Friday, 28 February 2014

The Comedy Network: Time (Not) Competely Wasted

Let's be blunt, Much is one of the prime reasons why The Comedy Network is in a slump right now. In getting rid of the teen dramas (which now air on MTV and, then fledgling, M3) and focusing on comedy programming, Much was able to cater to that oh-so-underserved young adult demographic that could use more action and less love triangles. However, most of said comedy programming came from the Comedy Network. They could have just taken Conan, Tosh.0, The Simpsons & South Park. Instead, they took everything except The Daily Show, Colbert Report, @midnight and Parks & Recreation.

Buoyed on Comedy Central programming, Comedy Network - like so many other Canadian networks that have sold their souls - barely focused on any original Canadian programming. Now that most of the acquired programming are gone, there's no doubt ratings are dwindling. I wouldn't be surprised if people started watching BiteTV from now on. After all, their offerings are much more relevant, they actually support the Canadian comedy scene...and they air It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia & Portlandia which is a nice bonus!

Thankfully, MuchComedy Networks (Officially, "Much MTV Comedy Networks") didn't completely leave Comedy hanging. They still air sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory, and, with all that free space, they've also been airing more movies and stand-up specials. Their Canadian offerings are a little flat (Thanks to BiteTV), but they still have an original show in Match Game and it's pretty much Just For Laughs central. Finally, Comedy has been acquiring shows from other sources and giving them the spotlight; something that would have never happened before the September revamp (between the popularity of CC's shows and lack of space on Comedy's schedule - they did say they were running out of room)

You know, after writing this blog entry, I finally see the full picture of MMCN's design. Much and Comedy Network focus on comedies, while MTV and M3 air drama and lifestyle programming. Much and MTV target younger viewers while Comedy and M3 target older audiences. Much and M3 air programming (loosly) related to music, while Comedy and MTV expand on their alternative programming. Genius! ...Though, the execution could have used some work; especially on M3's part.

Still, Comedy Network isn't out of the doghouse just yet, they've only now started to climb back out of their slump. What Bell Media needs to do, now more than ever, is to start investing in more original programming, and stop relying on americian shows to define themselves. That's the primary goal in reinvigorating The Comedy Network.
...Another goal would be making their current logo look more creative...

Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Return of Video Game TV Shows

Remember when Nickelodeon made that show based on the Tak series? ...Yeah, me niether. Can't blame you, before there were crappy video game movies, we had cheesy video game tv shows. Of course, the TV shows were MUCH better than the movies, despite the fact that the companies who made them were purposely creating cheesy cartoons and reskinning them with video game characters. If that were the case, SonicAM would have been lumped in with Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog as a bad childhood memory. ...Although, I did enjoy watching that show, and the Mario Bros. cartoon. Cheesy, yes, but they're a lot better than the Spongebob-knockoffs and Simpsons-ripoffs I'm seeing now.

Anyway, last year I heard that, of all games, Pac-Man was adapted into a new TV show on Disney XD. Out of curiosity, I checked out the pilot episodes. It looks like history has taught the shows creators well. I'm serious, this isn't like Sonic X or whatever crap you've seen before. Rather than create more re-skinned kid-pandering crap, these guys turned "Pacster" into a defined character with a personality and created a brand new universe for him to thrive in. If their was any flaw to the pilot, it's the shows "faithfulness" to the game. After all, how can you make a show out of a guy who can eat ghosts without turning it into a glorified commercial? That's what I intend to find out when I watch the rest of the series this weekend.

Back on topic, after Pac-Man, I saw Angry Birds, Rayman's Rabbids (having running their spinoff series into the ground), and even Ape Escape get TV shows as well. Oh, and let's not forget about Syfy's Defiance! Not a show based on a game, but a game tied in to a show! While I thought the first season was pretty weak, and the game not so appealing, I still see potential in this new venture. Capping off 2013 was the long antipated BlazBlue anime, Alter Memory. It sounds like a great surprise but then again, we all saw that one coming. It's Japan, EVERYTHING gets an anime adaption sooner or later.

Finally, we have Sonic Boom. The forth show based on Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Boom is both a new CGI series and spinoff video game designed to appeal to western fans; the same way Sonic X did for Japanese fans. This is just the exclamation point on the hedgehog's comeback following the success of Sonic Colours. That game brought a fresh, lighthearted atmosphere that the preceding games didn't have. Judging from it's trailer, that atmosphere was clearly carried over to the new TV show and it's a perfect match!

Are you getting giddy? Because I'm getting giddy. Video Game shows are making a comeback in a BIG way. Unlike the shows of the past, these new adaptions are imaginative, faithful and addictive. This is what all video game adaptions strive fore!
..Sorry about that.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Overlapping Programming & Recycled Shows

Here's something that ticks me off: a network having to use other network's programming to fill their schedules. Three networks broadcasting the same shows; that's so lazy! The primary offenders here are the Shaw Family Conglomerates: Shaw Media & Corus Entertainment. Out of the two, Shaw Media is the biggest offender. From World's Dumbest to Border Security to Disaster DIY to Money Moron, nearly every Shaw Media lifestyle channel feels exactly the same but with a different name. Twist TV easily has the worst of it, it is nothing more than a reality TV dumping ground.

My biggest gripe would have been DTour, a revamp of what used to be TVtropolis before that network started to rot. Before the revamp, TVtropolis was littered with reality and lifestyle shows. After the revamp DTour...spent the holidays airing 007 movies. Let's face it, DTour isn't worth it. I might just let them get away with it on account of the fact that they've played everything from game shows to sitcoms to reality shows. They won't last.

Corus' is a little better. It helps that they only have 3 lifestyle networks, each of them focusing on different topics and genres. For CosmoTV, it's lifestyle programming; for W Network, it's entertainment; for OWN, it's health. At first glance, this trend seems to be limited only to their family networks - YTV & ABC Spark - and only shows that get recycled are AFV, JFL Gags, and Wipeout Canada. But, on close inspection, CMT is the biggest offender here. Their non-music programming is so inconsistent that they have to resort recycling shows from the other networks. Thankfully, they do produce their own programming and they also have a slate of shows that do feel more at home...even Fear Factor.

Maybe it's due to networks like BBC Kids and BiteTV stealing away shows that haven't been seen in years (Being Ian, Mona the Vampire, etc) that this trend is so prominent nowadays. Maybe it's because conglomerates have spread themselves too thin that they've run out of shows to air (I'm looking at you, Nickelodeon). Or maybe, and this is my personal favorite, Canadian networks have spent too much time and money on americian shows that they didn't bother investing in their own programming to fill graveyard slots. Whatever the case, recycled shows are a serious problem that need to be solved as soon as possible.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Evaluating M3 [M3 Television]

I applauded Bell Media's decision to refresh MuchMore since that network was a mess. If there was ever a Canadian poster boy for how bad canadian music networks have become, it's gotta be MuchMore. On first glance, it's supposed to be the older version of Much for adult music fans. Then came the teen dramas; it was bad enough they ruined Much, now they gotta take over this network? Oh, but don't forget the reality shows. It started out with VH1 fare, which at least fit with the theme. But then came Mama Drama, Beverly Hills Pawn and apparently Shipping Wars. ...What. The. Fox?

With the rebrand to M3, I was hoping that they would target a more focused demographic. Marketed as a superstation, I was expecting for M3 to incorporate it's music coverage alongslide a fresh slate of relevant programming. For a while it did just that but now, I'm not so sure. Right now, it looks like Bell Media turned MuchMore from a crappy music network, to a cable version of CTV...and it's not off to a good start.

On the music front, M3 is practically playing from the same playlist as Much. At one point, I actually saw Much and M3 play the same video (Happy, Pharrell Williams) at the same time! The M3 Countdown doesn't look good either, it's literally the same videos that are on the Much Countdown. Maybe the actual show, which apparently was revamped, isn't just clone of Much's but I wouldn't know. I hate to admit it but, when it comes to music, MuchMore was...a little better. *gags* At least we still have AUX.

Then you have the actual shows. We now have a slate of teen dramas, mixed in with a handful of sitcoms and reality shows. Great start, but now M3 is resorting to recycling shows from Bell Media's other networks to fill air time. Did we REALLY need to add The Mentalist and Parks and Recreation to the lineup when they already air on Bravo and Comedy? Let's not forget the "leftovers" from MuchMore; Supernatural needs to go back to Space where it belongs, and Gilmore Girls can rot on MTV2 for all I care.

Normally, there would be ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong with just using music videos to fill airtime. But if The Mentalist, Parks, Supernatural, and Gilmore bail, M3 will playing an extra four hours of pop music! No classic rock, no adult-contemporary, and no retro hits. Just the same crap you've already heard on the radio. The only time when you'll ever hear different music is during special events. The goal is to "meet the needs of it's audience", but I sense M3 has a severe lack of focus.

Being the only smart person on the internet, I gave the "MuchComedy" networks (Still think Much MTV Comedy Networks is a stupid name) the benefit of the doubt while everyone else ragged on Bell Media. Still, I can't ignore the trouble and controversy their restructuring caused, especially after the Astral Media purchase. I still think M3 has potential, but I also still believe MTV2 should have also rebranded and taken the teen dramas...and the pop music.

As long as Much doesn't go back to that dark age, M3 can start showing professional wrestling for all I care. But they killed one of the only music networks for adults, now they have a responsibility to provide a better service for it's customers. If Bell Media screws up, there will be consequences.

Simplistically Stupid.

Nickelodeon's current logo was the first warning. Bell Media's rebranding spree was the second warning. Congrats, Sundance Channel, you just proved that these "simplistic" logos are going to be a problem. Seriously, it looks like they ripped off the logo of Cosmopolitan TV. I don't mind the name change, but was there anything wrong with just getting rid of the box? Forgive me if I sound like a fanboy or snob, but really, I haven't seen worst logos than this.

Just for a second, let's compare Comedy Central's new logo with that of The Comedy Network's current logo. Comedy Central's logo symbolizes the brand's signature comedic style; Comedy Network's logo is just a plain wordmark. Speaking of wordmarks, and in contrast to Comedy, Bravo's logo represents it's own identity from it's former US counterpart; It's smooth, bold, and expressive.

But my point is, if you want to make a logo that looks nice in advertising, that's fine. But you can at least be creative about it.