What’s Wrong with Old Cartoons?

Posted: August 4, 2010 by Sketch in Animation, Animation Editorials, Sketch

Hey it’s Sketch again. I’m filling in today. I’m here once again to talk about another curious problem with the children’s animation industry. For whatever reason channels that air children’s cartoons tend to avoid airing the old ones. It is high time we get to the bottom of this.

Surely we have all noticed that channels such as Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and to a lesser extent Nicktoons and Disney XD generally do not air cartoons that are more than a decade old regardless of quality. Some “oldies” do not hold up very well but a great many do. Looney Tunes shorts are a prime example. They are the definition of timeless. Though some of their themes may not be quite as relevant today the entertainment value certainly is. So it is always nice to see those shorts air whenever they do, which is sadly not nearly often enough.

You will occasionally see some children’s networks air cartoons from the 1990s. Nicktoons still airs Ren and Stimpy, Rocko’s Modern Life and Rugrats for instance. Disney XD plays Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series and all of the 90s Marvel cartoons and even on occasion play Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends from the 80s. Disney Channel has been known to randomly play some 90s cartoons such as The Little Mermaid series in the early morning hours in recent years. Cartoon Network has them all beat by actually playing Tom and Jerry and the original Scooby-Doo Where Are You but the majority of their vintage material is left to Boomerang including such all time greats as The Flintstones. Some of the older Cartoon Cartoons occasionally sneak onto the Cartoon Network line-up as well but again the majority are left to Boomerang. Boomerang, a channel which comes ever closer to no longer being the home of vintage cartoons as it evolves into more of a secondary Cartoon Network.

The belief that these networks wont touch many older cartoons has thoroughly hammered into our collective psyches. I was just thinking the other day of what other action cartoons Nicktoons could get from FUNimation other than Dragon Ball Z Kai. I considered Dragon Ball GT the sequel series to DBZ but shot it down immediately because of its’ age. I did that, without a second thought because I figured that would be exactly what Nicktoons would do if FUNimation offered them Dragon Ball GT.

I remember the days when Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network proudly aired a fair share of oldies. CN started by airing just about nothing but old cartoons. Somewhere down the line those networks decided for the most part kids wont watch older looking cartoons. I have yet to see any solid evidence to prove that is the case. Old cartoons should not be all they play of course their main focus should be on new productions but there is no need to have just one or the other. Both can co-exist. Not so unlike how they once did. Bring back the original Looney Tunes to Cartoon Network and cycle in other shows in their vast library. Play vintage Disney shorts and the likes of Darkwing Duck, Chip’n Dale Rescue Rangers and DuckTales on the Disney Channel. Have more of the old Nicktoons on the channel that was created for the purposes of continuing to air them for future generations and dare I say, cycle a few into Nick proper every now and then. Little changes are all it would take to bring more variety and let these great cartoons see the light of day again without overshadowing the new kids.

It is nice to know some network out there does see the value in the old. The Hub network coming in October will be airing the classic Transformers and GI-Joe along with new versions of those series and a host of other old shows. Likewise the Qubo linear channel will be airing Filmation’s Ghost Busters and the original He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Though some of these are very likely nostalgia plays to get parents to tune in with their kids they are still making a small difference in a very close-minded industry.

We have not gotten to the root of the situation though. Why do these networks assume kids wont watch old cartoons unless they’re Scooby-Doo or Tom and Jerry? Is there any truth to this assumption? I would like to hear your thoughts on the matter. Feel free to leave a comment in response to my query. Thank you for reading.


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