A Ramble on the balance between seriousness and cartoon comedy
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Thread: A Ramble on the balance between seriousness and cartoon comedy

  1. #1
    Administrator Honored Elder jeriddian's Avatar
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    A Ramble on the balance between seriousness and cartoon comedy

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjanaco
    Quote Originally Posted by cpneb
    Disney just released the staff of the show that has probably given them the most heartburn of any recently...
    Actually, I'd have to disagree with you on that one - from what I've read of the producers' blog, American Dragon: Jake Long has probably given the execs more heartburn than KP has. (Sure, KP has its dramatic moments/episodes, but the ADJL crew insisted on having drama and continuing story arcs in addition to comedy and standalone eps from day one.)
    This is someting I find very fascinating. You have this battle going on between the suits and the artists goign on for actual content of the shows. From what I can gather, the suits are looking for your basic comedic fare that will entertain the target audience and engage their attention, especially when the commercials come on. They don't want, it seems to me, to worry about having any kind of complicated storyline or adult elements that would risk losing their attention on the immediately graspable themes of the show that would risk losing any audience share. To them, the money is in the kids and what they want to see, and the adults will simply follow.

    The artists on the other hand are really into their product and want to make something that is interesting not only to the kids but to themselves as well, and thus to older age groups. They don't want to put out the same thing over and over again that beckons only on the level of the target audience. They would like to see their creation grow. Even Mark and Bob have treated Kim as if she was a child they themselves raised, which of course is really true in a sense. So they include the more mature references and hidden jokes and then the occaisional story arc, until finally you get to the point that you have a line of continuity. In KP's case, that was subtly done I think. I think the suits knew there was some development of the storyline, but didn't object too much as it was not that prominent and didn't interefere in their eyes with the product's main content overly much.

    But then there was StD. Big story arc. Well, that was Mark and Bob's intent all along, that Kiim and Ron would get together as they had always said. So MBS made it happen in the series finale, because it was the series finale, or so they thought......

    Then season four suddenly becomes a reality. This is new ground for Disney in a way. I don't think they ever quite had a basic cartoon series develop their characters this far. (Maybe they have, but if so, it was one I didn't watch.) I think the closest they came was with The Little Mermaid, when they came out with The Little Mermaid 2, trying to cash in on the original. it wasn't bad, but it also wasn't near as good as the original. I don't believe it sold well at all, and that may have one of the factors that soured Disney on the whole idea of doing this with a cartoon series. I'm sure there were other examples of this phenomenon. So I think Disney just wanted to go with the maxim that, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". In other words, don't mess with the basic formula, and this includes developing characters, changing their nature, and altering the basic reality they live in.

    But KP is different. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that the characters are closer to real life than pretty much anything else they've put out there. Sure, you have ADJL, but that's got this whole magical world thing that's pretty fantastic and frankly sort of unreal (although very entertaining), plus Jake is only a twelve or thirteen year old kid, a little young for the subjecting him to true adult situations. Lilo and Stitch deal with aliens and outer space on a regular basis, and she's only nine or ten. The Replacements' two kids are in a world which is less fantastical in a sense, but also prepubertal. Of all these other characters, there is a certain sense of whackiness, or silliness that appeals to the target audience, which injects an element of the unreal.

    But KP was never like that. She's just a sensible girl dealing with life's normal struggles that would present themselves to her at her age and situation, not really that different from real life. She just happened to have these extraordinary abilities that let her excel at something nobody else could do. The silliness of the series was always meant for Ron.

    The difference with her was the Mark and Bob wanted her to be a role model to the target audience, someone to look up to, while the major characters of the other shows, while the 'heroes' of their cartoon worlds, never seemed to really quite match that heroic quality that KP possesses. Sure she had her foibles. It made her human, and that much more heroic.

    Now we have four seasons done and everyone has left Disney to go on their own ways and onto other projects. Where do we take KP from here? Well, they took her one notch further in StD in terms of seriousness. I think we can gradually notch our way up just a tad more, but still keep the original tenor of the show going.

    I intend to try and do that, if I can.

    Anyway, disagreements? Comments? Feel free to respond. I was just thinking out loud.
    "Say the Word"

  2. #2
    Registered User Regular Member Molloy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeriddian View Post

    But KP was never like that. She's just a sensible girl dealing with life's normal struggles that would present themselves to her at her age and situation, not really that different from real life. She just happened to have these extraordinary abilities that let her excel at something nobody else could do. The silliness of the series was always meant for Ron.

    The difference with her was the Mark and Bob wanted her to be a role model to the target audience, someone to look up to, while the major characters of the other shows, while the 'heroes' of their cartoon worlds, never seemed to really quite match that heroic quality that KP possesses. Sure she had her foibles. It made her human, and that much more heroic.

    Very well put. Your "ramble" helped me recall all the aspects of Kim's character that drew me to the series in the first place.

    Although I know I will never be able to capture the tone of the show as other writers certainly have (Ultimate Naco Topping and MrDrP spring immediately to mind), I, too, am trying not to lose the charming elements of the show that make KP what it is as I notch up the seriousness in my own stories.

    Thanks for the thoughtful piece.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC] Freedom involves being able truly to care about other people & to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. --David Foster Wallace

  3. #3
    Registered User Senior Member cpneb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeriddian View Post

    Even Mark and Bob have treated Kim as if she was a child they themselves raised, which of course is really true in a sense. So they include the more mature references and hidden jokes and then the occaisional story arc, until finally you get to the point that you have a line of continuity. In KP's case, that was subtly done I think. I think the suits knew there was some development of the storyline, but didn't object too much as it was not that prominent and didn't interefere in their eyes with the product's main content overly much.

    But then there was StD. Big story arc. Well, that was Mark and Bob's intent all along, that Kiim and Ron would get together as they had always said. So MBS made it happen in the series finale, because it was the series finale, or so they thought......

    Then season four suddenly becomes a reality. This is new ground for Disney in a way. I don't think they ever quite had a basic cartoon series develop their characters this far. (Maybe they have, but if so, it was one I didn't watch.) I think the closest they came was with The Little Mermaid, when they came out with The Little Mermaid 2, trying to cash in on the original. it wasn't bad, but it also wasn't near as good as the original. I don't believe it sold well at all, and that may have one of the factors that soured Disney on the whole idea of doing this with a cartoon series. I'm sure there were other examples of this phenomenon. So I think Disney just wanted to go with the maxim that, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". In other words, don't mess with the basic formula, and this includes developing characters, changing their nature, and altering the basic reality they live in.

    But KP is different. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that the characters are closer to real life than pretty much anything else they've put out there. Sure, you have ADJL, but that's got this whole magical world thing that's pretty fantastic and frankly sort of unreal (although very entertaining), plus Jake is only a twelve or thirteen year old kid, a little young for the subjecting him to true adult situations. Lilo and Stitch deal with aliens and outer space on a regular basis, and she's only nine or ten. The Replacements' two kids are in a world which is less fantastical in a sense, but also prepubertal. Of all these other characters, there is a certain sense of whackiness, or silliness that appeals to the target audience, which injects an element of the unreal.

    But KP was never like that. She's just a sensible girl dealing with life's normal struggles that would present themselves to her at her age and situation, not really that different from real life. She just happened to have these extraordinary abilities that let her excel at something nobody else could do. The silliness of the series was always meant for Ron.

    The difference with her was the Mark and Bob wanted her to be a role model to the target audience, someone to look up to, while the major characters of the other shows, while the 'heroes' of their cartoon worlds, never seemed to really quite match that heroic quality that KP possesses. Sure she had her foibles. It made her human, and that much more heroic.

    Now we have four seasons done and everyone has left Disney to go on their own ways and onto other projects. Where do we take KP from here? Well, they took her one notch further in StD in terms of seriousness. I think we can gradually notch our way up just a tad more, but still keep the original tenor of the show going.

    I intend to try and do that, if I can.

    Anyway, disagreements? Comments? Feel free to respond. I was just thinking out loud.
    Jeriddian, have you been trolling in my mind?

    This is exactly what I've been preaching: Disney's only mistake was in NOT putting this on in prime time like the other other network did with the 'cheerleader saving the world' (kinda makes on wonder where their idea came from).

    Role models are important for us at any age: Kim and Ron show the pre-teens and teens that you can make mistakes, can not be in the 'food chain,' can 'not be popular,' and still triumph against adversity. ABC seems to be taking that down a path with the 'telanova' "Ugly Betty," but of course Betty is by no means ugly.

    I've taken it as an obligation to continue writing as long as I'm able and as long as my fans continue to read and review: sine some of them are 11, I could be here awhile.

    I'm also startputting fingers to keys on a fully fictionalized story set of books set in Texas addressing several of the issues that I've seen raised by writers and readers on these various boards that 'young people' are dealing with today, and not in the magic world of Harry P and JKR: her books and movies are wonderful, and they've brought people back to the written word, but the real world, iMHO, will capture their attention, as well.

    Between the 'food chain,' prejudices, school, drugs, parents (natural, step-, adopted, and foster), the world itself, relationships,and the like, I have a full plate for my dinner. If anyone's interested, I'll keep them updated on the status of the story. Target now is to have first book completed in the next 30-45 days.

    We owe it to the youth of today to continue writing and telling KP's stories, IMHO.

  4. #4
    Registered User Exalted Member Fireand'chutes77's Avatar
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    But KP is different. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that the characters are closer to real life than pretty much anything else they've put out there. ...She's just a sensible girl dealing with life's normal struggles that would present themselves to her at her age and situation, not really that different from real life. She just happened to have these extraordinary abilities that let her excel at something nobody else could do.
    I latched on to the same general feeling as well. When the show started, high school was looming on the distant horizon. I wasn't using a TV show's version of "high school" as a basis for the real thing, but it was comforting to see that even people like Ron could cut it. I appreciated that, unlike on most TV shows, the subject of school, at least in S1 and S2, wasn't treated with hype and exaggerated to absurd proportions. Once actually in high school, I realized that they hadn't got everything correct - how can you, if you aren't in the trenches? - but they got the atmosphere right; nothing too over-the-top. (One reason I was disappointed with S3 - MHS seemed to be falling into the trend.)


    This is exactly what I've been preaching: Disney's only mistake was in NOT putting this on in prime time like the other other network did with the 'cheerleader saving the world' (kinda makes on wonder where their idea came from).
    Other network's shows? Are you talking about "Heroes?" Or Toon Disney?

    I'm also started putting fingers to keys on a fully fictionalized story set of books set in Texas addressing several of the issues that I've seen raised by writers and readers on these various boards that 'young people' are dealing with today, and not in the magic world of Harry P and JKR: her books and movies are wonderful, and they've brought people back to the written word, but the real world, iMHO, will capture their attention, as well.
    That's partly the reason I wrote "OLS." It was mostly a action/adventure story for readers, but at the same time it was a way for me to untangle my own -conflicting- feelings about terrorism, 9/11, and The Long War. This is particularly apparant in Ch. 11 and 12 (12=13, according to FF.net); in hindsight, I hope it didn't come across as me putting words in Kim's mouth.
    Carpe Navi: Because you never know when you'll get to go boating at government expense again.

  5. #5
    Registered User Senior Member cpneb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fireand'chutes77 View Post
    This is exactly what I've been preaching: Disney's only mistake was in NOT putting this on in prime time like the other other network did with the 'cheerleader saving the world' (kinda makes on wonder where their idea came from).
    Other network's shows? Are you talking about "Heroes?" Or Toon Disney?
    "Heroes." I have to laugh, even though the show is good (IMHO), because who would ever have imagined two cheerleaders having an impact on television?

    I'm also started putting fingers to keys on a fully fictionalized story set of books set in Texas addressing several of the issues that I've seen raised by writers and readers on these various boards that 'young people' are dealing with today, and not in the magic world of Harry P and JKR: her books and movies are wonderful, and they've brought people back to the written word, but the real world, IMHO, will capture their attention, as well.
    That's partly the reason I wrote "OLS." It was mostly a action/adventure story for readers, but at the same time it was a way for me to untangle my own -conflicting- feelings about terrorism, 9/11, and The Long War. This is particularly apparent in Ch. 11 and 12 (12=13, according to FF.net); in hindsight, I hope it didn't come across as me putting words in Kim's mouth.
    I'll address terrorism, as well, from the perspective of those who were 6-12 and watched it on television as well as their parents and the impacts that it has had on their perceptions, both good and bad: probably some of what you and your friends have discussed. My daughter was a Soph. in college on
    9/11; several students that graduated that year joined immediately upon graduation: not unlike the pictures from Heinlein's 'Starship Troopers' (both the book and the movie).

    The biggest difference, FnC77, is that this won't be KP: it will be all my characters. Means I have to build the back-story and characterizations of all, both major and minor characters (and, no blue skin or green babes: bummer!), as well as lay the images and descriptions of the environment in which these people are living and working and (hopefully) falling in love....

  6. #6
    First off, I'd like to compliment Jeriddian on voicing his "thinking out loud" on something that not many people touch on, or even think of much: the "behind the scenes" aspect of cartoons - something that has been going on nearly as long as the cartoons themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeriddian View Post
    This is someting I find very fascinating. You have this battle going on between the suits and the artists goign on for actual content of the shows. From what I can gather, the suits are looking for your basic comedic fare that will entertain the target audience and engage their attention, especially when the commercials come on.

    The artists on the other hand are really into their product and want to make something that is interesting not only to the kids but to themselves as well, and thus to older age groups.
    Interesting also to note (even if a bit unnecessary in depth) is that, even though the "battle" has two "sides," those sides also have a common goal of sorts - to display their skill. The artists' skill in creating a show's characters/setting/content; the suits' skill in hitting a target, be it an age group, gender or genre.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeriddian
    This is new ground for Disney in a way. I don't think they ever quite had a basic cartoon series develop their characters this far.
    Which touches on a facet of this "battle" that actually isn't tapped as a resource near as much as it should be; the fanbase. While I'm sure the fans appreciate the combined efforts the "battle" produces, which is the airing of the show itself, my opinion is that, on a more intimate level, the fans' allegiance leans clearly toward that of the artists. In a nutshelll, without the artists' creation, the suits would have nothing to load to fire at their targets, and the fans would have nothing to love/anticipate/discuss.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeriddian
    But KP is different. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that the characters are closer to real life than pretty much anything else they've put out there.

    The difference with her was the Mark and Bob wanted her to be a role model to the target audience, someone to look up to, while the major characters of the other shows, while the 'heroes' of their cartoon worlds, never seemed to really quite match that heroic quality that KP possesses. Sure she had her foibles. It made her human, and that much more heroic.
    I think this was another part of the allure of KP. There is less of a "gap" between the Kimverse, and reality. On some level it served as kind of a bond between KP and her fans, with her triumphs and setbacks touching on situations that, to a lesser degree, some of us have experienced and endured.

    Enter the fanbase. Mark, Bob and Steve had said several times that a twist or plot point was brought into the show "because the fans wanted it." I think it was actually one of the things that made KP such a hit - the series, particularly the later seasons was partly driven by the fans. More cartoons series would, in my opinion, appeal to a wider audience and have longer "draw" if more of TPTB behind those series were to follow MBS' example.

    On one level is the commonality between KP and "us." On another level are the differences. While we can relate to KP, we also watch with awe as she is exposed to and overcomes situations that are accessible and to a degree experienced, in our world, only in the minds of the accomplished, practicing and aspiring escapists among us.

    Enter the fanfiction writers. They are a subset of the fans who, without knowing it, actually provide a fourth element - an X-factor, if you will - to the battle. They apply their writing talents to fill some of the gulf between the artists and the suits. I call it the "what if?" factor - the aspect the suits don't dare admit exists and the artists may touch on, but never reveal. The fanfiction writer goes the extra mile, actually putting Kim into the situations they dare to dream and that the artists can't and the suits won't go into. Many of these fanfiction writers share their work with the world, online and in other media (music videos, for example) - and it is my opinion that the world - both KP's and ours - are richer for their efforts.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeriddian
    I intend to try and do that, if I can.
    You go, dude. Or, as someone has said to me after reading some of my writing, "Keep your quill sharp."
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC] "I am the dark, screaming, sweat-soaked nightmare from which you will neither wake nor escape"--Kimi Angelina Hodge - "Steel Swan"

  7. #7
    Mike_Industries
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    cpneb,

    I applaud you in your efforts of bringing the issues of teens to the attention of the world.

    Specifically speaking, if anybody noticed a ff.net, I've had a lot of those... A lot...

    Now I'm going to go all personal on you guys... but hey, I feel the need too. (Tell me to shut up if ya want too, I'll oblige)

    Jeriddian, have you been trolling in my mind?
    Neb, who doesn't?

    Role models are important for us at any age: Kim and Ron show the pre-teens and teens that you can make mistakes, can not be in the 'food chain,' can 'not be popular,' and still triumph against adversity.
    I have quite of few role models myself... 99.9% of them are 35+ years older than I am. But Teens these days need someone to turn too... other than the drugs... I see so many of my friends get so sick from those... I almost lost one a year ago due to drugs. Around here, Drugs = Popularity... I was not popular if you have noticed.

    Between the 'food chain,' prejudices, school, drugs, parents (natural, step-, adopted, and foster), the world itself, relationships,and the like, I have a full plate for my dinner.
    I was low on the food chain... Cause I'm fat... and I don't do drugs... I have no idea who my "real" father is, and obviously relationships for me haven't been going all to smoothly...

    I'm glad there are people in this world willing to address the issues. We need to get this stuff out in the open that my generation and my age group are in dire need of help.

    Don't shove us out in the streets. Don't call us degenerates.

    Call us people who need other people's guidance and help.

    We need the love of parents. Unfortunately for some, that is not happening... Some parents these days just don't give a hoot about their kids. I know, we just recently had a 14 year old girl die because she was into some bad things. She was shot in the head... after being stabbed in the head... after being raped... because she did not pay for her drugs on time... And her parents at the funeral... said to the whole 300 people in attendance, "Our daughter deserved what she got..." No parent should EVER say that about their children.

    I'm one of the lucky ones. I have a mother who loves me to death. I have a step-dad who is willing to step up, even though he's only been married to my mother for 2 years. But did you know I'm one of the rare ones around here? That in itself is sad...

    Well, I'm done ranting...

  8. #8
    Moderator Venerated Elder TransWarpDrive's Avatar
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    Good points, all. Lots to ponder in this thread.
    Two things come to my mind right away upon reading it:
    First one regards the comments jeriddian made about the conflict between the show's creators and the "suits" who run the network. "Star Trek's" creator, Gene Roddenberry, faced the same type of conflicts when he first worked on the original series back in the sixties. He, and his fellow TV producers, had by then been working in television for a couple of decades at least; and knew all the details of producing a weekly television show. Their major complaint with the networks involved dealing with some fresh-faced kid straight out of business school who comes onto the studio lot and tries to tell these veterans how to do their jobs - in other words, meddling in the production of the shows in order to increase ratings and the all-important advertising revenues. Roddenberry and the others naturally resented this interference, especially as it came from people who clearly didn't understand the realities of television production. This may not be the exact same sitch that Mark, Bob, and Steve faced in producing "Kim Possible," but it sounds close. Upper management never has as firm a grasp of reality as the people who do the actual work, no matter what line of business they're in. And this lack of understanding almost always produces some level of conflict.
    The second involves comments made regarding the fans' reaction to the show and its characters. "Kim Possible" is so well-written that one can't help but relate to the characters as if they were real. MBS, and the actors and writers they employed, did such an excellent job of bringing them to life that now fans wage endless debates and discussions about what Kim and friends would or wouldn't do in a given situation. It reminds me of something Richard Bach once said in his 1977 novel, "Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah."
    The quote goes like this:
    "If you will practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats."
    I know I've posted this quote before - either here or on the ARA - but I felt it worth repeating because of its relevance. Not just to this particular thread, but to the forum (and KP fandom) as a whole.

  9. #9
    Registered User Exalted Member lunchmeat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_Industries View Post
    ...
    We need the love of parents. Unfortunately for some, that is not happening... Some parents these days just don't give a hoot about their kids. I know, we just recently had a 14 year old girl die because she was into some bad things. She was shot in the head... after being stabbed in the head... after being raped... because she did not pay for her drugs on time... And her parents at the funeral... said to the whole 300 people in attendance, "Our daughter deserved what she got..." No parent should EVER say that about their children......

    That is appalling, I cannot imagine thinking that anyone, let alone one's child deserved any of that. It would be unconcienable at any age, 14 is simply horrific, hopefully whomever did this will get their just desserts.

  10. #10
    Administrator Honored Elder jeriddian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lunchmeat View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_Industries View Post
    ...
    We need the love of parents. Unfortunately for some, that is not happening... Some parents these days just don't give a hoot about their kids. I know, we just recently had a 14 year old girl die because she was into some bad things. She was shot in the head... after being stabbed in the head... after being raped... because she did not pay for her drugs on time... And her parents at the funeral... said to the whole 300 people in attendance, "Our daughter deserved what she got..." No parent should EVER say that about their children......

    That is appalling, I cannot imagine thinking that anyone, let alone one's child deserved any of that. It would be unconcienable at any age, 14 is simply horrific, hopefully whomever did this will get their just desserts.
    If the parents actually said that, my thoughts are that a great deal of the trouble she was in was because of them.
    "Say the Word"

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