Is the New Boom a Bust?
Let’s wax for a bit about Boomerang, shall we?
As many of you may or may not know, Boomerang, the digital tier bonus sister channel to Cartoon Network, originally launched in 2000 as a dumping ground to get CN’s older, canceled and discarded shows off the man channel in order to make room for their newer shows, premieres and acquisitions, has re-branded this February. Turner has since reformatted Boomerang from an ad-free all-reruns archive channel to a ad-supported sister network to CN targeting 4-11 year old kids and their families. The channel’s bumpers and wraparounds have also been updated, with the original bumps depicting Hanna-Barbera toys and narration from actor John O’Hurley (who you may know as Elaine’s boss from Seinfeld and a former host of Family Feud) have been retired and replaced by new stylized Art Deco bumpers and a new kid announcer. Turner is trying to position Boomerang as a full-blown channel in its’ own right, having it run in sync with Boomerang’s international feeds, and that’s OK. However, since the February makeover, Da Boom’s scheduling has gotten severely lazy, with Double Play blocks of Tom & Jerry, The Tom & Jerry Show, The Garfield Show, The Looney Tunes Show and What’s New, Scooby-Doo? airing up to 3-4 times per day, no new original shows airing there as of yet aside from Numb Chucks, a weekend series originally announced to run on CN and Grojband, which originally aired briefly on CN and CN.com, both of which only airing on weekends, and Teen Titans GO! and The Amazing World of Gumball, 2 of CN’s biggest hits currently , airing simultaneously on Boomerang. And for a channel trying to carve a swath for itself as contender…
We’ve been told that Boomerang is undergoing a “stealth re-brand” and that the changes being made to it are said to be gradual, with said changes coming in a little bit at a time as opposed to all at once. Boomerang’s Upfront is supposed to be released in May, and supposedly we’ll see a real difference in Boomerang’s schedule then. But do The Powers That Be at Turner really think that folks will be willing to wait that long and sit through the same 4-6 shows again and again until then? I know A LOT of people are dissatisfied and genuinely upset with with this re-brand, and I have to say that I’m a tad disappointed with it as well, albeit for different reasons than the people who are making pissy YouTube videos about it. The former group is upset that Boomerang has reformatted and changed, whereas I’m disappointed that Boomerang hasn’t changed dramatically enough. For all the noise I’ve had to endure about Da Boom re-inventing itself and as long as The Powers That Be have made us wait for the re-brand, after all that just to give endless breadstick blocks of Tom & Jerry and The Garfield Show is more than a little anticlimactic. I actually think it would’ve been better if Turner had just unveiled its’ new format and schedule all at once on day 1 of the re-brand rather than nerfing their schedule down just a small handful of the same shows and looping them (as well as the same 2 bumpers) endlessly until spring.
Turner’s other big mistake was turning its’ back on its’ classic programming, under the idee fixe that “new is better” and audiences won’t watch anything more than 15 or 20 years old.
On more than one occasion I’ve been accused of “praising Boomerang for going in a new direction and steering away from nostalgic programming” and “wanting to see the classics get taken off once and for all”, and I just want to go on record to say that that notion is so far from the truth that it’s funny. Why would I want to see the classics get taken off of Boomerang? Please. I have nothing against the classics, I’m just not a nostalgic person and as such I don’t allow myself to become “time warped” and stuck in a particular era. The shows that interest me, from ANY era, I watch, and the shows that don’t interest me, from ANY era, I simply don’t watch; it’s literally that simple. I don’t go around proactively wishing for shows to get removed when just switching them off and watching something else is so much easier. Just because I read enough press and information to know that Boomerang’s true purpose was not to “preserve the classics”, but rather to get the older shows off of Turner’s main kids’ channel Cartoon Network, and because I’m also realistic enough to accept that times and the media have changed considerably since the late 80’s through 2000’s and that archive channels are rapidly going the way of the dodo since their audiences tend to fall off after a while and advertisers aren’t in a hurry to run spots on a channel which doesn’t show anything new (the elephant in the room that the ranting YouTubers tend to ignore or overlook is that Boomerang wasn’t making a ton of money as the Hanna-Barbera Reruns Channel, which is why this re-brand was initiated in the first place, both domestically and internationally; if the all-reruns format had been profitable, then The Powers That Be would never have re-branded Boomerang in the first place)…
…Just because I’m aware of the facts and accept these changes as an inevitability (quite frankly, I’m surprised the old Boomerang lasted as long as it did) doesn’t mean that I’m anti-classic cartoons, and Turner shouldn’t be either, at least not completely. This new Boomerang is said to be aiming itself towards kids and families, well the last time I checked, moms and dads, and even big bro and sis were part of the family too, why shouldn’t they get to enjoy the beloved shows from their childhoods once in a while? And no, I’m not suggesting that Boom ax all of the new shows, scrap the originals before they even debut and revert back to the all-archive format like so many YouTube complainers want; that would be ratings suicide for reasons I’ve already listed above. There’s nothing wrong with having some older shows sprinkled around the schedule here and there, but if they’re used as the anchor of the whole network, then you have a problem. Too much retro is overkill, as that does little as far as gaining and keeping viewers. I’ve said this before, but here it is one mo’ time: nostalgia just doesn’t work when it’s overused. Networks should treat nostalgic programming as something to fill a time slot, not its’ bread-and-butter. Had Boomerang stuck with an all-classics format like the nostalgic fans want in its’ current ad-supported state, not only would I just not watch it very much (as I didn’t watch old Boomerang very much) but I can guarantee that Boom would’ve been remade into a CN/TBS clone inside of 2 years. Personally I don’t see why Boomerang has to be exclusively one or the other; surely there’s enough room on a 24/7 channel to accommodate the entire household?
This is what I would do with Boomerang if I were the one sitting in the big easy chair. Now I’ve been declared legally lazy by a physician, so I’m not going to type an entire schedule here, I’ll just list some highlights of what I’d put on Da Boom. Before starting, let’s get some things out of the way:
-If I could, I’d shorten the channel’s name to simply BOOM!
It’s a cartoon/comic book onomatopoeia and would reflect the channel’s embracing of animation as well as sounding new, exciting and spontaneous, plus it would silence the complainers crying “Boomerang needs to change its’ name because it’s not all classics anymore and the slogan ‘It’s all coming back to you’ is meaningless now!”.
I know Turner would never actually change the name since Boomerang is a global brand, but since this is a fantasy schedule for funsies, let’s act as though I could change the name. We’ll call this channel BOOM!
-There would be no live-action on this channel, except for host segments, live-action/animation hybrid shows and movies such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, puppets, costumed characters and Saturday Morning live-action shows which are basically like live-action cartoons, of which I’ll elaborate on below.
–Teen Titans GO! and Gumball would not air on this channel; they would be exclusive to Cartoon Network. No need for CN and Boom to air the same shows; otherwise, what’s the point of having 2 channels?
-The Tom & Jerry Show, The Garfield Show and What’s New, Scooby-Doo? would still air on BOOM!, just not as frequently as they’re being run now. Pokemon would likewise still air here.
-Imports such as Mr. Bean: TAS, The Jungle Bunch and Skatoony would air here as well as internationally. There would also be new and original contemporary shows from around the world, as long as they’re fit for a general (kids and family) audience.
-I’ll be listing some shows as examples of what would or could run on BOOM!; again, this is hypothetical, so we’re pretending here that Turner would be able to run or acquire the broadcasting rights to the shows listed here. This is just so I can avoid typing “assuming that Turner could get the broadcasting rights” a gazillion times.
Some sample shows and programming blocks:
- Planet Play– this would be a Qubo style block aimed at the younger kiddos, and would air weekday mornings with a longer encore airing on Saturday mornings. Some sample shows: Krypto the Superdog, Baby Looney Tunes, Masha and Bear, Peppa Pig, The Mr. Men Show, Shaun the Sheep, Pearlie, Turbo Dogs, Jacob Two-Two.
- BLAM!– standing for Big Loud Animation Melee, this block would run from late mornings to early afternoons. It would be a spotlight for everyone’s favorite theatrical shorts shows, such as Tom & Jerry, Looney Tunes, the HB funny animal shorts (Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, etc.), The Pink Panther et al. The CN/Boom Wedgies would air as filler segments between the various shorts.
- Cartoon Planet– this would be a mix of the original TBS/CN Cartoon Planet and the Best of CN block which aired on CN a year or so back. It would feature new wraparound segments hosted by Space Ghost, Zorak and Brak and would feature shorts from the Cartoon-Cartoons and other 90’s through 00’s CN toons. CP would either last 1 or 2 hours, depending on the schedule. Chowder would be relegated to this block.
- That’s Warner Brothers!-A compilation of Silver Age WB comedies. Sample shows: Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, Freakazoid!, Taz-Mania, Duck Dodgers, The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, Pinky & the Brain.
- Sparkle-who says girls don’t rule? This would be a block made for girl-centric cartoons, both comedy and action. Sample shows: Winx Club, Tara Duncan: TAS, Totally Spies!, Code: LYOKO, LoliRock, Ladybug. This block would air weekday afternoons with a weekend encore.
- Kick!-a block for action/superhero toons. Sample shows: Batman: TAS, Superman: TAS, Batman Beyond, Justice League/Unlimited, Static Shock, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Men in Black: The Series, Teen Titans: TAS (not TTGO!). Like Sparkle, Kick! would air on weekday afternoons with a weekend encore.
- Fun Zone– this would be a prime time premiere block airing on weekends, either with different schedules for Friday and Saturday nights or a single lineup premiering on Friday nights and an encore on Saturday nights, depending on how many new shows are available. Wabbit: A Looney Tunes Production and Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! would air here. I’d also give The Aquabats! Super Show! a new home on this block.
- HBTV– also known as HB Nation, this block would air prime time on Sunday nights. It would be a love letter to Hanna-Barbera, with new shows based on HB properties intermixed with new Shorties, Groovies and other shorts starring HB stars.
- The Groove Tube-this block would air late nights, say at about 9, 10 or 11 PM, and would run for 2 or 3 hours. This would be where the retro shows would air. sample shows: The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Jonny Quest, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Underdog, Speed Racer, Voltron, Birdman and the Galaxy Trio, Popeye, The Three Stooges, Space Ghost: Coast to Coast.
- Saturday Morning Fever-a special Friday night edition of The Groove Tube , recreating the 60’s through late 80’s Saturday Morning experience. Sample shows: Land of the Lost, The Real Ghostbusters, Help! It’s the Hair Bear Bunch, H.R. Pufenstuf, Lidsville, Smurfs, Snorks, The Harlem/Super Globetrotters, Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp.
Well, that’s what I’d do anyway. One thing’s for sure: Boomerang needs to step its’ game up and get out of its’ programming rut, otherwise by the time we get to May, viewers may no longer care. Boomerang will be D.O.A. and this re-brand will have been for naught.