This OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes review contains spoilers.
While OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes has always had a heart warming side it was inevitable that teaming up with Captain Planet would make the series lose any sense of subtly. The whole episode from start to end does not let up on “save the planet” messages. At one point Dr. Blight cackles,
“The best part of climate change? NO ONE BELIEVES IT’S REAL!”
Some might call it preachy. Over the top. In your face.
So basically it was an episode of Captain Planet, complete with awful/amazing puns. It was marvelous.
OK K.O. could have easily just made fun of the admittedly very cheese series but it whole-heartedly embraced everything that made the show a pop culture icon. It wasn’t just the eco-friendly messaging; they nailed the music, the Captain Planet formation sequence, and even perfectly replicated the look and feel of the Planeteer Alert.
When I say they perfectly replicated it, I mean it looks like it was transplanted from the 90’s complete with replicating the old animation style. Anyone who was a big fan of Captain Planet back in the day will find a lot to love in this episode.
Thankfully the team up doesn’t just coast by on nostalgia alone. It also adds some new layers to not only the Captain Planet characters but also its core message. While “The Power Is Yours!” does make a few lighthearted jabs at the series’ stock plots (“We’ll destroy the world!” “Why would we do that? We live on… the world.”) it actually hits you with some hard truths.
In the preview clips for this episode Kwame casually mentioned that the other Planeteers had “given up.” At first I thought that was just a throwaway line so they didn’t have to include that many characters but the end of episode expands on it. The Planeteers broke up and got new jobs because of infighting.
It’s played totally straight and it genuinely makes you wonder what that infighting was about. It’s the kind of tale that would make for a great TV movie (which Cartoon Network should totally make.) It probably had to do with the sobering fact that well… all of the Planeteers efforts seemed to be for nothing.
Captain Planet and Kwame quietly mourn that pollution has only gotten worse since the 90’s. Saving the planet is no longer an option the people of Earth can choose to ignore.
While yeah, that sounds like your typical Captain Planet moralizing moment it works because it comes from genuine emotion. The Earth has become more polluted since Captain Planet was on air and it’s only going to get worse. Kwame lost his friends because their mission failed.
That’s powerful. That sells the message more than any pollution pun. This team-up gives the audience the nostalgia it wants but cleverly used actual character development to drive home the environmental message.
It’s harrowing that on the same day this episode aired the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would withdraw from the Clean Power Plan. So you know what? Who cares if this episode is a giant “message” about saving the planet? It’s clearly one we all need to hear. Captain Planet might be cheesy sure, but clearly we can’t have any subtly because that hasn’t worked in the past twenty or so years. Sometimes we need a message clearly explained to us.
OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes was the perfect Cartoon Network series for this team up because KO is the best character to help deliver that message. KO cares so much for other people it’s not surprising he’d also care about the planet. Yeah, the moral might sound cheesy but coming from KO its one hundred percent sincere and rings true.
So hey, unplug your phone when you aren’t using it. Pick up your trash. Little things do go a long way. The power is yours!
Shamus Kelley wants to go back and watch all of Captain Planet. That’s something he never thought he’d say. Follow him on Twitter!