Over the last few weeks, images from the upcoming Power Rangers film have been released to the public. First there was Elizabeth Banks apparently in costume as villain Rita Repulsa, but looking more like a hypersexualized version of the Green Goblin. Now that the Power Ranger suits themselves have been revealed, Banks’s costume can no longer be passed off as a promotional fluke. Power Rangers, a Saturday-morning special, a show appropriate in its time for preschoolers and kindergartners, a show that needed no reboot whatsoever, is getting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles–esque dark and gritty treatment. In light of this development, we look at 10 other kids' shows and ask: What if we remade the nurturing shows from your youth, but made them unnecessarily self-serious and not at all fun?
No longer populated by fluffy friends like Funshine Bear and Take Care Bear, the warm and kindly world of the Care Bears is conquered by a gang of cutthroats including Cut-A-Bitch Bear, Funeral Bear, Pettyheart Bear, and YOLO Bear.
Dora the Explorer
Gone are Dora’s simple pink shirt and orange shorts, replaced instead by a formfitting pink dress that hugs the curves of the 24-year-old who has been hired to play Dora. Dora’s cheerful monkey companion, Boots, is now a Nice Guy who follows Dora around and only helps her in hopes that she’ll turn around and start dating him. Dora and Boots get together at the end of the movie. (It is implied but never declared that Swiper is an addict whose thievery is motivated by his substance dependency.)
The Teletubby suits are now gendered and made of latex. The once-nascent sexual dynamics are revived, but without the innocence or love of the original, the show becomes a psychosexual Freudian nightmare. Conservative pundits still think the show turns kids gay.
The Magic School Bus
The children of the Magic School Bus viciously exchange insults for cheap laughs from the audience. Ms. Frizzle serves as a lonely example of the horrors of choosing your career over family, as she desperately tries to turn the children of the school bus into her filial surrogates.
Blue, a male dog once and for all because the signposts of gender are inflexible and blue must always mean male, leads Dave around the house unearthing increasingly more ominous clues that eventually lead to a murder. The mailman brings anthrax and a serial killer’s notes. Salt, Pepper, and Paprika are the forensics team that works out of the morgue. Magenta is a gender-normative femme fatale who comes to the house to distract Blue from his noble duty, and who is only removed from the action thanks to some very helpful slut-shaming by Dave.
Welcome to the hardscrabble world of Sesame Street. Rents are rising and Oscar the Grouch is homeless. The Count is a nighttime predator, Cookie Monster is struggling with impulse control in his fight with diabetes, Bert and Ernie start fights to protect their corner, and Big Bird’s frequent dyslexic mix-ups prevent him from making friends with the hardened and uncharitable residents of his hometown.
Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup are constantly pressured to save the day by the citizens of Townsville and Professor Utonium, their entitled father figure, but they are never offered gratitude for their labor. Instead, their superpowers bind them forever in a loop of service as their silent sacrifice of time, energy, happiness, and freedom is necessary for the normal functioning of an ungrateful and unchanging society.
Instead of cycling through a cast of relatable characters, we never leave Helga’s room, and instead witness a preteen girl drowning in the hermetically sealed world of her own obsession. She mutters to herself and builds shrines to Arnold, an unknown football-headed figure we never meet. No one intervenes, she never rebounds — we only witness the descent.
Courage the Cowardly Dog
Actually terrifying. The only thing scarier would be if the design moved from the artistically logical two-dimensional world of the original series into a 3-D CGI hellscape, which is inevitable in a world where someone thought it would be a good idea to make Peanuts 3-D.
Too dark to even attempt adapting. Catdog is signaling major symptoms of dysmorphia? I hope you found the love you need, Catdog.