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Old 10-12-2019, 05:32 PM
Hermione is offline
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 740

Whatever happened to the prime-time network animated special?

When I was a kid in the 1970s and 80s, it was always a treat to see TV specials. This was way back, of course, when there were only three major networks and a handful of UHF channels, but even after we got cable in the early eighties the prime-time special was still very much a thing.

Of course, there were specials for every kind of holiday--Peanuts even covered Arbor Day and Election Day ("You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown"--they usually run that with "Great Pumpkin" these days). But there were often specials for no particular reason or holiday at all...including quite a few of the Peanuts and Garfield ones.

And it wasn't just established properties like Peanuts or Garfield or The Flintstones or whatever Saturday morning cartoon was the biggest deal at the time...there were entirely original ones. There was one that stood out to me called "No Man's Valley", where a condor searches for a home for endangered animals and ones that had been thought extinct (including a passenger pigeon).

Nowadays, though, you rarely seem to see any new prime-time specials. They re-run the best of Peanuts at Christmas and Halloween and Thanksgiving (sometimes pairing them with lesser-known ones to fill out an hour), and the most classic Rankin-Bass ones (although quite a few of those are on ABC Family or AMC) but you don't see very many new ones, except the occasional one based on Shrek or some Disney property.

So why do you think they died out? Is it the fact that there are no longer just three networks? Is it the fact that you can get so much viewing material on demand and don't have to wait for something to show on TV? Or the fact that "wow--CARTOONS after dark!" just isn't that unique anymore? What do you guys think?

(Whatever the reason, I'm a little sad for the kids who'll never know the pleasure of seeing this and knowing something good was about to come on. Or felt just a little sad when this ended a special--knowing it was going to be whole year before they could see Rudolph or Frosty again.)
We are of the spirit,
Truly of the spirit,
Only can the spirit
Turn the world around.
--Harry Belafonte (with the Muppets)

Last edited by Hermione; 10-12-2019 at 05:33 PM.


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