Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

October 1, 1992

Hello everybody, and welcome to October! I hope you're really excited about October, because I have a lot planned for this month. October is all about carving pumpkins, gobbling down turkey and cranberry sauce (well, in Canada at least), and dressing up in goofy and scary costumes as you go door to door in the quest for lollipops, peanut butter cups and Jolly Ranchers.

October is certainly a month that will be filled with all those things and more. While not all of the topics will be spooky in nature this month, a good portion of them will be.

You see, Tuesday Timelines are hard. As much as I would want to make every single entry as scary and spooky as possible, I can only go by what happens throughout history. And if nothing really scary happened on this date, well, I'm gonna have to improvise.

Such is the case of this, the first Tuesday Timeline in October. And just what exactly happened on October first? Have a look!

1795 – Belgium is conquered by France

1811 – The first steamboat to sail the Mississippi docks in New Orleans, Louisiana

1829 – South African College is founded in Cape Town, South Africa

1843 – “The News Of The World” first begins publication in London, England

1880 – John Philip Sousa becomes the leader of the United States Marine Band

1890 – Yosemite National Park is established by United States Congress

1891 – Stanford University opens up its doors

1908 – Ford puts the Model T car on the market at a cost of $825

1910 – Twenty-one people are killed when a bomb destroys the offices of the Los Angeles Times

1920 – Actor Walter Matthau (d. 2000) is born in New York City

1927 – Actor Tom Bosley (d. 2010) is born in Chicago, Illinois

1930 – Actor Richard Harris (d. 2002) is born in Limerick City, Republic of Ireland

1931 – The George Washington Bridge opens up in New York City, linking New York and New Jersey

1940 – The opening of the Pennsylvania Turnpike to motorists

1946 – Nazi leaders are sentenced at the Nuremberg trials

1949 – The People's Republic of China is first established

1957 – The words “In God We Trust” first begins appearing on American currency

1958 – NASA is established to replace NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics)

1962 – First broadcast of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” is shown on NBC

1971 – Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida opens its doors to the public

1982 – EPCOT Center opens up within Walt Disney World on the park's eleventh anniversary on the same day that the first compact disc player is launched by Sony

1985 – Author E.B. White of “Charlotte's Web” fame dies at the age of 86 in North Brooklin, Maine

1989 – Denmark introduces “registered partnership”, allowing legalized same-sex civil unions

2012 – A ferry collision off the coast of Hong Kong kills 38 and injures 102

And, celebrating a birthday on October 1 are Jimmy Carter, Julie Andrews, Stella Stevens, Geoffrey Whitehead, Stephen Collins, Andre Rieu, Randy Quaid, Esai Morales, Mark McGwire, Harry Hill, Christopher Titus, Ted King, Cindy Margolis, Jay Underwood, Zach Galifanakis, Andrew O'Keefe, Keith Duffy (Boyzone), Sherri Saum, and Jurnee Smollett.

Okay, so what date are we going to flash back in time to today? Well, get ready for this. I've spookified the logo for the next month.

We're going back twenty-one years in the past to October 1, 1992!

Are we frightened yet? No? Well, regardless, we're going back in time to 1992 for the launch of a particular American cable channel.  And, sadly I have to admit that it's a channel that we never ended up getting through our cable dial.  I would imagine that had we owned a satellite dish (which back in 1992 were approximately the size of an alien spaceship), we could have picked it up, but alas it wasn't meant to be.

Of course, we had several Canadian versions of American cable channels.  Instead of CNN, we had CBC News World.  Instead of MTV, we had MuchMusic.

And in Canada, if we wanted a cartoon fix, we could either tune into YTV, TeleToon, or TeleToon Retro.  Meanwhile in the United States, Americans could watch Nickelodeon or this cartoon network, which celebrates its twenty-first birthday today!

Happy birthday, Cartoon Network!  This post is all about you!

Now, some of you may be surprised to know this, but the creation of the Cartoon Network actually began its journey years before its October 1, 1992 debut transmission.  

The story began in the summer of 1986, when MGM/United Artists was bought by Ted Turner from Kirk Kerkorian because of concerns over Kerkorian's debt load.  But just two and a half months after the deal was made, Turner was forced to sell MGM back to Kerkorian.  But it wasn't as if Turner didn't get anything out of one of the shortest deals in television ownership history.  He still kept much of MGM's film and television library that was recorded before May 1986, and used this collection to form another company - Turner Entertainment.

This allowed the creation of the TNT network in 1988, and the profits earned by the network (in addition to the already created TBS network) allowed Turner to purchase Hanna-Barbera to the tune of $320 million!

But with the acquisition of Hanna-Barbera, as well as the various cartoon library that Turner got out of the MGM deal, Turner had dozens of animated programs on his hands.  In addition to the entire Hanna-Barbera line-up (which included Yogi Bear, The Jetsons, The Flintstones, and Scooby-Doo), he also held the rights to some of the older Merrie Melodies cartoon shorts.  What better way to show them off than by creating a network solely dedicated to animated programming?

Hence the February 1992 announcement by Ted Turner himself that he would create a brand new network which would feature his extensive library of animated programming.

What sort of shows would be featured on the network?  Well, this video clip might shed some light.

And, here's an official promo for the Cartoon Network prior to its October 1, 1992 debut.

I will say this about the debut of the Cartoon Network though.  The way they went about it was genius.  The debut was hosted by MGM cartoon creation Droopy Dog in a variety of segments known as "Droopy's Guide To The Cartoon Network".  What better way to promote Looney Tune cartoons, Hanna-Barbera cartoons, and Popeye cartoons than having one of the representatives of the cartoon block host the debut?

TRIVIA:  Do you know what the very first cartoon ever shown on The Cartoon Network was?  I'll give you a hint.  It involved that "wascally wabbit" Bugs Bunny!

It was the 1946 classic "Rhapsody Rabbit".  I wish I could find a clip of it to show you, but I came up empty.  I would imagine that most of you have likely seen it anyway.

Now, Cartoon Network started off very slowly.  When it debuted in 1992, cable providers in Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. only carried the network.  By 1995, it was available nationwide.  Hard to believe that in three short years, a network could become so successful so fast.

What was especially great about Cartoon Netwok shows were the fact that some of them were also simulcast on TBS and TNT, so even those who did not subscribe to Cartoon Network could still watch shows like "The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest", "SWAT Kids", and "2 Stupid Dogs".  

Cartoon Network would also begin producing their own television programs beginning in 1994, with one of the more successful programs being "Space Ghost Coast to Coast".  It was a unique program in that the show was made up of mostly recycled animated cels from the Hanna-Barbera archives, with the format similar to that of a parody of a talk show.  The animated characters would interview live-action B-list celebrities and poked fun at itself by constantly pointing out that it was as low budget as you could get!  The show seemed to work though, as young adults fell in love with it from the get-go.

Another popular show that emerged was the show entitled "What A Cartoon", which premiered in 1995.  The series was essentially the network's attempt to return to the classic days of animation, which saw the production of original animated shorts by both Hanna-Barbera and independent cartoon production houses.  What was interesting about "What A Cartoon" was that it spawned several cartoon shows that would become Cartoon Network classics in their own right.  Have you ever heard of "Dexter's Laboratory", "The Powerpuff Girls", "Johnny Bravo", "Cow and Chicken", "I Am Weasel", and "Courage the Cowardly Dog"?  All of those shows originated on "What A Cartoon", making it one of the only shows to launch six separate spin-offs!

Not even CSI can boast that achievement!

In 1996, TBS merged with Time-Warner, allowing Warner Brothers to air their Kids WB cartoon block on Cartoon Network as well.  In 1997, the network created the Toonami block, which allowed anime programs like "Sailor Moon" and "Gundam Wing" to be broadcast on the network.  And, beginning in 2000, Cartoon Network would launch the sister channel "Boomerang", which exclusively aired cartoons that aired during the 1980s and earlier (a channel that itself spun off from a Cartoon Network programming block).  Adult Swim was created for the network shortly thereafter in September 2001, which aired programming that were more suitable for adult audiences.  And in 2005, not wanting to exclude preschool audiences, the network launched the "Tickle U" block of programming which specifically targeted preschool aged children.  Unfortunately, it was not well received by viewers, and the "Tickle U" block was cancelled months later.  And in 2007, the network began importing Canadian made shows (that originally aired on TeleToon) into their line-up, consisting of shows like "6teen", "Total Drama Island", "Atomic Betty", and "Chaotic".

Of course, the network has seen a little bit of controversy during its history.  Not much, mind you, given the target audience of the network.  When "Toonami" was first brought to the network, many of the shows were heavily edited to meet the standards of the network, however some shows made it impossible to do so, causing some parents to complain.  A compromise was later made to air the more violent programs in later time slots to try and appease everyone.

The Cartoon Network also planned to host a 49-hour long Looney Tune marathon which promised to show every single Bugs Bunny cartoon ever made in one sitting.  Sounds like a dream come true, right?  Well, apparently they didn't count on the fact that so many people would complain about "The Merrie Melodies Dirty Dozen".  Of the hundreds of cartoon shorts that were made, twelve of them were not exactly politically correct.  In fact, they could be considered downright racist.  The decision was originally made to air the twelve cartoons in their entirety after midnight, but at the last minute was overturned, and the "Dirty Dozen" were omitted from the schedule.

But here's the thing.  People called Cartoon Network to complain, but not about the fact that the network DID air them...more along the lines of "why did you NOT show these".  Eventually, a compromise was made by the network.  They would feature a series of documentaries which would feature clips of the "Dirty Dozen" within the pieces.  It was later seen as a positive moment by the network for willing to confront and expose the not-so-nice moments in animation past.

And of course, many people are now complaining that Cartoon Network has changed completely and that the programming they now air is sub-par compared to what it once was.  But, is it really the case, or have we been spoiled by classic animation?  Or, it is simply because we've all grown older and have outgrown today's cartoons?  It's hard to say.

The only thing I know is that Cartoon Network is broadcast in approximately 100 million homes throughout America, and as long as there are children who are willing to watch the cartoons, I see Cartoon Network sticking around for a very long time.

Happy 21st birthday, Cartoon Network! 

No comments:

Post a Comment