I had said that Cartoon Network’s Tower Prep was fresh, something completely different for children’s and teen programming. Something different from the “idol/star vehicles” of the other networks and that it could “be accessible to audiences outside the target demo with no reason to be guilty about watching them.”
After catching up with the series’ last nine episodes of the season in just two nights of viewing (finally), I was left in awe and disbelief.
In awe at how thoroughly engrossing the series became and in disbelief that there aren’t any series anywhere close to the ambition of Tower Prep.
I did not expect… no, I actually never dreamed a scripted children’s program like Tower Prep could ever exist.
Teen and children’s live action programming these days apparently need to either include singing and dancing or need to push the envelope by being “edgy” or sexy.
In either case, youth programs these days either come off as cliché or trying too hard. None providing any worthwhile viewing experience. Throw in the shows that kids are watching these days that aren’t even meant for them and you’ve got quite a sad bunch.
Tower Prep showed they didn’t need any of that stuff to be engaging and enjoyable.
Not only is it a show I wish other children’s and teens programs would be like, Tower Prep is a show I wish most “grown up” shows were like.
Ambitious, ready to break down the walls of its own genre, demo, and target audience. Like any television series, it’ll have its flaws, but Tower Prep developed week after week; its story moving with a brisk pace, peppered with both questions and answers as well as plenty of action and adventure to keep you along for the ride.
A chapter in a lesson on how to write an intricate mystery with bits and pieces of humor and high school angst thrown in. Seemingly inspired by series like Lost and The Prisoner (creator Paul Dini was a writer on Lost), Tower Prep made for a rewarding experience for all ages.
I felt the same way after Power Rangers RPM. Executive producer Eddie Guzelian managed to take the franchise to another level. He and his crew, before Disney put a stop to them, showed how children’s programming did not merely have to be mindless slapstick merchandise commercials.
Sure, Power Rangers itself could be called a 22 minute toy commercial, but RPM completely changed that. Over the series’, at the time, 17 year history, there would be moments where you’d realize that with a little more effort, this could be more than just selling toys to kids or some campy guilty pleasure for the adults.
For most of RPM‘s season, it changed that. It showed that there could be actual depth… hell, it showed that there could be actual story in this thing. And it introduced a very novel idea in finding actors… who can act.
Tower Prep shares many similar qualities; both ambitious, both realizing the youngins these days aren’t dumb, both able to reach audiences of all ages. I actually wish Nickelodeon’s Power Rangers reboot was more like Tower Prep.
Sadly Tower Prep‘s first season ratings keep it on the bubble today and whether or not ambitious genre/target audience-busting series are commercially viable can fill up a whole other post.
But Tower Prep, artistically and creatively, is very sound and more than deserving of a second season. Well-written story, great cast, twists and turns, intriguing, exciting, action-packed… and one hell of a cliffhanger.
If only other television series, especially those aimed at teens and below, opened their minds, expanded their horizons so to speak, and thought out of the box instead of squeezing into a crowded old carton. Us viewers would be pretty spoiled… and deservedly so.