NCN Writers’ Room: Fix the “Powerpuff” Pilot
In case you missed it, the pilot script for the CW’s Powerpuff Girls reboot/sequel series leaked last week. After reading through the script, Brandon and Jose had some ideas on how to make it better.
My impression of the script was that it was more immature than I expected. I understood that it was Diablo Cody, but her jokes somehow felt more forced than usual and the characters were written with minimal context from the original cartoon. As such, I took an editorial approach to fix it. It’s still a CW show, so I’m not holding my breath for it to be good—just improved enough to set up a better series over time.
- Rewrite the quips. Comedy was a part of the original series. The jokes in this script are not funny at all, reading like outtakes from The Daily Show or Full Frontal. They need to be less forced and heavily reduced in frequency. Quality over quantity is key here.
- Re-think the characters’ sexuality and the overall sexual humor. Rewrite the humor, so it’s not low-hanging fruit or just plain inappropriate. Who makes detailed jokes about their parents’ sex lives? Also, make Buttercup bi- or pansexual, and less stereotypical in portrayal. She’s allowed to be romantically shy or monogamous. Don’t go for easy pickings, especially when LGBT+ actors and Black actors are involved. If you are aiming for a purely lesbian character, go with Bubbles and explore that in an honest, organic manner.
- Make Princess Morbucks the new mayor of Townsville. Set her up as the Lex Luthor of the series. After the deaths of both her father and Mojo Jojo, she began to focus on gaining power.
- Let Kid Jojo be a more surprising character, but still a monkey. Jojo should be his own character, and not have sexual tension with Blossom. He should also be a monkey since his father is the Gorilla Grodd of the franchise. Maybe he’s a clone. Maybe he’s adopted. But don’t make this some cutesy teen romance. Make a new human character for that.
- Build on Professor Utonium’s Cartoon Network portrayal. Cut the “abusive father” drama and show how much the loneliness affected him since his daughters left home. Maybe he tried to fill in for them for a while? Maybe their departure is why he and Sara started hooking up? Did he date their old teacher, too?
- Find a new reason for the reunion. Professor Utonium bringing them back for squandered inheritance money is a problem. It should be centered around rebuilding the family, not the Professor making them his cash cows in the past and present. Write a more convincing reason involving the old Mayor, Ms. Bellum, Ms. Keane, or the Professor.
- End the pilot with a Beat-Alls reunion. Have Him and Fuzzy Lumpkins be called together by Princess, who introduces kid Jojo. Since you need easy villains of the week, draw from their alliance for the first season.
Throw that pilot in the trash where it belongs and re-start from the beginning. The leaked script from Diablo Cody was grossly oversexualized, offensive, and the cringiest thing I’ve ever read for a pilot episode, even for The CW, and it sounds like they thought so too. I didn’t think there was much to salvage from that script so here’s my pitch on what a pilot for a grown-up Powerpuff GIrls CW show could be:
- The OG Mayor’s death causes the return to Townsville. Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup come back after several years to attend the old Mayor’s funeral. At the funeral, Blossom meets a cute boy when she’s back in Townsville at the Mayor’s funeral. It’s the former Mayor’s son and the secret love-child of the Mayor and Ms. Bellum.
- Blossom is a successful CEO of a small start-up in NYC called “Blossom Beauty.” She’s still a very type-A go-getter but she’s always too busy and never has time for relationships or staying in touch with her family.
- Bubbles is still a social media influencer. On her IG page, she advises on workouts, relationships, and healthy smoothies. She tried acting for a bit but it didn’t work out and actually wants to go back to T-ville after an embarrassing public incident.
- Buttercup is a bartender and keeps a low profile. She works at a bar in Cityville and is in a committed relationship with her partner, Macy. She hasn’t kept in touch with her sisters in a while after she and Blossom had a falling out, and she’d rather leave the PPG life behind.
- Despite not having talked for a long time the three girls are genuinely excited to see each other again, especially Bubbles. Blossom and Buttercup had a bit of a falling out a few years back when Blossom started getting too busy to see her sisters and Buttercup still holds a grudge.
- Professor Drake Utonium started dating Ms. Keane a few years after the girls left for college. He lives out a happy normal life and has a few contracts with the government for his skills. He loves having his girls back home after they’ve been away for so long. Just like in other CW shows, he serves as the go-to guy for emotional pep talks that make the girls believe in themselves and realize their full potential to complete a mission.
- Sara Bellum is campaigning to be the new Mayor of T-Ville. She’s been trying to keep her secret love child with the Mayor out of the spotlight so as not to negatively affect her campaign. Sam Bellum, resents his mother for having to keep so many secrets about who his father really is.
- Ms. Keane is still a kindergarten teacher at Pokey Oaks Kindergarten and looking forward to retirement with Drake. She serves as a fun comic relief and is able to talk to the girls about issues that they are going through that she can relate to as a woman or are either too personal to share with Drake.
- Mojo Jojo is still a monkey and has been planning his revenge for years on the PPGs waiting for the day they’d come back. It’s revealed towards the end of the episode that he killed the old Mayor. Mojo was thought to be dead long ago after his last encounters with the PPGs but he’s been kept alive thanks to his human assistant Carl who was a big MJ fan.
- Mojo’s volcano laboratory is now owned by the city as a tech hub similar to Google, but secretly Carl (the head of the tech hub) has been using the tech to help Mojo in his evil plan.
- Mojo’s plan consists of hacking into the cellphone of everyone in Townsville to mind control them to go insane and kill each other using the new dating app called “Mad Love”. Similar to Valentine’s plan from Kingsman: The Secret Service. When Mojo’s plan makes the city of Townsville go haywire the girls step back into their old roles and go around saving citizens.
- The PPGs discover the app is making everyone go crazy via Bubbles’ social media followers posting videos after using the app. and Blossom figures out that the app originated in Townsville at the new tech hub. The girls fly over to the tech hub and Buttercup demands answers the rough way. Blossom steps in and wants to take a more diplomatic approach. Carl assures them that he doesn’t know what they are talking about, but when a tech assistant inadvertently discovers the code in the app to make everyone go crazy, Carl flees the scene and the PPGs go after him. We get an exciting car chase ending with the PPGs apprehending Carl, saving Townsville and the city cheering for their return.
- The girls decide to stay a little longer in Townsville. Blossom decides to start a new branch of “Blossom Beauty” in T-ville. Bubbles decides to stay in T-ville to self-reflect and figure herself out. Buttercup convinces Macy to move to Townsville with her and starts working at the Femme Fatale lesbian bar.
- We end the pilot revealing that foiling and capturing Carl was part of Mojo Jojo’s plan all along. Mojo sees Carl’s arrest on TV and decides that his plan successfully worked in bringing back the PPGs to their formal hero selves and decides to come back out from hiding so that his real work can begin. But he’s not the only one. Other former villains from the PPG’s past, including, the Gangreen Gang, Princess Morbucks, Fuzzy Lumpkins, and Him, see the PPG’s return on TV and decide to come out of retirement for some good old fashioned revenge. Potentially teasing a Beat-Alls reunion down the season.