Centurions: The Original Miniseries DVD Review: man and machine, power xtreme!

While the producers might disagree, there are a great deal of similarities between the Centurions and Transformers cartoons from the mid-'80s. Of course the old “good vs. evil” storylines are as old as literature itself, but the Centurions offer a new twist. They are “Man And Machine - Power Xtreme!” You gotta love the intros of the three Centurions: “Max Ray: Brilliant sea operations commander; Jake Rockwell: Rugged land operations specialist; Ace McCloud: Daring air operations expert - Whatever the challenge, they are ready!”

I gotta be honest here, after watching Robert Smigel’s hilarious SNL send-ups of cartoons like this, I keep waiting for the jokes. Bits such as “The Ex-Presidents” or “The Ambiguously Gay Duo” were such perfect parodies of these eighties Saturday morning classics, it is uncanny.

Once I got past that though, I found the Centurions to be pretty entertaining. This collection contains the first five shows of the series. They were originally presented as half-hour programs, so minus commercials the DVD contains 108 minutes of Centurions action.

The evil genius the Centurions are continually battling is the wonderfully named Doc Terror - who is intent on taking over the world by any means necessary. There is a heavy science-fiction element to the series, which is set in “the near future.” I must say, the writers were creative in the various scenarios they set the stories in.

The first episode is “The Sky Is On Fire,” which finds Doc Terror in possession of some type of instrument which will increase the Earth’s temperature to 180 degrees, killing all plant and animal life - unless of course the “World Council” agrees to his demands. Of course our heroes eventually save the day, but one thing is clear right off the bat: this Doc Terror dude is not to be trifled with, he is one seriously evil genius.

The fourth episode turned out to be my favorite of the five. Titled “Found: One Lost World,” the discovery of some sort of undiscovered “bubble” in the Earth houses a civilization that is still in what we would call prehistoric times. “Humans” of a sort exist with the dinosaurs, but the humans are some sort of lizard creatures with ESP powers with which they are able to control the other larger beasts. Doc Terror turns the dinosaurs into “Dino-Borgs” which become some extremely dangerous allies in his quest to rule the world. Luckily, the Centurions discover the plan, and once again rescue us all from certain annihilation.

The remaining three episodes, “Battle Beneath The Sea,” “An Alien Affair,” and “Sand Doom” all follow the same basic plotlines, each with their own spin of Doc Terror’s never-ending battle with The Centurions. The show is obviously meant for the nostalgia market, and for fans of eighties animation in general. Having said that, I must admit that I highly enjoyed it - and if good old-fashioned '80s action-animation is your thing, I think you will too.

Centurions: The Original Miniseries is on sale now from Warner Archive

By Greg Barbrick

About the author

Greg Barbrick has been watching TV so long he remembers watching first run episodes of Star Trek.

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