Networks In The United States – Part 3

Cartoon Network – Launched October 1, 1992
Created by Turner Broadcasting; in 1990 the company purchased animation studio Hanna-Barbera Productions and acquired its large library of cartoons. Cartoon Network was created as an outlet for their huge library of animation, and initial programming on the network consisted exclusively of reruns of classic cartoons from Warner Bros., MGM, and Hanna-Barbera.

H-B started production on What-A-Cartoon! Show which was a series of creator-driven short cartoons (much like Nickelodeon’s Oh Yeah! Cartoons series) that premiered in 1995. This show spun-off several successful series and gave birth to CN’s first set of originally produced shows such as Dexter’s Laboratory, Johnny Bravo, and Cow & Chicken. By 1998 the Hanna-Barbera name began to disappear from the newer shows from the studio in favor of the Cartoon Network Studios name – The Powerpuff Girls being the last cartoon to end with H-B’s trademark swirling star logo in the ending credits. In 1996 Time Warner purchased Turner Broadcasting and with it Cartoon Network, who gained access to the complete Warner Bros. cartoon library. Along with this they focused on creating new material for Cartoon Network, which came in perfect timing with the What-A-Cartoon! Show mentioned above that premiered a year earlier.

Eventually the classic cartoons were replaced with current Cartoon Network Studios shows (and other cartoons sourced from other networks and other countries), which therefore led to the spin-off sister channel Boomerang making its debut in April 2000. Starting in 2004, as like The Disney Channel started to do with their own in house shows, CN started to take off the more “recent classics” they produced from the 90’s. The network has had a series of very successful programming blocks as well, such as Cartoon Cartoons (used to be a collective name for Cartoon Network’s original shows). The action-oriented Toonami block has been running since 1997, and is known for showing a large impressive list of Japanese anime and movies. Another claim to fame is its Adult Swim block that ultimately turned into CN’s adult sister network of the same name, which premiered in September 2001. The block plays American animated comedy and animes and OVA’s intended for audiences 18 and older, generally with minimal or no editing for content – and like CN’s normal programming, this block has aired a noteworthy amount of shows. A good portion of the Adult Swim block is made up of original programming produced by Cartoon Network in association with its network division Williams Street, which produces and programs Adult Swim. Cartoon Network has expanded all over the world, but Canada remains one of the few places where it hasn’t – most likely because YTV and Teletoon have aired most of their programming.

Has Cartoon Network jumped the shark with its viewing audience and current programming? As far as I see it, no they haven’t. CN was a latecomer in producing its own shows (compared to Nick and WB), and it wasn’t until the mid 90’s where that ball starting rolling. I think they are still in their prime. Where other networks have continued to falter over the years with failing cartoon shows, CN is the only notable network I see still pumping out good shows. Personally, I saw this proved over and over again first starting in 2004 with Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends, and then The Life & Times Of Juniper Lee made its debut in 2005 – both are solid shows. Out of all the new offerings for animated shows from (major) networks in the US in 2006, their series Squirrel Boy was the only one that stood out over a cavalcade of bland offerings. They struck gold again with their new series Chowder which premiered in November 2007 – a show that hasn’t even made it here yet but already looks like a fantastic series. It’s just further proof that this network hasn’t lost their touch. They also have a knack for making animated shows live long lives – Codename: Kids Next Door just recently aired its last episode in January after premiering in December 2002. At the time of its premiere I didn’t think nothing of it, but only now realize as with the shows mentioned above that it proves CN makes good, entertaining animation. It illustrates this in its current fleet of programming, and its back catalogue full of great, long running shows. Never has a network been so deserving and true to its name – Cartoon Network truly is an excellent network for cartoons. Youtube has lots of Cartoon Network related stuff so check that out as well. The network has a parade of original animated bumpers, like this one. Too bad other networks didn’t celebrate their anniversaries with cool ads like this.

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