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August 31, 2015

More live-action programs on Cartoon Network?

by Adam Finley, posted Apr 22nd 2006 1:05PM

saved by the bellEver since Adult Swim decided to air reruns of Saved by the Bell, albeit only for a couple weeks, it's been a battle between fans who loathe the idea and a network that continues to taunt them. A couple days ago the network announced on the site that it  had managed to do for Saved by the Bell what it had done for Family Guy, and that the series was going back into production with the original cast. This dubious announcement was just one example of the network having fun with what turned out to be an unpopular decision.

But there may be more to it than that. The guys over at Cartoon Brew, who have worked in the animation industry and know people on the inside, have been following what could possibly be a major change in the way Cartoon Network approaches its programming. First, there was this piece in Variety earlier this month which stated the network was opening its doors to ideas for live-action series, and even had one series close to a development deal. Then, a couple days ago Amid at Cartoon Brew posted some e-mails he had received from people close to Cartoon Network. The first e-mail, from a former employee of the network who claims to still be in touch with artists and executives, stated that the decision may be a financial one: "When everyone seems to be completely flummoxed at these changes at the network, I feel compelled to impart what I am quite sure is the real inspiration behind this programming boondoggle: Cartoon Network is simply not bringing in any real money at their channel. There is no merchandise on the market for their shows, there are no fast food toy promos, and there is not any national advertising."

This was followed by an e-mail from an artist who still works at Cartoon Network, who wrote that the decision is based on the network's desire to compete with the likes of Nickelodeon and Disney, networks whose live-action shows often pummel Cartoon Network in the ratings. Check out the post here for more details.

The purist in me would like to see Cartoon Network remain just that, a network of CARTOONS. Hypothetically, however, what if Adult Swim began to produce live-action shows that were just as weird, irreverent, trippy, and hysterical as their animated product? When I spoke to Adam de la Pena of Minoriteam, one of the things we talked about (which didn't make it into the final interview) was that Adult Swim has become one of the last remaining places where a person could create something unique and not have it pulled from the airwaves if it didn't find an audience right away (Aqua Teen Hunger Force being just one example). Its decision to air Saved by the Bell notwithstanding, Adult Swim's "let's try a lot of different styles" approach has actually been a good thing, as it exposes the audience to different ideas. I guess my question is: are we upset by the idea of live-action on Cartoon Network/Adult Swim in general, or just reruns of crappy Saturday morning sitcoms? At the risk of arguing over semantics, the late night block of cartoons is called "Adult Swim," not "Animated Adult Swim." My point is, if they did decide to start having original live-action programs that are on par with their best animated offerings, providing us with a small oasis of truly original programming on the television landscape, would that be such a horrible thing? I'm still pondering that one myself, but what do you guys think?

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You know what? I really don't have a problem with live-action programming showing up in [adult swim]. Hell, live-action did show up on the popular CN program block when you think about it. Shows like "Space Ghost Coast To Coast", "Harvey Birdman", even some "Family Guy" episodes incorporated some kind of live-action segments in their respected shows. The most recent exmaple of this is "Tom Goes To The Mayor" and that show is witty. As the person who wrote this article mentioned, it's not "Animated [adult swim]". Sure, the program block is on Cartoon Network, but it is getting popular and popular each week and month that passes by and unfortunately animated shows will probably see a decline in bringing in the target demographic. To me [adult swim] is about providing creativity that you won't find nowhere else on a network. Heck, most of the shows that are aired on [adult swim] probably would have never see the day of light on other networks. Live action programming will be accepted as long as it brings what [adult swim] has stood for: weird, irreverent, trippy, and hysterical. "Saved By The Bell" is an example because when you see it on this program block it represented all the above especially to the target demographic who have probably seen the series when it was in syndication years ago. I wouldn't be surprised if executives happen to bring another live action series for a limited time run (one can hope "Arrested Development"). The point is that where creators find [adult swim] accepting to all types of ideas, why shouldn't the fans welcome the same?

April 30 2006 at 5:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jason Anderson

I still say it's one of their jokes.

It's a belated drawn out April Fools joke. Remember, these are the people who showed "Happy Holidays" commercials in June last year.

April 29 2006 at 7:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Wesley McGee

I have little problems with live action being on Adult Swim, as that is a separate network in my mind. I have a problem with there being live action on the broadcasting spectrum that oontinues to call itself "Cartoon Network". Honestly, I believe the problems plaguing CN is not because people find "High School Musical" or "6Teen" more entertaining, but that they manage to screw up the scheduling and programming of their own network. How can they honestly expect to draw an audience to any of its shows if no one can be sure when they'll air on the schedule, or you only get one or two new episodes at a time before the show goes on hiatus for half a year. I could be describing "Justice League Unlimited". I could be describing "Ed Edd 'n Eddy". There's about two or three shows that don't get treated like this, while every other show that may have any sort of fandom or audience is handled in such a way as though CN is actively trying to disuade such people from watching. And that doesn't get into the fallacy they have convinced themselves into believing -- that they can only compete for Nickelodeon's tween audience. As Adult Swim began to attract the twenty-somethings, the rest of CN actively pushed those people away, to focus laser-like on children. CN needs to remember cartoons aren't just for kids 11 and under. I should rant about this in my "blargh", it's been a little neglected.

April 25 2006 at 7:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tony C

The beginning of the end started when Cartoon Network started showing live action movies as two-three hour filler material. NEWS FLASH! THEY'RE NOT CARTOONS!

I *DO NOT* like "Saved by the Bell" on Adult Swim, it's a waste of my television entertainment time. I just switch over to Boomerang to watch Batman TAS or something else for that half hour period. I'd wager that the bulk of Adult Swim viewers does the same. If they add any more programming I don't care for, I will tune away as well.

April 25 2006 at 4:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I do have problems with live-action on Adult Swim since it was originally part of Cartoon Network. Just because they broke it away doesn't mean it can do whatever it wants. If this is what being a separate network means, I want AS back with CN.

April 24 2006 at 12:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


April 23 2006 at 10:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I keep waiting for Adult Swim to become its own channel

April 22 2006 at 11:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've got no problems with live action on 'AS' so long as it runs in the same vein as 'AS' - odd, different, funny, and original. Was I happy 'SBTB' was added to the line-up for a little while? Nope. I got my fill of that show ages ago when TBS (another 'Turner' station) ran blocks of that show in the afternoons.

However, if CN is having issues bringing cash in, wouldn't it be hard for them to develop original live action content? And other than DVD sets of 'SBTB' (god help us all if they release the Jr. High years of that show, ugh) what's the merchandise to market? Other than 'CN'-branded DVD sets that is...

Hopefully 'CN' won't try to air all the goofy live action shows that 'Turner Broadcasting' has stashed away in their library. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

April 22 2006 at 3:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm with Lance- if their live-action selection can include AD, then I'm all for it..well, to be fair, I already own and have watched the first two seasons about 7 times each and will do the same with the third when it comes out, but just the same, it needs to be on tv SOMEWHERE. Otherwise, it doesn't make a great lot of difference to me, because I rarely watch Adult Swim anyway.

April 22 2006 at 3:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lance Brown

If it means they could pick up Arrested Development, then I'm all for it.

But seriously, ...actually, that was serious. If they want to go live-action, they should pick up Arrested Development. And I will kiss their toes, and stuff anyone who objects into the ATHF Meltorium.

April 22 2006 at 2:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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