The Program was part of a Toy-Tie in created by Mattel. The toys consisted of action figures of all the major characters and Captain Power's and Lord Dread's ships. The Ships had the ability to pick up infra-red signals from glowing panels on enemy characters and thus score hits, as well as receive damage hits from enemy fire. When a players ship sustained enough simulated damage the canopy would fly open ejecting the action figure contained within. There were also crossover animated episodes that were packaged with the electronic fighter ships that had the same ability. Despite the interactivity of the toys the series was too expensive to continue production and with dropping sales of Captain Power toys the series and toys were scrapped.
The live action elements were shot over a six month period between June and December of 1987. Apart from one week of location work, all of the footage was shot in one big old building in western Toronto that used to be a bus depot. Not only were the sets build right there, but also the miniature work. According to the actors, it was unbearably hot during summer (crewmembers had to stand by with buckets of ice and wet towels) and freezing cold in winter.
Capt. Power was the first TV series to integrate live action, CGI and digital effects. ALL digital effects were created in an edit suite prior to digital compositing tools being invented. The entire series and all VFX layers used 1" video tape and a lot of "shoot from the hip" visual effects treatments. When green screens were forgotten on set, manual rotoscoping was done in the online edit suite using a B&W graphics camera, bits of white paper and whiteout to create the necessary masks. Average time for one effect = 3.5 hours.
The "pulses" used to add or delete points from the interactive toys were created by blending various frequency black to white pulsing into backgrounds, clouds, flames, explosions and general mayhem. It was always fun to blend in point gain pulses JUST until something distracting was about to begin, then switch to point loss pulses to suck points back out of the toys. This was all done in the online suite as one of the final layers of the VFX compositing process.
Captain Power attempted to both children and adult audiences, with it's dark, post-apocalyptic storyline showing the aftermath of a nuclear war and featured allegories on topics such as Nazism. Ultimately, however, this became the show's undoing. It was seen as too violent for children because of its toys for shooting at the television and live-action violence.e It's less mature aspect, such as the title, drove away adult audiences. Other factors contributing to the show's failure included the higher cost of a live-action show (each episode cost an estimated $1 million to produce) compared to the cheaper production costs of a cartoon, as well as the fact that gameplay between the show and the toys were extremely poor. Poor transmission time-slot choices also contributed to the show's cancellation. It was sold to syndication as opposed to a regular network time-slot, which resulted in some television stations airing it in the 5-6am timeslot on Sunday mornings. The subsequent poor ratings hastened the show's demise.
The series had a similar story to that of The Terminator (1984) films. In those films, John Connor and the human resistance fought against the Terminator cyborgs that have taken over the world following a nuclear attack.
The abandoned second season was to focus on Captain Power neglecting his duties and the leader of the team and obsessed with killing Dread and Locker, the slicer who had betrayed them and to avenge Pilot's death and Major Hawk would had assumed leadership as Power goes off on his vendetta and Season 2 was to had seen the introduction of new characters Chris "Ranger" O'Connor, a woman who would be Tank's love interest and Private Chip "TNT" Morrow, a soldier had appeared in the first season under the name of Andy Jackson.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Jessica Steen decided that she didn't want to return for the 2nd season and wanted to move on to do other projects and she found negativity in the show's post-apocalyptic setting. A disappointed Gary Goddard opted to have Pilot killed off in the Season 1 finale and to gave Pilot a powerful sendoff - Pilot sacrificing her life by heroically defending the Power Base from Blastarr on Christmas Day in Captain Power: Soldiers of the Future: Retribution (1987).