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Superpowered Teens of the 80s and 90s   2 comments

Today TV is filled with its fair share of super powered teenagers.  But in the days before Buffy, Smallville and Teen Wolf there were way fewer teenage age super-beings.  And I am not talking about the Saturday morning variety, with their fancy Megazords duking it out to save the world every week, I am talking about the ones who were just trying to live their normal teenage lives and coming to grips with the amazing powers that they had.

So lets take a trip down memory lane and revisit a few old friends!

Who remembers this image and knows that it means hijinks are about to ensue?

I know what’s coming next!

Evie is the teenage human/alien hybrid from the series Out of This World who on her 13th birthday develops the power to stop and start time.    Evie believed that her long absent father was a secret agent who was away on a mission and never returned, only to find out that he is really an alien from a planet called Antareus.  He had crashed on Earth in the 1970s and met her mother before being called back to his home planet.  After she develops her powers the two are able to communicate via a device called “the cube.”  Oh, and he is played by BURT FREAKING REYNOLDS.

Evie’s power to stop and start time reminds me of another super-powered teenager, Zack Morris.

Don’t let his charms fool you, he could kill us all!

Like Evie, Zack from Saved By the Bell can do the “Time Out” where he touches his hands together to stop and start time.  Typically he just uses this to talk directly to the audience but on several occasions  he uses it to trick people, like by avoiding a punch from Slater, or sneaking Screech a cassette tape in order to pull a Milli Vanilli (I’ve been looking for that clip online for two days, so if anyone knows where to find it please tell me!).   My theory is that one of his parents was secretly from Antareus, like Evie’s dad, and when Zack  gained the same powers.  Screech also develops a time related power in the third episode of season one, when a lightning strike gives him the ability to see the future.  Zack and Screech were on their way to becoming a real superhero team!

From 1985 to 1989 TV audiences watched the retrospectively creepy misadventures of Vicki, the little girl robot on Small Wonder.

WAH! KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE!

Vicki is the android (or, technically speaking, gynoid) addition to the Lawson family, who they attempt to pass her off as their own daughter.  She has super strength, speed and several computer inputs under her arms.  Vicki learns and grows more human during the series, but she always speaks in a monotone, dresses in old-fashioned clothing and can be turned her off by tapping her on the head.  Also she lives in a closet.  Because, you know… robot.

Looking back, I think there was more going on here then I realized as a kid.  The Lawson’s have Vicki in their home and act as if she is one of them for the outside world, but when no one is looking she is back in the closet like an old coat.  If she is learning and growing more human you have to wonder if she becomes self-aware.  And if so, how she would feel when her parents treat like property rather than family.  She is the family’s nasty secret, their perfect little girl who is something less than human.  Her “father” even attempts to build a better version of her, named Vanessa, who is more human like but turns evil.  First of all, if Vicki can feel emotions as it was implied she was able to do as the series went on, how would that have made her feel knowing that that her family has considered replacing her with a new model? Second, maybe Vanessa isn’t evil at all, maybe she is aware of the score and just doesn’t want to be a slave to her human masters, knowing how they treat her “sister.”

Moving away from the singularity, I had a huge crush on Alex Mack before I was really old enough to understand what that meant.

Admit it, so did you!

Alex is mutated by a chemical spill and gains a whole host of powers, such as electric finger blasts, water morphing and telekinesis.  She spends the series learning to control her powers, using them to do good and to dodge the evil corporate types that engineered the chemical.  This series is essentially about growing up and learning to deal with the strange changes that you go through both physically and mentally around that age.  At least that’s how I read it now, as I do with a lot of sci-fi/fantasy that falls into the “child gains strange new powers just as they enter puberty”  end of the genre.  Its like Judy Blume for the X-Men generation!

I’ll end this list, even though it could go on for miles (maybe I’ll make a part 2 one day) with another Snick classic, Space Cases! (BTW, follow the link to a still standing late 90s webpage about the show.  It is a real blast from the internet past.)

BK Kids Club + Star Trek Voyager = Space Cases

The basic premise of this series is that in the future a group of teenagers from different planets are on a space ship that is sucked through a worm hole and deposited a several year journey away from Earth.  The message of the show is the classic “we are all different, but we are also all the same, so we should over come our differences and get along.”

The only issue I take with this show is the same issue I take with pretty much every show where humans are interacting with a wide array of aliens, in that the aliens can always do every thing that humans can do and differentiate themselves from us by having one more special thing that they can do that we can’t.  The aliens on this show had powers like super hearing, super strength, electricity blasts, heat wave power, and the human had nothing that made him stand out over them.  Just once I would like a show to do something where one of our mundane senses is considered a crazy alien power by everything else.  Like, if all the aliens don’t have noses and the human has the POWER OF SMELLING THINGS!

Little trivia for those who don’t know, the rainbow haired alien from Titan was played by Jewel Staite who went on to star as fan favorite Kaylee on Firefly.

Who were your favorite super-teens? Let me know in the comments!

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2 responses to “Superpowered Teens of the 80s and 90s

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  1. I was always a fan of My Secret Identity, starring Jerry O’Connell. Canada’s greatest teen hero!

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