The new issue of Wired (Peter Jackson on the cover) features a rave for Mike Lazzo, creator of Adult Swim. It’s a good blurb, and the best part concerns the Cartoon Network’s unique style of promos:
“Who would’ve thought that a cartoon network would be doing some of the smartest programming on TV today?” says the admittedly biased Matt Groening, creator of Futurama and The Simpsons. “Their promos are smart and funny and don’t insult the intelligence of viewers.” What’s more, Lazzo says Adult Swim’s promos were created on a Macintosh “for $5.”
There are two kinds of AS promos: The white-on-black type title cards and the new trailers for old shows. The Futurama trailer is cut like a 1950s 3-D movie – “It came from another network!” The Family Guy trailer shows a clip from an episode where the family beat each other up – no dialogue, just brutality, then the word “Family Guy.” They’re brilliant.
Does any of this matter? Yep. Kevin Smith’s cartoon adaptation of “Clerks” lasted 6 episodes, only 3 of which were aired. The dialogue-heavy show was promoed by a clip of Silent Bob lighting a stick of dynamite and throwing it. As Smith himself says in the DVD commentary, it made the show look moronic, and might have killed it. The new DVD commercial for Futurama has clips of butt jokes and Fry saying “now it is time to ingest sandwiches from my compartment.” The major networks simply didn’t know how to sell these shows. They wanted them to appeal to a certain demographic, and didn’t think the hipster 18-30 demo would sit down and watch TV.
I’ve been watching the Futurama DVDs and loving them – there’re maybe 2 blah episodes out of every 10. I know that the Adult Swim and DVD success has resurrected Family Guy, and I hope it does the same for Matt Groening’s redheaded stepchild.