Sunday, June 28, 2009

Do The Bartman

Written by the now-deceased Micheal Jackson, Do the Bartman ended up becoming one of the most popular songs in several countries. In fact, in became #1 in five countries in 1991. Hey, I needed something animated that had something to do with the dude.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cartoon Review: Total Drama Action

Total Drama Island was one of Cartoon Network's most popular series last year. It broke several records, with the finale getting the best ratings that the channel has gotten since 2002. It was due to this success that Cartoon Network picked up the second season (Total Drama Action), got total merchandising rights for the series in North America, and a third season is being produced. Some people are puzzled why a reality series spoof is doing so well, while others aren't so surprised...

Running Time: 22 minutes

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

Premiere: January 11, 2009 (Canada) and June 11, 2009 (United States)

Rating: C-

Total Drama has a simple concept: a bunch of teens competing in a reality show to win cash. It's a pretty simple idea that has been done and proven to work many times. But what makes Total Drama different from all the others, and why is it so popular? Is it the fact that its animated? The fact that it mocks the common conventions of reality shows? What ever is the secret behind the show's success, it extends to the second season (which premiered to the network's best ratings this year). The story behind TDA is that, after losing the chance for a million dollars, 14 contestants from the previous season are back to reclaim it. Leaving Camp Wawanakwa for an abandoned film set, the new season has the campers competing in challenges based on movie genres: from horror to science-fiction to crime. It took me over a month to actually find humor within TDI, so how good of a start did TDA have? Just like TDI: not the greatest beginning ever.

Total Drama Action is just another season of Total Drama Island, so if you don't know anything about these characters, then no worries: the writers happily break the the characters down to their core, and briefly explain the events of the last season to bring everyone up to speed. That's great if you missed the first season, and hope you can jump into the next one. But if you've already watched the TDI several times, and are such a fan that you are even getting the DVD, then it's just useless information that could have been replaced with more interesting stuff. Another critique was the length of the entire thing. After showing you around the set for 10 minutes, you only really get 8 minutes worth of the actual challenge (running away from a monster). I hoped that the season premiere would be an hour-long: more than enough time to add more substance to the plot than "teens-bricker-and-run-from-monster." While the first season's premiere went slowly, taking its time to show you all the numerous characters and their world, the Season Two premiere went by in a flash. When the episode ended, I was surprised a half-hour had already passed. At this point, there is nothing left to say: the only reason TDA has managed to get a C- from me is simple. The first season didn't really get me when it started, and then became pretty funny. I'm hoping the same time for Total Drama Action, because at this point, Cartoon Network's reality series "The Othersiders" is funnier...and it is not meant to be.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

PVoA: Cartoon Network Rant #1

I'm sorry to say that I don't know how to start this. Cartoon Network has been a very important part of my life. The channel introduced me to all kinds of animation: old and new. Sure, it has (and is currently doing) a few live-action projects, but it has never bothered me. That was because I never believed it would have a major impact on the animated side of the network. Heck, Rob Sorcher, the person that is currently the Chief Content Officer of Cartoon Network said that it will not effect the channel's animation output. And I believed that, since when the Stuart Synder regime came to the network, things were looking up. We saw the premiere of several successful animated series, the greenlight for a What A Cartoon!-esque short program (The Cartoonstitute), and the pickup of a new Genndy Tartakovsky series (Sym-Bionic Titan). They even canceled Out of Jimmy's Head. These people seemed to be genuine animation fans who knew what to do with the network and how to make it succeed.

But of course, things change. Someone at the network went ahead and decided that they should produce reality programming, and everybody went ahead with it. And on June 17th and June 20th, CN Real will premiere. Four reality shows, with two more coming by the end of the year. "Great!," is what I though at the time. I thought this would be a good thing to gain ratings for the channel and to finance the animated series. But then Cartoon Network started focusing all their energy into promoting them. Advertisements for new Batman: The Brave and the Bold and The Secret Saturdays are clumped together into a single ad for the entire block. Same for Chowder and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. But, being the optimist I am, I didn't really see this so much as a bad thing. Then, the creator of Chowder (C.H. Greenblatt) started getting worried (and later came to the conclusion) that his show will get cancelled. But I refused to believe this. But then Greenblatt said that Flapjack could also be in danger of cancellation, of which Thurop Van Orman has said nothing about. I refused to believe this either, since Flapjack didn't even premiere its second season yet, so the network had to see how it did in Season 2 before making the final decision. But then Jay Stephens (creator of TSS) came to Toon Zone with some troubling news: Cartoon Network Studios has closed its doors to comedy.

Yes, you read that right. Cartoon Network Studios, whose most popular animated series WERE comedies, have closed their doors to anymore animated comedy pitches and any comedy series in development (not production, so Adventure Time with Finn and Jake is safe). For the foreseeable future, Cartoon Network is now going to focus solely on action/adventure series. Sure, Jay has told us that the entertainment world changes all the time: that the doors for hilarity will likely be opened again in the future. That made my anger subdue, until I learned that Cartoonstitute was affected by this also. Of the planned 150 animated shorts to be made, only 14 were successfully completed. It was at the point when I realized that there was no real bright side to this other than 2 or 3 of these shorts becoming full-length series (if that's still happening). I completely and utterly hated what Cartoon Network has done. What the hell happened!!??

EDIT - Craig McCracken confirmed that only 39 shorts were to be made, which (in retrospect) makes more sense than 150 shorts. There is no way a studio could complete 150 shorts in 20 months without the help of several other studios. The only reason the project was canned was because of the horrible economy, so it was either the shorts program or something else.

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