Thursday, June 24, 2010

Review: The Powerpuff Girls episodes 1.1, 1.2 & 1.3

Ah, the Powerpuff Girls. This was the funniest, craziest, most demented American television cartoon from the nineties. I loved Animaniacs as much as the next kid, and I can still recite entire sketches from Sheep in the Big City, and Angry Beavers was goddamn hilarious, but nothing could beat the bat-shit crazy that was The Powerpuff Girls. It was a parody of all that pseudo-feminist Grrrl Powa b.s. that was infecting the world at the end of the nineties, with the rise of The Spice Girls, and the Charlie's Angels movies, and all that other crap. All that garbage that had as it's moral, "girls can kick butt and be awesome just as well as boys, but they still need to be attractive, otherwise they are worthless as people." And by focusing the show on three kindergarteners, they accomplished two things. Firstly, they took Grrrl Powa to its most ridiculous extreme, making the dichotomy between the feminine innocence and the masculine violence as patently absurd as possible, forcing people to acknowledge the fact that the whole Grrrl Powa thing simply doesn't work as an ideal. Secondly, by removing all the sexuality inherent in the Grrl Powa stuff (because, you know, kindergarteners are not sexy, and the show made no attempts to try and make them sexy) they actually managed to make it more palatable as legitimate feminism. Because sex is totally removed from the equation, it's no longer a matter of, "girls can do anything, but they damn well better look super hot while doing it," but rather just, "girls can do anything." So the show managed to both mercilessly mock the terrible nineties "feminist" messages, and also to requisition the stuff that was legitimately good about those messages, and use it as it should have been used in the first place.

And it managed to accomplish all this while giving us kids the most insanely graphic violence we could hope for, as well as a whole lot of really funny jokes.

With that out of the way, on to the individual episodes.

Insect Inside: This seems like a really poor episode to start the show on. It has some legitimately funny jokes in it, but the villain is just kind of... boring. I mean, he's gross (a man obsessed with cockroaches), but in a sort of a League of Gentlemen, pointlessly disgusting without actually being funny or interesting or not-boring, kind of way. I only air my puzzlement at this being the first episode because, according to Wikipedia, it was actually second in production order, but Cartoon Network aired it first. Why would they air this first? I don't get it.

Powerpuff Bluff: I love this episode. This is the episode where three grown men decide to dress up like the Powerpuff Girls so they can get away with commiting crimes. And their scheme works. The central (very funny) joke of the episode is that, despite the fact that these grown men have prominant facial and body hair, are six feet tall, speak in obviously mannish voices, act like total assholes, and are wearing terrible costumes, nobody is able to tell them apart from the real Powerpuff Girls. This comes to a hilarious head in the climax, when the Powerpuff Girls themselves are unable to tell their own sisters from the grown men in costumes. Great stuff.

Monkey See, Doggie Do: The first introduction of the Powerpuff's chief villain (Mojo Jojo, a monkey with a giant brain) is ever so slightly disappointing, although it does have its moments. When the Powerpuff Girls are turned into puppy dogs it's just about the most adorable thing it would be possible to see without your heart literally melting.

Mommy Fearest: I've never much cared for this episode. The Professor falls in love with a woman (with the excellent/stupid name of Ima Goodlady) who turns out to just be dating him so she can ground the Powerpuff Girls and steal the Mayor's jewels. The episode starts well - the meeting between Ima and the Professor is pretty hilarious. But as it goes on, and Ima turns into more and more of a hateful bitch, it all just seems cliched. One of the best things about The Pwerpuff Girls is the way that it plays with and makes fun of cliches, but here... they don't. They pretty much just go straight for an evil stepmother thing, and it just seems lazy.

Octi Evil: This is the episode that first introduces the single most insanely fucked up villain in the history of anything. The villain's name is Him, and he is basically the devil in a transvestite Santa costume, with this horrifying, echoey voice. This isn't his best showcase, he isn't nearly as creepy here as he would later become. But still... good stuff.

Geshundfight: This episode starts brilliantly, with the three stupidest criminals in Townsville trying to pull off the stupidest possible "heist". The three criminals are the Amoeba Boys, three single celled organisms that are (for reasons never explained) the size of regular people. It starts off brilliantly, but it doesn't really know where to go afterwards, and just sort of drifts off into nothingness. There are still a few funny jokes along the way (the "Keep off the Grass" joke, the Professor explaining the plot), but it basically just sort of peters out.

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