Nov 16, 2004

Who's Popeye?

A couple of days ago, my little seven-year-old cousin made one of his trademarked weekend visits. We saw a commercial for the Popeye 3D special video release, and I was like "What did they do to Popeye?" He looked at me and asked, "Who's Popeye?"

For one moment, I was wondering is this kid on something. Afterall, I grew up watching the excellent Fleischer Popeye shorts, the great Famous Studios Popeye shorts, the so-so King Features television Popeye shorts, the uncharacteristic-but-okay Hanna-Barbera shorts, and the abysmal Popeye and Son over the years. I've seen the comics when I went out of state because the Virginia Pilot didn't carry it in its papers (which is not only shocking considering my locale's reputation as Navytown, USA with its shipyards and Naval and Coast Guard bases, but also our paper would rather carry the likes of Shoe, Cathy, and The Wizard of Id). Since Cartoon Network refuses to show anything older that isn't made by Warner Bros., Tex Avery, or Fleischer as well as any older HB show that that isn't Scooby-Doo, Popeye is, unfortunately, in the dark at the network. And since in recent years The Popeye Show was limited to late-night hours, my little cousin has never seen a Popeye cartoon.

So, I showed him my little stash of black and whites that I had on tape. And he laughed and laughed. Needless to say, Popeye's one of his new favorite cartoon characters.

Oh. I supposed you want to say that he could check out Popeye cartoons on Boomerang. Not so fast, you crazy! We both have digital cable, and the only animation outlets are the usual suspects (Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, ABC Family, and Disney Channel), PBS Kids, Toon Disney (which has, somehow, forgotten it was supposed to be an all-animation network by showing Power Rangers and Muppets), and Nicktoons (by the way, if you're not watching the Nicktoons Film Festival, shame on you!). Our cable company has foolishly not acquired Boomerang, probably because Boomerang foolishly decided to ricochet their lineup three times a day with the same shows rather than have a linear lineup. Boomerang is considered a joke by those who have the network as well as critics of the animation industry as a whole. Cartoon Network is becoming more modern and as a result forgotten where they came from.

I remember the days when I could see a Looney Tunes short on a Friday afternoon and MGM-made shorts that weren't Tom and Jerry during primetime in a watchable time. A whole generation is about to forget characters that entertained numerous generations before it, and it's a damned shame. I asked my little cousin if he knew who Bugs Bunny was, and he said "He was in that movie with Michael Jordan."

I'm almost afraid to ask my little cousin if he has heard of Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, and other Hanna-Barbera characters.

What's So "Adult" About Adult Swim?

I haven't seen ads for Doom 3, Halo 2, and GTA: San Andreas, three of the year's biggest video game titles aimed towards an older teen/young adult audience on a programming block which is designed for an older teen/young adult audience. I've seen car ads and ads for slightly harder PG-13 movies, but no ads for, say, R-rated actioners like Constantine or Blade Trinity. So, the question has to be asked.

What's so "adult" about Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup? I could kind of understand why the network refuses to advertise Adult Swim programming outside the hour before the block on Cartoon Network. However, that's no excuse to not advertise for Adult Swim on any of the other Turner networks. If the viewership is huge because of the power of the internet, imagine how the viewership would be with the addition of large majority that don't check out the nerd boards that'll check out the block. Of course by adding more "adult" advertisers with the immediate dropping of the ban on R and M-Rated films and video games would be nice. You know, just to let the illusion and allusion of the brand "Adult Swim" be true.

Oh, and create strong original animated titles rather than relying on outside sources would be nice too, but that's a whole other conversation.

Oct 24, 2004

Clark Kent's Older Than Superman?

I don't know if I ever told anybody at the site or the boards this, but I'm a huge Superman fan. I'm just a big a Spider-Man fan as I am Superman, but The Man of Steel is the iconic hero of the comic industry. Don't get me wrong, I won't plaster the shield on everything in my house nor name my first born child "Kal El," but I am definitely a huge Superman fan.

A few columns down in my Christopher Reeve obit, I even admitted that I had Superman pajamas with a velcro-tabbed cape when I was a little kid, often waking up mornings climbing on the chairs in the living room with my arms at my side and my chest beaming doing a cocky laugh as my cape flew in the breeze of the oscilating fan. I've enjoyed both the comic tales as well as the televised adventures of Superman, both the animated (I'm probably one of the few folks that actually got up at 8 in the morning to check out the '88 Ruby Spears series) and the live-action (Dean Cain was good and all on Lois and Clark, but where was the trademark spit curl?).

I'm still a huge fan of Smallville (btw, the last episode introduced a character calling himself "Bart Allen" [the secret identity of Kid Flash, formerly Impulse] but also called himself "Jay Garrick," "Barry Allen," and "Wally West," all incarnations of The Flash; shame folks missed it to watch the Yankees lose badly and embarassingly to the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in New York) and actually can't wait for, of all shows, Krypto the Superdog on Cartoon Network this spring. I'm also anticipating Bryan Singer's Superman movie in 2006. If his track record on The Usual Suspects and the X-Men movies are any indication, the movie is definitely going to be a must-see. However, the guy he picked to be Clark Kent/Superman, Brandon Routh, is actually younger than the guy who plays Clark Kent on Smallville, Tom Welling. Brandon's 25 and Tom's 27.

It's probably much ado about nothing, I'm sure that Brandon will do a good job in a role that made Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain, and Tom Welling famous (no pressure). It's probably best that a virtual unknown plays the role of Superman, and plays the role well. I have no doubts that Tom would have played Superman as well as he plays Clark Kent. However, I can understand that Mr. Singer and the producers of the movie franchise aren't trying to connect Smallville continuity with the movie continuity. It would have been nice. Hell, it would have even been appropo. But the movie version and the series version of the Superman mythos shouldn't be connected at all since they are different shades of the same story. Otherwise, you'd have the same origin story for every version. Lois and Clark barely covered the Kryptonian side of the story but it did have elements from John Byrne's reimagining of the origin in his Man of Steel mini-series in '86. When Timm, Dini, and Burnett relaunched Superman in animation, Jor-El is much more kind-hearted and warmer than the cold version created by Byrne, who is, in turn seemingly nicer than the version implied on Smallville.

If you think Superman's filmed origins are different, check out Spider-Man's. There's only one constant in all the versions . . . Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider, gaining its strengths and powers (God bless Bendis and JMS for actually creating interesting spins [no pun intended] on the origin created by Stan Lee in Ultimate Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man, respectedly) and donning the mask of Spider-Man. The live-action series actually had Peter Parker as an adult photographer getting bit. The various animated versions had Peter Parker as a teen getting his powers, but predominately shows him as a college student. Ultimate has Peter as a teenager bitten by a genetically-altered spider, and actually keeps him as a teenager. The movie Spider-Man is basically a mutant of sorts, bitten by a genetically-altered spider but using his actual spinnerets rather than constructing his own. The "traditional" Marvel Spider-Man has Peter Parker getting bit by a radioactive spider as a teen, but as an adult, he gets an interesting philosophical lesson that radically changes the way Peter (and the reader) sees his powers and how he really got them (was the spider going to give him his powers, or was the radioactivity just a small factor into the source of his powers). Like the Superman movies and series, each version of Spider-Man stays true the core of the original story.

It'll be good in the end.

Oct 22, 2004

Hey Comcast . . .

It's been a little over half a year since you guys bought TechTV and merged it with your ill-conceived G4 network. Originally, you guys said y'all were going to name the new network G4, but smarter heads prevailed to a point and named it G4techTV. Admittedly, I felt you guys would have been better and name it something entirely different, creating a new brand as a result.

But G4techTV failed . . . badly. It landed on its ass and hasn't really caught on with the masses.

Sure, G4techTV is on 50 million households, and that's good. But who's really watching? And what are they really watching? Yeah, they're largely watching X-Play. X-Play is the most watched series on G4techTV. It's also 70% of why you guys bought TechTV. You turned The Screen Savers into a 75% gaming show instead of the 85% tech-oriented show it was meant to be (and pushed out a bulk of the older, wiser Savers to boot). What's worse is that you took out three minutes of The Screen Savers to show simulated video-game hockey clips.

I'm going to say this one more time to make sure you understood me.


Under the name of G4 Sports, you, in effect, are pouring salt on the wounds of hockey fans who would rather see the real thing than see hockey video game clips. It's stupid. I'm in a minor-league town, mind you. Some Chicago Blackhawks are playing across the river in Norfolk for the AHL team here.

Also, the name is G4 Sports, not G4techTV Sports. It's like business as usual at G4 rather than fully uniting G4 with TechTV as promised. The bulk of the lineup is filled with old G4 programming. All the newer shows, with the exception of X-Play, use G4 microphones, not G4techTV logos (seriously, they could easily slap a TechTV logo sticker on another side of a mike. They even have a show called, which could have easily been renamed, but alas, that would have caused a little more work to be done. What's more, the name of the production company is G4 Media. It's sad that you guys don't really know what you had when you bought TechTV.

You had a news department that actually covered tech news more than once a week, people that actually knew what they were talking about, and older folks who were experienced in the industry. Instead of a great network, you essentially turned TechTV into a game version of MTV.

And that's not a compliment.

So, Comcast, hear me out. You want to start phasing out the TechTV name on your programming? Fine. Phase out the G4 name as well as the G4 Media name. Relaunch the network's programming under a new name, develop some new programming to fill out the Cheats/Cinematech hour, decide between Judgement Day and The Electric Playground (I'd choose EP because it has more bite to it and not so sophomoric), and actually have more tech-driven programming. And no, Robot Wars is not tech-driven (not as much as Techno Games was). You merged the networks together, but didn't have an exit strategy in making the network successful. You guys need help. Listen to the old TechTV fans.

They know what's up.

Oct 19, 2004


Have you seen the new Stargate SG-1 Season Seven DVD set? I'm glad that they're promoting the series and all, but one thing perplexes me. With all the talent and finances that MGM has in their employ, not to mention the monies Sony will imput in the months to come, how come the geniuses who came up with this ad misspelled a TV Guide declaration, the only one in the whole ad?

Instead of "A Worldwide TV Phenomenon," they said, in huge bold letters:


Yes, my friends, and it's circulating on the network that supposed to be G4techTV (but not; I'll talk about later) all week long. Incredible.

Oct 11, 2004

In Memory of Christopher Reeve

Another Superman from my youth passed away yesterday. Earlier in the year, Danny Dark, voice of the Superfriends' Man of Steel, died, and this morning, I learned that the quintessential Superman, Christopher Reeve, died yesterday afternoon. He was 52.

I've seen and heard many individuals portray the first iconic superhero over the years, from Bud Culdyer and George Reeves to Tim Daly and Dean Cain to George Newbern and (at least in the Clark Kent identity) Tom Welling, but it was Christopher Reeve who put a human face on the comic book character. Twenty-six years ago, he graced the silver screen in a way that, at the time and, to some, still has, changed the way the American public looked at comic book-driven films and television shows.

Think about that for one moment.

Until the Superman movie came out, Americans still considered the 60s Batman series as a template for all comic book-based productions. Campy, over the top, full of overdramatics, hamtastic acting, just plain silly. Superfriends, as good as it was, also had similar attributes. Even less silly comic book-based projects like Wonder Woman (which could have been a disasterous comedy series if the Batman producers' earlier pilot had been successful) were more or less cut from the same cloth. When Christopher Reeve first donned the familiar Superman costume, attitudes about comic book properties changed. The film personified the current attitudes of the comics of the era, long trying to get from under the Batman camp image in the mainstream. Mr. Reeve's performance as the Man of Steel paved the way for Bill Bixby's David Banner/Hulk, John Wesley Shipp's Barry Allen/Flash, Michael Keaton's Bruce Wayne/Batman, Wesley Snipes's Blade, Hugh Jackman's Wolverine, and Tobey McGuire's Peter Parker/Spider-Man, among others.

Christopher Reeve made people believe that a man can fly. He has made such an impact on the mythos of the Superman legacy in many wayes. Kingdom Come, a miniseries created by Mark Waid and ALex Ross, was largely a Superman story that was dedicated to Mr. Reeve. Recently, he made one last mark on the current incarnation of the Superman mythos Smallville as Dr. Swan, who enlightened Clark Kent about where he came from and what his destiny will be.

In recent years, after an equestrian accident left him paralyzed, he became an advocate for many causes. Though he wasn't as mobile as he once was, Mr. Reeve continued to champion many paraylsis studies and programs, some more controversial than most. To some, these real-life heroics made him more like Superman than ever, but to me, slightly reverting back to the days when I wore my Superman pajamas with the velcro cape, Christopher Reeve will always be Superman, and he will be missed.

Oct 8, 2004

Who Watches And Listens To Local Broadcasts Anymore?

I rarely look at my local television stations nowadays. Aside from a few shows on Fox, ABC, The WB, UPN, and NBC (yeah, I know CBS exists, but there's absolutely nothing on it worth watching), I rarely look at broadcast television anymore. Most of what I look at on television is on cable. Sunday nights belong to HBO from 9 to 11 PM (of course, and I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I'm digging ABC's Sunday lineup now) and Cartoon Network the rest of the night, Monday nights, I check out Raw on Spike TV. I look at some of the broadcast comedies on Tuesday nights, but I check out the FX dramas like The Shield and nip/tuck at 10. After Smallville goes off, I pretty much channel surf for an hour until Good Eats comes on. After Smackdown goes off on Thursdays, I channel surf again. Fridays, I check out CN, ABC, Monk on USA, and HBO throughout the night. Saturdays, well, if you don't know by know, perhaps you really don't know me nor my other site.

Broadcast television offers very little for me. Didn't used to be that way, but broadcast channels (both television and radio) have become really lazy. Part of the laziness isn't their fault (broadcast outlets are, afterall, handcuffed by the FCC, which continues to make this country one of the most puritanical societies in the world mediawise), but most of it is. If you're going to keep on duplicating the same old formulas (still anticipating the announcements of CSI: Wichita and Law and Order: Mall Security), people aren't going to be impressed. Seriously, when CBS announced plans for a second CSI spinoff (and the fourth show to have the letters CSI in the title, including Navy NCIS), what exactly was the reactions in the boardrooms? I think it went a little something like this:

Exec One: Hey, this CSI franchise is just blowing up, and we're doing just as well with Navy NCIS. We have one on almost every night of the week except Tuesdays and Wednesdays. How about we make a CSI . . . in New York?

Exec Two: Great, just what television needs . . . another cop/detective series based in New York.

Exec One: It's not cops. It's crime scene investigators.

Exec Two: Detectives. How about something original instead of the same series in three different shells?

Exec One: Well, we could put on a reality show where we put a group of slightly slutty, gold-digging girls in a mansion with a g - -

Exec Two: CSI: New York is a go!

Broadcast networks whine about cable television who "get away with more stuff." They cry that it's unfair to compete against the likes of HBO, FX, and USA because they can air shows with almost no limitations. Shows like The Sopranos, Monk, Sex in the City, The Shield, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, Curb Your Enthusiasm, nip/tuck, Rescue Me, and others aren't bound by the content standards enforced by the FCC. Unlike broadcast television and radio, cable television content has evolved tremendously. Hell, did you think you'd see something like Cowboy Bebop on Cartoon Network without being hacked to bits? Broadcast outlets are, more or less, still operating under the same rules established in the 1950s. Why? Because there are strong forces who still have the mentality of a McCarthyesque bureaucrat. And these forces are more vocal than the rest of us, so, more often then not, the enforcements they push for are the ones that usually become law. That's why Saturday mornings are a lost cause for broadcast television. That's why guys like Howard Stern and Opie and Anthony are bolting to satellite radio.

And that's why the rest of the world was laughing at us for fining Viacom for the Justin Timberlake situation at the Super Bowl (it's funny why one party had been persecuted while the one who actually did the act just got his street card revoked).

So, with more people watching cable television and more people slowly drifting to satellite radio, do we really need broadcast television and radio? Of course we do, but they really have to enter the 21st century to keep up with the audiences. I'm not saying that the FCC should be dismantled, but it certainly wouldn't hurt. Funny thing is that broadcast outlets are always a step behind. With the advent of the internet and local news and weather stations on cable, you could get the latest local news and weather info. For national news, you could always glance at the 24/7 stations (caution: too much cable news can cause cases of smugness, arrogance, inaccuracy, cut off mikes, and spontaneous combustion). The NBA has basically become a cable-only sports league, and MLB is slowly swerving in that direction as well. Heck, the NFL's actually thinking of putting Monday Night Football on ESPN rather than on ABC.

Let's see, local news, weather, children's entertainment, and sports are pretty much covered by cable. So, there has to be a use for broadcast right? Well, yeah, if you like a lot of reality programming and a lot of formulaic series.

There are plenty of gems out there on broadcast television, but you really have to look hard for them. And pray that the networks don't cancel them so quickly. Fox had a lot of great shows on its lineups in recent years. Wonderfalls, John Doe, Firefly (think Outlaw Star live-action), Dark Angel, and Arrested Development all received critical acclaim, but little love from the network. Heck, Arrested Development was nominated for (and won) Best Comedy Series at this year's Emmys, and yet Fox still thought about cancelling the series. It'll be back, but it was one of the lucky ones. So, there is just a slight glimmer of hope for broadcast television.

As for broadcast radio, it's a waste of time. Edited music, numerous talking heads, endless commercials, plus the same type of music on all the time, broadcast radio sucks. I dig Music Choice and I respect internet radio. Haven't heard much satellite radio, but I liked what I heard. Broadcast radio is a dinosaur that needs to evolve beyond what's there.

Of course, that's just my four half-cents.

Sep 30, 2004

We Don't Care About Television In The US

When I created The X Bridge way back in the year 1998 (okay, it was a little over six years ago, but in web years, that's ancient), people wondered why I created a site dedicated to a block like Toonami. One of the reasons why I launched the site was because of the way the block presented itself, which was like nothing I've seen in this country . . . well, not since Sci-Fi's Animation Station block, but that's something I'll dwell on at the main site one day. When Tyler L. launched Toonami Multimedia (later Toonami Miscellanious) and Zogg started Toonami Basement that captured the on-air bumpers, idents, and openings the folks at Williams Street made, people knew that this block really had a good thing going. When Tyler and Zogg merged their sites into Toonami Digital Arsenal, the premiere destination for all multimedia relating to Toonami, the Toonami fan community were given a true digital gift that is, in fact, a historical archive of the evolution of a cable network programming block.

In fact, in the United States, TDA is one of the few online sources for television promotional multimedia. You won't find a complete archive of other network blocks, let alone other cable networks, in the United States. See, the thing that makes TDA different is that it actually exists. You won't find a website with classic HBO openings, older Nickelodeon promotional commercials, the evolution of TBS logos, or any other cable network in the United States. Why?

We, as a society, don't really care about how television is presented in this country. We just care about the shows that's on the network. Yup, we dig the forensic show that's based in Las Vegas, the casino show that's based in Las Vegas, the other casino show based in Las Vegas, the card tournments in Las Vegas, the reality show based in Las Vegas, the teen melodrama based outside of Las Vegas in Orange County, CA, the reality drama based in Orange County, CA, the chopper show in Orange County, NY, the New York-based cop show, the other New York-based cop show, the other New York-based cop show (the one with the forensic experts), the New York-based firefighter show, the New York-based lawyer show, the Boston-based lawyer show, the new Boston-based lawyer show, the glorified talent show, the other glorified talent show, the show with screaming teens in New York, the show with screaming adults in New York, and all the copycat shows on the air, but not the way the network presents itself.

Although there is one major exception in this country.

Remember the '80s? If you're in your teens, you probably don't, although you may have faint memories of April O'Neil being a news reporter in a yellow jumpsuit in New York on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There's a site that celebrates the decade in visual and audio form . . . well, the live-action side of the decade, from game shows to primetime to sports, and a few live-action kids show. The '80s TV Theme SuperSite was one of the best sources for the way television presented itself in this country, something modern networks and companies should really take a glance at. You know, to remember what television was like before they decided to get lazy with on-screen watermarks, scrolling newscrawls, pop-up ads on television shows (NBC has truly irked me by putting huge screen ads during the middle show this season), and lack of self-promotion. I feel if you're not proud of your network, why should people care about the shows? The SuperSite reminded me that Out of This World was a really great show, the NBC '88 network campaign (Come Home To The Best . . . Only on NBC) was one of the greatest ever made, and that ABC used a lot of pop tunes in their promos. For the longest time, I felt this was the end-all and be-all for retro television promotion archives, and it's still very good.

However, the Brits outmatched the SuperSite with TV Ark.

TV Ark bills itself as "The Television Museum." And you know what? I almost believe it. They have covered all of UK television and a lot of foreign television, including Canada and the US. At TV Ark, I saw things I haven't seen in decades, like ABC's old Saturday morning bumpers (ah, an era when Saturday mornings weren't programmed by cable networks because broadcasters grew lazy), Fox's network launch (I actually remember a time when Fox, then embracing their Fox Broadcasting Company name in promotions, didn't exist), and the CBS Special Presentation ident (which was parodied very well on Animaniacs many moons ago). The Ark also showed me that the Britons really know how to market their networks. Looking at BBC's Globe balloon campaign, BBC 2's 2 campaign, Bravo's metamorphosis from a retro network to a harder-edged male-oriented network that makes SpikeTV look like a little girly-man (I could see how Cartoon Network tried to compete [and failed miserably] against Bravo with their CNX network that became Toonami), and Sky's very American-looking campaigns (that sly old fox Rupert), I can tell that the Brits put a lot of heart and soul into their networks.

TV Ark is a lot more comprehensive with the years, going back as far as the 50s to as current as a few months ago. I feel that the SuperSite and the Ark are good companion sites about a history of television branding. And I'm also glad that the Arsenal is one of the only places in the US that continues that journey.

Now, if only there were other sites as comprehensive as these three for American cable networks.

You Know You're A Classic Cartoon Fan . . . (Reason #122 of #150)

. . . when the following phrase emits a chuckle out of you:

Technicolor Ends Here

Sep 20, 2004

Big Time SuperheroTM Coming Through. . .

I mean, big time TXB update coming this Friday.

You remember TXB, right? It's that lame action-oriented webpage with the sporadic updates because the webmaster doesn't have time to get online much except to post inane comments on various fan forums?

Yeah, The X Bridge will have reviews, feature articles, commentaries, databases, Toonami talk, and all other sorts of things to make your head boggle. I'll also enlighten the masses about this thing called X-Ventures Comics a little more further.

I would have had it up Monday, but life got complicated . . . plus I'm still editing the reviews, including this one show that has an unemployed 19-year older recruited by a toy company to wear this funky looking battle suit and living in an apartment complex filled with rivals and villians. Melrose Place meets Ultraman with a touch of Tenchi Muyo. Great show. I'll talk about it later in the week.

The big upload begins later today for me for the big time update on Friday. THIS Friday. I mean it.

Sep 13, 2004

The Lion Sleeps With The Lady With The Torch

Back in the 80s, foreign firms began buying classic American studios like they were on fire. One of the most noteworthy purchases was Sony's purchase of Columbia Pictures from Coca-Cola (yeah, believe it or not, Coca-Cola actually owned television studios). MGM/UA was sold to everybody from Ted Turner (who actually kept the bulk of the library and animated projects) to foreign parties and back to Kirk Kerkorian, who sold it. Heck, back in the day, Kerkorian even sold the Culver City studios where MGM made their biggest films to Columbia Pictures.

After months of speculation between Time Warner (who suddenly has money to actually buy companies now) and a group led by Sony including the likes of Comcast, Kerkorian stayed away from the clouds and decided that The Lion should sleep with the Lady with the Torch, merging the large United Artists/Orion/Samuel Goldwyn/American International/Polygram/post-1986 MGM libraries with the Columbia/Screen Gems/Tri-Star/Revolution Studios film and television libraries. Film franchises like Barbershop, James Bond, Cody Banks, Spider-Man, Stargate, Species, The Pink Panther, Resident Evil, Underworld, and Charlie's Angels, and television shows like Green Acres, The Addams Family, All in the Family, Dawson's Creek, Fame, Jeremiah, Jeopardy, and Wheel of Fortune, and animated properties like the theatrical UPA shorts, Astro Boy, Pink Panther, All Dogs Go To Heaven, Men in Black, Robocop, and others are now under one house.

And once again, a Japanese company owns a major American studio.

Of course, I'm a bit biased. I was kind of rooting for Time Warner to buy MGM because strategically and from a portfolio perspective, it made a whole lot of sense. Time Warner does own a lot of the marquee MGM films in its Turner library. The animation library of MGM meshes well with the animation library of Time Warner. Although Time Warner wanted MGM, there was one major stakeholder who didn't want the company to go forward with the merger.

Ted Turner.

He has already been burned by Kerkorian in the past, paying too much for MGM back in the 80s. He sold the studio back, but kept the library as retribution. Plus, Kerkorian's a gambler, not unlike Turner, and the ego-trips would have been huge!

As a gambler, Kerkorian knew that the one that's willing to put more on the table would be the one he would be more comfortable with. So, when the Sony group put in that final hour at zero hour, the choice was made. In the end, it didn't really matter to him, since he would be billions richer by the end of the day, and he was rid of a company he never really wanted in the first place.

Seriously, when he bought MGM in the 70s, Kerkorian largely said that MGM was a casino company that happens to be in the movie making business. He bought MGM for the lion's head logo and the brand name, not the rich film legacy it created. And Sony, the winners of this high-profile poker match at the MGM Grand, is more or less putting yet another Hollywood studio with a strong legacy in its crown.

Now, there are three major solely American-owned companies as a result, Time Warner, Viacom, and Disney (NBC Universal is 20% owned by Vivendi, who really gypped General Electric by selling 80% of 1/3 of the original Universal company, and News Corp is still Aussie-based for the time being). Good game played, Sony. Now, actually do something productive with the purchase (and I don't mean just release Blu-Ray DVDs of MGM films).

Sep 7, 2004

Living Cartoons

I'm old enough to remember a time when computer-animated creations weren't prominent in feature films. I'm not talking about 3D animated films, there are plenty of those, and I don't want to give them any more press time than they already get (I'll come back to that around the time The Incredibles gets ready to premiere). Plus, Square Pictures' Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within could have did a lot better if it wasn't called Final Fantasy, especially since there was little connection to the familiar elements in the film, but that's a whole other conversation. It's been many moons since Young Sherlock Holmes, The Abyss, and T2, and CGI heroes, antiheroes, and villians are as commonplace as an unoriginal idea in films.

I'm kidding about the unoriginal idea joke (to a point).

If it wasn't for CGI, the Lord of the Rings trilogy couldn't possibly be made. Okay, that's a lie, it could have been made, but it would have been a dramatically different film. It would have looked and felt like the original Star Wars trilogy. In short, a cinematic masterpiece that has a huge, loyal fanbase . . . kind of like now.

Strangely, the original Star Wars trilogy will never be seen again. Oh, you'll see A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, but you'll never see the film as it was originally shown in 1977, 1980, and 1983, respectedly. The upcoming DVDs will not bring the much-ballyhooed and much-criticized "Special Editions" to the masses that already have them on tape. In fact, these releases will be the "ultimate vision until George Lucas finds fault with these in about ten years" special edition with many of the same tweaks made in earlier editions as well as introducing reshot and reanimated scenes. Funny thing that George Lucas has created the perfect science-fiction trilogy that has amassed billions in box office receipts and merchandising and countless devoted fans, and yet, he treats the original films as if they were the worst thing he ever produced. He spliced out many of the elements that made the original films real and basically churned out a lot of animated sequences. They're not shoddy by any means (the Sy Snootles sequence was probably my favorite of the Special Edition), but the fact that he'd rather see pixelated characters rather than flesh and blood people in costumes is a wee bit disturbing.

When Lucas made his prequel trilogy, he decided to utilize the latest technology making perhaps the first live-action animated movies. The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones could have been better films if they had a little more flesh-and-blood characters and less of the animated ones.

Oh, and if they had better scripts.

The strange part is that the animated Clone Wars, which will be airing on September 25 during Cartoon Network's Toonami lineup, felt more real than the last two live-action films, and probably because of Clone Wars (and the March mini-series that'll show the scrolling dialogue of Revenge of the Sith in action), I'm actually thinking of plunking down my $6.25 (I'm guessing that's what the price will be at the MacArthur Center Regal Cinema in 2005) for a Saturday matinee of Revenge of the Sith.

The upcoming film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow intrigues and frightens me a little bit (see, if you stayed a while, you knew I'd get to something a little more current than thrashing the cartooniness of the first two Star Wars prequel movies). The trailers looks like a living anime film, which really facinates the pseudootaku within. Seriously, there are planes with flapping wings and robots that look like distant cousins to The Iron Giant roaming the skies. As an animation fan, this really facinates me. However, the film fanatic fears that the animation might overtake a really good story. Perhaps Sky Captain would be the first film to make CGI animation that looks like animation on purpose rather than trying to fool the viewers into thinking that it's real like the first two Star Wars prequel films (let's face it, as cool as that Yoda/Count Dooku fight was, it really looked cheesy and fake) and the Spider-Man films (as much as SM2 outdid the first film in plot and character development, the animation sequences still felt a little too rubbery).

Who knows? Perhaps it'll make a realistic CGI fan out of me yet.

Aug 19, 2004

Why Did Fox Bring Back Family Guy Again?

After looking at the two hour block of Family Guy episodes last night, I decided to wait a while before commenting on it. After all, you're not supposed to write anything when you're angry because you might regret it later on.

A little under a day has passed. I've calmed down a lot since last night, and I feel I could go about this post with a rational perspective.


Why in the hell did Fox bring back Family Guy again? You know, I hear a lot of [mute] about Cartoon Network's editing standards. I've heard rabid otakus call them numerous names liks [mute], punks, and idiots. After witnessing the first Fox broadcasts of Family Guy in almost four years, I feel that everybody who has ever criticized the standards department of CN should apologize . . . now.

Last night saw numerous edits on all four of the episodes shown. Words like "crap," "bastard," and "dump" were muted sporadically. When I mean sporadically, I mean some incidents it was heard and others, it wasn't. Rear butt ends were blurred out in the "European Road Show" episode . . . well most of them; apparently it's safe to show a baby's butt but not an adult's.

The one edit I didn't quite get but understood because it was Fox was in Brian's song about the world today. He had possible scenarios for how the world could end. The first two cards remained the same, but the third card was a riot scene from The Jerry Springer Show. Of course when the card was revealed on Cartoon Network, it was George W. Bush holding a beer bong. Perhaps Fox didn't want to make fun of the sitting president. Of course back when the episodes originally aired, Family Guy (and The Simpsons) made fun of Bill Clinton, and he was the sitting president then. So, instead of showing Bush in an embarrassing light, they decided to show Jerry Springer instead. Of course Springer's not a big as he was way back then, but people are familar with the series. The humor is a bit stunted as a result, unfortunately.

Is Fox's political stripes showing? Dunno. I don't like to talk about politics here because this isn't the right forum (for you people still thinking in an archaic political mentality, this isn't the "left" forum either). Still, you have to wonder why Fox edited the four episodes again, especially in this paranoid day and age.

And especially that they passed the network standards when it originally aired. Censoring shows that had previously been seen on television always struck me as sickening.

Which leads to the question I began my rant with. Why in the hell did Fox bring back Family Guy again? I did see the advertisement for the DVDs of the series during the last half-hour for the audience that were bored with the Olympics that have never heard of the series. Most likely the ones watching the marathon were people already familiar with the show and knew weeks in advance about the marathons online. I still find it funny that they could find space to air a commercial for the DVDs, but not space for Turner Broadcasting's two showcases for Family Guy episodes, TBS (which had to displace its Wednesday night airings to Tuesdays to supplement the Fox marathons) and Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, where it still airs uncut and with limited commercial interruptions and still drawing in record numbers.

In the original press release bringing back the series, the words "Adult Swim" and "Cartoon Network" were missing when talking about the factors that lead to the resurrection. After looking at the four episodes last night, I could see why Fox refused to talk about CN . . . Adult Swim actually gives Family Guy respect.

Aug 17, 2004

Kids Are Stupid, Stupid Rat Creatures

So are network executives, but I'll get to that later on.

As the continual eradication of classic animation continues within the halls of Techwood Drive and the continual spitting on the legacy of those same classics continues within the halls of Williams Street, I wonder who the real culprits are behind the executive changes, and it comes down to three people:

- upper management of Cartoon Network and Time Warner
- programmers at Cartoon Network
- stupid, stupid rat creatures, also known as kids

I'll pick on the kids because, well, I can.

Kids are stupid, stupid little rat creatures who are too spoiled, too conceited, and way too commercial-obsessed. Their attention spans are about the size of a gnat. Their tastes are ever-evolving and foolishly, network executives try to cater to them. That's why you see shows like Ed, Edd, and Eddy, Totally Spies, and Billy and Mandy as well as junk like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh filtered at almost all of the kid-vid hours.

Kids don't know what they like and are spoonfed whatever executives feel are cool. Or at least what executives feel that kids will think is cool. Apparently, executives feel that kids enjoy newer shows rather than older shows. In a way, they're right. Kids do tend to enjoy new shows a little more than older shows. However, just because it's newer doesn't mean that it's better by any stretch.

Usually, shows with the most advertising tend to be watched by a lot of people. That's the reason why advertising exist: to attract both familiar viewers and to introduce something to new viewers. Shows that are advertised are likely going to be watched by somebody. Shows that aren't advertised aren't going to be watched. That's something you learn in Introduction to Marketing, so it's pretty much elementary.

So, explain to me how some people fail to realize that general principle in marketing? On all these boards, I see people trying to defend the decisions made by Cartoon Network to limit classic animation by a now-tired excuse: "Kids won't watch them."

Like I said earlier, kids are stupid, stupid rat creatures that are spoonfed by executives. That said, if kids aren't exposed to advertising towards classic animation programming, then those shows aren't going to be seen. Fricken common sense if you ask me. I have yet to see an ad for "The Looney Tunes Show" on Cartoon Network since the new look of series was introduced over a year ago. Heck, there weren't many ads for the recent Duck Dodgers Saturday Block Party. And they do advertise for SBP every day, but the limited ads troubled me. These were the new episodes that were not only delayed numerous times, but were really good.

Anyway, back to the advertising situation. Kids don't watch Looney Tunes because they don't know that they're on. I know defenders of Cartoon Network would easily say that they could read the tv listings for show times. Yeah, they could, but that's not a valid excuse either. Some kids can't read, and more or less, kids watch whatever their attention is drawn to. Kids are stupid (perhaps if I say that fact over and over, people will actually absorb it).

They're also not going to look at something that airs in an ungodly hour of the day either. 6 AM EST is an ungodly hour any day of the week. 6 AM on a weekend morning is unbearably ungodly. Kids won't get up early if they really don't have to. At the earliest, most kids wake up around 9 AM on an average Saturday morning. So, the scheduling of classic animation at the ungodly hour of 6 AM on weekend mornings doesn't make sense.

In case you're just now finding out about this, the two-hour classic block that had Boomerang and The Looney Tune show is now just an hour of one classic HB show and three Warner Bros. shorts at 6 AM every weekend morning. That's one hour of Looney Tunes every week. By comparison, Totally Spies (which replaced the Sunday LT airing) comes on nine-and-a-half hours per week and Ed, Edd, and Eddy (which replaced the Saturday LT) comes on for ten-and-a-half hours (not counting the four-hour Camp Cartoon Network Monday block).

One more time, with numbers (hour:minutes):

Looney Tunes - 1:00
Totally Spies - 9:30
Ed, Edd, and Eddy - 10:30 (14:30 with Camp Cartoon Network)

One final time, to get the point across for those that may have missed it (i.e. the guys who defend Cartoon Network's decision to cut down classic animation and want to blame it on kids for not watching them on early weekend mornings without any advertisements):

Looney Tunes - One hour per week.
Totally Spies and Ed, Edd, and Eddy - Over 20 hours per week (a whole day if you count the Camp Cartoon airings of EE&E).

If you don't get it, I don't think that you will.

Aug 12, 2004

Has Anybody Heard of Cartoon Monsoon?

I'm still trying to understand what it's about myself. I think I have the gist of it.

Warner Bros. Animation has this online "battle" competition of animators called Cartoon Monsoon. Every competitor creates a series of Flash-animated shorts for consumption, and the visitors vote on the best ones.

I think that's how it goes. Everything else is a blur to me. Here's the first cycle of shorts created, including a short that basically turns a popular C-level DC Comics heroine known as Zatanna into what is essentially an "American magical girl" series. I'm sure the powers that be at DC never even thought of that concept for the character. The second round is underway, and a new cycle of shorts are coming to the Monsoon stage.

So, how come you don't hear so much about this in the animated press? And why isn't it even advertised on that aniamtion channel TimeWarner owns in the US? No, not Boomerang, the other one with the checkerboard logo . . .

Speaking of that network, I want to see the pilots shorts! There has been a new cycle of original shorts that were made for Cartoon Network, but the public aren't going to see them any time soon. I guess that they don't want another Kitty Bobo incident on their hands. You remember Kitty Bobo, right? It was that great short about these city-living felines that was with Mission Hill/Downtown-like hipness. Came out the same year the Kids Next Door pilot was shown. It'll probably never be seen again, as won't the other shorts of that year. Gosh, I remember when August celebrated the original shorts, but people (read: CN execs) don't really have the threshold for seven-minute stand-alone short subjects anymore, do they?

You know, for the longest time, I thought it was just a bias towards the classic shorts, but now I realize that unless it's a part of a 30-minute franchise or it's a 12-minute Flash series/pilot for adults, CN really doesn't care for shorts anymore. At all.

Aug 10, 2004

Preschool Instead of Classics?!? What Are They Thinking?

It may come to no surprise that in many outlets today, including WSJ and the AJC, that Cartoon Network are going to add a preschool-oriented block (presumably commercial-free) to their daytime lineup this fall. One of the shows, surprisingly the latest DC Comics-based property Krypto, had already been announced earlier in the year, and it's likely that a lot more shows, new shows from Warner Bros and some of their preschool-friendly shows like Pecola, Sitting Ducks, and hopefully Hamtaro will be a part of it. Of course they could be smart and bring their older Small World property to weekdays, but, as the cute-voiced announcer reminds us everyday, this is Cartoon Network.

This related byte also got on my nerves. They say that if the preschool block does well, Cartoon Network might turn Boomerang into a preschool network.

Let's see, how should I react to that? Oh yeah!

No. No. No. No. No. No. NO!!!!

Boomerang is this country's first and, unfortunately only showcase to older animation properties. The network is popular amongst those that actually have it, but the thing is that the programming grid for the network is atrocious. A thrice-daily rotation of eight-hours of programming is not the way to create a classic-animation network nor properly utilize the massive library they have on hand. I would go into detail on how I would improve Boomerang, but that'll be for another post.

I'm mad that Cartoon Network would even consider replacing Boomerang with a preschool-oriented network. It's like they're admitting that the creation of Boomerang was a mistake and that the preschool audience would be one they could market to cable operators a little easier. Let's be honest. Cable operators are still of the school that animation is just for kids, so the need for a classic animation network for older audiences isn't really there for them the way they need a classic television network and a classic movie network (while we're on that topic, couldn't Boomerang actually keep the shows and shorts the way they were intended to be seen, uncut and uncensored, political correctness be damned?).

The fact that CN execs would even admit a plan to convert Boomerang leads me to believe that they already have a plan in place. I personally can't see how a preschool network would even bring in an audience, but then again, I don't have any preschool-aged kids. I don't have any kids, but I have to find a girlfriend to make a wife before that even happens. Maybe they're trying to fill a void that can't be seen on Nick Jr., Playhouse Disney, TLC's Ready Set Learn, PBS Kids, PBS, and Comcast's upcoming preschool network. They'll succeed with the block, but do they really need to make a preschool network?

Aug 3, 2004

Quick Question

If G4techTV has a show called and an awards show called GPhoria as well as continuing to show reruns with the G4 logo (still telling folks to go to the old G4 domain) and new episodes of shows still using G4 microphones as well as continues to show the G4 logo whenever possible and naming the entire production company responsible for all shows on the network G4 Media, is the network really called G4techTV?

If it is, they really need to either be unified as a true combined network or, dare I say, create a brand new name for the network.

R-Rated Characters In PG-13 Films

The moment when I saw the first Aliens Versus Predator ad on Cartoon Network, I let out a very loud, very verbose reaction.


The reason why this ad made me react this way wasn't because it was a theatrical version of the epic battles first introduced in comic form a little over ten years ago. I knew it was coming this year. The reason why I reacted that way was because Cartoon Network doesn't air any ads for R-rated movies. All the hopes of seeing a truly visceral bloodfest that was spread out through six previous films in the original Alien and Predator films were immediately dashed the moment I saw the ad on Cartoon Network. At that moment, the rumors that I tried to avoid all these months were indeed true.

Aliens Vs. Predator is rated PG-13.

The great Hollywood machine has once again ruined an R-rated franchise, and heaven knows there weren't many of them. The Aliens/Predator movie could have been a testament to the legacy they have created and probably the ultimate visual feast for the gore-loving eyes and loyal fanbase. Look, I understand why they decided to tone down the bloody violence and gore that could have been in this film for a PG-13 movie. They want teens to go see it, and teen = money. Look at the Spider-Man franchise (which has almost accumulated $750 million for both movies in the US). Teen buying power is what Hollywood craves, tradition be damned.

Nobody cares about tradition anymore.

Fans were anticipating the ultimate battle, and they didn't want the battle to be watered down. Sure, AVP will be violent, but not as violent as it could have been and a shadow of its former self. Perhaps Fox should have witnessed the sequel to Pitch Black.

Pitch Black, an R-rated film, was a cool cult classic that really caught on in the cable and DVD market. Universal decided to create a theatrical sequel and two non-traditional prequels. The video-game prequel has developed a small-yet-significant following in recent months, not to mention getting rave reviews from video game critics and fans. The animated prequel hasn't really gotten much press (or maybe I haven't looked in the right places). The film could have been and should have been better. The Chronicles of Riddick could have been extended throughout a lengthy series of films. The potential was rich. However, the PG-13 rating limited the kind of story the character of Riddick deserved. That's why the film suffered, particularly at the end, which had Riddick in an unlikely position, one that could have been a great note to begin perhaps a final chapter rather than the ending of the first (and probably only) film.

That's not to say there weren't any R-rated sequels to R-rated franchises that didn't suck too. Freddy versus Jason was just cartoony, and Terminator 3 was unnecessary (especially considering the ending of Terminator 2). I just expected AVP to be a violent exception, but alas, Fox has denied me that pleasure. Pity.

Jul 27, 2004

An Anime Network Is Born

Today, July 27, the first 24/7/365 all-anime network in the USA, The Anime Network, officially begins its broadcast reign. People (myself included) thought that such a network would ever happen in this country, and the lineup, mostly ADV Films productions, has begun.

Of course, on the heels of the launch, other anime distributors are wondering whether or not they should start their own all-anime networks. Viz made public their plans a few months ago while FUNimation announced their ambitious plans last week. This is good and all, but all parties are going to learn that they have a long road ahead of them.

Anime is popular in this country right now, but it's not as popular as some distributors believe. Middle America still sees animation as a children's media and there are those in the bible belt that sees anime as a tool from a godless land to corrupt the nation's youth (and yet, one of the first anime series many people have seen in my generation was Superbook and Flying House, two shows that chronicled a pair of kids going back in time to biblical times with a robot guide [you can't make this stuff up]). ADV was ambitious in doing the unthinkable in actually creating the first anime channel. They're creating a precedent similar to the one Cartoon Network created when they launched the world's first all-animation channel.

An unwieldly task, that's for sure, but the truth is that The Anime Network will be the litmus test if such a network could work. It's kind of unfair, but hey, you can't be the first without facing obstacles. Funny thing is that FUNimation and Viz are thinking about creating their anime networks because they want a place to showcase their uncut properties, and a few outside acquisitions. That's kind of what The Anime Network is doing now, building their network with their own properties with a few outside shows. That's also how Cartoon Network launched their network.

ADV Films, Viz, and FUNimation all have diverse libraries and all have an idea on what to put in an all-anime network. ADV has implemented their ideas. Viz and FUNimation are planning how to execute their ideas.

You know what I'd like to see happen? I'd like to see ADV's Anime Network execs talk to Viz and FUNimation, kind of like what HBO and MTV did over 13 years ago. Thirteen years ago, HBO and MTV launched all-comedy channels at the same time. HBO launched The Comedy Channel while MTV launched HA! The Comedy Network. Seeing as both networks were serving the same market and same audience with identital programming, they decided to merge their networks into one unique comedy-oriented channel. They called their merged outlet Comedy Central, and the rest is history. This merger actually made sense, unlike the recent G4-TechTV merger which basically became G4 with a few TechTV shows.

I feel that perhaps instead of creating three individual all-anime networks, they should create a superstation, anime from three of the biggest names in the game, uncut for the masses. This is an anime channel I want to see in my lifetime, and I feel that if FUNimation and Viz are serious about their plans to create anime channels, perhaps they should find solace with ADV and merge all of their energies to create a single dominating anime network.

This is an Anime Network I'd like to see. Until then, The Anime Network is something that . . . I'd like to see around here.

Jul 24, 2004

I Know A Site That'z Full of Rage! (or,Stop Using Z in the Place of S)

Well, not really, but I've got to get something off my chest.

You know, I've been online for a little over six years now, still with the same old machine (please send money, if you can). I also singlehandedly run a website, also for about six years. I have a reason for my mistakes, and I know that I make them often.

I'm only one person.

I make no excuses for my mistakes and delays on my site. There's a reason for everything. I'm human. I make errors. I sometimes slack off, which isn't always my fault (this week, I've been taking care of my sick mother, who had stomach problems). Still, I do end up working on my site.

And yet, there are some sites that are crammed with workers that claim to have workers at all times, and yet their professionalism and reputations are questionable. I've seen one site that has an alright selection of news items, unabashedly ripped from more professional outlets, and yet they claim that every site that finds their news must copyright the news item to this site (it's funny that they now understand the concept of the term copyright after using my site's earlier logo many years ago, confusing some folks that they were associated with my site), even though the site just reposted the news from another site rather than use real writing skills to make the story their own (this one site I'm talking about is copying interview questions from a FUNimation representative from the official Adult Swim forums, which are clearly owned by Cartoon Network [they're on the site that they own], thus, they're refusing to acknowledge somebody else's copyright when they're asking someone to acknowledge theirs). It's like they regurgitate the news verbatium without digesting what the story is or why it was written in the first place.

Also, I know that my copyright knowledge is limited at best, but I do know a little something about it. You can't copyright a site a year ahead of when you're posting the site, i.e. you can't copyright something for 2005 if the calendar year's still 2004, which it is for a few more months at least.

I don't know what to think about guys like that. I'm just one man who has a site with a few broken links (I'm working on it).

Jul 20, 2004

Interesting Press Release Making Me Wonder If I Backed The Right Pony

Nicktoons TV is going to present an international animation festival on television. This is exactly something Cartoon Network should have done since its inception. If (when?) it succeeds, perhaps this will be the catalyst Nicktoons need to become a serious animation network. They're already doing a better job showcasing the creative process of animation, something I don't recall Cartoon Network doing on a regular basis. I hope it's successful.

Here's the press release:

Nicktoons, Nickelodeon's digital channel for animation, has teamed with Frederator Studios and ANIMATION MAGAZINE to present The Nicktoons Film Festival. The first on-air festival of its kind, The Nicktoons Film Festival, will showcase independent cartoon filmmaking by animators from around the globe. Fred Seibert, president of Frederator Studios will serve as exec producer of the festival; Rita Street, publisher of ANIMATION MAGAZINE and Eric Homan, vp of creative affairs for Frederator Studios will be the festival producers and Christina Vann of Nicktoons will serve as executive in charge of production.

"There's so much great talent in the world of animation and we're excited to give people the opportunity to have their work seen by experts and on Nicktoons' air," said Keith Dawkins, vp/gm, Nicktoons. "Nicktoons is the place to be for animation lovers, which is why we're forming a sort of 'creative lab' for a new generation of cartoon hits."

Animators from around the world can download entry forms on with the deadine being Sept. 10. Submissions should be animated shorts no longer than seven minutes that combine a unique look, great character designs and a funny plot. A selection of shorts chosen by a pre-selection jury will broadcast on Nicktoons as part of a 13-episode compilation series launching this fall. One winner will be chosen by a grand jury and awarded $10,000.

"Our partners will make The Nicktoons Film Festival the premier event for cartoonists," said Seibert. "Nicktoons' reputation for spotlighting creative talent and experimentation made them the perfect partner for a pioneering film festival. In addition, ANIMATION MAGAZINE's unparalleled relationships with the worldwide filmmaking community make them the ideal producers."

"Traveling the world for ANIMATION MAGAZINE, I get to see so much great animation that's not accessible to most audiences," said Street. "Now we'll get to share this animation with Nicktoons' viewers and maybe even find the next big cartoon hit."

The pre-selection jury will be an assembly of Frederator Studios and ANIMATION MAGAZINE staff. The grand jury members will be announced on the Website throughout the festival competition. Other festival prizes will also be announced on the Website throughout the competition.

Frederator makes cartoons for television and the movies. Since its 1998 founding by former Hanna-Barbera Cartoons president Fred Seibert, Frederator Studios has become one of the industry's largest and most prolific independent cartoon studios. For more information, visit

ANIMATION MAGAZINE is a trade publication devoted to the coverage of the business, technology and art of animation. For more information, visit

Whatever Happened To Christmas In July?

It's funny, the one thing that never made sense to me when I was a kid was the whole Christmas In July concept. All the commercialized Christmas characters like Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty, and The Grinch selling everything from electronics to cars to, well, everything. Stores used to put the commercial side of the Christmas holiday in all of their ads, and cable networks used to show Christmas programming around the weekend of July 25. It was a whoot seeing The Grinch, Yogi's First Christmas, Twas The Night Before Christmas, and all of those kitschy-but-cool specials around this time. Heck, they even showed the ultimate Christmas crossover, Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas In July (little known fact, although the stop-motion characters were made in the good ol' US, a lot of those Rankin-Bass specials were animated in Japan, kind of like their last major project, Thundercats, were).

This year . . . nothing. It's strange that this weird commercial concept that has been a part of our culture has disappeared all of sudden. Perhaps it's best that Christmas programming will only air in December, post-Thanksgiving at the earliest. Still, it seems as if another part of my childhood has gone away.

So, if you dare to comment, what was your favorite Christmas special?

Jul 17, 2004

A Diamond Ad That Isn't A Diamond Ad

I'm getting into the comic business on my site this September, but I'm in the process of making a few teaser ads for the titles I'm going to put at The X Bridge. I'm working on four myself, and I got a great team working on another title. At The X Bridge, I posted a teaser for my Doctor Diamond title, but instead of showing the lead character, I'm showcasing a villian (probably because I've got the main villian designs finalized, and the main hero's eventual costume needs to be tweaked up a bit). Is that strange? Probably. What's stranger is that in the ad, I spend most of the time explaining what kind of story I'm going to tell and why I'm telling it. You'll have to see the ad to see what I mean.

Part of the reasoning for telling why I'm telling the story is due to a strange situation I read about in the independent comic community. You see, a particular term that many felt was a generic term is jointly owned by a pair of notorious rival publishers. When one popular indy title decided to use the term in title of a book, the two publishers that own the term got riled up and threatened to do something for using this word that usually describe a particular genre of comic title (you know, the genre that has spawned several supermen, avengers, titans, invaders, and leagues that fight for justice). So, the creator of the indy book dropped the term from the book. That kind of action infuriated me, and it's what led me to write a minicommentary in an ad.

Just check out the ad, and tell me what you think.

Didn't They Do "I Love The 90s" A Little Too Soon?

Now that I've seen most of VH1's "I Love The 90s," I can officially answer a question that's been plaguing my mind since the thought of a 90s retrospective entered my thoughts.

Did we really need an "I Love The 90s" special now? No, we didn't.

Let me explain.

Half of the specials were very nostalgic for me. 1990 - 1995, maybe 1996 were probably the best of the series for me because it did seem like it took place a long time ago. The latter half were pretty dang recent to me and not really worth the trip back in time. By looking at the, ahem, celebrities and their reactions to the latter half, it did seem that they were almost forced to wax nostalgic about 1996 - 1999, considering it wasn't that long ago. I feel that maybe in another three or four years that they could have done an I Love The 90s (and yes, I'm aware that the BBC, who created the frnchise, did a 90s retrospective pretty recently as well). 2004 was just a little too soon to remember fondly about the 90s.

From a cultural perspective, they had pretty much everything covered. From an animated perspective, it lacked a lot (to be honest, aside from Pokemon, it seemed very Viacomy). The thing about the I Love The 70s and 80s specials were that the most of participants were actually kids and teens at the time and remember the good old days. In the 90s, most of the participants were adults. They wouldn't have remembered stuff like Pete and Pete, Salute Your Shorts, X-Men, Fox Kids, Animaniacs, Cartoon Network, Pinky and the Brain, Batman: The Animated Series, Rugrats, Rocko's Modern Life, Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, Dexter's Laboratory, Powerpuff Girls, and countless others that we remember in our teenhood (and in most cases, childhood). Heck, where were Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King, the finest Disney movies to come out. They covered Toy Story, but that was it. In about four years, they really could have done a great I Love the 90s interviewing folks that actually watched those shows.

Instead, this trip back to the 90s was a little underwhelming. It's like the writers' minds were just trapped by adults of that era.

Jul 13, 2004

Whatever Happened To Donovan Cook

For some reason today, I wondered whatever happened to Donovan Cook. Back in the day, I really, really enjoyed his two big shows, 2 Stupid Dogs and Nightmare Ned.

Now, a lot of people dismissed 2 Stupid Dogs as a strange ripoff of The Ren and Stimpy show, but those people are idiots. Yeah, Big Dog and Little Dog were a big and small duo not unlike the dopey fat cat and the bruatl asthmatic chihuahua, but that's where the similarities ended. Big Dog and Little Dog were dumb and dumber long before Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels took on the roles of Lloyd and Harry, going on numerous idiotic adventures where they encountered mundane events, the oafish Hollywood, cats (ahh, cat!! woof. eee!), and the Red trilogy, which totally twisted the Little Red Riding Hood story with a heroine as loud and abrasive as the one in that Bugs Bunny cartoon was. It was silly and stupid, and that's what made it so fun. Well, that and the Super Secret Secret Squirrel shorts which totally changed the dynamics of the classic HB shorts, which put Secret and Murocco Mole in an anthromorphic world. This show was one of the first places to showcase the works of Genndy Tartakofsky and Craig McCracken.

In 1995, Donovan Cook went back to Disney (where he originally worked on The Little Mermaid and The Prince and the Pauper, where he developed and produced “Nightmare Ned,” which chronicled a little kid's vivid imagination and his anxieties about the world we live in. Brilliant show. Shame the studio didn't even give it a real chance to gain an audience.

After that show, I haven't heard from Donovan Cook. While Genndy and Craig got big with Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack, and Powerpuff Girls, Donovan just disappeared. Kind of like the Tremblay Brothers, who created the other big HB show at the time, SWAT Kats, and needless to say I was shocked when I discovered they created the abysmal Mega Babies.

So, what did I find Donovan Cook doing? Co-directing the Peter Pan cheapquel Return to Neverland and directing what may be the last traditionally-drawn Mickey Mouse film, The Three Musketeers, making sure the last great adventure is the best. I'm just glad to see that he hasn't fallen completely off the face of the earth as I had feared.

Now, I'm curious what happened the the Tremblays . . .

Jul 6, 2004

A Period of Inaction And A Web Slinger Returns

The mothership is undergoing a period of inaction for the next couple of days. For those just coming from the front page and haven't been here before (or experienced some technical difficulties as I have as of late), welcome.

Now, I want to talk about Spider-Man 2. Yes, I'm the king of the segueways, or at least the court jester of the segueways. Warning, I'm going to spoil a few things. Not a lot, like the last moments of the film, but some to whet your whistle.

If you haven't seen this movie, I hope you've enjoyed your slumber from beneath that huge rock. We have a lot to catch up on. For starters, the producers were wise to recap the events of the first movies in the opening credits, not unlike the second Superman movie (you know, the best one). Unlike Superman II, which had clips from the first movie in the opening credits, the producers of Spider-Man 2 relied on the skills of Alex Ross to visualize key scenes from the first movie in his own inimiatble fashion (this was probably a bulk of the audience's first time seeing his work). The movie picks off right at the spot where the first film ended, or at least a few months afterwards.

Mary Jane is a fashion model plastered all over New York and Broadway actress performing in "The Importance of Being Earnest." Harry Osborn is a chip off the old block, inheriting Osborn Industries from his father. He has also developed a major chip on his shoulder, still believing that Spider-Man killed his father. Speak of the devil (whoops, that's another guy), I mean the webhead, he has created a following amongst Manhattanites as a hero to some and a menace to others. Peter Parker still struggles with trying to make ends meet, as does his Aunt May. As a result, his grades at the university are suffering. His professor, Dr. Curt Connors, realizes Peter's potential and wants to push him even further, which leads him to set up a meeting with Dr. Otto Octavius, a scientist on the threshold of creating a powerful, yet infinite energy source.

Peter sees a lot of what he could become in Dr. Octavius. Here was somebody with a brilliant mind, a beautiful wife, and an overall good life, free of stress and distractions. On the day of the actual experiment, Dr. Octavius reveals his tools for the experiment - - four mechanical arms fused to his spine with nanotechnology and controlled by a tiny chip on the outside. As if on cue, something strange and tragic happens during the experiment. At one moment, Dr. Octavius loses everything . . . including his humanity as he's now a slave to the serpentine machines.

Did I mention that Spider-Man is having bouts of limited powers during the course of the movie? At first, his webbing appears to be limited. As the movie continues, more of his powers are disappearing, adding to the fact that he has to deal with his feelings towards Mary Jane, which are also slowly disappearing, leading Peter to ponder one question . . . does the world really need a Spider-Man?

We discover the answer about the halfway point, when Peter tries to live a normal life. Meanwhile, Dr. Octavius, whom J. Jonah Jameson has dubbed Dr. Octopus, begins to rebuild his project, seeking Harry's help. Harry is willing to help for only one favor - - - he wants Spider-Man so he could kill him.

Yes, I am just skimming through the plot and not talking in depth about the action scenes. The words I would write about the action in Spider-Man 2 are unwritable and wouldn't do them justice. Like X2, Spider-Man 2 has increased the action factor over the original. Origins are out of the way, and the real storytelling can begin. The fight scenes are eyecatching and very fluid. They don't look like blatant computer animation sequences like the first one did, and you feel like you're witnessing a real fight. The only thing missing is the smell of the buildings.

The actors of the film feel more at ease this time around, and Alfred Molina, who plays Dr. Octopus, has done a spectacular job as the lead villian. Like Batman: The Animated Series' Mr. Freeze, he played a very sympathetic villian that had factors he couldn't control. You had to feel sorry for him. J.K. Simmons' portrayal of J. Jonah Jameson is also worth mentioning. Limited with a few lines in the first film, Spider-Man 2 really showed off what a great character JJJ really is, from schmoozing with local celebrities to barking orders at his Daily Bugle employees.

I always liked the character of Doc Ock, so I knew I was going to enjoy Spider-Man 2. THIS is the movie the first one should have been, and by far this is one of the greatest comic book films ever made. Check it out and escape into the world of the Spider-Man.

Jul 1, 2004

Wow, I'm Impressed

Spider-Man 2 has made $40.5 million in one day, the biggest opening day in movie history.

I'm going to see it this weekend anyway, and I've been avoiding everything that might be spoilerish, including behind the scenes shows, comic adaptations, even commercials. Needless to say, I'm impressed.

I'm just glad Doc Ock isn't a Power Rangers reject like the Green Goblin was in the first film.

Come On!

It seems that Astro Boy can't get a break. Sure, it's not the 60's classic nor the 80's revival (that wasn't really seen in the North American market), but the current Astro Boy is well-animated (it's very fluid unlike a lot of anime out there, which rely on closeup shots, still frames, and other forms of limited animation, which is like 85% of the anime titles out there now) and well-produced, especially considering we're looking at a Westernized version of the series.

However, there are strange minds that rely on ratings to judge a show's performance. Anybody who has ever read my regular site knows what I feel about the Nielsen ratings system (and apparently, large metropolitan areas around the country are now feeling the same way, as evident in the delay on Nielsen's People Meter ratings gathering system). Also, in private conversations, I learned that certain ratings are made just to attract advertising dollars. Regardless, Astro Boy must not be doing so well and effective immediately, the series is dropped from the Toonami lineup. A shame really. It's a really great series. So, what's going to air in its place?

Teen Titans.

Yeah, the show that comes on two times a day on Mondays through Thursdays and every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon. Sure, new episodes are coming to Toonami by the end of the month, but in the meantime, we're going to be barraged with reruns and reruns from now until then. Teen Titans is a good show, I won't deny that. It's like what a superhero version of FLCL, a visual treat for the cross-genre fanatic. BUT, if you're going to add repeats in a timeslot, you have to remove repeats from another. If I was Cartoon Network (and I'm not), I'd put Teen Titans on Toonami, keep the primetime airings, and take Teen Titans off of Miguzi.

*GASP* Actually make a programming change on Miguzi?!? Blasphemy! What would I put on instead of Teen Titans?

Astro Boy.

Why not? Astro Boy worked alright the last time it aired on afternoons during Toonami. It was filler, sure, but at least Cartoon Network gave it a decent chance to air the episodes Kids' WB wouldn't until much much later after its Toonami run. Now, unless Astro Boy is coming back to the KWB afternoon lineup, and by the looks of things, it isn't, Cartoon Network should strip the series to weekdays during the Miguzi lineup. It'll fit that block like a glove.

Both Teen Titans and Astro Boy are cut from the same cloth. They were both based on comic book properties created in the 60s, they were both revamped in the 80s, and they both have occasional comedic moments in the heart of the action overtones. I won't say that they're both interchangable, but I could see why they're making the move.

Still, I wonder what Sony feels about the changes. Wonder if the constant changes would convince them to bring Animax stateside (or develop a reasonable facsimile) . . .

Happy Canada Day

Head over to the Beaver Lodge, then make a quick jaunt to DeGrassi High, and relax your mind in front of the TV watching Kids in the Hall, You Can't Do That On Television, Ed, Edd, and Eddy, Tripping the Rift, and the other fine shows to come out of the Great White North.

It's Canada Day, a time to reflect on the wonder and greatness that is our neighbors to the north. Pop in an Ocean or Optimum dubbed series (either an anime masterpiece or an American series like X-Men) and give props to the fine actors who spent a lot of their time giving an English voice to popular shows.

Man, it'd be nice if Comedy Central reran the Conan O'Brien in Toronto episodes back to back in honor of this great day. Chug a Clearly Canadian and enjoy the day.

(Americans . . . our day is on Sunday, but a lot of fun is to be had on Monday around these parts).

In the meantime, check out Zannen, Canada, a site dedicated to create anime awareness in Canada. Canadian culture is nice and all, but to completely create a xenophobic atmosphere on the television screen is scary, and dangerous. See what Pepperidge is talking about and support the cause.

Jun 29, 2004

Brilliant Move at CN: Remove Shows To Sell DVDs

Here's a thought to make you question what's in the water at Cartoon Network:

There is a belief in the fandom that the only reason why classic cartoons are either in poor viewing slots or pulled completely off the network is to sell the DVD collections.

Let me state that again.

They pull shows off the air to get people to buy DVD sets of said show?

Does that make any sense to you? I'm still trying to figure out how NOT airing a show is advertisement to get people to buy a DVD set of a show that's not on the air. Isn't that what advertising is for, to advertise for a product?

So, here's the mentality I'm trying the fantom without giving myself a migrane. Cartoon Network took off The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Jonny Quest, Top Cat, and now Tom and Jerry to sell DVDs. Scooby-Doo must not have been worth the DVD promotion since it's actually on the air (about twelve hours a week). Heck, they took Space Ghost Coast To Coast and Samurai Jack off the air to sell DVDs as well. Are all of those shows that aren't on the air right now, including Cow and Chicken and Sheep in the Big City, DVD bound? And Cartoon Network took off Looney Tunes to sell the Golden Collection, the cheapie collection without the marquee shorts, and the Looney Tunes movie.

Ow, there's the migrane. Guess I better get back to this place called reality.

I don't know, maybe I come from a period of time when things are supposed to make sense, but wouldn't having the show that's out on DVD on the schedule actually bring more interest to a collection release or, dare I say, a theatrical release? I mean, if you see a show on television, especially one that you enjoy, and you can't find a blank tape to record it, wouldn't it prompt you to want to buy it?

The problem is nobody, outside us internet nerds of course, knows that these releases are out. I mean, I've only seen ads for the "newer" show releases on DVD, including Samurai Jack, Totally Spies, and the various Adult Swim shows, but nothing about the classic shows and shorts that are out on DVD. The only time I've seen a Looney Tunes Golden Collection ad was on the Looney Tunes: Back in Action disc I got. It's like the powers that be at TimeWarner (and Viacom, who owns numerous Paramount and Terrytoons properites) wants to purposely keep their older products out of sight and out of mind. They got the out of sight part right, but the "out of mind" variant? As long as sites like Toon Zone, Cartoon Brew, Animation Insider, Toon Tracker, ToonHub, Animation Nation, AWN, Deneroff, and others are still online and kicking, classic animation will never be out of mind. The fandom is the reason why the releases are taking place right now. But the releases should only be the icing on the cake. If the actual older shows would be on the actual network in decent timeslots, that would be simply lovely.

I think Cartoon Network should be reminded what the channel was created for (hint: it's not just for kids). But since the pioneers of the network have been booted out in favor of execs who only see things through kid-vid eyes, that mission might be a lot harder than we thought. They're so ratings driven and trying to beat Nickelodeon so much that they've lost focus of the the true nature of the creation of the network.

Cartoon Network was supposed to be the network dedicated to all aspects of animation, from classics to originals to shows for the family to shows for the more grownup members of your family. That's why you saw the original Boomerang in primetime and the creation of shows like Late Night Black and White and Toonheads. All of those shows are gone, and Boomerang is relegated for an hour on weekend mornings for an hour, a shell of its former self. Right now, the attitude at Cartoon Network is kids all day, teens and otakus at night. Kids come first at Cartoon Network, and for a 26-year old like myself, that's rather sad. They want the network to be seen as a Nickelodeon alternative, Kids' WB on cable instead of an animation station. They have a lot of shows and properties to work with, and yet, they're being squandered. You have a sibling unit that refuses to play nice with them and you have execs that have no idea what to do.

I love Cartoon Network, but as long as they keep on doing things to frustrate me and other animation fans, I can't see that love lasting much longer.

Jun 28, 2004

G4techTV Is Still Trapped at E3

Wasn't E3 almost two months ago now?

I'm sure it was, but if you only watched G4TECHTV, sorry, G4techTV, you'd think that E3 was just last week. And you'd be thinking this every week. Geez, how long will this amalgamated mess of a network take to actually create more new (or fairly new) episodes of their shows? Granted the TechTV side of the programming, for the most part, has been pretty fresh. Screen Savers, X Play, and Unscrewed have been new most of the time. The dominant G4 programming, which makes up primetime and most of the afternoon lineup, has been reruning the same old shows.

Icons is probably the best show from the G4 side of the programming, and I kind of dig Cheats, Filter, and Pulse (which should be revamped to cover tech news ala TechLive as well as video games). The rest of the G4 castoffs seem like video game shows if MTV made them (definitely not a compliment). I'm still trying to fantom how an okay video game musician has enough credentials to consider himself a game critic (speaking of which, aren't Judgement Day and Electric Playground the same show?). Anyway, these overly repeated shows just show their age everytime they're on. At least with the TechTV shows, the reruns at least feel recent. And they're entertaining.

Maybe they'll get better when they get their act together by the fall.

More Classic Animation Gone From CN

Nobody gets Boomerang. It's probably the most requested cable network on cable, but apparently cable outlets know what the network is all about.

Cartoon Network wants more people to ask for Boomerang. How? They've been removing classic cartoon titles from the lineup. First to leave the network were the Hanna-Barbera titles. Second, the non-Tom and Jerry MGM titles from regular rotation. Then, the pre-48 WB shorts, which had been a prominent part of the network's lineup since day one. Then, a good chunk of the post-48 WB titles. Finally, on July 5, Cartoon Network is removing the lone classic animation showcase at a decent timeslot, Tom and Jerry.

Naturally, fans of classic animation are, to say the least, a bit upset. And why dhouldn't they? Afterall, the network has dropped 90 minutes of Tom and Jerry for an early morning airing of Totally Spies (which is already on for an hour each day) and an extra hour of Camp Cartoon Network (great, just what we needed, more reruns of Ed, Edd, and Eddy on Mondays). The thing is there is only one reason Cartoon Network would even fantom dropping Tom and Jerry, which had recently started airing shorts in chronological order.

They want more people to get Boomerang. That's what it all comes down to. They've recently added additional commercials plugging the network a week ago, and this recent programming decision just proves that they're really anxious to put the network onmore cable outlets. A similar tactic worked before when Turner dropped animation from both TBS and TNT to get folks to contact their cable operators to get Cartoon Network. Now, they're just dropping classic shows and shorts to get people to bug their cable and satellite companies to get Boomerang (I know Boomerang is on Dish, but is it on DirecTV?).

Of course it'd be nice if they actually made Boomerang watchable in the first place by removing the eight-hour rotating lineups in favor of something similar to, oh, Cartoon Network circa 1995, before the blocks, original cartoons, and other hubris, but that's another story.


You may know me from my other website, the action-oriented portal, The X Bridge. Or maybe you've seen me lurking around the various forums at Toon Zone.

Or maybe you remember me from the olden days on Usenet.

My name is Jeff Harris. Welcome to Thoughtnami. Why Thoughtnami? This is the place outside of my site where I can post opinions about everything else that comes to mind. There's a lot of things floating around, and this site is totally a freereign site where nothing is off limits, except maybe religion (I'm religious, but not preachy) and politics (both sides have their flaws). I can dive into things that won't get my hosts in trouble and deviate what TXB is all about. I'll talk a lot about animation around here, basically the stuff I won't cover at my regular site. Guess this means I can talk live-action as well. I'll open up about a little more things as we venture further with this endeavor.

This experience is new to me, so I'm going to have fun with for the time being.

Venture into the animated opinions of Thoughtnami. Leave all inhibitions at the door.