Saturday, March 23, 2013

"Fox ADHD" Hopes to Win Over Internet Crowd

Starting this July, Fox is launching a new late night animation block called Fox Animation Domination High-Def (ADHD).  Spearheaded by Nick Weidenfeld (formerly a developing executive at [adult swim] on Cartoon Network) the block will feature original programming that seems squarely aimed the young internet crowd.  The only confirmed series so far are an adaptation of 8-year old Malachai Nicolle's web comic Axe Cop, a series from  Dino Stamatopoulos (Moral Orel) called High School USA!, and an unnamed series based on twin comedians Kenny and Keith Lucas.  As part of a soft launch, ADHD has created a tumblr and a YouTube channel featuring some of the upcoming content as well as some original shorts to help drum up interest.  Go ahead and check them out, but be warned that most of it is pretty NSFW.  Also, if you are easily disturbed by bright colors and frantic movement, you should click with caution.

After pouring through everything, I have to say that I'm not a fan.  The animation itself looks like MAD and Robert Smigel's TV Funhouse had a baby that didn't get any of either parent's good genes.  More disconcerting however is that everything about the content smacks of shameless pandering to the internet-going audience.  The YouTube videos are full of 90's references, songs by (presumably) cute girls with ukuleles, and references to Reddit and Slender Man.  Anyone who does not spend at least half of their waking hours online is probably going to be baffled by much of what is being offered here.  Nick Weidenfeld even hosted an AMA ("Ask Me Anything") on Reddit to go right to the source of his audience.

Weidenfeld claims that Fox has given them a long-term deal to allow for growth, but I can't help but question how much faith the network actually has.  They don't exactly have a stellar track record for keeping programs on the air for very long.  Outside of the past-its-prime The Simpsons and the hit-and-miss animation empire of Seth MacFarlane, there aren't any options except for the surprisingly funny Bob's Burgers sandwiched in between.  Plus, with an airtime of  Saturday nights at 11 P.M. it isn't exactly prime TV viewing.  The only real competition ADHD will have is Saturday Night Live and the revived Toonami block on [adult swim] that just runs anime; not exactly ratings contenders.  Plus, unless they're too stoned to drive or operate a computer, is anyone in this demographic actually home on Saturday nights watching TV?

I'm glad to see a network trying to branch out in terms of animated programming, but the whole thing just feels half-baked to me.  ADHD is the MAD TV to [adult swim]'s SNL. It's cruder, employs less skill or wit, is geared towards an immature male audience, and will ultimately end up being compared to the reigning champion to its own detriment.

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