A still from the ADHD series "Lucas Bros. Moving Co." A still from the ADHD series "Lucas Bros. Moving Co."

Fox Is Scrapping Its Late-Night Animation Block ADHD

A still from the ADHD series “Lucas Bros. Moving Co.”

Fox’s experiment with late-night animation didn’t go as well as they had anticipated. The network will end its underperforming late-night Saturday animation block Animation Domination High-Def (ADHD) in June, less than a year after it began. It was originally created as a replacement for the cancelled sketch comedy show MADtv.

ADHD was the invention of former Cartoon Network exec Nick Weidenfeld, who aimed to develop an Adult Swim-esque block that “takes advantage of the best parts of animation.” The studio that Weidenfeld started to create ADHD, Friends Night, will continue to produce content for Fox. The network has already ordered two half-hour series from Friends Night, which it will air in primetime. The names and premiere dates for those projects have not been announced yet. Weidenfeld will also continue to produce ADHD content for digital platforms like Hulu and Xbox.

Here is Weidenfeld’s official spin on getting cancelled, which he provided to A.V. Club:

“We are really excited. We were created to get shows on Sunday night. And in under a year we did! And getting off Saturday nights will allow us to develop a bigger range of shows with a more diverse group of talent for different outlets. We have the best of both worlds. We have the big league field of Sunday night and ability to operate like an unfettered studio. That’s awesome.”

So, what is Fox’s interest in keeping alive this low-rent division that produces inferior work to anything the network currently airs in primetime? One of the primary incentives is that Friends Night is able to create content at a much lower cost than Fox’s other primetime series like The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, and various Seth MacFarlane-produced shows. The Los Angeles cartoonists’ union, the Animation Guild, poses some interesting questions about the situation and what it means going forward for artists who work at the studio.

  • jonhanson

    While this block was hit or miss Axe Cop and Lucas Bros. Moving Co both had a lot of charm. I’ll especially miss Lucas Bros for it’s delightful visuals and unique voice as one of the few creator driven cartoons on TV coming from a black perspective.

  • Guestastic

    The criticism of their work is fair, but I think it’s important to point out that ADHD is one the only 2D studios left that doesn’t outsource a single bit of their animation. (Full disclaimer: I do currently work there. )

    • Mark Attark

      I know for a fact that ADHD has outsourced some Axe Cop animation… To Colombia of all places.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        Thanks for making me chuckle!

  • pimpgrounder

    Lucas Bros was fantastic! Sorry to hear it’s over… Or is it?

  • jhalpernkitcat

    I have a feeling that this may not be the end of Axe Cop as I’ve read this on from Ethan Nichole on the Axe Cop webcomic series: “Also, there has been some rumors surrounding the Axe Cop TV series since there were changes announced at FOX ADHD. I can’t really say anything right now, but the changes as far as I understand them are all good and the new season of Axe Cop will make it to your TV, and it is amazing. I’ll post more info here once I have it.”

    So basically, while this may be the end of ADHD–this certainly isn’t the end of Axe Cop, which is a huge relief to me because I absolutely love it. It may be slightly different from the original, fantastic webcomic, but it has the same imaginative and funny flavor. Perhaps now they can get it to air at a better time, because sometimes due to some football, and then the news, it would run late–so I would end up watching it at around 12 instead of 11.

  • Derik

    Love Golan! I hope they make more!

  • The hipster Tim and Eric youth will remember this the same way I remember liquid television and all the cool animation stuff mtv and sci fi use to play when I was a kid…and that’s sad. Heh

    • jonhanson

      Wait, who’s the hipster here?

      “I was into hip and cool alternative animation back when it was good!”

      • You got me. I’m a hipster for thinking most cartoons today are bad compared to yesteryear.

        • Chris Sobieniak

          I went to a high school where I felt like I was the only one who even cared about animation at all amongst a group of ‘norms’ who only cared about the usual high school deals as characterized by social cliques.

          • Funkybat

            I don’t think geeking out over cartoons became even remotely acceptable until the late 90s, at least in teen or twenty-something circles. The Simpsons were an exception, but until Family Guy, Adult Swim and (strangely enough) Spongebob, you were kind of a freak if you wanted to talk about these kinds of things in a peer group.

            (I can only imagine how much more popular Freakazoid would have been if it premiered several years later.)

        • Freeze

          You may not be a hipster for thinking that, but you are blinded by nostalgia, which is just as annoying and bad.

          • Funkybat

            I wouldn’t assume that to be “blinded by nostalgia.” There were some crappy toons in the 90s to be sure, but that time was an animation renaissance compared to today, at least for professionally produced 2D animation.

            The great thing about animation these days is the web and how things not formatted to 7 min. shorts or 22 minute episodes can get out there virally. There are also a few pretty good TV cartoons such as Steven Universe or Gravity Falls. But a lot of the TV animation, especially adult-oriented TV animation of the past 10-15 years is just dreck art-wise. The Simpsons made the money people think that cartoons geared toward adults had to look crappy to be “authentic” to that audience, and the rise of the Adult Swim ethos was good for a certain flavor of comedy, but bad overall for 2D animation.

            Liquid Television, Ren & Stimpy, even Disney TV and WB TV was fantastic in the early-to-mid 90s, and plenty of kids born after that era will attest to the superiority of those shows compared to what was made in their lifetime. I’m glad animation isn’t where it was in 1977 or even 1983, but it’s certainly taken some steps back since the mid-90s.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      At least the Liquid TV stuff had some class to it (albeit a film school mentality).

  • Ant G

    A few months ago I would have said I was so happy to hear this, I did not like the idea of it at all. But now I believe ADHD actually represents 2D animation of this generation more than any program on television right now. And it doesn’t come as a shock since their inspiration was short animations uploaded on the internet for laughs. It represented the youtube generation and how everyone’s attention span for video consumption is equitable to adhd (or how we exaggerate our condition and abuse the word “adhd”) Family Guy and South Park have runned their course (at least the latter is still funny however) and Simpsons, while still on air after all these years, really doesn’t represent the current generation at all. ADHD I think reflects the state of 2D animation today, but not necessarily where it’s going. Maybe those who hate that trend can be motivated to redefine the image of animation in the future. (Full Disclaimer: I don not currently or ever worked there.)

  • anon

    ” …Friends Night is able to create content at a much lower cost than Fox’s other primetime series…” That’s because they hire students fresh out of school and pay them minimum wage to perform all of the tasks (storyboarding, designing, animating, etc.) that professional artists do who have been working in the industry for years. They may not be outsourcing but they are finding cheap labor by luring newbies into their studio and having them work under the title of “intern”

    • blandyblottschalk

      yeah, it’s pretty economical in hiring them, but it also makes sense for their market. they’re young people creating for a young audience.

      • Washington Irving

        That makes sense because all the pre school shows are made by toddlers

        • blandyblottschalk

          Yeah, twenty and thirty somethings making shows for teens and twenty somethings. How unreasonable.

          • Washington Irving

            Well it didn’t work in this case did it?

          • Washington Irving

            wait…. 30 something year old college graduates?

  • Friend’s Night Survivor

    As someone who had a brief run there, I can honestly say this is satisfying to hear. Nick & his two right hand writers were more preoccupied with being Hollywood hotshots than they were with making funny cartoons. All three of them with major chips on their blocks. Always wondering if things were “edgy” or “cool” enough, and always distrusting the talent they had invited into their situation. I saw more than one individual brought in, who’s work I had followed and enjoyed, get completely misdirected and start churning out sub-par content to what they normally could do.

    And calling this operation “Friend’s Night” is one of the most tragically poetic thing for Nick, who I never saw foster real relationships cause of the amount of spin he spewed, but instead wants to gain “friends” by being the king. It all felt blatantly narcissistic in the writing room. Creating a studio shouldn’t be therapy for one guy, it should be good content for an audience.

    Good luck Nick. Keep those fluff pieces about how cool and rich you are coming. I’m sure you’ll keep finding friends.

    • fasf

      [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “It is OK to post with a nickname or alias, but your email address (which we will NEVER share publicly), must be a real, permanent email address. Comments with fake or non-permanent emails will be deleted.”]

      • fasdgfd

        I don’t care if my comments get deleted! All I care is that someone reads them at least once!

        • mick

          We all have our goals

  • kuzronk

    Most of their stuff on youtube is just dick jokes so it’s no wonder why it was axed.

  • Roberto Severino

    I didn’t really watch much on the block and I had criticized Nick Weidenfield and his past track record but it really seems like this block was able to appeal to a specific kind of audience and I’m kind of sympathetic to the channel’s loss. At least they were trying to break out of that whole Simpsons Family Guy formula with more variety in their animated programming.