massacred in 1641 weren’t killed over a dispute over the authority of the pope or the nature of the Eucharist. They were killed by Catholics who had been driven off their land. Land, money, power, opportunity. That’s what it was about. And, weirdly, one of the American depictions to actually get that right was fucking Captain Planet. So. Yeah. Kudos.

 Meanwhile, in South Africa Kwame uses his earth powers to rescue Linka from Peter and his thugs. Marcie grabs one of their guns and is about to shoot them but Kwame stops her, saying: “If you  shoot them, you’re as racist as they are!”

"Huh. I guess both sides in Apartheid era South Africa had legitimate grievances. Wait a minute, WHAT?!"

“Huh. I guess both sides in Apartheid era South Africa had legitimate grievances. Wait a minute, WHAT?!”

Marcie then says that she doesn’t need a gun and that she’s going to use the trigger to blow up Johannesburg which’ll sure show the…13% of the city’s population that’s white. Kwame then asks Peter if he’ll help them find the bomb but he refuses.

"Will you be my friend, vicious white supremacist?"

“Will you be my friend, vicious white supremacist?”

Things aren’t going so well in the West Bank (most redundant sentence ever) as Moishe and Nahjat are at each other’s throats too. Hmmm…you know what this situation needs? Some way to open up their hearts. Say, Ma-Ti! You have a heart ring! This would be a perfect time for you to use your…

"Dont you fucking patronise me."

“Don’t you fucking patronise me.”

Ma-Ti uses the heart ring to contact Gaia (brilliant, he has the power of a phone) and ask her what they should do. Gaia, of course, is a spirit, and deal with the problem the way spirits always do, by showing them all a vision of the future after the bombs have gone off.  Now ten years in the future, Moishe and Nahjat walk through a devastated Jerusalem, and Nahjat breaks down in tears when she sees that the Dome of the Rock has been destroyed. As Nahjat laments the loss of the rock where Muhammad ascended into Heaven, Moishe sadly notes that it was also the rock where Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac. This leads to probably the stupidest line in the entire episode, (which puts it high in the running for stupidest worldwide) when Nahjat asks Moishe “You know of Abraham?”

Alice Facepalm

Yes Nahjat. I think he has. I just have a hunch. Also? Christians have heard of this “Jesus” guy.

Meanwhile, Stewart, Wheeler and Seán look in horror at a devastated, lifeless wasteland.

"Fuck! Were in STRABANE!"

“Fuck! We’re in STRABANE!”

They move on to the Catholic side of town and see that the area’s been relatively untouched but is still deserted. Seán searches desperately for his friends and family and Wheeler sarcastically says “Jeez, you don’t think they’d leave because of a little fallout do you?” and Seán yells “Shut up!” and yes, yes, I second my countryman in this. SHUT THE FUCK UP, WHEELER. THERE IS A TIME FOR SARCASTIC QUIPS AND IT IS NOT IN THE MIDST OF A NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST. THANK. YOU.
Gaia then transports them all back to the present day and Moishe is overjoyed to see that Jerusalem still stands and starts metaphorically hugging the curtains.
"The Spirit! She did it all in one night! You boy! What day is this?!"

“The Spirit! She did it all in one night! You boy! What day is this?!”

So our three pairs all realise that they have to work together and find the bombs. Skumm and Nukem aren’t happy about this so they fly in Skumm’s Skumm-O’Copter (Jesus) to South Africa. Nukem starts blasting at them from the air, yelling at Skumm “Hold it still, you Mazerunner!”

Shocked Mouse

How dare you…

HOW FUCKING DARE YOU!? YOU DO NOT GET TO USE THAT WORD! THAT IS A VICIOUS, HATEFUL SLUR AND ITS USE IS NEVER EVER JUSTIFIABLE!

"Hey Mouse! Shit mazerunner, you gotta get on this cheese!" "Aw, you know we mazerunners love the cheese!

“Hey Mouse! Shit mazerunner, you gotta get on this cheese!”
“Aw, you know we mazerunners love the cheese!”

"You shame me and you shame yourselves."

“Guys, you literally could not have chosen a worse time.”

Ma-Ti senses that it’s time for deus ex machina teamwork and orders the Planeteers to aim their rings at the sun. The beams meet and Captain Planet is summoned into outer space.

"Cant...breathe...youve killed me, you fools!"

“Can’t…breathe…you’ve killed me, you fools!”

He picks up the South African bomb as well as Skumm and the fucking racist whose name I’m not even going to type and then flies to the West Bank with them saying “Combining trips saves energy! Hahahahaha!”

My God. He’s not even punning any more. He’s just saying shit and laughing.

Oh, and then he plants Skumm and the fucking racist on top of a satellite tower. I think they’re supposed to be hanging from their clothes but honestly it looks he’s impaled them like a fucking shrike.

"Protect the enviroment of Ill fucking kill you! CAPTAIN PLANET MOTHERFUCKERS!"

“Protect the environment of I’ll kill you! CAPTAIN PLANET MOTHERFUCKERS!”

 Captain Planet then flings all three nuclear bombs into the sun and says “Huh. Maybe should try out for the Olympics.”

Maybe you should SHUT THE FUCK UP!

Wheres Hitler when you need him?

Where’s Hitler when you need him?

 The episode now gets a weird little coda where the Planeteers break the fourth wall and tells us what happened to the people they met. Seán and Stewart opened a bakery together to provide an example to their community and we’re told that Marcie and Peter still have their differences but will keep their battles to the political arena.

Oh good. Now hes a polite white supremacist.

Oh good. Now he’s a polite white supremacist.

 And we’re told that Moishe sold part of his house to Nahjat’s family and in return they agreed to “no more stone throwing” (oh those wacky Palestinians! Them and their stones!). The episode ends but we get another weird little coda where Captain Planet tells us, word for word, “Sometimes people hate or fear others who are different. But that’s WRONG!” The planeteers then blow our minds with the little tidbit that people of other races can be friends with each other.
"Like us, right Kwame?" "Dont you fucking touch me."

“Like us, right Kwame?”
“Don’t you fucking touch me.”

The subject of race definitively dealt with they then move on to deal with people from different cultures (you can be friends with them) and different religions (again, friendship is permitted) before finally expanding to anyone who’s different from you in any way.

"Like people with disabilities or...well, we cant tell you what this woman is but you can probably guess her deal, right? Look, shes not checking out these abs. Nuff said."

“Like people with disabilities or…well, we can’t actually tell you what this woman is but you can probably guess her deal, right? Look, she’s not checking out these abs. Nuff said.”

***

Finally seeing this episode, what I found weirdest is that the treatment of the Troubles is probably the most on-point thing in the whole episode. I mean, there’s still head-bangers left right and centre but it does actually get some important details right. As a whole, this episode  was the greatest thing I have ever seen in my life. My God this was fun to review! This thing is a banquet of stupid lines, awful accents and so many other thinks to snark at. I feasted like a goddamned Hutt. Is it terrible? Yes. Do I hate it? I WANT TO WATCH THIS EVERY DAY. I MAY HAVE A PROBLEM.

On a more serious note, I think it’s fascinating to consider, almost a quarter of a century after this episode aired, how things have changed and how they have stayed the same in the three regions depicted. The situation in the West Bank has, perhaps unimaginably, gotten even worse and peace there seems even more distant now than it did in 1992. But there is still cause for hope. Just look at South Africa, where, two short years after this episode aired, the apartheid regime was finally defeated by the wisdom and courage of one of the greatest men who ever lived.

I refer, of course, to Bono.

I refer, of course, to Bono.

And lastly, on my home island, where a new generation of leaders were able to overcome the hatreds and mistrusts of one of the longest ongoing conflicts in human history, and a peace to Northern Island that remains strong and stable to this very…oh Christ are you kidding me?!

Crisis

Well. I guess some grudges just can’t be forgiven so easily. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some business to attend to.

Scoring
Animation: 03/20
For a series that was noted as having quite good animation, this particular episode is shockingly rough.
Leads: 05/20
Very nice young ladies and gentlemen who do their best. And that gets real old, real fast.
Villains: 08/20
LaMarche manages to bring an entertaining sliminess to Skumm.
Supporting Characters: 03/20
Bland, one note ciphers.
Music: 04/20
Tinny electronic muzak in most scenes and sorry, I’ve never been a fan of the theme song.
FINAL SCORE: 23%
NEXT UPDATE: 01 October 2015
 ***
Meanwhile, in a secret location…
“Heh, not so tough now, are ya Walt?”

“Heh, not so tough now, are ya Walt?”

“You're a funny guy Charlie, I like you. That's why I'm going to kill you last.”

“You’re a funny guy Charlie, I like you. That’s why I’m going to kill you last.”

 
“Disney is ours. What is next stage of plan, tovarich?”

“Disney is ours. What is next stage of plan, tovarich?”

 
"Nows the fun part. We kill him!"

“Now’s the fun part. We kill him!”

 
Said so easily. But Disney is such a one that even death fears. How can we kill him?

Said so easily. But Disney is such a one that even death fears. How can we kill him?

 
“We attack the only part of him that’s still mortal. His self-respect. One of us has to review the worst Disney movie ever made and annihilate his ego completely. But there’s a catch. This movie is so awful that the reviewer will probably die in the process.”

“We attack the only part of him that’s still mortal. His self-respect. One of us has to review the worst Disney movie ever made and annihilate his ego completely. But there’s a catch. This movie is so awful that the reviewer will probably die in the process.”

 
“Ha! Bring it you pansies! Do your worst!”

“Ha! Bring it you pansies! Do your worst!”

 
“So who’s our lab rat?”

“So who’s our lab rat?”

 
“Not a rat.”

“Not a rat.”

 
“You?"

“You?”

 
You?

You?

 
"You?"

“You?”

“Me. Everybody out.”

“Me. Everybody out.”

“So. You think I’m afraid of you? What are we going to watch? Mulan 2? The Hunchback of Notre Dame where he gets a girlfriend? I lost any shame decades ago, you can’t destroy my ego you pathetic little Mazerunner!”

“So. You think I’m afraid of you? What are we going to watch? Mulan 2? The Hunchback of Notre Dame where he gets a girlfriend? I lost any shame decades ago, you can’t destroy my ego you pathetic little Mazerunner!”

“You know Walt. I always thought you were my friend. I looked up to you. But then I realised how blind I really was. It’s shocking isn’t it…”

“You know Walt. I always thought you were my friend. I looked up to you. But then I realised how blind I really was. It’s shocking isn’t it…”

“…when you realise that someone is a completely different person from who you thought.”

“…when you realise that someone is a completely different person from who you thought.”

“….”

“….”

“MOUSE?!”

“MOUSE?!”

“Hi Walt.”

“Hi Walt.”

“IT WAS YOU THE WHOLE TIME?! YOU WERE BEHIND ALL OF THIS?!”

“IT WAS YOU THE WHOLE TIME?! YOU WERE BEHIND ALL OF THIS?! OF ALL THE DEVIOUS, TREACHEROUS…”

“What can I say? I learned from the best. And now it’s time to end this. Only one of us is leaving this room alive. So. What movie have I chosen to destroy you?”

“What can I say? I learned from the best. And now it’s time to end this. Only one of us is leaving this room alive. So. What movie have I chosen to destroy you?”

“Let’s take a look.”

“Let’s take a look.”

TO BE CONTINUED
Neil Sharpson aka the Unshaved Mouse is a playwright, comic book writer and blogger based in Dublin. The blog updates with a new review every second Thursday. Today’s review was made possible thanks to the kind donation of Esther Ní Dhonnacha. Thanks Esther, this was the most fun I’ve had in ages. Also thanks to Paper Alchemist for the additional Mouse artwork. Original artwork for this blog was commissioned from the oh-so talented Julie Android who you should definitely check out.  

81 comments

  1. I know I watched Captain Planet when I was a kid because I remember the credits theme, but I can’t remember any specific episodes. I guess that’s for the best.

    Oooh, you leaving us in the dark for next time, Mouse? I must say, I’m quite intrigued with the developments lately. I’d start guessing what the movie is, but that would ruin the fun.

    1. Throwing nukes into the sun has been a tradition since Superman 4. I guess the idea is that with all the heat and radiation which already is at the sun it wouldn’t make a difference….not sure if that is correct, though.

  2. RIP Kenneth Mars. You were a wonderful Grandpa to Littlefoot.
    Did anyone else notice how shockingly similar the planeteers look to the Magic School Bus kids? Wheeler-Arnold, Linka-Dorothy Ann, Kwame-Tim, Gi-Wanda, and Ma-Ti to no one.

    1. I’ve seen this theory floating around the interwebs – but have never quite bought it other than the visual similarities. Why would they change their names? Perhaps they got into some shady things as preteens…

  3. Like I said in an earlier post, I liked “Captain Planet. When I was ten years old. Since then I have realized that the show has some big flaws. I have still not seen this episode in its entirety, only a few clips from it. But yeah, I guess it comes down to that even though the people behind it meant well, the result did not turn out too great. I have to point out two things though.

    1: People keep saying that Ma-Ti got stuck with a “lame” power, but… come on! I can’t be the only one, who understood that “heart” was actually the greatest of the five powers. It is way more subtle, of course, which is why people can’t see its strength. But you can see it as the glue, that keeps all the rest together. And it makes Ma-Ti able to contact people over a distance and talk to animals. And if there was no “heart”, there would be no Captain Planet.

    2: You do make a good point about Captain Planet being weakened by the hatred from that Hitler figure, that a “real super hero” should have just punched his face right away. But it was a powerful moment to me. Captain Planet was of course some times weakened by pollution (which you can argue is lame enough, but yeah), but nobody else had ever made him weak through their pure hatred. So it was clear that this guy was supposed to worse than all the other villains combined, and it was a rather clever way to show it.

    1. No, you aren’t the only one. That is the irony in all this, for all the claims that heart is a lame power, the only reason why Ma-Ti can’t do more is because he is too good of a person to do more. If he wants, he actually can control the emotions of his victims and if he wanted he could first an army of animals to do his bidding. (This little fact is the reason why I always thought that Ma-Ti is the most interesting of the five).

      1. Na, Lenka’s power was pretty effective…because wind is everywhere. Being able to control Earth wasn’t that bad either. Gi’s was sometimes useful (though mostly in cleaning toxic waste from Captain Planet). Wheeler, for all his badmouthing of “love”, was actually the one with the most useless power because fire is normally the opposite of what you need when you intend to protect something

  4. Oh, man, them 90s kids usually seem to forget about this little gem of a creation whenever they go on their long winded rants about how cartoons back then were so subtle, smart, and full of creativity.

    I never grew up with Captain Planet and honestly I probably would’ve found the show a complete bore to watch until Captain Planet showed up with his barrels of cheese and made the whole show more interesting.

    Poor Walt, guy was an artist but became so corrupted in his ego that he decided to become Mouse’s worst enemy.

    Speaking of Disney, a movie trailer for another live action remake of a classic animated Disney film came out the other day.

    What’s the animated film this time? Well, it’s last the animated film Walt Disney worked on before his timely death.

    About the trailer? All I can say:

    ………………..Scarlet Johansson…….is voicing……a giant talking snake…..I’m optimistic about that.

    1. I’m a bit nervous about Scarlet Johansson playing Kaa, because…..this is only going to increase the already vast amout of creepy Kaa hypnosis fanart. (Look at Cracked’s article on the creepiest Disney fanarts for proof….though your eyes may not forgive what you see.)

      1. No doubt, I’m still somewhat scratching my head as to why Jon felt the need to change Kaa’s gender. Maybe he thought Scarlett’s voice would make Kaa more sinister or maybe he just likes working with Scarlett.

    2. Well….Andy Serkis’ version (which comes out a year after the Disney one) has Cate Blanchett playing Kaa, so it’s not just him.

    3. More importantly, Bill Murray is voicing Baloo and Christopher Walken is voicing King Louie because ours is a loving and benevolent god

  5. Batman Africa is back!! WOOW!
    Wow, nice plot-twist Mouse! I’ll admit I didn’t see that one coming.

    Ah Captain Planet. I remember watching it when I was like… 6… and enjoying it, but I WAS 6! Now I can’t even sit through a whole episode, not even for the “So bad it’s good” quality.

    Now I’m really curious what you’ve got planned for next time…

  6. I remember as a kid really loving Captain Planet. I can’t remember any specific episodes but my friends and I had a blast pretending to have those Power Rings. It was being a Green Lantern before I knew what a Green Lantern was. But I went back to watch a few episodes a couple days ago and my God it is so much worse then I remember! (Side note: After marathoning your blog for the last 3 weeks I’m so happy to finally be all caught up!)

  7. I loved Captain Planet. I watched it on reruns and I would get up early on schooldays to watch while the rest of the house was asleep. Of course it sucks, but as a kid it was a lot of fun.

  8. Call me petty, but I can’t get over the fact that the Planeteers are watching whales on TV. On TV! Why aren’t they actually out on the ocean watching real whales, if they’re going to be whale watching?

    Batman Africa and the unmasking of the Unscrupulous Mouse! That really was a great plot twist, tied things together nicely. Can’t wait to see what you picked (and if it’s what I hope it is, I REALLY can’t wait to read the review!)

    Concerning the, err, “M word”, I’m going to guess this series is not popular in the world of rodentia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Maze_Runner

  9. As a Bio major with an emphasis in cetology, I can tell you that animals of the order Cetacea (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are the animals whose intelligence nearly matches our own. However, since they can’t form human speech sounds and therefor human words, we have literally no way of knowing exactly how their intelligence compares to our own. But yeah, they are indeed, and this is a technical cetology term “super fucking smart.”

  10. The thing with Captain Planet is that the show for all its cheesiness and over the top messages apparently did something right. After all, a lot of people (including me) admit to watching the show, and while it is nowadays mostly known as a bad show, well, it is known. It is not forgotten like the Ewoks, or Hammerman and some other really, really horrible shows.

    The thing is I have no idea WHAT the show did right. Perhaps there is something to the process of calling the power which somehow speaks to children (after all, it worked for Sailor Moon, too). Perhaps it was the empowering message that you actually can change something…after all most of those public service announcements were not about “you shouldn’t do that” like it is usually the case, they were about “if you want to change this, you can do that” (usually something recycling related). Perhaps it was the fact that a group of children had all the power without some adults constantly hanging out with them, unless they wanted one.

    I really don’t know. But there is something in this concept which perhaps deserves to get revisited, naturally with a lot of tweaks and better dialogue.

    1. Well it was very, very, VERY heavily promoted in the States and lasted for an incredible 113 episodes. That alone would give it more staying power. And yes, the rings summoning Captain Planet is exactly the kind of ritual that gets incorporated into playground games (see also, “It’s morphing time!”)

    2. Well… I loved this show when I was ten years old, even though I only could watch it in English. When you are a kid, you will often overlook that a story is cheesy and preachy. You will just go along with it, and it was cool back to see what the Planeteers were up to and watch Captain Planet save the day. So I guess that “Captain Planet” simply was lucky enough to hit the right demographic at the right time.

    1. I know you only have six fingers, Words and moving pictures. That’s why I wrote this review. To lure you out. So I could have my revenge. Hello. My name is Unshaved Mouse. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

      1. What gets me is that this is actually a perfectly set up Princess Bride reference, and I didn’t see it for almost 30 seconds. I feel ashamed… Mouse, when are you going to review the Princess Bride?

  11. I’m glad you had such a good time with this episode. I enjoyed the show a lot when I was a child and I still remember some of the episodes. I also love the fact that nobody ever noticed how Ma-Ti might have accidentally murdered people in one episode, and make fun of him when he has the power to kill people at a great distance.

    In the episode I’m talking about, Ma-Ti used his ring to send out a message to the people of the city and willed them to turn off their power. They show a family in a home doing that, and then it zooms out to show the whole city is now blacked out. Every place that stores food, well that food is now at risk for being spoiled during the blackout. Traffic lights were shut off, possibly causing wrecks. Phone lines were down so no one could call for help if they needed it. Hospitals, and other medical places, were shut down. If someone was right in the middle of surgery or on life support, well, at least our super happy pun loving hero was able to save the day. Ten to fifteen minutes later.

    Ma-Ti also had the power to read people’s thoughts if I remember correctly. He could have used that to have done such harm that it’s a good thing that he was such a goody two shoes. Imagine all the money he could have stolen by just reading people’s thoughts as they withdrew money out of ATM’s. I know I mentally ask myself what my information is and answer myself before typing it in.

    So, yeah, fun show for all the lame, cheesy, I hate your puns CP!!!, puns are the worst comedy ever! But probably wouldn’t watch the show now.

  12. Man, what a roller coaster this was. So, if you lived in Ireland and wanted to blow up another part of Ireland with a nuke, wouldn’t that just mess up all or Ireland? Or all of Europe for that matter?

  13. ” Verminous explains that he’s planted the bombs in Belfast, the West Bank and South Africa and given detonators to a Catholic and a Protestant, a Jew and an Arab and a black person and a white person.”

    I must admit after this paragraph I was expecting some sort of ‘Oh, Nolan, you WHORE!’ joke.

    Also, proof Raphael was a better superhero than Captain Planet:

    http://imgur.com/gallery/OTcSLwb

  14. //I refer, of course, to Bono.//

    Oh I’m so glad you made this joke, because I was wondering whether saying that having read this I now really feel like blasting Where The Streets Have No Name would be appreciated.

  15. Oh man, I died laughing at the Protestant and Northern Irish jokes.

    And, for all the wrong of Captain Planet, you have to admit, its closing theme song is awesome as all hell:

    I’ve watched this show since I was a little kid too (like 6 or 7), and I don’t remember it being that bad due to the mediocore but not cringe worthy Latin American dub that took away all the puns and the fake accents. I did recognize the bad animation, though, which is why I always preferred watching Spider-Man or Power Rangers.

    1. There were two Latin American dubs; one that kept the lame accents, where Captain Planet was voiced by Son Goku/Jim Carrey and Linka was dubbed by Bulma/Pocahontas’ Grandma Willow; and another one without the ccents, where Captain Planet was Gonzo the Great and Linka was Sailor Moon/Lisa Simpson.

  16. Great review Mouse! I’m just confused as to why Bender is saying “It’s cheese!” “The law!!!” Is that a reference to something in Futurama?

      1. Hmmm. Apparently “cheese it” is “זהירות” (look out) in Hebrew. The things one learns on the Internet…
        Google Translate also messed up in a different way: Hebrew goes from right to left, so the exclamation points should be on the other side. 😉

  17. Ahh, poor South America. Can’t ever catch a break, can that continent. Though I’m glad to see the continents are back, yay! Also, cartoon kid Mouse!! So much awww! Hmm, so by the looks of it, Captain Planet failed to achieve the legendary status Pixar holds because the A was repulsed by the 113 rather than joining it and combining their powers to form cinematic greatness. …Yeowch. I think that may have been badly put together by my standards. Hopefully nobody’s making skin origami from any of my lousy jokes. Also, does anyone remember that Australian series of picture books about the Yowies (perhaps someone like Alchemist, who’s from that area, this ring any bells, Amelia?) which had the kind of green themes as well? Those also had similar monstrous personifications of human activity and ecosystem destruction (they were called Grumpkins) and at least kid me thought those books did it well. Though maybe that was just my foolish, Aristocats-liking child mind. Also, speaking of environmentalism-themed media taking place Down Under, does anyone else remember Tim Currie’s character in Fern Gully? These Captain Planet villains remind me of him a bit as well.

    All right, I’m against atomic weaponry as much as the next guy, but am I not the only one who really wants to hear someone snap Nukem’s, erm, off-colour line to Verminous at the guy in the medics system that denies them cancer treatment unless they cough up hefty loads of dough? I mean, that just sounds too perfect. In any case, whales are smarter than they get credit for, it’s hard to invent things without thumbs, remember. Also, the ol’ wedding cake dilemma. That joke might be getting a tad stale for a current events jab, but hey, not like a mouse doesn’t mind a bit of stale cake every once in a while. Ok, unhand your epidermis, it’s not meant to be contorted into poultry shapes like that.

    1. Omigosh, I can’t believe someone else remembers Yowies! I never read the books – I wasn’t even aware there were any books – but the chocolates were my LIFE. The Yowie monsters themselves I never cared for much. They were kind of naff-looking and didn’t have much personality as characters (being essentially mascots created to sell plastic and sugar). The great thing about Yowies was that they were like Kinder eggs, with one major difference that made them basically crack to Little Me: the toys were all native animals and came with a little fact sheet about them. I still don’t know why they were discontinued.

      As for cartoons, Blinky Bill was way up there in terms of Green Aesops.

      1. Ha ha, yes, if I remember right, my parents knew a friend from Australia who brought us the series of books which my sister and I got into. I guess it has a bit more context than my knowing what Moomins are, at least.

  18. Hey, no need to get offended about the mutant rat bit, I’m sure Gi was just suspecting Moishe wouldn’t trust the rat due to being an unclean animal. Then again, I doubt trusting a rat is the wisest thing a mouse could do. Considering the size difference, that seems like a pretty good way to end up lunch, often. The M-word was definitely uncalled for, and honestly, I wonder why tthe Duke didn’t just stop the Captain from laniimurdering him by shouting that out when he tried to come close, making him collapse from the racism. Also, loved the throwback to that Renaissance debate. Actually, now I’ve got to wonder, why didn’t the Planeteers think to save everyone by using their powers to make a bunch of giant fridges to hide everyone in to protect them from the nuclear blasts? I mean, they don’t even have to be running to work, it’s completely energy efficient!

    Ahh man, that Abraham line was so painful I literally facepalmed when I read it, then suspected I probably wasn’t the only one. And lo and behold, I was right! I’m starting to sync with Facepalming Alice, should I worry? Or maybe it’s the reverse, Tulgey Wood can do that to you.

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