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The Dirtbox meets the Sandbox

By: Gregory Weagle

Yes folks; I cannot stay away from this because it is so much fun teasing the creators (4Kids Entertainment; the same people who thought that the dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! Was as good as their Pokemon dub. BAKA!) who thought that it was a good idea to unleash the worst programming on Fox: The FoxBox, alias The SmutBox, alias The DirtBox. You already know why I hate this block and you know what's already on it (See What's Inside the Dirtbox?, Kim Possible Does the Impossible and Other Things). Before I begin; I want to tell you why I left out Back to the Future and Stargate OO off the reviews. The Back To The Future animated series is based on an old cartoon which was released about 10-12 years ago and I felt it was just a okay series; despite my dislike of the live-action movie. Stargate wasn't reviewed because I've haven't seen enough of the series to give a review decent enough to prove just how bad the idea really is. As I stated before; it is a bad idea to create a TV Y7 FV (of E/I in this case which is far worse) out of a PG-13 movie. It opens your product to attacks and it lacks creavity. At least the TaleSpin creators were smart enough to create a whole new world where you could discount Baloo, Louie and Shere Khan from Jungle Book and still have an original series.

Enough of the foolishness as Samurai Jack would say; let's get down to the business of talking about the FoxBox. The FoxBox is going to be one year old coming in September and I'm sure that 4Kids is going to find a way to try to shamelessly celebrate a programming block which contained Fighting Foodoms and Cramp Twins; two series which should never have been shown on any channel. Fighting Foodoms is a disgrace to Japanese animation if I ever saw one; sure Ultimate Muscle wasn't good either, but it did have it's moments and the wrestling concept meets pure fantasy was a good idea. I don't need to remind you about parenting columns again. Cramp Twins was even worse and it was so bad that Dentention would have been topped if the twins somehow degraded America while degrading the twins concept and giving us a grossfest that would only be allowed on Teletoon's primetime lineup and it's rated TV Y7. It also had Ultraman Tigra which would have worked if it was released before Power Rangers. Pirate Island, Kirby: Right Back At YA! And Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Remake were also present and those last three shows were good enough to create a half-decent block on their own however; the FoxBox suceeded in being the worst animation block since CBS 1995 which contained the last season of the falthering Ninja Turtles. How can they celebrate something that would make CBS look good? They can and they will and by September; they pretty much did.

However; before the celebration which will probably bring the return of the Spy Kid's teenagers, there is the business of announcing the Fall 2003 lineup for the FoxBox. During the Electronic Entertainment Expo; FOX decided to reveal their 2003-2004 lineup for the FoxBox. So let's begin with what is returning to the FoxBox. The good news is that Fighting Foodoms and Ultraman Tigra will not be returning to the FoxBox lineup which was supposed to be a good sign since Ultraman was lame and Fighting Foodoms was a disgrace. 4Kids at least has the smarts to realize how stupid those shows really were. Too bad it took too long before the poison seeped in. The bad news is that FOX has decided to listen to whomever created the Cramp Twins and it will be returning to the FoxBox lineup. It's shows like the Cramp Twins that gave this block the mockery of the SmutBox/DirtBox. Why not keep Pirate Island which was removed from the FoxBox? At least that show was decent. Ultimate Muscle (which is getting better- but doesn't all anime act like that?), Kirby: Right Back At Ya! And Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are returning for a second time so there is a shred of hope for this programming block. FOX also announced a slew of new shows to debut on the FoxBox and I must say that judging from the releases; with the exception of Cubix: Robots For Everyone, I'm actually interested in them. 4Kids is finally listening to my prayers after all it seems. We shall see this fall….Without further audieau; here are the new shows on tap for release this fall:


Sonic X

>>>>FOX's Official Release:

Accidentally transported by Chaos Control, Sonic finds himself on a strange planet inhabited by humans and teams up with his newest friend, Christopher. Together, Sonic and Christopher embark on a series of exhilarating and elaborate quests as they search for the "Chaos Emeralds," precious stones delivering the power to conquer the world to whoever possesses them. Through their adventures, Sonic and Christopher must battle Sonic's archrival, the evil Dr. Eggman, a robotics authority, who wants the "Chaos Emeralds" for himself so that he can establish his own empire to dominate the world. Known for speed, power and energy, Sonic helps Christopher overcome his boyhood fears as they meet up with long-time friends Knuckles, Tails and Amy, and encounter new pals Cream and Cheese. In a distant galaxy, the confrontation between Sonic and Dr. Eggman begins once again! <<<<

My Thoughts: Sega is bringing back their blue hedgehog/speed-crazy freak/speed over brains critter back to television for the fourth time. Sonic began as a video game character in response to the juggernaunt plumber known as Mario (Nintendo's mascot). Needless to say; Sonic was the answer to Sega's woes as it turned Sega from a disgraced video game console maker to a huge threat to Nintendo. It created a video game debate that was as classic as any wrestling match as the two mascots fought it out to see who could outslug the other. Nintendo won the battle; but barely (letting Sega release Genesis a year early didn't help matter either). Sonic has debuted in three TV series since 1992; The first was the ABC edition of Sonic the Hedgehog which was considered great to awesome in some circles (the comics were fairly good too) which debuted in 1992/1993; followed by Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog created by BKN which was considered a flop in many circles (although it debuted two very goofy robots including a rooster) and then there is Sonic Underground which I have no comment over because I have never seen it. Sonic the videogames was always pretty good; although Sonic Adventure 2 was it's worst effort.

I was reading from the press release and I see a problem with this show already concerning the fact that Sonic is teaming up with a human character. Christopher is according to the press note; a boy with boyhood fears. The problem with that is that it is going to seriously limit Sonic's character even more than it already is. Sonic speed is his major gimmick and if he's going to be able to work with Christopher than he's going to have to grow a mass amount of intellegence and that's something that Sonic isn't best known for. It might or might not change his attitude; but that will be a judgement call on the creators for this one. This will be the unofficial debut for Knuckles (anime and OAV's not included), Amy (from Sonic Advance) and Cream (from Sonic Advance 2) on television and it will be interesting to see have their presona's will translate. The question that still need to be answered is weither Dr. Eggman and Tails will retain their ABC (or Undergound) personaility or their awful BKN personaility which caused a lot of fan to vomit in disgust? Will the animation be as good as ABC's (I think this is a gimmie for that) and will Sonic actually be like the Sonic Adventure games where he looks more fleshed-out? If the creators of this show managed to address these problems and does them properly then there is no doubt that this will be the show to watch on the FOXBox.


Shaman King

>>>>FOX's Official Release:

From the producers of Yu-Gi-Oh! comes the Shaman King. This adventurous series takes place in a world where anything is possible ... where spirits and ghosts interact with humans. The main character is a 13-year-old boy who is a modern-day shaman, one of the gifted few who can see the spirit world. His power comes by teaming up with Amidamaru, a samurai warrior spirit. Together they travel the globe fighting evil spirits and misguided shamans on their quest to be the next Shaman King. Each battle prepares them for the once every 500 years "Grand Tournament" that will name the new Shaman King. <<<<<

My Thoughts: Anime…..there is one side who thinks that it is the last thing you should ever see (the anime fanboy) and then there is the other side which thinks that Japanese Anime is a abomination (because it's Un-American despite the fact that some the best cartoons are anime-based or created by American writers and Asian/European animators. TaleSpin; I'm looking at you!). I fit into the in-between crowd who believe that 90% of anything is garbage regardless of what industry it is from. Shaman King is a series that I have heard before from my days of recording the list of Gameboy, Gamecube and Gameboy Advance titles. I believe that the Gameboy titles are developed by either King Records or Banpresto while the Gamecube title was developed by Bandai. I didn't know until I read this list that this series was coming because I was expecting One Piece to be the next title in line. I guess FUNimation decided to get the rights to it on Cartoon Network.

At any rate; as with any anime, the concerns of this anime is weither the show will suffer from mass editing ala Sailor Moon or Dragon Ball Z. I am sad to say that there is blood flowing in this series (at least from what I saw from the manga; but of course TV series in Japan never follow anime anyway so I could be wrong) and there is some swearing. So I expect edits to become noted. Another concern is that 4Kids is doing this production and after the Yu-Gi-Oh debacle (which wasn't as bad as some stated mainly because some scenes were needed to be cut out do to the sexual and excessive violence (ie: wouldn't even be allowed on TV 14 without edits) in several respects.) where they basically ignored the kayfabe of Pokemon and proceeded to change stuff that was not even offensive and made the character look dumber and meaner than they should be. Although I must admit; the way anime protrays characters in its animation doesn't help the poor dubbers either. It will be sad considering that Shaman King looks like a good series and it does bring some flavour that the rest of the FoxBox is currently lacking. If they keep the edits to a minimum (limited to violence and swearing) and make sure that the characters actually have some emotion capitity to care like the originals can do at times then 4Kids will be able to show that Pokemon wasn't a fluke. However; considering the record of dubbers; I'm not so sure….



>>>>FOX's Official Release:

4Kids' first original animated series, Cubix follows the adventures of robot whiz-kid Connor, a 13-year-old who brings to life a robot named Cubix that had been discarded as useless. After Connor gets done, though, Cubix is anything but useless ... applying his phenomenal super-charged powers to help Connor and his friends face down the endless stream of threats posed by the town's wacky mad scientist, the evil Dr. K. Set in the futuristic world of Bubble Town, where 10,000 of its population of 24,000 residents are robots, Cubix is all about action, adventure - and uncommon friendship.<<<<<

My Thoughts: Actually folks; this is not a preview of Cubix. What I'm about to say is a review of Cubix since I have seen this show before on YTV. It is a property of 4Kids and it was also a video game which has been on the Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, Gamecube, and PlayStation systems; all developed by the late 3D0 Company. (As of this writing; The 3D0 Company has filed for bankuptcy protection and is for sale at the moment) The show is a CGI show in the loose principal of Reboot. I termed it loosely because Cubix: Robots for Everyone is a pretty bad show to say the least. Although it is far from the bottom 10-20 worse shows ever done; it comes pretty close. It is basically a CGI version of Pokemon or even more similar to the show Medabots (which is actually half-decent with a funny Mr. Referee) except it doesn't have the wit or the humaility that Pokemon has. The CGI is similar to the much better series Monster By Mistake so there are some redeeming qualities to it.

What really upsets me about this is that 4Kids decided to dump Pirate Island in favor of this show which was cancelled a couple of years ago due to low ratings. Doesn't 4Kids realize that Cubix: Robots For Everyone was cancelled because the show was plain garabage. Pirate Island; while it could have been better, actually had decent writing and was the only watchable live-action show outside of Galidor and 2030 CE among the new shows released last year. There are only two reasons why 4Kids wants to revive this show: [1.] To promte the video game sale of Cubix from 3D0 which is not going to work because as fighting titles; Cubix is about as fourth rate as you're going to get (plus 3D0 is pretty much dead as a company) or [2] 4Kids is running out of money to promote a new show so they decided to fish out what little money they had and reinstated this cartoon out of spite. What a poor marketing decision which everyone should have seen coming considering that they are the same people who on the one hand created a great Pokemon dub has also created a garbage program such as Cubix which is better than the Cramp Twins and decided that Fighting Foodoms was a classic earning a right to a North American release when Boston Globe Parenting expert Barbara Meltz was warning about the dangers of such programming to our young ones. This is proof that 4Kids cannot do anything without some company like Nintendo, Konami or Bandai to prop itself up.


Funky Cops

>>>>>FOX's Official Release:

Fresh from winning a Best New Animated Series award from the prestigious "Cartoon on the Bay" international animation conference, Funky Cops is 1970's nostalgia and outrageous comedy! Modeled after '70's cop shows, Funky Cops chronicles the adventures of two brothers on the police force who become stars at a San Francisco disco. Brother Ace is the smooth one ... The head of a band fashioned after the Jackson Five, Ace used to be a hairdresser before he became a cop. His partner Dick is the Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry-type. The show was created by brothers Christophe and Benoit Di Sabatino and is produced by Antefilm. <<<<<<

My Thoughts: Okay folks; this show is one where I'm not going to great lengths to cover because I don't know Antefilm or both Sabatino brothers. 4Kids is taking a huge risk in bringing this series to FOX mainly because this is Antefilm initial debut. Funky Cops is far from original programming as it unapoloigically is based on 1970's police show comedys and it looks like it may even have a hint of the late 1980's short lived animated series COPS. Judging from the press release; it looks to be an interesting show. However; there is no room for error for this show since there are many police comedies that have done well and the competition is fierce for this one. The show also seems to have some depth to it as well; however, I really don't know how to gauge this show until I actually get to see it; so I'll wait until this fall to review this show.


I must say that despite the presence of the Cramp Twins and Cubix; 4Kids is listening to me and that they are really trying to improve the programming block into something that is half decent. Funky Cops and Shaman King are still unknowns because of their lack of presence; however, unless something awful happens (Shaman King becomes Dragon Ball Z-esque or Funky Cops really is bad) then they will be welcome additions to the lineup. Sonic X is the best show by default and it is good for taking the pressure off Kirby, Kid Muscle and the Ninja Turtles. However; 4Kids has a lot to learn about block programming and they are still below what a good block of programming should be. However; I must admit that they have finally gotten rid of the black mark of being compared to CBS 1995 programming and is now more like the 1994 programming block that Disney had.

Memo to 4Kids: Put Pirate Island and Pokemon on your block instead and you got a programming block that might be able to compete with the Disney 1991 programming that was considered the best programming block ever. It cannot hurt the preformance….That's my opinion; I welcome yours; see you next time.

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