Film and TV

Captain Planet Marathon, and 6 Other Cartoons We'd Watch for 14 Hours

Sunday, April 22, is the 42nd annual Earth Day. Celebrated in over 170 countries, the holiday is meant to call attention to environmental crises all across the world. The day's founder, Senator Gaylord Nelson, credits the widespread popularity of the movement to legitimizing environmental reform.

Cartoon Network's BOOMERANG has decided to show its support by running a 14-hour, commercial-free marathon of the popular environmental action show Captain Planet on the same day starting at 6 a.m/5 a.m. CST. The show, which is now in development for a live-action film, focused on five teenagers with magic rings controlling the classical elements of fire, wind, water, earth... and heart? Really?

By combining the rings, the Planeteers could summon a superhero named Captain Planet who used his considerable might and even more considerable resemblance to Kirk Cameron to shut down the polluting plots of the regular cast of sleazy supervillains. Yes, it was a little too hippy and preachy, but it was kind of nice to have a show that wasn't all about selling its rather unfortunate action figures.

We applaud any overindulgence in the cartoons of our youth, especially if it's for a good cause. Here's some of the other series we wish would get the commercial-free marathon treatment.

Exosquad: When America tries to do anime it usually fails pretty badly, but not in the case of Universal's Exosquad. The sci-fi series dealt with a slave revolt by an artificial worker race called Neosapians against their human masters. Believe it or not, these were the bad guys. Wars were fought with personal battle mechs, and there was a lot of nuance to the plot as characters explored racism, religion and political systems. It was maybe too far ahead of its time, and was cancelled in 1994.

Marathon in honor of: International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

Gargoyles: Another show that tackled more mature themes such as forced displacement of native peoples, genocide and the loss of conscience through fear, Gargoyles was the story of five gargoyles (in this universe, a separate species that hibernates as stone during the day) who are resurrected in modern-day New York and become superheroes. Eventually they travel the world meeting the fae, King Arthur and hidden enclaves of their own diverse kind. It was a remarkable show that serves well as a kind of primer for people who like to look at the world of mythology through Gaiman-colored glasses.

Marathon in honor of: International Day for Biological Diversity.

The Maxx: MTV was once responsible for the greatest and most faithful animated adaptation from a comic book in history, that of Sam Keith's The Maxx. Maxx was a homeless man with severe mental problems that made him believe he was a superhero protecting a Jungle Queen (his fantasy version of his social worker) against a shaman and rapist named Mr. Gone. It was a surrealist masterpiece, and no other comic book adaptation has ever done its source material such perfect justice.

Marathon in honor of: World Mental Health Day.

Laff-A-Lympics: Long before Marvel vs. Capcom or even Super Mario Kart, there was the Hanna-Barbera supershow that pitted the entirety of the enormous cast of characters from various shows against each other in athletic competition. It was a pretty killer concept that worked more often than not, though the Slytherin in us remains somewhat chagrined at the fact that the Really Rottens only won two episodes.

Marathon in honor of: The Olympic Games.

The Pirates of Dark Water: Another genius bit of Hanna-Barbera was the short-lived Pirates of Dark Water, which followed a young orphaned prince named Ren as he used his small crew of sailors and mercenaries against a planet-consuming substance called dark water that is eating the oceanic world of Mer. Standing in their way is the murderer of Ren's father Bloth, a fearsome, giant pirate who seeks to control Mer through the dark water. Honestly? Between the time this show went off the air and the premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean, it was a rough patch of nothing for pirate fans. We'd like to see someone finally finish it.

Marathon in honor of: International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

The World of David the Gnome: We must have faked a dozen fevers in order to stay home and watch the gnome doctor David travel all over Holland administering medicine to whoever was in need, all the while explaining nature and the world of magic to the audience like some kind of pixie David Attenborough. The series was heavily edited and altered for time and for a less mature audience. This would be a great way to restore it to its original intent and introduce a whole new set of fans to an amazing adventure.

Marathon in honor of: National Doctors' Day.

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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner