Tooncrap #9 - Captain Planet: Population Bomb

The Power Is Yours...To keep It In Your Pants
Turner: 1991

Written by: Raymond Gallant

It's that time one again my fair toonsters. Time to visit one of Tooncrap's most beloved friends and content cows. And that cow is Captain Planet. When you're looking for some of the outright worst in storytelling, the captain knows how to make it happen. And in our travels, we've seen the planeteers deal with everything that the target 7 year old demographic are ready to deal with. Like aids. And Hitler. And overdosing on drugs.

Jeez Boris, you look dead tired... oh right.

So, what is Captain Planet going to teach us today? Maybe how to plant more trees, or how we should keep our oceans clean?

Or how the planet is being overpopulated, and preaching about birth control.

Okay, these kids have just experienced the riveting tale of "Hop on Pop", why the hell do they need to learn about birth control right now? But at least if the episode was well balanced out, maybe it could be a fair plot about the dangers of too many people, and not just scare tactics propaganda like this show usually displays. But no, this is another mindscrew episode that makes no sense, and makes the moral come off as even more ridiculous.
So, it's time to drop the population bomb on everyone, and it's time to review this thing.

We open the episode with the planeteers flying over a crowded city, and complaining about the stench of car exhaust. Wheeler however, has no problems with this because he grew up in a big city. But Gi, and Kwame complain that the town is so noisy and dirty. What is this, the planeteers, or the "your city sucks" brigade?

Using his heart ring to, I guess, predict the future, Ma-Ti discovers that part of a building is about to fall, and potentially crush the civilians below. So that means it's time to for the planeteers to slowly our hero in hot pants, Captain Planet, who fixes the building while spouting off some of the worst puns in recorded history.

After giving the building his "seal of approval" (because he sealed up the broken piece, get it? It's funny because Ted Turner), Captain Planet then complains that there are far too many people in the city, and that the planet is essentially screwed if there are too many people in it. Back on Hope Island, Gaia pretty much agrees that yeah, there are way too many people on Earth.

Well, until Brain makes Chia Earth, what are you gonna do? Crazy glue condoms on people?

Wheeler is still not convinced, and is fine with the idea of being a baby daddy to as many kids as he wants, and decides to take some of his frustration out on some windsurfing. And because he's an idiot for surfing in the middle of a storm, he gets lost, and crashes on another island. An island that is polluted so bad that it melts his windsurfer. It also appears to be home to a tiny city, but not only a tiny city...

But a race of anthropomorphic rat people? Zuh?

The rats blast him with their lasers, knocking him out. Things take a weird Gulliver's Travels-esque turn as Wheeler is tied up, on a conveyor belt with a pile of fish, and about to be chopped up. You know, I don't take drugs or nothin', but this already feels trippy as all hell.

Before Wheeler can become planeteer puree, the conveyor belt is stopped by a rat man named Piebald. He's a food technician that used to be a scientist. He then gets chewed out by his boss named Captain Grosstail (a little on the nose there), for turning the machine off. When he realizes Wheeler can talk, he goes to consult someone named General Claw.

We finally get our explanation as to just how in the name of Jesus H. Macy we're dealing with humanoid rat men. This place is called Miceland. After the nuclear bombs went off, and caused polluted rain, it turned ordinary rodents into humanoid creatures which are highly intelligent and are technologically advanced on par with the human race.
So, it's like the Secret of NIMH only shittier.

Okay, not that shitty.

Still, you gotta admit. Creating a society of rat people is pretty neat. Way to make pollution sound awesome guys.

However, much like humanity, Miceland's once beautiful home quickly becomes much like the human world. Polluted, awful, and full of tiny little mouse cars. Maybe I should feel bad for this society crumbling so quickly, but OMIGOD IT'S SO CUTE!

Not to mention they drove off all the animals and ate any that remained, leaving only memories in their little rat museums. They also made a mess of their water, causing far less food for far too many rat people.

Piebold knows that things look bleak, and tries to warn the people of Miceland that even though they ain't nothin' but mammal, maybe they should slow down on doing like they do on the Discovery Channel. But his acts of rebellion to the old ways of "large rat families are awesome" get him stuck in the food processing factory, and forbidden to see his family.

But Piebold's dreams of a happy reunion are cut short by the arrival of General Claw, who is intrigued by Wheeler. When Wheeler tells him that the other planeteers will eventually arrive to save him, Claw realizes that this means that there must be more creatures like Wheeler, meaning more land to conquer. Though even with the advanced tech of these rat people, you could still just easily beat them by stepping on them. I mean they're barely a foot tall for criminey's sake.

Speaking of the planeteers, after a failed attempt to find Wheeler, they return to Hope Island to recharge the eco copter's batteries. Linka, is quite pissed at this, and storms off. Kwame goes to try and calm her down with the thought of some lunch (hopefully not of the drugged blintzes variety), but the two get snared by a net thrown by General Claw's army.

Back at the factory, Piebold frees Wheeler, and continues to worry about a world where his daughter will live in hunger from overpopulation. He gets caught doing this by Grosstail, and tries to have Piebold taken away. This is when Wheeler finally realizes "Oh right, I'm like a hundred feet taller than them" and grabs Grosstail, only for Piebold to just give up anyway. Things aren't going too hot for Kwame and Linka as they're tied up by General Claw's army.

When Wheeler realizes the others are captive, and the rat army plans to take Hope Island, he takes Piebold and exits stage right. Grosstail tells the people to go after him, but the hungry and angry mob rebels against the army instead. Wheeler brings Piebold back to his family, and promises to return once everything before he takes his leave. He uses his ring to signal Ma-Ti, who I guess has been reduced to nothing but the planeteers' personal GPS.

Wheeler manages to use his fire ring to free Linka and Kwame, as he also tries to keep the rat people at bay. The trio unite, and begin to combine their powers to summon Captain Planet, who begins to whip some rat ass. And yes, he makes a rat race pun. Too bad there's no rat version of Hitler to weaken him right now. Claw has his sonic cannon activated, which being untested, could mean some serious trouble. The rats blast the cap'n with their stun rays with no effect. He tells them not to use those, they'll "Stun" your growth. Ouch, that one was so painful I think my stomach turned inside out.

Claw blasts Wheeler with the cannon, knocking him out. The general's gone mad with power, like that Albert Schweitzer guy, and starts to blast at his fellow rat people, causing an earthquake. Captain comes to save Wheeler, while he's focused on saving Piebold. Yeah, screw an entire society of talking rat people, most of which were innocent, just rescue one rat man and his family. Piebold however would rather pussy out, and go down with his ship. Meaning, you know, his wife and daughter will die too.

He warns Wheeler to not let the world end up overpopulated like his was. Though in all honesty overpopulation was never the problem here. It was more corrupt government and poor food rationing. It really doesn't matter if the rat society was a tinier amount. If there was like, 100 rat people and they still squandered the resources, they'd still be in this mess. Maybe it's just me, but this message feels really muddled, making this episode really bad. But it can't get worse can it?

Or it can when you realize it was all a dream...

Um, Donald? Can you show the fine folks at home how I feel right now?


So yeah, apparently this never happened. There were no rat people, and no tiny rat society. All that happened was Wheeler got preached at about how bad it is to raise a big family, watched Secret of NIMH, and bailed on his windsurfer, causing his screwy dream.

Or maybe it did happen as Piebold's reflection tells us that there's still hope for this world if you, little kid who doesn't even know how your genitalia functions promises not to have a lot of unprotected sex and make a lot of babies.

And that's "Population Bomb". This episode is awful. Despite admittedly a neat idea of this rat army society, it gets botched up with a preachy and horribly executed message about how the overpopulation of the world is so bad, but the conflict come less from how big the world's getting, and more on how piss poor the rat people were at rationing food, and how they easily squandered their supplies. Instead, it chastises the viewer for having more than one or two children, or even three children if you must be so cruel to this poor planet. Which begs the question, how many kids did Ted Turner have? Five. I guess for the man in charge of this whole damn show, three ain't enough.

See you next year Cap. I'm sure you haven't broken my brain badly enough yet.