Captain Proton is an Affectionate Parody of 1930s-50s Universal and Republic Film Serials heroes like Flash Gordon and Commando Cody. The holodeck program was created by Tom Paris (who always plays the hero, Captain Proton) ostensibly for the purposes of historical study, but more likely so he and Harry Kim can have a fun time battling hammy villains and rescuing gorgeous space babes.
This film serial provides examples of:
- Ambiguously Evil: The "real" Queen Arachnia never appears, so it is unclear if she ultimately allies with Captain Proton or remains a villain.
- Applied Phlebotinum:
- The Baroness:
- Arachnia, Queen of the Spider People.
- The Twin Mistresses of Evil, Demonica & Malicia.Tom: (busts in) You're done for, Demonica!
Malicia: Malicia. She's Demonica!
- Batman Can Breathe in Space: Parodied in "Thirty Days" where Proton is introduced flying through outer space protected by a leather jacket and flying goggles.
- Beard of Evil: Doctor Chaotica is a hirsute fellow. Visually, his appearance is based on Ming the Merciless.
- Captain Space, Defender of Earth!: Captain Proton: Spaceman First Class, protector of Earth, scourge of intergalactic evil...at your service.
- Captain Superhero: The hero is played by Lieutenant Paris (demoted to Ensign at one stage). When Captain Janeway is reluctantly convinced to enter the program, she naturally outranks him as Queen Arachnia.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Doctor Chaotica is your typical retro sci-fi villain. His rantings make Doctor Who look staid by comparison.Paris: I've been studying how past generations viewed the future.
Paris: It didn't work out quite as black and white as they imagined.
- Chained to a Rock: Constance Goodheart is tied to a pillar prior to her being presented to Queen Arachnia as a "supreme sacrifice."
- Cliffhanger Copout: Paris and Kim are watching a recap of last week's Proton episode, which shows their rocketship destroyed by Chaotica's fiendish Death Ray.Kim: We didn't burst into flame in the last chapter! Why are these recaps so inaccurate?!
Paris: Well they brought people back to the theaters.
Paris: The lost art of hyperbole.
- Though that's, bizarrely, actually the reverse of a Cliffhanger Copout, since normally apparent death in one episode would be downplayed in the next. This is more a case of Never Trust a Trailer!
- Dark Action Girl: Queen Arachnia. Given that she acts like a Femme Fatale yet is aiding the heroes, she's presumably a villainess from a previous chapter who made a HeelFace Turn after falling for Proton or having our heroes save her life.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The Doctor isn't happy when Harry adjusts his 'spectral frequency' to fit in with the program, which is entirely in black and white (including anyone who plays the program).
- Department of Redundancy Department: The "Underground Cavern."
- Designated Victim:
- Parodied in the voluptuous form of Constance Goodheart, who "tags along on all the missions" for the sole purpose of getting captured by Mad Scientists, and whose only dialogue is an ear-piercing scream. That's her in the comic art above, jaw agape as usual.
- Hilarity Ensues when Tom tries to put Seven of Nine in this role. She goes Off the Rails quickly.Seven: I am Borg. (Yanks out robot's wiring, disabling it) The robot has been neutralized. May I leave now?
- As Proton's sidekick, 'Buster' plays the Distressed Dude on a couple of occasions.
- Dope Slap: Paris gives this to Satan's Robot when it scares off the alien they're trying to make First Contact with. The Robot shambles off muttering sulkily about alien invaders.
- Emperor Scientist: Doctor Chaotica, Ruler of the Cosmos!
- Evil Is Hammy: Justified with Chaotica. The entire program is a World of Ham with even Captain Janeway joining in, so naturally the villain has to out-ham everyone or get left behind.
- "FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL! You shall PAY for your inCOMPetence! SEIZE HIM!"
- Evil Laugh: Chaotica, whose other Evil Tropes include Evil Eyebrows, Beard of Evil, Paid Harem, Big "NO!", Pitiful Worms, You Have Failed Me, You Fool!, Seize Them!, "Kneel before Chaotica!", Lonely at the Top, and "Full power to the Death Ray!"
- Excessive Evil Eyeshadow: The much-discussed Delaney Twins make their debut in "Thirty Days", looking like a pair of badly-dressed raccoons.
- Excited Show Title!: Bride of Chaotica!
- Expanded Universe: Captain Proton: Defender of the Earth, a compilation of Captain Proton stories by Pulp Magazine writer D.W. "Prof" Smith (actually Star Trek novel writer Dean Wesley Smith).
- Dr Chaotica appears to be a Ming the Merciless expy.
- Satan's Robot is similar to the "Republic Robot," an overused prop in various Republic serials including Mysterious Doctor Satan.
- Proton's leather jacket has Jet Pack controls which are the same as those used by Commando Cody (aka The Rocketman).
- D.W. "Prof" Smith is a riff on E. E. "Doc" Smith, who virtually invented Space Opera with his Skylark and Lensman series.
- Faceless Goons: Chaotica's Army of Evil. Justified when Tom mentions the Dressing as the Enemy trick is part of the program.
- Genre Savvy: Tom Paris knows something's gone wrong in "Bride of Chaotica!" because Constance Goodheart has been killed, and that never happens to the Good Guys. Likewise he tries to warn Captain Janeway of Chaotica's fondness for hidden traps, but she falls into one anyway.
- High Collar of Doom: Arachnia wears a pretty big one.
- Incoming Ham:
- Invincible Hero:Chaotica: But I saw you fall into the fiery mouth of that volcano!
Proton: It takes more than a little lava to stop Captain Proton!
- Lampshaded when the hologram Constance dies, proving that something is vastly wrong with the program.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Proton is more or less helpless with Seven playing Constance Goodheart. This is evident even before the holodeck gets invaded by legit aliens. Seven, who has spent all of ten minutes rolling her eyes at this daft program, immediately barks, 'Disengage safety protocols!" and roasts the intruder with the fallen Tom's ray gun.
- Killer Robot: Parodied in the clunky mechanical form of Satan's Robot. Supposedly terrifying but actually slow-moving, easily disabled, and rather pathetic.
- Large Ham: With the exception of Tuvok and Seven, everyone who enters the program can't resist hamming it up along with the holodeck characters.
- The Load: When Seven asks what Constance Goodheart's function is, Tom mumbles that she 'tags along on all the missions'. Officially Constance is his Sexy Secretary, but as there's not much use for a secretary IN SPACE! she's actually the Designated Victim.
- Love Is in the Air: While Tied To a Pillar Janeway uses Arachnia's vial of "irresistable pheromones" to make Dr Chaotica release her. Unfortunately Chaotica moves out of sniffing range, leaving her to get slobbered over by his ugly henchman Lonzak instead.
- The Men in Black: The alien MIB version turns up in "Bride of Chaotica!" when two photonic aliens appear on the holodeck dressed as grey-suited men in fedoras. They speak in a stilted manner and though dressed like humans of the 1930's are unfamiliar with their society, mistaking the holodeck characters for Energy Beings like themselves and assuming the supervillains they encounter are a genuine threat.
- Mistaken for Profound: When the Doctor complains of Tom monopolizing the holodeck, he protests that Captain Proton is an important sociological work of the highest magnitude!The Doctor: Perhaps you can teach a course at Starfleet Academy: Satan's Robot - an Historical Overview.
- Mooks: Chaotica's 'Army of Evil', plus his Number Two for Brains Lonzak.
- Names To Run Away From: Nouns: Dr. Chaotica is outright derived from the adjective of "Chaos."
- Off the Rails:
- In "Night", Tom Paris ropes in Seven to play the plucky "secretary." Upon being menaced by the Killer Robot, Seven expresses her opinion of this hackneyed role by reaching into the robot's chest cavity and shutting it off, foiling Tom's attempt at heroism.
- "Bride of Chaotica!" went off the rails on multiple levels. Holographic aliens, believing the simulation to be reality, ended up waging war with Chaotica after he murdered one of their own. Within that, Tom and Harry just shoot Lonzak in the middle of his speech since they don't have time to play along.
- Not So Above It All: Janeway ends up playing her role with gusto. "HA! You're no match for Arachnia!"
- One World Order: The Doctor cuts a nice figure in his double-breasted suit while playing the "President of Earth."
- Phallic Weapon: While trying to romance 'Queen Arachnia', Dr Chaotica proudly shows her his Death Ray. Janeway promptly strokes the barrel in a sensual manner.Janeway: Ohhh, it looks like a... formidable weapon.
Chaotica: The most powerful in the cosmos!
- Recycled Set: Lampshaded In-Universe — Harry Kim points out that "Planet X" looks identical to "The Mines of Mercury" that they visited in the last adventure. Tom replies that sets were expensive in the days when you couldn't just create them on the holodeck.
- Retro Rocket: But of course. This is Captain Proton's ride.
- Robo Speak: Satan's Robot with its Catchphrase: "SUR-REND-DER!" Also Electronic Speech Impediment whenever it gets damaged.
- Role-Playing Game: That's what any holonovel is.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: Lonzak is raygunned by Proton and Buster as he's hamming his way through his Roaring Speech of Revenge. They were kinda busy with the invading holographic aliens."Surprised? You thought I had perished in that den of crocodiles. I SURVIVED! CLINGING to the thought that I would ONE DAY—Arrrrgh!"
- Sidekick: Ensign Harry Kim plays 'Buster', a Shout-Out to Buster Crabbe who famously played Flash Gordon in the 1930s film serials. In the Expanded Universe novel he is a Tagalong Reporter.
- Space Clothes: The expected shiny metallic robes and ridiculous headgear.
- Strapped to an Operating Table: The Cradle of Persuasion ("It's fully equipped: Brain Probe, Pain Modulator..."). In "Shattered", Captain Janeway finds herself strapped to it and has to resort to the undignified method of vamping her way out.
- Stylistic Suck: The Adventures of Captain Proton is a lot more hammy than the Film Serials that inspired it.
- Supervillain Lair: Doctor Chaotica's Fortress of Doom.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Lonzak's bungling gives Chaotica a frequent opportunity to emote his famous "FOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLL!" line. Lampshaded when Janeway is trying to get Chaotica to lower his Lightning Shield so Captain Proton can attack.Chaotica: (suspicious) Why this preoccupation with the Shield?
Janeway: Oh, forgive me. It's just that, as a fellow ruler of the cosmos, I often have to do things myself.
Chaotica: Ah. Because of the incompetence of your inferiors, no doubt!
Janeway: Something like that.
Chaotica: Oh, Arachnia, my love, my life! How well you understand our plight. If it weren't beneath my dignity, I...I would weep. How I've longed for someone who would understand.
- Telegraph Gag STOP: Due to its Zeerust look the Subspace Ansible is a teletype machine.Paris: It's a message to Captain Proton from the President of Earth. Intercepted communications between Doctor Chaotica and Arachnia STOP. Chaotica at war with aliens from Fifth Dimension STOP. Must strike now to disable Death Ray—-
Tuvok: Stop. Please summarise the message.
- Tin-Can Robot: Satan's Robot looks absolutely ridiculous, moves very slowly, and is very difficult to see as a threat to anything. The holo-characters are deathly afraid of it. The real people in the holodeck find it hard to take seriously, and they take the ham up to 11 when dealing with it. Only Tom seems to enjoy everything (seeing as he deliberately designed the holonovel after a 1930s movie serial - he basically says "Of course it's ridiculous - it's supposed to be).
- Trrrilling Rrrs: Chaotica."I'm afrrraid your SEC-cretarrry has alrrready been prrromised to Queen ArrrrACK-nia as a SUPrrreeeeme sACKrrrrifice!"
- Unholy Matrimony: Chaotica makes this pitch to "Queen Arachnia", arguing that the blissful union between two people who so perfectly embody evil is inevitable.
- Unwanted Rescue: Harry Kim greatly enjoys being chained up by the Delaney Sisters and threatened with mental enslavement via their evil Brain Probe, so he objects when Tom comes barging in for a Big Damn Heroes.
- Weird Science: The Raygun Gothic version.
- World of Ham: Frankly, the whole point of playing the program. Chaotica is the emperor of this trope, but also seen with the Doctor and Captain Janeway whose initial reaction is either contempt or amusement, but who end up playing their roles with gusto. Hilariously subverted by Seven of Nine in "Night" (see Off the Rails.)
- You Just Ruined the Shot: In "Bride Of Chaotica!", photonic aliens mistake the simulation for reality and go to war with Chaotica. Although given that they were, well, photonic beings living in the photonic subspace layer in which ''Voyager'' was stuck, Chaotica's Death Ray was very real for them - and killed many of them.
- Zeerust: It's several centuries old by the time of Voyager. Furthermore, it was specifically designed this way by Tom Paris.