Thursday, August 25, 2011

Captain Planet and the Planeteers - Tree of Life

Since I've decided recently that I hate both my eyes and the people following this, I'm going to watch another episode of Captain Planet.

Well okay, the real reason is that I realize that the last episode I did just lacked that Captain Planet spirit to it. Oh, sure, it had deforestation (Ted Turner's favorite thing to cry about) and some jerkoff who loves the dying coughs of all the animals he runs over with his giant bulldozer of evil, but mostly it was about Skumm and his sick little rat fetish than anything pollution-themed.

I think the main problem was that it had Verminous Skumm. Sir Skumm always got the short end of the stick when it came to episodes. It's like the writers knew that crime and disease are in that grey area of "Is it really an environmental issue?" so he ended up getting weird episodes like an episode where he steals an artifact from a museum (because the theft of archaeological finds is exactly what I picture when I think Captain Planet) or that really embarrassing AIDS episode where Skumm is kind of a dick to this one HIV-positive kid for no reason.

So just to be fair, I'm covering a Captain Planet that's more in your face with its environmentalism. For starters, this episode has Dr. Blight in it, and man does she love the smell and feel of freshly cut wood from a rare, endangered forest. She's also voiced by Meg Ryan, which means that there are gentlemen (and the occasional lady, I won't discriminate) who watched this episode and now have the deep, penetrating shame that is being turned on by a Captain Planet cartoon.

Should you decide to stick around, this is the episode that James Cameron watched and decided "Hey, you know what this needs? Cat people from outer space!". This is...

Tree of Life

Keep an eye out for the R-rated gritty reimagining titled Tree of DEATH!
Airdate: November 10, 1990

Availability: On DVD

Like most Captain Planet episodes, this episode opens on beautiful, unspoiled, natural resources, to ease us viewers into that ever-familiar sense of security and to ram us in the face that nature is awesome. I don't even have to explain what happens to these ravishing organic gifts from Mother Earth later on in the episode, but I'll give you a hint. It involves douchebags with chainsaws.

Also indians, because we need to feel bad for stealing their land at age five.
And, since subtle isn't the way Captain Planet rolls, the first dialogue we hear is a Native American elder telling the young, unspoiled children from his tribe the legend of the great Tree of Life and how there was once this tree who was like the Chuck Norris of trees because she survived like floods and molten lava. If this tree could move around, it would've been The Undisputed Lord and Master of Earth a long time ago.

However, despite Awesome Tree filling the world with Awesome, what makes this scene unintentionally hilarious is that the animators didn't know how to draw the little native children in a way that made them look like they were listening to his story. Instead, only one of them looks like they're paying attention, while the other children wear expressions on their faces that vary from "irritated" to "stoned".

That kid in the middle's been eating the wrong mushrooms.
The cartoon decides to waste no time, because the moment the American Indian stops his tale, we hear the loud screaming of a chainsaw, which makes the innocent children, not yet twisted by modern industry and therefore unused to mankind butchering all life, cry and whimper with fright. Hey, cartoon, I don't think the point that trees are good has been crammed down our throats yet. Maybe you should have "Killing trees is wrong!" flashing in big red letters on top of this scene.

If you cut down trees, bland-faced little native children will make nondescript sad faces at you.
So we cut to some trees falling down, some chainsaws tearing ruthlessly into nature's bounty, same old, same old, and...are those seriously robots? Dude! Suddenly my interest is no longer in the negatives. I guess this answers the question as to whether or not robots would be environmentally conscious if they were capable of complex human thought.

Old Indian Guy tells the young children to go to the village, because, well, giant freaking robots appeared out of nowhere. That would be a good cause for alarm. However, instead of running to safety with the little tater tots, Chief Happy Treefriend then decides to make a bold stand against a group of at least seven, chainsaw-wielding robots that are at least two stories tall. Why? Because he was smoking the peace pipe for a bit too long and now feels that he can totally take them all on with his trusty sidekicks Right Fist and Left Fist, that's why.

...I hope he has good life insurance, because from the looks of it, his nature-loving Native American heritage is going to get splattered all over the trunk of that tree.

"Hey, uh, glorious Tree of Life? A little help?"
Before the robots can demonstrate just how efficiently their advanced weaponry can cut through a human sternum, a really nondescript vehicle shaped like a Tonka Truck pulls up and we're introduced to our main villain, Dr. Blight. I remember that when I as a kid, I thought that Dr. Blight was the coolest thing in this show, just because she was a female mad scientist. Sounds like something really trivial, but try to think of as many animated mad scientist women off the top of your head. I'll wait.

Dr. Blight is like Verminous Skumm in that she is way too cool for this show she's unfortunately stuck in. But unlike Skumm, who tries to roll with the crap they feed him in the script, Dr. Blight delivers all of her lines with an absolute contempt for everyone who worked on this show. She knows this show is bad. If she could, she'd march her giant logger robots to the households of every single person who suffered from this show as a kid and apologize.

Also, man, can she color coordinate. I love that her pollution-spewing death robots match what she's wearing. 

Dr. Blight walks up and says "So this is the famous Tree of Life? It's big." in a tone of voice that sounds like she finds all of this cutting down trees to be incredibly boring. And, just to be an asshole, she orders her robots (called Robo Jacks in an homage to Dr. Blight's favorite cereal) to cut down this tree even though she's well aware of how sacred it is to the native culture in this area. Dr. Blight spits on your religion, Native Americans! It's your fault you're not white!

Meanwhile, Old Man Indian decides to stop the robots by...standing in front of the tree, holding his arms out, and telling Blight that she can't harm the Tree of Life. Okay. I guess he figures that Dr. Blight's Robo Jacks follow Issac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, but that still doesn't explain why everybody in cartoons think they can just stop the evil villains by saying "You can't do this!", like they're honestly going to listen to reason.

But then, a shocking development occurs in the plot! It turns out Dr. Blight's not alone, as a Native American in a business suit steps down from her oversized preschool toy. This man, who I can assume is tapping that fine piece of science, is the son of this tree-loving spiritual man (by the way, don't anticipate a name for the old man; the credits list him as "Old Indian Man") and he's totally a-okay with the destruction of his homeland. See, unlike his father, he doesn't believe in silly superstition and he wants to help Dr. Sexypants because she offered a great deal of money to cut it down. Wow. Subtle.

Also, where does Dr. Blight even get the money? She spends most of her time ruining the environment for funsies. I highly doubt a government would want to give funding to a woman who once tried to sell an atomic bomb to Hitler. I'm not exaggerating either; this totally happened in another episode.

"Dad, stop being a stereotype in front of my boss. It's embarrassing."
Dr. Blight doesn't help her situation at all by saying that the reason she even wants to cut the Tree of Life down is not because of scientific research and development (which is her usual excuse, because science is evil), but because she "collects big things". That's it. In other words, she's totally cutting that tree down for no reason other than to be a jerk. Definitely a Captain Planet villain alright.

Also, just so we're on the same page, Dr. Blight is a collector of giant shafts of wood and she likes 'em big. At least now we know what she looks for in a man.

I bet she gave this very same excuse to Sly Sludge and Looten Plunder when they asked her out.
Once again, she orders her robots to cut the tree down, because she's evil, but then the cartoon decides to instantly shatter our Suspension of Disbelief by having the Tree of Life randomly possess supernatural powers. This tree, insulted by this mere mortal and her dippy little toys, actually glows blue, snaps off the robots' chainsaw arms, and heals its wounds right in front of Dr. Blight's face. I'm sure if the Tree of Life had mobile limbs and a mouth, it'd be flipping her the bird and telling her and her robots to suck it.

And then Dr. Blight unleashed Hexus into Ferngully.
This would've been a cool display of magic if Old Indian Guy didn't crap out a groaner of a line afterwards. "You underestimate the power of nature", he tells Dr. Blight, because trees that are immune to chainsaws and bleed blue light are totally natural. The moment our hero hears this, she just shrugs and drives off in her hilarious-looking vehicle. But first, she lets them know that she'll be back. After all, nature has just insulted her, and a girl can't take that lying down. She's got a reputation to uphold.

"Quick! To the Hot Wheels-mobile!"
Since Dr. Blight and Hulk Hogan Tree have been filling the cartoon with way too much unadulterated Win, the cartoon decides to whisk us away to Dork Island without our permission. As we zoom in on highly advanced, green technology that the Planeteers decided they're not going to share with the rest of civilization (hey thanks, assholes), we hear Whoopi Goldburg's voice shouting "To the Crystal Chamber, Planeteers!". You know, even though the entire building is made out of crystal. Which chamber in that place is the specific Crystal Chamber she means?

We learn exactly what forest Dr. Blight is destroying from Lady Gaga Gaia. Apparently our loveable collector of big things is cutting down the redwood forests of California and the Tree of Life is really the Dyerville Giant, the tallest redwood (at that time; it died of natural causes in 1991) in the world.

...okay, stop. The stupid is just too much to bear. Uh, Captain Planet? Want to know why redwoods are California's state tree and why we have several Redwood National and State Parks? Because we have lots of rules and regulations involving the conservation and protection of them, you know, because we've been protecting the trees since the 1920's. You're seriously telling me that Dr. Blight cut down like 50 protected state redwoods and hasn't been gunned down by the US Military yet? This makes that scene where she surrounds the Tree of Life even more implausible, because you can't even light a match near the tallest redwood tree in the world without getting carted off to a high security state prison, let alone surround it with Decepticons armed with deforestation weapons.

In short, Captain Planet really chose the wrong forest to do their deforestation episode on and I feel sorry for the children that worried about the safety of trees safely growing in government-funded reservations.

Yeah, because California absolutely does not give a crap about the trees on their national reserves.
So yeah, if you decide to stick around after the cartoon makes such a logical misstep, Wheeler once again proves how utterly incompetent he is at being a human being by asking "What's so special about some old tree?". Uuuuugh. Kid, you're a freaking Planeteer. You figure it out.

Although, to be fair, at least he's displaying thought and emotion, unlike his two teammates in the back.
But luckily the Goddess of the Earth informs us that apparently this giant redwood holds all the powers of nature. Oh geez. Man, this cartoon's just dropping bomb after bomb of idiocy on us, because that makes no sense either. Not sure why Gaia would store "all the powers of nature" in the tallest lifeform on the planet. That's just waaaay too conspicuous of a hiding place.

Also, if the tree is so powerful, why doesn't Miss Goddess of the Earth just command the tree to turn into the Blight-Eating Tree and solve the problem herself? Dr. Blight's never going to change. Summon some ents on her ass!

Long story short, Gaia is lazy and wants some expendable teenagers to do her dirty work.
Since the cartoon is not going to answer my questions, it chooses to instead cut back to Dr. Blight, who conveniently has a secret mountain lair just several feet away from the deforested land she herself created. Before the audience can wonder how the hell she was able to hollow out a mountain and fill it with highly advanced equipment without any local authorities finding out about it, we find Dr. Blight getting chastised from what looks to be the Wizard of Oz trapped in a computer.

Also, watch how tight the continuity in this show, because this won't be the last time Dr. Blight instantly changes poses the moment the camera changes.

"Not only did you not bring the Tree of Life, but you also keep randomly teleporting!"
What we get next is a very very very disturbing scene where we learn that Dr. Blight gets information from her computer by flirting with it. No, I'm not kidding you, she honest to god treats the artificial intelligence (named MAL, because Ted Turner loves Stanley Kubrick films) like her lover, and she does this by calling the computer "sweetums" and "cutie pie" while lovingly stroking his keyboard and dropping her voice to a seductive purr. Geez, lady, just call technical support if there's a problem. Don't demean yourself.

Yeah, this scene is one of those magical little scenes that just manages to transcend the boundaries of merely being disturbing and instead be downright vomit-inducing. It gets even worse when you stop and think just where that keyboard is in relation to MAL's digitalized head.

Oh, thanks, animators. I really needed to watch this.
The aroused piece of technology, and yes, I'm using that adjective because look at that face he's making, finally analyzes the tree bark, all while giving the kiddies at home some nonsense technobabble in an attempt to sound scientific. For example, according to the dumbass computer, energy quotients have DNA. The good doctor herself totally eats it up anyways and, knowing that he'll get some sugar if he tells her good news, MAL informs Dr. Cybersex that if she were to absorb the power of the tree through its sap, she would be able to take on Captain Planet.

...not sure why she has to cut down the entire tree in order to do that. I guess she just really hates trees.

She knows how to turn on her computer. All she has to do is press the right buttons.
Dr. Blight asks him how she can defeat this God upon Trees, and the computer uses logic and informs her that all she needs to do is build bigger robots, because that will nullify the regenerative properties or some stupid crap like that, I don't know. I also don't know how Dr. Blight was unable to figure this out on her own. Geez, this show sometimes.

Also, this excites our technophilic supervillain so much that she actually kisses MAL's screen, leaving a lipstick mark on her equipment that's worth at least several thousand dollars. I sure hope the other Ecovillains make fun of her for this. If Skumm doesn't bring this up at the next pro-pollution meeting, I'm going to lose all faith in both him and his horrible skin complexion. 

Well now...this is awkward.
After that really disturbing moment, we get a really pointless and long sequence where it shows Dr. Blight building her giant robot and...that's about it. Yeah, I can just assume that she built the huge-as-hell robot without seeing the entire process. I don't need to see a bunch of smaller bots attach the arm and the head and for Dr. Blight to rip off Frankenstein before going "Hmm, I wonder if Dr. Blight listened to MAL and built that giant robot".  

Then again, time spent on robots building bigger robots is time not spent on the Planeteers...
As we leave our robot lair, the cartoon mercilessly slaps us in the face with dweebs. Suddenly, Planeteers on rocks! Unlike Dr. Blight, who needed a complex animated scene to explain a plot device we can just assume happened off-screen, The Planeteers sort of teleport from Hope Island to some nondescript boulders that could really be anywhere from Nevada to Egypt to Narnia. Why do I get the feeling the animators don't even know what a redwood state park actually looks like? They look like they're in a desert location instead of, you know, an actual redwood reserve.

The Planeteers are instructed to stay on the boulders when approaching the Tree of Life because...I don't know why. I'm kind of confused now, actually. Why are they on rocks when there wasn't any boulders in any of the previous shots with the Tree of Life?

"I'm not sure why Gaia dropped us off in Utah and told us to walk to California, but I guess she's the boss..."
Since that scene led nowhere, suddenly, stereotypical Native Americans! We immediately cut to our two Indian friends, Old Indian and Evil Rich Indian. The Elder Native refuses because he just passionately loves his tree homie, and the son tells his dad to move aside and "make way for the future" because apparently the future needs an obscene amount of redwood harvested for timber even though California has plenty of redwood farms.

...what a second, why is Dr. Blight cutting down the other trees? She said that she paid off the Nondescript Richguy Evilnative for one specific tree, and yet she's just letting those other trees get cut down indiscriminately. I know she's an Ecovillain and therefore hates all that is lush and green, save for MAL's pixelated lips, but come on. Plus there's the fact that she's doing this on a redwood reserve, which are big tourist attractions with a lot of people and local authorities...

As you can guess by the amount of questions I've been asking in a short amount of time, this show really is pulling out all the stops in making no sense. It's like it's trying to get me to stop watching.

It's Chief Derp-On-Face!
And then the Planeteers make their grand entrance (in Ma-Ti's case, he doesn't get any animation and just wordlessly teleports into group shots) and say that they're here to protect the Mana Tree. I sure hope they can write the checks their mouths just cashed because five seconds later, a giant robot armed with a comically oversized novelty axe marches onto the screen. I guess Dr. Blight was on a tight budget and couldn't afford any lasers.

I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay.
I sleep all night and I work all day.
How do the Planeteers solve this problem? Well, you know how if they say "Let our powers combine!" and summon Captain Planet? Yeah, they decide not to do that. Instead they figure that doing things like flinging rocks at the robot and, in Wheeler's case, jumping on the giant robot and attacking him with his bare hands (yeah, Wheeler's stupid), they can solve the problem more effectively. Geez, even my cats would know better.

As you can imagine, all their attacks do is make the giant Robo Jack even angrier and, in its madness, it cuts down even more precious redwoods. Good going, Planeteers. I feel safe knowing the world is in your hands.

"Maybe if I dry-hump the robot's left ear, it will stop cutting down trees!"
What happens after that extreme lapse in judgement is an even bigger extreme lapse in judgement for all of the good guys. Even though the Planeteers managed to destroy the giant robot axe in their flailing around and, in Ma-Ti's case (this happens to be a "Ma-Ti is useless" episode), just standing there and contributing absolutely nothing, Chief Yellowjacket orders them to run. You know, even though they have the upper hand. Yeah, let's puss out and flee from the giant natural resource-destroying machine instead of helping!

By the way, since they chose Run instead of Fight, PKMN, or Bag, this allows the Gundam to trap them with cut down redwood logs even though the ground was clear of debris just moments ago. I guess deforestation comes with the perk of being able to magically generate matter out of thin air.

It's also a good thing the Planeteers just stood there and allowed this to happen, because at the rate the robot was throwing his logs, it must've taken him at least an hour to line up his shots and build both prisons.

Geez, forget villainy. Dr. Blight should sell her robots to construction firms across the nation and make billions!
Well, surely now that they're trapped and can't escape from their splinter-infested prisons, they're going to make with the Pagan summoning ritual and call upon the might of skintight underwear, right? Still no, because even though Dr. Blight shows up, mocks them with platitude-filled evil talk, builds a moat around their prisons, and fills the moat with acid, the Planeteers decide that the best way to be helpful is to bite their lips, stand still, and look depressed. I'm sure Gaia is proud of you, kids.

"Good job, Robo Jack! Now fill the moat with acid!"
"Who's the ecovillain here? Also make sure there's no roof so that they can summon Captain Planet."
Okay, here's a fun game. Guess what the Planeteers do when Dr. Blight orders her Robo Jack to cut the tree down. If you guessed "shout 'No, Stop!' and then stand there and watch Dr. Blight achieve victory over nature instead of freaking summoning Captain Planet", then you win!

Yes, my friends, they just honest to god just sit there and make sad faces at the camera while Dr. Blight cuts down and makes off with the Tree of Life. You know, that important thing with all of the powers of nature that must never fall into the wrong hands. Probably would've been a good idea to call upon that mullet-wearing superhero...

So did the Tree of Life just conveniently forget how to heal itself and glow blue?
Oh, and since Dr. Blight is feeling mighty cliche right about now, she decides to randomly double-cross the Chief Whatanassami, all while uttering the classic line "Don't you know Ecovillains always lie?". But if "Ecovillains always lie" is true, then the sentence is a lie, which would in turn mean that it is actually true because it's a lie, but this would mean that it is-%&*hf@--A problem has been detected and Windows has been shut down to prevent damage to your computer.

Whoops, sorry about that. Moving on.

Also, to be fair, he really should pick a better time to discuss business deals.
Oh, and look closely when Sir Suit is dropped into the wood prison. He's lands on hard unforgiving ground, but thanks to the placement of both Linka and Chief Talks-In-Cliches, it looks like he's just...floating there. Don't you love it when animators just lay the cel of a character on top of other characters regardless of how it doesn't make any sense spatially?

It's like one of those optical illusion puzzles, only with more environmentalism.
We then watch Dr. Blight bid farewell to those meddling kids, and she turns to the camera, smiles, and says a winner of a line. She declares that she "has sap to tap" without any trace of irony. Welcome to the 90's, where female villains can collect giant shafts of wood, tap their sap, and not get censored by the networks for being too vulgar.

She's going to tap the largest, thickest shaft of wood in the world for its sap.
After all of this happens, after all of that destruction and pure evil, Kwame declares that now's the time for Captain Planet. Noooo, the time for Captain Planet was like twenty minutes ago when that giant tree-killing robot showed up! To make this even more like a kick to the Planeteers' collective balls, it turns out the pollution being emitted from the moat is disabling their rings, making them unable to summon the sparkly flying blue man. Yeah, that's one hell of a design flaw there, Gaia. I guess this episode's moral is not "deforestation is Satan" like I thought it was, but rather "Don't procrastinate".

Ha ha, it's funny because they're boned!
Back at Dr. T & A's lair, we find our happy sap tapper boiling the blood of the tree version of Jean-Claude Van Damme. It's funny how that tree survived the entire earth forming, molten lava, and giant maelstroms and yet some woman with a giant robot takes him right down. Also, considering the amount of blood in her bubbling witch cauldron of wickedness, that redwood is most assuredly dead and most definitely can't be restored with anything short of a contrived plot device.

And then she dumps it in the sewers on top of four baby turtles and a homeless Japanese man.
And, because this is apparently more effective than drinking it or injecting it, she scoops up the blood and tears of nature's bounty and stores it in a perfume bottle. Hey, a girl can't look her best until she smells like the tears of slaughtered wildlife.

By the way, look at how much perfume Dr. Blight squirts on herself. If that's the normal dose of perfume she uses, then I feel bad for those other ecovillains. I bet Hoggish Greedly has to regularly excuse himself from those anti-Captain Planet meetings to take a spritz from his inhaler after sitting next to that foul cloud of beauty products.

Yeah, being able to breathe is for pussies!
After that, we get one of the most ridiculous scenes ever put in a Captain Planet cartoon. After Dr. Blight marinates herself in tree juice, she glows red and starts to fly around the room, all while bending expensive metal alloy parts and blowing massive holes in her own million-dollar equipment. I guess the moment you get superpowers, you're naturally inclined to cause property damage.

"Whoo! Destroying my own personal belongings is fun!"
The computer asks her what she's going to do with her superpowers besides destroying her own stuff, which causes Dr. Blight to go Super Saiyan and shout that she's going crush Captain Planet! Ah, you gotta love how the writers just slather the cliches onto this script like barbecue sauce over fattening chicken wings.

Also, I have to point this out somewhere, but Dr. Blight has her own special way of laughing. She'll cackle like any normal supervillain, but then end it with a satisfied girly "Ahhh..." like laughing is her way of burning off tension. I say this now because she does this during this scene, which rockets the cheese level from Dangerously Cheesy to Critical Cheese Mass. Even Street Sharks would find this embarrassing, and they coined the word "Jawsome". 

MAL, what does the scouter say about her power level?
Back at the Prisons of Fail, the Planeteers are griping about how much they suck until Dr. Blight decides to abandon all traces of subtlety by flying down from the heavens and telling the snot-nosed brats that she is the Queen of Evil. Ahahahaha, wow. She also does this while posing like she's being crucified, because hey, if she can blasphemy one religion, she can blasphemy another one. To hell with beliefs.

All this episode is showing me that deforestation will give you the gift of flight.
Instead of killing the Planeteers and ruling the world like a smart person would do, she frees the Planeteers, tells them to call Captain Planet so that they can fight and see who's the strongest, and then turns her back on her enemies and walks away to cut down more trees. Oh honey, no.

Side-effects of Tree of Life perfume include reduced logic and the sudden desire to use stupid villain cliches.
Since the Planeteers know when a villain is dropping the Idiot Ball, they sort of collectively shrug and then finally call on Captain Planet. Oh, good, I thought you idiots were going to just stand there and let the villains win like you were doing for most of the episode!

By the way, I like how utterly casual Captain Planet is in this scene. He just floats down from the sky to his band of plucky teenagers and shoots the breeze like this is a totally normal meeting. They tell him that Dr. Blight is being a bitch and our greased up sparkly hero flies through the air like a mockery of both nature and heterosexual values. Then, the Planeteers remember that Dr. Blight has that magical perfume she's basting herself in, and they decide to follow the flying mullet, because Captain Planet might need their help! Yeah, just like the Tree of Life needed your help earlier, right Planeteers!?

"Wow, you five really crapped things up this time!"
The episode decides it hasn't made the small children watching this feel guilty enough that they're human, so when it cuts to a tree being chopped down, it shows some sad squirrels and a mother eagle with her crushed, mutilated eggs fleeing the destruction. Aww, now I hate my species. Blight orders her robots to keep chopping down trees because that will make Captain Planet show up, and sure enough he does, but when he flies onscreen he makes a very scary face at the doctor like he's going to sexually assault her in the clearing surrounded by redwood stumps and crushed squirrel corpses.

"By your powers combined, I am Captain Creepystare!"
After Captain Planet makes a rape face and destroys Dr. Blight's giant Robo Jack in like three seconds (see, Planeteers? This is why calling the superhero earlier would've been a good idea!), he then whacks the audience in the face with a green moral, using all the subtlety of a falling anvil. "What kind of a twisted mind would want to destroy such irreplaceable forest?" he says, addressing both the evil villain and the people watching. You wretched humans, destroying redwoods even though redwoods aren't being destroyed and they have all these laws protecting them!

Also, Dr. Blight decided to lug around a drum filled with acid for no reason.
Luckily, Dr. Blight has Captain Planet right where she wants him, so she takes another spritz of her nature-infused makeup and...turns into a tree. Yes. Really. Not sure how the hell that was supposed to help her because all it does is make her a bigger target and slow her down so she's unable to hit Captain Planet. It's a good thing she ditches this idea pretty early because it was downright stupid.

"There is no curse in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of men for this treachery!"
And then we have ourselves an action sequence laden in puns while we watch two flying pieces of cheese hit each other with their fists. I would've taken this action sequence a lot more seriously if Captain Planet kept his mouth shut. When Captain Planet turns into roots, he says that he's "the ROOT of her problems", and when she turned into that ent, he told her that she was "going out on a LIMB". All that corn can't be good for his digestive system.

Maybe I'd take this fight more seriously if he wore pants and cut down on the body glitter.
But then Dr. Blight gains the upper hand when she, through a very complicated process involving Captain Planet turning into mobile tree roots and her turning into steam (don't ask), tricks the flying fashion disaster into falling into a barrel of acid. You know, that exact same barrel of acid he was well aware of in an earlier scene and had like five million ways to avoid.

But sure enough, Captain Planet gets polluted, and his embarrassing weakness renders him as weak as a chipmunk buried under a chopped down redwood as he passes out at her feet. Man, way to suck, Captain Planet.

"Eww, icky!"
Dr. Blight, just to rub it in, doesn't just leave her foe helpless and wallowing in a pool of his own shame. Instead, she actually picks him up and comically drags him back to her lair. See, she's out of magic tree extract at the worst possible time (yeah, this happens to me too) and she has to go back to her lab. And, even though she made one huge villain mistake in that she let the Planeteers live, she at least has enough common sense not to leave Captain Planet where the Planeteers can help him.

Also, it starts raining for no reason at all even though all the previous shots showed clear blue skies. The sky can sense drama, apparently.

"Man, wait until I tell the other villains. They're going to be sooooo jealous!"
Oh, and when it rains, it causes a lot of eco damage. We hear this all in a narration by Old Indian Guy too. (what's the time frame of this episode? Did all of this happen within a ten minute period?) Apparently because Dr. Blight cut down all those trees, the trees didn't suck up the water, the water caused a mudslide, and it killed people, destroyed homes, buried crops, and, worst of all, it made a deer sad. It speaks volumes how the cartoon focuses more on this poor wittle ickle innocent fawn struggling in a mud bank and the poor mud-soaked cougars than, say, the wave of mud crashing down on a village full of people.

Mud crushing half a village? Eh. But oh no! That poor badly-drawn deer!
Since the Planeteers are up the creek without a paddle, they decide they might as well make their guest star useful and ask for his Native American tracking skills to help them find Captain Planet! You know, instead of using their elemental rings of massive power and energy to help. Hey, Ma-Ti? Remember when you used your Heart Ring to track down people? Why the hell are you not using it? Would you prefer to just stand on the sidelines and not blink like you've been doing for the first half of the episode?

Also, is it me, or is the idea that a group of people approaching a Native American and asking him to track someone down with "the old ways of tracking" racist?

"Come on, Father! Do a war chant, a rain dance, something!"
Back at Sap Tap Lab, we find Dr. Blight asking Captain Planet to join her because hey, why the hell not? She said most of the cliches in the book already; she might as well just add another one to the pile. Of course Captain Planet refuses, because he's as saintly as he is shiny, so Dr. Blight figures that she'll just kill him in her gas chamber.


Gas chamber? Dr. Blight has a gas chamber!? She's gassing someone to death!? Holy crap, how did that get past the network?

The Native American stereotypes were just insensitive. THIS is just crass!
We cut back to our racist caricature of a Native American (by the way, notice that the cartoon never names what tribe he's from) grabbing a twig and making wide gestures with his hands and saying that "the signs show him" that Captain Planet was dragged into a cave. How embarrassing. Personally, I think all of this was unnecessary, since we see the cave split open and a bunch of tree-cutting robots come out of it. It's not exactly so well-hidden that Chief Stereotype has to commune with nature in order to spot the twenty foot tall machines.

"Coyote and Bear have both told me to follow the giant tire tracks!"
So the Planeteers sneak in, and I will admit, they're as stealthy as a gas-guzzling Hummer running over endangered wildlife because man they're crapping up without a parachute. Even though they're in the villain's hideout and Dr. Blight is souped up on enchanted plant fluids and therefore has the power to punch a hole through their intestinal wall, one of the Planteers shouts "There's Captain Planet!" at the top of her lungs while another Planeteer shouts that "this must be the sap that gives Dr. Blight her powers"! Way to state the obvious while you're going undercover, idiots!

However, despite the fact that it's two other Planeteers that do the shouting, it's Wheeler that ends up waking up MAL. It's like the universe conspires against this red-headed loser and makes sure he's always the one that screws up.

You can apparently dodge lasers by dancing the Safety Dance in midair.
Before MAL can unleash much-needed laser death on the little squirts, one of the Planeteers reprograms him, because apparently the Russian has a Computer Science PH.D. Normally I'd complain but at least Linka's actually being useful, unlike a certain Heart-bearing South American kid in this show's cast.

Oh, so all Native Americans know "the old ways of tracking" and all Russians are secretly
government spies? I see how it is, DIC Entertainment.
When this inexplicable reprogramming happens, MAL's face suddenly changes from the hideous specter of Oz to the hideous specter of a doughy little nerd. He then says in a high-pitched voice "Hi, I'm MAL. I'm a computer. I like games." Apparently this was the way MAL was before Dr. Blight reprogrammed him, but personally, I'm having trouble figuring out if this is supposed to be an improvement. I don't know, maybe I'm creeped out by an artificial intelligence program that likes to imitate the face of a human being and declare that it likes games.

"Hi, I'm MAL, and the Tree of Life being chopped down can only be attributable to human error."
So yeah, they trick MAL into destroying the rest of the magical tree juice, showing that they're at least smart enough to tie up all the plot threads. Not sure why Dr. Blight stored the source of her inhuman power in an easy-to-destroy container, but okay. After that, they rescue Captain Planet from the gas chamber (no seriously, what the hell?) and he flies off to where Dr. Blight is, of course, cutting down more redwoods because screw nature.

The moment she's aware of his shiny blue existence, Dr. Blight immediately makes with the elemental perfume and starts bending the earth itself to her whims. As she makes the heavens themselves cry bitter tears of horror, Dr. Blight starts going off in what sounds like descent into madness speech. "You don't matter, trees don't matter, only I matter!" she shouts while shooting cherry-flavored beams of evil towards Captain Planet's yellow stream of justice. Wow. Sounds like somebody's got issues, although considering that previous scene with the lipstick on the monitor, that kind of goes without saying.

All this scene does is make me crave Skittles.
Dr. Blight knocks Captain Planet into a conveniently placed lake of acid, once again making him pass out. Man, this superhero has the worst luck. You'd think he'd take care of the standing pools of acid before he engages in combat. However, right before Dr. Blight can use her nature powers to make Captain Planet's head explode like the main villain from Scanners, something miraculous and magical happens, something I never expected to happen.

Remember those useless Planeteers, the little morons who let the Tree of Life get cut down right in front of them? Hoping to make up for that, the Planeteers actually do something quite awesome by physically assaulting Dr. Blight and mugging the perfume bottle full of tree sap so that she can't give herself anymore power. That's surprisingly badass considering this show! Good job, dorks!

Considering that they're Planeteers, this is the closest they'll ever get to second base.
However, then the show instantly loses the badassery it just gained by having Captain Planet's powers restored by Wheeler squirting perfume on him. I'm serious. Perfume saves the day. Captain Planet is saved by perfume. Captain Planet is saved by perfume.

...okay, I'm done. There's no way I can top that.

Truly Captain Planet is the manliest hero you've ever laid eyes on!
Okay, I'm not really done, since the episode's almost over. The feminine beauty products are so powerful that they make Captain Planet's muscles grow and bulge out of his skintight leotard (oh geez this show), and Dr. Blight just sort of rolls over and gives up, because she sure doesn't want "Got killed by a mullet-wearing sparkling man who smells like flowers" written on her tombstone.

Captain Planet's flying her to a nice, secluded place where he can kill her
without dorky teens watching it happen.
We cut to later, and we find that Blight and her robots are forced to plant new saplings and...wait. The trees don't get restored? They have to replant new plants to replace the ones that are dead? The redwood state park is no more? That's...kind of a dark, realistic ending from a cartoon involving children of mixed races summoning a construct of the elements to beat up supervillains.

...although I'm using "realistic" loosely, since I'm pretty sure Dr. Blight would have gotten through only one redwood before getting her well-dressed color-coordinated ass carted to prison.

Also, what's stopping her from just poisoning or mutating the saplings?
The business suit-wearing Indian is going on and on about how he learned a great lesson about the forest and Old Indian Man is all happy that the day is saved, but frankly, they're far too happy for people who are still facing a decimated forest. The saplings sure aren't going to prevent mudslides, idiots. The next time it rains, those baby trees are going to slide down the countryside along with everything else and make more sad fawns struggle through mud!

This gets even stupider when Captain Planet actually makes it rain just so he can make a seedling sprout out of the Tree of Life's body. You know, even though there was a big overblown scene about how, without the trees, rain causes mudslides to happen.

...wait, what about the mudslide? Are we conveniently forgetting the village's citizens who lost their lives, their homes, and their livelihood in a giant wall of unforgiving soil? The day isn't saved at all! In fact, life's going to suck for these poor native people! Hey, cartoon, don't play happy music right now, because this is a bad time! People are going to starve to death and the horrific mudslides are only going to keep happening!

Pictured: A real downer of an ending.
So yeah, I can't believe I'm saying this, but basically the episode ends with an entire tribe of Native Americans without any crops or shelter and it plays this up to be a good thing. If you think about it, Dr. Blight won. The forest is still gone and right now those baby trees who haven't yet established a root system into the soil sure aren't replacing the giant trees that were at least fifty years old. There's no more Tree of Life, the "powers of nature" are lost (so where's Gaia storing her power now that the tree is gone?), and California lost most of its redwoods, which are the biggest part of several California ecosystems.

In short, this ending doesn't make me feel good at all.

Hooray! Hundreds of trees got chopped down and the Old Indian Man has no home!
Now that the episode itself is over, it's time for another Planeteer Alert. I'll be really quick about the Planeteer Alert this time, just because it's about the exact same thing as Skumm Lord; recycling. Only this one made even less sense because no one uses redwood for paper; it all goes into lumber production. You know, because it's a valuable, protected, state-regulated tree. Do a little research, writers. I know Wikipedia didn't exist back then, but you can still crack open an encyclopedia or rent a VHS involving a redwood documentary. You have no excuse!

There is one good thing with this Planeteer Alert though, and that's Kwame's hilariously sassy pose he makes when he recycling paper. Just take a good long look at it. I don't think I've ever seen anyone make that pose when they were using a recycle bin, unless if they were heavily under the influence.

Also, what kind of lazy person recycles only one sheet of paper at a time?
"Oh my stars, I simply must recycle this paper!"
After all of that, the episode finally ends and a dark chapter in my life ends with it. I hope to never see another animated redwood ever again.

The Moral of this Cartoon
You can chop down redwoods in California's National and State Parks and totally get away with it, kids! You'll even gain superpowers when you do so!

Final Verdict
Okay, now this is what people picture when they think of Captain Planet.

Unfortunately, that means it's a cheesy, badly-written, poorly researched mess with hamfisted morals.

I would've given the cartoon some merit if it, you know, did some actual research. I think that's the thing that's bugging me the most about this. I just saw a supervillain chop down the tallest redwood in the world and supposedly only five teenagers and their magic spandex-wearing mulletman cared. There are a ton of forests that are in trouble but no, the writers went with redwoods. That's like making an episode where Looten Plunder is gunning down nothing but bald eagles so that he can boil them up and gain superpowers from the resulting elixir. It's like, yeah, that subject you chose was harmed by humans but it's also insanely protected. Don't make us feel bad about being human by showing us wildlife we ARE protecting!

It's really sad that this episode made me want them to cover the rainforest instead, because while everybody and their mother has mentioned the rainforest's decline, at least that's still a problem that's still going on. Redwoods, less so.

Also there's just the fact that the Planeteers were being insanely stupid in this episode and that this episode is saying that Dr. Blight cut down several hundred redwoods and totally got away with it. So all in all, this episode was bad and didn't make me want to save the redwoods (a laughable notion) so much as make me want to punch them. 

Next post is going to be either something good or another Felix the Cat movie post. I need a break from stuff I hate.