The Centurions
Centurions Title.png
Title card
Genre
Voices of
Narrated byWilliam Woodson (Opening Narration)
Theme music composerUdi Harpaz
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes65
Production
Executive producers
ProducerLarry Huber
AnimatorNippon Sunrise Studio 7
Running time30 minutes
Production companyRuby-Spears Enterprises
DistributorWorldvision Enterprises[1]
Release
Original networkfirst-run syndication
Original releaseApril 7 (1986-04-07) –
December 12, 1986 (1986-12-12)

The Centurions is an American science fiction animated television series produced by Ruby-Spears and was animated in Japan by Nippon Sunrise's Studio 7. Comic book artists Jack Kirby and Gil Kane contributed to the design and concepts of the show[2] while Norio Shioyama did the character designs.[3] The series began in 1986 as a five-part mini-series and was followed with a 60-episode series.[4] The series was story edited by Ted Pedersen and written by several authors, including prolific science fiction writers Michael Reaves, Marc Scott Zicree, Larry DiTillio and Gerry Conway.

The series theme and soundtrack were composed by Udi Harpaz. There was also a line of tie-in toys by Kenner and a comic book series by DC Comics.[5] As of 2021, Ramen Toys is doing a pre-order revival of Max, Ace and Jake.[6]

The show revolves around the conflict between Doc Terror's cyborgs and the Centurions (a combination of hard-suit and a mecha).

Premise

"In the near future, Doc Terror and his cyborg companion Hacker unleashed their forces to conquer Earth! Only one force can stop this evil: a handful of brave men. In specially created exo-frames, they can be transported anywhere to fuse with incredible assault weapon systems beamed down from the space station Skyvault, becoming man and machine, Power Xtreme! Max Ray, brilliant Sea Operations commander! Jake Rockwell, rugged Land Operations specialist! Ace McCloud, daring Air Operations expert! Whatever the challenge, they are ready - The Centurions!"

- opening narration by William Woodson.

In the near future of the 21st century, the cyborg mad scientist Doc Terror seeks to conquer the Earth and turn its inhabitants into robot slaves. He is assisted by his cyborg companion Hacker and an army of robots. There were many types of cyborgs:

Later, a wheeled Drone with a large screen and cannons as well as a submarine drone were added. They are joined on many occasions, starting with the first episode, by Doc Terror's daughter Amber.

At each turn, their evil plans are thwarted by the heroic Centurions. The Centurions are a team of men dressed in specially created exo-frames that allows them (upon shouting "PowerXtreme") to fuse with 'incredible' assault weapon systems, becoming what the show calls man and machine, Power Xtreme! The end result is a weapons platform somewhere between a hard-suit and a mecha. Originally, there were three Centurions but two other Centurions were added later:

Original Team:

Extended Team (later additions):

The Centurions are based on an orbiting space station called Sky Vault where its operator, Crystal Kane, uses a transporter to send the Centurions, and the requested weapon systems, to where they are needed. Crystal is always in the company of either Jake Rockwell's dog Shadow or Lucy the orangutan or in most cases both. Shadow is usually more involved with the Centurions' battles than Lucy and sports a harness with dual missile launchers. Crystal suggests tactics and sends equipment as required. The Centurions also have a hidden base in New York City called Centrum. Its entrance is hidden in a book store and must be reached via an underground railcar. Centrum serves as the Centurions' land base of operations and also has a beaming pod for rapid transport to Sky Vault. In addition to Sky Vault and Centrum, there is also a Centurion Academy whose location is kept completely secret and only seen in the last 5 episodes.

Much like the Super Friends' additions of Black Vulcan, Apache Chief, Samurai, and, El Dorado to introduce racial diversity into the series, The Centurions saw the addition of Rex Charger, the energy expert, and John Thunder, the Apache infiltration expert.

Themes

As well as the adventure side of the show, the series considered various science fiction themes. In particular, the fusion or relationship between humans and technology was a focus throughout the show's run. To tie in with real-world issues at the time, a number of episodes revolved around ecological themes, such as Doc Terror's attempts to extort money from the governments of the world by threatening to destroy some aspect of the environment. The subject of magic is explored in "That Old Black Magic" when Ace becomes involved with a woman named Cassandra Cross, who is a practitioner of white magic. Her evil twin sister, Lilith, joins forces with Doc Terror in "Return of Cassandra". Both characters are voiced by B. J. Ward.

Ace also has other romantic interests; some of them reappear in later episodes, such as television reporter Jenny Rivers and Sealab technician Mei Lee. Ace's most elusive romantic pursuit is Crystal Kane, who later reveals she had lost a fiancé in action ("You Only Love Twice"). Ace has a romantic dream involving Crystal at the beginning of the episode "Firecracker". Crystal often resists Ace's advances either firmly or jokingly, but sometimes demonstrates she has affection and love for him. The two finally kiss at the conclusion of the two-part story "The Better Half".

Doc Terror is sometimes assisted by his daughter Amber. Like the Batman character Talia al Ghul, she sometimes shows affection for an enemy of her father (Jake Rockwell) and even betrays him when he goes too far ("Let the Lightning Fall").

The series also sometimes leaves an episode's ending up to viewer interpretation. In the two-part story "The Better Half", Doc Terror and Hacker's robotic halves, Syntax and Lesion, join together after a freak accident and become "Uniborg"; they turn on the two, forcing Terror and Hacker to ally with the Centurions. Upon breaking into Dominion and defeating their robotic counterparts, Terror is poised to destroy them, when they argue that he cannot kill them because they are his creations and an extension of himself and Hacker. Terror screams in anguish as he fires his disruptor cannon, and the episode ends with a scene on Skyvault, not revealing whether or not Terror intentionally misses or destroys Uniborg. In "To Dare Dominion", Terror unleashes a time/space vortex consumer within Dominion that plays havoc with reality. The Centurions are able to destroy it, but not before it wrecks Dominion's power generators, causing a violent explosion that seemingly kills Doc Terror and Hacker. The Centurions are beamed out before they suffer the same fate. Terror and Hacker's fate remains unresolved at the episode's conclusion, with Jake believing that they are finished, and Max arguing that they may not be. Episodes were produced and broadcast in an anachronistic order. For example, the episodes which showcase the recruitment drive for the two extra Centurions ("Man or Machine" 5-parter) were produced long after several episodes showcasing the new additions.

Cast

Main voices

Additional voices

Episodes

Five-part mini-series

  1. "The Sky Is on Fire" (1986.04.07): written by Ted Pedersen
  2. "Battle Beneath the Sea" (1986.04.08): written by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
  3. "An Alien Affair" (1986.04.09): written by Ted Pedersen
  4. "Found: One Lost World" (1986.04.10): written by Don Glut
  5. "Sand Doom" (1986.04.11): written by Ted Pedersen

Season One

  1. "Whalesong" (1986.09.22): written by Gerry Conway and Carla Conway
  2. "Tornado of Terror" (1986.09.23): written by Gerry Conway and Carla Conway
  3. "Denver Is Down" (1986.09.24): written by Matt Uitz
  4. "Micro Menace" (1986.09.25): written by Jack Bornoff
  5. "Attack of the Plant-Borg" (1986.09.26): written by Don Goodman
  6. "Battle Beneath the Ice" (1986.09.29): written by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
  7. "Operation Starfall" (1986.09.30): written by Michael Reaves
  8. "Let the Games Begin" (1986.10.01): written by Marc Scott Zicree
  9. "Firebird" (1986.10.02): written by Matt Uitz
  10. "Cold Calculations" (1986.10.03): written by Kayte Kuch
  11. "Return of Captain Steele" (1986.10.06): written by Michael Reaves
  12. "Three Strikes and You're Dead" (1986.10.07): written by Larry DiTillio
  13. "Double Agent" (1986.10.08): written by Creighton Barnes
  14. "Child's Play" (1986.10.09): written by Kayte Kuch
  15. "Terror on Ice" (1986.10.10): written by Herb Engelhardt
  16. "That Old Black Magic" (1986.10.13): written by Gerry Conway and Carla Conway
  17. "Max Ray...Traitor" (1986.10.14): written by Marc Scott Zicree
  18. "Crack the World" (1986.10.15): written by Gerry Conway and Carla Conway
  19. "The Incredible Shrinking Centurions" (1986.10.16): written by Michael Cassutt and Mark Cassutt
  20. "Live at Five" (1986.10.17): written by Michael Charles Hill
  21. "The Mummy's Curse" (1986.10.20): written by Gerry Conway and Carla Conway
  22. "Counterclock Crisis" (1986.10.21): written by Gerry Conway and Carla Conway
  23. "Zombie Master" (1986.10.22): written by Creighton Barnes
  24. "Malfunction" (1986.10.23): written by Creighton Barnes and Matt Uitz
  25. "Broken Beams" (1986.10.24): written by Herb Engelhardt
  26. "The Chameleon's Sting" (1986.10.27): written by Kayte Kuch
  27. "Film at Eleven" (1986.10.28): written by Michael Charles Hill
  28. "Hacker Must Be Destroyed" (1986.10.29): written by Don Glut
  29. "Showdown at Skystalk" (1986.10.30): written by Michael Reaves
  30. "The Warrior" (1986.10.31): written by Mark Edens
  31. "Return of Cassandra" (1986.11.03): written by Gerry Conway and Carla Conway
  32. "Night on Terror Mountain" (1986.11.04): written by Mel Gilden
  33. "Merlin" (1986.11.05): written by Kip Gordy
  34. "The Monsters from Below" (1986.11.06): written by Gary Greenfield
  35. "The Road Devils" (1986.11.07): written by Gary Greenfield
  36. "Zone Dancer" (1986.11.10): written by Michael Reaves
  37. "Firecracker" (1986.11.11): written by Larry DiTillio
  38. "Traitors Three" (1986.11.12): written by Barbara Hambly
  39. "You Only Love Twice" (1986.11.13): written by Martha Humphreys
  40. "Sungrazer" (1986.11.14): written by Michael Reaves
  41. "Novice" (1986.11.17): written by Herb Engelhardt
  42. "Breakout" (1986.11.18): written by Antoni Zalewski
  43. "Atlantis Adventure, Part I" (1986.11.19): written by Steve Perry and Ted Pedersen
  44. "Atlantis Adventure, Part II" (1986.11.20): written by Steve Perry and Ted Pedersen
  45. "Ghost Warrior" (1986.11.21): written by Gerry Conway and Carla Conway
  46. "Let the Lightning Fall" (1986.11.24): written by Gerry Conway and Carla Conway
  47. "Cyborg Centurion" (1986.11.25): written by Michael Charles Hill
  48. "Day of the Animals" (1986.11.26): written by Steve Perry
  49. "To Dare Dominion, Part I" (1986.11.27): written by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
  50. "To Dare Dominion, Part II" (1986.11.28): written by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
  51. "Hole in the Ocean, Part I" (1986.12.01): written by Herb Engelhardt
  52. "Hole in the Ocean, Part II" (1986.12.02): written by Herb Engelhardt
  53. "The Better Half, Part I" (1986.12.03): written by Larry Huber
  54. "The Better Half, Part II" (1986.12.04): written by Larry Huber
  55. "Revenge" (1986.12.05): written by Kayte Kuch
  56. "Man or Machine, Part 1" (1986.12.08): written by Ted Pedersen and Steve Perry
  57. "Man or Machine, Part 2" (1986.12.09): written by Ted Pedersen and Steve Perry
  58. "Man or Machine, Part 3" (1986.12.10): written by Ted Pedersen and Steve Perry
  59. "Man or Machine, Part 4" (1986.12.11): written by Ted Pedersen and Steve Perry
  60. "Man or Machine, Part 5" (1986.12.12): written by Ted Pedersen and Steve Perry

Board Game

A board game called Centurions: Jake Rockwell's Battle to Stop Dr. Terror Game was released by Parker Brothers[7] in 1986.

Home Media releases

On December 6, 2011, Warner Home Video released The Centurions: The Original Miniseries on DVD in Region 1 via their Warner Archive Collection.[8] This is a Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) release, available exclusively through Warner's online store and only in the US.[9] On July 21, 2015, Warner Archive released The Centurions: Part One on DVD in Region 1 which contains the first thirty episodes of the regular series.[10] On March 15, 2016, Warner Archive released The Centurions: Part Two on DVD, which contains the remaining thirty episodes of the series.[11]

References

  1. ^ Broadcasting (PDF). Broadcasting Publications. January 20, 1986. p. 14. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  2. ^ "The Centurions". Internationalhero.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  3. ^ https://efanzines.com/BCSFA/BCSFAzine528.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  4. ^ Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. p. 196. ISBN 978-1476665993.
  5. ^ "UK | Nostalgia tops favourite toy list". BBC News. 2003-09-30. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  6. ^ "Ramen Toy Updates on It's 80s Commander (Centurions) Action Figure Line".
  7. ^ Centurions: Jake Rockwell's Battle to Stop Dr. Terror Game
  8. ^ "The Centurions: The Original Miniseries : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Dvdtalk.com. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  9. ^ 80s ToonBoy. "The Centurions: The Original Miniseries | WBshop.com | Warner Bros". Wbshop.com. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  10. ^ 'Part 1' DVD Set: Release Date, Pricing, Details, Cover Art Archived 2015-07-07 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Date, Box Art and More as the 'Part 2' DVDs are Officially Announced! Archived 2016-02-26 at the Wayback Machine