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Friday, 31 October 2014

Comment: Marvel's Attempt At Killing/Sabotaging The X-Men, Not X-Cellent


Comic book superheroes attract 2 different sets of fans: the first being general movie-goers, who don't seem to care if they are made by Marvel or another studio, nor care much about the back story. And secondly, comic book and superhero fans, who care for those franchises and characters & for the comics and movie versions of those comics. In addition to what goes on in the comic book world at DC Comics, Marvel and other publishers. 

Back in the days before Marvel comics were big and hugely successful as a entertainment conglomerate, they were on the verge of going bankrupt.

To prevent this from happening, they struck deals with Fox Studios and Sony Entertainment to make Spider-man, X-men feature- length movies. 

In order to maintain those rights and to keep the money rolling in, Sony and Fox need to and could only use the characters they were licensed to use. They could not use Marvel's other characters, because it is beyond their control to do so. This could explain why X-Men fans never saw Gambit and Jubilee in the main X-Men team on-screen (yet). 

But when the Marvel entertainment-verse expanded to movies, we got the Avengers, Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man and Captain America. X-Men with Fantastic Four was and has ever since been Fox's properties since the late 1990s. 

Of course, if the ball was in Marvel's court, they would ideally want to seize full control of the rights, and this could only happen if Marvel's superhero properties flop badly and fail to generate box office success. 

This cynicism, is further heightened with anonymous -yet shady practices of creators being told not to create any new X-Men characters for its comics. 

Like many X-Men fans, I do feel as though Marvel are short-changing us by using the X-Men as a cash cow and trying to keep the brand alive through its comics line, but this time, making them not as relevant as before. 

Because the comics are not as widely read as they have been for a long time, nor have the sales been great, I reckon therefore Marvel are using it as an excuse to promote the X-Men less through other business ventures. Just because they don't have the movie rights to X-Men. 

And the announcement of the Inhumans movie, was in my opinion an attempt by Marvel to say we have a new version of the X-Men, and that we don't care for this series as much as we used to. 

What Marvel are doing at the moment, is considered disrespectful to so many X-Men fans on many levels. 

Besides, that company must be pretty stupid, if they believe X-Men fans are oblivious to what has been going on this year and in the past couple of years. Many of them are angry over the way the X-Men has been mistreated and tossed aside, in favour of The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. Not to mention the rubbish story-lines existing in the X-Men comics recently. 

Marvel took a gamble on Guardians of the Galaxy; after that it became a box office success and now they are taking full advantage of its success, and through Inhumans, it is expected to do the same thing. But I can't really see lightning strike twice. I'm on the fence as to how well the movie will turn out, but I am also unsure about this group's 'replacement' for the X-Men. 

As for the movies, I'm not saying the X-Men movies are terrible: I really enjoyed X-Men: The Last Stand and Days of Future Past. 

If X-Men was made by Marvel studios, yes we would get some light-hearted scenarios, but the casting and characters would be almost faithful to and reflective of the comics and the timeline for which the comic canon is based on the movie. If however, X-Men continues to be in Fox's hands, the storytelling would remain deeper, darker and the underlining themes that were evident in the animated cartoon of 1992 (which was also made by Fox) would still be there. And this especially, is what separates the X-Men from many other comic book franchises. The themes, subject matters about the mistreatment of mutants by mankind and inequality, is reminiscent to that of racism, human rights and stuff like that. 

It is what drew and attracted fans to the series, as well as the varied characters. 

Having said that, Marvel can still make an X-Men movie as dark and serious in tone as Fox does, but less dark and as I said earlier, it would have more familiar X-Men mutants. The team would be more diverse and with 3 or 4 new faces thrown in. 

It is difficult for fans to put their finger on whether Marvel's (mis)treatment of the X-Men (franchise) in the past couple of years through the comics reverberates towards their failure to acknowledge the success of those movies. Conspiracy theory is far-fetched, yes. 

This is more of a comics issue, as opposed to a movie one; the Hollywood movie industry operates completely differently and separately to the comic books industry.

Examples included: 1) When Marvel decided in 2005 to throw in a story-line where the Scarlet Witch (of the Avengers) altered reality and taking away the mutants powers that resulted in the death of many mutants. 2) When in the Avengers x X-Men crossover, 5 of the X-Men members were turned into villains & the Avengers destroyed the X-Men. 

X-Men characters have turned heel before, such as Cyclops and when he murdered Professor Xavier. But this idea of making Storm, Wolverine etc as bad guys, angered X-Men fans and rightly so. It was a ridiculous idea pitting these two groups against each other and blatantly so, in order to rub salt into the fans wounds. X-Men fans in particular. 

In all, this all sounds rather fishy. Perhaps the X-Men aren't in the same league any more. What with The Avengers & Guardians of the Galaxy earning the plaudits from its fans and comic book movie fans and the X-Men's successors, the Inhumans coming up on the scene via a up and coming live- action movie. 

The irony of this whole situation is, that the X-Men are a band of mutant superheroes who just want to be treated with the utmost respect - yet Marvel, the very company who created those characters and this universe, in the last few years have shown and paid little respect to those characters and to its fanbase. 

For Marvel, the X-Men is the b*stard stepchild of their superhero line-up. 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Talk Is Cheap Turner Broadcasting: Why I Am Suspicious About The Rebranding of The Boomerang Channel

''the people that program Boomerang have been asleep on the job for over a year. The line-up just sits there for months on end without any change. the channel which used to showcase the wonderful series from Hanna Barbera has become a dumping ground for newer Cartoon Network series - series that certainly aren't old enough to fall into the whole boomerang mindset of vintage programming. It's my hope that the rebranding will bring back these evergreen properties that I used to watch as a kid but I am not holding my breath. I will probably downgrade my satellite feed and get rid of this channel if the rebrand doesn't add more of these series. Other than Scooby Doo, The Flintstones and Tom and Jerry, they haven't run anything that has me watching anymore.''
- hanna barberian

''It sounds to me that Turner does not know what to do with both Cartoon Network and Boomerang. They're trying to pick at straws, and try to find home runs at every swing. Cartoon Network has lost its identity long time ago, and no one has dared to bring the original Cartoon Network back, or respect its roots. To have Boomerang revamped and not fully be the channel people came to respect and enjoy (even more than CN right now), you might as well call animation networking dead on cable. Seriously. *drops mic*''

- Tres Swygert

Good god, why can't Turner ever get it right?

Turner broadcasting announced that Cable network Boomerang is being rebranded as an all-animation kids and family network beginning next year. 

The statement says:
The re-launch of Boomerang as a second flagship channel is a testament to its global appeal. We are extremely proud to see this channel move into its next carnation - with a look and feel that conveys its quality and contemporary position. This represents a further step in our strategy to build on the success of our international kids network - Gerhard Zeiler, president of Turner Broadcasting System International.

In other words, it is going to be Cartoon Network #2. And yet why have a clone of Cartoon Network, especially if it is going to be showing the same cartoons the former channel will have anyway? 

Turner did say though that Boomerang will have Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, The Powerpuff Girls and Scooby Doo - which was expected from many of us. As well as other Warner Bros, Hanna Barbera, Cartoon Network and MGM Studios animated cartoons. By this it should include Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Top Cat, Yogi Bear, Flintstones, The Jetsons but I am hopeful -yet not keeping my hopes too high for the likes of SWAT Kats, Pirates of Dark Water, Johnny Bravo, Animaniacs, Freak-a-zoid and Tiny Toons, Thundercats, Alvin and the Chipmunks to be included too. 

Turner wants Boomerang to be as big as a brand as CN, but I don't see that happening, and most certainly not through this makeover. 

Someone at Dreamworks Classics who own PBJ needs to obtain Turner's or Boomerang or CN's monopoly, so they can access their back catalogue of shows they haven't touched since Boomerang first broke out as a separate channel. If Boomerang won't air those shows, then other animated -based TV networks should come in and apply for and have them. 

WB aka Warner Bros now owns the licensing rights to the Hanna Barbera classic shows, since Hanna Barbera folded as a company, so seeing as they have these properties, if they are not going to air Yogi Bear, Jonny Quest, The Flintstones, Top Cat Jetsons etc, other classic animated based networks such as PBJ ought to do so. 

Back in the late 90s, the original Cartoon Network (CN) was the home to Hanna Barbera and MGM shorts such as Tom and Jerry and Droopy. Then came along Boomerang which had its own slot on CN. Cartoon Network would air current kids shows, whilst Boomerang would offer more 'old school' cartoons. The Boomerang channel's age bracket was baby boomers and people aged in their late 20s upwards. Then it became a fully fledged standalone channel in 2000.

This isn't the first time Turner broadcasting have revamped a channel - TNT used to be the home for classic movies from the early 1940s - late 1970s/early 1980s, as well as wrestling, up until it exclusively catered towards drama shows such as ER, Smallville and Law and Order to name.

Unfortunately, this relaunch doesn't give me much faith that Boomerang will become a better channel. Boomerang, as far as I see it, has jumped the shark once more. It was once home to classic cartoons, but now it seems some of the places to see them, are YouTube and Teletoon Retro. For the latter you need to be based in Canada.

It's like Turner can't seem to find fault with what they are doing, that this continuous pattern of rolling out recent shows alongside past shows, they think this is what the Boomerang channel is all about. It is not. Some people will see this decision for Turner to do this as a good thing, but in truth they are taking 2 steps backwards. 

From what I understand, advertisers today are more attracted to current cartoons and shows airing to help bring more consumers and persuade them to buy their products, access their services. They do not see retro and classic TV programming as being lucrative enough to satisfy and meet those requirements. Face it, retro TV shows are retro for one reason - they are not produced in today's market and they are dated. And yet to me, this sounds stupid.

If an old programme airs, following by commercials for products that currently appear in stores and online, so be it. Who cares about the logistics of it all? Why should this determine how a network should be run and the types of shows that appear on it?

But hey, it's all about making money these days, right? 

The Boomerang channel will always be perceived by me as a channel for classic children's cartoons. That is how I see it, and hence, no amount of changes by Turner will ever change that. It is a shame therefore they chose to believe otherwise. 

I completely disagree with people who say there is no need for retro cartoons on current television, because in their eyes not enough people care for it. There are a lot of older folks who long for a channel that will air animated shows from the 1940s - 2000s. 

Kids today already have Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel to watch current cartoons. Yet for people like myself who need our fix for older cartoons on major cartoon channels, we don't have much in way of choice. Boomerang continues to be messed around and with it; its initial intentions of the station has been lost. 

Why is it okay to have a channel dedicated to current programming to a 'niche' market such as cartoons, but only if it is aimed at one target age group? Cartoons aren't just for kids, and not all adults are into Family Guy, The Simpsons. Fans of older cartoons young and old deserve a station, not just on cable but on other satellite platforms. 

Also, there is no need to show Scooby Doo, Tom and Jerry & Garfield more than 2 times a day, every week- which Boomerang is doing; to me, not only is that excessive, it is rather tiresome and demonstrates that in spite of having a massive library of other cartoons, that they haven't aired for years, Turner Broadcasting likes to keep repeating things and of whom are not willing to change it and add other shows to the schedule. 

It is why less people watched Boomerang over the last 10 years or so & is why this channel has been failing so much; it has been failing because since the launch as a separate channel, these repeated mistakes and decisions made by this company, just fly in the face of what it used to be, which is as a classic cartoon channel.  

Cable and satellite television's proposals promised so much in the last 20 years or so with regards to Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and Boomerang, but during the last 10 years those same promises have since been broken by network executives, who have no clue whatsoever what viewers - who know what to demand- want out of it. Yet many do. 

The rot began at CN round about 10 or 15 years, and unfortunately, after that it made its way to Boomerang. Turner have had numerous chances and opportunities to rectify the problems that fans have been airing their grievances with. Yet they chose to sit back and do nothing. 

How many more chances are Boomerang and Turner Broadcasting going to get, before they start delivering the goods and live up to their expectations? 

Until then, I expect to stick with Youtube for my Retro cartoon fix. 

Here are TV stations that offer classic cartoons

Retro TV
Tooncast  - site is available in Portugese and Spanish

Felix talks about Boomerang by MarcosLucky96 on deviantART

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The Death of Classic Saturday Mo(u)rning Cartoons On Mainstream Channels Lives On On YouTube

I am a sucker for tradition - well, anything from the 80s and 90s in the world of pop culture and entertainment. From music, television shows, movies, video games to sitcoms and Saturday morning children's cartoons, those times were arguably the best years for it whilst growing up as a child and teenager. That's for me personally speaking. 

But as times change, so does the entertainment and TV industry. The recent news I read online though made me disappointed, but at the same time it made me reminisce about the good ol' times. 

Last month spelled the end of an era for the Saturday morning cartoon, with the CW network airing the last batch of episodes of Vortexx on September 27 2014 in the US. The CW was also the last and sole mainstream US network to televise these cartoons. 

During the 80s-early 00s in Britain, we had a kids programming block then titled 'Childrens BBC' by BBC and Children's ITV (now called CITV) on rival channel ITV. Both aired cartoons from the UK, US and some from abroad in English, in addition to teen dramas and factual shows.

Today, both the UK and US television stations have virtually no animated kids cartoons to speak of on national TV. By this we mean stations such as BBC, ITV, Channel 4, NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS and CW. It wasn't until late 2012 that BBC1 stopped showing kids shows including cartoons for good, with ITV1 following suit afterwards. Alas, It is hard and sad to comprehend that it has been over 30 years ago that animated cartoons became a staple in mainstream television. 

And that now, they hardly exist anymore. 

The television landscape is so much different now to what was before, and yet most of it isn't for the better. Sure we have the technology, more options, more ways to watch our favourite programmes. But other than that, it just doesn't feel the same, anymore. It is so fragmented with genres such as cartoons and sitcoms ditched in favour of more 'serious' ones like reality, drama and live-action. Genres of which, for me, are overexposed and over-saturating the TV market. It wouldn't be much of an issue for me, if Saturday morning kids cartoons, as well as multi-camera sitcoms were as prominent and were given the same amount of coverage and treatment as reality and drama shows. But they are not. 

The FCC in the US, pretty much ruined what was left of Saturday morning cartoons with their consistent monitoring and nanny-state laws, regulating and controlling what needs to be aired and by how many hours. Also, I'd lay the blame towards mainstream national networks - not the specialised ones such as Cartoon Network, Boomerang, for neglecting children and focusing all of their attention at elders. The likes of CN and Boomerang, like BET and Black viewers, are providing (younger) audiences content, NBC, ABC etc have all but given up on. 

Current Boomerang channel right now needs to revert back to its original remit and air more cartoons from the 60s to late 90s -early 00s. Not mid-00s cartoons, which it is doing. 

I know some people may say and think that not having these types of shows on Saturday mornings is not that much of a big loss, because we can always relive them on YouTube, Cartoon Network and other cartoon channels. It is knowing that this tradition of watching them on a station where you don't need to have cable or satellite to do so, is long gone. 
This particular programming block has been decimated by those in power in the TV industry, which saddens many of us. 

You just don't mess with tradition. 

And speaking of which, I hereby offer one example of a cartoon that underwent a reboot of some sort - Thundercats. It was launched on CN a few years back, then after 1 season, it was cancelled. It had its moments, and in most parts was less corny compared to the 1985 original. But it lacked the sparkle the 80s Thundercats series had, which made fans fall in love with it in the first place.  

Mourning the death of the Saturday morning kids cartoon segment

Another thing worth pointing out, is the demise and closure of studios such as Rankin Bass, Filmation and Hanna Barbera. These people were key to the success of Saturday morning cartoons and its impact that is still felt throughout today. Without their creative input, without these studios, we wouldn't have known of or heard of He-Man, Thundercats, Flintstones and Scooby Doo to name. 

What us the millennials and generation X-ers and Y-ers will miss most about it is the nostalgia, the tradition of watching these shows on television. That, as well as the memorable characters - both good and evil - that have entered our screens and resonated with our childhood. 

The 80s especially may have had only main 4 channels on television in each country, but what it lacked it in quantity, it made up with quality with so many great programmes. We don't have that luxury, any more. It sucks but nevertheless we have more choices in channels. 

Of course there will be others who will argue the quality of the animation wasn't that great in the 80s and there were a couple of really crappy cartoons. That is them, but for the most part, I digress. I pretty much enjoyed most of the cartoons when I was growing up then, in addition to the ones in the 90s when the animation and art style improved. & that the success of Thundercats, He-Man and many others happened because they had a toy-line to back up the cartoons themselves. So what if they did? Anything to help promote the show and propel it to new heights and raise awareness and interest, is a good thing. 

The quality of children's cartoons today can't be matched with those of yesteryear's. Sorry, but that is how I feel. 

The Saturday morning cartoon block is more of an American TV tradition more-so than a UK or global one. We had an after school kids schedule in the UK like CITV and BBC1 at 3pm- 5.30pm where cartoons would air. However, there were many cartoons which aired in the US that also aired in Britain, such as Thundercats, He-Man, Dungeons and Dragons. 

It's funny how so many of those cartoons had echoed lessons of sentimental and family and educational value, yet the US congress and  major TV networks wanted to put a stop to all of that. 

It feels like a part of you is gone. The sentimental value is what people born in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s remember most and will take away from. And that is something that can never, ever be eroded.... thanks to online and YouTube. 

You can still be young and older and young at heart enjoying Scooby Doo, Flintstones, Top Cat, He-Man, Alvin and the Chipmunks and other animated shows. 

If that is perceived as a bad thing, then I don't want to live on this planet, anymore. 

Saturday morning cartoons may be dead on national TV, but their nostalgia, the moments that bring happiness and joy to us all, will live on and on, and forever. 

*source: Powerbox 

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