The creator of Powerpuff Girls teams up with a murderer’s row of talent to bring Netflix this show.
Kid (Jack Fisher) is a nerdy kid who dreams of becoming a superhero. One day, he witnesses an alien spacecraft crash and finds five stones which he turns into “rings of power,” despite having NO reason to believe they have powers. However, his instincts turn out to be true and the stones do, in fact, give powers to anyone that wears them, granting him the power of flight. He soon forms a superhero team out of the few people who live nearby: His 4-year-old neighbor Rosa (Lily Rose Silver) gains the ability to grow huge as “Nina Gigantica;” his friend Jo (Amanda C. Miller) becomes “Portal Girl,” mistress of portals; his grandfather Papa G (Keith Ferguson) can make clones of himself as “Old Man Many Men;” and his cat, Tuna Sandwich (Fred Tatasciore), gains the ability to see the future as Precognitive Cat. Together, they must save the Earth from alien threats, including their mostly-captive and sarcastic nemesis Stuck Chuck (Tom Kenny). Unfortunately, it turns out that while they do have superpowers, they’re not very good at using them.
When I saw the ad for this show, I assumed it was a crappy kids show that would quickly be forgotten. Unfortunately, given the lack of attention it’s getting, most people must have assumed the same. The only reason I tried it was because I saw that it was created by Craig McCracken, the creator of The Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and Wander Over Yonder. While the only one I ever watched was Powerpuff Girls, I do know that these were supposed to be quality series, so I gave this show a shot and it was amazing. It turns out that it’s not just McCracken, though. Almost every episode has contributions from other great directors and writers, including DuckTales creator Francisco Angones, Amy Higgins from Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch, and My Life as a Teenage Robot creator Rob Renzetti, to name just a few. Lot of talent on the show, is what I’m saying.
The premise of “superteam that just isn’t competent” is definitely not new, but there are few shows that play it as well as this. Part of it is that the team members aren’t exactly suited for their particular abilities, given that the strongest member is an uncontrollable child, the precognitive member can’t speak, and the person who can make clones of himself is a fairly weak old man. However, the show not only demonstrates them getting better at using their abilities in creative ways over time, the show also keeps changing up some of the core dynamics so that the central conceit of “incompetent heroes” never gets stale. I’ve never seen a show so willing to change its premise so many times in just 10 short episodes, but it works. Instead of focusing on episodic adventures, the show focuses on the emotional journeys of the characters as they deal with these changes and that makes it much deeper than you’d expect from this kind of series.
The art style takes a little getting used to. It’s designed to replicate older Newspaper Strips like Dennis the Menace and it definitely stands out a lot among modern series, but it may also throw you off. However, like Into the Spiderverse, once you get used to it, it really feeds into the themes and characterization of the show. It also helps make a number of art conceits easier to accept, like flying saucers or 1950s style aliens. By the end, I was sold on it.
Overall, just a great show that needs more people to watch it. There are hopefully two more seasons on the way, so maybe it’ll get a little more attention by then.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.