The Centurions (TV series)
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Centurions: Power Xtreme is a syndicated 30 minute American science fiction animated television series produced by Ruby-Spears and was animated in Japan by Sunrise. Comic book legends Jack Kirby and Gil Kane contributed to the design and concepts of the show. The series began in 1986 as a five-part miniseries and was followed with a 60 episode series. 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. The show revolves around the conflict between Doc Terror's cyborgs and the Centurions (a combination of hard-suit and a mecha).
In the near future of the 21st century, an evil genius, the cyborg scientist Doc Terror, seeks to conquer the Earth and turn its inhabitants into cyborg slaves. He is assisted by Hacker, the cyborg sidekick and an army of cyborgs. There were man types of cyborgs:
- Doom Drones Traumatizers - the most commonly seen drones are walking robots with laser blasters for arms. The toy for the Traumatizer was a Sears store exclusive. The Traumatizer Leader was colored red.
- Doom Drones Strafers - A flying robot armed with missiles and lasers.
- Groundborgs - A land based robot armed with lasers that moves on treads. No toy was made of Groundborgs.
- Cybervore Panther - A cyborg panther. Introduced later in the series. Could combine with the Cybervore Shark. A toy for the Cybervore Panther was designed, but never released.
- Cybervore Shark - A cyborg shark. Introduced later in the series. Could combine with the Cybervore Panther. A toy for the Cybervore Shark was designed, but never released.
Later, a wheeled Drone with a large screen and cannons as well as a submarine drone were added. Doc Terror and Hacker are able to fly by swapping their purely robot half for a Strafer. 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 allow 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 are three Centurions but two other Centurions are later added:
- Max Ray - 'Brilliant' Sea Operations Commander: The calm and collected de facto leader of the team, donning a green exo-frame suit and sporting a fine moustache. His weapon systems are best suited for underwater missions, some of these are as follows:
- Cruiser - A sea assault weapon system that is used for in and out of water that includes hydro thrusters, a keel-fin radar unit and a missile launcher. Max wears this with a green helmet that matches his exo-frame.
- Tidal Blast - A powerful surface-sub-surface attack weapon system with two hydro powered keel-fins used for above and below the water that has battle modes such as cruise, subsonic speed and rear attack. It's weapons include a re-pulsar lesion cannon and two rotating and firing shark missiles. Like Cruiser, Max wears this with a green helmet.
- Depth Charger - A deep sea weapon system used for deep underwater missions. It is a mini sub with two pivoting pontoon thrusters and two mobile directional aqua ins that has modes of attack such as diving, full fire and deep sea. It's weapons include two rotating aqua cannons, deep sea torpedoes and a hydromine.
- Sea Bat - Released in the second years of toys.
- Jake Rockwell - 'Rugged' Land Operations Specialist: Donning a yellow exo-frame suit, he has a short fuse. His weapon systems have the most firepower and are best suited for land missions, some of these are as follows:
- Fireforce - A powerful land assault weapon system that includes twin laser cannons and a rotating plasma re-pulsar. Jake wears this with a yellow helmet that matches his exo-frame.
- Wild Weasel - A protective armour assault weapon system with a head shield and protective back shell for dangerous missions such as heavy forests or rocky terrains. It has battle modes including tracking, anti-aircraft, high speed travel and land attack. It's weapons include two land lasers and a front assault pak module for storing accessories.
- Detonator - A heavy artillery weapon system for maximum firepower. It has many battle modes including air attack and ground assault. It's weapons include sonic ray guns and freeze ray blasters. Like Fireforce, Jake wears this with a yellow helmet.
- Hornet - An assault helicopter weapon system used to assist Aerial missions that has battle modes including surveillance, high speed assault and sneak attack. It's weapons include four side winder missiles and a rotating freeze cannon.
- Swingshot - Released in the second years of toys.
- Ace McCloud - 'Daring' Air Operations Expert: Donning a blue exo-frame suit, he is a brave but cocky womanizer who is sometimes at odds with Jake. His weapon systems are best suited for aerial missions, some of these are as follows:
- Skyknight - A powerful air assault weapon system that has two turbo thrusters. It's weapons include stinsel missiles, laser cannons and laser bombs. Ace wears this with a blue helmet that matches his exo-frame.
- Orbital Interceptor - An advanced air weapon assault system with inner atmospheric thrusters that can even be used in space. It has battle modes including cruise, pursuit and power blast. It's weapons include two particle beam deflectors and a particle beam missile. Ace wears this with a life support helmet.
- Skybolt - An air reinforcement weapon system that has two booster stabiliser pods, radar tracking wings and modular invertible wings with battle modes including reconnaissance, backfire and anti-attack. It's weapons include galactic missiles and two backfire missile launchers for front and rear attacks. Like Skyknight, Ace wears this with a blue helmet.
- Strato Strike - The toy for Strato Strike was designed, but never released.
Extended Team (later additions):
- Rex Charger - ‘Expert’ Energy Programmer. Dons a red and pale green exo-frame suit.
- John Thunder – ‘Specialist’ Infiltration Commander. Has a black exo-frame with exposed skin.
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.
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 is a focus throughout the show's run. A number of episodes also revolved around ecological themes (the 'green issue' was starting to gain respect amongst young people in the mid to late 80's) 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 Legion, 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.
The series 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.
- Michael Bell - John Thunder
- Jennifer Darling - Amber
- Vince Edwards - Jake Rockwell
- Ron Feinberg - Doc Terror
- Pat Fraley - Max Ray
- Ed Gilbert - Hacker
- Diane Pershing - Crystal Kane
- Bob Ridgely - Rex Charger
- Neil Ross - Ace McCloud
- B.J. Ward - Cassandra Cross/Lilith Cross
- William Woodson - Narrator
- Rory Williams - Rory Williams
- Richard "Dick" Gautier -
- Tress MacNeille -
- Mona Marshall -
- Bill E. Martin -
- Mea Martineau -
- David Mendenhall -
- Alan Oppenheimer -
- Patrick Pinney -
- John Stephenson -
- Frank Welker -
- Keone Young -
- Five-part mini-series
- "The Sky Is on Fire" (1986.04.07)
- "Battle Beneath the Sea" (1986.04.08)
- "An Alien Affair" (1986.04.09)
- "Found: One Lost World" (1986.04.10)
- "Sand Doom" (1986.04.11)
- Series Episode List
- "Whalesong" (1986.09.23)
- "Tornado of Terror" (1986.09.23)
- "Denver Is Down" (1986.09.24)
- "Micro Menace" (1986.09.25)
- "Attack of the Plant-Borg" (1986.09.28)
- "Battle Beneath the Ice" (1986.09.29)
- "Operation Starfall" (1986.09.30)
- "Let the Games Begin" (1986.10.01)
- "Firebird" (1986.10.02)
- "Cold Calculations" (1986.10.03)
- "Return of Captain Steele" (1986.10.06)
- "Three Strikes and You're Dead" (1986.10.07)
- "Double Agent" (1986.10.08)
- "Child's Play" (1986.10.09)
- "Terror on Ice" (1986.10.10)
- "That Old Black Magic" (1986.10.13)
- "Max Ray...Traitor" (1986.10.14)
- "Crack the World" (1986.10.15)
- "The Incredible Shrinking Centurions" (1986.10.16)
- "Live at Five" (1986.10.17)
- "The Mummy's Curse" (1986.10.20)
- "Counterclock Crisis" (1986.10.21)
- "Zombie Master" (1986.10.22)
- "Malfunction" (1986.10.23)
- "Broken Beams" (1986.10.24)
- "The Chameleon's Sting" (1986.10.27)
- "Film at Eleven" (1986.10.28)
- "Hacker Must Be Destroyed" (1986.10.29)
- "Showdown at Skystalk" (1986.10.30)
- "The Warrior" (1986.10.31)
- "Return of Cassandra" (1986.11.03)
- "Night on Terror Mountain" (1986.11.04)
- "Merlin" (1986.11.05)
- "The Monsters from Below" (1986.11.06)
- "The Road Devils" (1986.11.07)
- "Zone Dancer" (1986.11.10)
- "Firecracker" (1986.11.11)
- "Traitors Three" (1986.11.12)
- "You Only Love Twice" (1986.11.13)
- "Sungrazer" (1986.11.14)
- "Novice" (1986.11.17)
- "Breakout" (1986.11.18)
- "Atlantis Adventure, Part I" (1986.11.19)
- "Atlantis Adventure, Part II" (1986.11.20)
- "Ghost Warrior" (1986.11.21)
- "Let the Lightning Fall" (1986.11.24)
- "Cyborg Centurion" (1986.11.25)
- "Day of the Animals" (1986.11.26)
- "To Dare Dominion, Part I" (1986.11.27)
- "To Dare Dominion, Part II" (1986.11.28)
- "Hole in the Ocean, Part I" (1986.12.01)
- "Hole in the Ocean, Part II" (1986.12.02)
- "The Better Half, Part I" (1986.12.03)
- "The Better Half, Part II" (1986.12.04)
- "Revenge" (1986.12.05)
- "Man or Machine, Part 1" (1986.12.08)
- "Man or Machine, Part 2" (1986.12.09)
- "Man or Machine, Part 3" (1986.12.10)
- "Man or Machine, Part 4" (1986.12.11)
- "Man or Machine, Part 5" (1986.12.12)
Home Media releases
On December 6, 2011, Warner Bros. released The Centurions: The Original Miniseries on DVD in region 1 via their Warner Archive Collection. This is a Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) release, available exclusively through Warner's online store and only in the US. 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. On March 15, 2016, Warner Archive released The Centurions: Part Two on DVD, which contains the remaining thirty episodes of the series.
- "The Centurions". Internationalhero.co.uk. http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/c/centurion.htm. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- "UK | Nostalgia tops favourite toy list". BBC News. 2003-09-30. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3152280.stm. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- "The Centurions: The Original Miniseries : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Dvdtalk.com. http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/54647/centurions-the-original-miniseries-the/. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- 80s ToonBoy. "The Centurions: The Original Miniseries | WBshop.com | Warner Bros". Wbshop.com. http://www.wbshop.com/The-Centurions-The-Original-Miniseries/1000267879,default,pd.html. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- 'Part 1' DVD Set: Release Date, Pricing, Details, Cover Art
- Date, Box Art and More as the 'Part 2' DVDs are Officially Announced!
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- Virtual Toychest: Centurions - has pictures of most of the toys
- X-Entertainment - The Centurions - Cartoon Review & Toy Gallery
- Centurions episodes available at Guba[dead link]
- "Nostalgia tops favourite toy list" article at bbc.co.uk
- Duke Nostalgia's Centurions Main Page