Television reboots are all the rage mostly because the entertainment industry prefers name recognition over original ideas. But there are some properties that truly deserve a re-look because they didn’t quite achieve their goal the first time around or they were cut short.
What Is It? This sci fi series targeted at the after-school crowd delivered a Terminator-like future where the machines have risen up and subjugated humanity, but a small group of resistance fighters–led by Captain Jonathan Power–fight to overthrow their mechanical tyranny over the Earth.
When Did It Originally Air? Syndicated, 1987-88, 1 Season Totaling 22 Episodes
Where Did the Original Fall Short? The show tried to take a serious approach at its subject, but its budget (despite spending $1 million per episode) did not quite match its aspirations and its mission statement to sell toys kept it from realizing its potential.
Why Reboot It? Several years before J. Michael Staczynski made a name for himself with Babylon 5, he got his start at telling story arc driven sci fi with this show aimed at a younger audience but striving to incorporate more mature themes. JMS was not the series creator of the show, though he became the head writer and guided its storylines. This led to more mature themes and better developed characters than expected in a series that arose from a gimmicky premise to sell toys (the laser guns supposedly interacted with the episodes, but did not work too well). The results were mixed and I would not consider this a great sci fi show, but it demonstrated plenty of potential, and that’s what the reboot could key on. Bring this show back, but throw out the toys and make it into the post-apocalyptic sci fi epic it should have been. And if possible, get JMS involved again (though he is currently busy with Sense8 and the upcoming Red Mars series). He knows how to do this type of series and it could be his next great show. And in fact, original series creator Gary Goddard is working on bringing Captain Power back under the title Phoenix Rising and doing it exactly as I have suggested by gearing it toward adult audiences. No network is attached to the project, but he is bringing to the 2016 San Diego Comic Con to drum up interest. That’s good news, especially if they can get JMS on board at some point, because this could be a really great sci fi entry if done right.
Did You Know? An entire second season worth of scripts was written for the show (though apparently not by Staczynski), but none of them were ever produced because it was cancelled after one season. The toys did not sell well which is vital for the success of a kid’s show, and Captain Power had attracted some controversy over the violence and mature themes included in the stories. Thus a second season was never ordered and the story was left unresolved. You can read about the direction the show would have taken in its second year at this link.
Where Can I Watch the Original? The full first season has been released on DVD, and episodes pop up on YouTube from time to time. The entire series is currently available there at this link, though the video quality is pretty low. It’s still worth checking out a few episodes to see the show’s potential, and perhaps you will find yourself drawn into the story.