Monday, April 09, 2007


I am now officially boycotting THE CARTOON NETWORK. I tried to watch an episode of FAMILY GUY recently and every two minutes they’d obliterate the screen with an animated blob or cartoon flames to promo something called the Aqua Teen Movie (pictured above). It would last for fifteen interminable seconds. Forget how infuriating it is to the viewers. For the writers and creative staff behind FAMILY GUY it was incredibly insulting.

To those Cartoon Network geniuses who okayed this deplorable practice, how would you like it if during an important phone call Joan Rivers came on the line every two minutes and started screaming in your ear? Or you’d be driving down the street and every two minutes a bucket of paint was splashed onto your windshield?

And as if the animated intrusions weren’t distracting enough, they were showing this Aqua Teen Movie in a tiny box in the bottom of the screen. It looked like a bad pixel on your computer screen, just annoying enough to make you want to take a bat to your TV.

Where does this clutter end? Between crawls, logo meatballs, running scores, promos, peacocks, TV-MA boxes, the Aflac duck, and time & temperatures, watching the actual show is like playing Where’s Waldo? So to help you out in that department, networks also flash “You are watching” announcements.

Step one is boycotting THE CARTOON NETWORK. If you want to see FUTURAMA or POKEMON they’re available on DVD. Let’s send them and other offenders a message.

Now if only there was a way to send them that message every two minutes.

Oh...and while I'm ranting and sending messages and getting real worked up over the truly important issues of our day, let's organize a million man march to stop this insidious network practice of splitting the screen during closing credits so the people who kill themselves to make a good show have their names reduced to the size of microfilm. I'm sure I could get all of the people whose names have been shrunk to participate but I can't read them.

I will be attending AMERICAN IDOL tonight along with whatever Fox star they're shamelessly trying to pimp. Probably one of those skeesix from DRIVE. My report will follow.


Anonymous said...

You're a writer, tell me something I've wanted to know for years: how the hell did the guilds let the networks get away with shrinking or otherwise obliterating the credits?

I'm one of those weirdos who want to know (for instance) who was in the supporting cast. If I worked on a show, I'd be as pissed as you are.

On the other hand*, when was the last time your credit followed the show?

* and not the point, I realize

Bryan CastaƱeda said...

The Discovery, FX, and Sci-Fi channels are all guilty of the same practice. I can't get thru an act of Planet Earth, The Riches or Battlestar Galactica without being reminded of what I'm watching.

Anonymous said...

Well, it helps. There was that one night I thought I was watching Hee-Haw; turns out to have been CSI: Miami and I would have never have known without all the flashing lights and sounds on my TV telling me that I'd die a horrible death if I didn't keep it on. I'm still here, but suddenly, I want a pair of sunglasses and to act without effort.

(This message brought to you by Allstate Insurance: Consistently refusing to insure men named Jack Bauer for 6 years)

YOU'RE READING...........................................KEN LEVINE'S BLOG!

Sean Keegan-Landis said...

And another thing... what's the deal with all this "reality" television?

Plus, is it just me, or is local TV news a little too sensational?

Anonymous said...

This practice is all over cable including TBS and TNT and those mentioned above.

Unknown said...

Yeah, that was really annoying but that's what the guys over at [adultswim] do every April Fools Day. Last year they overdubbed farting noises over the regular soundtracks of regular programming. It's annoying but they only do it once a year. I think they were trying to poke fun of the practice.

I'm with you, though, on the obtrusive banner ads on the bottom of the screen. I was watching something (can't remember what) the other day that had lots of subtitles. Well, guess what happened every two minutes and usually when an important plot point was being revealed in the subtitles?

But, yeah, the [adultswim] thing was an April Fools Day joke. And yes, it was annoying and disrespectful to creative teams behind the fine programing being broadcast.

Anonymous said...

Well, in order for me to boycott The Cartoon Network, I'll first have to start watching it, so I can then stop. Not having any children, and having had enough of FUTURAMA when it ran first-run, I don't believe I've ever even paused there on a channel surf.

There was a very funny shot at NBC on the soap PASSIONS today. They've been cancelled, leaving the air in August, to make room on the schedule for ANOTHER hour of TODAY. Well in a scene today, before announcing an important plot point for a character to hear on his TV, it was preceded by the announcement: "We interrupt the sixth hour of The TODAY Show for this important news story."


Anonymous said...

I've worked on a lot of shows where, if not for the slow motion feature of Tivo, you would literally not be able to read your the credit as it raced by.

To be fair I work on a number of live shows where the running time of the production is difficult to predict and the time left at the end will determine which credits run. Most live episodic shows will have crash credits if they are running short on time.

A few years ago on Miss America (the last year it was in Atlantic City) the host announced the winner with about 30 seconds left. ABC had made it clear that they were pulling the plug at the end of the allotted time (Sadly Miss America is not a ratings juggernaut) so not only did the new crowned Miss America not have time to complete the traditional walk, but I doubt if more than half the credits made it on the air before ABC cut away.

This may have been rhetorical, but I can't resist answering it...
Sean Landis said...
And another thing... what's the deal with all this "reality" television?

Take a look at the ratings for March 26th. Of the top 6 shows 4 are reality shows. It's not uncommon for Idol to pull in bigger audiences for the prized demographic age groups that are larger than all the other network shows combined.

You may not like them, but that's what is up with all of the reality shows.

Anonymous said...

Forgive my typos, I meant to hit "Preview" not "Publish..."

In the words of a great American... Doh!

Anonymous said...

I think the most important question is: D: McEwan, what were you doing watching PASSIONS?

Anonymous said...

I often get annoyed at the longevity of the producer credits at the start of my favourite network shows, that's why I love Sorkin so much, the credits simply read ''written, directed, performed and shot by Aaron Sorkin.''

? said...

This practice started with MTV about 3 years ago. It's graffiti and when advertising is encroaching on the actual show why do we have fucking commercial breaks?

? said...

I have a friend who works in marketing at the Cartoon Network. I emailed her your blog post and she said this: "It was an April fools jokes but I agree that the banners are annoying. That particular incident that he was talking about was an April fools joke and poking fun at the ads on other networks."

When I said most people weren't laughing. She said: "I am marketing and a lot of people were laughing."

rob! said...

i have to say, its hard to concentrate watching TVLand's M*A*S*H re-runs when a little Kelly Ripa is breaking in every so often, promoting the TV Land awards. what's she doing all the way in Korea?

rorybaldwin said...

They do the credit squishing thing here in the UK too, and it annoys the hell out of me. Luckily for us though they mostly avoid flashing stuff up on the screen other than a network logo, and even then that's only on the satellite channels.

Ian said...

We should remember that commerical television is not in the business of televising shows; it's in the business of delivering eyeballs to advertisers. All the "bugs" (the little logo the network puts in the corner of the screen to remind you which channel you're watching), split-screen credits with promos, and animated lower thirds to promote other shows just prove that television is desperate to retain eyeballs by any means possible.

But onto something REALLY important. I'm so SICK of Al Sharpton and Don Imus. I can't decide which of the two is the bigger BOOB. Sharpton seems to insert himself whenever there is a well-publicized racial slight, real or perceived, as though he had somehow been elected the spokesperson for anyone of color, and Imus, with his strangely immobile features (has he taken a ride on the Botox Express?) and cowboy hats, seems just another self-aggrandizing publicity whore.

Anonymous said...

I watched the "World Premier" of the Aqua Teen movie on tivo as well, but (once I made the connection that it was from April 1st) I thought it was pretty funny. It probably helped that I started with the Futurama where the started the joke before watching Family Guy (they played the first 5 minutes of the movie as if they were really premiering it, then shrank it into the corner where I presume it stayed the rest of the night).

Anonymous said...

Aren't Cartoon Network's PR flacks the same geniuses who planted those faux bombs in several cities, and had homeland security in a tizzie, a few months ago?

Anonymous said...

They do that graffiti-what-have-you all the time on Disney Channel too. Surprise! My kids are used to it by now but I. can't. stand. it. But just see how far I get turning off Hannah Montana and other similar detritus.

Anonymous said...

As Rory wrote, we have the credit squashing thingie here in the UK too, and the Writers' Guild of Great Britain (of which I'm TV Committee Chair) is doing its best to squash the squashing... but it isn't easy. Pragmatically, try and get your credit up front whenever possible. And Ken, whenever you're in London, please let us at the British Guild offer you a laurel, and hardy welcome.

Mary Stella said...

I hate when I'm watching a show and a promo for some other show crawls across the screen. I watch Dancing with the Stars but still don't want to see someone waltz across my other shows to remind me when to watch. Good for you, Ken.

I dislike the shrunken credits, too. At a time when movie houses still had curtains, I hated it if they dropped the drapes before the credits were finished.

A few years ago on Miss America (the last year it was in Atlantic City) the host announced the winner with about 30 seconds left. ABC had made it clear that they were pulling the plug at the end of the allotted time (Sadly Miss America is not a ratings juggernaut)

Even CMT has dropped the pageant. As an Atlantic City native, I'm saddened by the news. I have a bank of childhood memories of sitting in rolling chairs on the boardwalk to watch the Miss A. parade, sitting in front of the tv every year making up our lists of the finalists and critiquing the talent, etc. Plus I covered the pageant as a journalist for a couple of years.

Unknown said...

How about trying to watch a baseball game with all of the breakout stat boxes and graphics exploding on the screen every 8 seconds, complete with swoooshing sound effects?

Anonymous said...

You're attending American Idol?

Don't forget your tissues.

Guarateed camera time.

Me! Gene! said...

Re: credits at the end of the show

I have been a credited writer on shows for a number of years now and I have absolutely no interest in seeing my name on the screen. I don't really care about seeing anyone else's either. What is the point? Is it vanity? Vengeance over the people in high school who picked on you? A chance to impress your friends by saying, "Hey, I know that guy/woman!"

Knowing who the co-producer or executive story editor is doesn't enhance my pleasure in viewing the show. When you see "written by" at the top of an episode, how accurate is that really? TV writing is a collaborative process according to my experience and if you end up with 30 percent of your own material in the shooting script, you're doing pretty well.

Beyond vanity, the importance of the credits is in the business end of the writer's career. And the people in charge of hiring writers don't go sticking in a DVD of "Dharma and Greg" to watch the credit sequence when they consider a writer's experience. They go on the resume the agent sends them. The WGA keeps track of this information as well.

My name appearing on screen has done nothing to advance my career. Having the credit has, but that is entirely handled off screen.

To me writing and being paid to do it is its own reward.

Stephen Green said...

The latest annoying trick is when they run the closing credits of the program you just watched side-by-side with the opening credits of the program coming up next. Of course they're both shrunk and sped up so you can't actually read either one.

My most annoying TV moment of all time came about 10 years ago when I was watching "The Music Man" on AMC or some such channel on Easter morning. When they got to the finale, the grand marching band playing 76 Trombones while marching down Main Street, the programming geniuses at the network, apparently thinking this was just the same as any other musical ending credit and not the musical payoff to the whole 3-hour movie, shrank the screen down to one corner and played promos and voiceovers for other shows on the rest of the screen. These people have no souls; they are the television equivalent of DJs who talk over instrumental parts of songs.

Anonymous said...

Of course, we shouldn't forget the years when TV exex (sorry-- I used to work for Variety) evidently decided that movies should look more like TV shows or something, and ran the closing credits of features before the features.

This was so bizarre -- somebody please tell me I wasn't hallucinating.

Anonymous said...

Look at what pure comedy genius is all about

Sam Thornton said...

I'm with you, Ken, but I need my daily Bender fix. I'm settling for never watching Aqua Teen Movie unless it's to pick out a list of products to boycott.

Anonymous said...

The decisions to disrespect the people who work on the show, by reducing the end credits and also by running those disgusting promos at the bottom of the screen DURING the show, are made by the UNTALENTED, FREQUENTLY AFFIRMATIVE ACTION HIRED NETWORK EXECS who NEVER contribute anything of worth to the process and just arrogantly ruin whatever they touch. And yeah, I know how un PC it is to put it this plainly, so go ahead and tell Al Sharpton... truly the biggest racist and hypocrite of our times.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous darling,

PASSIONS is my daily guilty pleasure. It's indefensable, but I love it. It is so utterly deranged and insane, I can't tear myself away from it. Juliet Mills's 300 year old witch, demons and spells, trips to Hell (Literally), and all kinds of cuckoo nonsense, surrounded by traditional soap opera plot detritus. When Julian Crane attacked the Tin Woodman of Oz with a chain saw, I was in love forever. I'm sorry to see it go.

Anonymous said...


I'd be more impressed with the courage of your racist remark, "so go ahead and tell Al Sharpton" if you weren't anonymous. The words "Craven Coward" come to mind.

The worst of it is, your gratuitous racism invalidated your otherwise good point.

Diane said...

Ken - don't forget to share with us tomorrow what it was like to be in the presence of the star power that is J.Lo

Tom Ehrenfeld said...

Okay, actually, I've been boycotting the Cartoon Network since the day that they managed to shut my city of Boston down through their Terrorist Marketing tactic of planting light-boxes under the major bridges going in and out of the city without obtaining permits. Because they were dim enough to actually piggy-back on general fear over terrorist attacks (gee, this was the city from which several of the hijacked 9/11 planes departed--poignantly noted already on this blog) in order to create attention over this very same movie....these are people who are complete mindless idiots. People I respect have told me that the cartoon is funny but...the fact that I had to spend several hours that day in fear that the bridge over which my teenage daughter commutes to school might be rigged with bombs was more than enough to permanently lose the channel from my remote. And I'm delighted if your post results in more of the same.

Anonymous said...

I have been boycotting CARTOON NETWORK since they took off the Flintstones and the classic WB toons of the '40s and '50s.

Free Fred!

Anonymous said...

Broadcast TV limits the time you can advertise during a TV show. Would you consider these promo's an advertisement? I don't think cable is regulated under the same law, but broadcasters should be turned to the FCC.

Anonymous said...

I love Adult Swim. I saw a picture of the Aqua Teens on your blog and got happy all of a sudden, only to find out you were watching Family Guy and were annoyed by the joke ads.

Come on, the best parts of Family Guy are on YouTube. There is no point to the episodes other than to set up clips.

Not to say Aqua Teen is comedy genius. I don't know, everybody my age around here loves it. (and no, we're not potheads). Maybe there's something in the air here in Atlanta that causes people to create and/or watch the Adult Swim stuff...

Anonymous said...

CN's mission statement the past 5-6 years has pretty much been to try and develop new characters that can adorn T-shirts, cheap watches, cereal boxes and other consumer goods for adults and children to counter the marketing juggernaut that is Viacom's Spongebob Squarepants, since they got no licensing fees for running the old classic stuff they had when the channel debuted 15 years ago. What it's resulted in is a stream of really crappy and/or self-indulgent shows that have failed to reach break-out iconic status, despite the effort by the folks at CN and their parent execs and Time-Warner to do so (though to be fair to the bigger company, much of CN's inability to discern things that are actually entertaining for non-stoner viewers they have done wholly on their own, to the point that their sister division inside the company, Warner Bros., pulled the rights to show the studio's late 40s to late 60s cartoons from the network because they were screwing up their usage).

Adult Swim is more about attitude than it is about entertainment, and if you don't get its attitude, that's actually a form of entertainment to the people programming the channel. Hopefully, they kept the cost of the ATHF movie low enough to make back their money on DVD, but I think the only people who are going to profit from this are the folks in Boston who got the police overtime compensation for the bomb scare gimmick.

Now, if they're ever smart enough to do a Venture Bros. movie, that might actually be worth running a crawl at the bottom of the screen for, even on other days besides April 1.

Anonymous said...

I never watch it anyway, but what really burns my biscuits is that my cable company Comcast doesn't carry Boomerang, CN's classic cartoon sister channel, except as selections in On Demand.

Tabetha said...

I've boycotted The Cartoon Network ever since they called my idea to start a "STRICTLY VOLTRON" channel for my personal amusment.

I'm convinced any dementia I may possess is a direct result of all interstitials I've been forced to watch from CNN to BBC America.

Michael Jones said...

I watch Fox Japan over here and the credits are never shrunk nor is there an annoying voiceover. I can finally watch The Simpsons and actually view the credits and listen to the jokes that I had previously missed.

So far, the Cartoon Network Japan doesn't suck either. We get lots of Boomerang and classic Japanese anime with no Adult Swim.

BTW, do you have any anecdotes about the late MTM/Taxi writer Stan Daniels?

Anonymous said...

"When I said most people weren't laughing. She said: "I am marketing and a lot of people were laughing."

Geezus, your old farts contingency really showed up in numbers here.

Cartoon Network is NOT your parents cartoon network. If you don't get it, then just don't watch it! Maybe you should all move to Boston (or let me guess...)

Atitude is what sells. It was a well done April fools joke. Have you been looking at what newspaper comics did for April Fools - you'd be even MORE bothered.

If you really want to watch your episodes, they are on EVERY OTHER NIGHT. Relax. CN to their credit, started with utilizing an under-utilized nightime spot, and going after an audience, with a deft touch combining marketing and audience - it invited in comments, played these out in inventive program bumpers, and so have a much tighter-knit community than the average old boy network. They have the right to play with that once a year or so. BIG DEAL.

The point is - they made fun of what the other networks do because those programs suck mostly. Oh - American Chopper got an image over its bottom quarter panel, oh dear. OH worse, "Lost" is no more "filmic" because it has a animated banner at the bottom. Oh yeah, that RUINED my experience of class-a television, yeah.

Why haven't you complained about the way it occurs on those networks? Because cartoon network did a good parody of it.

As for the split-screen at the end, THERE I am with you. No excuse for it. But having said that, I also don't GIVE A DAMN about the name of the Korean animation house third-assistant to the coloring overseeing editor either.

Maybe they could decide on some heirarchy again that actually makes sense, not just proving the Union has members, including the caterers assistant and all.

Anonymous said...

"Last year they overdubbed farting noises over the regular soundtracks of regular programming"

hahaah BRILLIANT! Even Ernie Kovacs would have loved it. But wait, here's the best part:

"But, yeah, the [adultswim] thing was an April Fools Day joke. And yes, it was annoying and disrespectful to creative teams behind the fine programing being broadcast."

FAMILY GUY!!?! no, really, wait...hahaha - being DISRESPECTFUL TO FAMILY GUY?!! hahahaha

what PLANET are you from

Anonymous said...

"CN's mission statement the past 5-6 years has pretty much been to try and develop new characters that can adorn T-shirts, cheap watches, cereal boxes and other consumer goods for adults..."

Blah blah blah - you mean, translated to normalspeak: CN is JUST LIKE EVERY CLASSIC CARTOON - like WARNERBROS. HANNABARBERA, DISNEY, REM&STIMPY, PIXAR to infinity. It has been the deal from day 1, cartoons and media industry. Quit b**tchn about the good old days that were NEVER LIKE THAT.

"Something is happenin, and you don't know what it is, do you Mr. Jones"

You all can't handle television, I suggest you go back to books, and leave the cartoons to the adults.

Anonymous said...

"Now, if they're ever smart enough to do a Venture Bros. movie, that might actually be worth running a crawl at the bottom of the screen for, even on other days besides April 1."

OK - NOW HERE we're seeing some sense! Venture Bros. Rules

Anonymous said...

Yeah, all you old farts, stop bitchin' about the Cartoon Network contributing to visual clutter! This isn't your parent's Cartoon Network. Go read books!

Oh wait. There was no cartoon network in my parent's heyday. In fact, TV wasn't even in color. When they watched a cartoon on TV (Something they seldom did because they were ADULTS, and they also liked to read books! GASP!), it occupied the full-screen.

Well now, it the image is squished into a little dime-sized part of the screen, and that's the way of the future, the way us young farts like it, because we HATE seeing the whole image clearly, and honestly, to you expect us to concentrate on only one image at a time? Good grief, you old farts with your more-than-3-seconds attention spans, get over it!

Go waste your time reading a book!

Please. I write books and I need the money.

John Eje Thelin said...

For the writers and creative staff behind FAMILY GUY it was incredibly insulting.

A. Long overdue, considering how long they've been insulting their audience.

B. FG has writers? AND a creative staff?

C. Do you remember this lowbrow pop cultural item from the 80's? You do? Good, because that equals funny.

Anonymous said...

your a total douche bag if you hate it so much then dont watch it it hasent harmed you or filled your mind with ideas that could harm others. And also why do you care during the comercial i just go to another channel

Anonymous said...

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