Ah, the 80s: an era of weekday afternoon kiddie shows that were little more than glorified commercials for the toy lines they were based on. Ya had the TransFormers, G.I. Joe, and Masters of the Universe as the decade's biggest toy-shillin' shows. Then there were the mid-level plaything-pushers such as the ThunderCats and MASK. But thanks to it being one of the first forays into the world of interactive programming, Captain Power was a bit different from the rest of the pack of 80s-era action-figure-merchandising machines. With a battery-powered Captain Power gunship (with pilot action figure riding in the cockpit) in hand, the average 80s couch-potato young'un could "fire" the ship's armaments at the enemy Bio-Dread warriors on the TV screen, and the subjects would "fire" back, a "hit" causing the action figure to be ejected from the cockpit of the vessel. Then the kid would re-set his ship and start the fun all over again. And again. And again. And-- well, I think you get the picture. And people wonder why this ambitious pioneering effort in interactive TV was so short-lived...
Anyhoo, on with the review proper. Due to my aversion to live-action weekday afternoon fare back in the day, I never watched Captain Power during its initial run. But after discovering this particular volume sitting in the quarter bin of my fave used-music-and-video store-- and feelin' a bit nostalgic-- I decided to give the power-suited hero and his similarly-clad cohorts a first look. I ended up being treated to such live-action sci-fi kiddie-show staples as the heavily-armored "big guy" of the crew (Sven Thorsen, best known for his two security guard roles in "The Running Man" and "Mallrats", respectively) bustin' though a wall of styrofoam cinderblocks at one point. Then there's the part where one of the good guys quickly ducks enemy crossfire from three o'clock and nine o'clock, resulting in the troopers gettin' downed by each others' fire. Also of note are the high-tech defense/power facility interiors that were merely redressed boiler rooms. And let's not forget the narrator giving the viewer the general backstory during each eppie's opening teaser/credits sequence. And don't get me started on the less-than-convincing and relatively primitive-looking CGI robot villain (Sauron) who flies in to wreak havoc at the climax. Throw in a slightly over-the-top main heavy (Lord Dread) with the head of a Borg and an outfit ganked from Darth Vader's wardrobe, and you end up with a reasonably enjoyable hour of megacheese from the "Me" decade.
Speakin' of backstory: the show is set in a future wasteland following a catastrophic war between humans and machines, and the last remnants of humanity waging a guerilla rebellion against their mechanical Bio-Dread oppressors, with Captain Power and his Soldiers of the Future leading the way. You know, a sort of Terminator/Mad Max deal with a little bit of Tron thrown in for good measure, and given a slight soap-opera touch. The overall look is similar to the Power Rangers shows, only with somewhat lower production values, not-nearly-as-bright colors, and slightly better scripts.
Speakin' of scripts: the most notable name attached to this series is Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski, who acted as the co-writer and story editor. And speakin' even further of scripts, this particular volume had a 'lost-loves-rediscovered' theme to it as Captain Power comes to the rescue of an old flame in the first show, and the latter show featuring aerial ace "Hawk" Masterson searching for and contacting a human resistance cell led by a romantic interest from the past. Sheesh, with all this lovey-dovey junk goin' on, it's little wonder the show didn't hang around too long! I mean, what self-respecting pre-adolescent male (the show's target audience) wants to see such lame things as love and affection?! I know that if I were into the show back in the day and witnessed such mushy nonsense, I would'a fired my interactive toy at the good guys a LOT more than I would at the bad guys!