Networks typically don’t comment on failed series pilots. They produce lots of them and those that don’t make it into production disappear into the vaults with audiences none the wiser.
That’s not the case though with Powerpuff, a live-action reboot of the 1990s Cartoon Network series The Powerpuff Girls, whose development has played out in very public fashion.
The reboot, which presents the superhero characters as “disillusioned 20-somethings who resent having lost their childhood to crime-fighting,” has generated an unusual amount of scorn and derision from the internet since it was first announced last summer, and was most recently in the news last month when unflattering paparazzi photos from the pilot shoot were published online.
When it was revealed earlier this week that the series would not go into production this fall, online users started to mock the project anew. The reactions have now prompted a response from 71-year-old Mark Pedowitz, chairman and CEO of The CW network, which commissioned the pilot. He told TVLine yesterday, “Sometimes things miss, and this was just a miss.”
While network executives rarely discuss failed pilots at length, Pedowitz spoke in detail about the flaws of the pilot, saying that the tone of the project felt “a little too campy.” He added that the network would continue developing the project in the off-season:
We believe in the cast completely, we believe in Diablo [Cody] and Heather [Regnier], the writers, and we believe in the auspices of [executive producer] Greg Berlanti and Warner [Bros.] Studios. In this case, the pilot didn’t work. But because we see enough elements in there, we’re going to give it another shot. We didn’t want to go forward with what we had.
It didn’t feel as rooted in reality as it might have. But again, you learn things when you test things out. And in this case, we felt like, ‘Let’s take a step back and go back to the drawing board.’ This is a powerful property, it has engaged a lot of interest, and we want to get it right before we put it out.
Reboots of The Powerpuff Girls, a concept that was created by Craig McCracken while he was a student at Calarts, are no stranger to controversy. A 2016 animated reboot sparked fan outrage after the original voices of the Powerpuff Girls were replaced by new voice actors.
The original series ran for 78 episodes from 1998 through 2005, and also generated a theatrical feature, The Powerpuff Girls Movie (2002).
Image at top: Dove Cameron as Bubbles, Chloe Bennet as Blossom and Yana Perrault as Buttercup in “Powerpuff.” Credit: James Acomb/The CW/2021 The CW Network, LLC.