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It's Show Time! The Fall TV Preview
(continued from page 2)

On King of the Hill, returning for its fourth season, keep your ears perked for vocal appearances by Meryl Streep, Drew Carey, Heather Locklear, Kathleen Turner, football great Don Meredith, and country music crooners Clint Black, Mac Davis and the Dixie Chicks. And finally, Family Guy boasts a humongous guest cast including Jay Mohr, Fairuza Balk, Patrick Warburton, Ben Stein, Luke Perry, Jennifer Tilly, Adam West, Lee Majors, Dawn Wells, Erik Estrada, Sam Waterston, Robin Leach, Will Ferrell, Phil LaMarr, Tim Curry, Jon Cryer, comedian Alan King, former Dallas couple Patrick Duffy and Victoria Principal and legendary rock group KISS. Many of the guest voices - including the cast of Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen, Faith Ford, Joe Regalbuto and Charles Kimbrough) - will reprise their roles from former TV series (only this time they'll be animated). Another twist to the second season of Family Guy is the addition of live-action sequences to the show.

Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot.
© 1999 Adelaide Productions, Inc.

Fox Kids Network
Vying to be the top broadcast kids' network once again, Fox is attacking the fall season with a vengeance. Eight new animated shows will hit the airwaves starting in September meaning only one animated series from last fall - Godzilla - is remaining on this year's lineup. Realizing the importance of branding and giving the lineup a distinct identity, the new emphasis for Fox Kids Network will be on "action, adventure and prankster comedy." "The goal is to clarify our brand," says Roland Poindexter, Fox Kids Network Vice-President, Head of Programming, "and Fox Kids will be the sole source for 'action, adventure and prankster comedy' programming. On the surface, these elements may appear to be more appealing to boys, but in previous cases, we've also found that there's a broad girl audience that enjoys shows like Power Rangers and X-Men." The new fall series are The Avengers (based on the Marvel Comic), Beast Machines (the next generation of the Beast Wars franchise), Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot (based on the Dark Horse comic book), NASCAR Racers, Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, Spider-Man Unlimited, Xyber 9, and Digimon: Digital Monsters. It should also be noted that while Woody Woodpecker is off the fall schedule, it is still a part of Fox Kids Network and will reappear later in the season. One of Fox's most promising series is Spider-Man Unlimited, a continuation of the ever-popular franchise which picks up directly after the last series ended. In its over-the-top science-fiction premise, the world's top astronaut discovers a new planet on the other side of the Sun called Counter-Earth. The story gains steam when Spider-Man volunteers to go rescue the stranded spaceman, and discovers the shocking surprises that await him on this uncharted planet. The new Sherlock Holmes series also looks to be an entertaining new entry, but this one is also educational. In the Sherlock Holmes short story, "The Final Problem," published in 1893, but taking place in 1891, Holmes and his arch-enemy, Professor Moriarty, went over a waterfall in their final battle. Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had intended to kill Holmes off with this story, but eventually brought him back in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901). The new TV series asks us to believe that after falling over the cliff, Holmes and Moriarty remained suspended in the icy waters beneath the waterfall for hundreds of years. Now they are brought back to life to continue their battle of good vs. evil. So where does the educational value fit into a concept like this? Roland Poindexter explains: "Most people have confused educational programming to be very concrete, lesson-based material filled with the traditional reading, writing, arithmetic and geography, but I don't think it necessarily has to be that way. The Sherlock Holmes series really helps endorse the whole notion of logical thinking and deductive reasoning." Of all the networks, Fox is offering the most impressive slate of original animated programming this fall. What remains to be seen is whether the ratings will reward their efforts.

Kids' WB!
Powered by the Japanese hit sensation Pokémon and some creative repackaging of the older Warner Bros. TV Animation cartoons, Kids' WB! has a relatively low-key, but powerful, lineup this year. The Saturday schedule, premiering through September and early October, includes the return of The New Batman/Superman Adventures, Batman Beyond, Men In Black, a double dose of Pokémon, and The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries. Kids' WB! also has a weekday morning and afternoon lineup which utilizes the same Saturday morning shows with the addition of Warner Bros.' Histeria!

The two new additions are Detention and (get ready for this) The Kids' WB! Cat-And-Bunny-Warneroonie-Super-Looney-Big-Cartoonie Show. The latter is a half-hour program that repackages older episodes of Animaniacs, Tiny Toon Adventures, Looney Tunes, Pinky & The Brain, and Pinky, Elmyra & The Brain.. Big Cartoonie will also be a testing ground for introducing new characters to the Kids' WB! lineup. For starters, the show will have 13 original interstitials introducing Karen and Kirby, a young, computer-animated boy-and-girl duo created by animation historian/author Jerry Beck and animator/author George Maestri (who was the animation producer of the first six episodes of South Park). Karen and Kirby premieres on September 18. Detention on the other hand is a comedy about a group of less-than-perfect twelve-year-olds who are regularly detained for after school detention. Overlooking the fact that these are not exactly the type of role models you want your children to emulate, Detention features a talented cast of voice actors including Billy West, Tara Charendoff, and Carlos Alazraqui, along with Tia and Tamera Mowry (the twins in the WB series Sister, Sister).

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Note: Readers may contact any Animation World Magazine contributor by sending an e-mail to editor@awn.com.