Home Channels For Kids Review: Princess Power Season 3: The Season That Sparkles Up

Review: Princess Power Season 3: The Season That Sparkles Up

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When it comes to many preschool shows, they’re usually at the very least okay for kids. As long as they have good messages for kids or they teach them something good, I will at least call it an okay show. The preschool shows that manage to leave an impact on viewers for a long time are those that know how to have well defined characters and good stories, whether simple or somewhat complex. It’s with this where I present my review for season 3 of the Netflix show Princess Power. Before I talk about the season, let me tell what the show is about, as well as my thoughts on seasons 1-2. Princess Power is a Netflix CGI preschool show based on the book Princesses Wear Pant (written by Savannah Guthrie and Allison Oppenheimer, who are also executive producers on the show). Developed for television by Elise Allen (Dinosaur Train, The Lion Guard, Rainbow Rangers, and many Barbie movies), and produced by Flower Films and Atomic Cartoons, the show follows four young princesses from fruit themed kingdoms called fruitdoms. The main four princesses are artist, fashionista, and musician Rita Raspberry from the raspberry fruitdom (voiced by Trinity Jo Li Bliss), animal lover Kira Kiwi from the kiwi fruitdom (voiced by Dana Heath), scientist Penny Pineapple from the pineapple fruitdom (voiced by Luna Bella Zamora), and sporty tomboy Bea Blueberry from the blueberry fruitdom (voiced by Madison Calderon) alongside Penny’s cat Miss Fussywiggles (voiced by Alanna Ubach). Whenever a situation arises, the four princesses ring their charm alarms and gather at The Punchbowl Treehouse on Punchbowl Island and go to wherever they’re needed in order to help the fruitizens out. My thoughts on the show are that I find it quite an underrated gem. It’s in my top 10 cartoons of 2023. The reason for it is simple. While many of the episodes have simple stories (most are 11-12 minutes long, but we have some specials) and there is a bit of a repetitive formula, every episode is engaging because of how well written the characters are, how engaging the stories are, and how well written the messages are. There’s also some surprising wit to the humor, most notably with how the characters often break the fourth wall confidently. Before going into detail on what makes season 3 work, let me catch you up to speed on the first 2 seasons. Spoilers are ahead.

Season 1 helps set a pretty good foundation for what a typical episode of the show is like. The first three episodes , Unstoppable Unpoppable Princesses, Princess Garden Party, and A Whale Of A Princess Tale do a good job highlighting Penny, Kira, and Bea’s respective characters. We see Penny as someone who thinks logically and for the sake of others, but doesn’t always think through her actions. We see Kira as someone who’s all about community and trying to establish connections with others. We see Bea as someone who always jumps into action in any situation yet can also be empathic when seeing someone in obvious trouble. However, the show fully hooks me in with episode 4, Rita’s focus episode, Princess Creation Station, where she gets her friends to help her make friendship bracelets for the kids. Her character type, someone who can be full of herself and into fashion, is someone who can very easily be unlikable if you focus on their flaws too much or be seen as a one note joke if relied on mostly for humor. This is thankfully not the case with the show as this episode shows how she’s someone about image, the image of seen as being a good role model to others. She’s quite admirable. Her focus on creativity in any situation also helps ground her character. This kind of writing carries through the season, most notably in the last few episodes. I mean, the plot of an episode like “Princess Soccer Spectacular” (where Rita tries too hard to make something easier for a blind girl named Sena, voiced by Isabel Russo) is something that can easily go wrong. It’s thankfully not the case here given how just enough emphasis is placed on it, and we spend half the episode of the other princesses trying to help Rita out. The only real complaint with the season is 3 episodes being out of order. Episode 5, Happy Princess Birthday Fussy, has Bea be familiar with the Raspberrian historian Seung (voiced by Eric Bauza), yet she’s introduced to him for the first time in episode 8, Princess Royal Portrait. The latter episode also has Kira say how she wants to use Rita’s beehive when handling the raspberry bushes even though that beehive doesn’t get made until episode 12, The Princesses And The Bees. Other than that, season 1 is pretty good.

When it comes to season 2, it takes everything that made season 1 great, and cranks them up to 11. What particularly helps out is the season premiere, a special called The Princesses And The Frosty Fruitdom Fiasco. This special focuses on a freak snowstorm that affects the kiwi fruitdom during the tricentennial, the 300 year anniversary of the kiwi fruitdom. Kira then gathers her friends to try and get things back to normal. It’s a special that really pushes Kira’s character in all the right ways, showing how she’s someone who’s determined to try and be there for others as part of the community. She just needed to learn that there’s another way of doing things. The regular episodes are also more fun to watch. We get more Kira centric episodes like “The Princess’s Speech” and “Princess Bon Voyage”, which show how she values the importance of being there for others in her own way while also showing good support. We get solid Bea centric episodes like “Practice Makes Princess” and “Princess All Nighter” that show how she doesn’t have to feel insecure about herself just because she doesn’t fit the certain mold of what she thinks is expected from a princess. We get solid Penny centric episodes like “Princess Suggestion Box”, “Bussyboots And The Four Princesses”, and “Princess Freaky Fruit Day”, where she learns to be more mindful of how her actions can have an effect on herself and others. We get solid Rita centric episodes like “The Missing Princess” and “Princess Donation Distress “, where she either learns to see her own self worth or learns to be more giving of herself. Many of these episodes integrate more continuity into them, pleasing more dedicated viewers who like how the world feels more alive.

Now when we get to the midpoint of season 2, there is a bit of a transition to being slightly more arc driven. I’m referring to the episode “I Dig Being A Princess “. It’s the episode where the girls find a mysterious treasure map, and try to find out what the treasure is and where it’s buried. At the end of the episode, we see what it is, a map showing how there are other fruitdoms beyond the four main ones we’ve seen. Now that’s pretty interesting. Most of the rest of season 2 is devoted to the idea of other fruitdoms, with generally good writing. There is a slight problem given how we don’t actually see these other fruitdoms. We instead have people from these other fruitdoms coming to one of the four main fruitdoms. We start out with the episode “The Princess Crown Coverup”, which involves a visit from musician Queen Olivia of the orange fruitdom (voiced by Jameela Jamil). However, Rita accidentally breaks the crown jewels of her mother Queen Ryung (voiced by Jenna Ushkowitz), and gets help from her friends to fix her mistakes. It’s a pretty good episode, as are all the episodes, but it does have an element of wasted potential. We then get 3 non-consecutive episodes involving people from the lemon fruitdom coming over. There’s “How To Be A Princess”, where the girls help Lila Lemon (voiced by Lily Sanfelippo) for her Princess Promise Ceremony so that she can become a princess. There’s “The Perfect Princess Welcome”, where the girls try to help a young chef named Cyrus (voiced by Jack Stanton) attract more business for his lemon cafe. We then get “Princess Donation Distress”, which has Rita struggling to give away her things for the lemon fruitdom (ruled by Queen Lillian, voiced by Alanna Ubach). We then have the penultimate episode, “Bussyboots And The Four Princesses”, where the girls try to impress Queen Alana from the apple fruitdom (voiced by Kimberly Brooks) when Penny’s great aunt, Queen Bussyboots (voiced by Rita Moreno) is sick. I want to reiterate that these episodes are still good because of how well everything comes together. It’s just that seeing more from the other fruitdoms, even just a little, would’ve made them a bit better.

Now I can finally talk about season 3, my favorite season. It takes everything great about the first two seasons, and makes them more pronounced. What helps is that, except for episodes 2-4, all the episodes are specials. Specifically, 8 out of 11 episodes are specials. This is definitely an indicator that this is the final season, especially with their being more of an arc the time around, but we’ll get to that later. It’s reminiscent of Doc McStuffins season 5, where all the episodes are specials, and it’s a shorter season. For now, let’s talk about the season premiere, Four Fruitdom Princess Coronation. This episode takes place just 2 days before the girls’ coronation. News reporter Susie Seedplanter (unsurprisingly voiced by Savannah Guthrie) then tells the girls that the seed silo is broken, meaning no seeds for planting fruit in the fruitdoms. Thanks to a tip from Hilda (voiced by Jenifer Lewis), the girls head off to The Cave Of Sparkleseed Secrets to find seeds to help out their fruitdoms. Before I gush about this episode, let me address the topic of continuity. This episode was definitely released out of order. It obviously takes place after I Dig Being A Princess given how the girls show the fruitdom map. However, it takes place before Princess Processional Professional, Bussyboots And The Four Princesses, and Fussy And Scrumples Princess Adventure. The first two of these three episodes have off hand mentions of Bea and Penny being coronated even though all four girls get coronated in this episode. The latter episode has the girls already familiar with the Punchbowl Seahouse boat and The Book Of Sparkleseed Secrets even though they’re introduced in this episode. Of course, this also continues into the next episode, Princess Campout Stakeout, where Rita adopts Velvet the fennec fox even though he’s already part of the cast in season 2’s “Princess Donation Distress”. Alright then. Now, let’s talk about what makes this episode so great. It has the same effect as something like “Magical Mystery Cure” and “Crusaders Of The Lost Mark” from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic have in how they presented a seemingly impossible situation, but the girls are all able to solve it, and you feel proud for them as they level up. It also has a lot of songs in it, though most are short, and some are reused from other episodes. This episode definitely makes you feel proud for the girls with all the ways they’re able to solve the problem. One example would be when the girls get inside the Cave Of Sparkleseed Secrets, and a giant crystal accidentally falls and traps them inside. We have a combination of Penny’s smarts, Rita’s singing, Bea’s determination, and Kira’s uplifting attitude to help everyone get out of this. It’s pretty fun to see. When we actually get to the coronation afterwards, I’ll be honest and admit that I choked up. Seeing the rulers talk about how much the girls have accomplished for the fruitdoms, as well as how the girls will continue to be a good example for others, was really sweet to see. It emphasized more than anything how the girls definitely leveled up because of how they put other people first. Having the song “True Royals” play definitely helped set the mood.

Now afterwards, we get three regular episodes before getting 7 more specials that kick off a half season long arc. That arc starts with Princess Royal Wedding, which definitely uses the 32 minute runtime pretty well. This episode involves the marriage between Queen Ryung and Queen Olivia. However, Rita has a lot on her plate. She has to make sure the wedding goes as planned while also bonding with her new younger sister Omera (voiced by Leela Ladnier) and impressing the headmistress of Princess Adventure Academy, that being Headmistress Miranda Melon (voiced by Drew Barrymore, one of the executive producers on the show). This school will allow the princesses to level up and learn all sorts of things in order to better help out their fruitdoms. Let’s get the obvious out of the way. This is definitely a win for LGBTQ representation, what with witnessing a same sex wedding. Yeah, Bea’s dads have appeared on the show a few times, but this is the most explicit showcase of it. This is now the second Netflix preschool show after Ada Twist Scientist to have one. That’s pretty cool. More to the point, this kind of story is perfect for a character like Rita. She takes great pride in making people happy, especially with throwing flashy parties that show off her creativity. More than that though, the struggle in dealing with a younger sister is a perfect challenge for her. She has a good relationship with young children, as seen with episodes like Princess Creation Station and The Missing Princess. Now that bond becomes tested when she has to bond with a younger child that she’s going to be related to. What helps out are her genuine attempts to make Omera feel included while also reigning in her frustrations. A notable example would be doing an Orange fruitdom tradition first when doing the wedding activities. We’re able to easily feel sorry for her even when we know that she should try and be nicer for her. Case in point, when she accidentally vents her frustration about how having a younger sister is too much trouble, her reaction is built up well enough so that the audience’s reaction isn’t “What a jerk!”, but instead “I feel sorry for Rita even though she’s not being nice.” Of course, it also helps that Omera is genuinely trying to be helpful. She’s just either too excitable or doesn’t know everything about the raspberry fruitdom. The moment Rita makes up to her is genuinely one of the best moments to come from her character, as it shows how, for all her mistakes, she works even harder to fix them. That’s pretty sweet. Now let’s talk about the character of Headmistress Miranda. She’s someone who values how people put others first, as evidenced by how she ultimately accepts the princesses’ nomination into the academy when seeing how much Rita and her friends want to help her younger sister. She’s also shown to be somewhat of a trickster with how she’s able to sneak in and out without anyone seeing until it’s too late. As Queen Olivia puts it, it’s her sparkle up skill. Briefly skipping to “Princess Eco-Chase”, we see how Miranda can play hard ball when testing the princesses’ character given the penalties she had for not working together (tripping the horses with coconuts, raining down blueberries, sending out banana peels, and taking the pets so the girls can rescue them). Anyway, we then find out what the arc for the rest of the season is, gathering six keys that will unlock a special curio cabinet with their admission surprise into the academy. That is definitely quite interesting, and ends one of the best episodes of the show on a strong note.

Now let’s talk about the Crystal Key Quest arc. Remember how I said that “Four Fruitdom Princess Coronation” reminded me of “Magical Mystery Cure” and “Crusaders Of The Lost Mark” from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic? Well, this arc seems to take more cues from that show. If I had to describe this arc, it would be like a mix between the Rainbow Power key arc from season 4 combined with the Cutie Map storytelling device introduced in season 5. Much like with the Rainbow Power arc, each episode is meant to test the girls in some way in order to earn a specific key. “Princess Eco Chase” is about Bea earning the Key Of Teamwork when she learns to work with her friends during a competition and not do everything herself. “Princess Nest Pest” is about Kira earning the Key Of Tenacity as she learns to think outside the box when dealing with a bird she’s never seen before. “Princess Bridge Over Troubled Water” is about Rita earning the Key Of Community (originally Key Of Music) as she learns to rely on the help of the community when dealing with an impossible task. “Princesses And The Beanstalk” is about Penny earning The Key Of Ingenuity as she learns how to keep trying even when constantly failing in order to deal with a 4 fruitdom drought. “Princess Friends Un-Forever” is about all the girls earning The Key Of Unity when they learn to put aside their disagreements. “Princesses Seas The Day” is about all the girls earning The Key Of Selflessness when they prioritize saving the fruitdoms over doing their key quest. Much like with the Cutie Map, the episodes start with the girls being given some kind of special box with items that tie into where they’re going or what they’re supposed to do. Plus, unlike season 2, we do at least see some of the fruitdoms, what with “Princess Bridge Over Troubled Water” showing the avocado fruitdom and “Princess Friends Un-Forever” showing the Dragonfruit fruitdom. In my opinion, these episodes are some of the best that the show has ever done because of how they embrace the benefits of being a streaming show. Preschool shows on the whole are mainly episodic even if they’ll sometimes integrate some continuity and status quo changes. That doesn’t make them bad. There’s a time and place for episodic shows and more story driven or serialized shows. With streaming television having less restrictions compared to cable television, having a preschool show that goes for a more overarching story while still embracing the strengths of episodic storytelling in preschool shows (emphasizing things like character relationships and positive messages) is more possible, and this show does it well.

Now I want to talk about the idea of antagonists and how they’re redeemed. Now the idea of antagonists in the show was introduced in the season 2 episode “Little Shop Of Princess Horrors”, where Penny’s attempts to win a baking contest cause her to accidentally create a giant sentient pineapple. Said pineapple then shrinks down to regular size when everyone works together, and while still sentient, is also tame. Season 3 introduces two antagonists in the form of Princess Delia Dragonfruit (voiced by Madeline Nellis) and the pirate Captain Reginald (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson). Delia is first introduced in “Princess Eco-Chase”, where she’s basically a smug rival and jack of all trades when it comes to skill. By that, I mean she’s mainly played up as a foil to Bea in being smug about her athletic abilities even if she’s good at what all the princesses do. She very much goes with the idea of being the best and not needing to work with other people since she thinks that this is what it takes to get into Princess Adventure Academy. She’s a pretty fun character to watch, and I like how she’s antagonistic by doing things alone and not working with others, not by being some supervillain. When she returns in “Princess Friends Un-Forever”, the episode knows how to show her flaws enough while still making sure she’s somewhat sympathetic. On the one hand, we see that she’s being rather stubborn in refusing the princesses’ help when they were sent to her fruitdom to clear up some mystery involving a tart stealing monster (spoiler alert: It’s Headmistress Miranda doing this to being the girls together). On the other hand, we get a sense that she genuinely cares for her fruitizens. There’s a scene where a woman asks about how the Dragonfruit festival will turn out in light of the monster attacks, and she does genuinely try to reassure her by saying that it can be in the palace. That’s nice to see. This scene also seems to imply that she’s the only ruler of the fruitdom given how we don’t see any other rulers. We then see her slowly warm up to the princesses as she goes from reluctantly accepting their help to working with them and not wanting them to be hurt. That’s great to see. Now let’s talk about Captain Reginald. He’s introduced in the final episode ,”Princess Seas The Day”,, where we see that he’s a pirate who takes treasures from all the fruitdoms. Notably, he also kidnaps Kira’s older sister Karina (voiced by Anairis Quiñones) and leaves her on a deserted island after taking her ship just as the girls are trying to help out the cranberry fruitdom. Compared to Delia’s heel face turn, this is a bit more on the nose. In just one episode, his entire life view basically changed from being a pirate so he can make friends to learning how to princess when seeing how selfless they are when trying to save him and his crew. I am more willing to let this slide since this is all about showing how far the girls have come as characters, he’s played more as a goofy character, and we at least see him try to make up for what he did by returning everything.

Now let’s talk about the ending. It’s definitely pretty heartwarming. After returning everything, it seems like the girls won’t get into Princess Adventure Academy because they didn’t get to the cranberry fruitdom before sundown. Karina then brings up an interesting point in how they shouldn’t be punished for doing the right thing. Fortunately, Headmistress Miranda agrees, and says that while they didn’t go on her key quest, they went above and beyond by thinking about the safety of the fruitdoms first. It’s with this where they get the final key. It’s just so satisfying seeing the hard work of everyone pay off. When opening the curio cabinet, it lets out a light that comes from their crowns, which she says points to the location of the school, which is very far away, and orientation is tomorrow. What we get next is really bittersweet as the girls say goodbye to their families and head off to Princess Adventure Academy. Seeing them give the final Pinkie Tea Promise as they promise to always be together was honestly quite emotional.

 

And that is my review of Princess Power season 3, and to some extent, the show as a whole. This season definitely takes what made the show and elevates it to 11. We get a well written story that’s very much driven by the characters and good messages. It’s sad to see the show go, but I know that I am proud to call myself a fan of the show. Thank you to everyone for making the show great.

And that’s all I have. What do you think of Princess Power season 3?

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