Jan 16, 2006

Cartoon Network: 1992 - 2006

Cartoon Network, the world's first animation network that served as a home for golden-age animation favorites, new creator-guided series in the late-90s, and introduced anime and adult animated comedy to unsuspecting viewers, died this Monday at the age of 13 after a series of illnesses and self-inflicted injuries. They will be missed.

Something's Wrong With This Paragraph

A No-Prize to the guy who can find the two errors in this statement from a recent press release from The WB.

Reinterpreting the Superman mythology from its roots, SMALLVILLE was developed for television by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar (“Shanghai Noon,” “Spiderman 2”), based on the DC Comics characters. Gough and Millar serve as executive producers, along with Greg Beeman, Ken Horton, Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins and Joe Davola. The series is produced by Tollin/Robbins Productions, Millar/Gough Ink and Warner Bros. Television Production Inc. SUPERMAN was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster.

Jan 12, 2006

The "PCTKB" Award

The "PCTKB" Award is a dubious bi-monthly honor I'm going to bestow on an individual, group, or network that either says something that is a jab at another individual, group, or network for doing something that they're doing themselves (thus the name "PCTKB" or "Pot Calling The Kettle Black"). The very first PCTKB goes to Sarah Lane and G4 for the comments said on the 1/12/06 episode of Attack of the Show.

Here's the comments verbatium:

"The A&E Network is busy producing a brand-new reality series set to star KISS demonoid Gene Simmons. This begs the question, 'What the hell does the name A&E stand for anymore?' It ain't Art, and it sure as hell ain't Entertainment."

Yeah, G4: Video Game Television, which used to be known as G4techTV and currently airs Street Fury, Fastlane, The Man Show, and Star Trek: The Next Generation in light of getting rid of all technology-driven series and slowly dissolving video-game shows that don't begin with the letter X. What the hell does the name A&E stand for? Surely you guys, who stayed true to your own mission, must know, right?

To Quote Lucy Van Pelt, The Doctor Is In!

What a great end to a great day. Just picked up on the wires that BBC's newest Doctor Who will finally arrive in the US this March on a network that's just now getting back into the sci-fi frame of mind:

SCI FI Channel announced Jan. 12 that it will air the first season of the BBC's hit SF series Doctor Who, starting in March. The 13 episodes, starring Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, will air as part of SCI FI Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

The series, from head writer and executive producer Russell T. Davies, ran originally in the United Kingdom last year and was one of the network's biggest hits ever. An update of the classic Doctor Who show, the series continues in the U.K. with an upcoming second season that will star David Tennant as the Doctor.

"The Doctor's made all sorts of journeys in time and space, but this is one of his most exciting yet!" Davies said in a statement. "I'm a huge fan of the SCI FI Channel, and I'm delighted that Doctor Who is appearing on a channel that supports and enhances the entire genre."

"With its rich history of imaginative storytelling, Doctor Who is a true sci-fi classic," Thomas P. Vitale, SCI FI's senior vice president, programming and original movies, said in a separate statement. "We're excited to add the show to our lineup."

Meanwhile, BBC Video announced that it has moved the proposed U.S. release date of the Doctor Who first-season DVD set to July 4 from its originally planned February launch.


Jan 8, 2006

Great Moments In Network Destruction #1

Back in October 2005, DirecTV dropped G4's sibling network OLN from their lineup, and Dish Network and many other cable operators (with the exception of Comcast who owns the networks) are thinking of doing the same thing? They're doing this because OLN went off script and decided they wanted to be less of an outdoor life network and more of an Entertainment and Sports Programming Network like that big sports channel, whazzitsname. You know, like the one that airs Pardon The Interruption and SportsCenter, catchy sound signature. TSN, I believe.

While OLN has devolved into an ESPN clone, I am reminded of other moments when networks have self-destructed. Some abandoned their original missions while others completely strayed away from what works for them. You could almost pinpoint when the network completely went off the deep end (for example, in MTV's case, it was the premiere of the second season of The Real World, which meant that they had a cheap, unscripted show they could exploit for decades, and in AMC's case, when they abandoned older classics for heavily edited, more recent fare with commercial interruptions). There are rare cases when networks that went off their original mission returned to greatness (is it me, or is Sci-Fi actually airing more, well, science-fiction on their network nowadays, especially with the recent announcement of Doctor Who coming in March?)

Here's the first installment of Great Moments In Network Destruction, a multipart installment at Thoughtnami. I'm going straight for the jugular and aim the first installment at the granddaddy of all deviations, MTV.

In 1981, MTV was launched nationwide evolving from Sight on Sound, one of the first interactive channels on the QUBE, a truly innovative system that is, in a way a precursor to what we know as Video On Demand (remind me to talk about the QUBE on another day). Adapting a music video format created by a former musician on a fake, great band, Music Television was born. Music on television. A novel idea that had roots since the medium began. Music videos was just finding their footing. A new niche was born with the words "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll." Of course in the early years, the folks behind MTV were afraid to air videos with Black performers out of fear of scaring middle America, but that's neither here nor there.

The first moment of network destruction began with the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards, a grandiose, self-gratifying award show that celebrates, in no small words, itself. Nobody knows how the award nominees are determined nor how the voting process is presented (with the exception of the two viewer's choice awards [the MTV2 and the self-named award]). It's a party that has even outshined the Grammys and the American Music Awards in popularity. But it was only the beginning of the downfall.

Then, they launched non-music programming. Game shows like Remote Control and avant-garde adult animation showcases like Liquid Television were fun to watch, but they weren't music videos. Neither were the stand-up comedy shows and pseudo-sitcoms like Just Say Julie.

But the one show that pointed to the destruction of MTV was the introduction of The Real World, a glass bowl series that has explores what would happen if seven strangers from different demographics (but expected stereotypes such as the angry Black man and the naive, virginal Southerner) lived together. It was a terrible idea that just got more annoying as the years went on. The abysmal second season is best left forgotten. The third season was actually watchable. Everything else had its moments, but still, the point that this show was on the air meant less airtime for music-oriented programming, and for a network that is named Music Television, that's not a good thing.

When Road Rules came along, it was simply The Real World on a van and playing a game. Then, sometime in the late 90s, the advertising geniuses decided to merged the two concepts in a psuedo-Battle of the Network Stars with the Real World/Road Rules Challenge (ironically [well, maybe not since the entertainment industry has run out of new ideas], some of the same participants in the RW/RRC also participated in Bravo's Battle of the Network Reality Stars). Now, "reality" shows are the dominant programming choice on Music Television, and the channel's been going down ever since.

Jan 1, 2006

Memo to Sci-Fi, BBC America, PBS, TNT, or Any Respectable US Broadcaster (G4, Spike TV, and Fox need not apply)

Please bring the 2005 Doctor Who to the United States.

Begging for a US broadcast of a British series is hardly the way I wanted to begin 2006, but you know, it's something that's been on my mind for a while now. I know that the first season of the totally updated revamp of the classic BBC series (I remember watching the episodes of Doctor Who with the Fourth Doctor, and subconsciously, I based my Sage The Warpmaster character after this incarnation of the Doctor [currently, in the second season of the series, which just premiere a couple of weeks ago, the Tenth Doctor has emerged]) is coming to DVD in North America next month, but that shouldn't be an excuse not to air the series on US television at all. Neither should the (by American standards) short first season. From what I've seen of clips from the new show, it completely rocks and is becoming one of the finest science-fiction series made in the 21st century. From read and heard, my eyes were not deceiving me. Great writing, killer graphics, and fantastic characters (pun intended for those familiar with the new show), these's one thing I'd like to know.

Why in the heck isn't this show on in the US?

Canada's CBC got this show shortly after it premiered in the UK, and they rarely ever air programming made outside of Canada (of course, they're a co-producer along with BBC Wales, so Doctor Who could get away with being a Canadian production). So, why hasn't the series premiered Stateside? It's strange considering the fact that the series still has a huge fanbase here. Honestly, the '96 movie wasn't that bad, despite its few flaws from the original premise. Plus, this show is lightyears ahead of the originals and is a true science-fiction drama.

Places I'd like to see the new Doctor:

- Sci-Fi: A no-brainer considering this is a sci-fi series. However, maybe NBC Universal would rather spend the money used to acquire an outside series on original productions. I'd like them to spend funds on a new season of Firefly, but that's a whole other conversation.

- BBC America: Another no-brainer considering this is a major BBC franchise. However, BBC America is currently operated by Discovery Communications, not the BBC, and they'd rather air lifestyle shows like Changing Rooms (which became TLC's Trading Spaces), What Not To Wear (which became TLC's What Not To Wear), and Ground Force, auction shows like Cash in the Attic (which became HGTV's Cash in the Attic) and Bargain Hunt, comedies like Monty Python's Flying Circus, Coupling, The Office (both of which became NBC series), Little Britain, Keeping Up Appearances, Manchild, and Father Ted, and dramas like Monarch of the Glen, Eastenders, Wire in the Blood, Waking The Dead, and At Home with the Braithwaites, among others. Certainly they could bring the good Doctor back to the states, even airing it on Saturday nights at 7 PM, just like on BBC One.

- PBS: My original local PBS affiliate isn't that hip (they just got Coupling and Eastenders last year), but perhaps people would like to see Doctor Who on the network where a lot of Americans were first introduced to the franchise. Support your local PBS affiliates. I got two of them, so I got a lot of supporting to do.

- TNT: A surprising choice, yes, but perhaps the drama-themed network could get a boost from a sci-fi series of this magnitude. Of course, the memory of how TNT treated Crusade and Witchblade are still fresh in the minds of genre fans, including yours truly.

Where I don't want the new Doctor Who:

- Fox: One word: Firefly. Two words: John Doe. Two more words: Dark Angel. Three words: The Lone Gunmen. And four more words: Space: Above and Beyond. Science-fiction and Fox don't mix, and considering the fact that Fox could have had a Doctor Who series back in '96 but didn't want it, they don't deserve this new version at all.

- G4: Sucks. It is a poorly-run cable network and has no idea what it wants to be. Sadly, Doctor Who might just end up on G4 to get people to watch the crappy network that used to be about tech (at least in its TechTV persona) and games (in its original G4 persona).

- Spike TV: See G4. They're pretty much competing with each other now and want to be complere mirror images of each other. So far, so good. They both suck now.

Guess I'll have to wait for the February DVD release date to get my first look at Doctor Who. Or not . . . see the 1/12/06 update . . .