Top positive review
Captain Power Inspired Sci-Fi of the Future
on May 26, 2012
Before the agents of The Matrix, before the Borg of Star Trek: TNG, there was "Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future"! It was sort of a cross between "The Terminator" and "Star Wars", but was quite versatile, highly influential in Sci-Fi for many years to come. CP only made it only one season, cancelled after mothers' complaints about the intense violent edge in a kids' show got it kicked off Saturday mornings and thus found itself way over budget (at 1 mil per episode (unheard of in its time.) And it was made in Canada!
Back in the 80's, nothing--and I mean nothing--was as cool, as sexy or as violent for a kid as "Captain Power". It was like watching an adult military series with splashy Sci-Fi FX, and an imaginative dark intensity you only saw in some comic books. It was philosophical, political, emotional and action-packed. A team of talented writers (who would go on to write for "Star Trek: TNG" and "Babylon 5") made the stories intriguing and edgy, keeping its audience to the edge of their seats.
A super computer called OverMind has the power to `digitize' humans into bio-mechs: holographic replicants of their former selves who now serve the will of OverMind as agents of the New Order. Most of the world lies in ruins, as the Metal Wars have ended--and the machines won! A small band of warriors give the surviving Resistance hope: Captain Power and his team, equipped with heavy fire power and holographic armor suits that can be generated via a shoulder badge ("power on!") This `power' is maintained by a battery and thus their power can only last for a short time. Added to the fact that their numbers were few, battles were tense because time was always of the essence.
CP was the first live action series to incorporate CGI characters, and it worked because these actually were `digitized' agents! Sauron might look old school today but by 80's standards he was badass! He flew fast and fought hard, and he always shot to either kill or digitize--without mercy or pity. He was the right-hand bio-mech of Lord Dread--the main villain. Dread should be considered among the great enigmatic villains of Sci-Fi History: such as the Terminator, Darth Vader, Kahn Singh and the Borg. He was half man, half machine: symbolic of one who has lost his humanity to the system and seeks to draw all others down that same path.
Ultimately CP is about humanity overcoming an opposing system that smells an awful lot like Fascism. I think, without sounding too extreme, that it's fair to say that many people today could appreciate what a show like this was warning us about. Should humanity work for the system or should the system work for humanity? One erases your humanity (`digitizes' you) and one forces you to `power up' your humanity (such as William Wallace in "Braveheart".) CP was clearly an appeal to the human side, and even if we didn't get it consciously I'm sure Generation Xers got it subconsciously. Many of us have written very similar stories since. CP wasn't the first to talk about this stuff but when it comes to TV nothing was ever as provocative at grabbing our attention to its message.
The show's FX is outdated, but the same could be said of the old "Star Wars" films and many other classic Sci-Fi titles. For 20 bucks it's a great buy and I'd highly recommend it if you're a Sci-Fi adventure fan! When I was a kid you had to buy episodes individually on VHS for the price of a movie! I wanted the whole show, or at least several episodes for that price! I've waited a long, long time, but it's finally here--the complete Captain Power on DVD!!
SPECIAL FEATURES: An in-depth documentary that explores every aspect of the series through interesting interviews with the show's creators, crew and some of the cast. I didn't realize how innovative it was for its time. Today CGI is easy but back in the 80's this was a cutting edge, experimental stuff. "Star Trek: TNG" is one of my all-time favorite shows, yet I always felt that it took a few years to really find its feet. With such imaginative and competitive people at the helm, if CP had been switched to Saturday nights (instead of being cancelled) one can only wonder what this show might have evolved into. This docu really makes you wonder!
Also, "The Legend Begins" adopts CP footage to create a CP movie. I enjoyed it. There is also a "Gallery" with lots of cool art designs. "Season 2: Declassified" is a second in-depth documentary which explores the planned second season of CP. They had plotted several episodes and drew visual concepts for new characters, villains, technologies and story ideas. Also, the disks include six commentaries.