Tags: animation

So you tell me people who watch Cartoon Network don't want to see reality shows?!

At 9:30 eastern tonight (in about 20 minutes), Cartoon Network will air the opening episode to the final season of Justice League Unlimited, itself the final series in the DC Animated Universe franchise developed by the team headed by Bruce W. Timm. Remarkably, this would be only the second time the episode aired on Cartoon Network, the first being its premiere in January of 2006. Also premiering this month are a new Garfield show, and returning to the network are shows with the Pink Panther, and the Looney Tunes characters. Tomorrow, CN premieres the Ed Edd n Eddy movie it produced over a year ago.

What has lead CN to rediscover its roots? The spectacular failure of its experiment in reality programming, also known as CN Real -- formerly known as CN Real. If you watch CN for any length of time, you will notice that sometime during last few weeks, they stopped referring to any show as airing on CN Real. In fact, the the reality shows are no longer shown together, limited each to one or two timeslots a week with no repeats. Given that the shows were responsible for a giving CN its new record low in rating this summer, knocking the network out of the the top 10 -- out of the top 20 of cable networks, this excommunication should be of no surprise. That they thought that 30% off versions of Cash Cab, Mythbusters, Ghost Hunters and Cash Cab would be received well should have been the surprise. -- man, just look at the list of shame as composed by TV Tropes -- the network was as lazy as it was contemptuous of its audience!

But that doesn't mean Cartoon Network hasn't given up its teenaged rebellion. It has picked up two more live-actioners, because isn't animation a juvenile pursuit anyway?

Happy 60th Wile E. You haven't caught that Road Runner yet?!

The cartoon may as well be CSI: Acme, but that's why it was so popular. Everybody knew the formula, but they wanted to see what twists you could turn with it. We know the coyote will get flattened, sure, but the fun is seeing how he will be flattened.

The family of Chuck Jones has been posting letters he wrote to his daughter. Here's one where he explains why he could produce a Road Runner cartoon so quickly.

The Entertainment Industry is Annoying Me. . .

From Nikki Finke, Deadline Hollywood Daily:

As the summer winds down, studio execs needing a vacation are getting punchier (and their quotes to me snarkier). But even Hollywood is embarrassed by the fact that this weekend's Top 4 competing films [Final Destination 3D, Halloween II, Inglourious Basterds, District 9] featuring horror, death, gore, mayhem, war, Nazis, aliens, and sci-fi all did so well at the box office Friday. "What a sad statement on movie-going humanity," a top studio exec emailed me tonight.

Yes, because science fiction is such a blight on humanity. Also, I myself don't care much for horror, but Mr. Studio Executive sounds like the type of idiot who thinks violent video games are creating an army of prepubescent psychopaths.

The L.A. Times on Cartoon Network
Since launching several live-action reality shows in June and moving away from its animation roots, Cartoon Network, which is owned by Time Warner Inc.'s Turner Broadcasting, has been playing a game of hide-and-seek with its audience. Few of its new shows -- which include "Survive This," a knockoff for kids of CBS' "Survivor"; "The Othersiders," about a bunch of paranormal-obsessed ghost-hunting teens; and "Brain Rush," a quiz show with contestants on roller coasters -- are catching on with viewers, and none are among the network's top 10 series. Only one -- "Destroy Build Destroy," whose title is self-explanatory -- is gaining any traction.

The move toward live-action and reality shows with a tilt toward preteen and teenage boys is not happening on a whim. [Stuart] Snyder said the network's research told him that kids want a diverse slate of content. "Our network was 100% cartoons, and our audience is saying we also want to see ourselves," he said.

"We have seen the trends," Snyder said. "We believe that by diversifying and providing more live-action or even sports content, we will have the ability to deliver new advertisers to the network." In particular, he wants to target electronics and technology companies because children have become big consumers of cellphones and video games and often are texting, gaming and watching TV at the same time.

Leading the makeover is Rob Sorcher, a veteran cable programming executive who joined Cartoon Network last year after a stint at AMC, where he spearheaded that network's push toward original dramas and was involved in the development of "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad." Sorcher knows there is a lot of ill will inside and outside Cartoon Network for what he and Snyder are doing.

"All these changes are painful," Sorcher said. "The people who are deep fans don't want it." He recalled that when running AMC, he "took a very bad beating" from viewers who were upset that he changed the channel's old movie format. Now, Sorcher added, "no one would question it."

I'd question it. Other than Mad Men, AMC is a useless network. It what appears to be a grand total of seven movies. Almost every time I flip to the network, it is airing Wolf! If you ask somebody to name a show on AMC that's not Mad Men, you'd get silence. The network is batting one out of a hundred sixty-eight hour week.

But the team is well on its way to AMCizing CN.

TV.com: Chowder is officially canceled:
it's like being the hot girl who just got out a bad relationship; your phone starts ringing from everyone else who's been wanting to date you. It's nice to hear from other networks how much they enjoy the show, especially when you don't really hear it from your own. Chowder has opened up a lot of awesome possibilities for me, and creatively I'm feeling more inspired than ever. There are some new ideas I'm working on that will hopefully find a good home somewhere in the next year.

We wish you the best, C. H. Greenblatt

Although they are committed to their approach, they disagree on the fate of Cartoon Network's name. Snyder said he didn't believe the name has to be changed. Sorcher said he expects "we will have to deal with this down the line."

Yes, AMCize the network.

Saturday Morning Infomercials!

Isn't that what wonderful childhood memories are made of? Looks like while I wasn't watching (the shows, or the business relationship), 4Kids' relationship with Fox was souring. Now they're breaking up for good. Fox will give part of the time back to the affiliates (you know, to air E/I shows, news or whatever), but Fox will keep two hours to air infomercials. A major network to air infomercials. Gotta love this new economy.

The Christopher Hitchens of Animation. . .

It's been a long while since I talked about animation in depth. It's surprising, as it is one of my first loves, but developments over the years (and it frightening that I can use the word "years" in descriptions of my life on the internet and of my time writing here, even if in the latter it is more of a description of the length of time between posts) lead me to less actively seek out information, history and community from the resources that exist here on the internet. Part of the reason is that I can avoid controversies that almost inevitably spin out from something written by John Kricfalusi.

For those who haven't heard of him, John K. is a Canadian-born animator best (and for most people, only) known for creating Ren and Stimpy. He is also something of a bomb-throwing animation iconoclast, in much the same way that Christopher Hitchens is on every subject he writes about. He has opinions about what he feels is wrong with American animation, (summarized partly that it is all the fault of the cabal of writers and executives who conspire to keep the lowly animator subservient)  and he will gladly tell you in ways deftly designed to inflame the passions of his acolytes and to drive those who disagree into apoplectic fits. Again, much like Hitchens.

A spot on parody of this, and other animation-web lunacy was written by Bob Mackey for Something Awful. Page two contains a barely indistinguishable from reality parody of John K.

That said, I was honestly surprised and delighted by a bit of animation he did for the first episode of Class of 3000 (I'm reading it was just character design), which I'm not much of a fan of. Of course, Class of 3000 is unabashedly a kids-only show, and it wasn't hoping to suck me in as a fan.

Disney, Don't Screw This Up.

Disney, you've taken it upon yourselves to perform two important and noble things: place a black character as lead in an animated film and to set the story in New Orleans. So, I must beg of you, don't screw this up. Frankly, for the past decade or so, you've been lost. You've made hasty decisions, like placing all bets on computer animation, and lost your shirts when those bets didn't pan. You've forgot to to either tell compelling stories, or how to sell them to your audience. (How you managed to make the future look boring and staid instead of wondrous and inspiring in your Meet the Robinsons ad campaign, I will never figure out.) You've retreated into easy money by sequel-izing almost all of your old properties and releasing them straight to video. You've surrendered to Pixar, and allowed even the pretenders to Pixar to pass you up.

I'm glad you're trying again, and with hand-drawn animation. Ironically, the paucity of such releases will help you look fresh again. But you need to get this project right. Placing one of us, and New Orleans into such important leading roles has made it all the more imperative that you don't fail us here. And marking this as your return to classical animation means your reputation is on the line. Disney, unfortunately, I feel you lost your magic. Please prove me wrong.

The Return of the Ink and Paint Club. . .

Disney to return to animating movies with pencils and paper. This reverses a decision made for an incredibly stupid reason -- which was "Our movies weren't doing well. It must be because they weren't computer animated." It took them numerous failures with computer animated movies to reconsider that reasoning.

Of course, we have to figure if they figured out what they need to do. "It doesn't matter what the technology is. It matters what the story is."

What's actually cool in this, is the story is going to take place in New Orleans and the lead will be a black character.
Hiro Otomo

Remembrance of Courage Past. . .

I mentioned Courage the Cowardly Dog several posts/months back. In particular, the episode, Remembrance of Courage Past which was -- if I'm not mistaken -- the last episode of the show (paired with Perfect) , both shown and planned as such. In Remembrance, we learn through flashback the tragic story of how Courage came to be an orphaned dog, to be found and saved by Muriel. I mention it now, as for the time being, Cartoon Network has provided a direct link to the video.

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