Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cartoon Network's Troubled Times

Things are tough all over, but the LA Times relates:

Since launching several live-action reality shows in June and moving away from its animation roots, Cartoon Network ... 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 trouble, I think, is that you've got to have some profile you cut that your audience identifies with. And some of the fan base, apparently, is getting ticked off at CN's brave new programming.

Ashley Rosario went looking for her favorite Cartoon Network shows such as "Chowder" and "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack" and instead found reality programs, she did what any normal teenager does these days. She made a video complaining about it and posted it on YouTube ...

Me, I don't think networks succeed by aping other channels and lurching away from their core audience. Trying something other than animation from the nineties is well and good, but it's got to be based on something identifiable with the heritage that's gone before.

Of course, if CN has some edgy, live-action breakout hit, management personnel will become geniuses in the wink of an eye. (I recall when Disney TVA went over budget with Duck Tales and the execs on the Buena Vista lot were livid ... until the show turned into a gargantuan hit, at which point the cost overruns were forgotten.)

Nothing succeeds like success. (And don't cry too much for the staff of the cancelled Chowder. Last week a CN artist told me: "Almost all the artists and production staff got hired away by Disney. The only part of the crew that didn't get job offers were timing directors. I guess Disney has plenty of those already.")

I still think CN would do well with some new and fresher 'toons, but they've decided -- for the moment -- to plunge ahead with the live-action strategy.


Anonymous said...

There are those fans of Chowder and Flapjack, but overall those toons haven't been too popular, have they? And I've seen some of the new animated stuff being offered to CN...and it's all crap. Badly drawn, derivative, just plain ugly crap. Self-indulgent slop that's not geared to entertain kids or anyone but the creator, who has this "vision", you see. Right. Frankly it's easy to see why CN would try live action. It hasn't had much luck with toons lately, so why not? (Not that I'm in favor of their choice, but it's hard to blame it under the circumstances).

Unknown said...

...You just can't please people. And why doesn't anyone notice the fact that Cartoon Network is picking up more animated series, live-action is failing, and the return of older series to the schedule? They even brought back Super Chunk, for Christ' sake.

Does 10+ animated series premiering in the next 2 years mean nothing?

Anonymous said...

No, not as long as theirs horrible live action shows burning my eyes on the channel.

Mike Milo said...

The reason Disney did not hire us timing directors from Chowder is because they are not doing sheets on Fishhooks. The animation is going to Canada and being done with Harmony which is similar to Flash. They feel they don't need sheets because the same studio that did Fosters will be doing the animation on Fishhooks. As a recently out-of-work CN timing director, I wish it were not the case but it's definitely not because they have plenty of timers over there already.

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