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2012-02-12 01:40:37 UTC

by Theresa Romano | 12:30 pm, May 16th

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Have you noticed anything different about the programming on Cartoon
Network? How about the fact that there’s a dramatic decrease in actual
good, quality cartoons?

Before we get right down to the problem, I would like you to jump into
my time machine, back to 1994 when Cartoon Network Studios was born.
I’m not going to bore you with too many details, but what made Cartoon
Network so great was its original programming — overseen by the
president of the network, Jim Samples. The What-A-Cartoon! Show
premiered in 1995 and showcased a slew of new cartoon ideas, many of
which eventually got their own series including Dexter’s Laboratory,
Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, The Powerpuff Girls, Courage the
Cowardly Dog, and so on.

Some of the executives who were in charge of the programming came from
Nickelodeon, including the creator of Ren & Stimpy, John Kricfalusi.
With the success of What-A-Cartoon! Show came the memorable Cartoon
Cartoons, which was the collective name for all the original cartoon
series during the late ‘90s including Ed, Edd ‘n’ Eddy and I Am

Soon, Turner Broadcasting (which owned Cartoon Network) merged with
Time Warner. During this time there was a lot of spill-over from the
two companies; black and white Warner Bros. cartoons were now being
shown on Cartoon Network along with reruns from the Kids’ WB and new
shows including Justice League.

As the 2000s rolled in, Cartoon Network went through what I would like
to call an “identity crisis.” During the first few years of the new
millennium, most of the classic Cartoon Network programs were being
viewed on its sister network Boomerang. But, by 2006, most of the
cartoons including Dexter’s Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls were
coming back into thirty minute segments which were part of the show
called The Cartoon Cartoon Show.

All this came to an end, however, when Jim Samples — the man who was
part of Cartoon Network’s programming from the get-go — resigned on
February 7, 2007, a few days after the Boston bomb scare incident
involving Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force marketing campaign for
the series’ first film. If you don’t remember what happened, the
marketing campaign received negative attention from the police in
Boston, Massachusetts; LED placards of one of the series’ characters,
Mooninite Ignignokt shown flipping the bird, were sporadically placed
throughout major cities, including Boston. One placard that was
located at a station was seen by a passenger who in turn notified the
police. The bomb squad was called in since the LED placards resembled
what they though was an explosive device.

In short, Jim Samples felt responsible for the incident and
unfortunately stepped-down from his position. Ever since he left that
day, Cartoon Network has never been the same. Stuart Snyder succeeded
Samples and, with his new title and power, has been the reason why so
much quality programming, like The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy,
has been canceled. Under his reign of terror, reality show-inspired
cartoon shows from Canadian animation studios have emerged including
Total Drama Island and 6teen. Just this year, Cartoon Network has come
to resemble the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon more and more with its
own sports award show called the Hall of Game Awards, hosted by Tony
Hawk (excuse me, but wasn’t Tony Hawk more relevant a couple of years
back?). Not to mention that Cartoon Network, under Synder’s regime,
introduced a number of live-action shows including Destroy Build
Destroy (inappropriately and awkwardly hosted by Andrew W.K.), Dude,
What Would Happen? (kids acting out their hypothetical questions?
Cool?), and Tower Prep (a terrible rip-off of the X-Men’s Xavier

Along with some half-baked animated shows like The Problem Solverz (I
don’t even know how to go about explaining this one) and MAD (an ill-
conceived attempt at turning a good magazine into an animated mess
slandered with weak pop culture jokes), Cartoon Network is in dire
need of some original content. But, even when promising shows cross
Cartoon Network’s path, they eventually are swept away by

Among the newer shows that Cartoon Network produces, there have been
some gems including cult favorites: Chowder, The Marvelous
Misadventures of Flapjack, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and
the recently canceled Sym-Bionic Titan.

The number of good shows getting canceled has caused many fans to
fight back, with words, of course! Sym-Bionic Titan, which got axed in
early April, was created by veteran Cartoon Network animator/director
Genndy Tartakovsky — the man behind many Cartoon Network series
including Samurai Jack, which, wait, was canceled too! Sym-Bionic
Titan was Tartakovsky’s latest creation which followed the renegade
lives of Illana (an other-worldly princess), Lance (the soldier with
attitude) and Octus (the humanistic robot) who initially together form
the fighting Sym-Bionic Titan robot. The series was a great mix of
subtle humor and action and, according to Tartakovsky’s influences,
was something along the lines of Voltron meets a John Hughes flick.

The second season of Sym-Bionic Titan left fans wanting more. Facebook
fan pages, deviantART, petitions and Tumblr blogs soon exploded urging
fans to demand more Titan. You see, when a show on Cartoon Network
gets canceled, it just sort of disappears into oblivion. There are no
reasons given for why it was canceled, it just ceases to exist. Some
surmise that Cartoon Network takes in the number of actual television
viewers, without taking into consideration the number of viewers
watching episodes online via YouTube and Hulu. Another reason is that,
according to Tartakovsky himself, Cartoon Network canceled Sym-Bionic
Titan over the fact that the series didn’t produce a toy line.

The Facebook fan page “Help Sym-Bionic Titan Get Another Season” has
been booming with over 4,000+ active supporters since early April. I
was able to get in contact with two very passionate supporters Robert
Diaz and Julie Rozen. Robert, who speaks for most Sym-Bionic Titan
fans, feels that Cartoon Network only appeals to the younger
demographic, but once people of all ages start enjoying a show, it
gets canceled (similar to what happened to Samurai Jack). Robert said,
“The cancellation of Sym-Bionic Titan is yet another nail in Cartoon
Network’s coffin. Apparently the new people in charge have little
regard for quality or their viewer base and are desperate to appeal to
an audience outside the animated [cartoon] genre. This has failed on
other networks, producing pathetic ratings that do little to improve
the overall channel itself.”

Julie Rozen has organized the petition entitled “Make More Episodes of
Sym-Bionic Titan!” with almost 1,000 signatures to date. She urges
fans to not only help support the animated series but also its creator
Genndy Tartakovsky who over the years has provided Cartoon Network
with consistently smart, creative and innovative programming.

Some may feel that these lengths are a bit extreme and whiny, but, in
the past, shows that were once said to be no more, like Family Guy and
Futurama, have been resurrected by who else? Its fans. Cartoon Network
has to remember the original programming that made it great, and give
a new series a chance to resinate with its audience.

The few shows that have somehow managed to survive the cancellation
process have become fast favorites. Star Wars: The Clone Wars, The
Regular Show and the immensely popular Adventure Time may have what it
takes to become a long-running series. What these shows have,
especially The Regular Show and Adventure Time, is a nostalgic quality
and mature sense of humor that is reminiscent of the great Ren &
Stimpy. Just don’t tell Stuart Synder I told you this. He might cancel
them for being too creative.


Michael OConnor
2012-02-12 03:04:07 UTC
I've always wondered why Cartoon Network did not spin off Adult Swim
into its own network.
2012-02-13 14:48:45 UTC
Post by TMC
and MAD (an ill-
conceived attempt at turning a good magazine into an animated mess
slandered with weak pop culture jokes),
Heh, I actually kinda like the Mad show. And I don't know which
magazine the author remembers, but uh, it was kinda _always_ littered
with weak pop culture jokes. The show is basically just "Robot
Chicken" for kids, but it pulls off some decent jokes here and there.


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