Prime time cartoon

Prime time cartoon

Before "The Flintstones"

While "The Flintstones" (originally running on ABC from September 30, 1960April 1, 1966) is generally considered the first cartoon to air in prime time, it was preceded by "CBS Cartoon Theater", which aired reruns of Terrytoons theatrical shorts for three months in 1956, and was hosted by a young Dick Van Dyke. Following that series, "The Gerald McBoing-Boing Show", a cartoon based on an Academy Award-winning animated short, ran for a few months on Friday nights on CBS in 1958. Both shows, however, were designed to showcase theatrical cartoon shorts. "The Flintstones" remains the first animated series made up of all original programming to air prime time. Fact|date=February 2007


Many of Hanna-Barbera's original TV series were produced for prime time broadcast, and they continued to produce prime time TV cartoons up until the early 1970s. Such shows as "The Huckleberry Hound Show" and its spin-off, "The Yogi Bear Show", "Quick Draw McGraw", "Top Cat", "Jonny Quest", "The Jetsons", "Wacky Races", and especially "The Flintstones" were originally broadcast during prime time hours, competing with live-action comedies, dramas, and quiz shows.

The first prime time animated series from Hanna-Barbera were "The Ruff & Reddy Show" (1957) and "The Huckleberry Hound Show" (1958), though the studio hit its stride in 1960s when it scored with "The Flintstones". This was the first half-hour "sitcom" cartoon, and like many of its successors it was originally aired during prime time when the whole family would be watching television. "The Flintstones" was the first of several prime-time animated series from Hanna-Barbera, which included the acclaimed "Jonny Quest", generally thought of as Hanna-Barbera's best television work; however, prime time animation did not produce any other high-rated TV series, and Hanna-Barbera turned its efforts to the growing market for Saturday morning cartoons.

"Top Cat"

"Top Cat" was a Hanna-Barbera prime time American animated television series which ran from September 27, 1961 to April 18, 1962 for a run of 30 episodes on the ABC network on Wednesdays.

"The Jetsons"

"The Jetsons" aired on Sunday nights on ABC from September 23, 1962 to March 3, 1963. Like "The Flintstones", it was a half-hour family sitcom projecting contemporary American culture and lifestyle into another time period.

The original series, comprised of 24 episodes, was made between 1962 and 1963 and was re-run on Saturday morning for decades. Its continuing popularity led to further episodes being produced for syndication between 1985 and 1987. The series was extensively merchandised and followed by two made for-TV movies and two theatrical feature films.

"Jonny Quest"

"Jonny Quest" first aired on September 18, 1964 on the ABC network, and was an almost instant success, both critically and ratings-wise. It was canceled after one season, not because of poor ratings, but because each episode of the show went over budget. Notably more realistic and detailed than previous Hanna-Barbera prime time programs such as "The Flintstones" and "The Jetsons", "Jonny Quest" required an attention to detail that ABC was unable to afford.

"Wait Till Your Father Gets Home"

"Wait Till Your Father Gets Home" is an animated television series produced from 1972 to 1974 by Hanna-Barbera which aired in first-run syndication in the United States. The show had first appeared as a one-time segment called "Love and the Old-Fashioned Father" on "Love, American Style".

"Wait Till Your Father Gets Home" was the only prime time animated sitcom to appear since "The Flintstones", more than ten years earlier. In the twenty-five year period from the end of "The Flintstones", it was one of only two animated sitcoms to run in prime time, the other being "The Simpsons".

Prime time specials

The only inspired animated efforts on television during the period of the 1960s through the 1980s came from prime time animated TV specials. Because these one-shot cartoons were aired during prime-time hours (and thus had to appeal to adults as well as children), they had to obtain higher ratings than their Saturday and weekday counterparts. CBS in particular allowed a large number of animated TV specials to air on its network, and several of these have become cherished classics (now available on video). The Rankin-Bass studio produced a number of stop-motion specials geared towards popular holidays (including "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"); while Bill Melendez's long-running series of "Peanuts" specials won numerous awards.

"The Simpsons"

Only the advent of "The Simpsons" decades later brought cartoons back to American prime time network television with the kind of success "The Flintstones" enjoyed. The 1990s saw the beginnings of a new wave of animated series targeted primarily to adults, after a lack of such a focus for over a decade. In 1989, "The Simpsons" based on a short animated cartoon segment of "The Tracey Ullman Show," became the first prime time animated series since "The Flintstones" to capture a sizable viewing audience. And it was "The Simpsons" in 1997 that ultimately broke "The Flintstones" record as the longest-running prime time animated series.

It was the first major hit series for the fledgling Fox network, and it caused a minor sensation, entering popular culture and gaining wide acceptance. As of 2007, "The Simpsons" appears to show no signs of stopping, and at this rate may surpass "Gunsmoke" as the longest-running fictional program in American television history. "The Simpsons" has become possibly the most successful work of animation ever made, and has also dominated the merchandise markets as well.

"Capitol Critters", "Family Dog" and "Fish Police"

Family Dog", "Capitol Critters" and "Fish Police" were all prime time cartoons created by rival networks in the wake of the Fox network's unprecedented success with "The Simpsons", and all were critically drubbed and lasted less than a handful episodes before cancellation.

"The Critic"

"The Critic" is an American animated series that was originally broadcast on ABC in 1994 (later on FOX in 1995). The show was created by Al Jean and Mike Reiss, who were the show runners on "The Simpsons" for two years. The show was produced by Gracie Films in association with Columbia Pictures Television, and was animated by Film Roman.

"Stressed Eric"

NBC bought the rights to air it shortly after its initial airing in the UK, but ceased broadcasting the show after just three episodes. This was despite changes being made to the cartoon: cutting 4 minutes from each episode due to the 8 minutes of commercial time required and giving Eric an American accent to make the story revolve more around an American living in England. The American version ran on NBC from August 12, 1998 to August 26, 1998.

"The PJs"

40 episodes were aired during the show's three-year run (1999-2001), and 6 left-over episodes were produced by the WB. Each episode took over two months to produce, owing to the laborious claymation process. Originally broadcast on FOX, the show later moved to the The WB in 2000–2001, but was soon cancelled due to its high budget.Fact|date=January 2007The last three episodes were not seen until 2003. Reruns previously aired on Trio, a cable television network.


The first episode was broadcast on January 25, 1999, making it UPN's highest rated series premiere to that point of the network's history; it lasted two seasons on UPN before its cancellation. The first season centered on the creation of a new product, the "Gruntmaster 6000": episodes one through three involved the idea process, ("The Name", "The Prototype", and "The Competition" respectively); the fourth ("Testing") involved having it survive a malevolent company tester named "Bob Bastard", and the fifth ("Elbonian Trip") was about production in the famine-stricken fourth-world country of Elbonia. The product was finally tested by an incredibly stupid family in Squiddler's Patch, Texas, in the thirteenth and final episode of the season, "Infomercial", even though it had not been tested in a lab beforehand.

The second season featured seventeen episodes, bringing the total number of episodes to thirty. Unlike the first season, the episodes were not part of a larger story arc and had a different storyline for each of the episodes (with the exception of episodes 29 and 30, "Pregnancy" and "The Delivery"). Elbonia was revisited once more in "Hunger", Dogbert still managed to scam people in "Art", Dilbert was accused of mass murder in "The Trial", and Wally gets his own disciples in episode 16, "The Shroud of Wally".

"Family Guy"

"Family Guy" originally aired in the United States on the Fox Broadcasting Company on January 31, 1999, after Super Bowl XXXIII.

This episode attracted 22 million viewers. The show premiered as a regular series in April and ran for six additional episodes until the season finale in mid-May. The second season began on September 23, 1999, and suffered competition from other shows. After only two episodes of the second season, "Family Guy" was taken off the network's permanent schedule and shown irregularly thereafter. The show returned in March 2000 to finish airing the second season, which contained 21 episodes. The third season contained 22 episodes and began its run on July 11, 2001.

During its second and third-season runs, FOX frequently moved the show around different days and time slots with little or no notice and consequently, the show's ratings suffered. When "Family Guy" was shown in the UK, and when the DVDs were subsequently released there (November 12, 2001), the first seven episodes of the second season were included with the first season, balancing them out with 14 episodes each.

There was a great deal of debate and rumor during the second and third seasons about whether "Family Guy" would be cancelled or renewed. FOX publicly announced that the show had been cancelled at the end of the second season. In an attempt to convince FOX to renew the show, dismayed fans created websites, signed petitions, and wrote letters; some even sent actual diapers and baby food to the network to save Stewie.

Revival efforts

The show's cancellation in the third season was decried by fans, who renewed efforts to convince FOX to resurrect the show. An online petition was launched, garnering over 10,000 signatures within a few weeks. The petition gained over 100,000 signatures total, but this along with mass e-mailing and letter writing to FOX executives and organized street protests failed to save "Family Guy". Later efforts to get other networks, particularly UPN, to buy "Family Guy" also failed.

Return to television

In 2003, "Family Guy" gained its first syndicated run on Canada's Teletoon network, where it quickly gained massive popularity due to frequent airings. Several months later, reruns of the series finally found a permanent home at Cartoon Network's late-night "Adult Swim" block, where it continues to play as of 2008. According to a Cartoon Network press release, cquote|"FAMILY GUY" ranks #1 in its time period on cable among Adults and Men 18–24, and occasionally beats both "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" in head-to-head competition among Men 18–34 and Men 18–24. [cite news|first=Stephen|last=Battaglio|title=The Second Life of Brian|publisher=TV Guide|date=May 1-7, 2005]

The series found further success on DVD, when it was finally released for the U.S. market (NTSC, Region 1) on April 15, 2003. Divided into two volumes, "Family Guy" sold 2.2 million DVD units in the first year, [cite news|first=Jennifer|last=Netherby|title=DVD keeps Family alive|publisher=Video Business|date=March 29, 2004] reportedly surpassing every other TV-based DVD released in 2003, including "Sex and the City" and "Friends" compilations. The significant Cartoon Network ratings combined with the unprecedented DVD sales, led to widespread rumors that FOX was in talks to revive the series.

On November 19, 2003, the E! Entertainment Television channel and its website (see below) reported that FOX was negotiating with "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane to revive the show with 35 new episodes. In a February 27, 2004 interview with IGN, Seth MacFarlane confirmed that "Family Guy" would resume production. [cite web|url=|title=The Family Guy To Return - Production begins for a 2005 return to TV.|accessdate=2006-07-12|last=Patrizio|first=Andy|date=2004-02-27|] MacFarlane provided even more information in a BBC interview. [cite web|url=|title=Cult Television - Family Guy|accessdate=2006-07-12|]

On March 26, 2004, Fox officially announced that it had committed to producing at least 22 more episodes of "Family Guy" for broadcast in early 2005. "Adult Swim" retained a window to run these episodes, starting on May 1, 2005. Seth MacFarlane was quoted as saying, cquote|I'm just incredibly excited that we're back in business on "Family Guy". Now all those crazy kids who've been hounding me to bring the show back can stop bothering me and move onto more serious matters—like saving "Coupling".

The fourth-season premiere of "Family Guy", titled "North by North Quahog", aired on Sunday, May 1, 2005, 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time on FOX, and poked fun at the show's former troubles by showing a 2002 flashback with Peter listing all of the FOX shows that would have to fail (and did) before "Family Guy" would be able to return. An important reason for the show's current success is the Sunday night time slot along with other FOX animated programs. Reruns of the fourth season began play during "Adult Swim" on June 9 of that year.


When it came to deciding when the show would air, creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen wanted "Futurama" to be shown at 8:30 Sunday nights, following "The Simpsons". FOX disagreed, opting instead to show two episodes in the Sunday night lineup before moving the show to its regular time slot on Tuesday.cite news|first=Andrew|last=Duncan|url=|title=Matt Groening Interview with Radio Times|publisher=Radio Times|date=1999-09-24|accessdate=2007-03-18] Beginning its second broadcast season "Futurama" was again placed in the 8:30 Sunday spotcite news|first=Annabelle|last=Villanueva|url=|title=Fall TV Preview: Tricks and Treats|publisher=Cinescape|date=September-October 1999|accessdate=2007-03-18] , but by mid-season the show was moved again. This time, "Futurama" began airing in the 7 p.m. Sunday timeslot, its third position in under a year's time.cite news|first=Adam|last=Winer|url=|title=Futurama Shock|publisher=Entertainment Weekly|date=1999-12-09|accessdate=2007-03-18] Due to the 7 p.m. Sunday timeslot the show was often preempted by sports and usually had a later than average season premiere. It also allowed the writers and animators to get ahead of the broadcast schedule so that episodes intended for one season were not aired until the following season. By the beginning of the fourth broadcast season all the episodes to be aired that season had already been completed and writers were working at least a year in advance.cite web |url= |title="David X. Cohen boards the Planet Express to find meaning in Futurama" |publisher=Sci Fi Weekly|date=December 17 2001|accessdate=2007-06-18 |format= |work= ]


When "Futurama" debuted in the FOX Sunday night line-up at 8:30 p.m. between "The Simpsons" and "The X-Files" on March 28, 1999 it managed 19 million viewers, tying for 11th overall in that week's Nielsen Ratings.cite news|first=David|last=Bauder|url=|title=New animated show `Futurama' may be a score for Fox|publisher=The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|date=1999-04-01|accessdate=2007-03-17] The following week, airing at the same time, "Futurama" drew 14.2 million viewers. The show was then moved to Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. "Futurama"'s first episode airing on Tuesday drew 8.85 million viewers.cite web|url=|title=Groening's Gripe|date=April 1999|accessdate=2007-03-17] Though its ratings were well below "The Simpsons", Futurama's first season rated higher than competing animated series: "King of the Hill", "Family Guy", "Dilbert", "South Park" and "The PJs".cite news|first=James|last=Sterngold|url=|title=Futurama: Bringing an Alien and a Robot to TV Life|publisher=The New York Times|date=1999-07-22|accessdate=2007-03-17]

When "Futurama" was effectively cancelled in 2003 it had averaged 6.4 million viewers for the first half of its fourth broadcast season.cite web|url=|title= Fox puts 'Futurama' order on hold|date=2002-02-14|accessdate=2007-03-17]

how status

FOX executives reportedly did not like the show and by the fourth season, "Futurama" was being aired erratically.cite web| url =| title = UPDATE UPDATED!! FUTURAMA Thing of the Past?? Or What??| work = Ain't It Cool News| date = February 12, 2002| accessdate=2006-06-14] Its time slot was regularly pre-empted by sports events, making it difficult to predict when new episodes would air. FOX also had not aired several episodes that had been produced for Seasons 3 and 4. Although "Futurama" was never officially canceled, midway through the production of the fourth season, FOX decided to let it go out of production and told the writers and animators to look for new jobs.cite web| url =| title = Silver screen Simpsons, Futurama facing finish?| work = BBC News| date = January 19, 2002| accessdate = 2006-06-14] FOX's decision to stop buying episodes of "Futurama" led Rough Draft Studios, the animation producers, to fire its animators.cite web| url =,1002,271%7C73838%7C1%7C,00.html| title = FOX Says 'No' to 'Futurama'| work = Zap2it| date = February 12, 2002 | accessdate=2006-06-14] "Futurama" was not included in FOX's fall 2003 lineup.cite web| url =,66450,/| title = Remeber Me after my Death!| work = Can't Get Enough Futurama| date = May 15, 2003| accessdate=2006-06-12sic]

"Mission Hill"

"Mission Hill" (formerly known as "The Downtowners", although MTV's production of the similarly titled "Downtown" forced a name change) was an American animated television series that first aired on The WB in 1999. Although 13 episodes were produced, the show was cancelled after only six were aired. The show was put on hiatus by the WB Network after just two episodes due to poor ratings. It returned to the WB in the summer of 2000 but was cancelled after just four additional episodes. Nonetheless, the show went on to develop a cult following, thanks to repeated airings of all 13 episodes on Teletoon's "Teletoon Unleashed" block, TBS' "Too Funny to Sleep" block, and [Cartoon Network] 's Adult Swim.

"God, the Devil and Bob"

Thirteen episodes were made but only four were broadcast in the United States on NBC, before the series was cancelled, due to a combination of low ratings and pressure from right-wing Christian groups. [ [ "God, The Devil & Bob" - The Complete Series ] ] The show however was well received in countries such as United Kingdom, Ireland and Brazil, where BBC Two, RTE and FOX respectively aired the entire series. The series was also broadcast on Australia's The Comedy Channel, but was not very successful.Fact|date=April 2007

"Clerks: The Animated Series"

Only two episodes were aired on ABC in 2000 before the series was cancelled. [ [] ] Several factors contributed to the cancellation, including low ratings, the show's not fitting in with ABC's other programming, unsuccessful test-screening to older audiences, and ABC's decision to air the shows out of order. ABC aired the fourth episode first, as opposed to the intended first episode, and then aired the second episode despite the fact that the second episode is the 'flashback' episode, and derives much of its humor from the fact that it flashes back almost exclusively to the first, unaired episode. In fact, the second episode aired without the scene from "Flintstone's List", the fictional RST Video rental that spoofed "Schindler's List".

"NFL on FOX" overrun

Recently, "King of the Hill" joined the ranks of other FOX series like "Futurama" and "Family Guy" in its placement within a questionable time slot and has faced frequent preemptions from sporting events (mostly "FOX NFL Sunday") featuring overtime play and post-game commentary. The series's tenth season was largely composed of episodes that did not get to air the previous season. The tenth season was also slated to be the last since the show passed the renewal deadline in September 2005 [ [ King of the Hill - Tracking ] ] , but due to high ratings in the 10th season, the series was renewed [ [ Breaking News - FOX RENEWS ANIMATED HIT SERIES "'THE SIMPSONS" AND "KING OF THE HILL" | ] ] by FOX for an 11th season that began airing on January 28, 2007. Beginning this season, the show moved to the 8:30/7:30c time slot following "The Simpsons".

Beginning in the 2007 NFL season, "FOX NFL Sunday" will have a pre-programmed hour of game overrun and postgame coverage, "The O.T." Due to the nature of overtime in NFL football games, future preemptions of FOX's Sunday evening cartoon lineup should be minimized.

"The Oblongs"

It premiered on April 1, 2001 on The WB, but it failed to find an audience. On May 20, 2001, The WB aired "Disfigured Debbie," the second episode produced, as the season finale, leaving five of the episodes unaired. A fan of the series who was writing an episode guide at TV Tome informed creator Angus Oblong of the show's cancellation and rallied fans of the series to petition and encourage the network to renew the show. Ultimately, the petition was unsuccessful. Later that same year, Canada's Teletoon network began airing the series. Quickly, a large fanbase began to bloom. In August 2002, the series found a home on [Cartoon Network] 's Adult Swim evening program schedule, where it received high ratings due to many American fans discovering the series for the first time. When shown in Australia on free to air television in 2003, the show was pulled in the middle of the first episodeVerify source|date=July 2007 (but was later shown in a late night/early morning timeslot). In 2005, the show began airing on TBS Superstation and was released on DVD. The series is still shown on the weekends during the Adult Swim timeslots.

"Game Over"

"Game Over" was heavily hyped by UPN before its debut. Some were skeptical of "Game Over" due to UPN's track record with their cartoons, but the show generally received positive press upon its airing [ [ TELEVISION REVIEW; Video Game Heroes: Just Folks] , "New York Times", March 10, 2004.] . Despite this, only six episodes were made, which aired on a variety of different days – the fourth and fifth episodes were broadcast on 2 April 2004, and the sixth episode ("Monkey Dearest") was not aired.

"Father of the Pride

The show was almost cancelled long before its broadcast following the near-death of Roy Horn in October 2003; but after his condition improved, both Siegfried and Roy urged NBC to continue production of the show. The show was promoted heavily during NBC's coverage of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece and garnered above average ratings for the network, but the show received a negative response from TV critics who considered the show to be nothing more than a gimmick and a shill for other NBC and DreamWorks properties (two early episodes extensively featured "The Today Show"'s Matt Lauer and another featured Donkey - voiced by Eddie Murphy - from the DreamWorks movie "Shrek"); some consider the show a mild version of the similar-styled show "South Park".

The show's ratings began to decline, and by November 2004 it was pulled from NBC's sweeps line-up. In early December 2004, the CEO of Dreamworks announced that that show was cancelled, a few months after it was initially aired. A DVD version of the show has been made available, containing the original pilot, an alternate pilot (which draws heavily on the original), an un-aired episode, and one episode that was voice-recorded, but was not animated, and therefore remains at the storyboard stage. The show however continues to air, but outside the USA.


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