Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cartoon Review - Three Delivery

Okay, in my last Cartoon Review, I said that I would rather watch a show Kappa Mikey or Three Delivery (which didn't yet premiere at the time) than the new Speed Racer cartoon, which was kinda bad. So today, after checking when it would next be one, I sat down and decided to watch "Three Delivery", Nicktoons Network's new original series. And I ended up watching the greatest NN series to date (but it isn't that big of a statement when you check out their original shows). It was entertaining, it kept me somewhat hooked to the end, and I see great things in the future for this show...namely two seasons and a TV movie. Now, let's get down to the review!

Creator(s): Larry Schwarz

Running Time: 22 minutes

Rating: B+

Premiere: June 27, 2008

Now, let's check out the plot. According to the show's official website, this show is about three teenagers who are trying to stop the evil Kong Li from using the powerful recipes of a magic cookbook to take over the world...okaaaaaaaaayyyyy. Actually, I thought I misread the synopsis when I saw at. I mean, a magic cookbook? They couldn't be serious: I would have believed magic stones, mystical objects, or some other monkey guano thing like that! But, then again, this company also made a series of shorts about dancing sushi trying to become famous...yeah, so this is standard Animation Collective, with all their Flash animation glory. Thankfully, the animation is a real step up from some of their original work, like the first few episodes of Kappa Mikey or Princess Natasha. They've steadily improved, I'm glad to see that. Now, the animation is great, but could be better. It would look much more fluid if done in traditional 2D animation. Anyway, the fight scenes are well done: a real step above Danny Phantom, but not at the level of other shows such as Justice League.

Okay, this show takes place in Chinatown. I can't say which Chinatown, since the creator most likely went to Chinatowns all over the United States and took bits and pieces of each one to create this one. But is this Chinatown part of a bigger city, or it's own town? I don't know, and I don't really care at this point. I can say that, if memory serves, the creator loved hanging around in Chinatown when he was a kid growing up in...whatever city. Anyway, this show is downright entertaining and kinda fun to watch. You can tell that the creator is very close to this project, and has done all he can to help it succeed. The action is pretty good for a Nickelodeon show, second only to Avatar: The Last Airbender. The art is nice to look at, but the color palette is a bit dark. But that is explained by the fact that many episodes will take place at night. Which makes a bunch of sense, since all the stuff these teens are doing must be kept secret from the public. Or is it? I really don't know, since I don't think they erased anyone's memory of the random earthquakes, or the scary dragon, and all that other stuff. The dialogue is pretty standard, but some lines and actions do get a chuckle out of me. The theme song is not the greatest in the world, but it is pretty enjoyable. But you won't get me to watch/listen to in several times in a row.

All in all, this is the standard American action show: It has the basic team of heroes who sometimes don't get along, it has martial arts, and it has an old person that can do martial arts. I'm giving this show a B+, it's pretty good, and it really put me in a good mood. But I'm hungry from listening to all their talk about recipes and cooking...I'm ordering some Chinese food.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

PVoA #1 - Time Warner's Animation Library (Vol. 1)

Welcome to my first ever PVoA, which is short for "Personal Views on Animation". Each week, I talk something in the animation industry that really catches my attention. This week, I'd like to address something every important about a huge conglomerate. A huge conglomerate with a huge animation library that is incredibly unused. It's animation library is the biggest in the world. It holds many pre-1986 MGM animation, Warner Bros. animation, Hanna-Barbera, and others. And if it just believed in synergy, then maybe at least 90% of it could be put to good use. What is this company? Well, it's none other than...
Time Warner, the world's second largest conglomerate, made up of AOL, Time Inc., Warner Bros., Turner Broadcasting, and a few other subsidiaries. Of course, it didn't gain its huge animation library until Turner merged with Time Warner back in 1996. Ever since then, Time Warner has had a huge library of animation, which features many classic cartoons that could be shown on Boomerang. Which brings me to my first topic...


Boomerang was originally a block that Cartoon Network had back when it didn't even need it. Cartoon Network was originally made for Ted Turner to show off his huge library of animation. So it basically showed a whole mountain of classic cartoons and Boomerang was a block on the channel during that era. The channel didn't need the block because many of the shows on that block aired elsewhere on the channel. Anyway, what you need to know is that Boomerang was spin-off from Cartoon Network into it's own channel on April 1st, 2000. And has been showing pretty much the same few shows for the past 2 or so years. It doesn't show Looney Tunes at all because Warner Bros. won't let them air the post-1948 shorts (Turner owns the pre-48 ones) unless Turner pays them a hefty sum of money. The channel has recently added a few Cartoon Cartoons and recent Warner Bros. shows (such as The Batman), which kinda defeated the purpose of the channel. Also, the schedule never changes. It's always the same shows at the same time, every single month, with the exception of some shows being taken off and others being put on for short periods of time. So it's pretty much like the channel is running on auto-pilot.

Now, a week or so ago, I made a three-point plan on how Time Warner could actually improve the channel, use a great deal of their animation library, and also make a great deal of money from it. I will explain it in detail below:

  1. Warner Bros. should buy around 35-45% of the Boomerang channel, making it co-own the channel with Turner Broadcasting. Now, Boomerang now has the full ability to air the entire Time Warner library and air the Looney Toons shorts, among other Warner Bros. properties.
  2. Turner Broadcasting decides to take full advantage of it's huge animation library, and divides up the week into different decades of animation to make it easier to program the schedule. Sundays could be the 30s and 40s, Mondays the 50s, Tuesdays the 60s, Wednesdays the 70s, Thursdays the 80s, Fridays could possibly be the 90s, and Saturday a mix of animation from all those eras.
  3. Warner Bros. and/or Turner Broadcasting decides to make some more "in-between" shorts and (maybe) one or two original programs. They also decide to relaunch the network and give it a huge makeover, with a new logo and bumpers. They also put on commercials, eventually allowing them to move the channel to basic cable, allowing a wider audience to see it. Ratings will get higher, and Time Warner will be able to make more money off the channel.

Okay, with the first part of the plan, I think it would be a good idea for Warner Bros. to own some percentage of the channel, with Turner Broadcasting still owning a good amount of it. After all, they created the channel, so they still should have major control. This way, Boomerang would be able to broadcast several Warner Bros. cartoons in addition to the post-48 Looney Tunes shorts. With Turner Broadcasting and Warner Bros. working together with the channel, the once-divided animation library will combine, and Time Warner would be able to make full use of it.

With the second part of the plan, they decide to divide up the schedule, deciding to air different decades of animation on different days. This should make it easier to program, since they won't have to struggle with trying to figure out which shows should stay and which should go, and won't have to leave out a bunch of programs. They can air all or most of their 60s animation on Tuesday, a good chuck of their 90s animation on Fridays, etc. I'll later post up an example schedule to show you how this can work exactly. But for now, I think you understand this part.

With the third, but possibly not final part, Boomerang gets a major redesign. Like the Cartoon Network relaunch of 2004, Boomerang will be relaunched with a new logo, brand new bumpers (it has been using those toy bumps since day one), new shorts to air in between programs, and maybe some original programming to air on Saturdays. However, this original programming will make up little of the channel if done. However, it would be preferred if they don't choose to add original programming, so they can still use "Classic Cartoons. 24/7." as a tagline or motto. But I just put it up there as a possibility. Anyway, then they must air commercials. Eventually, they could make enough money from these commercials and go from being a digital tier channel to a basic cable channel. More people will be able to see it and they will slowly (but surely) get fantastic ratings.

If they put this into action, Time Warner will finally use a good chuck of it's animation programming, and nothing would get wasted. Everyone will get to see a bunch of the old cartoons they once loved, Time Warner makes money, and everyone wins. And hey, who knows? Maybe Time Warner could try and get the rights to air shows from Cookie Jar Entertainment, Filmation, and DePatie-Freleng Enterprises if (and when) the channel gets successful enough...

NEXT WEEK: Time Warner's Animation Library (Vol. 2)*

*Also known as "Save Some For Cartoon Network Bub!"

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I Ain't Dead, I'm I Mummy?

Okay, so I've realized that I haven't been posting anything on this blog in a while. Well, at least anything of real importance. The only thing I've posted in a while was a somewhat badly animated music video that had a song that I liked. And someone posted a bunch of curse words in the comments for that video here...Anyway, I've been really busy with finishing up my school work. I still have one test left, then there's graduation, then the last day of school. Now let me show you what I would have done if I had the time:

Animation News: I would have just been copying and pasting news from Toon Zone over to here. Plain and simple. However, I'll be also adding comments on the news from Toon Zone I post, and be adding some news of my own. And that starts on Friday.

Reviews: I actually planned on doing a review of a new show that premiered on Toon Disney/Jetix a while ago, but I never actually got around to watching an episode. I plan on doing that review this weekend, along with a review of a new Nicktoons Network series that premieres on Friday. As for the Kung Fu Panda review...that may not be happening any time soon. I'm just going to try and do Wall*E. Face it, do you really think I would pick Dreamworks over Pixar? Get real.

Others: I don't feel like telling you guys, but I was going to talk about Flash animation, Time Warner's animation library (biggest in the world), and John K. Okay, that's it. TTFN (that "Ta-Ta For Now").

~ Racattack Force

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Simple Carnival - Really Really Weird

This was just just silly video I found on Youtube. I'm pretty sure that brought me was the music, that and the weirdly enjoyable animation. I could listen to this song and watch this video for hours! Anyway, I'll just to the Animation News for this some point.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Cartoon Review - Speed Racer: The Next Generation

Okay, for those of you who don't know, the original "Speed Racer" was a manga series created by Tatsuo Yoshida in 1967. It was titled "Mach GoGoGo" and about a year after the manga hit stores, an anime series was produced. The anime series was directed by Hiroshi Sasagawa and around 52 episodes were made. It soon came to America under the name "Speed Racer" (which became the main character's name), heavily edited and dubbed by American producer Peter Fernandez. The series is now famous for it's "fast" dialogue and "bad" dubbing, and at least two other series (other than this one I'm reviewing) and a number of video games followed. If you want to see for yourself, all 52 episodes of the original series is legally available on Hulu (to promote the live-action movie of course). But anyway, now that I've filled you in on the basics on the series, on with the review!
Name: Speed Racer: The Next Generation

Creator(s): Larry Schwarz (original series by Tatsuo Yoshida)

Running Time: 23 minutes

Rating: B-/C

Premiere: April 27, 2008

This show is actually pretty decent to say the least. The animation in the racing scenes are pretty superb, flawlessly switching between Flash and CGI animation. And it's simple to understand. Even if you have no actual knowledge of any of the previous series or manga. The backgrounds are kinda well-done, and the characters are well designed. Fans of the original series might not like this series (which is non-canon in the franchise's continuity), but I have seen quite a few that do enjoy this series. But, I'm going to have to say that the bad qualities of this show can overshadow the good ones.

"Nicktoons Network" is, of course, a spinoff network of "Nickelodeon"; Viacom's "brilliant" answer to channels like "Boomerang" (Time Warner) and "Toon Disney"/"Jetix" (Disney). And the channel's most successful series by far was "Kappa Mikey". So Animation Collective, the animation studio (residing in NYC) that made the show, was hired to make the new "Speed Racer" cartoon. So Larry Schwarz (the founder of the studio and creator of all of their series) rounded up a nice group of voice actors, that also includes Peter Fernandez, and set off to work on the 26 episodes that make up this little season. The show is produced in Adobe Flash, and is quite stiff, with limited animation. Somewhat like the first "Speed Racer" series, expect with brighter colors. So that gets a point from me...a very slight point. But, they just had to put the whole thing in a school and make the villian so lame. So very, very lame...I mean, what villian cares about ruining the social life of his targets? Why should he even care about their socail status, if he wants them out of the darn way? That loses a big point from me...a very big point. The animation in this show could be a bit smoother, and their attempts of comedy simply fails...every single time. It doesn't even sound like the voice actor of Speed Jr. (Kurt Csolak) is actually putting any emotion into the character.

It pains me to say that this series isn't really that good. It actually pales in comparision with the 1968 series, which I truly find much better. Give me some more "Kappa Mikey"! Premiere "Three Delivery" already! But this Animation Collective show doesn't do it for me. I'm not saying this series is horrible. If it was, I would have given it a D or F. This series is completely watchable, and I get some slight amusment out of watching it. But there are few redemmable qualities, and you would have to just watch it yourself to find them. I'm giving this series a C...a B- at the most. This is likely to be the show's first and last season though. Not for bad ratings, but for the fact that the movie it was supposed to promote completely bombed at the box office. For those interested, the 66 minute pilot is on DVD, and available on the Lionsgate website.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Cartoon Review - Total Drama Island

So, after the premiere of "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack" (which I previously reviewed), we got the United States premiere of "Total Drama Island". The reason why I said 'United States premiere' instead of just premiere is because this show is Canadian. And this series premiered in Canada a year ago on Teletoon. In fact, it's second season (titled "Total Drama Action") is going to premiere in Fall. Anyway, I was kinda surprised to see a show like this. First of all, it's...actually, let me talk about it in the review. Is that okay?

Running Time: 22 minutes

Network: Teletoon (Canada); Cartoon Network (United States)

Rating: C+

Premiere: July 8, 2007 (Canada); June 5, 2008 (United States)

Well, it's best for me to start with that little stereotype about Canadian cartoons. You know, the one about all cartoons from Canada totally sucking? Well, that stereotype is wrong...half of the time, anyway. And for this show, that stereotype may just be half right. Well, this show doesn't exactly suck, but it isn't a masterpiece either. Maybe my hopes where too high? After all, this premiered right after I finished laughed at the decently good comedy that is "Flapjack". Maybe I was expecting a huge parody of the entire reality series genre? Yes, this show is an animated reality series...a concept that is pretty weird to me. On a side note, this is the first cartoon to ever do such a thing. So anyway, something I hate about Canadian cartoons is that the series premiere of them is almost always a two-parter. With that "new" episode of "Johnny Test" airing right after TDI, there was obviously no hope for Cartoon Network to show the entire hour-long premiere on Thursday. It started like any reality series (animated or not) should start out: The host explaining the location, the show, the rules, etc. And then we meet the contestants. All 22 of them...but wait, aren't there 26 episodes in this season? Will we ever get real character development and some episodes where no characters are eliminated? It's pretty possible. Basically, all "Not So Happy Campers" (the name of the pilot of course) did was introduce us to all the characters and give us brief glances at their personalities. And you can automatically tell...they are all stereotypes. But I'm pretty sure that that was the intention. And you can't really get some real character development until at least half of these guys are eliminated.

So, one thing that amazes me about this series is how it owes up to it's PG rating. Besides a few censored words like "crap" (which I think was uttered only once), Cartoon Network kept a lot of things in. In this first episode, Cartoon Network (thankfully) kept in a homosexual gag that was done halfway into the episode. Now, I always knew that Cartoon Network's BS&P was more accepting than those of other kids' channels, but I never thought they would accept this. I personally think they kept it in because they knew this joke would go over the heads of younger kids, and only teenagers and adults would catch it. However, I've been told that this joke is tame in comparison with other things later in the season, so let's see how Cartoon Network. Anyway, so in case you didn't know, the creators of this show also created "6teen". You know, that animated series that got bounced around a lot on Nickelodeon's schedule and eventually got taken off the air due to poor ratings (if you bounce any show around a lot, it's bound for bad ratings). Anyway, Cartoon Network seems to be thanking care of this show. It gets advertised quite a bit (not as much as "Ben 10: Alien Force", "Flapjack", and "Chowder", but still a lot), so Cartoon Network really wants it to do well. I can't say that much about the production and ideas behind the show since the closest I've found for that is the official blog and a lot of the information there has been taken down to avoid spoilers for American viewers (thus leaving me with only two pictures bad, low resoultion pictures found off the Internet to show you guys).

Anyway, I gave this show a C+ because, despite being a comedy, it didn't make me laugh at all. "Chowder" makes me laugh. "Flapjack" makes me laugh. But this show just doesn't make me laugh. Maybe it will in the future, but I won't really let you know that until I do a follow-up review a bit later...anyway, see you tomorrow when I get down to reviewing "Speed Racer". The new cartoon, not the live-action movie....

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Cartoon Review - The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack

Now, when I first saw this cartoon, one thought came to mind: "This looks stupid." I mean, a few months ago, I generally thought the artwork was great, but I expected the writing to be horrible and unfunny. True, it takes a bit of something to make me laugh, but I still believed it would be horrible and be cancelled within 26 episodes (the amount of episodes a Cartoon Network series has to prove itself). However, once Cartoon Network started pumping out those Flapjack wedgies, my interest quickly went up. They continued to go up as I saw various sneak peeks and interviews with creator Thruop Van Orman on Cartoon Network Video. Finally, just two days ago, I sat down I watched the series premiere. And this is basically what I got from watching this whale of a tale...

Creator(s): Mark "Thurop" Van Orman

Running Time: 22 minutes (2x11 minute segments)

Rating: B+

Premiere: June 5, 2008

Okay, after seeing review after review, interview after interview, short after short, and sneak peek after sneak peek; I finally came to this show expecting something that wouldn't waste my time. And that's exactly what I got...from the second half at least. The second half that was supposed to air as episode "7B". That alone tells me that this show will get funnier as I continue to watch. The first half, which is the original pilot, left me a bit empty in comparison. It wasn't terrible...but it wasn't exactly good either. The reason for that is because there were some really good jokes that didn't use. Jokes that they didn't take real advantage of. The "juvenile delinquents" and "child labor" had many goods jokes just waiting to happen, but they only used so few of those. There were quite gems in the pilot, "Several Leagues Under the Sea". One of those is where the guy in the "picture box" that the bad guy 'invented" (all his inventions are run by kids) jumps out and declared that he's going to art school. That moment got a good chuckle out of me. But that episode wasn't weird enough. However, the second segment, "Eye Sea You", was pretty good. As I said a minute ago, this was supposed to air later in the season. The segment had several good facial expressions, well-timed jokes, and much more. But it still wasn't weird enough. Sure, the crazy dolphins wearing Captain K'nuckles clothes were pretty cool. So was Peppermint Larry's Candy Wife seeking revenge and the giggling "The End" sign at the end. But it could be weirder. But I feel that is just weird enough to be up in the ranks of "Cow & Chicken", "Billy & Mandy", and "Chowder" (if just barely).
The creator of the series, Matthew "Thruop" Van Orman, has his own ideas about comedy. He says, and I quote: "Comedy, or at least the kind of comedy I like, are the ones that make you feel a bit uncomfortable and then hit you with a great joke." And this is good, since that's the comedy I like also. Why do you think I gave "Chowder" an A- when I reviewed it all those months ago? Yeah, I love comedy animation even more than action animation. Anyway, one thing I didn't like about the series is that the title sequence is a weird upon first hearing. But believe me, it gets real enjoyable after repeated viewings.
Anyway, "Flapjack" appears to be inspired by an event that happened when the creator was a teenager. In fact, it was also inspired by his childhood. It's easy to see where he got the idea for this series when he lived next to an old sailor in Florida. When he was a teenager, and his family moved to "Salt Lake City", he didn't like it there. So after some convincing, he got to stay with his relatives back in Florida. From there, he had a thirst for adventure, so he went and decided to go to a deserted island off the coast. However, he got stranded on the way and had to stay in the water for the entire night until he got rescued. He ended up going home, feeling like a failure. But, through that experience (and people asking him what happened), his learned that people liked hearing about misadventures more than actual adventures. And there came the concept of "Flapjack". Flapjack, his friend Captain K'nuckles, and his whale mother Bubbie are supposed to represent the outcast weirdos of Stromalong. And the people of the harbor are supposed to be representing the hardships of "real life". However, if you ask me, then I'll say that the people are harbor are even more weird than Flapjack and Co. But that's just me.

Anyway, there is not much to say at this point. All I can say is that "Flapjack" is a pretty good comedy that might take a while to hit it's stride, like a whole bunch of other shows. But when it does hit it's stride, it will be wonderful to see. So, for now, "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack" gets a B-, for it still has yet to get it's sea legs. Ta-ta for now.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Animation Week #1

Okay, before I post the news, I have to apologize for the "Random Drawing Craze". I planned on posting two drawings today, to make up for not posting anything the past two days, but the scanner wasn't working. With some luck, I may be a able to post up a whole bunch of drawings next week Wednesday and Thursday. Anyway, here's all the animation-related news of the week, from last Friday to yesterday. Some of this stuff has already happened, but I'm posting it anyway. Also, I didn't post reviews, so if you want to see those, so here:

6/02/08 (Nothing on the 1st)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Time to Get Down to Business!

I rarely post on this blog, so I've been thinking of ways for me to try and made way more posts, then I figured it out! I have a few ideas on how exactly I can break at least 80 posts by the end of the year. So this is what you'll expect for the rest of the year (mind you, I won't really be doing this every week, just when possible).

Saturdays/Sundays/Mondays: Cartoon Reviews (movies, television shows, etc.) -- As you know, I usually wait until a series has aired at least two or three episodes, then I review it. But I'm going to start changing least with Cartoon Network. On Saturday,  you'll be getting a review of "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack" which has had many sneak peeks and a bunch of wedgies shown in the weeks before it even premiered! On Sunday, I'll be reviewing "Total Drama Island", which makes it's US premiere on Thursday on Cartoon Network. On Monday, I'll try to do that "Speed Racer: The Next Generation" that I promised for Lionsgate that I kept putting off.

Tuesday: Personal Views on Animation (PVoA) -- On Tuesday, I'll be making some posts, big and small, on what I think about certain things in Animation. This starts next week with me talking about Flash Animation.

Wednesday/Thursday: Random Drawing Craze -- Each week on Wednesday, I'll be posting a drawing that I see fit on this blog. Some will be recent, some from when I was much younger, etc. This starts tomorrow.

Friday: Animation Week -- I'll basically be posting news that I got from Toon Zone and other animation sites from over the week. This also starts this week.

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