Cartoon Network Upfronts Bring Sadness

It’s that time of year again, time for fans to find out what cartoons they’ll be watching this year. Unfortunately, Cartoon Network’s upfront presentation wasn’t the joyous occasion everyone hoped it would be. Though it did have some very bright spots.

First, what you knew was coming but were afraid to hear – Young Justice, Green Lantern and Star Wars: Clone Wars are all missing from the list of returning series. While Clone Wars is expected to jump to a Disney network (most likely Disney XD), both of the current DC Nation shows are simply dead.

Surprisingly, live-action is almost entirely absent from the network. Level Up is gone, and there’s no mention of the Hall of Game Awards. Only the new sketch series, Incredible Crew remains.

Here’s what’s coming up in 2013.

CARTOON NETWORK NEW SERIES

Incredible Crew: Incredible Crew, is a live-action, half-hour, sketch comedy series from producer and entertainer Nick Cannon. Every episode of this high-energy, fast-paced show delivers hilarious comedy bits, outrageous hidden camera pranks, original music videos and commercial parodies all with a distinct attitude—a contemporary blend of internet sensibility mixed with kid imagination. Incredible Crew showcases six up-and-coming young comedy stars featured in diverse roles in every genre Shauna Case (American Horror Story), Shameik Moore (Joyful Noise), Tristan Pasterick, Chanelle Peloso (Level Up), Jeremy Shada (Adventure Time) and Brandon Soo Hoo (Enders Game, Tropic Thunder). Nick Cannon serves as executive producer of Incredible Crew along with Michael Goldman and Scott Tomlinson. The series is produced by Cartoon Network Studios in association with NCredible Entertainment.

I haven’t caught this show yet, though the constant ads do have me curious. “Errands With My Mom” kills me every time I hear it.

Steven Universe: Slated to debut in 2013, Steven Universe is a coming-of-age story told from the perspective of Steven, the youngest member of a team of magical Guardians of the Universe. The animated series was conceived as part of the shorts development initiative at Cartoon Network Studios, and is created by Emmy® and Annie Award-nominated writer and storyboard artist Rebecca Sugar (Adventure Time). Sugar is Cartoon Network’s first solo female show creator.

It’s from Rebecca Sugar, who brought us some of Adventure Time‘s best episodes. I’m in.

Uncle Grandpa: Also slated for 2013, Uncle Grandpa is based upon the Emmy®-nominated short of the same name and follows the exploits of Uncle Grandpa—everyone in the world’s “magical” uncle and grandpa. Created and executive produced by Pete Browngardt (creator of Cartoon Network’s Emmy®, Annie and Annecy Cristal Award-winning Secret Mountain Fort Awesome), Uncle Grandpa was conceived as part of the shorts development program at Cartoon Network Studios.

I like the concept, but man, Secret Moutain Fort Awesome was terrible. I do not have high hopes.

Clarence: From creator Skyler Page, Clarence is a new original animated series about an optimistic boy who wants to do everything. Because everything is amazing! Clarence was conceived as part of the shorts development program at Cartoon Network Studios.

This description is so vague that I have no idea what to expect from it.

Teen Titans Go!: Featuring the return of Robin, Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy and Cyborg in all-new, comedic adventures, Teen Titans Go! will premiere in April 2013. Character-driven comedy is the order of the day as this new take on the superhero series focuses on the funny business that happens between saving the world and living together as teenagers without adult supervision. The series stars the principal voice cast from the original Teen Titans, and is produced by Warner Bros. Animation.

While Teen Titans Go! has the same cast as its only-sometimes-a-comedy predecessor, it does not share the creative staff. Nor is it the same people behind the chibi New Teen Titans shorts on DC Nation. However, any chance to spend more time with these characters is always welcome (even if it comes at the expense of Young Justice).

Beware the Batman: A cool, new take on the classic Dark Knight franchise, Beware the Batman incorporates Batman’s core characters with a rogue gallery of new villains not previously seen in animated form. Along with backup from ex-secret agent Alfred and lethal swordstress Katana, the Dark Knight faces the twisted machinations of Gotham City’s criminal underworld led by the likes of Anarky, Professor Pyg, Mister Toad and Magpie. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, this action-packed detective thriller deftly redefines what we have come to know as a “Batman show.” Featuring cutting-edge CGI visuals, Beware the Batman, based on characters from DC Comics, is coming to Cartoon Network’s DC Nation block in Summer 2013.

I really want to be excited about this show, but I’m having such a hard time doing it. My ambivalence is only strengthened by the DC Nation shows that aren’t back.

Legends of Chima: In the mystical land of CHIMA, Laval the Lion and Cragger the Crocodile are the best of friends. An innocent escapade results in Cragger getting his first experience with the CHI, a powerful and sacred resource important to the delicate balance of CHIMA. The CHI gives awesome power to the user but needs to be managed carefully and certainly not by young adventurous animals. From LEGO, creator of Cartoon Network’s powerhouse action-adventure series Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu, Legends of Chima will premiere in Summer 2013.

Um… some of the stuff in the ads looks a bit like Thunder Cats, so maybe some of you guys will dig it?

Grojband: 12-year-old Corey is the front man for a rockin’ garage band. There’s just one problem: Corey’s lyrics stink. He just can’t think of anything cool to write about, until…he finds his sister’s diary that’s full of “teen angst and junk” and decides to use each diary entry as inspiration for crowd pleasing, heart stopping, foot stomping hit songs. Grojband is distributed by FremantleMedia Ltd. and produced by Fresh TV, creator of the hit animated reality franchise Total Drama Island.

This sounds… less than good.

The Tom and Jerry Show: The iconic cat and mouse rivals are back in The Tom and Jerry Show, a fresh take on the classic series. Preserving the look, characters and sensibility of the original, the all-new series shines a brightly colored, high-definition lens on the madcap slapstick and never-ending battle that has made Tom and Jerry two of the most beloved characters of all time. The Tom and Jerry Show is produced by Warner Bros. Animation.

I really like The Looney Tunes Show and didn’t expect much from that, but I’m not the biggest Tom and Jerry fan so even if it’s good I probably won’t care. Will you?

Total Drama All Stars: Total Drama is back, but this time the team at Fresh TV have assembled the best loved and most hated contestants from seasons past to compete – Heroes vs. Villains style! Total Drama Island is produced by Fresh TV and distributed by CAKE Distribution.

This franchise will never die. Ever.

SPECIALS AND MOVIES

Adventure Time Special: Highly-regarded comedic actors Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) and Donald Glover (Community) will be featured in a special episode of Cartoon Network’s hit animated series Adventure Time. The episode, “Bad Little Boy,” is slated to premiere February 18 as part of the series’ fifth and current season. Reprising his role as Prince Gumball from season three’s much-loved gender switch episode “Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake,” Neil Patrick Harris will join Donald Glover, as Marshall Lee, the musical male counterpart to fan favorite Marceline the Vampire Queen in this second installment of the Fionna and Cake (derived from Finn and Jake) saga. In this special episode, the princesses are sick and tired of Ice King’s crazy Fionna and Cake stories, so Marceline stops by the Ice Kingdom to show him how it’s done.

Is there anyone not excited the return of Fionna and Cake?

Regular Show Special: Regular Show, Cartoon Network’s Emmy® Award-winning animated comedy featuring best friends Mordecai, a six-foot-tall blue jay and Rigby, a hyperactive raccoon, is slated for a 30-minute Thanksgiving special, Regular Show style. Mordecai and Rigby accidentally ruin Thanksgiving and must find a way to save it before their families arrive for dinner. The gang pulls together to help make it the best Thanksgiving ever! Regular Show, currently in its’ fourth season, has become an instant hit continually ranking #1 in its time period among all key boy demos across all of television according to Nielsen Media Research.

I. Love. This. Show.

The Powerpuff Girls Special: “Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice…plus a dash of mysterious Chemical X” were the essential ingredients that created Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup—also known as The Powerpuff Girls. This groundbreaking and Emmy®-winning series, created by Craig McCracken, ran on Cartoon Network from 1998-2005 and will soar again as a brand-new, redesigned and re-imagined CG special coming in 2013 where the trio of pint-sized super heroines will be called upon to rescue not just the city of Townsville, but the USA and the world! Featuring an original song “I Wish I Was A Powerpuff Girl” performed by Beatles legend Ringo Starr, who also portrays Townsville’s most famous flamboyant mathematician, “Fibonacci Sequins,” this all-new original special comes from a powerhouse creative team featuring animation talent from around the globe including acclaimed director Dave Smith and award-winning art director Kevin Dart and is produced by Cartoon Network Studios in association with UK’s Passion Pictures. The special also features the original voice cast reprising their iconic roles and will premiere later this year.

Like Teen Titans Go!, this features the same cast, but Craig McCracken and Lauren Faust are not back for this special. Hopefully it’ll still be good without them.

The Yoda Chronicles: LEGO Star Wars returns in epic style with THE YODA CHRONICLES, a thrilling, funny and action-packed new LEGO Star Wars story told in three animated TV specials! Set in the “Prequel” Star Wars timeline, THE YODA CHRONICLES stars the one and only Yoda—the Jedi Master who has seen it all, done it all, and taught generations of Jedi Knights—in an all-new adventure. With the help of a fresh class of Padawans, Yoda leads the Jedi in a desperate fight to stop Darth Sidious and his minions from creating a new super-weapon that could crush the Republic and win the war for the forces of Evil.

Weird that CN’s getting a new Lego Star Wars series at the same time that Clone Wars drops from its schedule. However, since the Lego Star Wars specials have been pretty great this should probably be too.

RETURNING SERIES/SPECIALS

Adventure Time
Regular Show
Annoying Orange
MAD
The Amazing World of Gumball
The Looney Tunes Show
Ben 10 Omniverse
Dreamworks Dragons: Riders of Berk
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Inc.
Johnny Test
Pokémon Black & White: Adventures in Unova
Beyblade Metal Fury
Almost Naked Animals
Scaredy Squirrel

I’m shocked and thrilled that Scooby Doo: Mystery Inc. is coming back. I had forgotten about Scaredy Squirrel‘s existence.

Skott Stotland is a thousand monkeys in a man suit. He has been writing for the internet for over a decade.

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