Friday, 26 August 2016

Kids' Shows for Grown-Ups: Screwed By The Network

For teens and adults who watch animated shows, children's television has become cable's equivalent to NBC. Or FOX, whatever your preference. Cable networks are so desperate to attract an audience that has all but shifted to online streaming sites, that any show with critical praise and viewer approval are shunned in favor of shows that bring in ratings; even if that high-rated show is a piece of crap.

Look no further than Nickelodeon's high-profile screwing of The Legend of Korra, and lesser-acknowledged screwing of Winx Club, which saw both shows move online late into their runs. You'd think they'd at least move to Korra to Nicktoons or the almost barren wasteland known as TeenNick (before they brought back the 90s), given the show's popularity with the older crowd. Of course not, because this is the same network that moved Winx Club to Nick Jr. of all places!

Meanwhile, Cartoon Network's flagship shows, Adventure Time and Regular Show, have almost no presence among the lineup aside from selling merchandise. The blame could be pinned on the current network head, Christina Miller, who just so happens to dislike both shows for their..."edginess" and find them too inappropriate for children. Her actions have shown that she favors Teen Titans Go, the infamous black comedy that has taken over the channel and pissed off numerous other fandoms (from comic books to Transformers) for screwing over their shows with its multiple episode blocks. That, and the show was terrible to begin with.

Even live-action shows aren't safe.

On Disney Channel, rumors are swirling that Girl Meets World is either being cancelled or its moving to Freeform. It's no surprise that Disney Channel would cancel GMW after its third season, because this was the most mature show the channel has had in a LONG time. So, of course they're gonna screw it over for more crap like Jessie, a show that lasted four seasons on high-ratings and critical-scorn. Disney XD did the same thing with Arron Stone.

The appeal behind these shows could be their fast-paced episodes for some, their light-hearted or mature nature for others, or their unbiased escapism compared to TV dramas and traditional sitcoms. On the flip side, it really is more about the show than the network that airs it, but given all the evidence, its not hard see why. If a show pleases a certain audience, but does almost nothing for the network as a whole, it's understandable if the network wants to back down.

But when a show is deliberately given piss-poor treatment by its parent network for reasons beyond just ratings, especially when that network's screwing is causing the low-ratings to begin with: that's unacceptable! It might not hurt the ratings, but it will guarantee that would be producers of the next big thing in children's entertainment will think twice before going to a cable network with their show. It might actually be for the better, given the prejudice these networks seem to have for decent youth television, the accessibility and flexibility of streaming sites, and the fact that anyone over the age of twenty REALLY shouldn't be watching Disney Channel these days.

Business is business, bullshit is bullshit.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Re: Corus not making radical changes to lineup yet in wake of Shaw acquisition
Don't get me wrong. People who say "if it ain't broke..." need to be bashed in the head with a shovel and buried alive; those idiotic cavemen. However, for Corus to tell the press (and savvy viewers) that they weren't making any major changes to Shaw Media's channels (yet) shows that they've also inherited the wisdom that made Shaw Media the most coherent portfolio of specialty channels I've ever seen.

Still, I lament that networks like Action and IFC, which are in need of a shake up, are still on the back burner, at least until Corus "figures out how to make channels that once competed now co-operate and complement each other."

Clearly, they were talking about the women lifestyle networks.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Analysis: FXX (Canada)

Ever since the NHL deal, Rogers has become a born again broadcaster. In recent years, they've shifted their broadcasting outlets towards a LONG underserved demographic of young adult men. This shift was punctuated with the demise of the female-skewing, in-name only, Biography Channel and the rise of Viceland.

The Canadian version of FXX, another network aimed at young adults, was created to continue this trend and keep in line with FX Networks in the U.S. FX and FXX have aired new original series at the same time, so it makes sense to launch another network to air the new stuff day-and-date with the U.S, rather than keep them all on the same network and deal with all the nonsense. However, whatever complaints viewers in the U.S had about FXX might be justified in the case of the Canadian channel.

The problem with FXX Canada is that it's barebones. Rogers lacks the stacked content libraries that Corus Entertainment and Bell Media have and because of this, at launch, the channel was siphoning off or outright recycling shows airing on FX Canada. Case and point: Murdoch Mysteries, a drama that used to air on Citytv. Since FXX is geared towards comedies, Murdoch sticks out like a sour thumb and is only there to fulfill Canadian content requirements.

Are you telling me they couldn't have at least picked up the rights to another Canadian show?  For instance, Republic of Doyle - a comedy-drama which would have been a perfect for FXX's comedic slant. What about all those animated comedies, like Odd Job Jack or Chilly Beach? They would have been a nice compensation to FXX's short-lived Animation Domination block. Instead, Rogers decided to recycle the handful of scripted series they already have, rather than pay money to acquire something different. Rogers is trying to avoid taking risks, but they come across as lazy instead.

FXX Canada does its intended job correctly, airing premieres at the same time as FXX in the U.S. As for reruns, The League is gone but It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia still has a strong presence on the channel. However, I feel FXX Canada doesn't fully utilize the rest of its acquired slate to its fullest.

Given Family Guy's popularity and the fact that FXX Canada has a lot more stretching room than Teletoon at Night or Adult Swim Canada, you'd think Rogers would capitalize by airing the show more frequently, just as FXX proper did with the Simpsons. Instead, it only airs once a day, twice on the weekends (repeats don't count). My hypothesis is that Rogers shares rights with Corus Entertainment, who program Teletoon at Night and Adult Swim, and have some sort of arrangement. However, as of writing, FXX is the only Canadian network that airs Family Guy, so you can't help but feel that things are about to change.

The Mindy Project and Bob's Burgers haven't been on as long as Family Guy has, so a daily strip is fine. But while Bob's Burgers also airs on Teletoon at Night, The Mindy Project only airs on FXX as a season encore on Tuesday Nights. Meanwhile, endless repeats of Seed and Package Deal, the other two recycled shows Rogers owns, completely takeover weekend nights. So, instead of the "premium, anti-formula" programming people subscribe to watch, does Rogers expect them to settle for low-rated Citytv burnoffs?

If the problem is that Rogers only has rights to the current season of The Mindy Project, and that they only air Bob's Burgers and Family Guy at a specific time, then they should work on their negotiation skills. These three shows are the only things keeping viewers from asking the inevitable question: "Why am I subscribed to this channel?" It would be beneficial for Rogers to hang on to these shows and make sure people know FXX is the only channel that airs them. If money is the issue, Rogers owns a dead weight of a network called G4 that needs to be put down. Cable bundles won't save it forever and, unless Rogers is willing to put in the work to revitalize the channel so it can make more money, it's not worth keeping around.

A channel like FXX Canada hasn't existed in years, so I'm pulling for it to stick around. Its current state is the best its been since its launch two years ago, I expect it to get better from here on out.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Teletoon and the Animation Age Ghetto

When Cartoon Network and Adult Swim's programming left Teletoon for its domestic counterpart, it felt like the rapture. Finally, fans of shows like Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Robot Chicken won't have to watch the same network that airs Rocket Monkeys and Fugget About It: juvenile shows for a juvenile audience. Instead, they can settle for a network that caters to "big kids" and ditch Teletoon altogether. Why shouldn't they?

Personally, I only watch Teletoon for Totally Spies reruns, Transformers, and maybe some Power Rangers. Other people might stick around for what little classic cartoons Teletoon still airs, anime like Yo-Kai Watch and Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V, Teletoon at Night, or the action shows and superhero movies that have displaced that block. Since Teletoon caters solely to kids, most of their shows make the idea of "grown men who watch cartoons" look more and more like a taboo with each new production.

From the beginning, Teletoon's original shows are designed for a specific audience and are not meant to have a lasting impression on its viewers. If 6teen has had that effect on you, it was unintentional. Shows you liked as a kid or teenager might not look as good when you watch them as adults, especially in the case of shows like Johnny Test and Total Drama.

Whatever the motivation before, Teletoon originals are now designed to pander to kids and be sold to other youth networks worldwide. Ratings don't really mean all that much to them, since the success of their shows mostly depend on how their treated internationally. If that was the goal, then Teletoon is hopefully doing better everywhere else than in the United States; what with Disney XD screwing over their shows and the shows on Cartoon Network being scapegoated as everything wrong with animation.

What I lament the most about Teletoon is that their focus on kids pushed aside Canadian-made adult animated shows in favor of Archer and shows from Adult Swim. Fugget About It got off easy, NONE of the other adult shows Teletoon created lasted more than 26 episodes. They were doomed to rerun hell, airing the same 13 or so episodes over and over again. When the American-produced shows briefly left Teletoon at Night in 2015, the audience left with them. There was nothing left for them to watch that was worth a damn, since none of Teletoon's shows could stack up to the likes of Rick and Morty and Family Guy. The very same can be said of Teletoon's daytime originals.

Teletoon's adult lineup has NEVER had as much variety as it does now, with encores of Knuckle Heads and Night Sweats being the most original, if not tolerable, Canadian programming seen on Teletoon at Night in a LONG time. If the people behind these shows at least put this much of an effort into kids cartoons, Dr. Dimensionpants would have turned out much better than it did, shows like Endangered Species would have been the standard, and shit like Rocket Monkeys would have never been made in the first place.

My point is, as Canada's designated animation brand, Teletoon's content should be better than it is now; it shouldn't be overshadowed by American fare. Canadian animation should be as diverse as the country its from, with shows for families and for adults. Cookie-cutting crap that panders to kids is only as good as the money it makes.

Of course, if you follow that logic, YTV is bankrupt.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Why We NEED a Film like Sausage Party

For better or worse, I'm glad something like Sausage Party exists. Not since the days of Heavy Metal have I seen profile theatrical animation for adults. We're not talking about the lack of "mature" storytelling, because there are plenty of those in the CGI-animated family films that plague theaters nowadays, but those films are lumped in with the factory-produced, cookie-cutter crap created to sell merchandise and shill famous actors. It's the polar opposite to television animation, with its many different styles and age appeal. Whether its Japanese anime or western animation, comedies or action shows, 2D or 3D, there's always something for everyone.

In Hollywood, 2D animation is extinct. Some jerk in a suit decided that EVERY film had to be computer animated, had to have a celebrity in the booth, and had to be a movie for kids. Two stop-motion films in particular that dared to be different, the adult film "To Hell and Back" & the partially CGI-animated family film "The Little Prince", were screwed over and banished to Netflix. I'm inclined to believe that the only reason Sausage Party survived was because it was, in fact, a CGI film with a celebrity voice cast and they didn't know what they were getting into until it was too late. If that were the reality, the fact that Seth Rogen's name was attached to this should have been a major red flag, and the big wigs ignored it because they were total idiots.

Regardless, I'm glad Sausage Party made it, because it seems the only to fight this "theatrical animation ghetto" is to fight fire with fire. Only then will we take the first step in bringing diversity back to theatrical animation. There's nothing wrong with how things are, but things used to be better.