Fox at the TCA winter press tour: Animation Domination High Definition brings cartoons to Saturday nights—and that’s as far as its gotten
A Television Critics Association press tour is typically a setting where networks introduce projects that have reached some state of completion. The pilot’s already been through a few cuts, its stars are on the dais, and the critics are prepared to asked about what they’ve seen. And what critics have seen of Fox’s latest foray into late-night programming, Animation Domination High Defintion, is precious little. There’s that preview footage of the network’s Axe Cop adaptation, that Charlie Brown Christmas/Louie hybrid, and GIFs. So, so many GIFs.
And so a session with ADHD (if you’re into the whole brevity thing) boss Nick Weidenfeld proved to be a suitable capper to one of the more interesting days in recent press tour history. It fell to Weidenfeld, a veteran of Adult Swim (whose image ADHD is so clearly made in) and Cartoon Network, to explain what exactly his latest project is. Is it an incubator for future lineups of the flagship Animation Domination bloc? It could be, and Weidenfeld would love it if an ADHD series jumped to primetime, but that’s not the lineup’s express purpose. Will an abbreviated production schedule allow for the quarter-hour series presented by ADHD to comment on current events in real time? Probably not, but weekly cold opens—which sound an awful lot like the bloc’s answer to Adult Swim’s signature bumpers—could. Was Weidenfeld sent here by the devil? No, good sir, he appears to be on the level—and eager to grow a handful of off-kilter cartoons into a brand that could, should they prove popular enough, provide the key to entering the late-night arena that has eluded Fox for its entire 25-year existence. There’s just the matter of getting the target audience to stay home on Saturday nights, the process of informing viewers that timeslot that used to host MADtv and Talk Show With Spike Feresten is once more open for business, and, you know, defining what this whole ADHD thing is.
What is certain about Animation Domination High Definition: It debuts in the summer, and it brings with it new cartoons. One of those shows is still in touch with its 8-year-old mastermind, Malachi Nicolle, who, according to Weidenfeld, recently helped the Axe Cop writers break a story about a supervillain whose master plan involves killing God and becoming Jesus. There’s a tidy analogy in that story: Weidenfeld and his team don’t have ADHD completely figured out, but when they cut through the smoke and confusion, they make the bloc sound unlike anything else on TV. You can probably squeeze something about going after Adult Swim’s late-night throne into that whole “killing God and becoming Jesus” thing, too.