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What's Inside the DirtBox?
I love rants and for one time only; I'm going to leave Disney alone. (2015 Gregory Weagle Says: Yes, yes you do love rants. That is why the Rant Shack was invented. I don't buy you leaving Disney alone for more than 10 seconds 2002 Me!) That's right folks; Disney has not raised my ire since their famous buying of Fox Family and putting on the Power Rangers and Digimon Frontier. While that act was one of the worst acts ever done by the company formally created by Walt; there are if you can believe this far worse offenders and much worse content than Disney has created. No wonder television is a vast wasteland; this is what happens when the artists and writers are not in charge of creating the product. They know how to show the proper restraint and bring a good story out. That's what good artists are capable are. (Wow; that sounds like Sean Malstorm sort of. Malstrom had much better command on the English language than 2002 Me! And while many of these companies are worse than Disney, even the worst can find gold once in a while.) Although anime has been getting better; the real good ones are still on fringe looking in meaning that we still have to put up with the television that we have nowand it stinks. However; nothing stinks worse than the DirtBox....
That's right! I called it the DirtBox. Why do I call it the DirtBox? Not because it is filled with smut; (so all those smirking about how right I am to call it such because it does contains smut can stop it now. (Why? FOX's animation domination block is filled with it. As the joke goes: What's Inside the Foxbox? Probably poison.) it's because it would be an insult to Michael J. Fox, our Fox furry buddies and the president of Mexico if I called the network Fox. The three previous examples are not dirty. (Umm; politicians are hardly clean either, and foxes aren't exactly pure in terms of spreading diseases. Now Michael J. Fox is perfectly understandable at least.) The original FOX (I'm not going to use the word smut anyone because it's not proper and this is personal feelings aside.) Kids lineup was not exactly a family-friendly lineup; however, at least they had Digimon Season 3 to make up for any shortcomings and that show delievered the goods. However; this block of program known as the FoxBox fails to deliever and that's putting it mildly. 4Kids Entertainment made a huge mistake buying this block because they clearly didn't know how to program it correctly outside of Kirby. (Hindsight 20/20; Fox Box saved 4Kids Entertainment for a long while since their partnerships were not as strong as we thought they were once the NAS debacle panned out.) That's right. Kirby was a pretty good show. Maybe I should rephrase myself: 4Kids used the same formula to program the FoxBox that the network used to program FOX Kids. The only difference is that Digimon was the best program for the network for cartooning. With Disney now doing the programming of Digimon and doing a much better job (You have to give credit when they earn it.); the children's programming on the FOX network is very much a dead duck. Kirby just doesn't have the strength to carry the box by itself. (Oh; I think Kirby Right Back At Ya! did as wonderful job carrying the Smutbox until One Piece and Funky Cops arrived to turn the block around. 4Kids for all of their faults had great anime; but lost a lot of points because of pointless editing that wasn't needed.)
This should have been apparent the moment FOX decided to do a preview of their infamous FoxBox. (Yeah; it's "What's Inside the Foxbox?" after all.) It was a textbook diaster. The questions I ask about this disaster are the following:
[1.] Whose idea was it to bring the child talent from the Spy Kids to do this preview? (Because according to the exec rules; you must have a "current movie of the day" stars on your show to make kids say "Hey; so and so is doing a preview of a new show!" and then they go "Yay! Let's watch that!". Right? Nah; they'll probably say "What the hell is that? Do a flip!") The only good thing about this was that they were the only good thing about the preview and that isn't saying anything at all. (No it wasn't. The Spy Kids kids were not good and Kirby was fine outside of the overdubbing, so what is your problem?!) It seems to me that the people who created this sorry excuse for television programming figured that putting half-talented stars like those Spy Kids who starred in two family-friendly films that basically put style ahead of substance almost to the point of nausea; would work. (Yip.) It must have worked because children are in fact watching this poor block. Can you say commerical exploition? (Are you sounding like those moral guardians from that organization for a commerical free childhood, 2002 Me?!) That is not the only thing....
[2.] Whose idea was it to redub some footage from Kirby: Right Back At Ya! ( and the other shows for that matter) to make it sound like an Infomerical? (Fox wanted kids to watch their show. It would have worked if they didn't overdub the voices and just let the characters be the characters. Kids usually pick up on this cheap move to pander much quicker than adults do.) Nintendo should be up in arms over this mistreatment of the characters (and Bandai among others). (Something tells me Nintendo was perfectly all right with this, since they probably were the ones who had the anime made in the first place and planned to bring it out in some form. It's a money thing.) The biggest insult in that ballpark was King Deedede saying point-blank that: "I thought Kirby was from some Nintendo game." WHAT?! He didn't say that in the cartoon and never say it in the english comic!! (Trust me! I read the Nintendo Power Comic on Kirby and he didn't say that! (That's true! I have the comic and Dedeedee never said that. Of course in Japan; Dedeedee was never actually a king, that was a self-proclaimed title. This is where scare quotes really help.)) The only good thing about this preview was that this was a television preview with one episode used in each one unlike Disney did when they did a one hour Infomerical on the Lilo and Stich movie with giving away half the plot and giving it a tribute before it was released. (It was a good movie despite its assembly line plot; at least they spiced it up and made it worth something to watch.) Still it was the worst form of anime butchery I have ever seen. (No it wasn't. Plunder and Lightning is much worse in terms of butchery.) Redubbing the english script with a commerical-type script is even worse than changing good Japanese scripts into lame English scripts. (Yeah; but Kirby's English script was perfectly acceptable for it's audience. The changes made in other areas were frustrating too.) There's something even worse than that... (I corrected this line because it made no sense.)
[3.] Is the guy shouting "What inside the FoxBox?" sound like a pevert? I don't believe he is (we can be so darn lucky now can we.); but he sounds more sultry than most of the female characters (english voice dubs) in all of anime. (No; the guy shouting that stupid catchphrase is not a pervert. He's just a bad voice actor.) The voice is really awful; and there was no creativity in creating the CGI cube. (We've seen it before on Nintendo Gamecube FOX!) The bad part is that it will be present on the FoxBox every single week. (Thankfully; he got shunted out in later years.) This is a serious case of bad choice of voice actors FOX. One more thing which is somewhat off topic; however, I noticed in more recent editions of the FoxBox a game in which you are supposed to win prizes during the Kirby airings. I can tell you this: It's a slot machine! Nice work Fox; teaching the kids how to gamble. At least no one is losing money; although it plays exactly like a slot machine from Nightmare Enterprises. (You know what that means; it is rigged so that nobody wins!) That is very curel of you Fox. Children are crying for losing the slot machine game for the 20th time in a row. (Yeah; I'm over the teaching gambling thing as it's not the worst thing in the world (Pokemon Trading Cards on the other hand...), but the fact that it's rigged against children is really the cruel part. Seriously; 4Kids should be lucky that nothing really was at stake, because there's a lawsuit if I ever saw one otherwise.)
[4.] Where was Teenage Mutant Ninja____Hero Turtles? (Still in development at this point.) I know that they will not be released until Spring 2003; but it would have helped the preview just a tiny bit. Why didn't they show at least a bit of footage? I'm afraid that I may actually have an answer. Although there is no official reason why the turtles didn't show up in the preview; I think it was because it wasn't very good. According to some on the grapevine; the team behind the new turtle show isn't using the original voice actors and even the old writers for that matter. This will be a whole new show and that point to a worse show than the final season of the last TMNT show. This is a very bad sign indeed and considering the slow marketplace there might not be a future for that show either. (TMNT 2003 was delayed; but like a Nintendo game, it turned out to be for the best because the new show actually in many instances was leagues better than the 1987 TMNT one and certainly a lot more faithful. Keep in mind that 4Kids Entertainment was behind this; although it did expose their anti-anime bias in a big way.) One more thing: Does the new Stargate show remind some people of Alienators? It must because that was one the worst ideas to date: converting a PG-13 movie to a Y7-FV cartoon. Sure there is talk that Stargate OO would get an E/I; but wasn't that a PG-13 movie as well? Just a thought. (Alienators was in fact converted into a cartoon like Rambo was. Some people (DiC Enterprises) just never learn their lesson, don't they? Stargate is in the same boat too.) One more thought: I know that England forced the name Ninja to be changed to Hero because someone figured that if anyone says the word Ninja; children will start kicking and punching. If they see someone kicking and punching; does it really matter if they are called Hero or Ninja? Actions speak louder than words; everybody with some wisdom knows that. The answer is of course not!! (In the UK; this would be among the first instances of someone using the "trigger" excuse many years before it has become yet another overused meaningless word. Seriously; you would think the actual physical violence would have been enough to notice something wrong, but no, it's a word. Besides; I have figured out now that the reason for the "ninja" problem is that there are people in the UK who think ninjas are awful people. At least this is somewhat believable in the historic context, but this might be an inverted version of moral guardians hatred for dragons as babyfaces, like in Dragon Tales for instance.)
Okay; I've spent all that time lambasting a preview of the FoxBox. It's not really a big deal at the end of the day because we are talking about four shows: Kirby's: Right Back At Ya!, MUSCLE, Ultraman: Tigra and Fighting Foodoms. (What kind of name is that?). Surely the shows cannot be all that bad; after all Kirby was in fact a pretty decent show right? I hate to burst the bubble of all those FoxBox fans; but the answer is that yes it can get really bad!! I have rarely seen a bad slew of shows in my own deep memory. (Shookums & Meat, Quack Pack, Mighty Ducks in 1996 springs to my mind now.) First of all; I'm going to keep Kirby out of this because it don't deserve the outright rant that I'm going to give to the other shows. Kirby: Right Back At Ya! is a good show and I have to be honest with you. I do have a soft spot for this pink rubbery character and the main reason is because it restrains me from playing the role of drug-dealers and hitmen. Believe me when I say this; I'm not a big fan of cute, cuddly characters; but at least they have more depth and more humility than the extreme opposite of the specturm. Go figure. (TESTIFY~! Although saying that I'm not a fan of cute characters is an outright lie. Kit Cloudkicker anyone? He's cuter and more ticklish than Molly.) Here are my thoughts on each television show on the FoxBox.
[1.] Ultimate M.U.S.C.L.E.: The Kinnikuman Legacy: It sounded like a great idea at the time; a cartoon show about professional wrestling. (Quite frankly; I wish WWE would take the hint and do this instead of doing it in live action. Slam City was cute for what it was; but still...) This is the quest of Kid MUSCLE who is trying to follow in his father's footsteps and become the heavyweight champion of the wrestling world. (That sounds a lot like a lot of real life wrestling families which is a great angle in the animation world.) The problem is this: How much do you want to bet that the show was heavily edited? (Don't. It's 100% certain that this was put through a shredder. It's 4Kids Entertainment; the bastion of making sure anime never gets over American animation.) It makes the show so lame. There are fart jokes, there is a wrestler who seems to suffer from Mojo-jojo syndrome, (Dang!) and most of the villains seem to be inspired by real wrestling and more importantly; it is not funny nor entertainment because it often reminds me of why pro-wrestling is often under fire. That may be someone else's cup of tea; but this demonstrates that anime fanboys have made an impact on anime in America and it is not good at all. When will anime fanboys realize that 90% of anime stinks just like 90% of any other product? (When will you actually make a point that doesn't sound like you hate anime? If you want to bash someone; bash 4Kids' editing policies.) Fart jokes were never funny; they are obscene. (Oh god 2003 Me; you DO sound like some negative review from IMDB. I'm ashamed of myself now!) Mojo-jojo should be upset that a wrestler has basically used his own character and let's face it; I'd rather watch the live and somewhat real world of WWE than see this. (This was five years before Chris Benoit killed his family and we found out about why concussions suck. Ultimate MUSCLE now sounds better in hindsight, bad humor aside.) Watering down the show for kids doesn't help either as I've have seen this plotline before: Kid MUSCLE is a coward; and he's not even a good coward for that matter. He basically panics at the first sign of danger. (Why is this bad? Norman Smiley made a killing in WCW doing this gimmick and we loved him for it.) Good coward characters are either guys who attack without remorse of due cause; or one who don't act like the end of the world is near, but still refuse to face their fears. All in all; an anime that should have stayed in Japan, or at least the videogame should have come out in which storyline aren't as important as gameplay is. (It gets harder to bash this show knowing darn well that a TaleSpin producer from Walt Disney Animation Japan was an episode director for this show and it's sequel: Rokou Ogiwara.) My only worry now is wondering if they will treat One Piece (if it ever comes out; and I hope it doesn't) the same way if it was released on television? Shudder the thought... (You don't have to think 2002 Me! One Piece came out on the Fox Box and that thing was put through a shredder so much that when the license expired, Funimation bought the broadcast rights to the show and redubbed it into a more faithful version. MUSCLE was actually a great show in hindsight and it was mostly 4Kids Entertainment's editing that hurt it of course.)
[2.] Ultraman Tigra: There is little doubt in my mind that this wasn't a great idea at all to bring this to America. Sure; it's supposed to be better than the Power Rangers. The problem is that Ultraman had so much time to come out here; why did Saban/4Kids decide to wait to release this after the Power Ranger was released? The reason I ask this question is because Power Rangers basically makes this show absolutely lame. It was clear from the outset that the creators of this series tried way too hard to create a show that would have good plots and interesting characters. They failed on both counts; because no matter how hard you try to create some warmth for this series; its still a man (or puppet) wearing a funky rubber suit fighting against another man in a funky rubber suit. Plotlines don't matter when people watching it have seen Power Rangers before and believe that the only thing in it was the martial art violence that parents group complained about for the last decade or so. (Yeah; although this sounds like you stole this from some review on Usenet on this. I believe he was the same guy who came up with the "What's Inside The Foxbox? Probably poison." line.) It was simply a dead concept from the start. Now I would admit that if this was a cartoon ala AstroBoy; then this show might have had a chance; (No, this had no chance in hell.) however, this show should've stayed in Japan. However; there was nothing worser than the next television show...
[3.] Fighting Foodoms: Let me tell you the concept of this show: A young man tries to become the best chef in the world and create food dishes. Sounds pretty normal doesn't it? Well; here's the truth. With the proper magics and food selection; you can turns those beautiful creation into actual monsters who fight by your side. The basic plotline is to win against other chefs using your creations and winning special meal tickets while avoiding the evil chefs who want to destroy your creation. Look confused? Then I did my job. This has to be the weirdest concept of a show that I have ever seen. (After all the decades of cartooning; THIS was the weirdest thing you ever seen. Just wait until we get the talking baseball 2002 Me!) Plus it has a furry named Clawdia which has been considered a pretty good character in some circles. Too bad; it's the only thing redeemble about this program and FOX has a problem on its hands in more ways than one. (Fighting Foodums is basically a third rate Pokemon series using food as monsters. This may have worked in Japan; but the show was so bad in America and of course 4Kids editing policies did it no favors.) Let me say this in simple to understand terms: Japanese animation cannot afford more trouble from concerned parent groups. (They cannot afford to be stale either; but purists are not going to admit it.) I saw a parental column in the Boston Globe recently which talked about this show and with only two exceptions: the writer called it a heinous case of commerical exploition. (and many of the points in the article were valid.) Personally; I felt that the article was a bit off on two counts: [1.] Fighting Foodom's is light compared to most American versions of exploition. At least Fired Ricer was not a commerical product (yet!) and [2.] Don't you think it is more obscene for people to be calling injuries accidents instead of considering food to being fun when people are straving. In Canada we spend $14 billion on injuries right now while obesity will only get to $5 billion by 2010 and unlike obesity; it doesn't discriminate. Who's got the obscene values now? Have some prespective please. (TESTIFY~! As much damage as obesity has caused, they are as preventable as injuries. Except injuries can happen to anyone. Obesity on the other hand; not so much. It's also easier to prevent an injury than it is to reduce weight. I know that from experience.) Still; I can't blame the writer of that column for being concerned; however, if she really wanted to say just how terrible this show was to the nation's youth she should said the same thing that I'm going to say about this program: The entire plotline is based on FOOD and nothing else. (It amazes me how Barbara Meltz conveniently forgot every cooking show under the sun that are for the most part G-rated shows (outside of alcohol). Seriously; she hated the cartoon, and completely forgot about the cooking shows that have higher ratings and many of them have fun with their food. Fighting Foodums at least featured food that wasn't eaten. Idiots!) There are no relationships other than with food; the show simply falls into a third rate Pokemon battle with no inspiration whatsoever; the villians are unimpressive to me (except for Clawdia; which should have gotten her own series and prehaps save her from doing this program with no substance except to fill your belly.); and the stories are the ones that I have seen before. The only difference is that it basically about having fun with your food. It doesn't matter if it's commerical exploition because the show isn't worth watching to begin with. Sadly; the ads for Fighting Foodam were well done and that's bad news for parents since it will not prevent children from watching this sorry piece of trash. (Yeah; Fighting Foodums sucked a lot. Barbara wasted her time in my view.) This show should have stayed in Japan; where parents actually have some control over what kids watch. It is a bad show in quality and it just deepens a large hole for Japanese anime to flourish in America. (Nah; staleness is hurting them more than moral guardians at this point.) One more thing before someone flame's me over this: If you want to watch a show about having fun with your food and not have to worry about commerical interests; watch a REAL cooking show and one more thing; the word chef is a bad stereotype to imply that only professional people who have fancy degrees in cooking school can cook a meal. That's one stereotype that has got to go. (Oh! You did address what I said.)
There; I cannot take writing this anymore since the FoxBox was so painful to watch. I've never watched Invader Zim; however, I'm so afraid that its going to be a flop for me (despite the good reviews it got) that I'm not going to even watch it. (Invader Zim wasn't great; but it's better than most of the Foxbox anyway.) That; and the fact that YTV has yet to air it. Anyway; 4Kids Entertainment managed to surpass CBS' 1995 lineup in the poorest block of children's programming to date. Still; 4Kids Entertainment can turn this around if they get rid of at least Fighting Foodom's and Ultraman Tigra mainly because they have little entertainment value and FF has too much baggage now to deserve another shot on the air. (Don't worry; we never saw them again a few years later. The Cramp Twins on the other hand...) I would replace them with Pokemon and Digimon Season 4: Frontier. Sure it wouldn't surpass the 1990 Disney Afternoon block with TaleSpin in it; but it would certainly help both Fox and 4Kids in quality. (Well; Pokemon is no longer with 4Kids and is part of the Pokemon Company. Digimon is now back with Saban and neither would be able to be on Fox Box anyway.) Still; this is television's vast wasteland and almost no one changes its spots. I guess it is back to the TaleSpin tapes for another year... (Until they turned it around with Shaman King, One Piece and Funky Cops of course. There was some hope for the Fox Box with MUSCLE, TMNT and Kirby; but it wasn't the Disney Afternoon by a long shot.)
Memo to FOX, Warner Brothers, and Nick: You're lack of creative focus (although I give Nick credit for trying to keep American cartooning alive in full bloom) is making Disney say that they don't have to compete against you. If you don't create some quality original American cartoons that don't insult people's intellegence; then animation is going to die. (And is the number one reason why live-action sitcoms for kids became a lot more popular too.) Japanese animation can only do so much; and its still too far from the fringes to be mainstream at this point. People say that animation is now a respectful medium. Then again; they also said that pigs will fly for real too. Go figure. (That what we said about the Ducktales reboot and the Rescue Rangers CGI/live action movie.) That's my opinion; I welcome yours. See you next time...
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