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    Vin
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    General News Fall Television Preview

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    Recently, Kids' WB!, Cartoon Network, ABC, CBS, 4Kids/FOX and Nickelodeon all announced their fall schedules. NBC also touted its new Discovery Kids block, which features popular spin-offs of many existing Discovery Channel series. To keep the fans up-to-date with the latest happenings, Toon Zone News staffers, Vincent Benenati and Matthew Williams have compiled our past stories, along with new information, as well as some of our predictions, into one huge look at the fall 2002 season. This article will continue to be updated and revised as new information is revealed.

    The following is a run-down of fall 2002, network by network:

    Kids' WB!Kids' WB!
    With once-hot "Pokemon" not the juggernaut it once was, Kids' WB! began to ease off their dependancy on the series this past season, instead deciding to build new hits, a strategy that will continue this fall. Many hits are returning this fall to Kids' WB!, including "Jackie Chan Adventures," "Yu-Gi-Oh!" "X-Men: Evolution," “The Mummy: Secrets Of the Medjai,” “Cubix,” along with "Pokemon: Master Quest."

    This fall will see a return to the earlier days of Kids' WB!, with three new comedy series in development for the fall. They include a new "Scooby Doo" series, "What's New, Scooby Doo?" "Ozzy & Drix," and "¡Mucha Lucha!" In addition to the new series premiering this fall, Kids' WB! will premiere new series all year round, including "Phantom Investigators" in May and four new episodes of "Powerpuff Girls" in June. Other series including "Static Shock!" could return in the winter of 2003, but no renewal has been announced.

    Cartoon NetworkCartoon Network

    With last year's Turner reorganization, Kids' WB! and Cartoon Network became more like sister networks, and while there has been considerable attention paid to Kids' WB!, Cartoon Network has recently seen a rejuvenation of sorts, particularly with its Toonami block. The block, which had been cut back to 2 hours from 5 to 7p.m. last season has been restored to its former 4p.m.-7p.m. timeslot, with three notable new shows: "G Gundam," "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe," and "Transformers: Armada."

    Cartoon Network's Cartoon Cartoon and Cartoon Network Studios output is also chugging along well. Hit series "Samurai Jack" will return for a second season, with twenty-six episodes. A brand new Cartoon Cartoon series, "Whatever Happened to Robot Jones?" premiered this past summer to great ratings. A new series, "Codename: Kids Next Door", is also actively being worked on. Like it has done in the past, Cartoon Network is running potential series pilots during Cartoon Cartoon Fridays; however, unlike in year's past, there is no voting.

    From Warner Bros. Animation, a new "Duck Dodgers" series in production, which may debut as early as Spring 2003. Writers Paul Dini, Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone all involved in this series. WBA's other major project for Cartoon Network, "Justice League", has a production order for a second season of 26 episodes, the same as "Samurai Jack."

    Cartoon Network is also trying to establish a foothold in the preschool field. "Hamtaro" was their first big foray into this field, despite the controversial decision to air it during Toonami. The series will be cut back to mornings only starting in October. Another preschool series, Baby Looney Tunes, has already premiered, and is airing in an hour block alongside Hamtaro.

    Cartoon Network is also acquiring and developing new programming for Adult Swim; one of Cartoon Network's biggest acquisitions ever was just made, when the network acquired repeats Fox's acclaimed "Futurama". The show will begin on Cartoon Network in January. CN has also acquired "The Ripping Friends" from Fox Kids, and will air existing episodes of that as well as all-new episodes tailored for the Adult Swim audience. On the Action side, CN is already airing "Inu-Yasha" and will air "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex".

    Synergy will also be key this fall as some Kids' WB! shows will join Cartoon Network and vice-versa. As mentioned above, new episodes of "Powerpuff Girls" have airedon Kids' WB! this summer. Kids' WB! has shown some interest in airing Cartoon Network's popular "Dragonball Z" series. Cartoon Network, similiarly, may air the Kids' WB! series, "Jackie Chan Adventures," according to Media Week Magazine. Kids' WB! affliates are waiting to see how their weekday block does this fall, as ratings are down. One possibility is that after next season, Kids' WB! will be limited to only Saturdays and Cartoon Network would be used as a promotional vehicle to promote Kids' WB!

    The future looks great for Cartoon Network, which is taking a significant chunk out of the kids 2-11 demographic, an area where Nickelodeon was once king. Nickelodeon remains strong, however, it could be only a matter of time before Cartoon Network surpasses it.

    NickelodeonNickelodeon

    Nickelodeon still dominates ratings among kids 2-11, but as mentioned above, Cartoon Network is gaining on them. However, Nickelodeon does not seem too worried. They've just come off a successful year, in which "Jimmy Neutron," a cheaply produced CGI movie brought in well over what it cost to make and was nominated for an Oscar. In addition to that, they have seen "tween" ratings steadily go up with their launch of the TEENick block and new series, "Fairly OddParents" and "ChalkZone" have had strong debuts.

    Looking forward, Nickelodeon wants to skewer away from the fact that they are considered more of a "girl" network and as result, has launched a new boys action block Sundays from 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m., called SLAM! The block will feature episodes of "Invader Zim," hit-series "Butt-Ugly Martians" and "Robot Wars," and a new version of "Speed Racer."

    The network also will air made for television animated movies from Film Roman Sunday afternoons before SLAM from DiC Entertainment starting this fall. Some titles which will air on the new movie block include a new "Inspector Gadget."

    Nickelodeon is optimistic about their new series, especially "Jimmy Neutron," based on the hit film, "Angelica and Susie's School Daze," a spin-off of "Rugrats" and "Danny Phantom," a new series from "Fairly OddParents" creator Butch Hartman. Nickelodeon executives admit that "Rugrats" is aging and will not put as much emphasis on it then they have in the past. "Rugrats: All Growed Up" is also in development for next season.

    Nick on CBSNick on CBS

    Nickelodeon, corporate sibling of CBS, will program CBS' fall schedule as it has the past two seasons. However, starting this fall, the block will be "aged up" to appeal to an older demographic. "Blue's Clues" and "Dora the Explorer" will still remain; however, long gone are "Bob the Builder" and "Little Bill." Joining the block include "Hey Arnold!" "Pelswick," "As Told by Ginger" and "The Wild Thornberrys." "The Early Show" returns from 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM.

    Don't expect the block to pull high ratings, as it still is in competition with Nickelodeon and Kids' WB! and airing repeats of older Nickelodeon series won't cut it.

    FOX BOXFOX BOX
    In a stunning turn of events, 2001 was the year that Fox gave up on programming the Saturday Morning kids block themselves. Instead, the little New York company that could, 4Kids Entertainment, bid for and won the rights to program the Fox Saturday Morning block.

    The new 4Kids Fox block will be renamed the FOX BOX and will be revamped from top to bottom. FOX BOX will use the strategy of airing very few repeats, relying on bigger episode orders of series. They hope this strategy pays off and helps establish a fan-base who cannot miss an episode of their series.

    FOX BOX starts on September 14th with "Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy," a new take on the Kinnikuman series that inspired Mattel's 1980s M.U.S.C.L.E. line, "Ultraman Tiga," a dub of the popular Japanese live-action franchise, "Kirby: Right Back At Ya!", based on the Nintendo game series, "Fighting Foodons," in which food transform into battling monsters. and DIC's "Stargate Infinity," a FCC friendly, educational series, based on the movie, "Stargate."

    But perhaps the most anticipated new series to premiere on the FOX BOX won't bow until early 2003. That show is a new version of the classic "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" franchise. This new version will be closer to the comic book series that inspired the classic cartoon and live-action movies. 4Kids will co-produce the new series, which will be animated by Sony's Adelaide animation studio, which is responsible for shows such as "Jackie Chan Adventures" and "Big Guy and Rusty The Boy Robot".

    4Kids was also said to have pursued Cartoon Network for the rights to "ThunderCats," which has aired on Cartoon Network's Toonami block; however, they declined and kept the rights to the series. 4Kids owns the licensing-stake in "ThunderCats." 4Kids is also the exclusive licensing agent of all Nintendo properties, and also holds the rights to the Cabbage Patch Kids and the video game, "Perfect Dark."

    The FOX BOX, at one time, was considering airing "Pokemon" movies throughout the television season. However, that is still up in the air.

    It will be hard to establish an audience without a cable network to help support it; however, the company has an impressive track record and may be able to pull it off. Perhaps not initially, but over time, the block could become very successful or it could turn out to be one of the biggest business mistakes 4Kids has made. Only time will tell.

    ABC Kids
    Things just could not get any worse at ABC. In primetime this past season, they have been trampled by their competitors and have tons of holes to fill come fall. Saturday mornings are no exception. This past season, ABC relied on Disney Channel shows to keep it afloat. Without the help of "Lizzie McGuire," they would not have survived.

    While the network originally considered going the way of NBC and CBS and airing primarily news on Saturday mornings, the network is instead opting to revamp its lineup, dropping the name "Disney's One Saturday Morning" in favor of the name "ABC Kids." While some of the signature One Saturday Morning shows, such as "Recess," "Teamo Supremo," and "Lizzie McGuire" remain, the network is making a clear effort to broaden its lineup, mostly with proven successes from Disney's other cable networks.

    Disney Channel will lend two of its most popular programs, "The Proud Family" and the acclaimed "Kim Possible," while Disney's newly acquired ABC Family division will provide ABC Family with new episodes of its most popular programs, "Power Rangers Wild Force" and "Digimon," the latter not starting until November 30th. "NBA Inside Stuff," acquired from NBC as part of ABC/ESPN's deal with the NBA, will round out the lineup.

    The only completely new show, original for ABC, is "Fillmore". This show chronicles the adventures of the Safety patrol at X Middle School, centering in particular on one former troublemaker, Cornelius Fillmore. The producers of "Fillmore" have opted to emulate the formula of old 1970s cop shows, complete with commissioner (Vallejo, voiced by Saturday Night Live's Horatio Sanz), and action-packed chases throughout the school.

    These new changes to the lineup should hopefully bring a broader audience and better ratings to ABC, thanks to the infusion of fresh, action-packed shows as well as ABC Family's popular franchises. However, those interested in seeing ABC's new lineup are advised to check their local listings, as affiliates regularly shuffle around the lineup for news, and are known to pre-empt the 12 p.m. hour for college football.

    UPNUPN/Disney Animation WeekdaysUPN's stations will continue to provide 2 hours of Disney animation from Sunday to Friday, as they have in recent years; however, this year, the "One Too" branding has been dropped and Disney has supplied a new show from its ABC Family division -- "Digimon". Season 4/"Digimon Frontier" episodes will premiere on Monday afternoons and repeat on Sunday mornings, with Season 3/"Digimon Tamers" repeats airing from Tuesday to Friday afternoons. "Digimon" will also join ABC's lineup on November 30th.

    This will be the last year for the Disney lineup on UPN; the network has already indicated that the block will be dropped next fall, when its contract with Disney expires. It is unknown what will replace it; UPN executives had been planning a new lineup, but a recent restructuring at Viacom, which brought UPN into the CBS division, has changed that.

    Disney Channel
    Disney Channel is mostly continuing on the path it's charted for several years, namely "Zoog Disney" shows aimed primarily towards a predominantly female preteen audience. While its flagship animated series "Proud Family" and "Kim Possible" will premiere new episodes throughout September, Disney is also adding a number of series that were formerly part of the old "One Saturday Morning" and "One Too" blocks. "House of Mouse", "Lloyd in Space", and "Sabrina: The Animated Series" have all joined the lineup.

    However, Disney has completely dropped its "Vault Disney" late-night lineup, which featured classic cartoons under the "Ink and Paint Club" banner. This move has been heavily criticized by many Disney fans, however the channel is citing low ratings and a desire to re-air its popular Zoog shows as the reason for dropping the block.

    UPNToon Disney
    Toon Disney launched a new look and feel this past Labor Day, its first since the channel's launch. The channel's focus has shifted away from the classic "Disney Afternoon" series and towards Disney's newer television efforts. Consequently, the channel now aims for a younger audience than Cartoon Network. "Teamo Supremo", "The Weekenders", "House of Mouse", "Lloyd in Space", "Mary Kate and Ashley in Action", "Ultimate Book of Spells", "Toad Patrol", and "Sabrina: The Animated Series" have all joined the channel's lineup. "Toad Patrol," about 4 toads who miss the great migration and end up traveling through the forest in search of Toad Hollow, and "Ultimate Book of Spells," about a 13-year-old witch who teams up with two classmates to rescue the world's magic, are brand new shows, while new episodes of "Teamo Supremo" will premiere on Friday Nights.

    Toon Disney will also premiere new movies throughout the season, with its highest-profile premiere being the direct to video "Cinderella II", which bows in September.

    ABC Family
    This channel can easily be called the "Comeback Kid," for various reasons. As Fox Family, the channel struggled for years, never becoming a credible threat to Nick and Cartoon Network. This wasn't helped by the fact that Saban Entertainment's heavy-hitters "Digimon" and "Power Rangers," as well as its vast library, were restrained from airing on the channel.

    What a difference a year makes: the channel has relaunched as ABC Family and is now providing viewers with the action-adventure lineup that it has lacked for so long. Launched in March, the block has proven to be such a success that they have expanded the weekend portion of it to 5 hours, airing from 7am to noon. (There is no chance of a weekday expansion due to contractual obligations to air "The 700 Club".)

    There is only one new show premiering this fall, "Tokyo Pig," about a boy with a very overactive imagination (that makes things come to life) who gains a best friend, a small pig named "Sunny" who falls out of the sky. ABC Family has also been airing new series "Beyblade" since July, and that series will continue to air new episodes. The channel will also show new episodes of "Medabots," as well as episodes of "Power Rangers Wild Force" shortly after their premiere on ABC Kids. Saban library show "NASCAR Racers" and recent Fox Kids exile "Galidor" finish off the block.

    With the strong popularity of "Spider-Man" and the perennial popularity of "Power Rangers," this channel finally has a future as far as animation goes... and it sure looks bright.
    Last edited by Vin; 04-02-2002 at 02:15 PM.

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