Sugar!  Spice!  A tight episodic formula!  These are the ingredients for a successful cartoon, or at least one of ’em.  Of course, as Rodrigo notes on this week’s MSP, the way those episodes are structured is a large part of the Powerpuff Girls’ success, and altering it alters the show.  The same can be said of the last season of ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ which suddenly changed the show’s location and the way it dealt with flashbacks.  Even fans are torn on whether the experiment worked (Spoiler: Yes) leading to today’s experimental query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) admits that breaking formula isn’t always bad, as Star Trek DS9 breaks the central “ride around in a spaceship” premise of the show, and it’s the best, asking: Do you mind when your favorite stories break formula (like a ‘Spaceman Spiff’ episode or the time Mork showed up on ‘Happy Days’?)


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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Depends on context within the series and other factors. In some cases, it works because it brings in something different without throwing everything out the window. In other cases, it works because it DOES throw everything out the window. But sometimes it fails spectacularly. Sometimes the concept is solid, but the execution comes off like a train wreck. It all depends on so many different things that I neither like nor dislike the idea. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

  2. 春咲絵門 on

    Intellectual property is like a toy: It’s meant to be played with. It’s fun to play with characters and ideas in different ways. So I enjoy when they break some rule or make up new ones in order to explore new ideas. Unfortunately, I think often times people get their hands on certain intellectual property just to shoot it with a BB-gun *cough cough* BatmanVSuperman *cough cough*

  3. Malone_hasco on

    From Dusk till Dawn comes to mind. I came in to see a heist movie but ended up getting vampire splatterfest. I liked it.

  4. I think a point that Rodrigo brought up in this week’s MS podcast when talking about the Powerpuff Girls reboot hits the nail right on the head with respect to this question.

    *If* a series has a really tight, well-defined and at least somewhat unique formula and sticks to it faithfully 90% of the time, a change to this formula can be incredibly effective and engaging. For example, when the crew of the Enterprise jumps into the Holodeck and their surroundings and character roles change, it opens up a whole new avenue of creative possibilities that are all the more engaging in that they’re tied to a familiar family of characters.

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