Friday, April 07, 2006

Adult Swim Adds Five Shows

Animated Discussions
by Rudy Panucci and Melanie Larch

Last week Adult Swim held their "upfront" meetings with advertisers, and unveiled their plans for the coming year. Since splitting off from Cartoon Network for ratings purposes, Adult Swim has ranked number one in the key 18- to 34-year-old male demographic. At the upfront meeting, executives at the network were mum on rumors that Adult Swim would completely split off from Cartoon Network and either be launched as a new channel, or move from Cartoon Network to Time Warner sister channels Boomerang or TBS. While they bring in a lot of advertising dollars, Adult Swim's "TV MA" programming is keeping Cartoon Network from being offered on the "family tiers" proposed by many cable and satellite systems. Given Adult Swim's ratings base, the only move that would make sense would be for them to move to TBS, so that they wouldn't lose a sizable chunk of their available viewers.

The real meaty news from the meeting was the announcement of five new shows that will start airing on Adult Swim later this year.

Death Clock Metalocalypse follows the adventures of an incredibly stupid Norwegian heavy metal band. It's the creation of Brandon Small (Home Movies) and Tommy Blancha. Blancha is a former writer for Late Night with Conan O'Brien and the WWF. For the WWF, he scripted what may have been the greatest single moment in the history of television, where an 80-year old woman gave birth to rubber hand on live TV. Sounds like a winning formula! Metallica will make a guest appearance. This show debuts in August.

Frisky Dingo (right) is a new superhero adventure series from the creators of Sealab 2021. It follows the epic battle between the evil Killface and the hero, Awesome-X. It premieres in September.

Assy McGee debuts in December. It tells the gripping tale of a renegade police sniper who has no regard for criminals or the justice system. He also looks like a giant butt. This one's from some of the writing crew for Space Ghost Coast to Coast.

Saul of the Mole Men is a low-budget puppet show about a government agent who accidentally destroys the civilization of the Mole Men. This experimental show will debut later this year.

Lucy, The Daughter of the Devil (left) actually debuted as a Halloween special last year. It's been picked up as a series and will debut late this year. This CGI creation of Loren Bouchard (Home Movies) is a delightfully irreverent chronicle of the life of the college-aged daughter of Satan.

In addition to the new shows, Adult Swim has announced the start dates for new seasons of several returning series. Robot Chicken began a run of 10 new episodes last week. Ten more will start in September. Tom Goes To The Mayor returns June 4. Venture Brothers returns June 25. 12 Oz. Mouse and Squidbillies return in September.

New Seasons of Boondocks and Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law will be scheduled to start sometime in the fall.

The ultra-popular Aqua Teen Hunger Force (right) will see a short new season begin in September, but fans will also be treated to a feature-length movie which has already been finished. The movie explores the origins of the very strange team of fast-food-item detectives.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Cool Toy Of The Week: Mega Bloks Pyrates

This week, our cool toy is not from a small, struggling company, but I picked it because it's just way cool. Mega Bloks is a Canadian company that has successfully challenged LEGO for dominance in the construction toy world. They've done this by adapting to changes in the market, and have added elements of other types of toys to keep their construction sets fresh. Their latest toy line combines the fun of the old Marx playsets with the joy of model-building and the trendy genre of swashbuckling pirates.

"Pyrates," thusly named so that they can trademark the word, is a great series of toys that you can find in almost any store that sells toys. They come with cool fully articulated 2-inch-tall action figures in a variety of styles. Prices range from four bucks for a set of three figures, to 50 bucks for the large "Skeleton Crew" ship. The Skull-shaped playsets that sell for about eight bucks come with a CD-ROM that has a terrific 15-minute animated film that uses the toys to tell the background story of the toys.

Maybe it was the three months that I had to wear an eyepatch last year, but lately I've become fascinated with all things piratical. They're really cool. Assembling them is a nice peaceful diversion, and they look cool on the big corner table in the living room.

I've written more extensively about Mega Bloks Pyrates here. And you can check out their website here.

No Pants = Big Laughs

Last Saturday night I got to trek out to the Labelle Theater in South Charleston for an evening of improv comedy from the No Pants Players. It was a great night. The group was really hitting on all cylinders that night, and the all-ages audience was totally into their performance. For this performance, the pantsless crew was made up of Joe Wallace, Brian Roller, Tony Slack, Jason Dunbar, Jamie Dunbar, Duncan Stokes and Kevin Pauley, and they played their parts to perfection.

Last weekend, the No Pants Players worked with the "game" format of improv, which is great for audience participation and made for a very fast-paced show. I am eager to see what this talented crew can do working in the sketch form. Maybe we'll get to see that in a future show.

It's great that we can now see this sort of improv locally. Improv is a great way for young talents to develop their acting chops, and it'll be interesting to see if any big, giant, Hollywood stars come out of this group. Keep checking PopCult for news on the next performance by the No Pants Players. And don't just take my word about how much fun they are to watch. My fellow Gazzblogger Karin Fuller was also at Saturday night's show, and writes about it here.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Song Of The Week: "Shingles And Tar"

As promised here, this week's Song Of The Week is "Shingles And Tar" by Three Bodies, one of the mainstays of Radio Free Charleston. From a batch of demos co-produced by Three Bodies, Spencer Elliott, and me, this one was my baby. I contributed ideas for the backing vocals, effects, and arranged the starts and stops near the end. Despite my contributions, the song was yet another mini-masterpiece by Kris Cormandy, Brian Lucas, and Brian Young. There is a story behind the lyrics, but it's faded from my memory over the last 16 years.

The images are taken from flyers I did for the band back in 1990. Above, you see that I couldn't resist the temptation to colorize one of them. The image at left shows that, before the days when I assaulted photographs digitally with my computer, my weapons of choice were Xerox machines and Sharpees.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Monday Morning Art: More Shadowplay

The Monday Morning Art this week is a sequel to the art that ran here. This is More Shadowplay, another digitally assaulted photograph of a fence near my house in the noonday sun. (click to enlarge)