Unpopular Opinions/That’s Warner Brothers!: Live-Action on Cartoon Network

Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s start 2023 with a big ol’ hot take:

We’re not opposed to the idea of live-action shows airing on Cartoon Network!

Yeah, yeah, I know. hear us out. We used to be like you. Years ago, whenever the subject of Cartoon Network daring to air live-action would come up, our usual reaction was….

There was a time when we regarded the very thought of CN airing live-action programming to be akin to painting a moustache on the Mona Lina, but over time we’ve either mellowed with age or have gotten even more insane, whatever you want to call it, but we’re not 100% opposed to the idea anymore.

“But guys…CARTOON Network!” I hear you say, and yes, I agree. Cartoon Network initially pledged to air “cartoons and nothing but cartoons, all day, every day, until the end of time”, I get it, but here’s the thing: animated shows are expensive and take time to produce; unless your parent company has a HUGE backlog of cartoons to fall back on, they’d need something to keep viewers occupied while the new animated shows are being made, and these days CN like most networks prefers to run their older cartoons online as opposed to on the main TV channel. The reason that Nickelodeon and Disney Channel rely so heavily on live-action kidcoms (aside from the obvious fact that they’re popular with kids) is because live-action shows are cheaper and take less time to produce: Disney Channel and Nick can whip out 2 or 3 episodes of Lizzie McGuire or Bunk’d or Henry Danger or Game Shakers in the time it takes to produce 1 episode of Phineas & Ferb or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So there’s a practical reason to employ some live-action programming, even on animation channel.

Now it’s usually at this point that someone will inevitably point to Cartoon Network’s notorious flop programming block CN Real, which we covered here a while back in Keepin’ It Real…Real Bad!. CN Real was a turkey, no one’s denying that, but as Jason (Goldstar) mentioned in that article, the reason why the CN Real block failed wasn’t because they dared to air live-action, it was because they were airing the wrong kind of live-action. What’s the first word in this channel’s name?

There ya go.

If Cartoon Network were to ever start incorporating live-action shows and movies into their schedules, certain requirements need to be met. Live-action on CN could work, provided it’s the right kind of live-action. Reality shows? No. Those don’t gel with cartoon lovers, least of all kids; generally speaking, the only non-scripted shows that kids tend to dig are game shows. If a CN show isn’t going to be a cartoon, then it should at least be “toon adjacent”. Some examples of acceptable live-action for CN would be:

Live-Action/Animation hybrids, i.e., shows that combine animation with live-action…
…Shows starring puppets…
..,or people in wacky costumes…
…Shows based on animated properties; for example, run Filmation’s Shazam! series…
…to coincide with the release of the new Shazam! movie or the first movie airing on ACME Night…
…Shows which evoke the spirit of cartoons or comics, like Super Sentai…
…Live-action hosts…
…Or shows that are so wacky and crazy that they’re like cartoons.

This kind of live-action could work, provided that the animation to live-action ratio stays at something like 70:30 or 60:40 in favor of the cartoons. It may or may not every happen, but if Cartoon Network is ever to open itself up to the possibility of live-action again, they should never forget their channel’s, name, history, theme and roots. If they really ever have to air live-action, it should be animated live-action.

-And yeah, I admit this is partially a way of campaigning to get The Aquabats’ Super Show! back on TV. This show was awesome and should be airing on TV somewhere; it just should.

Our Favorite TV Show Openings At the Moment

After sending a chill down everyone’s collective spines last month with a selection of creepy, scary and just plain disturbing production logos last month, we’ve decided to make things a little more mellow and talk about something that we like. We give you some of our favorite TV show intros of the moment:

Let’s start with an oldie, but a goodie. The opening for Cartoon Network’s 1st original series: Space Ghost Coast to Coast.

Man, the late Sonny Sharrock could certainly rock!

Next, here’s another smooth jazz tune that I’ve always enjoyed. The opening theme from The WB’s Mission Hill, courtesy of alternative ska band Cake.

I like Mission Hill‘s closing theme also, but unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find that one anywhere.

On the subject of Adult Swim shows, here are a couple more of our favorites. Here’s the into Sealab 2021, courtesy of Calamine. Some of Williams Street’s funhouse mirror version of old Hanna-Barbera shows have rubbed some people the wrong way, but Sealab 2021 was good, at least it was up until the unfortunate passing of Harry Goz, the voice of Captain Murphy. The show was never the same since.

And here’s one of my personal picks, the intro for Metalocalypse. Doesn’t this kick a little ass? But should we expect anything less from the most brutal band in the world?

This next one is tad out of date now, since the series has been renamed twice since then, but I think this theme is best of the revamps. Here’s the intro for the 1st re-branding of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1, performed by Queens of the Stone Age.

Next, here’s a great intro from a show starring one of the coolest bands of the moment, the opening of The Hub’s The Aquabats Super Show!

We realize that this next series opening isn’t from a cartoon, but we like it anyway. This is from the IFC  channel’s original series, Comedy Bang! Bang! We think the show is great, but we’re also a little ticked at creator Scott Aukerman for taking that title. Comedy Bang! Bang! could’ve easily been the name of this blog!

Next, again this isn’t from a cartoon, it’s from an internet series, 2 Best Friends Play, in which 2 two foul-mouthed but hilarious dudes play through video games while cracking wise and ripping on each other throughout. Hardcore gamers will know that the music is actually from Green Greens, which is the 1st level on several of the Kirby games.

Finally, here’s one from the most recent series. The intro for the Disney Channel’s newest animated series Wander Over Yonder, the brain child of Craig McKraken. Theme song courtesy of The Two Man Gentleman Band. Say what you will about the show, the opening theme is downright infectious.

Honorable mention goes to the opening theme for Comedy Central’s Key & Peele, which like the Comedy Bang! Bang! theme, was written and performed by Reggie Watts. We would have included it here, but the intro doesn’t seem to be anywhere on the internet. Bottom line: don’t screw with Viacom!