Feb 28, 2008

Judas Denied

I saw a news link at Newsarama's blog earlier today that my friends at World's Finest confirmed.

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract has been put on hold at Warner Bros. Animation.

The reason? Marv Wolfman, creator of what many people call the definitive Teen Titans lineup and the fan-favorite story in question, stated that the reason is Warner Bros. told him that not a lot of people know who the Teen Titans are nor are they really interested in seeing them.

Correct me if I'm wrong. I know I was out of it a few times, but wasn't there a wildly popular Teen Titans animated series that just ended a few years ago? Aren't they still airing the series on two outlets in the United States (as of the time of this article, February 28, 2008)? Don't people know who the core of the characters in the story are? I'm sure Warner Bros. did tell Mr. Wolfman that, and this once again proves that Time Warner is THE MOST POORLY RAN ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY ON THE PLANET.

Jim has more at World's Finest.

Feb 26, 2008

I Haven't Forgotten About My OTHER Site

Despite the lack of updates at The X Bridge as of late, I haven't forgotten about it. It's not that there are a lack of thoughts. I've just been doing other things.

My grandfather's still off and on healthwise, and he's the highest priority for me. A friend of mine needed someone to design wedding invitations and such, so part of my time had been doing that. Been compiling a pair of story bibles for two universes I created (and it's very, very detailed). Finished plotting the entire "magic teen girls" novel series (which actually crosses over with Bridget Hex's Year Three storyline [I'll get to her later]).

Still working on Centauri. I think the April launch was a little too optimistic, but it will happen before the summer. Still working on Frost Brothers. Still plotting Bridget Hex. Thinking of a plot over at Zero 2 Heroes that doesn't connect with the other stories (because I want to own my properties 100%).

Oh, and I've been working on TXB. The site turns 10 this July, and I want to do something special. Kind of stuck on what to do to be honest. I do know that TICA Base opens back up in mid-March. I do plan on adding one last member of the Toonami Inner Circle Alliance on that date, if they still want to be a part of it.

I haven't forgotten about The X Bridge. Life just gets in the way.

Feb 24, 2008

The Rat Cook Won *YAWN* and One Thought

Now that Ratatouille won every animated best picture award it was nominated for, for the love of God, can we please, please, PLEASE stop talking about it? I swear, it's bad enough people treat it like it was the only animated movie that came out last year, but I don't think it deserved to win EVERY animated award out there for film.

Still, congratulations Brad Bird and PIXAR on making a fine film. Not the greatest film ever made, mind you, but a fine film nonetheless.

That said, I do have a thought.

Why ISN'T there categories for best actor and actress in an animated film? I know I've talked about that in the past, but you see all these praise for Ratatouille and the writers and animators and such, but you rarely see praise or even acknowledgement for the vocal talents in animated productions aside from the Annies. The vocal talents on any animated production are just one of the five core components in any production (plot/story/dialogue, design, animation, and music are the others).

Don't believe me?

Watch any Bugs Bunny short with the audio muted and captions off. I dare you!

The History Eraser Button

Back when I was 13 years old, Ren and Stimpy premiered. One of the first episodes was "Space Madness," a short that's still recognized as one of the greatest shorts ever made. In the climax of the short, Cadet Stimpy was punished for trying to help Commander Hoek get over his space madness by putting the ever curious cat in charge of guarding the History Eraser Button, a device that nobody knows would happen if pushed. As Ren stated, what could happen is "maybe something bad" or "maybe something good."

I think comic editors and writers pushed the History Eraser button one too many times in recent years. The more history is erased and altered, the more the question of "Does continuity matter?" arises. That's bad and good.

It's bad because whenever a major story ccompletely alters everything we know about a particular character or universe, it almost makes it seem that the story never happened. I wasn't a DC Fanboy back when the first Crisis happened (Crisis on Infinite Earths), but I can now imagine how that generation felt when the stories that were told before the Crisis were essentially erased from our collective histories. I'm feeling that way when I heard about Joe Quesada's plan to end Spider-Man's marriage to Mary Jane. Joe never liked the marriage in the first place. Kids can't look up to a guy married to a supermodel he claimed (read: kids are the primary readers of comics). Now, despite the fact that there is already a Spider-Man who ISN'T married and still a teenager (remember the Ultimate Universe? Marvel doesn't, apparently), Joe felt he had to get rid of the marriage to save the character for future generations. They tried killing MJ off. Didn't hold. They separated them. Didn't hold. So, to paraphrase the late Flip Wilson, the devil made them do it. Well, a devil, Mephisto. Maybe. Essentially, the History Eraser Button, in this case Mephisto (maybe) doing the bidding of his master Joe Quesada by making the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary-Jane nonexistant. Not nullified. Not annuled. It never happened.

Marriage at Shea Stadium? Never happened. The stalking ofMJ by Venom at the Parker home? Never happened. Harry Osborn's stint as the Green Goblin and his death? Never happened. The lost Parker child in the events of the so-called Clone Saga? Never happened. The revelations of Ezekiel, the whole stint as a high-school teacher, and essentially the entire JMS run on Amazing Spider-Man? Never happened. The whole unmasking situation that caused his family to be stalked and May Parker near death due to an assassin's bullet? Never happened.

The History Eraser Button is pretty dang convienient, isn't it?

Depends on who you ask. We all know they happened, but because we are told that it didn't by people who didn't like the married couple in the first place, it didn't happen.

However, continuity doesn't always have to be so rigid either.

Look at Batman.

In animation alone, there have been several interpretations of the character from Filmation and Hanna-Barbera's campy versions to the familiar DCAU version that has been a part of our households for almost 20 years to The Batman of today, younger and still learning what it takes to be a hero to more alternative ones. All of these are the same character and yet, there is something different about each and every incarnation. There's no continuity that ties them together, just certain strings that are constant in every version.

Yes, at times it is tempting to push the History Eraser button and start things anew. Sometimes history does need to start again. Then again, some things are as they should be and should never change, especially for the sake of a story. Fellow creators and readers, I close this post with a gift.

The History Eraser Button.

It controls the fate of your favorite story and your own stories. What happens if you push it? Maybe something bad. Maybe something good. I guess we'll never know because it's in your hands.

You won't touch it, will you?

Feb 23, 2008

Wisdom Questioned #1

I've been reading Sitcoms Online's news blog for a number of years, and I love it. It's probably one of the most comprehensive news outlets for all things situation-comedy. At times, however, I feel it's catered to an older set at times, and nothing illustrates that more than Solomon's Weekly Rants. Some are enjoyable, but most tend to be rantings of an out-of-touch guy that pretty much hates television as it is.

Before you all go "Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black" on me, I do look at things through all perspectives and can be unbiased on occasion. It's just that the negative, opinionated side of me that gets noticed. Some of Solomon's opinions are grating to the point that it illustrates him as the old man on the porch shooing the kids away with a cane. I'm an old man too (well, if you consider 30 old), and I'm questioning some of his wisdom based on everything he wrote that week. I might actually agree with him on a few points.

I think I'm going to do this every weekend, so this is only a test Read this week's Solomon's Weekly Rant first and then read my counterpoint later.

Wisdom Questioned #1: Malcolm's Newer Than Strokes, Countdown to Shutdown, and Defending TV One

In case you haven't heard, BET recently acquired several classic sitcoms, including Malcolm and Eddie, Diff'rent Strokes, and a pair of returning sitcoms Sanford and Thea, to the lineup. Finally, something other than wall-to-wall videos, pointless reality, and tired comedy shows (though, I must admit, I do miss the news programs). And yes, Malcolm and Eddie airs more than Diff'rent Strokes. Some folks have a problem with that, but one should recognize the belly of the beast that is distribution costs that can determine how many times something can air a day. Some shows are more expensive than others to air. Diff'rent Strokes is more expensive than Malcolm and Eddie. It's older, more familiar, and actually not really aimed towards the BET age demographics, the 18-34 crowd. Malcolm and Eddie is cheaper, more recent, less familiar (remember, it WAS on UPN as were Moesha, Girlfriends, and a bulk of what's on TV One [more on that later]), and actually aimed towards the demo.

For the record, I hate the UPN reject label. UPN was a legitimate network and one of the few that actually programmed shows for urban audiences unlike the other broadcast networks. Is it a reject because it aired on UPN or is it a reject because it's an urban comedy? It can't be a reject because it was a short-lived series. I don't recall anyone calling Firefly or Arrested Development FOX rejects.

Still, the notion of favortism for Malcolm and Eddie over Diff'rent Strokes isn't true, at least from my perspective. I think the St. Louis-based sitcom is less expensive than the New York-based one to air.

The countdown towards digital television continues. The general public has been aware of it for about a few months. They've should have been aware of it for about a decade now. I think the government should have been educating the public earlier than they have. Digital television will become the standard in under a year, though the standard was known for about a decade. There's going to be a mad dash to get the converter boxes which comes out in a few months for those without the funds to buy a new television. HDTVs will hopefully be marked down enough so they could be bought by those of modest means as well.

Still, the complaint of the television industry advertising the digital switchover too much is laughable. I don't think they're doing enough. The $40 coupons are a start. I'd like to know more about the station number changes for some networks, exactly WHY we're going digital (yes, digital pictures are pretty, but they haven't explained WHY we're going digital), and exactly how each affiliate will broadcast their newfound channel spaces (the whole subchannel schemes will make new channels that could air anything). The general public is still in the dark about those aspects of digital television. DTV Answers is one place to learn.

TV One is about five years old. They're still a fairly new network, and as such, people want them to "pick up the pace." TV One is still working with a small yearly budget, picking up what they can, and basically make it on their own, and I respect that. While it would be nice of TV One to pick up a high-profile urban sitcom like The Jeffersons or even something the caliber of OZ, Soul Food, or The Wire, but shows like that are fairly expensive to pick up. You work with what you've got to get what you need later on. That's something my grandma used to tell me. I miss her so much. TV One doesn't have access to the resources BET does, but, then again, neither does BET. They do have the financial backbone of Viacom, but Viacom will only give them so much. BET's kind of like Cartoon Network in that aspect. Both are owned by powerful entertainment conglomerates (BET's owned by Viacom while Cartoon Network's owned by Time Warner) and both usually are alone in the world and largely on their own with little to no help from their parents. It's strange, but the more people take a closer look, the more they see the bigger picture. Maybe even on digital television.

If they get it.

Feb 8, 2008

Let Me Get This Straight About The CW

I know I'm not a media executive, but I want to know if this thesis is even correct.

The CW Television Network hands over control of their Saturday morning lineup to a competing company that already controls a low-rated Saturday morning block.

The CW moves its modestly-performing urban comedies to a night that has the worst ratings for the network most likely causing their imminent cancellation as was the case with Reba and 7th Heaven a year ago.

The CW is rumored to be cancelling Smallville, which may not be on everybody's must-watch list, but has a significant fan following that kept it around for seven seasons. Even that didn't help Veronica Mars nor Gilmore Girls.

And today, The CW announced that they're pulling the plug on their highest-rated series, Friday Night Smackdown.

Here's my thesis.

The CW wants to shut down operations.

That's the only logical reason I could think of for the recent idiotic decisions to come out The CW as of late. The C part of the partnership seems to have left the building a long time ago (perhaps focusing more of their energies on CBS itself) leaving Time Warner, the MOST POORLY RAN ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY ON THE PLANET, largely in charge of the network. And heaven forbid they're thinking these days. I mean, the idea of shutting down New Line Cinema is moronic, but that's what Jeff "Synergy is bullscat" Bewkes is thinking about in this round of "Who Wants To Demolish A Media Conglomerate?," but I digress.

The recent decision to cancel Smackdown is troubling to say the least. As I mentioned before, it's the highest rated series on The CW, and that's saying a lot. It attracts young viewers, Blacks, and Latino audiences, more than any other show on their lineup. The Smackdown brand had been a major component of the WWE for almost a decade. Hell, the brand has become the wrestling video game franchise of the WWE and became forever immortalized in Webster's dictionary.

I wonder why The CW cancelled it though. Was it to distance themselves from the WWE in the light of the Benoit tragedy and the impending steroids investigations? Was it because Vince wanted to shutter the Smackdown brand? Or is because The CW (Time Warner) is jealous of the somewhat chummy relationship WWE has with NBC Universal, home of the RAW and ECW brands and the bi-annual Saturday Night's Main Event? I'm thinking that relationship may be the true reason behind The CW's sudden and surprising cancellation of Smackdown.

I doubt Smackdown will be gone entirely. Hell, I bet that another network (either Fox or the struggling My Network TV) would jump at the chance to acquire the brand for their lineups. As far as The CW goes, well, they could only go so far with those shows about "pretty White kids with problems" (thanks MAD TV) and "reality" shows, because at this rate, that's all they'll have in the 2008-09 season. Oh, and Saturday morning lineup full of low-rated 4Kids acquisitions. The CW has become The WB.

And The WB failed a long time ago. Even before the merger.

POSTSCRIPT: On Tuesday, February 26, World Wrestling Entertainment officially announced that Friday Night Smackdown will continue at its new broadcast home, My Network TV as well as launced multimedia deals with MNT's parent company, Twentieth Century Fox. Meanwhile, The CW has nothing. Ongoing . . .