It's been an eventful few months for Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future creator Gary Goddard and his co-producer Roger Lay, Jr. since it was announced back in March that the short-lived, cult-hit series would return--not as a Saturday morning series aimed at kids, but as an hour-long sci-fi adventure drama titled Phoenix Rising: The Return of Captain Power.
Original series star Tim Dunigan, rumored to be returning as the father of his original character in the reboot, appeared with Goddard and Lay at a Captain Power fan event in October, showing off concept footage of the new series, signing DVDs of the original show and talking with fans about their hopes for the future of the franchise.
Goddard and Lay joined us for an interview, discussing the past and future of Captain Power as well as the other developments they've got coming down the pipeline.
Look for more from the creators of Phoenix Rising: The Return of Captain Power later this week on ComicBook.com!
ComicBook.com: It was so weird hearing that you guys had been developing a new spinoff--is it surreal to you guys to be this close to reinvigorating it?
Goddard: Well, it's probably not surreal to them becuase Roger was one of the kids watching the show! But yeah, it's a little surreal for me becuase I was there. I was only fifteen, I think...
Lay: I just think it should be said that this is not a spinoff. That's the question a lot of fans have had. The original kind of ended. They were going to do a second season and they had scripts ready to go but Mattel decided to stop making the interactive toys so they weren't going to finance the show anymore.
A lot of fans have been asking, or thinking, that what we're going to do is just the second season scripts or some kind of continuation or follow-up. It's really not; it's more what Ron Moore did with [Battlestar] Galactica, where he went back to the source material and kind of updated it and just gave you a new entry point into that mythology and into that universe.
Having said that, when the show is moving, you will see a lot of elements that Gary had envisioned all the way back to the original and some of them he couldn't even implement because of limitations with technology or dealing with a company like Mattel, who's trying to sell toys at the same time. This one is kind of the original concept unleashed, actually.
ComicBook.com: Now, you guys were around for just one season back in the '80s but you had toys and a video game and that stuff just doesn't happen anymore. Is it a very different environment, developing a show now versus back then?
Goddard: Yes, I think that was a different time, although it wasn't easy back then either. It was always a challenge to put all of the elements together and make something happen. But it was easier then than now, yes. The rules have changed dramatically with regards to who owns shows, how they get put up...there are so many different stations now, no one really has a true majority of the eyeballs that are watching TV.
There's so many options and the waters are much more difficult and it's really difficult to navigate when you're trying to retain ownership of your project and quality control. If I was willing to just license this to a studio and basically say, "Okay, fine. Give me some money and make sure I get my credit as creator--good luck!" then I suppose I could make a very fast deal. But we're not doing that--we're not interested in that.
Lay: No. Gary spent all the time and effort over the years getting all these intellectual properties back under the Goddard Group umbrella. Originally Captain Power was Mattel and it was through his former company, Landmark, and then Skeleton Warriors was--the toys were PlayMates and the Saturday morning show was CBS.
So a great deal of effort was spent in bringing all of these properties in house so that we can manage them, control them and really figure out what th ebest way is to exploit each and every one of them--Captain Power being the family jewel becuase it's the one that people seem to remember and have all of these wonderful memories of. You don't want to just exploit it for money; you want to really control it and have the right creative in place and the right amount of control. So that takes longer because you have to piece the deal together.
ComicBook.com: So from that perspective, it almost makes more sense that there isn't immediately a mobile game and a digital comic and whatever else. That could turn out to be just one more thing that's a time sink.
Goddard: I think if a really quality frim came along and wanted to do a mobile game or a video game, I'd do that. I don't think that--as long as it's done in a great way--it doesn't detract from the show. I think that toys and licensing things should follow from the show and I think to us, we'd rather have the show first, the property first, redefining what the look will be and the characters will be for this new generation.
Lay: Plus like Gary was saying, too, the landscape has changed drastically. Back then as the show was going on the air, product was hitting the shelves. even before the actual show. It was all a concerted effort to get it out simultaneously whereas now you'll have a show go into production and maybe you start seeing licensed items coming out if the show goes into a second or a third year. That's kind of how they've done it for similar science fiction and fantasy franchises.
ComicBook.com: You talk about what a different marketplace it is because you don't have the networks per se, but at the same time with genre entertainment like this, it seems like it's kind of a golden age for this kind of stuff, doesn't it?
Lay: They are, but it's very different what they're spending their money on. I really think the golden age was really the late '80s until early 2000s when you had the syndication market and all this sci-fi stuff was coming up.You had the Star Trek spinoffs, the Babylon 5, the Time Tracks, Hercules, Xena, Mutant X, Sliders. It was like everything was getting greenlit up. Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda and Earth: Final Conflict. It was like all these great genre shows that really embraced the genre were getting greenlit because they'd figured out a way to get it directly to that audience by syndicating it and selling it to independent station owners who could air it right before prime time and over the weekends and taht audience was there loyally.
Now the audience has shrunk up and it's a smaller audience. If you look at the genre stuff that's getting greenlit on networks, it's kind of hip, sexy, edgy kind of stuff with sci-fi or fantasy flavoring; it's not really embracing the mechanics of the genre. It's more for general audiences. It's like watered-down sci-fi. Other than maybe BBC, who's still doing really great sci-fi shows, and SPACE in Canada. Look at Sleepy Hollow. That's not really a hardcore genre show, it's kind of a watered-down version of it. So it becomes more difficult.
It was really easy for us to find our international component for making the show, you know? Our international distribution. But when we got to domestic, we just keep getting these same notes, you know? It's not hip or sexy enough. And it's just like, "What the hell does that mean?" It's Captain Power, it's not Beverly Hills 90210. We're not trying to remake Melrose Place. We're trying to remake something that was essentially a one-hour action/adventure sci-fi drama and you've got to embrace what that means.
ComicBook.com: Do you think the name change kind of creates some false expectations on the part of the people that you're shopping to? Because Phoenix Rising is a bit of a hipper, sexier name.
Lay: They love the name. Gary can say more about this but every meeting we've had, the agency we've been dealing with, the major feedback they always tell us is that every buyer has loved the name.
Goddard: Well, the subtitle would still be "The Return of Captain Power." So we're not getting rid of Captain Power but we are thinking 25 years have gone by. If you're a Captain Power fan, you know that the Phoenix was their symbol so as a fan base, I think they get it and as sort of a new show, I think that works. So I think it's good. I like it, because it also means rebirth.
Lay: And it is the rise of Jonathan Power and everything that the Captain Power mythology stands on is the creation fo teh Phoenix technology that would finally give humanity a fighitng chance against the mechanized armies of the world. So Phoenix Rising makes perfect sense, we feel.
ComicBook.com: Now, since you had a second season planned out and scripts written, are some of those stories or ideas going to find their way into the reboot?
Lay: Not now because those scripts were to pick up literally the next day after the finale of the original.
Goddard: Well, I think what we're going to do with those is turn them into graphic novels and turn them into comics. Because they're already written--why not?
Lay: Not too different from what Joss Whedon did after the end of Buffy, where he continued the next season as a series of comics. And those scripts we own and we have them here, so we can do that, but that really has nothing to do with Phoenix Rising at this point. You have to set up your new show and let it evolve and let your new writing staff have the freedom to take it wherever they feel is proper.
ComicBook.com: How close do you think you guys are to getting a pilot underway? I mean, are you going to keep going until you get domestic distribution taken care of or if that continues to be an obstacle might you just say to heck with it and shoot a pilot to show around?
Goddard: I think we were very, very close and then the Canadian component fell out, so we're putting it back together. I'd rather not put a date on it but I think this will happen sooner than later.