Boomerang Online (Revisited)

A while back, I wrote about an hypothetical idea for a website called Boomerang Online. In the wake of recent developments in the online entertainment industry, I thought that we’d revisit this idea with some minor adjustments made to it. Basically, it’s the same idea as before, only with a little bit of Patreon thrown in for good measure.

This is what the proposed app could look like. I also could have gone with the older big blue ‘B’ logo, but II don’t mind the new logo, so for the sake of argument, let’s go with this design.

Here’s how it would work: Turner could launch a website (the aforementioned Boomerang Online), as well as an app which could be downloaded onto one’s smartphone or tablet. Viewers could access the site anytime and would be able to access a select number of “old-school” Turner owned cartoons such as the 1990s Cartoon-Cartoon shows and cartoons from the old-school Hanna-Barbera library for free. However, Turner could also “sweeten the pot” by giving people the option to sign up and become members of Boom Online for a monthly fee of say, $3, $4, $5 or $9 per month. Turner could offer perks to paying members. For example, if someone visiting the site for free wanted to watch Dexter’s Laboratory, he or she would have access to a limited number of episodes which would rotate every few days or weeks and would have to watch them with a pre-roll ad as well as mid-rolls. But a paying member of the site would have access to all of the Dexter’s Lab episodes and could also view the episodes without mid-rolls. Paying members would also have access to a wider selection of shows as well as a wider selection of episodes of said shows.

And while we’re at it, why not throw in some SWAG for paying members as well? Turner could also offer Boom related stuff like T-shirts, hats and other cool stuff for those who are willing to pay for them. The more money that members are willing to give the site, the more stuff they would be able to obtain. Because as we already know…

Just had to get that in there. And hey, while we’re at it, why not propose a TV Land Online for fans of nostalgic TV shows?

These shows aren’t airing on TV right now, so why not?

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…

Sonic-the-Hedgehog-3D-model

“That’s no good!”

 

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)…

“Psst! Here I am! I’m here in the room! Look over here! I will not be ignored! Holla at ya boy!”

…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.
  • JUMP– Standing for Joyful Unlimited Maximum Play, this would be a weekday afternoon comedy block (featuring both animated and live-action shows), emphasizing big laughs and extreme fun. Shows would include the likes of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, The Super Mario Brothers Super Show!, My Parents are Aliens, Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!, The Funny Company, Channel Umptee-3, Maniac Mansion, Beetlejuice, The Twisted Whiskers Show, Johnny Test, Space Goofs, The Weird Al Show, Samurai Pizza Cats, Skatoony, My Spy Family, Viva Pinata, The Super Six, Video Power, and Round the Twist.
  • 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.

New Boomerang Hopes and Predictions

As some of you may or may not know, the digital tier bonus channel Boomerang will be receiving a makeover this year.

“Boomerang, voted the most beloved network by parents in the 2013 Harris Poll, will be programmed and marketed globally to present a line-up of classic and contemporary cartoons for consistent programming appeal to family co-viewing across all of its 13 international feeds.”

Basically, this means that Boomerang will be transformed from an ad-free bonus tier channel which shows only Cartoon Network’s leftovers into an ad-supported kids and family channel akin to Hub Network. No official date has been cited as to when this re-branding will occur, but it’s most likely to happen on, by or around March 31st, since this is also the date that Boomerang Latin America will change its’ format and roster as well as the date when Cartoon Network US will lose its’ 8 PM-9PM prime time hour to Adult Swim (which I’ve already squawked about in Night of the Living Snyder). Coincidentally, or perhaps not so coincidentally, April 1st is also Boomerang’s 14th anniversary. (Wait, April 1st? I hope it doesn’t turn out that this is all an elaborate prank and we’re not all just getting punk’d.) UPDATE: It’s recently been announced that the re-brand will occur sometime during the 4th quarter of 2014, not in March or April. Dang. Upfronts are typically released during the last of week of March, so we’ll know for certain what to expect then, but in the meantime…..

Here’s a brief run-through of what this will or could mean for Joe TV Viewer, as well as what I and other fans would like to see happen on this new Boomerang.

1. NEW LOGO

As stated in the article, Boomerang US will be syncing up its’ look to coincide with the channel’s other international feeds, so in all likelihood this means that Da Boom will be switching from this logo….

…to this logo:
 Boomerang-Ribbon-Logo
I also wouldn’t mind if they went with this spiffy little number:
But I’m thinking it’ll most likely be the ‘ribbon’ logo, since that’s the one the international Boomerangs are using right now.
2. BUMPS & IDENTS
A natural after-effect of a re-brand is a new look, which means new bumps and wraparounds. Since as previously stated, Boom US’s bumps will most likely fall in line with the international Boom feeds, so I’m guessing we could get bumps like these French bumps from 2011:
Or these from the UK:

Now some folks on Toon Zone have complained that these bumps (especially the UK ones) are “too childish” and don’t accurately reflect the “classic” feel of the Boomerang channel the way the current toy bumps do. To that I have 2 things to say: One, keep in mind that Boomerang isn’t going to be just a classic cartoon channel anymore (but more on that later) and Two, so what? We’ve been subjected to those same old toy bumpers for 4 years straight without an iota of a change; at this point I’ll take ANYTHING besides those smegging toy bumps. A tap-dancing test pattern would be preferable to just getting more toy bumpers. A fellow poster suggested that Da Boom just re-use some of Cartoon Network’s old idents, like from the Powerhouse and City Era; now I’m definitely against that idea. The ‘childish’ nature of those above bumps doesn’t bother me personally, since they’re for a family network. They’re innocuous, but harmless, and I’d still rather get these wraparounds as opposed to Boom just getting Cartoon Network’s hand-me-downs. Just re-using old CN promos would make it look like the people in charge really don’t care about this channel, and that Boomerang would have no identity of its’ own and couldn’t stand on its’ own merits.

To me, the toy bumpers represent a bygone era of stagnancy that’s (hopefully) finally coming to a close.

3. PROGRAMMING

Now, if you watched the entirety of the Boom UK bumps, you undoubtedly noticed that several of the shows advertised there weren’t exactly ‘classic’. Keep in mind that the re-branded Boomerang is said to “present a line-up of classic and contemporary cartoons”. Emphasis on “and contemporary”. Basically this means that Boomerang will no longer be a strictly nostalgia channel. I realize this doesn’t sit well with several viewers; there are some who don’t want to see Boomerang go beyond airing former CN shows from the 1992-2004 era, and there are even some who think that Boom airing the likes of Cartoon-Cartoons such as Johnny Bravo and Powerpuff Girls is too much, and that they should “go back to their roots” and only air theatrical cartoons from the 40’s and Hanna-Barbera cartoons from the 60’s.

“Change? Progress?? FLOBBEDY-FLEE!”
To those folks, I can’t put it any better than my brother Jason (Goldstar) did:
Sorry, but I can guarantee that won’t happen. Keeping the channel stuck in 1 era only would be neither realistic nor economically feasible. Boomerang airing nothing but Looney Tunes and MGM shorts and 60’s HB cartoons would basically be signing the channel’s own death warrant. The audience for 40s-60s nostalgia is far too narrow a market for a channel devoted solely to it to work anymore, and finding sponsors who’d be willing to advertise on an all old-school channel would be harder than Chinese arithmetic. Said channel would die faster than Nick GAS or Planet Green and be remade as a general entertainment channel in less than 2 years. I hope that there’ll still be a place for old-school toons on Boomerang, but in order for Boomerang to evolve and succeed, new and original content is necessary.
 
Also, the Cartoon-Cartoons are part of Cartoon Network’s roots. Those were among the 1st original animated series to air on CN. They’re as integral to the network’s history as those old shorts were. Plus, the Cartoon-Cartoons are over 20 years old now and are therefore old enough to remembered nostalgically by many people.

4. WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE CLASSICS?

 

“WILL ENTERTAIN FOR ROOM & BOARD”

With the advent of newer shows and acquisitions, this inevitably means that the classics will have to give way to the newer shows. I just hope that this means the classics will be thrust off the network entirely. Hopefully, the classics can stay a part of Boomerang’s lineup, even if it’s only during non-peak viewing hours.

“Dang, I hope I won’t have to move. I finally done got my space in this here vast video wasteland Fueng-Shui-ed the way I likes it!”

5. BLOCKS AND ACQUISITIONS

Now that Boomerang will be ad-supported, that means the Powers That Be will have some more cash to throw around, and that means they’ll be able to spend more on 3rd party acquisitions and even–gasp!–original programming. We all have our personal choices as to which orphan shows we hope Boomerang will adopt (I’d personally like to see Super Friends come back, and maybe Freakazoid! or Beetlejuice be added, and maybe get some Tara Duncan, Bananaman, The Why Why Family, Oban Star Racers, Code LYOKO, Arthur and the Square Knights of the Round Table and the like in there as well, but that’s just me), but which shows actually end up coming to Da Boom remain to be seen. This will also hopefully mean that there will be programming blocks, so Boom’s schedule won’t seem so random anymore. A fellow TZ-er suggested a classic Toonami block; such a thing would really depend on which audience they’re aiming for and which shows they can/could acquire for it. Most of the shows which aired on Toonami were licensed 3rd party acquisitions, meaning that Cartoon Network had to pay licensees’ fees for the rights to air the shows which aired on the block, and Turner has since let the broadcasting rights to most of Toonami’s signature shows expire, so Boom can’t have a Toonami that runs every show that used to air on Cartoon Network’s Toonami, because CN has since lost the broadcasting rights to most of those shows or their US ditributors have since expired or they’re languishing in Licensing Hell. There’s also the matter of which viewership the channel is trying to attract; I don’t see Turner re-acquiring the likes of Yu Yu Hakusho for a channel that’s supposed to be aimed at families, in fact, shounen in general seems like a leap. Turner/CN just doesn’t seem to have any interest in acquiring non toy-based anime outside of Toonami, which is firmly lodged in Adult Swim territory. I don’t doubt we’ll get something action-oriented on this channel, but I don’t know about a return of classic Toonami. Maybe a souped-up Boomeraction could happen, featuring the likes of Swat Kats, Teen Titans, Samurai Jack, The Secret Saturdays, Sym-Bionic Titan and maybe some of the WB DC comics shows like Batman: TAS, Superman: TAS and Batman Beyond, since those shows have recently vacated The Hub. That’s about as close to Toonami as I see Boomerang getting.

A fellow poster at TZ, CartoonRuler, had a pretty good suggestion:

“Since Freakazoid! was popular more with adults, it would be a good idea if Boom got its hands on it, it would air around 11PM or so in a block along with the likes of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, ToonHeads, Cartoon Planet, Time Squad, uncut Looney Tunes, etc. Sorta like an Adult Swim lite, but way less edgier. 

In fact, I would like it if the new revamp Boomerang’s schedule would be like how Teletoon did it in its early days: preschoolers in the early morning, big kids in the afternoon, families in the evening and adults in the late night.”

-Now I think that’s a neat idea. I’ve been saying that there should be a lighter, less stoner-y version of Adult Swim for years now. I’d watch a block like that, wouldn’t you? I really hope the Powers That Be go with an idea like this.

ORIGINAL PROGRAMMING, AND LIVE-ACTION?

Yes, it’s a safe bet that the revamped Boomerang will feature some original programming.

Now, I can understand why some people are resistant to the notion of Boomerang airing new shows, but If Boomerang is going to survive as a commercial network and a ratings earner, it needs new shows. Advertisers aren’t interested in running spots on a channel which doesn’t show anything new. Audiences’ attention spans are fleeting, and nostalgia alone loses its’ appeal after a while. The channel either rebrands, or it continues running the same treadmill it’s been running on for over a decade, looping the same 10-20 episodes of the same 4-5 shows with the same old toy bumps sandwiched between them.

As long as the Boomerang classics still have a place on the channel and they’re not just tossed into the vaults to collect dust, then I’m fine with newer content on Da Boom, as long as said programming isn’t going to just be a rehash of what’s airing on Cartoon Network right now, and that includes live-action shows. Yes, I said I’d be OK with live-action shows airing on Boomerang, as long as they’re not just the same melange of “dumb boy comedies” that are on CN. Maybe here shows like Tower Prep and Unnatural History can finally be given the chance that they never got on CN under Stuart Snyder’s regime (CN’s top brass ordered TP and UH axed because they were gaining sizable amounts of female viewers, and the current CN is only interested in targeting boys), and live-action shows are fine as long as they represent the cartoony nature of Boom’s genre, like The Banana Splits, The Skatebirds or Korg: 70,000 B..C., or even live-action acquisitions like the Adam West Batman series or Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp. That would rule. As long as it’s not the same kind of crap that we got on CN Real, I’m fine with live-action on Da Boom.

Now I’m sure some people are wondering: just why is Turner doing this? Well, as previously stated, the official press reason is that Turner wants Boomerang to be unified with its’ international feeds, but there’s also another reason. A simple but obvious reason, and that reason is that Boomerang wasn’t cutting the mustard as an ad-free nostalgia channel, and it had to start pulling its’ weight. In other words……

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….

“Honk if you’re horny!”
 

(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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
These are merely suggestions of course, but I think they’re all more feasible than expecting Turner to suddenly pull a 180 and restore Boomerang to consisting mostly of old HB toons like it did when it started. Let’s face it: The only time you’re going to see change on Boomerang is when the channel isn’t called Boomerang anymore.

Tooning In On Late Night

The following is a topic that was raised on the Toon Zone Forums that I’d like to address here. To avoid confusion, the original poster’s comments will be typed in italic, while mine will be typed normally.

For the most part, classic cartoons are non existent on American TV. There’s plenty of channels that air classic movies and TV shows, but we only have one all classic cartoon channel (Boom) and as we all know, there schedule is VERY limited. 

…And even the so-called  “classic” movie and TV channels are showing original shows and movies now. Also, Boomerang stopped being a classic cartoon channel a few years ago. Boom is Cartoon Network’s recycle bin. Beyond that the channel serves no purpose. It’s like I said in an earlier post, the audience for 50s to 80s nostalgia is far too narrow a market for a channel devoted solely to it to work now. In no time, the channel would be re-branded as a general entertainment channel.

I remember watching a slew of cartoons in the 70’s and 80’s that hasn’t seen the light of day in years. Is it really that expensive to get the rights to rooms like Battle of the Planets, Voltron, New adventures of Popeye, 70’s Tarzan cartoon and many, many more? 

Dude, you’re going waaaay back. You’re talking about when we were kids back in the ancient 1970s. Back then, there was no such thing as cable and cartoons shows ran wild all over the TV. You had syndicated programs with umbrella titles such as Bugs, Woody and Popeye, Bugs & Popeye, Bugs & Woody, Bugs Bunny’s Buddies, Cartoon Carnival, etc., but the industry has changed a lot since then. We’re not going to see television return to the way that it was in the 1970s because that world doesn’t exist anymore.

The answer to your question is yes. It is that expensive because like I already said, the industry has changed a lot since we were kids. These days all of the old-school cartoons have been bought up by big corporations. Turner Broadcasting currently owns the Warner Brothers, MGM and Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Casper, Lassie and the like are owned by Classic Media, which was recently purchased by Dreamworks. The Filmation library of shows are presently tied up in legal red tape over who actually owns the individual franchises. And Disney, well, the Mouse House has never loaned out it’s library of cartoons to anyone, and they’re even less inclined to do so now that they have 4 cable/satellite channels under their belt.

I mean if you really think about it, wouldn’t it be a good idea if local stations aired some of these toons late night? It just seems that a lot of these classic toons are just sitting around in some old warehouse collecting dust instead of being viewed as they should be.

That’s an interesting idea, but it would never work now. Not in this market. First, local stations don’t have the broadcasting rights to those old cartoons; most of them have since been scooped up by big corporations and local affiliates would have to pay these corporations a fee in order to run them on their stations late at night. Second, the late night market has become very cutthroat. The old-school toons would have to compete in a market that’s now dominated by Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Conan O’ Brien, ABC’s Nightline and CN’s Adult Swim block. Most people wouldn’t be willing to switch off a new episode of The Daily Show or The Colbert Report in favor of a 40-year-old rerun of Yogi’s Gang or a 60-year-old rerun of The Flintstones. A few adults might, but not enough of them to justify the cost and trouble that a local station would have to undergo to launch such a venture. Third, most of the local stations are also network affiliates who also air shows like Letterman and Leno late at night, and so the local affiliates would likely just air the old cartoons after the networks’ late night programs, thus pushing them back so far into the wee hours that one would need radar to find them. Finally, the other major issue preventing such a move is of course money. TV stations air what makes them the most money. Local stations make more money airing infomercials than they would airing classic cartoons, so they run infomercials. Network officials know that even a rerun of Conan or Family Guy is going to put more butts in seats than old Popeye cartoons would. The cold hard truth is that nostalgia just isn’t profitable right now.

I know that people are tired of me saying this, but I here it is one mo’ time: I think that instead of trying to get these “classic” cartoons back on TV, that we should instead be lobbying for these old-school shows to get proper video/DVD releases. Seriously, like my brother Damon has said, if you had your own kick-ass collection of cartoons that you could watch whenever you wanted, it wouldn’t matter one wit to you what the local stations were airing.