Having just picked up Total Drama L&M rights via commercial arm Cartoon Network Enterprises, US kidnet Cartoon Network is gearing up for the launch of animated comedy reality series Total Drama Action in June.
The follow-up to its primetime block Har Har Tharsdays anchor series Total Drama Island, which went on to become Cartoon Network’s number-one show of 2008, will see the first series’ popular characters make the move from an island to a movie studio, to compete for fame and fortune. TDA will premiere in the same time slot, also anchoring the Thursday night comedy-centric block.
Tom McGillis, executive producer of Fresh TV, the Canuck prodco behind the Total Drama franchise, says that even though TDA already premiered on Teletoon back in January and spoilers abound on the internet, American viewers are still eager to watch the drama unfold for themselves. ‘The hardcore fans that couldn’t stop themselves from online to find out what happened, but then they watch it anyway,’ he notes. ‘Other viewers simply just showed some self-discipline and didn’t go and check.’
Interestingly, McGillis adds that Teletoon aired back-to-back episodes of TDI and TDA and in doing so, TDI ratings got a boost. ‘It breathed a whole new life into season one,’ he says of its repeat value. ‘It’s something that we didn’t expect, because so much of the episode is around the sense of who’s going to win or lose, so it was a nice surprise for us.’
Cartoon Network, meanwhile, is prepping a major online campaign leading up to the series launch and will be airing fresh episodes through to December. Fans can log on to TotalDramaAction.com to get in on the show gossip, gameplay, personalities and movie-themed drama with exclusive online video content and commentary about the show updated weekly. Following the show each week, fans will be given the chance to compete in online TDA-inspired challenges, make alliances with their favorite characters and move on up to virtual stardom.
‘I definitely think that there’s a trend toward alternative programming and this falls under that bucket,’ says Adina Pitt, VP of content acquisitions and co-productions for Cartoon Network. ‘Total Drama definitely set a trend and I think there’s plenty of room to expand on this. Comedy is king.’