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Friday, 5 June 2015

Yabba Dabba.... Don't! The Perennial Rise and Downfall of The Boomerang Channel

After my post on the demise on the Boomerang Channel from Cartoon Network, I thought I would touch upon this a little bit more and dig a little more deeper into its origins, history, as well as to give my thoughts on Turner's rebranding.


About Boomerang: 

The Boomerang Channel is a digital Cable and satellite broadcasting television channel that is owned by Turner Broadcasting System, a subsidiary of Time Warner. Turner Broadcasting, which was owned by media mogul Ted Turner as well as Cartoon Network, merged with (the now defunct) Time Warner.  

Originating as a spin-off of Cartoon Network (Which originated as a programming block in 1992), much of the programming that made up of the core of their programming line-up was part of TBS's Disaster Area, a block of children's programming that aired on their network from 1997-1999. 
   




In 1994, Cartoon Network studios was born; a year later 'What a Cartoon!' debuted with pilot episodes of Dexter's Lab, Johnny Bravo and Cow and Chicken, which later paved the way for their own makeshift title shows. 

It originated as a commercial-free Cable channel in America that made money through subscription fees and product tie-ins. These product tie-ins consist of occasional advertising promoting Cartoon Network and/or Boomerang programming, DVD products. Boomerang's promotional slogan was originally titled, 'It's All Coming Back To You'. This slogan connoted the theme of nostalgia and retrospection. As Boomerang was a classic cartoons channel, it accurately reflected its programming line-up at the time. 

Boomerang had its own original programming block airing on Cartoon Network, debuting on December 8 1992. The block was aimed at baby boomers and was originally airing for 4 hours every weekend. On April 1st 2000, Turner Broadcasting spun off Boomerang as a standalone cable channel. 4 years later, all of the older cartoons on Cartoon Network migrated to Boomerang. The channel consisted of an everyday line of reruns and repeats of classic Hanna Barbera, Looney Tunes, MGM and Terrytoon cartoons. Boomerang Europe was born 5 years later. 

I want to touch a little bit on the Hanna Barbera cartoons from the 1960s and 1970s; it appears a lot of people loathed them and thought they were horrible: for me anyway, I enjoyed Hanna Barbera's output. I totally got it and understand what they were trying to set out to do and I liked their characters. Some of them had comedic elements to them. They had a very sitcom - like approach to them, which I totally get, because a) I am a fan of traditional American sitcoms and b) the set up, their approach resonated with me a great deal. Examples of these shows included The Flintstones, earlier Scooby Doo, Top Cat and Dynomutt and Blue Falcon. Which is why I enjoyed them. 



Source: Toonzone

Whist the 2000s was the start of the eventual decline of Cartoon Network and its rapid slide to mediocrity with many of its classic shows migrating to Boomerang, fans of Yogi Bear, Popeye, Tom and Jerry, Flintstones and Looney Tunes were at least happy to see their favourites back on screen again. Unfortunately however, this didn't last long and sadly, we dreaded the day Boomerang would become a shadow of itself and being past its prime as a children's television network. 

Never did I envisage that after the downfall of Cartoon Network, would I see Boomerang suffering the same exact fate as its counterpart. But its problems and downfall is still sad to see. 

In 2015, the global relaunch of Boomerang coincided with a re-branding of the channel. The re-branding and relaunch saw its classic shows being significantly reduced and with a much greater emphasis placed on promoting its most popular brands, most notably by presiding Hanna Barbera's Scooby Doo, Tom and Jerry and The Flintstones, as well as Warner Bros' Looney Tunes & newer original content, over its lesser known classic counterparts. From its focus on classic cartoons aimed at baby boomers and generation X-ers and Y-ers, the people at Boomerang decided to ditch the viewership that grew up with the classics, in order to cater to the younger demographic, of whom already have Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Disney Channel all to themselves. These days, any classic programming on Boomerang is relegated to post -watershed hours and graveyard slots -, when people are already fast asleep. This means contemporary and well known programming such as Scooby Doo, The Flintstones, Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes are the only shows with a permanent fixture on the schedules. Plus, they are shown 3 times each day of the week, which is absurd. Thus, it has become an endless -yet tedious and repetitive line-up of Scooby Doo and Tom and Jerry shows, made- for- TV movies, day after day, week after week. As for Warner Bros, not all of Time Warner's cartoons are available to air on Boomerang: Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, classic Batman and Superman shows are all made available to other networks. 

For many fans of this once-great channel, Boomerang is best associated with classic cartoons. Today's Turner puts in minimal effort in promoting the older shows and they have completely disregarded the fan base of those shows. Today's Boomerang channel is a disservice to fans of retro cartoons and to those fans who grew up watching this channel, right from its inception. Also, it seems that Boomerang promotes Cartoon Network and its shows more-so than itself. Boomerang is now a clone of Cartoon Network. Boomerang is Cartoon Network 2. It is not that different to Cartoon Network, as just like that channel, it also carries contemporary shows. 

As for the revamped logo, like many people I am not impressed; I'm not keen on the juxtaposition of the Boomerang font and how the word looks as though it is split. I understand it is supposed to mimic a 'boomerang' so to say, but the font isn't good and the Black and white colours make it dreary. The layout is just poor, the overall logo design choice is unimaginative and just dull to the eyes.  




Also, how is a channel like Boomerang supposed to evolve when the line-up is virtually similar to Cartoon Network and pretty much diverts itself away from the original premise of this channel? The line-up is uninspired and leaves a lot to be desired. Variety is what this channel is lacking in so many departments. 

They are moving into a direction that is financially profitable by targeting children, as opposed to moving into a direction that targets people, especially the elder generation who grew up watching the old shows. Boomerang originally existed to satisfy those people; it existed as an alternative to the modern offerings aired on Cartoon Network. They say this new Boomerang is aimed at families; what makes them think these shows on Boomerang today are what adults had in mind for their children? Many of those adults and parents grew up on the classics, & they want to pass that onto their kids. Not stuff like Mr Bean, The Garfield Show, Amazing World of Gumball, Foster's Home of Imaginary Friends, - which in my eyes aren't old enough to qualify as classic cartoons. The cut-off point for classic cartoons for me, is anything from 1940s up until 2006. Boomerang was supposed to be a channel catering to adults, with CN catering to kids. How many children today care for the older cartoons? Do they think they actually care for the classic Yogi Bear, Bugs Bunny or care to know who they are? 

Also, by changing this channel in the hopes of it becoming as successful as Cartoon Network by making it 70% or so contemporary shows, 30% or so of classic shows, Turner Broadcasting and Boomerang execs only care about profit and ratings, more-so than their audience and viewers and in understanding what they want. 

I know I can't stay mad forever on this - I shouldn't be, but frankly, it despairs me to see a channel that I have once loved as a child and teenager become something that no longer represents what it should be about, as well as in celebrating the best of classic animation. 

Change is important, yes it is important in order to keep up with current times.... but you can't just eliminate or get rid of something that means a lot to a lot of people, such as classic cartoons. Oh well, it's another reason why we shouldn't ditch DVDs and YouTube to watch Hanna Barbera, Looney Tunes, Disney Channel and 60s-90s cartoons. 

'Boomerang, It's all coming back to you...' .... not any more it is.




Sources:

Boomerang - It WAS All Coming Back To You, Boomerang Europe, January 31 2015

Boomerang (TV Channel), Wikipedia

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