Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Resurrection of Prime Time Toons

VARIETY has a think piece on the revival of animated prime-time half hours that have died, yet are now coming back to life (like Lazarus)... This is a development in televisionland that, so far, only applies to cartoons. Family Guy was over, then was brought back. Futurama, gone these many years, now is poised to make a comeback. The animation crew of King of the Hill was laid off the end of last year, and now DPS-Film Roman is scrounging for office space to house the artists that now are needed for twenty new episodes. It's easier to bring back hand-drawn actors who never age than it is the flesh-and-blood type who age, become more expensive, and move on to new lucrative gigs. VARIETY notes (you can peruse the article by clicking on the title above) that all the new delivery systems -- DVDs, cell phones, ipods -- have made old franchises lucrative enough to bring back (Comedy Central and Cartoon Networks' "adult swim" have something to do with this.) But cartoons have always had a long shelf life. Walk into any Toys-R-Us, and you'll discover bins of cheap DVDs. These bins don't hold ancient public-domain live-action films, but cartoons that have fallen out of copyright. Old Popeyes, old Looney Toons that Warners let slip away, they're all available to enrich inquiring young three and four bucks a throw. Toons, as Fox has discovered, are ever green.


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