Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Maybe now Cartoon Network gets the message: Incredible Crew is cancelled, leaving live-action on [adult swim] only......for now

Variety reports that Cartoon Network has pulled the plug on their youth-oriented sketch comedy series, Incredible Crew, after just 1 season, the latest failure in the current network administration's continuing effort to emulate rivals Nickelodeon & Disney Channel in developing live-action programming, which, of course, goes against the definition of the network when it was launched 21 years ago.

Incredible Crew was the brainchild of one of the busiest men in show business today, former Nickelodeon star Nick Cannon, currently the host of NBC's America's Got Talent. Cannon knows something about sketch comedy, having debuted on Nick's All That in the 90's. It seems that Cannon, who also at last check was involved in programming Nickelodeon's sister network, TeenNick, and had developed & hosted Wild 'N' Out for MTV, was trying to do some emulating of his own, in this case, another ultra-busy TV personality, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, who apparently needs to have a 30 hour day with all of his radio & TV responsibilities.

I digress. While the article doesn't say why the Crew was cancelled, it does continue a pattern at the network, which has developed a number of live-action series over the last 7 years, only to see them all fail. The only live action programming still on CN is on their [adult swim] overnight block (i.e. Children's Hospital), which seems to be a different animal altogether.

The problem that exists, which executives Stuart Snyder & Rob Sorcher refuse to acknowledge, is that viewers don't want live-action on Cartoon Network. However, even though reruns of Family Guy have been shared between [adult swim] & sister network TBS, the latter wasn't interested in getting back into children's programming. The corporate mentality at Time-Warner seems to be, we've got Cartoon Network for the kids, so why put children's programming on our other stations?

Real swift, no? Of course not. CN has been used as a receptacle to air live-action, non-cartoon-related movies (i.e. Jack Black's "School of Rock") in order to help its sister networks fulfill pre-existing contracts. So why can't the repurposing go the other way once in a while? Only Snyder & Sorcher know the answer to that one, and they're not telling.

A few years back, CN tried an all-live-action primetime block, under the umbrella of "CN Real". Other than Dude! What Would Happen & Destroy Build Destroy, the block was a failure. They've tried a sitcom (Out of Jimmy's Head, which was a hybrid---1/2-live-action, 1/2-cartoon) and 2 1 hour adventure series (Unnatural History & Tower Prep), all of which were cancelled after 1 season. While it hasn't been confirmed, it doesn't appear as though the half-hour Level Up, which has gotten through 2 seasons, will be returning, either.

What this says to me is that the fanbase has spoken loudly enough to convince Time Warner higher-ups to stop shoving live-action into the CN schedule. There is room for greater diversification, but preferably, if to give some aid to sister network Boomerang, which could use the help. Live-action need not apply.

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