All opinions are mine, and I'm making no money off of this. Captain Planet and the Planeteers is copyright Turner Program Services and DiC Entertainment.
We're told right off that "Our WORLD is in PERIL!" and that Gaia, Earth Goddess of Life that she is, has chosen 5 Earth children (because children are regularly effective at not being wasteful, but target demographic, and all). True to the 80s' need to be all-inclusive, they're ethnic and multinational.
Then there's a machine rampaging through the forest, and it almost stomps on a little bunny. RUN, BUNNY, RUN! Inside, a morbidly-obese, pig-like red-head and his The Hills Have Eyes-esque hick sidekick are drilling for oil "anywhere they feel like it," including right over Gaia's posh underwater mansion. She can't appear to afford a real bed.
Awakened from a century-long nap, Gaia needs to look at her suspiciously-high-tech television to find out what's wrong with, uhm, herself.
Surprise surprise, humans are being humans and the Earth's dying. She doesn't seem too concerned, merely remarks that "it's time for the rings," like you'd say "it's time to take out the trash." She sounds about as enthused, as well.
Then we're lead through our 5 "very special kids." First is Kwame, planting trees in Africa, where he finds a ring that would start a civil war, if anyone found him with it.
In Asia, Gi is swimming with a dolphin when it gives her a ring.
In North America, at night, Wheeler stops a thug from beating up a guy when the freaking burning trash can beside him explodes, inexplicably causing no damage yet spitting out a ring that doesn't hurt him in the slightest. I bet he's Canadian. They have super powers like that.
Out in Soviat Russia, ring finds Lenka! As she's playing on some high-tech-looking gizmo that may or may not be an electric accordian, two birds fly up, one with a glowing ring in its mouth. As with Kwame, Lenka would probably be killed for her ring.
In South America, Mowgli - I mean, Ma-Ti interrupts the circle of life by saving a baby monkey from a hungry leopard who probably only wants to feed her cubs. By just standing and looking sternly at it. That'll show THAT cat to feed their family! Mowgli - I mean, Ma-Ti picks up the monkey, and instead of biting him and giving him East Nile SARS, the monkey gives him a ring. Worth enough to start a civil war.
I'm starting to think Gaia's just a bitch.
All the kids apparently put their rings on at the same time, and even though Mowgli and Wheeler are the only ones conceivably in the same general daylight zone, Wheeler's the only one putting his on at night.
"These, then," we're told, "are my first Planeteers."
Pardon my asking, but why your "first" Planeteers? Are you thinking of adding more in the future, Ms. Gaia? Say, when civil war and murder have offed the current ones? Civil war and murder caused by sending them magic rings worth more than their countries?
The Planeteers are then magically teleported to Hope Island. Immediately taking charge, Wheeler demands, "Yo, hey lady, you wanna explain what's going on here?!" (Definitely from the US) Gaia smiles benignly, already planning his murder, no doubt.
Everyone speaks English in appropriate accents. Wheeler immediately accosts Lenka, telling her, "Hey, love your accent, babe! You Russian?" whilst winking at her and totally getting all up in her personal space. She tells him, "SOVIET! Please, go away." Rather than taking the hint that no means no, Wheeler professes to "Love it!"
After being told that they each partially control one element, Gaia simply tells each kid what their power is, and they know that by simply saying the name of their element, their powers are activated. Wheeler is, predictably, an ass.
It's worth noting that Mowgli just KNOWS his power is Heart, and that he can hear the thoughts and feel the feelings of his new team-mates, who are suffering no psychological trauma from this at all. Where's anti-mutant legislation when you need it?
They're also told that they'll be a team, now and forever. Of course Gaia wouldn't tell them they might be murdered, now, would she? But there's NO TIME TO PRACTICE, GUYS! Gaia should have woken up from her nap earlier. No, she sends them out immediately fight Hoggish Greedly and Rigger, who has some environmental awareness, at least.
Asian driver licenses apparently come with a "jet plane" subclass, as Gi flies them effortlessly to their destination. Lenka is lamenting the fact that Gaia can't be with them, so Mowgli calls up her giant, disembodied head. Apparently she has to stay on Hope Island and send these five inexperienced kids to do her dirty work.
We also learn that ANY mention of the words "Earth," "Wind," "Fire," "Water," and "Spirit" call up those respective powers. I guess Gi will start having to ask for glasses of agua from now on. And Wheeler will have to start referring to it as a "burning wood place." Does it work in their native languages, I wonder?
When asked about situations they can't handle, Gaia leaves them with the enigmatic "Well, just put your powers together! Then you'll really be surprised!" Way to help these kids plan their missions, Gaia. Amazingly, Wheeler's the only one concerned with Gaia's lack of concern over their wellfare.
Approaching Greedly, Rigger is concerned about the plane. Greedly's reaction? Logically, to spray them with oil. BP? Enron? One of your guys is loose. This oil-encasing of the plane causes it to dive from the sky. Why? How? Can crude oil do that to planes? I don't know, I just watch this stuff.
All is seemingly lost, but then Kwame has an idea! Lenka's wind power! She has Wheeler blow off the side door of the jet, and amazingly, the decompression neither kills anyone nor sucks them out of the plane. A tornado and a new island later, the Planeteers are safe!
Rigger points out the impossibility of the new island showing up, and Greedly impossibly knows the jet is full of kids.
Greedly threatens to oil the animals if he's attacked. They decide to combine their powers for the first time, and BAM! Sailor Moon transformation sequence!
No, just kidding, Grand Admiral Thrawn shows up. I'm serious. This guy's Grand Admiral Thrawn. LOOK AT HIM.
I need me some hot blue lovin'.
Grand Admiral Thrawn - I mean, Captain Planet flies around and scares off Greedly. I'd be scared, too. That's a freaking Imperial Grand Admiral!
Explaining that he's their powers combined and magnified, and therefore the Planeteers are useless while he's around, Grand Admiral Planet flies off to take care of the spill and Greedly as the kids help the animals. He caps the oil spill with a rock (someone should show this to BP) and has to hurry back to pick up the pipeline, since we "musn't litter!"
Rigger is astounded (I'm guessing right now that Rigger spends a lot of his time astounded in this series) that Captain Thrawn cleaned the oil spill, and notes that he's coming after them now - and manages to chuck the huge pipe into a trash can perfectly, without damaging the trash can.
Catching Thrawn in their machine's grip, Rigger tries to stab him in the chest with a giant machine knife, or drill, or whatever. It tickles Planet Thrawn, who then wraps the claws around themselves and starts sparkling as he talks about how fun this is, and having trash to take out.
Captain Thrawn Cullen rips Rigger out of the machine and puts him in the OTHER garbage can, then confronts Greedly, who has a toxic waste gun handy with which to blast Captain Sparklypants.
This proves his undoing, and he falls to the ground, where Team Edward rushes over to help him. Kwame very intelligently puts his hands all over the toxic waste covering Captain Cullen, whose Iron Man chest starts glowing.
Rendered useless without her powers, Gi can't summon water to wash Thrawn off, but Lenka remembers that hey, they have hands, they can still bing water the old-fashioned way! Meanwhile, Greedly tries to crush Captain Cullen with his several-thousand-pound oil drilling machine, who is saved by a rock that is, at best, half Captain Cullen's height.
Returning with a vest full of water, Gi and Lenka wash enough toxic waste off of Captain Thrawn for the sun to recharge Iron Man's chest battery and escape certain he's-totally-just-gonna-go-back-to-being-your-powers-if-he's-crushed doom.
And then he sparkles some more.
He sparkles as he escapes not-really death. He sparkles as he flies. He sparkles as he beats the crud out of Greedly's machine and causes it to crash. You know, the machine with the toxic waste pump in it. Greedly gets away, and they all sit down for a pow-wow with Grand Admiral Planet Cullen.
Declaring that "The POWER is YOURRRRRRS!", he goes back to their rings. Which is a good thing, because Team Edward needs them to clean off the oil-soaked wildlife. It's not like they could have used Dawn dish soap or anything.
Wheeler bitches about them cleaning up the mess even though they didn't make it, and Lenka calls him her "sweet little imperialist dog," which makes this the best cartoon, ever. Wheeler is then licked by a walrus that really would have bitten his face off.
And then we get a Sailor Says ending, talking about turning lights off, carpooling, fighting oil spills, etc. And then we get the most awesome ending song, ever.
I'm serious. Watch this and see if you're not blown away:
Did I mention that this was produced by DiC, which also did the original Sailor Moon dub?