Keepin’ It Real…Real Bad!

Back in 2009, the current programming heads of Cartoon Network, Stuart Snyder and Rob Sorcher (hereinafter referred to as “Team Snycher”–2 men who seem to be on a mission to make us all think that the ‘C’ in CN stands for something other than ‘Cartoon”) launched a new program block called CN Real, an entire block of non-animated programming.

You probably shouldn’t look directly at it.

CN Real’s lineup consisted of shows which had very little (if anything) to do with cartoons. They were mainly kid-friendly reality shows (The Othersiders, Survive This!), game/challenge shows (Destroy, Build, Destroy! and Jackass Junior…that is…Dude, What Would Happen?) and…whatever the hell Bobb’e Says was.

Not surprisingly, we the viewers bought none of this nonsense and the CN Real block stunk out loud, ratings-wise, with only 2 of the programs (DBD and Dude) still remaining on CN’s current lineup. Undaunted, Team Snycher is still determined to make live action a mainstay on CARTOON Network’s schedule. Now, what I’m about to say make shock and surprise some of you, especially considering who’s typing fingers this statement is coming from, but I’m going to say it anyway: CN Real wasn’t an inherently bad idea.

Yes, you heard me right. Yes, CN Real’s programs stunk out loud, but the overall idea of CN Real wasn’t entirely a bad one. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that ideal percentage of live action programs on Cartoon Network should be zero, but since Team Snycher insists upon forcing live action down the viewers’ collective throats, the shows might as well be entertaining and at least tie in to the theme of the flippin’ channel. If we truly must have live action programming on CARTOON Network, the shows should at least be programming that’s based on an animated franchise or be “cartoony” in it’s approach and nature. Shows such as Filmation’s Shazam!, the oddball surreal Saturday morning shows created by Sid & Marty Kroft, kidcoms like Parker Lewis Can’t Lose (which was like a cartoon with live actors). These shows (or original shows made in the image and spirit of these shows) would be a pretty good fit for the CN Real block.

By now it’s common knowledge that CN’s 1st (and to date, only) attempt at a live action kidcom, Out of Jimmy’s Head did for CN what Roseanne Barr did for the National Anthem. That show bombed so hard that CN execs are still picking up the shrapnel 4 years later. Discussing everything that was wrong with OOJH and what could have been done to improve it is enough for a separate article onto itself, so we’ll save that discussion for another time. What truly stunk about the failure OOJH was that after the show crashed and burned, CN execs have since been avoiding non-animated comedy as though it has a rash. But truthfully, again, the idea behind OOJH wasn’t bad. OOJH didn’t fail because it was live action; it failed because it was ill-conceived and poorly written. A “living cartoon” type of kidcom such the aforementioned Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, could actually work and be a pretty good fit for CN, if handled properly.

Also, keep the shows that air on the CN Real block exclusive to that block. The non-animated shows should not be airing at all times of the day throughout the day on CN. Ideally, the CN Real block should air about 2 or at the most 3 times a week. Premieres with a couple of encores, so if one wants to see a live action series on Cartoon, they would have to tune in to CN Real.

This, at its’ core, is what bugs me about Team Snycher’s machinations: I realize that there’s always been some live-action on Cartoon Network: we had Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, Carrot Top’s AM Mayhem, High Noon Toons, Fridays and the like, but the difference is that the live action on those shows/blocks/bumps were intended to celebrate and promote the cartoons on the network, not kick them off to the side like the Snycher-imposed shows do. With shows like the ones on CN Real, as well as the now-defunct Tower Prep and Unnatural History, the upcoming Hall of Game Awards and several of the live-action movies, we’re getting more and more time on CN that is completely devoid of any animated content. Not a good thing on what’s supposed to be a channel for animation lovers. Even Snycher’s movie selections are flawed. If we really must have live action movies on The Flicks, they should be films based on animated properties such as Batman, Superman and Spider Man, films which combine live action such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Space Jam, The Phantom Tollbooth or The Mask (the original film, not that crappy sequel). Movies like Snow Day, School of Rock and Kicking and Screaming, which have zilch to do with animation, have no place on CARTOON Network.

This is why I wish that Snycher was just give up the dream and take their business elsewhere. If Snycher wants to have their own Nickelodeon or Disney Channel, Turner should just give them one. Let Snycher run their general kids’ entertainment channel any way that they want to and leave Cartoon Network to us fans of animation.

Thanks also to Silverstar for his contribution.

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