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Meet the Beat-Alls
February 9, 2011 3:45 PM   Subscribe

Ten years ago today, Cartoon Network aired a very special episode of The Powerpuff Girls. Though nominally a harmless kids series about three adorable kindergarten superheroes, creator Craig McCracken attracted an unexpectedly diverse audience (50% male, 25% adult) by sneaking in a surprising amount of violence and adult in-jokes -- and on that last point, this particular episode was king. Broadcast on the 37th anniversary of their debut on the Ed Sullivan Show, "Meet the Beat-Alls" was an extended and sophisticated metaphor for the rise and fall of The Beatles, cramming more than forty song references and dozens of visual jokes into only ten minutes of animated allegory. Catch the original episode here or read the transcript, but for the full effect, watch this remarkable YouTube mash-up that splices the referenced song clips directly into the audio track and plasters the screen with helpful annotations. Want more PPG goodness? You can start with the special "Powerpuff Girls Rule!!!" (part 2), a sly, hyperkinetic celebration of the show's tenth anniversary directed by McCracken himself that features every character (and totally subverts an important one). But as far as weirdness goes, it's hard to top Powerpuff Girls Doujinshi, a long-running fan-made webcomic which stars the trio alongside Dexter, Samurai Jack, Invader Zim, and tons of other network icons in an unusually dark manga adventure. Oh, and don't forget your plate of beans.
posted by Rhaomi (82 comments total) 144 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow! Thanks for this, can't wait to dive in. I will gladly admit to loving the hell out of the Powerpuff Girls.
posted by sveskemus at 3:47 PM on February 9, 2011


Yay Cartoon Network!
posted by _Lasar at 3:50 PM on February 9, 2011


I ended up including a lot more stuff than I originally intended, but if you follow just one link, make it the YouTube mash-up one. The video is a real treat (especially for Beatles fans), the dubbing is clever, and it features about the most complex use of YouTube's annotation system I've ever seen.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:52 PM on February 9, 2011


Yeah, that Dexter kid. I guess his sister finally pushed him over the edge and now he's a serial killer or something. Too bad about that.
posted by GuyZero at 3:53 PM on February 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Your final link comes up with a 404 error:

The requested URL /~hkolden/savingtheworldbeforebedtimepowerpuffgirls.pdf was not found on this server.

posted by filthy light thief at 3:53 PM on February 9, 2011


I will gladly admit to loving the hell out of Samurai Jack.
posted by kenko at 3:54 PM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Powerpuff Girls was never harmless.
posted by JHarris at 3:56 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always loved Mojo Jojo. Now I love Moko Dono as well. And of course ... The City of Townsville!
posted by chavenet at 3:58 PM on February 9, 2011


Works for me, FLT, even in other browsers -- you can try the plaintext Google cache instead.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:58 PM on February 9, 2011


I remember seeing that episode when it first aired. It was so full of awesome.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:01 PM on February 9, 2011


Powerpuff Girls were always awesome. Great post!

BTW, I'm probably overthinking it, but throwing the rock on the girls seemed very reminiscent of imprisoning Sun Wukong under a mountain.
posted by kmz at 4:02 PM on February 9, 2011


Before everyone says "CARTOON NETWORK USED TO BE GOOD AND NOW IT'S 100% BAD SAVE FOR PARTS OF ADULT SWIM," consider Regular Show (full episode here). It's like a less twee Adventure Time, although I'm not hating on Adventure Time. Kids have to buy something from Hot Topic, and Invader Zim can only be relevant for so long.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:04 PM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Man, I don't remember for sure, but I think that was part of the Powerpuff Girls renaissance, right before everything went to shit after the movie.

I feel like all at once, Dexter got new animators, PPG started sucking, and Samauri Jack got canceled.
posted by SNWidget at 4:05 PM on February 9, 2011


Something I've always wondered about -- what were the main influences on the PPG aesthetic? At the time I first saw it, it seemed obvious to me that it was straight out of the rave scene, but maybe I was projecting.
posted by empath at 4:08 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sounds about right. And it wasn't new management, this was pre-the CEO quitting over the Mooninite litebrites scaring a metropolitan city scandal.

The Aughts were weird in retrospect...
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:09 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Loved, loved, loved "Meet the Beat-Alls." So surprised it got made, notwithstanding all the cleverness the series had already piled on.

I was a huge fan of SJ, but it never lived up to its potential outside of a few episodes -- of course, you can say that about any number of shows.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:11 PM on February 9, 2011


even though it was totally unfair to Yoko, like everybody else, but I LOL'ed so hard at the concept art installment
posted by Countess Elena at 4:12 PM on February 9, 2011


I didn't realize that Power Puff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends were made by the same guy; both are brilliant shows in their own way.
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:15 PM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm old.
posted by boo_radley at 4:17 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this where I get to remind everyone of the Dexter's Lab episode that was written and narrated by a six-year-old boy? I think it might be.
posted by Amanojaku at 4:24 PM on February 9, 2011 [14 favorites]


I will watch this later with great pleasure. Thanks for the post!
posted by hippybear at 4:27 PM on February 9, 2011


I really want to watch Yellow Submarine now.
posted by cmyk at 4:27 PM on February 9, 2011


Thanks for the link Amanojaku, that's one of the best Dexters ever. The Speed Racer episode runs a close second.
posted by doctor_negative at 4:29 PM on February 9, 2011


I would sit through 700 hours of BLAM! KRAZY KARTOONS or whatever they show for just 10 minutes of Adventure Time.

Also, the Powerpuff Girls had an amazing soundtrack album with tunes from the likes of Shonen Knife, Frank Black, Devo and The Apples in Stereo.
posted by GilloD at 4:29 PM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Man, I forgot about that doujinshi in '06 or so.

Thanks for the reminder.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 4:41 PM on February 9, 2011


Amanojaku: "Is this where I get to remind everyone of the Dexter's Lab episode that was written and narrated by a six-year-old boy? I think it might be."

I totally forgot about that one! It was great -- you can watch it in full here on YouTube.

GilloD: "Also, the Powerpuff Girls had an amazing soundtrack album with tunes from the likes of Shonen Knife, Frank Black, Devo and The Apples in Stereo."

Devo actually did a music video for the show, as did They Might Be Giants -- they were part of the Groovies project covered in this old post.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:42 PM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'd never seen this. Thanks!
posted by josher71 at 4:43 PM on February 9, 2011


I have made so many people sit through this DVD. Now that I Have the youtube link, my contact list is gonna hate me a little more.

Thanks!
posted by DigDoug at 4:49 PM on February 9, 2011


BTW, I'm probably overthinking it, but throwing the rock on the girls seemed very reminiscent of imprisoning Sun Wukong under a mountain.

If you are, that made two of us. Too much time watching this, imo.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:50 PM on February 9, 2011


During the Queensland floods it was hard not to make CITY OF TOWNSVILLE jokes
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:57 PM on February 9, 2011


I could never forgive this series. They shut down production of Dexter's Laboratory in order to make it. And good as it was, it never measured up.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:58 PM on February 9, 2011


Buttercup > Bubbles > Blossom

That is all.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:06 PM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Heh. My daughter is ten. I remember watching this. I also remember old school pirating a copy of it with a couple of VCRs. And I would bet money that tape is out in the garage somewhere.
posted by Sailormom at 5:10 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like how whenever I see a paragraph of dense text and links and now go "Oh Rhaomi has a new post."


keep up the good work!
posted by The Whelk at 5:13 PM on February 9, 2011


There's a town called "Townville" right off I-85 in South Carolina. I've often wondered, driving past it, if somebody involved with The Powerpuff Girls came from those parts.
posted by steambadger at 5:25 PM on February 9, 2011


Blossom is the best, because she has red hair.
posted by santaslittlehelper at 5:31 PM on February 9, 2011


I hesitate (no I don't) to bring up Demashita! Pawapafu Gāruzu Zetto.

Someone in Japan got the rights to create an anime. They changed a lot. The girls are in high school. The professor has a son their age, and he's the one responsible for changing the girls. They were normal humans before becoming super-powered, and they all have families with which they live.

And each of the girls has a power object she uses when fighting. Hyper Blossom uses a yo-yo. "Hyper Blossom" is a code name; her real name is Momoko.

"Rolling Bubbles" is named Miyako, and she uses a bubble wand.

"Powered Buttercup" is named Kaoru, and she uses a big hammer. (If you want to see what the new versions looked like, you can see them here.)

I watched one episode of it and ran away screaming. Mojo Jojo was the villain, and he was changed completely. He was the best thing about the original series, but this version was utterly dreadful. And so was everything else.

...they did four cours of it, and Cartoon Network dubbed it and showed it in the US. (barf)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:32 PM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I love the Powerpuff Girls. I dressed up as Bubbles for Halloween once and my friends were Blossom and Buttercup. I still use Bubbles as my icon/avatar on a few sites. Bubbles can speak to animals (cheep chirp squeak!) and does awesome crayon drawings.
posted by girlhacker at 5:35 PM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thank you for reminding me that I need to add Powerpuff Girls to my Netflix queue after I finish off all the Samurai Jack seasons.
posted by immlass at 5:42 PM on February 9, 2011


I hesitate (no I don't) to bring up Demashita! Pawapafu Gāruzu Zetto.

Gosh. Sony. Who'd a thunk it.

I couldn't even make it through the intro.

And one of my old IM ids was inspired by Bubbles - ISpeakSquirrel...
posted by Samizdata at 5:42 PM on February 9, 2011


So funny, we're watching the DVD right now. My daughter and her two besties, all aged three and a half to four, are OBSESSED. Like, "I had a bad dream about Mojo Jojo, but then I punched him in the face!" obsessed.

I take full credit. So far, this has been one of the best parts of having a little girl.

BTW, I can't find a size 4-6 Blossom costume, if anyone knows of a secret stash. The other two are on their way for her birthday in March.
posted by pomegranate at 5:47 PM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


In the episode where the schoolyard bullies were put in their class, they were not allowed to use their powers in response to violence and threats.

But the game in gym class that day was dodge-ball.
posted by ovvl at 5:48 PM on February 9, 2011


ovvl: "In the episode where the schoolyard bullies were put in their class, they were not allowed to use their powers in response to violence and threats.

But the game in gym class that day was dodge-ball.
"

Dodgeball seems to be a network-wide license to kill.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:54 PM on February 9, 2011


Cartoon!!!I like too!
posted by Discount DVD at 5:58 PM on February 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


For those of you who missed the thread, Lauren Faust, who is Craig McCracken's wife and was a storyboard artist, writer, director, and supervising director for Powerpuff Girls, is now helming the show "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", which is shockingly good considering the source material -- and with a good deal of clear Powerpuff Girls influence. Also, all episodes are available on YouTube.
posted by kyrademon at 6:10 PM on February 9, 2011


Discount DVD: "Cartoon!!!I like too!"

I can see it now:
THE WEBLOG OF MEFI... is under attack!

Discount DVD: Muahahahaha. *spams*

*crash*

mathowie: Not so fast,

cortex: self...

jessamyn: ...linker!

Discount DVD: Curses! *This account is disabled*
And once again, the web is saved, thanks to... THE POWERMOD SQUAD.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:15 PM on February 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


The City of Townsville!

...where dreams go to die. JCU represent!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:17 PM on February 9, 2011


On the subject of Dexter's Lab, I can just say that this song has been stuck in my head for a very long time.
posted by catwash at 6:18 PM on February 9, 2011


Wow, the Beat-Alls episode was all kinds of brilliant. Thanks, not sure how I missed it, my son and I used to watch PPGs together all the time.
posted by octothorpe at 6:28 PM on February 9, 2011


> Ten years ago today, Cartoon Network aired a very special episode of The Powerpuff Girls.

I figured this was going to be about an episode where one of the girls got hooked on "euphoria" or something...
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:35 PM on February 9, 2011


The Card Cheat: "> Ten years ago today, Cartoon Network aired a very special episode of The Powerpuff Girls.

I figured this was going to be about an episode where one of the girls got hooked on "euphoria" or something...
"

They actually *did* have a drug- and corruption-themed episode, believe it or not... it's just that the drugs were candy gumballs.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:52 PM on February 9, 2011


Okay, here's what you all have to do: Get the DVD with "Meet the Beat-Alls" and watch it with the commentary track. Commentary is provided by none other than Mojo Jojo, and it's nothing but more Beatles jokes. It's brilliant.

[When Mojo Jojo appears in John Lennon's white suit] "I look so good in that white suit. I have a whole white album of pictures of me in that suit."
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:10 PM on February 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


> But as far as weirdness goes, it's hard to top Powerpuff Girls Doujinshi

That is all kinds of messed up, yo. It's like every soap opera trope pureed with every manga trope. I'm even losing track of who's related to whom, just like a real soap opera story arc. For some reason I can't stop reading it.
posted by ardgedee at 7:15 PM on February 9, 2011


empath, McCracken has said the Powerpuff Girls look comes from the Margaret Keane's paintings (warning: lots of images, kinda creepy).
posted by ignignokt at 8:45 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy crap, the Bulgarian video site has "See Me, Feel Me, Gnomey" as well, of which I heard much back when I was a PPG addict but never got to see because Cartoon Network dicks over American viewers for no readily apparent reason:
part 1, part 2, part 3. People of Bulgaria, if you ever find yourself in the San Francisco Bay Area, I owe you several beers.
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 8:45 PM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hah! I remember seeing this and wondering at first if it was all Beatles references or if it was just me.
posted by freebird at 8:47 PM on February 9, 2011


Yikes. I don't particularly care for Yoko, but that was a bit much.
posted by schmod at 8:52 PM on February 9, 2011


Not sure if this post was made today by coincidence, but it's the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles' first show in Liverpool.

Oh, and the photos from the show are hilarious.
posted by schmod at 8:55 PM on February 9, 2011


Not sure if this post was made today by coincidence, but it's the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles' first show in Liverpool.

I think it's also the 47th anniversary of their first Ed Sullivan appearance, but my math could be flawed.
posted by hippybear at 9:16 PM on February 9, 2011


Holy crap, the Bulgarian video site has "See Me, Feel Me, Gnomey"

Wow. Thanks for that.
posted by Sailormom at 9:19 PM on February 9, 2011


Well, I posted it today for the tenth anniversary of the episode's first broadcast (February 9th, 2001), which itself commemorated the 37th anniversary of the famous Ed Sullivan Show appearance...which I guess was, in turn, celebrating the three-year anniversary of their first show in Liverpool (going by schmod's comment). Wheels within wheels!
posted by Rhaomi at 9:22 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Something I've always wondered about -- what were the main influences on the PPG aesthetic? At the time I first saw it, it seemed obvious to me that it was straight out of the rave scene, but maybe I was projecting.

Rave scene? Naaah, PPG is what you get when you cross the mid-century Hanna-Barbera limited-animation aesthetic with anime and superhero tropes. The girls are pretty much an Americanized version of every super-sentai team, down to their color-coordinated designs and Leader/Toughie/Cutie archetypes. Toss in Superfriends-style narration and sound FX, and that's pretty much Powerpuff Girls in a nutshell.

Side note: I recently replayed the N64 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and noticed that the three goddesses of Hyrule have the same red/blue/green color-coding as the PPGs, and even fly through the air as blinding streaks of light. I can't imagine that one directly influenced the other, since they both came out around the same time, but I thought it was a funny coincidence.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:19 PM on February 9, 2011


Alway's loved Him's creepy, creepy voice.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 11:51 PM on February 9, 2011


Uppity Pigeon #2: "Alway's loved Him's creepy, creepy voice."

Speaking of which: In another Beatles connection, the design and mannerisms of HIM were supposedly based on the Chief Blue Meanie from Yellow Submarine.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:00 AM on February 10, 2011


On the subject of Dexter's Lab, I can just say that this song has been stuck in my head for a very long time.

I was SHOCKED to click that link and not hear "Doo doo doo, what does this button do?"

Which is pretty much running through my head 24/7/365, I guess.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:23 AM on February 10, 2011


puff me, puff me
now!

every so often, I just hear this line in my head, and laugh.
posted by jb at 12:37 AM on February 10, 2011


I hate to resort to the tired "that would be a good band name" trope, but...The Brutish Invasion would be such a good band name!
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:51 AM on February 10, 2011


6:40 AM here and I'm watching the Powerpuff girls for the first time. That's one of the things I love about Metafilter. There's no way I would have thought was gonna be on the agenda today.
posted by marxchivist at 3:42 AM on February 10, 2011


Strange Interlude: "The girls are pretty much an Americanized version of every super-sentai team, down to their color-coordinated designs and Leader/Toughie/Cutie archetypes."

And then it was reimported to Japan as Powerpuff Girls Z.
posted by pwnguin at 6:58 AM on February 10, 2011


That was great, it's like when you get naked.
posted by pianomover at 7:13 AM on February 10, 2011


empath, the animation style might be mid-century Hanna-Barbara, but the soundtrack for all the action sequences is pulled directly from late-90s drum'n'bass.
posted by LMGM at 7:22 AM on February 10, 2011


Rave scene? Naaah, PPG is what you get when you cross the mid-century Hanna-Barbera limited-animation aesthetic with anime and superhero tropes.

Yeah, but also a Drum&Bass theme song, and a definite west-coast Candy Raver influence, I think -- though I guess it went both ways.
posted by empath at 7:22 AM on February 10, 2011


They got their powers from chemical X. Yeah, no rave influence there at all.
posted by nomisxid at 7:31 AM on February 10, 2011


I read through the plate of beans link, and yea, that article was off to a good start until it kinda went too far in the end. It ends by limiting the awesome of the show by mentioning that The Roudyruff Boys were more powerful than the Powerpuff Girls when it is CLEAR from the episode that they are EVENLY MATCHED and the only reason the girls were defeated was a desire to not destroy Townsville and a trick involving burritos. I bet the girls could have beat the boys if they had chose A DIFFERENT MEAL FOR LUNCH.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 7:49 AM on February 10, 2011


They got their powers from chemical X. Yeah, no rave influence there at all.

Of course, in Craig McCracken's original student film, they got their powers from a can of Whoop-Ass and were named accordingly.

I gotta say, there was a rough few years, but IMHO, Cartoon Network has rebounded and is once again providing some kickass entertainment. Adventure Time, Sym-Bionic Titan (from Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky), the various Ben 10 series, Generator Rex, and the DC Universe spinoff Young Justice have been big hits and a renaissance for the network.

And there's also the Star Wars spinoff The Clone Wars, which has, for better or worse, introduced a whole new generation to Star Wars, so much so that there are kids who have never heard of Luke Skywalker but know all about characters like Captain Rex or Ahsoka Tano.
posted by mgrichmond at 9:34 AM on February 10, 2011


This many comments and no love for The Venture Bros? Because I know it's out there. And I would pay for a channel that was blank except for 30 min a week for a new Venture Bros episode.
posted by GuyZero at 10:19 AM on February 10, 2011


GuyZero: "This many comments and no love for The Venture Bros? Because I know it's out there. And I would pay for a channel that was blank except for 30 min a week for a new Venture Bros episode"

Venture Bros. has at least one tribute to The Beatles, but nothing quite on this scale.
posted by pwnguin at 10:35 AM on February 10, 2011


Hmm. Mefi ate my markup. Take two.
posted by pwnguin at 10:35 AM on February 10, 2011


I think that was a Bowie tribute - from Season 1, right? They did more of that stuff in season 1.
posted by GuyZero at 11:24 AM on February 10, 2011


Aww nuts. For some reason I thought it was a Beatles song. I guess it fits a long running Bowie joke in the show though.
posted by pwnguin at 12:56 PM on February 10, 2011


The show's ebullient narrator sounded familiar, so I looked him up. Some selected roles of the voice actor, Tom Kenny:
Heffer (Rocko's Modern Life)

Dog (CatDog)

The Narrator, The Mayor, others (Powerpuff Girls)

Spongebob, Gary, Patchy the Pirate, French Narrator (Spongebob Squarepants)

Yancy Fry (Futurama)

Eduardo (Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends)

Ice King (Adventure Time)
And I thought I was surprised when I learned about John DiMaggio's Bender/Jake the Dog crossover...
posted by Rhaomi at 1:10 PM on February 10, 2011


Rave scene? Naaah, PPG is what you get when you cross the mid-century Hanna-Barbera limited-animation aesthetic with anime and superhero tropes.

Pretty much, yeah. You could get a little pedantic and go all the way back to Pinocchio maybe. Really though it's a retake of Tetsuwan Atomu but with girl power and all that. I would say it probably rates as one of the best animated shows made.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:42 PM on February 10, 2011


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