Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future created by Gary Goddard and Tony Christopher was a popular TV show and toy line (Captain Power and the Soldiers of the future now available on DVD). The first of its kind to create an interactive live action environment where the person can participate in the show by shooting at villains or heroes using Captain Power’s Jet XT-7 or The Phantom Striker Jet.
The show was fun for children but the story of Captain Power had very adult based themes, which helped parents also watch what their children were playing with. The show dealt with racism, love, communism, war and the human spirit, which proved to audiences that this was not just a commercial to sell a toy.
Now almost 30 years later those children have grown up and are anticipating the reboot of Captain Power now titled Phoenix Rising. The story of Captain Jonathan Power continues under the helm of creator Gary Goddard (Skeleton Warriors, Masters of the Universe TMP) and Producer Roger Lay JR. (Toy Masters, Chrysalis).
Roger Lay Jr. was kind enough to talk to us about the progress of Phoenix Rising:
Toy-Lines: Can I ask you a couple of questions about Phoenix Rising?
Rover Lay Jr.: Yeah. I can’t answer all of them, but you can ask.
TL: Sure, yeah. Well, first of all, what can you tell me about it? Is it just a simple reboot?
RLJ: Yeah. It’s not a sequel. We did this Twitter party.
TL: The video? (Referring to a Twitter and Facebook Promotion. Join the Captain Power returns Facebook and Twitter.)
RLJ: The video, yeah, this PR agency, Shiny Objects, they streamed the TV movie version of the pilot. And then we were all on Twitter answering questions. And I think I felt after that that a lot of people think that it’s kind of a sequel or like the never-produced second season of Captain Power, because the show kind of ended abruptly and they had scripts for a second year and they had sets ready to go and they had a cast of people, but then Mattel decided to pull out of the action figure, just kind of stop focusing on action figures and more on interactive and they canceled Toyland and the show went away. But it’s not really a sequel, it’s just a reimagining. It’s not even a reimagining. It’s basically, it is a reboot, but we’re starting from the ground up, where the original kind of starts and media rests. And the first episode begins and Jonathan Power is Captain Power and all the heroes are there and Lord Dread is a bad guy and they are just fighting each other, but you kind of don’t really know what this whole idea of the metal wars is and why it happened and now we get to answer all those things. We get to bring you in at a point where not too far from now, there’s this whole idea of singularity now or this thing that in 25 years or so we will be so dependent on machines and computers that perhaps the interface will be a more organic one rather than a peripheral that you control, like a mouse or a keyboard — that we may very well be one with the machine in a way. You saw last week there was an article that the guys behind Google are starting the Singularity University, which is this whole established group for the study of that, of mankind and machine merging. So basically what 26 years ago was just a wacky kind of sci-fi story that some people thought would just help sell toys is closer to becoming reality, and that’s where we’re starting this one, from a point closer to us, the people living now in this century.
TL: Is the new show more adult oriented or is it for all ages?
RLJ: I think it’s more adult oriented. The original, if you’ve seen it, even though it was billed as a 30-minute kids’ show, was pretty intense. You had some of the lead characters going through horrible things. One of them dies. No one dies in a kids’ show. And there was this whole idea of digitizing, but yeah, it is more adult oriented and it’s more grounded in reality. Where in the original you had digitizing and you had people sucked into the machine, there’s something far more gruesome and real now that is being done in this new one to human beings and it’s something that you could look at where we are now in science and go well shit, if someone went really crazy, they could do that. So yeah, it’s more adult oriented, but not to say that a 12-year-old in the audience wouldn’t get a kick out of seeing it, because in the end it is a group of heroes every week with a very gung-ho kind of attitude of we’re a team and we’re going to do what’s right. Any kid can identify with that. But there’s layers to this story that obviously will probably just fly over the kids’ heads, and it’s just more for people who are really into all these science fiction concepts and what’s happening now out there.
TL: Will anyone from the original show be participating?
RLJ: Yeah. We have Tim Dunigan, who played Captain Power, is already on board to play Stuart Power, who is Jonathan Power’s dad. So in the original it was an actor, Bruce Craig, who gets killed and then he becomes Mentor, and he comes back. So Tim would fill that role now because we — I mean I, as a fan of the original, really felt we needed some kind of connective tissue to the original since we’re not going to be able to, like maybe people want a sequel to the show, but you can’t just 26 years later pick up the same story and have the network or buyer give you the green light on a show that depends on a previous show. You have to be able to come in clean for a new audience. So we’re going to do the sequel but I felt having Tim on it would at least give that to the fans. And there’s a lot of actors from the original, like Jessica Steen, who wants to come back. We haven’t figured out how to write her into it. The first 13 episodes are laid out already. The pilot script is written and a couple of the first episodes, so we know what we’re doing and where we’re headed. Oh, Tank. We would use Sven. We have a great idea for using him. But yeah, Jessica said she’d love to come back, and eventually we’ll figure that out. So, yeah. It’s not like when Star Trek: The Next Generation went on the air, where they made a real conscious effort to separate that from the original. On this one, we don’t. That’s not the case. If we can find any way to connect at least the people from the original to this one, we’d love to do it.
TL: Is Mattel involved in any way?
RLJ: Maybe, but we can’t go into that right now.
TL: That’s fine.
RLJ: But yeah, it’s a possibility. But it wouldn’t be in a manner even close to the original where they financed the show. We have another financing entity involved in this one and if Mattel or any other company that creates product comes on board, it’s just as a licensee and they create product for the franchise but they have no control over the IP, over the intellectual property itself. And we’ve spent a lot of time — Gary Goddard created the original and is the producer on this one with all of us here. We spent a lot of time doing this independently, on our own, through the Goddard Group and finding the individual pieces rather than going to someone and selling them the property and saying okay, make the show and we’re out of the game. This one, we’re driving it completely. It’s fully dependent on us creatively. So it’s not really, he doesn’t have to go through what he went through on the original, where Mattel was kind of driving it and he had to kind of do whatever Mattel wanted and the moment Mattel decided to pull the plug, he really had no control over that.
TL: When could we see something from Phoenix Rising?
RLJ: We have a lot of stuff. We have design stuff. We have a lot of computer-generated stuff already. We have the power suits designed. All that stuff has been designed. But I think you’ll see that stuff when — we have international in place and we have a Canadian broadcasting company also, but we don’t have the US deal yet. We’re still negotiating that. So I think the moment we make that deal, that’s when we’ll start releasing stuff. Because what we don’t want to do is release a bunch of stuff without saying “and it’s airing on this place and you can see it on this date.” You know what I mean?
RLJ: We want to wait until that’s in place, but that is what we’re working on now. That’s the missing piece right now, who’s going to take it domestically.
TL: Mr. Lay Jr. thank you very much for this interview and I look forward as many other Captain Power fans to see Phoenix Rising on tv. I don’t know about anyone else but I’ll still be shooting at the television.
Thank you to Roger Lay Jr. for the update.