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Captain Planet — Yeck!

My wife and I are more laissez faire than many parents of young children about the television shows our soon-to-be eight-year-old, Thomas, watches. (We limit much more the time he spends watching television than we limit the programs that he watches.) Fortunately, the only two channels that Thomas chooses to watch are the Science Channel and Boomerang.

Karol and I enjoy both channels. The Science Channel is genuinely interesting, and Boomerang is a guilty pleasure, allowing us to relive our childhood enjoyment of Bugs Bunny, Quickdraw McGraw, The Jetsons, and other cartoons from the 1960s.

But this morning Boomerang broadcast – and Thomas watched – this episode of a series from the early 1990s called "Captain Planet." It’s awful! For the first time ever I was tempted to prevent him from watching the t.v. show he chose to watch. I resisted the temptation. But overhearing the nonsense spewing from the television made my skin crawl, my head ache, my blood boil, my soul deflate.

The episode’s opening scenes depict river banks crowded with open pipes dumping sludge into already filthy rivers, skylines full of belching smokestacks, and forests clear cut with only stumps showing above the ground.

A beautiful (if rather constipated-looking) Mother Nature gazes upon the earth and laments the destruction unleashed by we foolish humans. When she looks more closely she declares, horror-stricken, "It’s worse than I thought!"

The hellish industrial scenes are allegedly from the early 22nd century. Later in the show, a young man is transported back in time to when grass was still green and gorillas still existed. He’s stunned to find how beautiful the world was before headless humanity ruined it.

Of course, this noble young man and some friends eventually encounter an evil business man – one complete with raspy voice, sinister laughs, and motivated only by pure evil.

Some people worry that their children will stumble upon broadcasts of nudity or even X-rated pornography. An understandable concern, if only because it would be awkward explaining to an eight-year-old the mysterious goings-on. But truly I tell ye, I’d have been less disturbed by his accidentally tuning into the Playboy channel than his stumbling upon this Captain Planet nonsense.