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Aristocracy, monarchy, geopolitics, climate disasters — these are some of the heavy themes broached by the season opener of “Princess Power,” a new children’s TV show streaming on Netflix — which will from now on be reviewed with almost complete seriousness. Entitled “The Princesses and the Frosty Fruitdom Fiasco,” the episode certainly lacks nuance in various aspects of its approach, but overall, its strong message about the importance of collaboration outshines its defects, yielding an episode that bodes well for the rest of the season.
“Princess Power” features four “fruitdoms” (kingdoms) — Kiwi, Blueberry, Raspberry, and Pineapple — which all form their own similar monarchistic societies, and are also presented as very ethnically homogeneous, indicating a lack of immigration from fruitdom to fruitdom. These four absolute monarchies (the extent of citizens’ say in the government is a “suggestion box” in a later episode) are clearly very strong allies, however, all four have princesses who not only are on good terms, but live together in a neutral territory. The show’s title theme, revolving around the line “princesses wear pants,” displays the socially progressive nature of the fruitdoms, which is a pleasant surprise when compared with their distinctly undemocratic societies. Viewers follow the progression of the four princesses — with occasional glimpses into the lives of the “fruitizens” (citizens) and the royal families — as they use teamwork and friendship to solve whatever nuisance of a conflict rears its head. The show is animated in classic children’s style with soft edges, saturated colors, and large, smiling faces.
In the premiere, Kira Kiwi, princess of the Kiwi Fruitdom and second in line to the throne behind her older sister, has to save her fruitdom’s tricentennial celebration from disaster when a thick layer of snow and cold overwhelm the fruitdom. She soon finds out that two of her princess friends, Beatrice Blueberry and Penelope Pineapple, accidentally caused the fiasco when one of Penelope’s snow-making inventions spiraled out of control. Surprisingly, although international tensions surely escalate as a consequence of this careless action, it does more to bring the four old friends to collaborate to solve the problem rather than to divide based on spite.
In fact, that brings us to one of the episode’s stronger aspects. The princesses, Kira, Beatrice, Penelope, and Rita, are simultaneously fleshed out as individual characters and also have an honestly endearing group personality when together — one that is complemented by these individual quirks. For example, Kira Kiwi (Dana Heath) is obviously very knowledgeable about animals: She mentions how arctic foxes can change their fur in the winter to adapt to their environment, and this inspires the group to distribute warm clothing to the residents of the Kiwi fruitdom. Penelope Pineapple (Luna Bella Zamora), perhaps the show’s strongest character, has a knack for science and engineering which comes into play with her custom-built hover plane as it displays some fascinating vertical thrust capabilities. Beatrice Blueberry (Madison Calderon) is into athletics and functions as good social glue among the group, and Rita Raspberry (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss) loves to dance, sing, and paint.
Clearly, these princesses have some outsized effect on the political power landscape among the fruitdoms, with their rulers giving them surprising amounts of responsibility when it comes to decision-making. There are certainly drawbacks to this, both for the characters in the show and for viewers. For one, they never even consider the option to simply postpone the tricentennial, which seems like an obvious choice. To go a little deeper though, viewers don’t get to see enough of the interactions of the princesses with their subjects — the feelings the fruitizens and their families have towards much of their government being run by these untrained children are never explored, and the show could certainly delve a little deeper into the various personal relationships between the princesses.
In addition to the fraught geopolitical tensions, the music forms a large part of the episode — there are multiple song breaks not including the title theme. The initial tricentennial song is pretty average — a happy-go-lucky beat and some xylophone pings are uninspired, and the title theme is also somewhat strange with its focus on princesses wearing pants (which seems to have a double function as the name of the sequence). But the culminating song in the episode’s lowest point, where the characters finally realize the true power of leaning on your friend, is a musical diamond in the metaphorical rough. With incredible vocal performances especially by Beatrice voice actor Madison Calderon, and harmonies that delve into intertwining rhythms, the climactic song really stands out as a highlight of the episode, and is hopefully something future episodes will exhibit more of.
Overall, the episode’s message that conflict resolution is a step-by-step process — and one that is made significantly easier with friends by one’s side — is important for kids to learn early, and is successfully portrayed here. While the premise of “The Princesses and the Frosty Fruitdom Fiasco” may not be the strongest, and the setting is certainly strange, one cannot help but feel that the princesses, through their relentless alliteration and constant optimism, actually help pull the show together: The four characters form the glue that transforms a collection of haphazard plot points into a smooth, enjoyable episode, and one that promises enjoyment throughout the rest of the season.
—Staff writer Alessandro M. M. Drake can be reached at email@example.com.
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