Cartoon Network serves up a CG-animated special featuring the beloved, saucer-eyed crimebusters known as the Powerpuff Girls.
It’s tough to believe that it’s been 15 years since Craig McCracken’s popular animated heroines, the Powerpuff Girls, debuted on Cartoon Network. This month, the cabler is paying homage to Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup in a shiny, new CG-animated special, which reunites the original voice-over stars and also packs in a special guest appearance by none other than Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.
The special, which is called Dance Pantsed, finds the girls trying to solve the mystery of why Mojo Jojo is kidnapping a mathematician, an opera singer and a badger (to steal Chemical X and take over Townsville!). The half-hour features Catherine Cavadini as Blossom, Tara Strong as Bubbles, E.G. Daily as Buttercup, Roger L. Jackson as Mojo Jojo, Tom Kane as The Professor and Tom Kenny as The Mayor.
“Cartoon Network’s Rob Sorcher and Brian Miller had this great idea to do a Powerpuff Girls special and were kind enough to ask me to participate,” says the project’s director Dave Smith, who was part of the series’ original production team. “There were a couple of us who had worked on the show during its original run, and we knew the show backwards and forwards, so it was a real thrill to be asked to participate. We were also very lucky to have Kevin Dart [Steven Universe] as art director for this special, who helped us with the show’s wonderful, new graphic look.”
Smith says the creative team knew from the beginning that they didn’t want to change any of the characters or concepts, but they thought it would be interesting to reimagine the design and see how they could update the show in CG. “I originally had some reservations about going CG because the original show was so graphic, flat and joyous in 2D,” he admits. “But we wanted to take that backbone of exploration and innovation and see how we could deliver that spirit in CG. Kevin [Dart] has such a great, graphic and appealing approach to design and is able to translate his vision to CG effortlessly.”
Helping realize Smith and Dart’s visions for the special were the team at Passion Pictures’ Paris studio, who worked closely with Smith and Dart, as well as French shops Je Suis Bien Content and PlanKtoon.
While show creator McCracken was too busy with his new baby, Disney Channel’s Wander Over Yonder, to oversee the special, Smith hopes that he will enjoy this 15th birthday homage. “Craig is such a genius, so passionate and sincere about his creation,” says Smith. “I remember back when the show first debuted, nobody knew that it was going to be such a huge hit. Luckily there was great support from Cartoon Network and Hanna-Barbera Studio at the time. Everyone got along so well on that show…and everything just clicked together.”
For Smith, one of the coolest aspects of this special was that he got to work with one of his lifelong idols, Ringo Starr, who voices a very flamboyant mathematician named Fibonacci Sequins in the special. Starr, who decided to participate in the special after receiving a deeply personal plea from the director, also performs an original music video and song especially written for him by Smith called “I Wish I was a Powerpuff Girl.” “I told him how much I had admired him in the movie Caveman, and he was taken by my love for his movie and found time to participate,” says Smith. “You can say it’s a crown jewel in my achievements.”
Smith hopes everyone enjoys this new CG update of the beloved characters. “Back when we started out, we ended up having the best time because we ended up making a cartoon that we liked,” he notes. “We were lucky to work with these hugely endearing characters with truly defined personalities and a wonderful concept that was ahead of its time with these incredible female leads. Even our villains had these very defined, specific personalities. So it was just wonderful to see these characters come alive again. The fact that everyone worked so hard, passionately and sincerely on this project just makes the candy that much sweeter.”
The new Powerpuff Girls special, Dance Pantsed, premieres on Cartoon Network on January 20 at 7:30 p.m. Cartoon Network will also showcase 10 classic Powerpuff Girls episodes during a five-hour marathon on Sunday, January 19, beginning at noon. Also launching this month is a new Powerpuff Girls mobile game.