Old Brew


Unlike Amid (see commentary below), I’m not against the idea of reviving classic cartoon characters. For me, it’s all about how they are revived. There is a right way and a wrong way.We’ve seen disasters (The New Jonny Quest) and we’ve seen successes (Bakshi’s Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures). As long as a character’s name has market value, the corporations that own them are going to try to pump life into these franchises – hence the live action/CG GARFIELD, CASPER, and ROCKY & BULLWINKLE films (not to mention the strictly live action feature fiasco’s MR. MAGOO, INSPECTOR GADGET, and DUDLEY DO-RIGHT). It’s a fact of life, and we better get used to it.It’s a good business decision for them – evergreen characters (i.e. Winnie The Pooh & Scooby-Doo) are worth billions to these companies. Attempting to continue a cartoon star with a proven track record is seen as low risk. If the original creators, artists, voice actors are gone – the less strings attached – the potential for profits are even higher. The company can now control every creative aspect of the revival initiative. No fussy creative types to kowtow to. In an era of creator-driven cartoons, a corporate-owned property is the safest bet they can place.But with or without their original creators, reviving popular characters is always risky. When classic characters are beloved, reinvention can be (and usually are) disastrous. Think back to the talking Pink Panther series or talking Tom & Jerry movie; anyone remember the “new” Speed Racer series or the American Godzilla flick? These changes were made to achieve certain short-term marketing goals, to capitalize on exploitational buzz, and to make a fast buck. There was no attempt to build on the already existing “pre-sold” audience. And the pre-sold crowd was totally burned by the “new” aspects being foist on their favorite characters. New viewers never had any interest in these ill-concieved ideas in the first place. The results: everyone loses – a failed project for all parties involved.Even if the character can be revived semi-successfully (one’s I’ve liked include Cartoon Network’s FLINTSTONES ON THE ROCKS, Kricfalusi’s BEANY & CECIL and YOGI BEAR, Hanna-Barbera’s SUPER SECRET SECRET SQUIRREL, Carbunkle’s BABY HUEY, Universal’s WOODY WOODPECKER) there is no guarantee it’ll catch on with the public in any meaningful way. It’s clearly a gamble – but no more so than originals like CATDOG, DAVE THE BARBARIAN and KENNY THE SHARK. I see nothing wrong with reviving a well known, but flawed, cartoon character (why not Heckle & Jeckle, Herman & Katnip, Chilly Willy, and heck… even The Ant & The Aardvark has possibilities). The right take, with the right people enthused about making funny cartoons – not just in getting a temporary paycheck – can possibly yield a terrific show. Corporate executives can’t will a success into being. It takes a passionate crew, who understand the characters, the proper context – and are dedicated to restoring the property’s original appeal.I agree with Amid – leave the classics alone. Mickey Mouse has seen better days (and you can see them on Disney’s Treasures dvds) and nobody can do Popeye better than the Fleischer studio. But I also feel that if Genndy Tartakovsky wants to revive Atom Ant or if John K. gets his mitts on Deputy Dawg, I’ll be the first in line to watch.