Feb 27, 2006

Psst . . . Canadian Animation Outlets Are Making US Ones Look Stupid (Pass It On)

In a couple of days, Cartoon Network announces its plans to make sure they remain the number one animation outlet in the country. Notice I said ANIMATION outlet, not number one kids' network (one, that would be Nickelodeon, and two, since it was conceived, Cartoon Network has NEVER claimed that they were a kids' network until the current management stepped into place) nor the number one cable network, that would be USA, followed closely by ESPN, Nickelodeon, and FX, although Cartoon Network isn't too far. Their biggest animation-outlet competitors, Nicktoons Network and Toon Disney are slowly gaining mass audiences and growing households. In fact, Nicktoons Network is in more than three times as many households as Cartoon Network's own spinoff network Boomerang.

You do know Boomerang, don't you? Your silence is deafening, so I'll get down to the point.

You know how Cartoon Network is trying so hard not to be, well, Cartoon Network? If they actually knew what their counterparts up north were doing, they'd be - - - you know what? They NEED to know because believe it or not, even as we speak, Teletoon is basically outclassing Cartoon Network in almost every department (KAPOW! doesn't have as much punch in it as its name would suggest, especially when compared to YTV's Bionix, which is essentially Canadian's answer to Toonami, a block I'm very familiar with).

Yes, Teletoon has a lot of Canadian productions on the network, as does every other Canadian network. It's a law or something. However, the thing about Teletoon's lineup is that it's not marred by the omnipresence of the same four or five cartoons in every open slot, as is the case with Cartoon Network's current weekday lineup. Yeah, some of the same culprits are present on both networks (Codename: Kids Next Door, Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, and The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy), but it's not like you see marathon airings of shows every day nor see the same show within 90 minutes of each other as you can here. For example, you could watch Atomic Betty on Teletoon at Noon and then many hours later at 4 PM on a weekday.


Compare that to Billy and Mandy, which you could see on CN at 8 AM, then at 3 PM, then at 8 PM, then again at 9:30 PM (Yeah, I should mention that Billy and Mandy is paired off with Grim and Evil for an hour during The Detour at 2 AM every Monday through Thursday, but I'll get to that point later). The only show that comes close to this on Teletoon is 6Teen, the great animated teen sitcom that Nickelodeon virtually gave up on. That show comes on weekdays at 5 and 7 PM.

Also, Teletoon does find the time to put in The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show on the weekday schedule. Twice. Every morning at 7 AM and weekday afternoons at 3:30 PM. Meanwhile, Bugs Bunny is all but absent from the airwaves in the US unless you're one of the few who actually have Boomerang.


There's also something called variety for all audiences in the prime-time hours. Apparently,
action is not off limits for the primetime, as TMNT and The Batman airs in primetime on weekdays. Their premieres air on Wednesdays during the day rather than the night. And after 9 PM (following Futurama and Billy and Mandy on weekdays, Bugs Bunny and Tweety, The Jetsons and The Flintstones on weekends), Teletoon takes a detour into adult animation.

Taking a cue from CN's Adult Swim, Teletoon airs The Detour, a deviation from the norm with shows, some familiar to US viewers like Family Guy, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Harvey Birdman, The Boondocks, and Home Movies and Canadian productions like Clone High, The Wrong Coast, Bromwell High, Delta State, Station X,The Butcher Bros. and Undergrads. And like the guy who showed off a baby chicken at the Just Born Candy Company that magical year, peep this. The Detour also airs on Teletoon on Friday nights as F-Night, at the same time as it does every night of the week, 9 PM EST.

So, I think it's time for Cartoon Network to step up and grow up because Teletoon is making CN look very foolish in the programming department. And they're just getting started.

Feb 22, 2006

Fox Launches Second Network with a MiNTy Aftertaste (*yawn*)

It's been boring these last couple of weeks. Sure, that was that Oswald story, but that's a story for another site. Today, News Corp, those fine purveyors of fair and balanced programming, announced plans to launch a second network beginning on September 5, 2006, the day after The CW relaunches from the ashes of UPN and The WB.

The network's name?

My Network TV.

Guess since they own My Space, they have to name a new network to attract the demographic that's drawn to that domain to them. Still doesn't excuse them from creating the stupidest network name since, well, The CW.

At least The CW makes sense, considering the "C" is from CBS Corporation and the "W" is from Warner Bros. Television, the parent companies of UPN and The WB, respectedly.

What does My Network TV have that other networks don't? Well, you can't say Telenovellas since every broadcast outlet is planning on producing one or two this fall. And you can't say reality shows because, well, scripted television is a rarity since network execs can't read. And you can't even say American Idol because MNT will air an international version of the series. Yippee! Can't you see the excitement in my words?

So why would I, a prime member of the 18-35 demographic, want to even glance at MNT? Don't know, because at first glance, the lineup looks like a bunch of failed Fox pilots. That is to say, a show that will be on Mondays through Fridays, a pair of reality ripoffs, and a news program that I'm sure will be thrilling and tabloidesque with that Fox style we all know and loathe. No animated series (yet), no kids-themed animation block (Fox gave up on kids a long time ago), no sitcoms, no urban-oriented shows, it just seems like another dull broadcasting network. We already have six (soon to be five) of them, why do we need another?

We don't.

Let me tell you WHY News Corp had to create this network.

Because UPN screwed them before they screwed UPN.

Here's the skinny. News Corp bought United Television, the Chris-Craft Industries unit that was an equal partner in UPN back in 2001. United Television owned the UPN affiliates in many of the nation's largest markets, including Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and New York. Fox wasn't really happy with the growth of UPN, so they threatened to cut off their affiliates by the end of 2001. However, UPN had signed a five-year agreement with News Corp to keep those affiliates running. Five years would be up on August 31, 2006, and Fox still publicly disdained UPN. Knowing they could kill a network like that, they had no intentions of extending the contract.

Knowing THAT, UPN broke bread with the other "fifth" network, The WB. Competitors since day one, they knew that to stay alive, they had to form an alliance. They both had their own network-owned outlets in major markets. They both have popular shows and franchises. And they weren't News Corp. So, that January morning, the same January morning News Corp execs were telling NAPTE visitors about plans for a "Fox 2" spinoff network, UPN and The WB announced plans to merge into one network, The CW.

News Corp, feigning outrage to the media, went forward with their plans for a new network, putting their two telenovellas, which were going to air in syndication in the fall, in the forefront of the new network, dubbed My Network TV, a network purely made just to make money for News Corp. Nothing more, nothing less.

I'm not saying that MNT is going to be a failure, but looking at what they're planning so far, I can't see a silver lining in that.

Maybe The CW isn't a bad name afterall.

Feb 1, 2006

Comics At The 7-11

Time's up.

Earlier, I asked you readers what was wrong with the following paragraph:

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.

The answers were the unpunctuated name of a popular superhero and a misspelling of a creator of an iconic hero. Spiderman is supposed to be Spider-Man; otherwise, he's just a member of the Law Offices of Birdman, Spiderman, and Associates. And Joe Shuster's name is misspelled Schuster. Sure, you can easily blame it on proofreaders who are untrained in comic book history, but I like to blame it on one simple thing.

Americans don't care about comics anymore.

Oh, sure, comic fans and publishers will say the success of shows like Teen Titans and JLU, movies like Spider-Man, X-Men, and Batman Begins, and video games like Ultimate Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, and they do. Afterall, people like television shows, movies, and video games. But that still doesn't help their argument.

Americans don't care about comics anymore.

Comics are an expensive business. Everybody in the country knows about the big two companies, DC Comics and Marvel Comics, basically from their memories of youth. Afterall, back when the mainstream was introduced to these characters, they were mostly seen in comics that have either been around since World War II or the 60s when heroes became more human. It also didn't hurt that comics costed under a buck. Like manga today, comic titles became the inspiration of numerous productions. Of course, in the middle of it all, people saw comics as kids fare. Guess the ghost of Doc Wertham took over the planet afterall. Yet, the rising costs of paper and printing costs were contributions to the rising costs of comics throughout the 70s, 80s, and early 90s. Of course, when Image came around, pretty, glossy paper and a high price basically made comics a closeted industry. The whole collector's market basically made comics an investment, even though they're illustrated stories. Some are good while others are very, very bad.

The comic industry is filled with five different types of creators:

- Those with a reverence for past creators and stories
- Those who show a love for the characters and not just seeing them as a job
- Those who have a story to tell that could only be told in a comic book
- Those who want to just make and sell comics because it's the cool thing to do that moment
- Those who want to sell a concept for another medium

I've seen a lot of comics out there that are mostly illustrated plots for movies rather than actual comic stories. I've also seen a lot of celebrities creating comics because it's cool and could become a plot for a movie franchise for them to star in. But comics in the mainstream is of little interest.

The comic industry hasn't really helped convince them to check out comics. Free Comic Book Day is a joke. It's an utter disappointment that was only made to promote Marvel comic-based movies, and anybody who says otherwise is a Marvel Zombie. The first FCBD was tied in to the 2002 release of Spider-Man. FCBD II was tied into X2. FCBD III was tied into Spider-Man 2. FCBD IV wasn't tied into anything, even though Sin City, Batman Begins, or even Episode III could have been the movies tied into the event. Not surprisingly, this year's FCBD will likely be tied to X3 rather than Superman Returns, thus proving the event is nothing more than a promotional event tied to Marvel movies.

Also, Free Comic Book Day is a pretty elitist event, only aimed towards the choir who already frequent comic shops, even though a lot of comic books are sold in bookstores. You'd think that the comic industry would try to get people to get comics in places where they don't feel like they're in a basement. Comic shops are good, but seven out of ten comic shops make the average person feel like they're searching for the fuse box with a dimly lit, musty environment.

It used to be a time when people could buy comics at a 7-11 or a drug store for pocket change. Now, the average comic title is about $3 a pop. DC Comics' upcoming 52-week project 52 is going to cost the special low price of $2.50 an issue.

Let me say it again to those that didn't understand what I just wrote.

DC Comics, whose basic comics costed 75 cents 15 years ago, are selling a 22-page ad-supported comic book for $2.50 an issue. $10 for four issues a month. $120 for the entire series of 52 issues. $1.50 I could understand and tolerate. $1, which they charged for a 40-page ad-supported issue (you know, the one that jumpstarted the whole big storyline in which 52 will delve deeper into), would have rocked. But $2.50 is too much to be paying for a weekly comic. Oh, DC would probably say "Well, the average reader spends about $10 for a month of Time or Newsweek." Yeah, but Time and Newsweek are news magazines and have more than 22 pages in them.

Maybe comics will once again be looked at as something other than a place where entertainment companies can find a profitable movie franchise or television series. Maybe comics can once again find their way in convienence stores at a price of a candy bar again. But that's only if comic companies are willing to admit that they're, if you pardon the turn of phrase, comic companies. Sure, outside entertainment is nice, but if you forget the fact that you began life as a comic company and not worried about the 15th variant of your character's action figure, the success of a particular movie, or the fact that these loyal consumers known as "fans" are making their video game characters look like characters they enjoy reading about, then maybe they could work harder to bring comics to all folks.