Marathoning Musings

With the rise of movies and television being available not only through DVD and Blu Ray, but in Special Editions, Unrated Editions, Digital Copies, 3D Editions, Full and Widescreen, etc, it would be an understatement to say that we’ve reached the point that consumers have more than just a couple of options when deciding to make a home video purchase. And with even the crappiest of shows and movies practically guaranteed a release of some kind on the market, one must wonder what television’s fate has become in the midst of all this home release nonsense—in particular, scheduled television blocks.

While channels for the most part roll with your standard television schedule, I always saw block programming to be particularly interesting. Unlike commercials, I didn’t feel insulted when channels tried to schedule their programming days in accordance with the demographic that would most be likely to be tuning in at that particular time. Whether it be One Saturday Morning, Nick: GAS, or good ol’ Toonami, I could always rely on there to be something I know I’d be interested in between a block’s designated start and stop time.

But with the dawn of the modern home video collector, what’s there to stop someone from simply hoarding on their favorite titles and watching them at their own leisure, minus the commercials and with the inclusion of a pause button?

Such is the conundrum for today’s block viewers, who’d be more likely to marathon through their DVDs than stand slave to a television channel’s air times. But that exact same problem is why block programming still appeals to me. Rather than finding the various aspects of aired programming annoying, I’m starting to find them more like a novelty than anything else. Just the thought that some kind of team went to the trouble to finding which shows would best be suited to play after each other in combination with what types of commercials to air at that time mixed in with some quirky bumper mini-programming (ie: TOM and Sara’s banter during Toonami) and you have quite the interesting entity formed.

Even when taking into consideration all the signs of the times and the push towards being able to watch something on your time rather than the network’s, I find it interesting that the push for program blocking in some way, shape or form is just as strong.

Let’s look at Toonami (as if I haven’t done that enough already)—hours of action programming all bundled together nicely under the roof of TOM and Sara’s ship, the Absolution. Not only do the programs themselves complement each other, but the block’s hosts also do an effective job of setting the mood as well. Add in the occasional total immersion events and you have quite the programming block to deal with.

So, imagine my surprise when I find that Toonami—action cartoon programming king for 11 years before its untimely cancellation three years ago this month—is getting a revitalization of sorts in the form of Neo Toonami. I’d say more, but that’s what the video’s for:

 

Okay, maybe some explanation’s required. According to the site’s FAQ, Neo Toonami is a fan-run web stream, airing select action cartoons online without the restrictions that would otherwise be present if it were to be aired on television. Add to this a revived TOM, Sara and Optimus Prime-ish narrator, and you essentially have the ol’ cartoon block set in the present. Here’s where I’d make some kind of comment on how Toonami’s slogan was “The revolution will be televised” except swap out “televised” with “streamed,” but I couldn’t find a better way to do it other than the way I just did.

While the date of the first web stream has yet to be set, you have to give props to the team behind Neo Toonami for even getting this far. I personally can’t wait to be able to marathon through some choice action cartoons without the need of swapping out DVDs every 20 or so minutes. Not to mention that when I have personal marathons, I feel like I owe it to myself to actually sit down, pay attention, and absorb every second of what’s playing. With a block, I don’t feel that pressure and am able to watch it more casually, even as background noise in some cases. And that’s really what the heart of block programming does—it conveniences the audience by airing choice programming you can chill out to. They’re kinda like mix tapes in that sense, except without the connection to hipsters.

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About daemoncorps
Gabe (daemoncorps) has been writing about anime and the like since 2005, but has been babysat by it for much longer. He primarily spends his days distracting himself on twitter or writing for Fandom Post until he realizes he has a weekly webcomic (tapastic.com/series/scramblebouquet) to work on. He also just finished writing his first full-length graphic novel about unemployment (https://tapastic.com/episode/293804).

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