The Powerpuff Girls return. But does it have the magic of the original?

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Episodes reviewed: Escape from Monster Island, Princess Buttercup, and three shorts - Air Buttercup, Bubbles’ Beauty Blog But on Video, and Run Blossom Run

Sugar. Spice. And everything nice. 

These were the ingredients chosen to create the perfect little girl. 

But Professor Utonium accidentally added an EXTRA INGREDIENT to the concoction.... CHEMICAL X. 


Using their ultra super powers, BLOSSOM, BUBBLES, and BUTTERCUP have dedicated their lives to FIGHTING CRIME and the FORCES OF EVIL!!! 

I have been a huge Powerpuff Girl fan since the first time I saw “Meet the Beat-Alls.”  I was amazed by how deep and well-written the show was. I ended up owning a disturbing amount of Powerpuff Girl merchandise for a male college student.  I even had warm, fluffy Powerpuff Girl socks that I wore everywhere. Looking back, I admit that this is probably kind of weird, BUT, they did make them in male size, so clearly I wasn’t the only one.  Part of the appeal of the show to me was that they managed to cut a perfect balance between superhero action and dealing with the struggles of three young girls growing up.  And I absolutely love Mojo Jojo.  The greatest villain ever created! 

The original show ran from 1998-2005.  They did a tenth anniversary special in 2008 which was actually a terrific tribute to the show.  In 2014, they did a CGI one-shot, which seemed like it was intended as a pilot to bring the show back.  I actually enjoyed the 2014 episode, but I thought the character designs and overall look of the special was kind of awful.  In June of 2014, Cartoon Network announced that Powerpuff Girls would be returning, though they were scrapping the CGI look and going to something a little more classic (which was a very good decision).

Pretty early in the process, there was some controversy with Cartoon Network deciding not to hire back the original voice actresses for Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup.  Nick Jennings (executive producer of this version of Powerpuff Girls) said they had considered bringing back the original voice actors for the new series, but decided that recasting the roles would infuse new energy.  BUT, that argument doesn’t seem to hold a lot of water since they did bring back most of the rest of the original cast -   Tom Kenny (Mayor and narrator), Tom Kane (Professor Utonium), Roger L. Jackson (Mojo Jojo), and Jennifer Hale (Ms. Keane and Sedusa).

Cartoon Newark’s current model seems to be really random humor, which makes their shows real hit or miss.  Uncle Grandpa and Teen Titans Go! are perfect examples of this. My kids love both shows, and when I watch them, I often don’t know if what I am watching is brilliant or stupid.  Sometimes it’s a little bit of each.  I was kind of expecting something similar with Powerpuff Girls, but surprisingly, the show is much more straightforward.  But, after two episodes and three shorts, I am not quite sure what the point of this relaunch is.  It wasn’t bad in any way, but it just never quite felt on par with the original series. 

The new cast does a solid job, but they just weren’t all that memorable, and I think that is really the vibe I got from the entire show.  I will admit, part of my disappointment is that my two favorite Powerpuff Girls characters are the Professor and Mojo Jojo, and neither of them appeared in the two full length episodes (Mojo did appear briefly in one of the shorts and the Professor appeared in two of them).  I know they are still in the show and still played by original actors, but if I was launching a new Powerpuff Girls, I would make sure these important characters were front and center in the first episodes.

One thing I did like is that the show did feel like it had been updated for today’s audience.  Instead of a Playskool phone, the mayor calls the girls on toy cell phones.  And the best episode of the bunch featured Bubbles trying to create her own Youtube show while her sisters interrupted her.  But even with these updates, I still kept thinking that people would be better off just watching the 76 episodes of the original series that are available on Netflix.  

“Escape from Monster Island” – This episode tries to do what Powerpuff Girls does best, blend the idea of being a child with superhero action.  Bubbles wins a radio contest to go see the girl’s favorite band, but she can only take one other person with her, causing her sisters to compete with each other to prove they were the right person to go.  Meanwhile, the girls are called to rescue the Mayor who was crash landed on Monster Island.  It all just felt like an overly predictable sitcom.  There were some entertaining moments, like seeing the Mayor go native on Monster Island.  But there wasn’t a lot here that grabbed me.

“Princess Buttercup” – The second episode was a little better than the first one, but it still felt very much “by the numbers.”  Buttercup makes new bad girl friends, allowing Princess to try and become a Powerpuff Girl.  Pretty much everything you expect to happen here happens. Buttercup’s new friends were hired by Princess to distract her.  Princess becomes a Powerpuff Girl and turns on Blossom and Bubbles.  And then Buttercup’s “friends” are inspired by Buttercup to help save the day. 

There was nothing wrong with either episode, it just didn’t very like anything that needed to be told.  Is there room for Powerpuff Girls to return?  Maybe, but in order for that to happen, it needs to be far better than these two episodes were.  The 2014 episode felt more like the Powerpuff Girls should, though the animation was awful.  If they took this art style and that type of story, they might have something here.  

I also have to say that I like the original opening far better than the new theme song.  

I will say, I did enjoy the three short episodes.  Again, the shorts were all a little predictable, but they were still entertaining.  As I said earlier, the Bubbles Blog episode was my favorite of the bunch, especially since we did get to see The Professor and Mojo.  The other two episodes were about Buttercup trying to throw a paper ball into a garbage can (which escalates into destructive chaos), and Blossom’s determination to keep her perfect attendance record.  They were fun stories and worked well.

One positive thing I can say about the show, the girls all had very distinctive personalities, and the tone felt close enough to the originals.  I also liked that the art style is pretty close to the original.  The CGI version from 2014 left a real bad taste in my mouth.  Really, there was nothing bad about any of the episodes.  But, I am just not sure that is enough to appeal to old fans or to grab a new audience.  This show does feel a little out of place with Cartoon Network’s current lineup.

I also have to mention that my three kids did really enjoy the show.  Since they are much more the target audience than I am that should probably have some weight here.  They are continuing to air new episodes all week, so I will likely check them out and see if my first impressions hold up.  I am definitely rooting for this show, because I do love The Powerpuff Girls.  Hopefully it will find its footing and give us some new classic episodes.

3.5 / 5.0