Saturday, April 09, 2011

Honourable Mention: Captain Planet and the Planeteers: the Energy Vampire

The energy vampire is an odd concept within the vampire genre, given the general view of the vampire being a bloodsucker. Certainly there have been energy vampires appearing within genre literature since the 19th Century and even some blood-drinking vampires are actually energy vampires – blood being the conduit through which they drain life-energy.

In this case the ‘vampire’ literally devoured electrical energy – making it perhaps a step removed from the standard energy vampire. Hence the honourable mention.

Captain Planet and the Planeteers was an eco-orientated edutainment show that preached. I mean it really did ram the message home with an evangelical zealotry. The episodes often had content related codas with overtly preachy messages. This 1994 one had a message about energy efficiency but then a second espousal about drug-dealers and people who fight being pollutants of the urban environment. Of course, the messages were positive but I hate being preached at, it makes me feel all contrary and, in this case, made me want to switch every light in the house on just to honk off the Captain and his teen cohorts!

making a monster from a monster
The show followed the five planeteers, chosen by Gaia, and given rings that controlled one of the five classical elements each. The names of the elements were changed, for instance spirit became heart, in case anyone realised it was all a bit pagan. Combined they can summon Captain Planet. This episode begins with Dr Blight (Mary Kay Bergman) doing a Frankensteinian procedure on Duke Nukem (Maurice LaMarche) to make him dependant on electricity rather than nuclear power.

sucking the Captain's energy
This turns him into an energy vampire and he feeds off electrical power sources. The idea is that he will drain Captain Planet of his energy and they go to Canada, where the planeteers are white water rafting and Ma-Ti, the holder of the heart ring, is receiving messages from the animal spirits. Long story short, Nukem drains Captain Planet, who recharges and then the planeteers release him again. They get the world to stop using electricity, so Nukem is attracted to the over-surging grid and then dump him in water – which seems to reverse his condition.

King Kong-esque
The episode is genre referential. As well as the energy vampire, Nukem resembles Frankenstein’s Monster due to his neck bolts and climbs a tower just like King Kong. The whole thing, however, was just too damn preachy… messages can be better communicated through subtlety I feel.

At the time of writing the episode doesn’t have an individual imdb page but the series page is here.

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