[[quoteright:275:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Captain_Power_and_the_Soldiers_of_the_Future_6108.jpg]]

->''"Power on."''

->''"Earth, 2147: The legacy of the Metal Wars, when man fought machine and machines won. [=BioDreads=]: Monstrous creations that hunt down human survivors and digitize them. Volcania: Centre of the [=BioDread=] Empire, stronghold and fortress of Lord Dread, feared ruler of this new order. But from the fires of the metal wars arose a new breed of warrior, born and trained to bring down Lord Dread and his [=BioDread=] Empire. They were Soldiers of the Future, mankind's last hope! Their leader: [[TheHero Captain Jonathan Power]], master of the incredible powersuits which transform each soldier into a one-man attack force! [[TheLancer Major Matthew "Hawk" Masterson]], fighter of the sky! [[TheBigGuy Lieutenant Michael "Tank" Ellis]], Ground Assault Unit! [[TheSmartGuy Sergeant Robert "Scout" Baker]], Espionage and communications! And [[TheChick Corporal Jennifer "Pilot" Chase]], Tactical Systems Expert! Together, they form the most powerful fighting force in Earth's history. Their creed: To protect all life! Their promise: To end Lord Dread's rule! Their name....[[TitleDrop CAPTAIN POWER]] [[TitleScream AND THE SOLDIERS OF THE FUTURE!]]"''


In the late 1980s, it became clear that in the next couple of decades, cable television was going to allow the number of stations the average viewer received to increase from, say, four to, say, four ''hundred''.

As things turned out, this was not a huge deal, but at the time, this was not an easy thing to get your mind around. Network executives scratched their heads in confusion as they tried to work out how in the world they were going to fill that much airtime.

Given how it eventually turned out, it may be hard to believe that pretty much everyone was convinced that it was going to involve "interactive" TV. In the future, we were told, at every commercial break, you, the viewer, would decide how you wanted the story to play out. If the hero got the girl, turn to channel 127; if he gets killed by the villain instead, turn to channel 138. It is probably not coincidental that this was around the same time that "Literature/ChooseYourOwnAdventure" books were a big thing. Early adopters of DVD may recall that there were early promises that it would also lead to this sort of thing. Of course, as it turned out, branching movies and even multiple camera angles ended up a [[TheRuleOfFirstAdopters feature utilized almost exclusively by pornography]].

The thing was, Hollywood had precisely zero experience at this sort of thing, so they figured they'd need practice. There were a number of experiments in this direction in the late 80s, such as a murder mystery where viewers called in between acts to vote on who would turn out to have dunnit. But one of the more radical experiments in interactive television was ''Captain Power And The Soldiers Of The Future''.

The story followed the adventures of Captain Johnathan Power and his team of freedom fighters on a post-apocalyptic Earth where most of the population had been converted into robotic warriors by the evil Lord Dredd. Fortunately, Captain Power and his team had the ability to transform into armored super-soldiers by standing in a special booth and saying, "[[ByThePowerOfGrayskull Power on.]]"

The interactive element was this: the show was clearly and heavily MerchandiseDriven. Captain Power action figures interacted with electronic toys based on the show's transformation booth, fighter jets, and other hardware. These could interact with each other: the jets fired a strobe of light which a receptor on another jet could register as a hit. After five hits, the pilot would be ejected. Though the centerpiece of the merchandise line, the jets themselves only appear in the two-parter "A Summoning of Thunder", in which their appearance is so incidental as to smack of ProductPlacement (The bulk of the episode is a flashback, with the jets appearing in a few seconds of framing story).

But the ''really'' cool thing the toys could do was interact with the show itself: various things in the show emitted a strobe effect which would register on the toy: villains and heroes had strobes which the jets would register as targets (Red for villains, blue for heroes), weapons fire emitted a yellow strobe that would register as a hit (and viewers were gently reminded that hiding the jets behind their backs was cheating). The "power on" sequence would both reset the damage count on a jet, and activate the "power on" cycle in the transformation booth toy. At the end of each episode, one of the characters would step through the FourthWall to tell viewers what constituted a good score. Around the same time, three animated videos were released, ''Future Force Training'', ''Bio-Dread Assault'', and ''Raid On Volcania'', which fans could "Train" on between episodes. These featured the viewer as new recruit, designated "Pilot-1", who received training from the captain himself in piloting the XT-7 fighter, and undertook some dangerous missions. These episodes were animated by [[{{AIC}} Artmic]], one of the companies responsible for ''Anime/BubblegumCrisis'' and many other anime of the late 80's, and were surprisingly well-animated (they also [[StockSoundEffects recycle sound effects]] from ''Bubblegum Crisis'').

The show was a relatively early TV example of [[{{Dystopia}} dystopian]] CyberPunk, and, though ostensibly aimed at children, was so dark and violent (AnyoneCanDie, which means people got KilledOffForReal) that one wonders how many parents were really comfortable letting their children watch it. All the same, it is difficult to believe that Creator/JMichaelStraczynski (later of ''Series/BabylonFive'' fame) was one of the creative minds behind it. (He did leave the show, though, when level of merchandising became ''really'' excessive in his opinion.) Other big Sci-Fi creators involved in the show were Larry [=DiTillio=] (of ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'' fame), ''New ComicBook/TeenTitans'' creator Marv Wolfman, veteran novelist and scriptwriter Michael Reaves, and Marc Scott Zicree of ''Series/TheTwilightZone Companion'' and ''Literature/MagicTime'' fame. ''ComicBook/HowardTheDuck'' creator Creator/SteveGerber was also slated to write for the unproduced second season.

Beyond the strobing villains, the special effects in the show made extensive use of CGI, and it was the first TV show to use CGI extensively. Watching it now, one can see why, since the computer-generated characters and sequences are of lower quality than one can achieve on the typical PC of today using only free software such as DAZ|Studio, POV-Ray and Blender. Still, at the time, it ''was'' mind-blowing.

The show was clearly inspired by the {{Sentai}} genre of Japanese toku, probably by ''SuperSentai'' specifically (though it had almost as much in common with the related "Metal Heroes" franchise), and as such is something of a spiritual ancestor to ''PowerRangers''.

(And before anyone points it out, there were indeed earlier experiments in "interactive television", probably starting with ''WinkyDink'', or even on radio with ''Doctor Christian''. But the appearance of an interactive aspect in ''Captain Power'' seems to be part of a specific drive that went on at this time.)

The series celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2012 with a long-awaited DVD release. In late 2012, executive producer Gary Goddard announced that a revival of ''CaptainPower'' was beginning development under the name ''Phoenix Rising''. Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens have been tapped as showrunners.

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!!This show provides examples of:
* AfterTheEnd : Via RobotWar.
* AIIsACrapshoot: Overmind went evil after becoming rampant. Mentor, given the personality and appearance of Stuart Power, is fatherly and benign.
* AirstrikeImpossible: The StarWars-style trench run against the control center for the Icarus Platform.
** Also all three of the animated videos, ranging from a mad dash down a gratuitous radioactive tunnel to an assault through Volcania itself.
* AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs
* AntagonistInMourning: Lord Dread visiting Captain Power's father's grave.
* AnyoneCanDie
* ApocalypseHow: The series starts off at Planetary/Societal Collapse, with isolated pockets of civilization still around. Overmind is aiming to convert humans to robots; given the scope and methods of Project New Order, it could end up as a Planetary/Species Extinction for all life.
* BattleshipRaid: The climactic battle of the second Future Force Training video.
* BigBad: Lord Dread and Overmind
* BrainUploading: Warlord-class [=BioDreads=] are equipped with Digitizers that can reduce a human being to data, which is then stored in Overmind. Although the process can be reversed, victims tend to [[CameBackWrong be irrevocably changed by the experience]].
* ByThePowerOfGreyskull
* CaptainSuperhero
* ChristmasEpisode: [[WhamEpisode The]] [[DownerEnding worst]] [[KilledOffForReal possible]] [[TearJerker kind]].
* CoolShip: The Jumpship, the [=XT=]-7 fighter (attached to the top of the Jumpship,) and the enemy Phantom Stryker.
* CutShort
* CyberPunk
* DarkestHour: ...at which point, the series [[CutShort ends]].
* DaveBarry: He brought up the series in one of his columns and in particular noted the toy ship that could fire at enemies on the screen. "[A toy company spokesperson] did not say whether it also would work on Geraldo Rivera."
* DownerEnding: It counts as this rather than BittersweetEnding because [[spoiler:not only is Pilot dead and the heroes' base destroyed, Lord Dread clearly won the day and is last seen preparing for an cybernetic upgrade to make him even less human, meaning the war is about to get worse.]]
* TheDragon: The pterodactyl-like Soaron to Lord Dread.
* DressingAsTheEnemy: Scout's primary method of infiltration.
* ExecutiveMeddling: In an article from ''Starlog'' magazine, the writers and producers talked about how the series was going to become DarkerAndEdgier (as if it weren't dark and edgy already) and break away from the half-hour commercial format that Creator/{{Mattel}} wanted. Amongst the [[WhatCouldHaveBeen highlights that were mentioned]] included Overmind and Dread simply forgetting the whole idea of digitizing humanity in favor of simply exterminating them wholesale, LaResistance picking up a DarkActionGirl (callsign Ranger) to replace Pilot's loss, Power slowly eroding towards a HeroicBSOD while Hawk ended up becoming the de facto group leader, and eventually Soaron doing a HeelFaceTurn when it becomes clear he's been replaced by Blastarr as TheDragon. Needless to say, the head honchos at Mattel were pissed at the season finale - which would have signalled the beginning of the shift - and pulled the plug on the show before we could see the transition.
* FamilyFriendlyFirearms: Both the Power Team and their enemies use laser guns. Several characters also use firearms, but they don't do a thing against Bio-Dreads.
* FiveManBand
** TheHero: [[StevenUlyssesPerhero Captain Jonathan Power]]. A good strategist and a fine soldier, but impetuous, immature, and still learning what it means to be a leader.
** TheLancer: Major Matthew "[[TheAce Hawk]]" Masterson. A [[CoolOldGuy war veteran]] and friend of Johnathan's father, Stuart.
** TheSmartGuy: Sergeant Robert "[[MasterOfDisguise Scout]]" Baker. Good with infiltration of both enemy bases as well as their computer networks.
** TheBigGuy: Lieutenant Michael "Tank" Ellis. The team's heavy weapon and StoneWall, short on character development.
** TheChick: Corporal Jennifer "[[ImprobablePilotingSkills Pilot]]" Chase. Rescued from the [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything Dread Youth]] and quite TheStoic; ironically, becomes [[TearJerker the heart and soul]] of the team.
* GameplayAndStorySegregation: In the Future Force Training animation videos, there are hundreds of [=BioDreads=] in Soaron and Blastarr's units... [[TheWorfEffect only not quite as durable]] as the real thing. In the actual series, only one of each class exists, but they're much, much more fearsome.
* DyingDeclarationOfLove
* HealingFactor: The warlord-class [=BioDreads=] can regenerate from any damage, even being [[GoodThingYouCanHeal blown to smithereens]].
* TheJuggernaut: Blastarr.
* KilledOffForReal
--> '''Straczynski''': "''I've never talked about this before -- said I was in a thoughtful mood -- but I've known several people, friends, who've taken their own lives. In one case, I spoke to her just beforehand. Tried, through the phone lines, to reach her one more time, pull her back from the edge. I couldn't. Years pass. Time comes for me to write the last filmed episode of '''Power'''. Jennifer Chase is going to die, partly of her injuries, partly of her own volition. [[CreatorBreakdown Part of my life went into that scene]], in the way it was constructed, and what was said. And what was not said, what never had the chance to be said, and thus still burns. I knew that, at the crucial moment of that scene, he couldn't be near her, as I wasn't near my friend...it had to be long-distance, hearing but not seeing her, and the terrible pain of arriving too late. I cannot watch that episode without crying. Ever.''"
** This particular case is ''loaded'' with tropes: the character took the time to [[FatalFamilyPhoto go through personal effects and mementos from previous adventures]], her relationship with Jon is ''[[ADeathInTheLimelight finally]]'' [[ADeathInTheLimelight put front-and-center]] (but can't express her true feelings, saying, "[[CanNotSpitItOut It can wait]]," instead,) is (unwittingly) left to HoldTheLine from [[AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs an enemy invasion]], and has to perform a HeroicSacrifice to save the Power Base's sensitive data when the base is overrun. At least she got [[TakingYouWithMe to destroy Blastarr]] ([[NighInvulnerability we hope]]) along the way.
* KillSat: The Icarus Platform that the Power Team has to destroy before the assault on Volcania.
* LaResistance: The Power Team, along with several groups of allies.
* MachineWorship: At least one sequence shows Lord Dread dictating what seems to be a Bible for the machine empire; and his speeches to the [[strike: Hitler]] Dread Youth seem near-evangelistic. One evil spy actually near-religiously praises "the Machine" and practically describes the team's heroic heel-face-turncoat as a heretic.
* MasterComputer: The Overmind [[AIIsACrapshoot intelligence]], originally designed to stop wars between countries, initiated the Metal Wars against mankind itself.
* MechaMooks: The Dread Troopers.
* MerchandiseDriven
* TheMole: [[PunnyName Laccki]] is this for Overmind, working in Lord Dread's service.
** Laccki is a ''terrible'' mole: he lacks anything even vaguely resembling stealth or subtlety, and Dread is suspicious of him from the very moment of his creation. Laccki is such a terrible mole, in fact, that one suspects his real purpose is not to spy on Dread, but rather to ''remind'' Dread that Overmind doesn't fully trust him.
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: Lord Dread
* NintendoHard: The BattleshipRaid and StormingTheCastle sequences in the second and third Future Force Training videos toss the player into the yellow-strobe equivalent of BulletHell.
* NoFourthWall
* OmnicidalManiac: Overmind.
* OneWayVisor: the mooks and the heroes' PoweredArmor have these.
* OpeningNarration
* PoweredArmor: The Power Suits.
* [[PrecisionFStrike Precision "D" Strike]]: Actually occurs in one episode. There's also a Precision "H" Strike in another.
* PunnyName:
** Captain Power's headquarters and stronghold is called the ''[[http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/power+base Powerbase]]''.
** The biological androids --biodroids-- under Lord Dread's command? Bio''dreads''.
* PuttingOnTheReich: Dread's Human goons are all dressed as Nazis. Interestingly, the actor playing Taggart/Dread also looks frightening similar to UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler, sans the iconic mustache.
* RobotWar: This formed the background of the series. There was a war against the machines, and the machines won.
* SerkisFolk
* ShoutOut: To StarWars's Trench Run during the assault on Volcania. The ending credits recycle this scene, presumably to allow kids to interact with it with the toys.
* StormingTheCastle: The Soldiers of the Future must storm Volcania to stop Project New Order.
* TakingYouWithMe: Part of a HeroicSacrifice.
-->'''Blastarr''': Surrender, by order of Lord Dread.
-->'''Pilot''': Go to hell. (pushes self-destruct button of the Power Base reactor)
* TeleportersAndTransporters: The Jump Gates, which the Soldiers of the Future use to get around the country. Ultimately became their own undoing when Lord Dread acquired their access frequency.
* TitleScream
* TransformationSequence: Power On!
* WellIntentionedExtremist: Lyman Taggart sincerely thought that humanity would be improved by becoming [[NoTranshumanismAllowed a cybernetic organism]]. After becoming [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Lord Dread]], though...
** The whole idea behind Overmind in the first place was as a computer with which Taggart and Power could take control of all the world's military robots, in order to end the years of stalemated warfare that had followed from the invention of robot soldiers.
* WhatNowEnding: The fate of the Soldiers of the Future after the series finale.
* WholeEpisodeFlashback: "The Summoning Of Thunder," a DeathByOriginStory for Stuart Power, and StartOfDarkness for [[strike:Lyman Taggart]] Lord Dread.
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