Something Funny Isn’t Going On Here
Recently, everybody’s favorite guy of the moment, Stuart Snyder, Prez of Cartoon Network, took part in an interview about the current state of CN and the machinations that he’s made with it over the past 4 years. This, in a nutshell, is what he said:
“c21 Media profiles and interviews Cartoon Network chief Stuart Snyder, giving the network topper the chance to describe and justify the network’s moves over the last four years.
In the buzzword-heavy article, Snyder points to better demographic numbers for his network and credits a strategy of targeting specific nights toward specific audiences while also providing a balanced array of programming. “We look at our strategy as always being a comedy focus, boys-skewing but girls-inviting,” he tells the magazine. The article notes that anime has a much diminished presence on Cartoon Network, and glances at the anger generated by “fanboys” at the presence of live-action programming on the schedule, but offers no direct explanation or justification for the changes beyond an implicit nod at the “diversification” strategy.
The article also describes some of the network’s business moves, including its continuing association with Time Warner sibling Warner Bros. Animation. The channel is also developing a live-action Ben 10 feature film with Lethal Weapon/Die Hard/Matrix-producer Joel Silver.”
It goes without saying that this so-called “interview” was little more that a softball piece of PR noise. Snyder didn’t address any of the points that we would’ve wanted him to, like how action is getting the red-headed stepchild treatment by the network (the debut of DC Nation is less than a month away, and it’s gotten just above zero promotion on the network, not to mention how DCN will be airing on Saturday mornings rather than an evening time slot), and of course Stu casually tap-danced around how his attempts to remake Cartoon Network into Nickelodeon Too with a fresh coat of live-action paint has resulted largely in failure. Someone more versed in action cartoon lore could address that issue better than I could, I want to specifically address the statement in bold.
Cartoon Network comedy-focused?? Girl Inviting?? Really? Is that really what he thinks his network is?
Anyone who knows me and/or regularly follows this blog already knows how I feel about the prospect of live-action on Cartoon Network, so I’ll spare you the usual noise, suffice to say that in an ideal world, the number of live-action shows on a channel called CARTOON Network should be zero, except for host segments and wraparounds. Having said that, if Stu really wants CN to be comedy-focused, then why are so many of his live-action projects reality and sports-themed crap? What’s funny about My Dad’s A Pro, other than how somebody actually thought this dreck would be entertaining? If we really must have live-action on Cartoon Network, shouldn’t it be comedic live-action? Even if Snyder wants to integrate live-action into Cartoon Network to make it more like Nick and Disney, he’s going to have to do better than stuff like the Hall of Game Awards and My Dad’s a Pro. This wannabe cool sports-themed stuff might fly if Fox ever decides to make an offshoot network of Fuel TV aimed at kids, but those shows just don’t gel with CN’s animation-heavy, comedy-focused format. Part of the reason as I see it why so many of Snyder’s live-action show ideas have crapped out or were DOA was simply because they’re just too much of a departure from what people expect to see on Toon. The best show of the lot so far has been Unnatural History (that’s what people tell me,anyway; I never saw the show myself) and even that was too much of a deviation; an hour long action/drama with no animation, puppety oddballs or silly stuff just wasn’t a good fit on a channel that alleges to be comedy focused.
Why doesn’t Snyder put something like this on Cartoon Network?
For the uninformed, that was a clip for the upcoming Aquabats Super Show!, a live-action/animation hybrid series built around our favorite rock/ska superhero band, which will be premiering on The Hub in March. If Snyder thinks of CN as being comedy-focused, then didn’t he make a bid for this show to air on Cartoon Network? The Aquabats Super Show! would’ve been a better fit for CN than Tower Prep or Bobb’e Says, and not just because TASS! has animated segments in it. It just fits the alleged bill so well: hip music, cartoons, wacky characters and all-around craziness. I already plan to watch TASS!, but if it were coming to CN, then maybe I’d have a tinge more faith in Snyder’s master plan.
For that matter, I’ve been kicking around an idea which I think would be cool for CN to do, since it’s obvious that Snyder’s not going to be swayed away from his little scheme of getting live-action shows on Cartoon Network. I call my show idea Toons and Tunes. This show would either air on early weekend evenings or perhaps on Saturday mornings. (My thought is that there could be a 30-minute version of Toons and Tunes which would air on early Saturday or Sunday evenings and a 60-minute version on Saturday mornings.) The stars of the show would be a zany pair of youngsters who host a half-hour cartoon show from their shared bedroom. The duo also happen to be computer/tech wizards, so their room is chock full of crazy gadgets and wacky contraptions, including a hapless robot nanny who tries unsuccessfully to keep these 2 goofballs in line. The 2 kids would perform their own shtick while introducing 2 cartoon shorts and a music video each show. The cartoons would be from the Turner/WB vaults: a Looney Tunes short, an MGM short, a Tom & Jerry short, a Herculoids short, a Birdman (not Harvey!) short, a single Chowder short, a single Kids Next Door short, a single Ed, Edd ‘n’ Eddy short, etc., but since our kid stars are tech geniuses, they would add their own commentary and trivial facts about the cartoons via pop-up bubbles, which would appear on the screen during the shorts. After the 2 shorts (and some more shtick from our hosts), there would be a music video. Said video wouldn’t be typical pop music stuff, but rather an unconventional video which is either animated, comedy-oriented or just plain weird. Kind of a Dr. Demento sort of thing. Some examples of the music videos which would be featured on the show:
- “Come On Feet” by Quasimoto
- “Fish Heads” by Barnes & Barnes
- “Elephants and Little Girls” by Loch Lomond
- “Atomic Dog” by George Clinton
- “Vanz Kant Danz” by John Fogerty
- “Life in the Slaw Lane” by Kip Odotta
- “Polka Changed My Life Today” by Rotondi
- “Killer Joe” by Manhattan Transfer
- Anything by Weird Al Yankovic, They Might Be Giants or The Aquabats
Now, is that the best idea for a Cartoon Network show? Perhaps, perhaps not. But it’s definitely better than any live-action show idea that Snyder’s come up with so far. At least my ideas are actually comedy focused and would be, you know, entertaining.