Saturday, July 5, 2014

CARTOON REVIEW: Captain Planet, "Numbers Game"

Whew! Sorry I was gone for so long, I had nothing to talk about. Now we're going to take our first baby steps into new territory: animation.


You thought this was a games-only blog? Nope!
There's room for cartoons, anime, and movies as well!

Let's begin, shall we?

Why am I getting Kermit the Frog vibes from that mustache?

Once upon a time, there was a rich douche named Ted Turner. He founded TBS, Cartoon Network, and CNN. As the 1980's passed from the world and a new decade took root, ol' Teddy got upset about cartoons being stupid, twenty-minute toy commercials so he hatched a brilliant idea: a cartoon that was just a stupid, twenty-minute Green PSA!

Thus, 1990's Captain Planet and the Planeteers was born!


For the five people living under a rock on the Kamchatka Peninsula, here's the story: Earth keeps getting polluted and the goddess Gaia, originally played by Whoopi (Cushion) Goldberg and later Superman's Margot Kidder, is sick of it so she gives magic rings to five overbearing and overemotional humans teenagers, each ring representing one of the classical elements:

The leader of the team, Kwame, with the ring of earth. Played by LeVar Burton, of Star Trek: TNG fame.
The intro says he's from Africa, but fails to specify which country.

From Russia, Linka, with ring of wind. Played by veteran voice actress Kath Soucie (who would later go on to play Phil and Lil on Rugrats, Sally Acorn and Nicole on Sonic SatAM, and countless more).

Gi, from an undisclosed Far Eastern country, wielding the ring of water. Voiced by Janice Kawane.

Wheeler (played by Joey Dedio), wielder of the ring of fire... and the idiot ball. Why that latter? Because white Americans are SOOOOO 'toopid! Hur hur hur... -_-


From South America (no country revealed), Ma-Ti and the ring of heart... making him the least useful of the team...

...except for this piece of insanity. OOOH! He was also played by Scott Menville (later Robin on Teen Titans).
So we have our team: the Planeteers (or as I'll call them, "the Burger King Teens Club"). Who do they fight? Samples include...

Hoggish Greedly the human pig, played by Ed "Lou Grant and Cosgrove"Asner and his redneck sidekick Rigger.
Duke Nukem, a guy who got "accepted" from Bizarro World because not only did he not do stuff backwards, he didn't have a counterpart on Earth... unless you count this guy.
Dr. Blight (Meg Ryan), a close relative of the Phantom.
Blight's cohort MAL (played by Tim Curry), former host of I'd Buy That For a Dollar!
A human rat called Verminous Skumm (played by Jeff Goldblum).
L to R: Mercenary Argos Bleak (whose nationality is as clear as Kwame, Ma-Ti, and Gi's), corrupt businessman Looten Plunder (sounds like a villain from an anime that got dubbed in the 1960's), and safari-clothes enthusiast Sly Sludge.

The goal of these dudes is to pollute until the planet is nigh-liveable. Why?



The show never tells you. Turner and his staff gave these guys no motivation whatsoever for wanting to dump garbage trucks into the ocean or throw newborn cougars into woodchippers. They just do that kind of stuff because... ketchup!

Well, sometimes it's just for money and power, but that's as complex as it ever gets.

How does the BKTC handle these one-dimensional baddies? They use their magic rings to summon...

...the mixture of Clark Kent and Bobby Drake's DNA.

Seriously, though, Captain Planet proceeds to bust up the villains' operations as long as he doesn't get covered in the trash he's trying to clean up. Spouting puns that would make 4Kids blush all the way.

Its main goal was to tell the world to adopt the Green lifestyle, while making episodes that one must question what the staff was smoking...

Remember the AIDS episode? They had an episode where a boy was diagnosed with HIV and everyone panicked and tried to kill him! Fortunately one little speech from Cap and his coach turned the pliable plebs into cheering throngs!

Stupid? Coming from a show where people actually build beach houses ON the literal beach? Why not?

How about the Nazi episode? Where Hitler got tired of his Charlie Chaplin mustache and could weaken his enemies with a stare of pure hatred.


You read that right. He looks at Cap at one point and weakened him with psychic evil.

Tooncrap has locked horns with Cap's stupider episodes several times in the past (and if you aren't watching his blog, do it!) and this time, I want to make his job slightly easier by taking on an episode. One of the more ridiculous ones (and with a lame moral, to boot!): Numbers Game!

So if petroleum is a no-no, what's this thing run on? Discount soda?

The story opens with the BKTC celebrating the birthday of our Token White Guy aboard their super jet, with a burger instead of a cake! It's funny that the BKTC does this; I read about an episode where the discussion was about not getting ivory jewelry... but I guess the consumption of meat is A-OK!

The team is on their way to Coney Island as a bonus. Soon, Gaia fades in and warns everyone of an eco-emergency that has the plane make a one-eighty and try to stop a mudslide in South America.

Getting there, they combine powers and bring Cap in to stop the mud while they pluck people out of the rain and collapsing hovels. Ultimately, Cap busts up the clouds and rain and everything is hunky-dory! He wishes Wheeler a happy birthday and then leaves.

The BKTC stay in the ruins of the village to help the locals rebuild. Wheeler doesn't understand why they live stacked on top of each other, but his friends tell him that they're living in a major city and people come there to find jobs and raise families... and as a result MUST live in squalor. Yeah, no name given so I can do my own research and call  BS on it, just that it's a "major city" with little wooden huts scattered around. Eh, I guess it's someplace in Venezuela (the fact that Cap conversed with a native in Spanish adds to this).

With this scene we hit a common element: Wheeler's always wrong. Even if he does make a good argument, the show spins it around to make him look ignorant. Why? Because he's the American of the group and "Amewicans is 'toopid"!  

Due to the mudslide, the team can't get to New York in time. Fortunately, there's an amusement park nearby that just so happens to be environmentally-friendly. Yay.

And would you believe this whole place is powered by potatoes?
When we see them at the park, they go to a virtual reality roller-coaster eco-coaster complete with holograms of animals and densely-populated African villages and urban slums (with real smog!) which induce ecological discussions. Hm, I wonder what the Aesop is going to be for this episode? I can't figure it out.

Remember what I said earlier about Wheeler always being in the wrong even if he raises a point? As the eco-coaster rides through the alleys, Wheeler contemplates why people would have too many children if they have no ability to provide for them. Gi immediately asks if he means that only the rich can reproduce. I don't know, Gi, talk to Mr. Turner, he had five kids.

So right after that bit of preaching, Ma-Ti feels the audience hasn't had the message hammered into their skulls enough and wants to go to this presentation on overpopulation. Of course, Wheeler declines, thinking it would be boring and wants to go on the Tunnel of Love with Linka. Linka sides with Ma-Ti and the audience gets lectured anyway. Yawn.

We're treated to a holographic sermon about how First World children consume thirty times more than those in underdeveloped ones despite the greater numb--wait, wait, wait, thirty!?

First World kids consuming more than those in the third? I'll buy that, but how do you get thirty!? I'm guessing it was pulled out some random hippie's butt. While I don't deny that children in developed countries consume more than those in the poorer parts of the world, there's factors like industry that weigh into--

...oh, right. This is Captain Planet. Industry and white people are naturally evil.

After receiving a reading from the gospel of population control, the BKTC gushes about how amazing the one-hologram presentation was and how unfair things are in the world... but Wheeler shares the opinion of the bulk of the people subjected to the episode's content.

Yeah, getting preached to about how you're killing the world really drains the ol' batteries, doesn't it?
Of course, since he was nice enough to allow the audience to suffer through more population anvils, Linka goes on the Tunnel of Love with him. After a little while, the boat reaches a vignette of a wedding when Linka suddenly vanishes.

Surprise! The vignette suddenly becomes Wheeler's own wedding... to Linka! With Kwame as the Best Man and Gaia as the minister! The suddenness of the whole thing forces Token White Guy to faint (kind of weird seeing how much Linka turns him on).

Then we get to meat of the episode...

"Welcome to the crypt! I've got a bone to pick with you!"
We suddenly jump ahead a couple of decades and Wheeler's forty, Linka is settling into the stereotypical babushka role, and they have eight children (and by "eight", I mean "six") with another in the making. 

Something tells me that Token White Guy loves the Horizontal Mambo...

Most of the trees are gone, too.

Reminds me of CNN's viewership. On a good day.
The kids reveal that Wheeler himself cut them down to enlarge the house five-fold.

The blades are green. Sorry, cartoon, I have to deduct twenty points.
So Linka shoves Wheeler off to get groceries (at the mall?) and his kids tag along.

Wheeler pushes the buggy as the Gang of Six keeps putting stuff like toilet paper and diapers in it. Wheeler tells them that the baby isn't born yet, but gets told that they're for three of the children present with him.


Green Pants: "Daddy, I got the toilet paper!"
Blond Boy: "We got disposable diapers, Pap!" (Yes, they NEEDED to clarify that these were disposable.)
Wheeler: "The baby isn't born yet!"
Blond Boy: "No, for Joy, David, and Kath!"


Okay, I can find three options for an explanation:

  1. Wheeler and Linka put off potty training half of their eight six kids.
  2. Wheeler and Linka have gone crazy in regard to water conservation.
  3. The diaper community really came a long way in terms of civil rights.

On that same subject, Green Pants (I guess she was identified as "Kath", but I'm sticking with "Green Pants") keeps trying to tell her father she needs to use the bathroom, but he keeps overruling her. The eventual outcome is what you'd expect (despite the implied diaper usage).

During this time, the one-dimensional villains have scaled back on their evilness and have become scammers and junk hawkers! For instance, Dr. Blight is selling beauty products that slowly kills you (which is funny, seeing as by this point Mary Kay Bergman is voicing her! Doe-ho-ho!) and Duke Nukem is selling nuclear-powered electronics that cause power surges (and come back on via back-up generators).

By the way, Wheeler's family owns a ten-foot TV... but Kwame's is four times that size. Compensating?

Meanwhile, one of the Gang of Six knocks a table over--one of Blight's displays!

It's funny. One of the most stock bad guy phrases is "You're going to pay for this!" Here's Wheeler, literally paying!

Hounded by his kids and driven to near insanity, Wheeler dashes out of the building.

Wheeler and the Gang of Six go home and find old versions of Ma-Ti, Gi, and Kwame there ready to confront him about his inability to stop having children. (I can sympathize, half of them have some really puffy lips that make them look like fish). Wheeler brings up the forty-foot TV, but it gets brushed off because Leader Man only had two kids.

Yeah, we're getting into the episode's infamous moral: if you have more than two children, you're hurting the ecosystem. 

Nice message, Ted, I wonder how many households with three or more kids saw this episode and felt guilty about being born. Personally, I say that you can have as many children as you want, but keep reproduction under control -- know when to quit. It is possible to care for three or more children if you have the means to do so, but don't have so many that you can't raise them all properly. There's another option if you have to many and care for them all: adoption. Let someone else give a little love and care to your biological offspring; it's a noble move and it won't hurt the wallet (especially in this day and age).

Then Gaia shows up and, in spite of being billions of years old already, aged in only a couple of decades (I'm going to assume she used Dr. Blight's products). She has a senior moment where she yammers about "too many people" to clean up after... we've been hit with that sledge a million times in the past eighteen minutes, so what's one more? -_-

See that factory that's making the sea green in the picture above? Yeah, it's going to blow up. That means it's time to call up Cap! The Burger King Old Farts Club assemble and unite their powers (one minor note, the ring of heart farts when it's used... it's like the staff knew its power sucked!).

Oh, Future Cap doesn't have a pot belly? I am disappoint. =(

Naturally, Cap has become a grouch. Things have become so crappy that Token White Guy's the only one cheering him on. Needless to say, the plant explodes, Cap gets covered in ooze, everyone blames the failure on Wheeler and Linka having too many kids (What, did they play with the equipment in the factory?), and Cap demands someone to wash him off. Linka hurls water at him and splashes Wheeler in the process.

...and it was AAAALLL a dream!
Yeah, this was the Season Five finale. For me, it would have been more appealing to see the over-the-hill BKTC's bickering and apathy devolve into fisticuffs... but this is a blase, twenty-minute Green PSA aimed at six-year-olds. One more season would follow due to Turner's obsession with the cartoon.

Anyway, now Wheeler's not hitting on Linka any longer but has come around to Turner's the rest of the BKTC's stance: he doesn't want more than two kids. Well, if they have more lip collagen than the male lead in Titanic: The Legend Goes On, I won't blame him.

This episode was made of stupid. Now for my final--

Aw man, I forgot about these! At the end of every episode, Turner and company throw in not one, but two PSAs. The intent is good and all: don't consume so much, recycle, blah, blah, blah. Which is fine and dandy... if every other episode wasn't already dedicated to that kind of stuff! Say what you will about the "Sailor Says" segments from the old dubs of Sailor Moon Classic and Sailor Moon R, but at least the episodes that preceded them weren't half-hour sermons that rendered them pointless.

...did I just say a positive about "Sailor Says"!? o_O


A dumb show gets an especially stupid episode! Sure, the dream had weirdness like the diaper divisions of Proctor and Gamble and Kimberly-Clark yelling "Go big or go home!" and that tube TVs will make a comeback and be theater-sized... but those are the least of the episodes' problems. The "moral" of this episode is a piece of crap and utterly insulting to families with a third or fourth child -- they're evil for simply existing? If common sense solutions have to be overruled for the sake of making those with it look like uncaring idiots, screw yourselves. 

But I will give the episode this: it made the middle-aged cast of Mobile Suit Gundam looked dignified:

Of course, this episode wasn't entirely random in conception -- Turner's a population control advocate, so it's not surprising that he'd attempt the same plot three times over the course of the show's lifespan. Tooncrap covered one such episode in the past, and the episode there clearly showed that the problems were more the result of an out-of-control government rather than populace; what a history of competence! The solution would have been as simple as "don't go overboard with having more babies than you can handle", right? Nope! This is Captain Planet. Logic flies like a cinder block here.

Any way you slice it, this episode was a typical, ridiculous entry in a ludicrous early-90's show loved by the Suits and loathed by everyone who wasn't from Australia. Let's face it: most kids didn't really give a hoot about this show; I only recall this thing because Cartoon Network whored it out all the time back in my childhood and I only had it tuned to that station because nothing on Nickelodeon appealed to me in that time-slot. If it weren't the pet project of Ted Turner, it probably wouldn't have gotten past Season One; it lasted six. Of course, since nobody cared about the show the crew was able to slip phrases like "unprotected sex" into the AIDS episode when it would have caused a ton of strong words from the BS&P at the time. But I guess Turner said "Screw the rules, I have money" long before LittleKuriboh made the phrase famous. Today, the sane look back on this show and laugh at how corny it is. It's not like Turner would try to make this trainwreck relevant again by changing the theme song to a crappy rap number sung by a pair of nasally-sounding lips! old guys trying to make your stuff look hip...
I'll return when I find a new subject.

This is DLAbaoaqu. Full-on!

Captain Planet is owned by Time Warner.
Mobile Suit Gundam is owned by Sunrise and Yoshiyuki Tomino.


  1. I read this to my bro, and we both enjoyed it. He especially felt the moral was crap.

  2. Is it wrong that I want to say, in the villians list, you forgot one? You forgot Zarm, played by Sting, who's mane thing is to cause devestation, murder, and genocide because he is Gaia's rival.