The State of the Resistance! An Interview with Captain Power’s Creative Team

Posted by | May 06, 2014 | Captain Power, Fans, Gaming, Interview | No Comments

Coming soon!

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“Awesome!  So… when is it happening?”

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That’s the question Captain Power fans ask when told that the show is coming back.
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It was the first question I had at the tip of my tongue when, this past week, I was invited to sit down with the Executive in Charge of Production, Roger Lay Jr., and Eric Carnagey, the Executive in Charge of Development. Roger and Eric have been the duo that’s behind bringing us all the Captain Power news and events up until now. If you’re a follower of the Official Captain Power on Facebook or Tumblr, these are the guys who have been reaching out to all of us, orchestrating fan nights at local stores, producing the DVD and the Soundtrack releases and energizing a nostalgic community that is ever growing… and that’s just the frosting. These are also the pair responsible for the development of Phoenix Rising, the relaunch we’ve all been hearing about and waiting for.
Below is the Q & A session I had with the power behind Captain Power. It was time to tell the story on why the Original show is being brought back, why it met its end, where the new show was at, and what we could expect in the future.
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Roger Lay & Eric Carnagey
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This past March 27th marks, to the day, 26 years since the last episode of Captain Power aired. So let me be devil’s advocate and ask, why launch the new show now? What’s bringing it back?
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Roger:  That’s an easy one. It’s such a rich mythology and such a rich universe, that Gary (the show’s creator), barely got to scratch the surface ofwith the original. The show really didn’t get the chance it deserved back then.
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Eric: Yeah, it’s always been said that Captain Power was before its time. And now… this is the time. It’s the right place.
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Is any of the original cast being approached for the relaunch?
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Roger: Oh yeah! A bunch of them have been approached and are already on board.
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Eric: Tim Dunigan (who played Captain Jonathan Power in the Original), has been approached (and is interested) to return and play Mentor and Stuart Power. Stuart Power will have a larger role in this one too than he had in the original.
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Roger: And Bruce Gray who played Mentor in the Original is also in the plans to return. Jessica Steen who played Pilot, has also confirmed she wants to be on board so we’ll be writing something for her. That’s been part of the entire process from the beginning. And not just the cast, but a lot of the original Crew wants to come back for the relaunch. Gary Guttman, the composer is coming back to do the soundtrack again. Frank Morrone, who did all the sound work for the original and then went on to become an Emmy Award winning sound mixer who worked on Lost and a ton of other projects… he was actually in the studio with us last week fishing out the original sound fx elements from the old show so we could have them again.
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Eric: Ron Thornton (famed VFX Artist), who worked on the original, has expressed an interest in coming back too, also Ted King who produced all the recording sessions for the show, so it’s a big crowd from the Original that want to help bring it back in this new incarnation.
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Here’s a question I see a lot and I’ve wanted to ask you guys directly about. The show was crazy popular when it came out only to get canceled after the first season. So what the heck happened there?
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Roger: Well the show had an audience, it had a following, it had great reviews! The simple complication that came up was that the show was financed by Mattel, because they were producing an action figure line with the property. The moment action figure sales sank horribly in 1987… that’s the year in which Masters of the Universe went down from $400 Million in sales, to something like $7 Million. So the action figure category sank dramatically. Captain Power sold $70 Million which was a great figure; if you look at the action figure lines that were coming out immediately after Captain Power — toy lines like BraveStarr — those weren’t even doing half that. But Mattel had these expectations, thinking it was going to be He-Man numbers in its prime and not realizing that, that era of “boys toys” had come to an end for the time being. So when they ran the comparison of these sales, they made the drastic decision to pull the plug on the show because the show was basically costing them $2 Million an episode. Keep in mind, this was in 1987, so that made Captain Power the most expensive show on TV. The show was doing very well and the second season was ready to go.
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Eric: And when the rug is pulled out from under you that quickly, it’s impossible to find someone else in 1987, who has $2 Million to give you, per episode, to help keep you going.
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Yeah! I spotted on Wikipedia that the Second Season was written!
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Roger: Oh yeah. And we’ll utilize it at some point.
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Eric: The material has never been publicly released though. I mean, you can see what the second season was going to be about and the story points they wanted to hit. But we might try doing something with those scripts at some point.
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So this actually leads me to my next question: There was a character, a secret character that didn’t get introduced in the original show?
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Roger: Stingray! Yeah, Stingray was a money issue. They couldn’t figure out how to build a water tank cost-effectively and incorporate underwater sequences into the original show so it never happened.
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Eric: And we can’t say, how, but we can say that we are utilizing that character in a unique way that the fans will love. We recognize him as a character of the original mythos that didn’t get to have his part, but he will in Phoenix Rising. And it’s going to lift the shroud of mystery around the character and really give richness to the story arc of the new show.
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Roger: That was one of the most exciting things for us (Eric and I) with this character, is we got to help develop him for the new show. Helping develop his story arc. But that’s all we can say!
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So… since you know all the scripts from the Second Season of the Original Show… can you please tell me what happened after they blew up my girlfriend (AKA: Corporal Jennifer ‘Pilot’ Chase)? Was there a story there?
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Roger: Captain Jonathan Power was out for revenge. That was the arc. Also, our heroes didn’t have a Power Base anymore, so they’re on the run. Throughout the season they were going to find a temporary home and new allies and all of that would eventually lead up to the next confrontation with Dread, but the Jonathan Power of Season 2 was very different than the Jonathan Power of Season 1. It was going to be darker. The events of the finale really affected him to his core. Even though he had this credo of preserving all life, he had a personal and maybe selfish mission in that second year.
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Eric: That’s something that’s going to parallel a bit for the fans. Because Jennifer is going to find a new kind of life in this new show, so it will be something to really look forward to, but that’s all we can say about that at the moment.
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Alright, I’m going to get to the question I’ve been wanting to ask since we first sat down, but I wanted to pose a question that people who are just finding out about Captain Power, might ask. The Man Versus the Machine thing has been a hugely popular story in Sci Fi. The Terminator, Cylons in Battlestar Galactica, The Matrix, The Cybermen in Doctor Who, the Borg in Star Trek. What does Captain Power bring to Sci Fi that hasn’t been done before?
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Roger: Captain Power was one of the earlier voices in these narratives, with regards to TV shows and film entertainment tackling the subject. We’ve seen stories that deal with the whole man and machine communion. The Good side vs. the Bad side. The Bad side, being that side that wants to wipe out humanity and replace it with the perfection of the machine, like the Borg on TNG not long after Captain Power left the air. But no one has really explored what we’re going to explore in Phoenix Rising. Let’s say you’ve already established this: the Machine is evil because of Lord Dread’s motivations. The Good guys obviously don’t share those motivations, but they’re utilizing the Phoenix technology (the Power Suits) and more and more they are using the very power that those who they stand against, are abusing. So there will come a time when these characters will have to ask themselves, “Are we any better? What is the price we’re paying”?
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Eric: And that’s just what’s happening on the “Good Guy” side. Now on Dread’s side… Dr. Lyman Taggart was Human before he was Dread. When you first see him, his desire to prolong life and help humanity makes him a tragic figure in a way because it’s his good intentions that ultimately will turn him into Lord Dread.
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Roger: The world of Pheonix Rising will be different in this way because the original series, is going to actually be the aftermath of the story we are doing now. So we’re going to see a lot more of Taggart and his fall, the rise of the Phoenix Technology and the Power Suits. In this world, there will be people who kinda see eye to eye with Dread, who live a comfortable life and who believe in the advancement of the human race through the machine. There’s going to come a moment when Jonathan Power is going to wonder if he is right, or if he is just getting in the way of what might be best for the whole human race. There’s going to be a lot of gray areas and a lot of heavy questions for our heroes to explore.
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Eric: Also taking the fact that while the cold, logical Machine imprints itself on the Man, we’re also delving deep into the arc of the chaotic mind of Man imprinting itself on the Machine. Part of the second season arc of the original show dealt with Soaron questioning himself and Dread’s plan.
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Oh, holy crap.
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Roger: Yeah, so with this concept, machine’s are dreaming and expressing emotions for some mysterious reason and it has to come to terms with that. So thematically it’s a concept that has definitely been touched, but hasn’t been developed in the way we’re aiming. It’s almost always Man versus Machine. Here, the line is not so clear anymore.
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Alright. So here’s the big question. Phoenix Rising. Where are we at with that?
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Roger: What everyone should know is that this project is being put together by people who love the property and at the center of it all is the guy who created it. Gary Goddard created Captain Power and he owns it again and in a way, that’s why it’s taken longer to get it on the air. We’ve had meetings with a lot of the big entertainment agencies, C.A.A. for example. If we had gone in to sell the property and let C.A.A. get their A-List TV Showrunner clients to put it together and let them run it however they wanted, we would be on the air by now. But we didn’t want that. We wanted to make the show we feel is the right successor to the original. And we want to tell the stories we feel are quintessential to the Captain Power Mythology. So we had to say, “Okay… well, we have to develop this on our own”.
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Eric: It’s going to take a bit longer because we don’t have J.J. Abrams as an Executive Producer. (laughs)
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Roger: Right, we would be on the air already if we did. But we’re keeping this in the hands of people who love the property, developed the property and know the property. We don’t want J.J. Abrams, we want to do this our way.
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Eric: (laughing) Unless J.J. wants to do it!
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Roger: But essentially that’s why. If we sold it off, the show would be on the air. But it wouldn’t be the show we want, it wouldn’t be Captain Power as envisioned by the creator and it wouldn’t be what the fans would expect. You know, in this world of remakes, we aren’t going to let this be a show that forgets its original fan base and its original premise. It’s a labor of love and everything is ready to go. Scripts and story outlines are written, the budgets are made, the conceptual designs are finalized. The moment this show finds a home, with someone who can see it for the great property it is, we’ll be ready to shoot. It’s ready to go, right now. If we got the greenlight from a network we could start production right away. Because we have distribution in Canada and internationally lined up. The only problem is the U.S.. Because the U.S. has become a game of “who are we buying from” and not, “what are we buying”.  But Gary created this show, this world we all love and it’s very important to him. He’s spent a lot of time and effort to keep this property he created, close, so that it never becomes a bastardized version of its original form. If we wanted to just sell it, get the check, have our names on it and move on, it would have been done already… so yeah. That’s not who we are though. We love Captain Power and we won’t let go of it.
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Gary Goddard, Creator of Captain Power, Roger, Eric & Writers Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens

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Alrighty then! Have you guys been exploring other ways Captain Power can find it’s way into the hands of fans?
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Eric: What we can say is that we’ve been spending a lot of time in the video game world-
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WHAT.
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Eric: - and that’s about all we can say at the moment.
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Will there be any more Toy Lines?
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Roger: We can tell you right now that there will be new Captain Power merchandise in the future. Right now, there’s going to be a 20th Anniversary Skeleton Warriors Toy Line which we will launch in the fall. The people we are working with are fantastic, and the figures they are making look amazing. If that works out then we’ll have a lot of options for Captain Power. We’re still friends with a lot of good people over at Mattel. We can’t say when, but yes, they are well aware of what we’re up to and considering jumping on board in the future, especially once Phoenix Rising gets on the air.
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Is there anything else you wanna put out there for fans? Something they can look forward to next?
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Roger: I think in the next couple of months we’ll have some definitive news about how you’re going to see Captain Power next. Be it graphic novel, video games, or maybe more details on Phoenix Rising. We just launched the new website-
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Eric:  And we’ve got you working on the blog now. So we’ll be giving fans more access to what’s happening and reaching out to the loyal base to keep them up to date on where everything is at. We’re actually setting up new marketing campaigns as well. I’m just going to be blunt- this is going to be a great year for Captain Power. So please stay tuned, keep your eyes on the blog, like us on Facebook, spread the word. We work on this every day. We push for it every day.
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Roger: Yeah. And we’re going to do it right.
Leaving the interview, I felt like I had just hung out with a bunch of fellow Sci Fi nerds at a convention. That sense of ambiguity with regards to Captain Power’s future vanished the moment I saw them light up when talking about the show’s future.
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True, passion alone is not enough to get a sci fi franchise off the ground. But couple that with tenacity and an unwavering dedication to the mythos, and what you get is the story of Star Trek; a show that was cancelled and later became one of the greatest science fiction properties ever. Or Firefly and its fanbase, the Browncoats, who helped make the movie Serenity a possibility. And just like those fantastic worlds, Captain Power lives. It’s here. It’s alive and well thanks to the fans. We are on the brink of seeing the next chapter of this fantastic sci fi story. But if you’re going to do it, do it right or not at all.
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It sounds to me, that Phoenix Rising is being done right. That alone makes this worth the wait.
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-Eric Campbell
Fan Liaison
Mentor AI System Specialist
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