Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup are back in the butt-kicking game on Cartoon Network after over a decade hiatus. The young superheroes made their return this week with two new episodes entitled “Escape from Monster Island” and “Princess Buttercup” with both noticeable changes and similarities to the original series. Is the reboot good? There are two ways to go about answering that: The Nostalgia Approach and The Objective Approach.
Review by Corisa Smith and photos from Cartoon Network
The Nostalgia Approach
Fans of the original PPG series, brace yourselves. There have been numerous significant “upgrades” to the reboot (I use quotation marks as the verdict is still out on whether or not they are positive changes).
The beloved narrative opening has been nixed in favor of a new sugary pop theme song. Similarly, the iconic red telephone the mayor uses to signal the girls for help has been replaced by a smartphone that the girls can take with them. The episode length has been cut in half down to 11 minutes (is this a result of the short content phenomenon, especially with kids? Probably.). The voice actors for all three girls are different, which is jarring at first but will become less-so with each episode.
The most significant contrast to the original series is that the girls seem decidedly older in the reboot. Instead of trying to sort out childlike problems like the need for security blankets in between defeating villains, the girls are now arguing about who Bubbles will take to a boy band concert (“Escape from Monster Island”). Said boy band, Sensitive Thugz, with hits like “I Want to Listen to Your Problems, Girl” seems like a nod to melodramatic boy band Boyz 4 Now from “Bob’s Burgers.” With all of these alterations, is the new series good? The PPG hipsters of the original audience may be weary, but the distinct relationship between the sisters is still there and that is enough to give it a fair chance.
The Objective Approach
The Powerpuff Girls have arrived just in time with a strong dose of girl power to a new generation of fans. The show’s messages of things like perseverance and friendship presented by three unique, yet equally lovable young female super heroes is a welcome addition to Cartoon Network’s slate. The plot is spread pretty evenly between fighting villains and dealing with the everyday conflicts of the girls which delivers the perfect balance between action and life lessons. A perfect example of this duality comes into play in episode two, “Princess Buttercup,” when Buttercup skips out on superhero duties with her sisters in favor of joining a team of tough roller derby girls. With a Buttercup-shaped hole in the group, classmate and villain Princess Morbucks (who has “loads of sass and gobs of cash” hence the name) tries to become Buttercup’s replacement. The storyline presents both the process of defeating Princess Morbucks and her monster-for-hire as well as focusing on the sisters’ road to realizing the importance of the different roles they each play in making them stronger as a team. With these various elements of the show, is the new series good? Absolutely.
Whether you are a tried and true PPG fan or a new viewer, the reboot, although nothing revolutionary, is a fun watch and welcome return to TV.
You can follow Corisa on Twitter @corisawordsmith.