According to an Official Facebook Fan Page that recently popped up for the cult science-fiction television show Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, the criminally underrated (and forgotten) series is finally on track for a DVD release in 2012. And based on a five minute documentary excerpt on the show and bevy of behind the scenes photos posted on the page, it is a good bet the set will include a some hefty special features.
Captain Power is probably most famously remembered as that 80s television series where you could buy a toy light-gun, shoot at the screen during episodes and both receive points and register hits, with the gun going so far as to eject an action-figure when you took too many shots. But the series was far more then an excuse to just sell toys. Created by Gary Goddard in 1987, the show conjured up weekly doses of stellar post-apocalyptic mayhem, reminiscent of the future war sequences of the Terminator films, but stretched over twenty-two episodes, complete with state of the art special effects.
During its run, the series was reported to have cost around $1 million per episode, and it flaunted those production values every chance it could. Episodes were packed with elaborate miniatures, mattes, and costuming, as well as a bevy of explosive pyrotechnics. And due to the toy-gun gimmick, the show couldn't go an episode without at least two laser-filled shootouts!
The show also sported some of the most sophisticated computer generated graphics of its era with two of the programs' major antagonists. The sinister BioDreads, Soran and Blastarr, were among the first fully digital characters to ever appear on television, rendered and animated by the fine Canadian folks at the newly formed Mainframe, and who would later go on to create the CGI classics Reboot and Beast Wars.
Despite all that razzamatazz, there was no scrimping on the writing. With a writing team that included J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5), the series was packed with compelling drama, memorable characters and enough science-fiction techno-slang to satiate the most hardcore cyberpunk aficionados. Saturday-morning cartoon pulp was married with pitch black allegories of World War 2 Nazism, an archetypal good vs. evil narrative was complimented with surprisingly nuanced emotional complexity, and heck, this was also a show that killed off major characters! May I remind you that this was all ostensibly sold as children's entertainment!
Alas, due to the combination of unsatisfactory toy sales and growing parental concerns over both the show's dark content and gun-accessories, and not to mention the sheer expense of the whole extravaganza, the show only lasted one season, ending on a monumental emotional cliffhanger.
But with the confirmation of a DVD release, there has been some fan speculation as to whether the long-awaited second season of Captain Power is also in the works (the second season was written, but never filmed). The usage of the word "return" in both the Facebook Fan Page and a new barebones, but official website, aptly title Captain Power Returns, seem to imply something a bit grander then the DVD release. A reboot perhaps? Be it a new full-fledged show or some kind of web-series akin to the new Mortal Kombat shorts? In any case, some of the musings presented by the creative team interviewed in that aforementioned documentary excerpt definitely tease a hypothetical reboot project, going so far as to evoke sci-fi television success stories like Battlestar Galactica. It may be all puff, but damn if it doesn't excite the CP fanboy in me.
Having completely exposed my Captain Power fandom to you all, I will leave you with the wonderfully hammy expository monologue that opened each and every episode of the show, and that a seven-year old me used to recite from memory on the playground during the show's brief re-run on Canadian TV.
Earth, 2147. The legacy of the Metal Wars, where man fought machines--and machines won. Bio-Dreads: Monstrous creations that hunt down human survivors--and digitize them. Volcania: Center of the Bio-Dread Empire-stronghold and fortress of Lord Dread, feared ruler of this new order. But from the fires of the Metal Wars arose a new breed of warrior, born and trained to bring down Lord Dread and his Bio-Dread Empire. They were Soldiers Of The Future -- mankind's last hope. Their leader, Captain Jonathan Power, master of the incredible Power Suits, which transform each soldier into a one-man attack force, Major Matthew 'Hawk' Masterson, fighter in the skies, Lieutenant Michael 'Tank' Ellis, ground assault unit, Sergeant Robert 'Scout' Baker, espionage and communications, and Corporal Jennifer 'Pilot' Chase, tactical systems expert. Together they form the most powerful fighting force in Earth's history. Their creed: to protect all life. Their promise: to end Lord Dread's rule. Their name: Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future!