Gephyrophillia | Watch This Space #168

Originally Posted onn 03/18/2008 by Jeff Harris

Remember SLAM, Nickelodeon's ill-fated action block that had the likes of Butt Ugly Martians, Super Duper Sumos, Speed Racer X, and, at least for a week or two, Men in Black? It was Nickelodeon's first major action block, hoping to compete with Cartoon Network's powerhouse action property Toonami. It failed. Miserably.

That was 2002. This is 2008. Circumstances have changed. Cartoon Network has become a mess, and Toonami, the heart of the network, is fading out quickly. Yes, I know they had new promos over the weekend, but that's almost the equivalent of a new plastic hat on Malibu Stacy (Simpsons-ophiles know the reference). The block seems to be an atherthought, and nothing truly new nor exclusive is coming in the next few months. Even Clone Wars isn't a certainty for Toonami.

Meanwhile, Nickelodeon is truly becoming one of the best sources of animation in the US. Not only are they dominating Saturday mornings with their ALL-ANIMATION LINEUP, but they've been spreading the love with Nicktoons Network, their digital ALL-ANIMATION CHANNEL that hasn't swayed beyond its core mission too much, Mr. Meaty notwithstanding. Nicktoons Network has been the home of an annual animation shorts film festival, international animation (and by international, I mean places other than Japan), and classic and modern Nickelodeon-produced series. In short, Nicktoons Network is outdoing Cartoon Network by truly becoming the Animation Capital of the World.

This week, the gloves are off, and Nicktoons Network announced plans that shocked a lot of folks. Okay, not a lot of folks, just Marvel fans and Cartoon Network/Toonami fans. In the first quarter of 2009, the much anticipated animated series Iron Man and the truly awe-inspiring Wolverine and the X-Men are coming exclusively to Nicktoons Network. Many people expected Cartoon Network to pick it up, but for some unknown reason, they didn't. After all, Cartoon Network is availiable in more households than Nicktoons Network, but perhaps Marvel realized something that a lot of producers should realize.

Cartoon Network is a mess.

Cartoon Network has no idea what they want to be this week, let alone months down the line. They want to get the Nickelodeon and Disney Channel viewers by copying their live-action programming and neglecting what made them stand out in the first place. Meanwhile, Nicktoons Network is essentially taking advantage of Cartoon Network's situation and coming into their own by creating a diverse lineup.

It would not even surprise me if Nicktoons Network creates a block around their two action-packed acquisitions. They could easily pair Iron Man and Wolverine with shows already on the lineup like Avatar, Skyland, or the upcoming Speed Racer series, or even acquire a few more outside programming. I hear Time Jam, Class of the Titans, and Guardians of Luna are still availiable. And maybe Nicktoons could place the block on at least a night a week, maybe Saturday nights.

The acquisition of Iron Man and Wolverine by Nicktoons Network isn't anything that should be ignored. It almost immediately catapults the network into the action cartoon biz in a big way, which means that Cartoon Network, once considered the only choice for action-animation, is now officially struggling. Clone Wars could only go so far, and Naruto's lackluster filler season isn't bringing in the viewers.

Cartoon Network has a lot of work to do to catch up to a network not even on their radar.

*end transmission*

Jeff Harris,
The X Bridge Creator/Webmaster
March 18, 2008


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