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.

2 Funny/Toons & Tunes: Scared Silly – Spooky Tunes

Just in time for Halloween, today we present not 1, but 2 spooky themed videos to commemorate the occasion.

First, musical super-band the Aquabats have taken on ManAnt, the Uberchaun and Space Monster M. Here they face off against their most sinister foe: Goth mall-rats who shop for clothes at Hot Topic! Here’s “Fashion Zombies!”.

Next up, one of the better tunes from Hasbro’s Littlest Pet Shop 2012 series. Sunil the mongoose and Vinnie the gecko expose themselves to a werewolf horror flick and have themselves a good ol’ freakout. This is “Wolf-I-Fied!”.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Nerdvana: Driving With Toons

On this Nerdvana, we’ll be geeking out on some of my favorite modes of animated transportation. Those toyetic gas guzzlers that have been featured in cartoons that I’d like to drive myself in real life. Having said that…

“WE RIDE!!!”

Let’s start with one of my favorite vehicles from an anime; Speed Racer’s car, the Mach Five.

Go, Twinsanity, Go!

The Mach Five not only sports a stylish design, but it’s loaded to the teeth with specialized super spy type gadgets. I don’t know if those features are legal on the professional racing circuit, but they’d be cool to have.

Trivia Time: The “M” on the hood of the car doesn’t stand for Mach Five. Rather, it stands for “Mifune”. In Japan, Speed Racer’s name is Go Mifune (which is also why he wears a letter ‘G’ on his shirt). Mifune is not only the protagonist’s surname, but it’s also the name of his father’s motor company.

And of course there’s no way that I could have discussion about my favorite cartoon cars without mentioning The Wacky Races. Among my favorite Wacky Races car designs are the Convert-a-Car driven by Professor Pat Pending…

“My car is blinding you….with SCIENCE!”

The Convert-A-Car can be converted into an assortment of other vehicles, so it’s not only a racing car, it’s a transformer!

And I have to give props to the Crimson Haybailer, driven by The Red Max, because it’s flies!

“Come fly with me!”

Companies have been trying for decades to build the flying car, and this guy just up and does it.

Then there’s the car driven by Peter Perfect.

” Hee, hee, hee! Here comes the Perfect Man!”

First, I need to get this off of my chest: The name of Peter Perfect’s car is the Turbo Terrific!, Not the “Vroom Roadster”, as it was incorrectly referred to on a set of collectible drinking cups that were available at 7-11 many years ago! Way to out that you’ve never actually seen the show, guys! Now that that’s out of the way, I’ve liked the Turbo Terrific’s design, even if it does kind of look like an erect penis. The guy’s name is “Perfect”, after all.

“Huh-huh-huh! He said ‘erect’! Huh-huh-huh! Yeah! Heh-heh-heh! Heh-heh-heh-heh!”

Sorry, but I’ve thought that for years. Anyway, my favorite wacky races car design goes to the Mean Machine, driven by Dick Dastardly and Muttley.

“Eat dust, buster!”

The Mean Machine is not only purple (my favorite color), but it sports that freakin’ cool shark fin on the top. I don’t know why Dick felt the need to always cheat to win when his car had a rocket exhaust!

This one isn’t from a cartoon, but I have to give honorable mention to The Aquabats’ transport, the Battle Tram.

The Battle Tram not only looks cool, but it’s sports multiple rooms and is much bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Any vehicle that borrows technology from the TARDIS from Doctor Who is OK in my book.

Owning or driving any of these cars would make one the envy of the neighborhood.

Un, no. Nobody wants to be you, Turbo Teen.

Time now, I think, for some music to burn rubber by:

Well, there’s nothing else for me to say, except get out there and RIDE!

“Putt-putt-putt! Walking is for (putt-putt-putt) losers!”

Bad Show, Jolly Bad Show!

Well, folks. It looks like we at Twinsanity have been dealt another blow.  The latest news is that at the San Diego Comic Con, the Aquabats revealed that The Hub has cancelled The Aquabats! Super Show!.

What do we think of this?

In my opinion, this news royally sucks, as The Aquabats Super Show was one of the few shows that we watched regularly on The Hub. The Aquabats was an acquired taste, I’ll give you that, but at the same time I have to question the logic of The Hub pushing the series so far back into the early afternoon hours of Saturdays. Anytime after 11:30 AM is generally considered to be a loser time slot for a SatAM show, as kids are usually forced to relinquish control of the TV sets to the adults in the house around 11:30 or noon. The Hub had The Aquabats! airing as late as 2 PM at one point. They push the channel back to a time slot when many kids have left the TV and gone outside to play because they want the early hours for 3 more airings of MLP and then they wonder why the show is getting low ratings. Did that come off as snarky? Well, maybe a little.
First Dan VS bites the dust, then Kaijuo: Rise of the Duel Masters is kaput, then Care Bears: Welcome to Care-A-Lot gets canceled and now this. It’s getting so that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Littlest Pet Shop and Transformers Rescue Bots are pretty much the only things airing on The Hub during the day now, while the channel’s night time hours are still being devoted solely to nostalgic sitcoms from the past. The Hub just doesn’t seem to care about airing any other type of programming. They honestly seem to believe that Kid President has what it takes to save the channel, despite the fact that last weekend, KP brought in less than 10,000 viewers. For those who don’t feel like doing the math, that’s not good.
I’ve always thought that moving Dan VS to Saturday afternoons was a bad idea. Dan VS was an Adult Swim-lite type of show that belonged on Prime Time. here should have been an entire block of this type of programming airing at night and shows such as Dan and The Aquabats could have headlined this block. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I still don’t understand why (aside from money, of course) why The Hub doesn’t have a weekend evening premiere block. The Hub needs a T.G.I.F. They need a SNICK. They need a Cartoon-Cartoon Fridays.
My chief concern is that the cancellations of The Aquabats Super Show! and Dan VS will lead the heads of the network to believe that shows about ponies, pets and transforming robots and nostalgic sitcoms are the only types of shows that can succeed on the channel, and so that’s all that the network will be giving it’s viewers from now on. I’m going to be brutally frank here; the only chance that I see of The Hub surviving another 4 years is if they learn to go outside of their comfort zone and start allowing some different types of programming (and no, I don’t mean TV MA rated adult humor or trashy reality TV), and they truly need to stop using Friendship is Magic and Littlest Pet Shop as a crutch to lean on. The more dependent that The Hub is on these shows, the weaker their schedule gets. Hasbro isn’t doing much to dissuade the belief that The Hub is basically the My Little Pony channel. In fact, they seem to be going out of their to promote this misconception. These shows are fine. I’m glad that they’re gaining attention and that the’re getting high ratings, but if The Hub is to succeed in today’s market, it can’t live solely on Ponies, Pets and nostalgia.
mrt

“I pity this channel! I don’t hate the channel, but i pity it!”

ADDENDUM: I was mistaken. The Aquabats Super Show! was not canceled due to low ratings. In fact, it was doing well with both kids and parents and it actually helped the band find a new audience and also helped the Aquabats celebrate it’s 20th anniversary as a band. Rather, the show was terminated due to the network’s downsizing and abandoning it’s kid-friendly schedule in favor of more cost effective programming. The future of the series is unknown as of this point. Christian Jacobs (the band’s leader and The MC Bat Commander) is optimistic for the show’s future, but it still sucks that we won’t be seeing the series again until ????.

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.”
Yeah.
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.