Captain Planet: A Hero For Earth
I have been wanting to rewatch Captain Planet and the Planeteers for a while. After seeing enthusiasm for the show in comments and getting messages from people about the show after my last entry on super heroes, I decided I am going to recap this entire show like I’m doing the Goosebumps book series. It allows me to explore something else I love and have strong nostalgic feelings about, and it will hopefully fill out SHARKBOY with some more, diverse content. I like exploring this stuff I used to love as a kid. I feel like I’m reliving my childhood through these series on this site, and it makes me happy to see that some of you are, too.
This series was my absolute favorite cartoon growing up. Some of my earliest TV memories are of this show. It had an interesting premise, it was very well made, and it had an important message that resonated with kids from all over the world: don’t litter, turn the water off while you brush your teeth, walk or ride a bike rather than drive (cause we were driving when we watched this as kids)… Basically, do your part to save the world; every little action helps. Despite its greatness, it was at times cringe-worthy, unintentionally funny, and ridiculous. You’ll see. I still love it.
A Hero For Earth is the very first episode of Captain Planet, and it is a strong pilot that is hard to fault.
Before I dive into it, I feel the need to mention here, like I do on all my recaps, that spoilers are everywhere. I assume if you’re reading this you have either watched the show or aren’t bothered by spoilers. You’ve been warned.
Hoggish Greedly and his sidekick Rigger are carelessly drilling for oil in the ocean. They have left a plethora of natural travesties in their wake like smashed trees, a terrified bunny who appears in the opening credits and isn’t seen again (I hope he’s alright!), and a gigantic oil spill that is polluting not only the water, but land and animals. Greedly’s drilling wakens Gaia, the spirit of Earth, from her hundred-year slumber. Gaia is voiced by none other than acting legend, Whoopi Goldberg. I love how many big names are in this animated series.
Whoopi, I mean Gaia, looks upon her viewing globe and and sees that humans have done a number on the earth while she was asleep. Forests have been demolished, the atmosphere is polluted with smog, and pollution is killing the earth. She has decided that the time has come for the
one ring five rings to rule them all and teenagers with attitude. (+5 points if you can guess my TWO references here!)
Gaia summons five kids from around the globe, which begs the questions: where are their parents? How are their parents cool with them disappearing like they do? We see each of the five find his or her special elemental ring. Kwame from Africa finds his ring in the ground. Gi from Asia is swimming with a freakin dolphin like it aint no big thing and exchanges a Hula Hoop for her ring. I’m being serious. Gi tosses a Hula Hoop into the ocean, and her dolphin friend tosses her back a ring. I think Gi got the better deal in this trade. Wheeler from North America interferes with a freakin chain fight and is tossed his ring from a trashcan fire. First of all, gross. Maybe the fire killed the germs. Second of all, how is his hand not blistering? Linka from the Soviet Union is on a hill playing a keyboard, when two bird just fly on up to her like she’s Cinderella or something. Linka must have been a Disney Princess in another life. One of the birds has her ring wrapped around its beak. Ma-ti from South America jumps in and saves a monkey from a freakin leopard. Who are these kids?! The monkey hands him his ring.
As the kids put their rings on their fingers, they disappear and are whisked off Power Rangers-style to Gaia’s lair. There, she tells them she has recruited them to save the dying Earth. With their rings, they each control something special from the Earth, and can use their powers to plant trees, or you know, obliterate bad guys. Linka is the holder of the Wind Ring. She can summon mini tornadoes, and for the record, her ring makes the coolest sound. Swoosh-swoosh-swoosh. Kwame has the Earth Ring. He can split open the ground, create tiny earthquakes, and make small land masses appear. Wheeler, who apparently doesn’t remember that a fire literally tossed him his ring tries to guess his power and calls out several elements before getting to Fire and creating a small blaze. Never fear, Gi is here. Gi holds the Water Ring and can control water. She calls water in from outside to put out Wheeler’s fire, and soaks all the Planeteers in the process.
I’ve always been a little annoyed with Gi’s power. Kwame, Linka, and Wheeler can summon their elements from anywhere; it’s like their rings create Earth, Wind, and Fire (not the band). Gi can only control water. Water has to be around for her to be able to use her ring. I vaguely remember a couple episodes where Gi couldn’t use her power because Water wasn’t around. It just seems like she got a crappy deal.
No one got a crappier deal than Ma-ti, however. He already knows what his power is, and Gaia tells the team that Ma-ti’s power is the greatest power of all. He holds the Heart Ring. I’m pretty sure Gaia is just making him feel better, because I’ve seen the Heart Ring in action, and it’s pretty lame. With it, he can talk to and calm animals, summon Gaia’s ghostly face to communicate with, and communicate with the other Planeteers via thoughtspeak.
Kwame wants to practice with their rings, but Gaia says there is no time. She wants the Planeteers to stop Hoggish Greedly right away. The Planeteers are next seen in the Geo-Cruiser, a bright yellow flying machine that is not as cool as the X-Men’s Blackbird. It is piloted by Gi, who is somehow fit to operate it because she has a driver’s license. Being able to legally drive a car makes her able to fly a jet in what world, exactly?
Ma-ti shows off his crappy Heart Ring by summoning Gaia, who tells the Planeteers that if they find themselves in a bind, to put their powers together and see what happens. Why the suspense, Gaia?
Greedly sees the Planeteers approaching and sprays the Geo-Cruiser with oil, jamming its gears. The Planeteers go through several “We’re going to die!” reactions as the jet falls before they remember that they have magic rings. Wheeler burns off the door with the Fire Ring, Linka summons a tornado to hold up the Geo-Cruiser, and Kwame creates a landmass in the middle of the ocean for them to land. It’s not explained in this episode, but Linka’s Wind power wears her out. While controlling the tornado, she grows weak. This is worth noting. We’ll see if it happens in later episodes.
Wheeler gets out of the Geo-Cruiser and starts yelling threats at Hoggish Greedly with a megaphone. Wheeler is a bad-ass who doesn’t give a crap.
Greedly points his oil hose at a land full of animals and says if the Planeteers don’t leave him alone, he will take out their animal friends.
The Planeteers feel like there is nothing further they can do on their own. Kwame remembers Gaia’s instruction, and for the first time says his best and most over-used line:
Let our powers combine.
This line is like the Power Rangers’ “It’s morphing time!”
The kids point their rings toward each other and yell out their powers thusly: Earth! Fire! Wind! Water! Heart! In later episodes, they will point their rings toward the sky. This first episode is kind of weird.
A blue guy with a green mullet comes busting out of the ground and flies to the sky.
By your powers combined, I am Captain Planet!
Did they just summon a demon? The kids get excited and yell, “Go Planet!” This is weird to me, because if I were in one of their shoes, I’d yell, “Who the heck are you?” and be thoroughly freaked out. I mean, Gaia didn’t prepare them for this, having only told them to see what happens. I am surprised that no bladders were released in the summoning of Captain Planet.
At least Greedly and Rigger are freaked out. They start to pull their machine away, breaking the pipe feeding oil into their machine and pouring oil into the ocean.
Captain Planet takes this time to put the Planeteers to work. He lets them know that when he is summoned, because he is all of their powers combined, they no longer have their powers. Makes sense to me. He commands the kids to clean up the animals while he takes care of the oil spill and Greedly. Let’s keep in mind that these kids are not slaves, and they are not being paid for their work. Captain Planet could have at least asked the Planeteers to clean up the animals. Please and thank you go a long way, Captain P.
Captain Planet’s first order of business is to take care of the oil spill. He sucks all the oil back into the ground and seals the broken pipe pouring oil into the ocean by slamming a rock down on it. That should last. He then goes after Greedly and Rigger. He throws Rigger into a trashcan, and then smashes through Greedly’s machine to get to Greedly. Greedly pours toxic waste on Captain Planet which causes him to fall to the ground outside, his strength leaving him. Gi considers using her ring to spray water on Captain Planet to clean him up, but remembers that her power is gone. Linka’s jacket has to suffice. Linka and Gi scoop up water in the jacket and pour it on Captain Planet. The water and sunlight rejuvenate Captain Planet, and he actually thanks the Planeteers for helping him. I’m surprised considering how he threw orders out at them earlier.
Captain Planet goes on to destroy Greedly’s machine, and in the process, Greedly escapes. Greedly promises he’ll be back.
Captain Planet tells the Planeteers that his work here is done, but their work is just beginning. Sigh, here we go again. Captain Planet goes off home, wherever home is, while the Planeteers use their rings to clean up the animals. Wheeler asks the question I’ve been thinking all episode: why do they have to clean up all the mess when they don’t even get paid? Linka explains that some rewards are greater than money. I get it, and I understand them wanting to help, but like I wrote above, they can be asked. They can be treated better.
Be a Planeteer
At the end of each episode, Captain Planet and the Planeteers tell viewers how they can be Planeteers and better the world. This episode focuses on saving energy and resources. Save gas by carpooling, riding a bike, or walking. Turn off lights in your house when you don’t need them. Don’t be a Greedly!
The Eco-nemesis of this episode is Greedly and his sidekick Rigger. Gaia blames the humans for Greedly’s drilling, so even though he looks like a pig, I think viewers can assume he is human. I know giving a pig human qualities is called anthropomorphism. What do you call the opposite? Anyone know?
Anyway, Greedly’s pig-like qualities like greed and carelessness are likely why he is depicted as a pig or hog.
Rigger is a human, but unfortunately we don’t know anything about him from this episode other than that he is Greedly’s henchman. Maybe he will be fleshed out later.
MVP (Most Valuable Planeteer)
Gi, hands down, steals the show this episode. She swims with a freakin dolphin, she pilots the Geo-Cruiser, and she puts out Wheeler’s fires. She and Linka are also the ones who run to the ocean to gather water to pour on Captain Planet while the others just kind of stand around. Ma-ti gives her a little bit of a run for her money simply by taking on a freakin leopard, and Linka deserves an honorable mention for having Disney Princess qualities and using her jacket to gather water, but Gi takes the award this episode.
Water go, girl.
Like I wrote above, this is a solid, if not strong, pilot episode. I like that they featured Greedly in the first episode. The show has better and more interesting villains, but this episode was rightly about introducing Gaia, Captain Planet, and the Planeteers. Greedly isn’t necessarily a bad villain, but he’s not as complex as some of the others, and is simply evil by being greedy. His physical appearance gives way to his personality, like I wrote above, so a ton of time didn’t have to be spent on him, and we got to see more of the Planeteers.
I dug it.
Since this is the very first episode and the Planeteers get their powers, I’m curious which power you think is especially awesome. Vote below! Feel free to sound off in comments.