Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future

Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future

infobox television
show_name = Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future

caption =
format = Science fiction
camera =
runtime = approx. 22 minutes (per episode)
rating =
creator = Gary Goddard
starring = Tim Dunigan
country = Canada
network =
first_aired = September 1, 1987
last_aired = March 27, 1988
num_episodes = 22 (+3 Cartoons and Compilation TV Movie)
imdb_id = 0092329
tv_com_id =

"Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future" was a syndicated 1987-88 television series that ran for 22 episodes. During each episode there was a segment that included visual and audio material intended for the toys. Viewers could purchase the toys and then play a sort of video game interacting with the television program. Though billed primarily as a children's show, it gained more than its share of adult fans through its serious storyline, elaborate special-effects and combat themed action. [ [ Captain Power Controversy on CNN ] ]

Comic book

The show also spurred a short-lived comic-book of the same name illustrated by Neal Adams with stories by J. Michael Straczynski, who was also the series story editor, writing half the episodes and providing stories or outlines for many more.

General plot

The storyline was set on Earth in the Twenty-Second Century following the Metal Wars, a cybernetic revolt that had resulted in the subjugation of humanity by intelligent machines. Captain Jonathan Power and a small group of guerrilla fighters, called "The Soldiers Of The Future," were fighting the machine forces that dominated this alternate future of Earth.

Criticism and cancellation

"Captain Power" attempted to appeal to both children and adult audiences. Ultimately, this became the show's undoing; it was seen as too violent for children (e.g. toys for shooting at the television, live-action violence), and its less mature aspects, such as the title, drove away adult audiences. Other factors contributing to the show's failure included the higher cost of a live-action show (each episode cost an estimated $1 million to produce) compared to the cheaper production costs of a cartoon, as well as the fact that the gameplay between the show and the toys was extremely poor. Poor timeslot choices also contributed to the show's undoing: it was sold to syndication as opposed to a regular network timeslot, which resulted in some television stations airing it in the 5-6am timeslot on Sunday mornings. The subsequent poor ratings hastened the show's demise. In an article from "Starlog" #128 written by Marc Shapiro with quotes from one of the writers of the show, Larry DiTillio, there are the following statements: [ [ Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future Feature Article ] ]


"But for all those noble sentiments," Captain Power", to the public at large, is perceived as just another excuse to sell toys. It is a notion that rubs story editor Larry DiTillio the wrong way."

"We're not writing stories with the idea of turning each episode of" Captain Power "into a video game," declares DiTillio. But DiTillio, a first season staff writer who became story editor when J. Michael Straczynski ("Starlog "#111) left the position for a similar post with the revived" Twilight Zone, "claimed that ramrodding the script side of" Captain Power "hasn't been easy."

"This show has definitely not made my life easier," chuckles DiTillio. "This is not just another kid's cartoon show. The writing is always to an adult level. There is the interactivity which has been centered mainly in the battle sequences but we aren't in a position of having to write X amount of animation and interactivity into each episode. I want to make it very clear that around here, we're working for the story."

"There is a tone of desperation in DiTillio's voice as he defends the writing integrity of" Captain Power". It's a desperation resulting from dealing with cliché story submissions that have come streaming in amid the confusion about how childlike or adult" Captain Power" is. "People are coming in with the same old stories," DiTillio laments. "I'm getting" Star Trek"," Star Wars" and" Terminator". If I wanted another" Terminator", I would call James Cameron."

[ [ JMSNews ] ] J.Michael Straczynski commented about the show's cancellation and the planned second season.

"Re:" Captain Power" "...Yeah, that's a show that is an example of what to strive for, and how sometimes good intentions can get derailed. We genuinely wanted to come up with a long-term story, and by and large, we succeeded. The problem was the marketing in front of the show, and the merchandising behind the show...we got killed from both sides."

"There's an entire second season of unproduced" CP" scripts, story edited by Larry DiTillio, in which he follows up on the arc that I and others established during the first season. You would have found out what Dread became, what happened to Power's mother, where Eden was (and there would be direct contact), what the secret was in Soaron's programming, and so on."


Each episode began with the following introduction and recap of the storyline:

"Power on." Actor Timothy Dunigan, outfitted in his character's full regalia, would turn to the camera and deliver this line.Then Brad Crandall, a noted voice-over artist, would declaim:

"Captain Power And The Soldiers Of The Future!

"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, (Dunigan) master of the incredible Power Suits, which transform each soldier into a one-man attack force,
"Major Matthew 'Hawk' Masterson, (Peter MacNeill) fighter in the skies,
"Lieutenant Michael 'Tank' Ellis, (Sven Ole Thorsen) ground assault unit,
"Sergeant Robert 'Scout' Baker, (Maurice Dean Wint) 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!"

By the year 2132 advanced robotic soldiers known as Bio-Mechs had replaced human soldiers in the armed forces of the world's nations. The existence of Bio-Mechs meant that wars could be fought without significant loss of human lives, thus transforming the concept of war into a nearly harmless battle between machines. Wars became an everyday event. A group of scientists, led by Dr. Stuart Gordon Power, began working on an advanced supercomputer capable of overriding the control systems employed by the militaries of the world to operate the Bio-Mechs, and stop them, bringing an end to war. This supercomputer, known as OverMind, required an equivalent to human brain patterns to become operational. Dr. Power's closest associate, Dr. Lyman Taggart(David Hemblen), became impatient with the slow pace of the project and hooked himself up to OverMind, using his own brain patterns to bring the supercomputer to operational status.

Both Taggart and OverMind were changed by the experience. Taggart became obsessed with the precision and "perfection" of machines, and convinced himself that the next step in human evolution involved the merging of human consciousness in perfect mechanical bodies. OverMind became sentient, and shared Taggart's beliefs. Using OverMind to take control of Bio-Mech armies throughout the world, Taggart launched a crusade to bring his vision to life. In mere months, the world was devastated by the Metal Wars, an apocalyptic conflict between Taggart's machine legions and the rest of humanity.

Desperate, the world governments turned to Dr. Power to find a way to stop Taggart. He developed the "Power Suits," exoskeletal suits of armor coupled with advanced weapons. But before testing this new weapon, Dr. Power apparently died trying to rescue his son Jonathan from Taggart. Taggart himself was severely wounded, and OverMind "repaired" him by transforming Taggart into a cyborg. Discarding his previous identity, Dr. Lyman Taggart became Lord Dread.

By the year 2147, with fifteen years having passed since the beginning of the Metal Wars, humanity was largely annihilated by Lord Dread's forces, and those who survived lived miserable existences in hiding. To bring his ideal, Dread turned to "digitizing" human beings, storing them within OverMind. His armies roamed the world seeking humans to digitize. These Bio-Mech armies were usually led by Bio-Dreads, advanced sentient machines, or by human officers and troopers loyal to Dread, who controlled the world from his headquarters in Volcania, somewhere in North America.

There were still human resistance groups that battled Dread's Bio-Dread Empire. Some were mere bands, and there was at least one major resistance network (the East Coast Resistance). The most famous of these groups was the one known as "The Soldiers Of The Future," led by Dr. Power's son Jonathan.

Holding the rank of Captain, Jonathan Power commanded a group of five soldiers against Dread's forces. His soldiers used the Power Suits developed by Dr. Power, making them much more effective in dealing with the Bio-Mechs.

"Project New Order"

During the first (and only) season of the show there was an ongoing story arc involving "Project New Order"; Lord Dread's plan to eradicate human life and develop his ideal world. This plan consisted of four stages: Styx (the release of a powerful toxin into the human population), Charon (the creation of an army of advanced Bio-Dreads), Icarus (the construction of a massive orbital platform capable of digitizing the population of entire continents at once) and Prometheus (the release of a plasma storm capable of scorching the surface of Earth).

Captain Power's group used a system of teleportation portals both to move quickly around the North American continent and to keep their base's location secret. At the conclusion of the first season Lord Dread broke the codes used to operate this system and sent forces to assault the base. Power and most of his team escaped the facility, but Corporal Jennifer 'Pilot' Chase, former member of the "Bio-Dread Youth", was cornered inside and triggered the self-destruct mechanism manually, killing herself and destroying the forces that had assaulted the base.

J. Michael Straczynski was the writer of the last episode of the series in which Pilot has died. He commented about it revealing that the scene was inspired by an event of his past. [ [ JMS Genie Message on Oct 18 1993 ] ]

"I've never talked about this before -- said I was in a thoughtful mood -- but I've known several people, friends, who've taken their own lives. In one case, I spoke to her just beforehand. Tried, through the phone lines, to reach her one more time, pull her back from the edge. I couldn't. Years pass. Time comes for me to write the last filmed episode of" Power."

"Jennifer Chase is going to die, partly of her injuries, partly of her own volition. Part of my life went into that scene, in the way it was constructed, and what was said. And what was not said, what never had the chance to be said, and thus still burns. I knew that, at the crucial moment of that scene, he couldn't be near her, as I wasn't near my had to be long-distance, hearing but not seeing her, and the terrible pain of arriving too late. I cannot watch that episode without crying. Ever."

Proposed second season

Had the show not ended with the first season, plans for the second season entailed an anguished Captain Power neglecting his duties as the leader of the team and becoming more of a maverick revenge seeker. Major Hawk would have taken on more of a leadership role with the team in Power's absence, while a new female member of the team by the name of "Ranger" was to become Tank's love interest. Also, returning and ultimately joining the team would be Private Chip "TNT" Morrow.

Adult storyline

One of the most interesting aspects of "Captain Power" was the fact that a great majority of the storyline was filled with romance and intrigue, which was made for the adults who watched the show with their children--who more often played with the toy (below). Thus, the story was filled with romantic kisses, sexual innuendo, and occasionally scenes which implied sexual encounters between characters. Mild profanity was also present; "damn" was said on at least one occasion, and just Pilot told Blastaar to "go to hell" in response to his order to surrender. In addition, the violent death of one of the major ongoing characters in the series (detailed above) was also an unusual development for a children's series. The inclusion of a "Bio-Dread Youth," which recruited young survivors to Lord Dread's ideals to further advance his agenda, also paralleled the Nazi regime.

Action figures & interactive game

Captain Power was an attempt to cash in on the interactive television game market by Mattel. Some ships and playsets, when firing at the screen, would interact during various segments of the Saturday morning TV program. Video releases were available as well.
In 1988, a second and slightly more scarce series was released. The Dread Trooper and Dread Commander are still unconfirmed if they were ever released. Pictures of these figures were shown in the Mattel dealer catalog.

The first interactive toy and game for the series was a toy XT-7 jet with a video cassette. There were three tapes in all. "Future Force Training," "Bio-Dread Strike Mission," and "Raid On Volcania." The tapes had openings and closings in live action with the cast of the television show. The actual mission itself was animated and took place in the jet cockpit from the first-person point of view of the pilot/player. Players would hold the toy jet and face the screen. The toy was actually a sort of light gun that responded to signals from the television playing the tape. The more the player fired at appropriate targets on the screen, the more points the toy jet would rack up. The more times the sensor on the toy jet got "hit," the more points the jet would lose. Upon reaching zero points, the cockpit would eject automatically. The XT-7 also could interact with the live action television broadcast in the same manner. Since the "game" was only a VHS tape, the missions played out the same way all the time. Other interactive objects in this series were the "Phantom Stryker" Bio-Dread ship, the "Interlocker Throne" for Lord Dread, which consisted of a stationary tank on a tripod and an optional target viewer that could be taken on and off, and the "Power On" platform which one could plug the Captain Power figure into and whenever the transformation was triggered on screen or the base was fired at by one of the other vehicles, the toy would immediately trigger the "Power On" sequence causing the chest of the figure to glow.

*Future Force Training:As you prepare for your flight training as one of the Soldiers Of The Future, Captain Jonathan Power himself takes you on a simulated flight mission aboard the PowerJet XT-7. This tape was included in some editions of the XT-7.

*Bio-Dread Strike Mission:This is the real thing! Your target is a massive Bio-Dread military industrial complex--which is manufacturing robotic troopers. Corporal Jennifer "Pilot" Chase and Captain Jonathan Power will be flying with you. Human survivors are depending on you!

*Raid On Volcania:Soaron is leading the attack, backed up by hundreds of Interlockers and Phantom Striker jets! Captain Jonathan Power, Major Matthew "Hawk" Masterson, Corporal Jennifer "Pilot" Chase--and you--seem to be hopelessly outnumbered. In desperation, the team targets the battle computers in Volcania.


Season 1

The cast Of "Captain Power And The Soldiers Of The Future"

*Tim Dunigan .... Capt. Jonathan Power
**"Master of the incredible 'Power Suits,' which transform each soldier into a one-man attack force."
*Peter MacNeill .... Maj. Matthew "Hawk" Masterson
**"Fighter in the sky."
*Sven-Ole Thorsen .... Lt. Michael "Tank" Ellis
**"Ground assault unit."
*Maurice Dean Wint .... Sgt. Robert "Scout" Baker
**"Espionage and communications."
*Jessica Steen .... Cpl. Jennifer "Pilot" Chase
**"Tactical systems expert."
*David Hemblen .... Lord Dread/Dr. Lyman Taggart
** Feared ruler of the BioDread Empire
**Once an artificial-intelligence scientist, later the cyborg "ruler" of the Bio-Dread Empire; actually a puppet of OverMind.
*Bruce Gray .... The Mentor/Dr. Stuart Gordon Power
**Once a friend of Lyman Taggart, Dr. Power, Jonathan's father, created the Mentor, the super-computer of the Soldiers Of The Future, so that his son would never be without him; he also created the Power Suits and all the equipment the Soldiers Of The Future used.
*Deryck Hazel .... the voice of Soaron
**The first Bio-Dread created.
*Tedd Dillon .... the voice of OverMind
**The evil super-computer that was the true tyrant of the Bio-Dread Empire.
*John Davies .... the voice of Blastarr
**The Second Bio-Dread created.
*Don Francks .... the voice of Lackki
**A Bio-Dread, but inferior to both Blastarr and Soaron; OverMind's spy on Lord Dread.
*Kelly Bricher .... Overunit Wilson
*Lorne Cossette .... Col. Cypher
*Brad Crandall .... opening titles narrator


External links

* []
* [ Captain Power Virtual Toy Chest]
* [ Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future Show Info and videos]
* [ Welcome to The Power Base] Contains several articles, detailed episode summaries
* [ Captain Power photos]
* [ List of episodes with summaries and credits]

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