I was lying bleary-eyed on the couch early this morning, watching the excellent "Batman: Brave And The Bold" show (check it out!) on Cartoon Network. Interspersed throughout the show were numerous commercials for Cartoon Network's new line of "CN Real" live action shows. That's right, I said live action.
Um... hey CN, last time I checked, a live show is not a cartoon. Just sayin' is all.
CN Real is a block of four shows, including:
· The Othersiders, which appears to be a tween version of SciFi Channel's "Ghost Hunters."
· Brainrush, which looks to be some sort of "extreme" sports thing, I think.
· Destroy, Build, Destroy, which is similar to "Robot Wars" from a few years back.
· Survive This, which obviously is "Survivor" for tweens.
There's no doubt in my mind that these four shows are being produced as a cost cutting measure. Cartoons are expensive to produce, even when they use cheap Korean labor. The fact that all four of these new shows are some form of reality TV is all the evidence you need that it's a case of simple economics. There's a reason the majority of shows these days are reality TV: It's a lot cheaper to produce shows of people singing karoke, dancing, remodeling houses or pretending to hear ghosts than to produce scripted dramas starring professional actors.
I shouldn't be surprised by this; it's been going on for years. Plus, Cartoon Network is made for kids and I should be doing better things with my time than watching it anyway. It just bugs me because it's yet another example of the Homogenization of TV Networks.
There was a time when you tuned in to SciFi Channel and you would see an actual sci-fi program, not wrestling. TV Land used to broadcast classic TV shows, not reality TV and heavily edited 1980s movies as they do now. Sometime in the past few years the TV execs started noticing that their niche networks didn't generate the ratings that a mainstream network gets, so they began moving from specialized to catchall programming.
So today the name of a network means little or nothing. They might as well stop calling themselves Cartoon Network and Comedy Central and label themselves "Indistiguishable TV Network #427" and "Indistiguishable TV Network #583."
Just one more reason to cancel cable and have more time for illustrating!