Earlier in 2017, both old and new Powerpuff Girls fans were excited by the announcement of a TV special, "The Power Of Four." The special, set to introduce a fourth Powerpuff Girl, was promoted heavily by Cartoon Network as including the first official addition to the team in the show's history. Now, the special has aired, introducing the world to Professor Utonium's first daughter: Blisstina 'Bliss' Utonium, who the professor had believed was lost in an accident five years prior to the beginning of the Powerpuff Girls series.
Unfortunately, Bliss leaves before we can really get to know her, zooming off for a mission in space at the conclusion of the special. After all the hype surrounding this "official" addition to the team, many fans have been left underwhelmed by Bliss's quick departure. Being not only the official fourth Powerpuff Girl, but also the first major character on the show to be a person of color, Bliss's story deserved a lot more screen time than the single hour that it got.
Bliss Deserves Better
While "The Power Of Four" was probably a perfectly packaged hour of fun for the children who make up the revival's core audience, a common complaint from older Powerpuff Girls fans is that the special's story was rushed. Bliss is introduced, her backstory revealed and she is reintegrated into the family within the first half of the story, all while struggling with her powers. She continues to struggle through most of the second half, but predictably masters her powers just in time for a climactic battle with Him, then leaves to return Saturn to its rightful place in the universe. Bliss's quick departure is likely a plan by the network to test fan reception to the character before they decide just how "Official" they actually want Bliss to be. Instead, it makes the hype over her arrival seem rather pointless.
A much better idea, in many fans' view, would have been to have Bliss's story unfold through a longer story arc, maybe even a whole season. Given more time, the bond she built with Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup would have felt more authentic, and the path to learning control over her powers would have seemed more realistic. Also, having more time to truly get to know Bliss, fans would have felt genuinely sad to lose her at the end of the season. Cartoon Network would have had more information in deciding what they wanted to do with the character moving forward. Instead, Bliss was quickly shown the door in an effort to return Powerpuff Girls to its status quo as soon as possible.
A Larger Problem
This relates to a larger problem with a lot of animated series today, particularly those airing on Cartoon Network. Episodes must be self-contained, with no major changes between episodes. Longer story lines are a no-no, for fear that they will confuse or alienate more casual viewers if they miss something. The networks fail to realize that by doing this, they are taking a lot of the magic out of children's TV. Why rush home for a new episode of your favorite #cartoon if nothing ever changes? Why get excited about a new character if they are just going to disappear?
Two of Cartoon Network's most popular series, Steven Universe and Adventure Time, do have continuing plot lines sprinkled throughout their episodes. If the network were to agree to having a few longer running stories in their other shows, they could once again become appointment viewing, boosting ratings as well as online viewing numbers among kids wanting to catch up. Like other beloved cartoons of the past, they cannot be afraid to permanently add a new character, or change the status quo.
If Bliss ever does reappear on The Powerpuff Girls, let's hope she sticks around a little bit longer.