Saturday, January 9, 2016

Nickelodeon and Disney Channel 2015 Winners and Losers

It occurred to me that when I did my 2015 "post-mortem" post I really didn't touch on who really won out between Nickelodeon or Disney Channel in 2015, or who were the big winners and losers (both from a subjective quality and objective ratings standpoint) within the two networks. I kind of alluded to it, at least subjectively, though not by much and just focused on what shows left and what shows were new and just some feelings of each. I went into greater depth with my "List of Nick shows that left Nick since iCarly" post but that was over a much broader period than just a year (broad enough for several shows to enter and exit while still having considered successful runs). So, here we go, a more detailed run-down of who "won" or "lost" 2015:

(as usual, Mike and Nick are invited to add as well)

Between the Networks: The Winner of Nickelodeon vs. Disney Channel in 2015: Absolutely No One (but if I had to pick one, Disney Channel by a country mile)

2015 was a low point for both networks, and just the whole idea of tween/teen television entertainment in general really, continuing a trend that popped up since August 2014 (that "Kidocalypse" I keep talking about). And that's from both a quality and objective ratings standpoint. Disney Channel clearly won the ratings war, but even so, one of the top-rated "events" of the network, Girl Meets Texas, gained "highs" that more or less got A.N.T. Farm and Dog With a Blog stunted to three-season status (i.e., canceled) back in the day. Their brand-new high-profile show for the year, Bunk'd, the Jessie spin-off starring Peyton List (i.e., the girl who pretty much looks like a supermodel) struggles to get into the high million range - at this point getting over 2 mil is an amazing success. Best Friends Whenever has had bottom-dwelling ratings and BTS rumor troubles (supposedly Landry Bender and Lauren Taylor don't like each other, if you believe some of the people on Twitter) to the point where its second-season renewal is either a miracle, a concession to a new reality, or both.

Still, that's way better than Nickelodeon. 100 Things to Do Before High School is a bottom-feeder, as far as ratings are concerned. Nicky, Ricky Dicky & Dawn apparently isn't doing much better, or Bella and the Bulldogs. Thundermans was unceremoniously shoved to a Wednesday dead-end slot with those aforementioned shows - and managed to routinely kick Nick's own prime Saturday ratings. Nick's most popular show is a CGI co-production from France starring singing chipmunks from a franchise that got incessantly mocked for the new movie that just came out. Nick needs its original movies just to get to the same ratings level as Girl Meets World or K.C. Undercover. Nick's latest strategy - pump out incredibly cheap shows that can turn a profit no matter how few people watch - is proving that, yes, there comes a point where it doesn't matter how cheap it is, people still need to watch it. It's my understanding that Pig Goat Bananna Cricket has crashed and burned, so even their usually more successful animated and Saturday/Sunday blocks (that more typically compete with Disney XD or Cartoon Network as opposed to Disney Channel) are suffering.

It will be interesting to see where both networks go from here, especially if ratings continue to slide, or what the future of this genre of entertainment will look like. I've been saying for literally months now that I'll touch upon that subject in extreme detail, but during that time in my research I've become absolutely convinced that the future belongs to creator-generated content. In other words, kids will entertain other kids in the future. Maybe 10, 15 years from now the household names won't be the next Selena Gomez or Debby Ryan or Miranda Cosgrove or Ariana Grande, but the next Cameron Dallas or PewDiePie or Ryan Higa (yes I'm old and I need to deal with it). What's also interesting is that apparently there's much more money to be made as a YouTube star than actually working for the "big" corporations of Disney or Nick, particularly as you essentially cut out the middle-man: Smosh makes more money a year than what, for example, Bridgit or Debby made during their entire Disney Channel careers

Best TV Show of Both Networks: 100 Things to Do Before High School

This is far and away the most creatively and best written show on either network, with Liv and Maddie being the only real competition. Yes, Scott Fellows still has what it takes, despite Johnny Test (we can just forget about that altogether). It's relatable, yet silly enough to be escapist, and has legitimately interesting story and plots. The production values are also a cut above other shows too (it helps that it's single-camera format, but production values means more than just the quality of camera you use or how many or how few you use or how well-built the props are). It's clear that 100 Things makes great use of all the elements - the skill of its young actors, the directors' ability to wrangle that skill, the writing, everything - to make it stand out among every other show on either network right now.
Runners-Up: Every Witch Way, Talia in the Kitchen, Bella and the Bulldogs, Liv and Maddie

Best TV Show of Nickelodeon: 100 Things to Do Before High School

Well duh if I just got done saying it's the best either network has to offer right now. 
Runners-Up: Every Witch Way, Talia in the Kitchen, Bella and the Bulldogs, Henry Danger
So instead I'll just elaborate on the runners-up. EWW was pretty controversial when it premiered, and it still is half a year after that show's 80-episode run finale. It was Nickelodeon's first comedy telenovela, and the production values and plot developments were jarring for a lot of people - me included. The only reason why I even watched past the first week or even first episode was because at that time I felt like I was experiencing a nadir of programming elsewhere, and that I stuck with it because I was willing to watch anything on Nickelodoen or Disney with a demo older than Dora's. Quite frankly, I'm extremely grateful I did. EWW turned around in about the last third of the first season, and the second season onwards kept building that same momentum. The crew and the cast were finally starting to gel and even began to show off that synergy right on the screen, which is what ultimately made the show work. Yeah, EWW may have had rock-bottom production values and some confusing plot decisions (not helped in that it's actually a 160-episode long series with half of its entire episode count just left sitting on the cutting room floor) but I still think it shows that you can have a very enjoyable, watchable show with nonexistant production values as long as you have a cast that can make it work and, more importantly, have fun. Paola, Paris, yes even Rahart and the others - and don't forget Cinemat head producer/writer Caterina Ledoboer, you really are an inspiration for tweens and teens everywhere on how to have fun with what you make - especially important for that next generation of YouTube stars who will also be facing completely nonexistant budgets.And again with Talia in the Kitchen (pretty much same show, different cast and premise).
Meanwhile, Henry Danger is a return to form for Dan Schneider. Everything that made iCarly and Victorious work, and especially everything that made Drake & Josh work, is coming back with HD's second season. Meanwhile everything that didn't make iCarly and Victorious work seems to be shoved over to Game Shakers. And Bella and the Bulldogs more than a worthy network counterpart to Girl Meets World, to the point where I actually like Bella better (despite what Gawker/Jezebel says - they weren't even trying to review the show in the first place and I'll take it they just viewed the first set of wonky episodes).

Best Show on Disney Channel: Liv and Maddie

There isn't a lot of competition for "Best" on Disney Channel right now since the older shows have had their best seasons behind them before 2015 and the new ones...just...kind of suck. The only real exceptions are Liv and Maddie, Best Friends Whenever and Girl Meets World, and the latter two only with a ton of qualifications and conditions attached. Best Friends Whenever is often good in spite of itself (a problem its predecessor, Dog With a Blog, as well as K.C. Undercover, Austin & Ally and Jessie also had), and Girl Meets World is just too inconsistent with its varying quality (and again, is prone to being good in spite of itself - Meets Hurricane, anyone?) Liv and Maddie is the only show that's not only good, not only consistently good, but also consistently good on actually worthy merits. In fact between the two networks as a whole I can really only say that about this show and 100 Things (even the Cinemat shows that I'm a big fan of are good in spite of themselves, as I had mentioned just above). And even then, this wasn't always the case of Liv and Maddie - but it certainly was the case for the show during the entirety of the 2015 calendar year and at least a good chunk of the second season trailing off from 2014.

I'm also going to just insert a snippet of a minor story here - Liv and Maddie specifically really helped me in a personal dark spot late in 2014 into early-mid 2015. That may have removed some objectivity, but so what, it's not like I'm a member of an actual, official commission assigning this. Besides, it seems to be a common sentiment enough, so, yeah, Liv and Maddie all the way.
Runners Up: Best Friends Whenever, Girl Meets World
These are the only other shows on Disney Channel that even can pretend to come close to being the best. Yes, BFW is dumb, and yeah maybe the acting is questionable but in such a way to be entertaining. It's a show about best friends that can time travel at will, and that will to time travel is rather random, so at least it doesn't pretend to try to be the next Girl Meets World or Liv and Maddie or Lizzie McGuire, and has fun in the process. 
And Girl Meets World is, well, Girl Meets World. There's a whole 'nuther blog entirely dedicated to that show if you really want to know more about it. 

Best New Show, Between the Networks: 100 Things Again

Yeah, if I didn't need to explain it a second time I don't need to a third.
Runners-Up: WITS Academy, Bella and the Bulldogs. Best Friends Whenever
WITS Academy is having the same shaky start that EWW had, but not to the same degree, and it managed to gel quite a bit sooner. Speaking of which, making the focal point Andi and her WITS trying to gel with each other has been a pretty interesting plot decision, and the cast pulls it off well.

Best New Show, Nickelodeon: Duh,it's going to be 100 Things (Runners-Up: WITS Academy, Bella and the Bulldogs)

Best New Show, Disney Channel: Best Friends Whenever

Runner-up is K.C. Undercover by default.

Worst Show Between the Networks: Bunk'd

This certainly has to be the disappointment of the year, though given what the last season of Jessie is like I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Debby Ryan really was the glue that held that show together, and now they've ripped that glue right out. Peyton List, so far, hasn't even been given an opportunity to see if she can pick up Debby's mantle. It's like she's the perpetual guest star of her own freakin' show. The problems are numerous, but much of what ails Peyton's ability to be the lead in her own show is the ridiculously large cast - between herself, carry-overs Skai and Karan, Miranda May, and whoever plays Xander, Jorge, Tiffany and an almost guaranteed appearance between Hazel and....I don't even remember what's her face so I'll just call her for what she is, Mrs. Benson (oh wait, I just remembered it's Gladys...yeah, Mrs. Benson) there's hardly any room for Peyton. That's anywhere from 7 to 8 players per episode. Jessie had only six front-credited actors, and let's face it, Kevin Chamberlain was really just a perpetual guest star who got to have intro credit privileges (not that they weren't deserved). The relatively large cast also didn't hurt Jessie because it was Jessie and Bertram's job to be around the kids anyway, so they were forced to share screen time and Debby was forced to be given focus by rank of seniority as nanny. Yes, Suite Life on Deck also had a large cast between Dylan, Cole, Brenda, Phill, Matthew and Debby again. Again, Phill was a glorified guest star with intro credit privileges (again, not that they aren't deserved) and Matthew was perpetually stuck as a "guest star" for the entire series run. And again, that's still only six players. Yes, they added Marcus in the middle of the second and third seasons. Other than that fact, do you remember Marcus? Do you remember the eigth(!) cast member they added (no I don't mean Arwin coming back)? Do you remember they even did that? And anyway, even then most fo the group pretty much interacted with each other and the show never lost focus that it was Dylan and Cole's show, not Matthew and Doc's show. Yes, Shake it Up had a large cast. They never lost focus that it was Bella and Zendaya's show, not The Roshon and Caroline Variety Half-Hour (as much as I'd watch that). As far as Bunk'd's concerned, the focus is too disparate and too busy being everywhere. Part of that is built into the show itself - as CITs we have to follow Emma and Ravi everywhere, which means focus gets split between them two - but we also have to follow umm whatever Miranda's character's name is again (I want to call her her LaM's character, Lacey), and Xander, and Zuri, and Jorge, and Tiffany. On Jessie, following Bertram and up to one other character were optional (in other words, they only needed to spend a few minutes on the show if necessary). On SLoD, following Woody, Mr. Moseby and even London and Bailey were optional. On SiU, following anybody not Rocky or CeCe were optional. On Bunk'd, we have to follow Emma, Zuri, Ravi, Whoever Miranda Plays, up to Xander at least and at least one of the other kids (between Jorge and Tiffany) because it's what the audience expects at this point, especially after they hyped up the stardom Zuri and Karan carry over now. 

But that's not even the show's biggest problem. The show's biggest problem is that the writing just flat-out sucks. It's delving immediately into what made SLoD Season 3 and Jessie Season 4 crap. To paraphrase Chuck Sonnenberg, who does his excellent Star Trek reviews at Sci-Fi Debris (erm, you can Google it) in the same vein as Christian and Sean for GMW and what we do here, it's like Star Trek: Voyager. They took Star Trek: The Next Generation and just continued it for an extra season with the same trends with a different name and cast. The last season of TNG was crap, and so was the last season of Jessie. Again, it shouldn't be a surprise Bunk'd carries that trend in hindsight.

If only Pamela Eells O'Connell, Tom Pollock and Jim Hodgson can write a character who isn't a one-note stereotype (yes I'm looking at both you Ravi and Jorge). 
Runners-Up: Game Shakers, I Didn't Do It

Worst Show of Disney Channel: Bunk'd (duh), Runners-Up: I Didn't Do It

IDDI gets this ignoble distinction mainly by default, but the second season did stink compared to the first. They took all the elements that made it watchable and turned it into an excrutiatingly bland, boring mess that was more suited as a cure to insomnia than a Disney Channel sitcom. It was, quite honestly, rightfully put out of its misery. All of its players really deserve better, especially Piper Curda (there, uh, may be some personal bias in that last one specifically).

Worst Show on Nickelodeon: Game Shakers

Again, Game Shakers is pretty much all the bad parts of iCarly and Victorious distilled into its own series
Runner-Up: None
This is the one area where Nickelodeon can claim to have a numerical edge on Disney Channel in 2015.

Best Original Movie: Splitting Adam

Like 100 Things, it manages to be very well-written and fun with a legitimate good story and - dare I say it - heart behind it. Obviously it's also Nick's best original movie too with Liar, Liar Vampire being the runner-up (I seem to be the only one in the world who liked it).

Best DCOM: Bad Hair Day

But only by default. Despite having no less than 4 DCOMs this year (compared to '13's record-low of just one) this was an extremely fallow year for DCOMs of actual quality. I'm tempted to qualify and name Pants on Fire as best DCOM by technicality because I legitimately enjoyed that much more than the original movies actual Disney Channel had to offer.
Runner-Up: Descendants
Again, strictly by default. That said, it's a pretty cynical attempt at a straight-line demo grab (as Gawker's iO9 notes): filled to the brim with shipping and story/plotlines that make little sense other than it's what tweens think is cool. And that's that movie in a nutshell. Sadly, it worked brilliantly.

Worst Nickelodeon Original Movie: Oh Boy Where Do I Even Begin (but seriously, either One Crazy Cruise or Genie in a Bikini, depending on how you define "original movie")

Nickelodeon sure pumped out a lot of "movies" this year. And by "movies" they mean exactly three, along with a bunch of one-hour specials that are clearly really show pilots that stink to high heaven. Genie in a Bikini is legitimately one of the worst things I've ever witnessed on either network (and that says a lot), or for that matter any network (or at least including other networks of this ilk like Cartoon Network - yes even during the live-action days). Joey Richter, WTF? Genie in a Bikini was so bad it's really one of those things you have to experience yourself to see how bad it is. It's this year's...whatever that thing was supposed to be, with the little girls that were on Ellen DeGeneres. You know what I mean (and if you don't, you need to consider yourselves lucky).
But as far as legitimate movies are concerned, yeah, One Crazy Cruise was pretty awful too. Kid networks really need to stop ripping off The Hangover. Not even actual Hangover sequels are liked, what made you think it translates to kids shows?It was...just...no. That script should've died during the brainstorming sesh.
Runners-Up: Pretty Much Everything Else

Worst DCOM: [Redacted]
I seem to be the only one who absolutely hated Invisible Sister. Even Mike liked it, somehow. But yeah. I just wasn't impressed. It had a muddled message that was undone by its own plot and premise. It went into basically whatever direction it felt like. Rowan's acting was dead-on for a Keanu Reeves 47 Ronin impression. That's not a personal attack against her, but it's just so bizarre and outright surreal that an actress who can act on que so adeptly on GMW has such wood plank-like passion that it actually went into uncanny valley territory. I don't care if you all disagree with me.
Runner-Up: Teen Beach 2
What makes TB2 touchy is that it legitimately has a good message - the whole women and STEM thing the latest GMW was about - but it's an afterthought, wrapped around a poorly-written, dead, listless and boring package that killed and betrayed everything the first movie was about. It was a complete dud of a movie, and audiences agreed as it was a complete ratings dud - don't expect a TB3. The only thing it had going for it was the Fallin' For Ya remix and the ending number, That's How We Do. Otherwise, it's the greatest implosion of a DCOM franchise in the history of DCOMs.

Worst Original Movie: One Crazy Cruise

It's hard for me to pick between this and Invisible Sister, but I figure this headline would be less upsetting.
Runners-Up: Teen Beach 2, All the other one-hour "junk" Nick had, umm, Invisible Sister

Best Individual Episode, Overall: Rate-a-Rooney (Liv and Maddie, Disney Channel)

If you've seen this episode, you know why it belongs here. This is what Girl Meets World is trying to be, encapsulated in a single episode.

Best Individual Episode, Nickelodeon: Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn Go Hollywood

Like many shows that end up being good, it doesn't forget how to be goofy yet successful. With a bevy of guest stars that would make even Liv and Maddie envious (Jack Griffo; Daniella Monet; Paris Smith, Autumn Wendell and Denesia Wilson of Every Witch Way; even Food Network's Alex Gurnichelli) it didn't waste any of them (ok, so many the EWW actresses were more of an Easter Egg, but it's better than what Bunk'd probably would do). This is exactly how you do a one-hour special for a goofy live-action tween or even pre-tween sitcom like this.
Runners-Up:  Haunted Family (The Haunted Hathaways), A Superhero is Born! (Thundermans), Meet The Evilmans (Thundermans), Son of Evilman (Thundermans),  Finish Line (WITS Academy), A Tale of Two Lives (Every Witch Way), Van Pelt Reunion (Every WItch Way)

Best Individual Episode, Disney Channel: Rate-a-Rooney (duh); Runners-Up: Detention-a-Rooney (Liv and Maddie), Gift-a-Rooney (Liv and Maddie), Flugelball-a-Rooney (Liv and Maddie), Girl Meets the New Teacher (Girl Meets World), Girl Meets Semi-Formal (Girl Meets World), Identity Thieves (Jessie), Dance Dance Resolution (Jessie), Karate Kid-Tastrophe (Jessie), The Puppies Talk! (Dog With a Blog), Guess Who's Dating Karl (Dog With a Blog), Runaway Robot (K.C. Undercover), A Time to Jump and Jam (Best Friends Whenever), Cyd and Shelby Strike Back (Best Friends Whenevr)

More or less each show got to put up at least one really good episode, even the ones that didn't have such a hot season this year. The Liv and Maddie episodes were all a good mixture of the seriousness and goofiness that make this show so great; Girl Meets World put up a few good solid episodes, with Semi-Formal perhaps being the best; DWaB had some hilarious episodes as did BFW; KCU's 1-hour special was pretty solid and delivered on the action the show promises; even Jessie got to have two or three episodes that were a solid return-to-form to what the show used to be (and having Phill Lewis as Mr. Moseby certainly helped). 

Worst Individual Episode, Disney Channel: Rossed at Sea Part 1 (Jessie)

All the problems of Jessie Season 4 encapsulated into a single episode. 
Runners-Up: Lindy and Logan Get Pshyced (I Didn't Do It), Girl Meets Gravity (Girl Meets World), The Neighborhood Watchdogs (K.C. Undercover), Nearly Any Given Episode of Bunk'd

Worst Individual Episode, Nickelodeon: Henry and the Woodpeckers (Henry Danger)

Snore
Runners-Up: Almost any given episode of Game Shakers

Best Finale, Nick and Overall: Every Witch Way

Pretty much by default, but at least it was action-packed, even if it did end in a cliffhangar designed to set up WITS Academy

Runner-Up: Dog With a Blog, Haunted Hathaways
Though not intended as such, at least HH's finale had emotional closure. That's more than what a certain show with 101 episodes, a clearly defined end-game and a very pretty redhead with a generous bust-size for a star can say.

Best Finale, Disney: Dog With a Blog

Again, by default. Yay, competition falling on its face!
Runner-Up: haha, nice joke!
Actually I just remembered that Phineas and Ferb ended in 2015. Phineas and Ferb, and yet it was so low-profile that I forgot it happened even though I saw it multiple times (pretty much every time they aired it). Yeah, needless to say motherfucking Phineas and Ferb gets the spot of Disney Channel's best series finale in 2015 with Dog With a Blog being the only real legitimate runner-up. I suppose P&F also takes the best finale spot overall away from EWW, though (and as good as P&F's was) I still maintain it was pretty close (yes I like EWW that much).

Worst Finale, Disney and Overall: Jessie

Yeah. Where to start. Just read our review of Oray for Ollywood. They might as well have shoved a pie in Debby's face as she was making her exit from the studio lot.
Other than EWW and HH I don't think any Nick show has had a series finale in 2015 (at least officially)
Runner-Up: I Didn't Do It
Yay, non-finale due to premature cancellation!

Greatest Improvement: Liv and Maddie

In the second season Liv and Maddie went from a show that can be best described as meh and was sometimes just outright bad to one of the greatest in the history of either network. Everything just meshed and came together as John D. Beck and Ron Hart pulled out all the stops and pushed their own talents, with the cast doing the same. They got A-game guest stars, and had them coming back. Many of them had recognizable names (at least for the network), many didn't, but they were all great. The secondary characters were A-game as well, from Johnny Nimbus to Dump Truck; Holden Dippledorf to Andie, uh, I forgot what her last name is supposed to be (Esposito?) Forget about Liv and Maddie being a case study on how to improve a show, it's a case study on how to make a great tween/teen/family show period.
Runners-Up: Girl Meets World, Henry Danger, Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn, Talia in the Kitchen, to a lesser extent Bella and the Bulldogs


Greatest Fall On Its Face: Three-Way Tie Between Jessie, Teen Beach 2 and I Didn't Do It

I tried to pick just one, and I can't: these are three such specatular failures that they each need to be studied. Regarding Jessie, it seems like absolutely everyone, including the actress who plays the lead character whose name is the same as the show itself, just quit and gave up and completely lost interest as soon as the new season and new year began. It was a 20-episode long string of going through the motions. Even the finale just went through the motions, getting Jessie to Hollywood in order to say, see, we have an end game!, and it was a 30 minute insult to the fandom that made Debby and Pamela the reigning queen and woman-behind-the-scenes of the entire tween television entertainment scene since 2012 when iCarly came to an end, and even before that for Disney Channel itself after Wizards of Waverly Place called it quits. Even Debby herself became ashamed of the show - no, really, it was pretty much Miley-style. Go Google it if ou don't believe me. 
As for TB2 and IDDI, it's a great case study on how to dismantle from the inside a movie and TV franchise, respectively. Nice going, Phil Baker. Nice going, TB2 writing staff (different from the first movie - Obvious Mistake #1). 
Runner-Up: Bunk'd
Technically it's hard to fall on your face if you started lying on your stomach in the first place, but Bunk'd counts since the magic ratings success carried over from Jessie never happened. 

Best Gimmick: Disney Channel's Monstober Crossover

In addition to the obligatory holiday theme, there was some interesting interaction across some shows, plus I guess that contest was a thing.
Runners-Up: Disney Channel's Sounds of Summer Musical Guests, Radio Disney Christmas, Lab Rats vs. Mighty Med, Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day of Play (I need to reach to put Nick on this list)

Worst Gimmick: Disney Channel's Monstober Crossover

On the other hand, the success of Monstober was very show-specific. Some shows, like Liv and Maddie and even Best Friends Whenever, integrated it well. Others, like I Didn't Do It and Austin & Ally, squandered it and treated it like something that was forced upon them (granted, it was, but...)
Runners-Up: That Mystery Thing Nickelodeon Did, Nickelodeon's Ho-Ho-Holidays Special

Greatest Success Story, Disney Channel: Descendants

Yeah, this was far and away Disney Channel's greatest success in 2015, just going by the pure numbers. As much as TB2 fell flat on its face, Disney has a new TV movie franchise waiting in the wings anyway. Proper DCOM ratings, a huge fanbase and endless merchandizing.
Runners-Up: Descendants: Wicked World, Star Wars: Rebels, Girl Meets World, Liv and Maddie, Lab Rats vs. Mighty Med

Greatest Success Story, Nickelodeon: Alvinn! And the Chipmunks

You can also call this 2015's biggest surprise. Nobody expected this French co-production based on what many people thought was a dead franchise walking to be Nickelodeon's biggest success of the year, and one of the most watched programming of the entire network. A combination of things ended up making this a winner.

Runners-Up: Every Witch Way, ¯\_()_/¯
Nickelodeon just got hammered in 2015 and it shows.

Greatest Failure, Disney Channel: Teen Beach 2
Teen Beach 2 kind of sucks, and it shows. The ratings are just disappointing enough to guarantee this franchise dead. For what Disney Channel hoped would be the next High School Musical (and for a while looking like they hit paydirt), and with Descendants looking like a more likely successor, TB2 has to be considered the network's greatest disappointment by the raw numbers.
Runners-Up: Bunk'd, Jessie Season 4, I Didn't Do It
It's obvious Bunk'd was supposed to pull in the same tentpole numbers as GMW and LaM, not struggling to get more than Nickelodeon's daily "strips" and telenovas. Jessie's fall from grace, struggling to get to 2 million compared to routinely getting close to or surpassing 4 million in 2013 and the first half of 2014 is pretty bad, but at least it was a lame duck. I Didn't Do It got a crew change to help right the ship, and consequently swiftly capsized. 

Greatest Falure, Nickelodeon: 100 Things To Do Before High School
Again, just talking raw numbers. As I've said this is my favorite show of both networks right now but practically nobody seems to be watching. Meanwhile, haphazard messes and cynical demo-grabs like Descendants are doing gangbusters.
Runners-Up: Pig Goat Bananna Cricket, Bell and the Bulldogs, WITS Academy, Talia in the Kitchen
Again, most if not all of these shows are actually pretty good in quality - even if not especially PGBC which is my idea of a cartoon that can be enjoyed by older audiences. Again, nobody's watching. But that tends to apply to the network as a whole.

I find it hilarious how you said that 100 Things is the best show on both networks, but when it came down to best individual episodes, ain't no love in the heart of the city. :)

I'm not really qualified to speak on Disney Channel because I spent the better half of 2015 pretending it did not exist outside of Girl Meets World, so I'll just go with Nickelodeon and see what I can come up with. 

Best Live-Action Series: The Thundermans
Have I mentioned this before? Yeah, I probably have, but The Thundermans just has this charming quality that keeps me coming back. Maybe it's the chemistry between Kira Kosarin and Jack Griffo. Maybe it's Dr. Colosso's role as comic relief that he excels in. Maybe it's the fact that they do the superhero thing a lot better than Henry Danger does so it never feels like a joke. But yeah, this is one entertaining show. I feel like it has improved greatly since season one, or at least maintained a consistent quality. Nickelodeon should have played its cards right with this series, because if they had, it would be a lot bigger. Not Hannah Montana big, obviously, but this show is currently in its third season and I have no idea how big the fanbase was. Does anybody even talk about this show online?

Honorable Mentions: Bella and the Bulldogs, 100 Things to Do Before High School

Best Animated Series: Allllllvin! and the Chipmunks


When I first heard about this show, I legitimately thought it was going to be on Nick Jr. The animation was the sole reason for that and it made me wonder why this was even being attempted. But I ended up being pleasantly surprised. On a network that can barely promote shows well enough and seems to be strapped for ideas, this show is a breath of fresh air. The voice acting is always entertaining, the characters are endearing, the jokes have this nuance that reminds me of early SpongeBob, and the music is always a pleasure to listen to as well. I'm still not crazy about the animation, but this show rises above that and manages to satisfy all my needs as a fan of kids shows. Between this and TMNT, Nickelodeon at least knows how to resurrect old franchises.

Honorable Mentions: Harvey Beaks (before Alvin came, man.........), SpongeBob SquarePants


Worst Live-Action Series: Game Shakers
You probably knew this was coming. This show is a reminder of the fact that Dan Schneider needs some rest and he should really stop working on two shows at once. Nothing about this series works except for Kel Mitchell, and that's only because he is tailor-made for Schneider comedy. There are some actors and actresses that are just skilled at making his deliberately awkward and hammy material work. Him, Josh Peck, Miranda Cosgrove, Matt Bennett......you know the rest. I also like Benjamin Flores, Jr. and wish him the best, but I don't care about Babe or Kenzie. Hudson is the stupidest character that Dan Schneider has ever created. How that is even possible when we saw what happened to Cat Valentine is beyond me, but he solely exists for the purpose of being stupid. The pilot turned me off completely from watching more episodes, but I actually liked the Christmas one......because of Kel. Without him, this show would be absolutely irredeemable. It's not built to last and should have never been greenlit.

Dishonorable Mentions: Every Witch Way, Henry Danger, Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, & Dawn (I feel like I don't get this show's reason for existing. Can someone please help me?)

Worst Animated Series: Pig Goat Banana Cricket

Horrible, horrible animation, these characters all make me want to hurt myself, bizarre plotting, horrible theme song, just a horrible way to spend your time. Did I mention that this show makes me want to hurt myself?

Dishonorable Mentions: The Fairly OddParents (this show's decline has been absolutely painful), Breadwinners


Best Business Decision by the Network: Creation of The Splat

The 90s Are All That was getting pretty stale and this was a wise move to rebrand it. From what I have seen, The Splat has a lot more variety than the last block and seems to carry a freshness that The 90s Are All That was lacking. Even The Adventures of Pete & Pete came to the airwaves for the first time in years. I think I know why people love that show. Still, no Secret World of Alex Mack? Why does The Splat want to keep me away from Larisa Oleynik? When the show comes to The Splat, somebody let me know.

Hi it's me again. Went back and cleaned up some of the formatting mess for starters (Blogspot is handy enough if you're doing a run-of-the-mill blog but otherwise it's pretty limited, as I've stated before in the past). Not a lot to add except I still find it interesting where Mike and I disagreed.

For starters I really do seem to be the lone EWW fan here (or just about anywhere). I really don't know if it's worth really getting into a debate over because it really does end up being an acquired taste. It has charms that work for some people, and not really much for most. I could go on but I can save that for a separate entry. 

What's much more interesting is Pig Goat Banana Cricket. Unlike EWW, which is essentially a foreign-language crew being tasked with creating a telenovella comedy for the English-language market, PGBC is much more in-line with Nickelodeon's "traditional" style of animation. It's a very specific style that Cartoon Network has adopted or imitated off and on (most successfully with Regular Show, though I suppose you can make the case that Adventure Time! and Steven Universe are also Nick-ish style shows) and that especially Disney XD has been making a straight line for in its animation. It's a style of animation that's been with Nickelodeon since Ren and Stimpy, just because if nothing else Ren and Stimpy was so game-changing - you can't exactly say there hadn't been anything like it before, but animation of this nature that was "kid-friendly," not so much - that it really became a signature for the entire network. By animation "style" I don't mean just the art aesthetic (though that's certainly a major component) but the overall look, feel and plotting of the show, down to if not especially the mixture of gross-out humor and randomness. 

Anyway, I like it. Probably because I'm simple-minded enough - I do like Jessie after all. I'd love to see if Mike would be willing to do a post where we just debate the merits of PGBC some time. Like EWW it's not everybody's cup of tea and it just boils down to does the randomness work or not. Based on the ratings, it seems to work for few.

Harvey Beaks is...hmmm. It's from C.H. Greenblatt, the creator of the under-appreciated Chowder which was a brilliant cartoon in '08 (wow I'm old). I'll give it credit, it's certainly a gorgeous cartoon from just an aesthetic perspective - maybe even bizarrely so. C.H. Greenblatt is especially good for that kind of thing. And the main eponymous character is certainly charming enough. I just think those are the biggest things it has going for it. I saw the first few episodes from its premiere and I was admittedly underwhelmed. I saw today's (1/15's) new episode and it was...decent. PGBC is loud and obnoxious by comparison, but in a way that's so stupid I can't help but laugh.

But then there's Alvinn! And the Chipmunks - it came right out of nowhere and it's owning the network, for pretty much the reasons Mike said. 

Also, yeah, Game Shakers really does suck.

Oh, and as for nominees for 100 Things for best episode of the network - I really liked the one with Garrett Clayton in it. 

5 comments:

  1. Let's see, I forgot to add some thoughts here.

    I've seen maybe two episodes of 100 Things. I got some Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, which just happens to hold up remarkably well and is Scrubs for Kids when you think about it, vibes and I enjoyed seeing Jack DeSena being alive.

    I really don't watch much Nick but I've seen bits and pieces of Alvin. Solid stuff. Voices match from my childhood memories of watching The Chipmunk Adventure. That's all I got guys, keep up the good work.

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    1. Thanks! If you love Ned's you might like sticking around for 100 Things. It's one of the rare instances where an exact rip-off is really a good thing, and it probably doesn't help that Fellows is literally ripping off himself. Also, Isabella Moner and the rest of the cast really pull it off. Moner really does add a different perspective that's enough to give it a unique twist.

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  2. I did 2015 was slightly better than 2014, if only cuz the qworst full episodes to air in 2014 are some of the worst peicews of shit I've ever seen (LINDY NOSE BEST, THAT IS ALL) while the worst of2015 was just really mediocre.

    I'd say the worst full episode might be The Puddin' Party from Gamer'a Guide but you didn't mention XD at all for some reason. There's also the subllot to Austin & ally's Wedding episode thing, with Dez's worst peromrnce ever.

    I think I Didn't so It wins most improved. I have no clue how anyone could perfect Season 1, with it's wonky morality and unlikable characters. Season 2 fixed all my problems and while it's not not the best,it's way better.

    Jessie gets a mention to, with Season 4 trying a lot harder so the series ends on a high note. For all the issues of the finale, the actual ending scene was dang good.

    For best episodes, I'll side with you guys, got nothing to add, but if we wanna count xd STORM'S END FROM MIGHTY MED IS AMAZING. That deserves caps, it's a great episode.

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    1. Truth be told I only got access to XD shortly after finishing this post, which is why they're largely absent. Yeah, Disney airs XD on mainline Disney but it's so infrequent it really doesn't give an adequate impression of a show (especially for brand new Gamer's Guide). I've seen enough of Kirby Buckets, but I didn't really think it deserved to be on this list for good or bad (though again, mostly I had seen the first season - since then I've seen most of the second season and quite honestly it'd probably get the award for Best Live-Action XD Show by a very wide mile). I had seen all of Gravity Falls - in fact it's one of my most favorite animated shows of all time and it would've gotten the Lifetime Achievement Award for Disney animated TV shows, which considering the incredibly rich history of Disney animation of TV (and that I'm more or less familiar with the lion's share of it all the way back to the Golden 90s) is no small feat. So why didn't it make mention? Because, uh...I forgot.

      Puddin' Party, BTW, wasn't quite that bad an episode IMHO. Actually it's one of my favorite Gamer's Guide eps from the 2015 calendar year, believe it or not.

      IDDI is...just really divisive. So much so that the fan division is a major part of its TVTropes page. The show did have fans in Season 1 (not only myself, but quite a few people I know) and it seems that people who hated Season 1 like Season 2, while people who liked Season 1 hated Season 2. If you happen to know Bria from Twitter she seems to be one of the exceptions who likes both, though I think she still kind of leans towards Season 1. And of course there's no shortage of people who just flat out hate both seasons and the show period.

      The season finale (and finale season) of Jessie did have some good points - but I give more details in the dedicated posts I wrote about those.

      And yeah, Mighty Med was a good show, though it slipped by the middle of Season 2. I can see why they just decided to merge it with Lab Rats.

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    2. (About Puddin' Party): ...Really? That may be one of the most messed up disney sitcom episodes ever. I recently reviewed it other on my blog if you're curious to see why.

      Kirby Buckets is a strange mixed bag for me, but it's mostly way better than i thought it would be. It has a few "best of 2015" candidates, most notably Kirby's Choice.

      I'm honestly surprised Season 2 was divisive at all...sort of. I get that the changes might be weird to fans, but given that they actually try harder, it really needs more credit.

      I actually think that show kind of sums up disney sitcoms in general when you thinka bout it.

      Mighty Med slipped slightly after the Skylar arc wrapped up but that finale was so strong i wished it kept on on it's own.

      I find it very strange but cool that XD shows are getting more story and action driven. We'll have to see where this goes.

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