Where I’m Coming From – Part 2

Teletoon – Launched October 17, 1997
It’s unreal to think that it’s been just over a decade since Teletoon made its first appearance on Canadian cable airwaves. It makes me wonder how I’d live without it now, as its aired a lot of programming that otherwise may have never been aired here. Like YTV, it was the first channel of its kind – but unlike YTV where in the later hours the animation was switched to more live-action shows for older viewers, Teletoon was 100% about animation 24 hours a day. When it first came on the air it was part of an extra channels package that was given a free preview back in 1997 for a long while. Other areas of Canada got it longer than others and our free preview in Southern Ontario lasted a long while. Eventually I turned the television to channel 50 one day to find it blocked with a fuzzy picture and barley audible sound. I begged and pleaded my mom to get the extra channels, as at the time we only had the standard cable package which only went up to channel 36…or maybe it was 29, it’s been too long to recall exactly how many channels we got. She caved, and I was able to feed my addiction to this new channel and another one I wanted for a long time, The Family Channel (which will be covered later).

Teletoon has been on the air long enough to now reflect and look back on how the station has changed over the years, and I never would have reflected on it five years ago but now enough time has passed to realize the changes. I was at the perfect age when the network premiered and I remember a fair bit of it – I was 12 in 1997. As with YTV in its earliest days, Teletoon aired imported cartoons and co-productions with Canada, but there was much more focus on Canadian animation and a lot of older shows found a brief home here to air and gain a new fanbase. The network aired a lot of Cinar’s old catalogue of cartoons with shows like Albert The 5th Musketeer and The Smoggies, and plenty of shows from Nelvana as well like Ned’s Newt, Blazing Dragons and Donkey Kong Country. Shorts from the National Film Board of Canada were also shown, and other cult classic cartoons like The Raccoons. Eventually the network started to produce original and co-produced productions like 6teen, Atomic Betty, Cybersix, Kid Paddle, What About Mimi?, and many others. Although the network hasn’t been around that long compared to others, I think its best years are starting to reflect the period of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Originally the programming was divided into four blocks, each with their own set of uber cool bumpers, station ID’s, and “coming up next” ads, all of which were based on a “planet” theme and each had their own. They also made use of some pretty cool animation styles such as Claymation, and compared to what bumpers you see these days, you can see a lot of work was put into the early ones. The four blocks were preschool, kids, family and adult – I wish I had specific times for when they changed over. I remember the adult bumpers were kinda creepy and not as immature as they are today, looking to suit more teenage “college” viewers rather than real “adult” viewers of animation. By 1998 these were all changed along with their little station identification “jingle”, and its been too long to remember what exact design they went to next. By the start of 2007 the network layout was dramatically changed, including the old logo, as was its website to a more reformed look.

Teletoon, also like YTV, has aired a long line of cartoons ranging from sunny preschool outings to the darkest of adult shows. Their original format was great as they moved on to older programming throughout the day, and back then had a strong commitment to air diverse programming and air things uncut. Early on, and I was unaware of this for many years until I decided to research a bit on the network, Teletoon had an incident during their first year where they accidentally broadcasted adult content during a time devoted to preschoolers, and the backlash resulting from this was cutting many programs aimed at adults and teens therefore killing off those viewers from the network. While they have tried to regain that demographic with their Detour block for the past couple years, I don’t think they ever really recovered from that event. The whole block is mostly borrowed from Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block, and while good and funny teen and adult shows are offered, it pails in comparison to some of the really gritty stuff they played like the animated Spawn series and Ralph Bakshi’s Spicy City, two shows for some reason I really remember well but I’m sure more great adult programs were showing back then. This Wikipedia article here has a large list of all the shows that have ever been on it, and in time they will get their own post here. Along with airing imports and a lot of Canadian content, Teletoon has been Cartoon Network’s Canadian outlet for quiet some time. Every one of CN’s productions has aired here at one point, some having a far longer run than others. The longest it ever took for a CN show to reach here was Space Ghost: Coast To Coast which landed in The Detour block in September 2006 – twelve years after it originally premiered in 1994. And since Cartoon Network is associated with Hanna-Barbera, a lot of their older classic shows have aired here as well. Check out more on Teletoon from its Wikipedia article here, and check these pages with Teletoon related banter. Youtube has a whole load of Teletoon related stuff so check that out; this user in particular has some good promo’s including this one, as well as a lot of oldschool YTV promos as well.

Has Teletoon jumped the shark with its viewing audience and current programming? At first I didn’t think so, as I still see it as a good network with plenty of good shows to offer. But I think just enough time has passed for long-term fans to notice how the network has changed, and while it hasn’t been around as long as YTV, it seems it’s just at the tip of the ramp to jump over the shark but its not quite there yet. The more I think about it, I would love to roll back the clock ten years to a time when it was a fresh network airing a lot of assorted programming. A fair bit of older fans say yes, it has jumped, and some even think the network is as bad as YTV is these days. I don’t really support that statement, but we will have to see what Teletoon will bring to its viewing audience in the next ten years to come.

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