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I was very young when this show came out, perhaps 5. I didn't really
understand it then, nor did I take much of an interest in the toys (my
brother and I had two of them, I remember). But a couple years later,
at perhaps age 7, I unearthed the tapes I had and became absolutely
I recently remembered this show and watched it all the way through, and it still hits me like it did so long ago. All of the things that interest me now when it comes to scifi: post-apocalyptic stories, high tech armor, women in lycra and metal chestplates (did I just say that out loud?) all appear in this show.
Many people have theories as to the inspiration for Captain Power. I cannot claim to know what the creators were thinking, but it does bear a striking resemblance to the Japanese "Metal Hero" programs, such as Space Sheriff Gavan. The idea of using a codeword and body language to change into an armored hero was not unfamiliar at the time, at least in Japan. But what makes Captain Power different from the metal hero shows is the seriousness of it. Metal Heroes were always laden with superhero bravado and tongue in cheek plots. Sure, Captain Power had it's share of camp, but it was still miles ahead of the Japanese programs.
I've also heard this show mentioned as an inspiration for Power Rangers. This is not true, as Power Rangers is simply Japanese Sentai shows adapted into new American series. Sentai series have been running since the early 70s, thus predating Captain Power.
In my opinion, Captain Power was crippled from the get-go by the tie-in toys. They were a good idea from a marketing standpoint, but this was not the show to test them on. Perhaps if this show had been marketed (and named) differently, sans-interactive toys, it would have lasted longer. A kids' show is still a kids' show to most people, no matter how well done it is.
This show had its share of television firsts, which of course are always ignored :
As far as I know the first completely CGI characters in a TV series. Sauron and Blastarr looked quite good, with the technology being so young at the time.
The first real "cyberpunk" reference in a TV series, in the episode "Flame Street".
And surely others I cannot recall at the moment.
It also contained a lot of very kid-unfriendly ideas, such as torture, drug use, and the sheer horrors of global war.
What makes the shame of this show's cancellation even greater is the depth of themes that were present. It of course had the very strong "War is hell" message in nearly every episode. These days this is quite common, but at the time it was nearly unheard of. Naturally it also dealt with the power of the human spirit, in the heroes' continued triumphs over Dread's often superior forces. This was also very uncommon at the time. And some specific episodes had some fantastic lessons to teach, such as "Freedom One", which tells of the use of the radio medium as a voice of defiance. Very powerful work for a supposed children's' show.
Watching this, recently, I often find myself forgetting that I am watching what was marketed as a children's' show. Nearly every episode is laden with rather mature material, such as the first episode, where Power's old lover is brought back to bait him, or the final episodes which are laden with suspense and darkness far above kiddie-levels.
To this day it infuriates me that a show with such great creative force behind it, and nearly unlimited potential, met an early demise due to what was essentially studio politics. Reasons given for the cancellation of Captain Power vary, from poor toy sales to parents' groups. Personally I think all these could have been avoided if the show had been properly (in my eyes) marketed to a broader audience. Any fan of sci fi in general would appreciate this show, although it was rather campy at times (that was to be expected). And besides, Pilot was my first crush ever (I doubt I was the only one).
This is truly one of my most favorite shows of all time. Sure it might
been a little cheesy, but it was great. You learn what's happening in the
"Earth 2147. The legacy of the Metal Wars, when man fought machine and machines won. Bio-Dreads. Monstrous creations that hunt down human survivors... and digitize them. Volcania. Center of the Bio-Dread empire, stronghold and fortress of Lord Dread, feared ruler of this new order. But from the fires of the Metal Wars arose a new breed or warrior-born and trained to bring down Lord Dread and his Bio-Dread empire. They were soldiers of the future, mankind's last hope. Their leader, Captain Jonathan Power; master of the incredible powersuits, which transform each soldier into a one-man attack force.
Major Matthew "Hawk" Masterson, fighter in the sky. Lt. Michael "Tank" Ellis, ground assault unit. Sgt. Robert "Scout" Baker, espionage and communications. And Corporal Jennifer "Pilot" Chase, tactical systems expert. Together, they form the most powerful fighting force in Earth's history. Their creed: to protect all life. Their promise: to end Lord Dread's rule. Their name? Captain Power and the Soliders of the Future!"
I loved this show. Sure it was a little intense but when it was on, I was hooked. Jonathan Power was just a great 80's sci-fi hero. Soaron Sky Sentry used to scare the hell out of me when he'd show up and digitize people into pixels. Lord Dread was also very creepy. When I was kid, I had all the toys from Captain Power's fighter jet to Interlocker, and the videos which you could use with the ships. You had to try to see how many enemies you could kill by shooting the flashing 3D-ish flashing areas of enemies. You could also take damage too if enemies were shooting at you on the screen. If you took too much damage, the figure in the cockpit would be ejected! You could also use the ship to shoot at bad guys during the actual show, too.
It's too bad they only got one season out of it. More could have been done with it but I read that since the toys didn't sell that well during Christmas, they pulled the series. It was obviously aimed at kids as it was on Saturday Mornings, but kids may not have liked it because it was too serious or intense for them. I'd like to see it come back. They could probably do some great things and fix it up from the areas is lacked in the first time.
Captain Power & his soldiers of the future may have been saddled with one of the worst titles for a t.v. series, but don't let that fool you. It was one of the most sophisticated sf shows of its time.With terrific scripts,some of which were written by Babylon 5 creator J Michael Straczynski,a wonderful cast, and some cutting edge computer animated special effects,all make this series memorable.While it was a Saturday morning kids show, it managed to be dark & edgey in its atmosphere.The adults acted as such, & there were no stereotypical cute kids,cute animals, or funny sidekicks to distract us from the intriguing plots.In an interview with JMS that I read years ago,he said that he & the other writers decided not to approach this show as being just another Sat morning show for the tiny tots.They were going to write as mature & cool a show as they could & not limit themselves under any labels.The result was one dynamic sf series.What a shame such a fine show was cancelled because the interactive toy associated with the it was not a huge seller.
I loved this show as a kid. Granted it is a bit short (20 mins per
but it was big budget and had some pretty mature themes for a "family"
program (which made it appealing to children and adults).
Great fun even today, though it can be a bit campy at times. Unfortunately the VHS tapes are out of print, but you can trade them with other collector's on ebay (which is where I got some of mine). This was way ahead of its time, and fell out of favor because of stupid controversy (that it was "too violent" and that it somehow forced people to buy more toys.. ). In addition to the show there were "Training Episodes" made exclusively for the interactive home market. These tapes were basically shooting galleries much like the arcade rail shooters (a la "Area 51") featuring mostly animated effects.
It would be awesome (but somewhat unlikely) if the series was released in all its glory on lucious DVD (all 22 episodes, plus the gag-reel, character bios, interviews, and how about the Interactive Ship/Guns as an added bonus?).
The series ended on a rather dark note; a second season was planned but never aired. There was also a short "film" made using some stock footage for effects (since they were low on funds at this time) and supposedly new storyline (I haven't seen it). I have seen a PAL tape up for auction called "Dread's Revenge" that supposedly picks up where the last episode left off, but I don't know if this is any different than the "film" version of Captain Power that was posted on IMDB.
One of the biggest innovations of this tv phenomenon is that you could fire at the screen during the show at various "targets" (on the chests of the bad guys mostly) to score points, and when they fired back, you had to shoot their shots, or else you got hit. Even without the toys, the show rocked. It had humor, tons of action, and great special effects for the time. The show captured the post apocalyptic future very well.
Critics like Ebert gave it high marks. I think if the parent groups would have realized that the show was just a live action video game, no different than dozens of other shows out there (except for that fact that most of the others were all animated). The show was still great even without the toys (though the toys are great icing on the cake), and it often had good moral messages (war is hell, violence should be avoided if a peaceful solution is available, human lives are more important than machines, greed and lust for power leads to suffering, and about working together to solve problems). Finally, the characters were likeable, and the plots were interesting.
While the show owes much to the likes of Terminator, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica, it has influenced other science fiction movies and shows over the years, including Star Trek: the Next Generation (compare Lord Dread to the evil Borg), and RoboCop (does that armor not look familiar?). ; )
Still great after all these years...
Earth. The 22nd Century. The evil Lord Dread has taken over the world, and
with his machine empire seeks to eliminate the last traces of mankind and
remake the world in the image of the machine. The only thing stopping him:
a small resistance of humans, led by. . .Captain Power and the Soldiers of
the Future! A bit intense for Saturday morning, eh?
This was one of the best when I was a kid. Combining bits of "Star Wars," "The Terminator," and "Mad Max." And, unlike most shows from the 80's meant to sell toys, it actually had engrossing plots! It was the first TV series to use computer-generated special effects, and the first to have an interactive toyline. I tell you, science fiction doesn't get better than this.
Captain Power and the soldier of the future was transmitted on Italian t.v. at the end of 80'.I think that this and Visitors was the best series of 80'.In this serial appears for the first time the use of digital special effects for example to create the unforgettable Soaron. The atmosphere is dark, but the plot has a good development. Certainly the actors are not perfect, sometimes seems like they are children who are playing. The best idea was the Power suits, when I was a child I dreamed to have one.This serial didn't have a lot of success in Italy, so it was transmitted just once and I'm still waiting for another. POWER ON
As a child of the 80's, I grew up with all the toy/TV fads. GI Joe and
Transformers were kings, but there were many claimants to the throne.
Captain Power was one. It had the whole package deal, action figures and vehicles, a TV show, video tapes, and even a tie-in magazine.
The show itself was kinda neat, the only live action children's sci-fi show I think there was in the 80's. Now, the effects were hokey, but I recall that the writing and story lines were actually halfway decent (the excellent J. Michael Stracynzki was responsible for the writing). The show ended up on what was presumably to be a cliffhanger, and I remember thinking that the entire episode was very, very dark for a children's show. Unfortunately they never got to resolve that cliffhanger.
The show broke new ground in it's use of CGI, back in the late 80's before it became ubiquitous in movies about 5 or 6 years later. The villain's two major henchmen were entirely CGI creatures.
There were 3 tie-in videotapes which were just a short intro sequence with the main characters at their base before moving along into an animated battle sequence that was interactive with the gun/ships. There wasn't animation for the battles in the show, but presumably they just used cartoons to save money for the tie-in tapes.
I even had a subscription to the tie-in magazine, which was a disaster. It had it's glossy, shiny opening issue which of course talked all about the show and it's world, with a few side-articles about sci-fi type things going on in the real world (the Biosphere II project and the debut of Star Trek: The Next Generation). By the second (bimonthly) issue Captain Power magazine merged with He Man magazine (a very dying franchise at the time) and production quality of the magazine dropped sharply from it's glossy premier. Then with the third issue it was only He Man magazine (with a short note that Captain Power magazine had been discontinued and the remainder of subscriptions would be serviced by He Man). Then for the 4th issue on the subscription He Man magazine folded and gave way to Muppet Magazine, and so on, as it fell between dying and fading children's entertainment franchises.
Unfortunately, the toys were the real let-down. I remember when Captain Power came out, at the same time as the Nintendo Entertainment System was in the US. Among all my friends, the two products were in direct competition. You could have fun being interactive with your TV by shooting it with light guns built as toy planes, or you could have video game cartridges. The toys themselves weren't exceptional either. I might have been spoiled by GI Joe, which had great figures with good sculpting, flexibility and variety. There were only 3 good guys and 3 bad guy figures (nevermind the variety of heroes and villains on TV), and 2 good-guy vehicles and 2 bad-guy vehicles. The interaction with the TV was glitchy at best (often taking hits when nothing on TV was shooting at you), and almost never scoring hits even when you get right up on the TV and hit it directly.
So, it was a decent show that might have had a shot of being successful, but the poor execution of it's tie-in lines doomed the brand.
Wow, this is older than I thought. I tried tracking down this show by
looking up people who were in it, and for some reason I thought Colm
played Hawk Masterson. Anyways, I finally did a search for "project new
order" which was basically the only thing I remember of this show. I
found out that the title was Captain Power.
Anyways, I thought this was a great show, but the ending kind of left you hanging, I mean I remember Power saying "project new order is finished" but the bad-guy and his computer orb were still alive, right? I dunno, it was a weird show, but it was cool.
I watched this TV show in early 90s when it was on TV in Russia for the
only time ( I was 12-13 years old then). And I liked it very much then
though I had no idea about the toys and the reasons why this show
hadn't been continued. In our post-communist country we had no idea
about it and for me it was just a fun to watch something new, something
we'd never seen before. Now I am 30 and I suddenly remembered this
show. Unfortunately I failed to buy an official DVD or Blue-ray issue
in Russia, so I decided to watch it on YouTube. And I was stunned! Now
when I'm not that young I can feel the importance of such things like
friendship, courage, honesty and love. They are so rare things in our
self-help time. And this film gives you all it. Forget about biodreads,
forget about metal wars, forget about blusters. This film tells us that
no matter how circumstances are tough, real friends should always stay
together. And while they are united they are able to deal with the most
difficult problems in this world. And machines and all
nano-technologies that are so popular nowadays will never replace the
basic things that always stay with us. But unfortunately we forget
about them too often. Definitely this show is not for kids. I think the
main problem of this show was that late 80s wasn't the right time for
it. It was certainly too deep and serious for children but I think it
wasn't actual enough for then adults. What else can I say? I can say
that when I watched the last episode I was completely broken. However I
think it was a great ending. Because sometimes we have to lose too much
to understand the importance of the things we have.
Great film! I hope finally I will be able to buy it on DVD or Blue-ray.
This has to have been one of the best cartoons to remember in the 80's not
just because it contained adventure, but for the interactivity that it
The series showed a very harsh looking earth where pretty much every traces of civilization is gone, with the exception of Lord Dread, who wants to rule whats left. But Captain power, is the only thing that can stop him.
It was a pioneer in those days with its computer generated graphics and best of all, of course, the TV Interactive use. Any kid with a Captain power airplane could actually use it to help Captain power fight evil doers on the screen as if it was actually happen.
Captain Power was a first step in using the TV Interactive use with its merchandise, it's still as exciting today as it was in 1987, I wish they bring back this form of TVIneractive.
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