Is Boomerang Worth Saving?
Let’s talk for a bit about Boomerang, shall we?
Whenever I’m on message boards, invariably a thread will pop up by some hopeful tube watcher who wants to “save Boomerang”. These threads typically complain about the same things: Boomerang doesn’t show enough classic cartoons. My favorite old shows don’t air there anymore. I don’t like how they now show recently canceled Cartoon Network shows on there, and blah and blah and blah. And just as invariably these same threads will offer “solutions” on how to save Boomerang, usually involving trying to convince Da Boom’s parent companies, Turner Broadcasting and Time-Warner, to take all of the recent CN leftovers like Dexter’s Lab, The Powerpuff Girls, Johnny Bravo, Cow & Chicken, Samurai Jack, Teen Titans, Ben 10, Sidekick, Almost Naked Animals, etc., off of the channel and starting petitions to get the old 1960’s Hanna-Barbera ‘funny animal’ cartoons like Atom Ant, Wally Gator, Secret Squirrel, Top Cat, Pixie and Dixie, Touche Turtle, Ricochet Rabbit et al, back in regular rotation on Boomerang.
I find it interesting that so many peoples’ idea of “saving” channels like Boomerang, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Disney Channel is just bringing all of their older shows back. While I try not to be ants at the proverbial picnic, I typically pass on any such movements. It’s perfectly fine with me if folks want to see Yakky Doodle and Breezly & Sneezly return to Boomerang, if that’s what floats your boat, then I say ride that rocket, baby, but don’t think that Hokey Wolf and Snagglepuss cartoons coming back to regular rotation on Boomerang would be saving the channel, ’cause resurrecting the old HB cartoons and saving Boomerang aren’t even close to being the same thing. It’s time to face the elephant in the room….
(Should’ve seen that coming.) No, not that elephant; the one which no retro-lover wants to face: the harsh but very real fact that Boomerang isn’t a baby boomer channel anymore. Turner doesn’t feel the need to utilize the entire HB library since Boomerang is just Cartoon Network’s dumping ground for their canceled programming and the shows that CN once aired but have since gotten rid of but need to let their licenses run out. Let’s not confuse our wants with the network’s needs; you may want Turner to restore Boomerang back to the way it was in 2003 or 2004, but they don’t need to do that by any stretch of the imagination. Bringing all of those old CN cartoons would make a lot of retro fans happy, sure, but it wouldn’t be saving Boomerang. Anyone who truly wants to save Boomerang should be trying to think of a way to get it into tons more homes, expose it to a much wider audience than’s it’s ever been exposed to, and most importantly, to make it profitable. Turner’s apathy towards Boomerang stems from the fact that Da Boom doesn’t make its’ parents any real money beyond subscription fees, and few people are willing to pay an additional fee on top of their basic cable/satellite service fee just to watch old cartoons. The reason that Boom is ad-free is because advertisers won’t go anywhere near it, as admen and accountants don’t want to run spots on a channel which doesn’t show anything new, since it’s been shown that newer and first-run shows attract greater numbers of viewers consistently than older shows and repeats of canceled shows.
Removing all of the post-1990 cartoons from Boomerang isn’t the answer, either. As much as it would make a lot of fans happy, Boomerang can’t just run Looney Tunes and old-school Hanna-Barbera toons from the 60’s through the 80’s for all eternity. Boomerang was created by Turner Broadcasting in order to move the older shows from Cartoon Network so that there would be more room on Toon’s schedule for premieres and newer acquisitions. Boomerang just gets the shows when they’re done airing on Cartoon Network or if they’re 3rd party acquisitions which Turner still has the broadcasting rights to. When Boom was launched in 2000, Toon’s schedule was mostly Hanna-Barbera reruns, so those shows were all moved to Boomerang. Now that it’s 2013, it’s the shows from 1990 to present that get moved over to Boom. The era in which the shows were produced doesn’t figure into Turner’s decision making at all. Boomerang aired some 1990’s cartoons during the 00’s and now they air some 2000’s cartoons in the ’10’s. That’s not a disgrace and an insult, it’s a natural progression. In the same manner that just bringing back the likes of Pixie & Dixie alone wouldn’t single-handedly save Boomerang, just adding the likes of Pokemon, Teen Titans and the 90’s era Cartoon-Cartoons to Boomerang isn’t single-handedly destroying it. It’s really a natural progression for Boom to keep adding newer shows to their rotation as time goes on. What’s considered “old” and “classic” varies from person to person and changes from generation to generation. Time, like an arrow, only moves in one direction, straight ahead, and as such the shows from the 90’s, 00’s and beyond can’t and shouldn’t be ignored. Yes, Boomerang is a retro channel, it at one time alleged to be the “home of classic cartoons”, but it’s beyond absurd to expect Boom to act like every cartoon made after 1990 doesn’t exist. Not only is complaining about Boomerang running post 90’s shows kind of pointless since they’ve been doing this for over a decade now, but expecting Boomerang’s entire schedule to consist solely of baby boomer era toons wouldn’t be helping the channel survive at all.
I understand why the boomers want to keep Boomerang purely cartoons from that era, but restricting Boom to nothing but Looney Tunes and HB cartoons from the 60’s through 80s just isn’t sustainable anymore; putting such limitations on Da Boom’s roster would ultimately do the channel more harm than good. Here’s why: over time, the baby boomers had babies of their own, and as much as some boomers want to stomp around demanding that Turner listen to them and only them, the Gen Xers, Gen Yers and Millenials, who are now in the late teens, 20s and 30s, get nostalgic too, and they want to see the shows that they grew up watching and remember fondly as well. Why should Boom only cater to the boomers, and not to them?
I keep hearing all this talk about people wanting to save Boomerang, but so few of the boomers are willing to share it. “Oh, Boomerang should be around to bring kids and parents and families together, as long as it only airs the cartoons that I grew up watching!” is about as hypocritical and self-centered a mentality as you can get. We can’t force our childhood memories onto today’s kids; it would be great if some of them gravitated to some of our favorite toons like we did (and indeed, some do), but at the same time, the succeeding generations need to be allowed to form their own childhood memories. Nostalgia occurs for every generation and no one generation is superior to any other. I’ve said this before, but just bringing back Pixie & Dixie and Touche Turtle wouldn’t be saving the channel; in order for any network, even a retro network, to thrive and flourish, newer shows and constant rotation are necessary. Anybody who really wants to save Boomerang should want it to be watched by as many viewers as possible, not just by the baby boomers. A wider range of people watching Da Boom and enjoying seeing their favorite childhood shows again is a good thing. Ideally, there’s enough room on a 24/7 network to accommodate the old as well as the new; the key is finding a decent balance. Boom can’t only run the same crop of cartoons it started with forever and shut out the cartoons form the most recent decade(s) as restricting Boom to only accommodate the baby boomers and ignoring all the generations after them would be catastrophically short-sighted for Turner to do, and would only bring on the channel’s demise that much sooner.
Now I can’t agree with the notion that Boomerang is currently in a period of decline, since that would imply that there was ever a time when Boomerang was great; my feeling is that the Boomerang channel started out mediocre when it was first launched and has remained that way ever since. Da Boom has always been just a dumping ground for Cartoon Network’s older and out-of-production shows, and it’s still just CN’s dumping ground now, it’s just that now there are newer old and out-of-production shows occupying the channel’s air space. Boomerang has been running the same hamster wheel for over a decade now; at this point I think the question we ought to be asking isn’t “Can Boomerang be saved?”, but rather “Should Boomerang be saved?”. I personally think that Boomerang has long since outlived its’ usefulness as a 24/7 channel, since retro programming doesn’t guarantee success. There’s a reason channels like Nicktoons, the channel formerly known as Toon Disney, Nick @ Nite, TV Land and even Boomerang have been progressively pushing back the reruns of old shows and shifting their focus toward new content: because most viewers want to see new and original programming, as opposed to repeats they can find on DVD for less than $20. So bringing back Touche Turtle and Wally Gator wouldn’t be the savior of Boomerang. And I admit that my opinion is a decidedly biased one, as I’ve never been the biggest fan of HB’s 1960’s funny animal shows, at least not to the extent that I’d be willing to go through changes to get them back on TV. I can’t imagine ever waking up with a burning desire to see Atom Ant again, and if I ever did, I’m sure I could find some of his cartoons floating around on the internet or on a ‘Best of Hanna-Barbera’ DVD on Amazon or somewhere similar.
Also, when all is said and done, I don’t really care about Boomerang that much because I seldom watch the channel, and whenever I do, it’s usually only for short intervals. While I feel the retro fans’ pain, I can’t really say I identify with it since I’m not a nostalgic person; while I remember some toons I grew up with fondly and don’t mind revisiting some of them from time to time, for the most part I prefer watching new shows. Plus, most of Boom’s schedule consists of shows which I’ve either seen hundreds of times before already, can just as easily watch via other venues like DVD or was never that into to begin with, so even if Boomerang were to miraculously become the channel that most folks seem to want it to become, I admit that I still wouldn’t watch it that much.
If I were the one in the big easy chair and breathing new life into Boomerang were my call, I would do one of the following:
- Strike the Boomerang channel and restore it to its’ original state as a programming block on Cartoon Network. The Boomerang block could air for about 2 hours on CN during weekday mornings/afternoons, with an encore on early weekend mornings or weekend afternoons.
- Pull a Hub, in other words have another company buy Boom, transforming it into a general kids and family entertainment network in the same manner that Hasbro saved Discovery Kids by transforming it into The Hub, and make the old HB toons part of the new channel’s regular schedule, though not the bulk of the schedule. If Boom were to truly become an ad-supported network, then there’s no way it would be able to sustain itself on just repeats; newer programming would be necessary. People whose idea of “saving” a network is just “bring back this show”, “bring back that show” or “they should only air the 60-80’s shows” or “they should just air 90’s shows” fail to realize that such a thing would be ratings suicide because today’s kids are more interested in their shows, which is not to say that some kids wouldn’t watch the older shows, I’m sure some of them would, but based on what I’ve seen and read kids’ demos are typically stronger for current programs.
- Change Boomerang into an internet-only channel and run the Turner/Warner classics library on it. I think this latter idea could truly work, since as with linear 24-hour video game, music video and tech-based TV channels, with the internet becoming more mainstream, the web has basically killed linear retro channels on the boob tube.