For Your Emmy Consideration: Tower Prep

The Children’s Program category in the Primetime Emmys has been filled and won by harmless Nickelodeon and Disney Channel comedies the last two years. And before that, regularly (and deservedly so) won by Linda Ellerbee’s Nick News specials.

But this year, there’s something different in the mix of comedies and musical movies. Cartoon Network presented their first two original live-action series in Unnatural History and Tower Prep, both of which a breath of fresh air in what has become a field of fluff.

Cartoon Network’s first effort was Unnatural History, a series focused on Henry Griffin, a teen moving to a Washington D.C. high school after growing up with his globetrotting anthropologist parents and the mysteries he uncovers at the connected National Museum. The series successfully mixed humor with the mysteries of the nation’s greatest treasures and history as well as the everyday navigation of high school life.

But it was the network’s 2nd series that really broke the walls of children’s programming convention. Tower Prep told the story of Ian Archer, a regular teen who suddenly wakes up and finds himself trapped at the secluded school where he finds he, like all the students there, has unique abilities.

It began its first season as a promising mystery and finished as an ambitious, intriguing and thought provoking thriller. It challenged the norm and broke down what have become very constrictive walls in the children’s programming arena.

A series that can be enjoyed by children of all ages.

After having caught up with the series in March, I had this to say about the series, saying Tower Prep should be the gold standard in children’s programming:

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.

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.

[Tower Prep realizes] the youngins these days aren’t dumb, both able to reach audiences of all ages.

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.

The official Academy description for the Children’s Program category reads: “For a fictional entertainment program designed for children (ages 2-16) in any format. The program’s target audience is the child but does not preclude family viewing.”

Tower Prep more than fits that description. While designed for children, the series was and is more than accessible for the entire family.

A script tighter than most primetime series, an incredibly engaging story, a talented young cast; Tower Prep is one of a kind. The series more than does its part to stand out and above the rest of its peers and it has effortlessly made a case for strong, legitimate Emmy consideration.

0 thoughts on “For Your Emmy Consideration: Tower Prep

  1. One of the most engaging and creative shows on television for all ages. The actors and writers deserve the recognition. I SAY YES!!!

  2. I’m 26 years old and I made sure to watch this, every night it aired. I was severly disappointed in the lack of advertising and effort on Cartoon Networks part to get the word out about this show. Not only was it incredibly interesting, but it offered something no other channel can: A live action television show that doesn’t require slapstick comedy and a laughtrack.
    It reminded me of the days where I watched “Ghostwriter” and “Tribe”. I really hope it returns from it’s hiatus, as such solid programming with real development and story is so hard to find for that age group.

  3. Tower Prep is an amazing show, and this part really sums it up: “A script tighter than most primetime series, an incredibly engaging story, a talented young cast; Tower Prep is one of a kind.” It has so much potential, and it would be a shame for it not to have a second season. I’m 24, too (and I got my friends hooked on it), and I definitely agree that it could reach all ages with the right advertising. I don’t think any other “children’s” show is more deserving of an Emmy.

  4. Great show I’m 52 watched it wiith my 12 y.o. Son good solid entertainment it nerds to be brought back!

  5. I can’t think of any children’s programming out there right now that would deserve an Emmy more than this show. I am not ashamed to say I’m 45 and was thoroughly engrossed in this show every week with my son. I miss it so much!!

  6. I am 16 and would not miss an episode of it! Neither would my 18 year old brother! They need a second season of this! The CN people need to see this page!

  7. This show is incredibly cunning when it comes to the execution of the storyline and the elements of action and drama. Im 32 and have no kids. But exciting and CLEAN shows are scarce these days. This show is just one of those gems, and cartoon network will be shooting themselves in the foot if they don’t realize how big of a gem this show really is. I would even go as far as to compare it to the writing of Babylon 5.

    Actually, the weird thing is that I do not have cable. I record off of the OTA broadcast waves. How did I hear about it and get to see the show? It was well advertized in Regal’s Entertainment/AMC Entertainment’s Play FirstLook pre-show countdown creatively placed in the correct target type of audience that was playing a kid or teen movie. So for alot of you guys who did not spend lots of money on seeing movies, you did not get to see the whole “behind-the scenes Firstlook” of Tower Prep. And the only network I strongly watch on the OTA broadcast is FOX. But I found out about this gem and I was delighted to start downloading it off of the Itunes store on my 56k modem. Yes, the whole first season which was like about $15, is on my computer.

    But who cares about my personal life! Why am I sharing this with you? One of the previous posters stated that it was not well-advertised. And I will take his or her word for it. But maybe they were so focused on marketing for the small screen on the big screen forgetting about the little 30 sec spots. The full behind the scenes first look was really good and it had interviews with most of the main actors. And again, that is how I found out about it. But they probably did forget about the little unlimited usage 30-second spots for it, known in layman terms as commercials. Even itunes had a BIG PREVIEW of the show. In fact, the itunes preview was 21 minutes of the first show. So for those who watch movies and use their ipods, the advertising has been done for those types of people. But not everyone has an IPOD or wants to spend $10-17 on a movie. Also; Unnatural History had a behind the scenes FirstLook on the AMC Moviewatcher countdown as well.

    Ok. So the network fouled up. Networks are famous for that, especially FOX. But maybe if they are reading this maybe they will realize that this is a GEM. I said this already.

    Now what does this gem comprise of? It has scary moments that are for real with no cursing or foul language. There is nothing like a good clean scare. Remember, The Blair Witch Project. Good movie for scares but it sucked because every other word was the F word. You can throw out the F word and the sex and still have a good show. This is what this show does for me. It deletes the sex scenes. And it deletes the cursing that is in alot of so called “good” shows. And even though it deletes all the profanity because it is a kids show, it keeps me enticed and interested in watching the show. Have you ever listened to someone complain for his or her own life but you just could not listen because every word is the F word? I hate that . With Tower Prep, I know its going to be clean. Sure Ian Archer and Suki can have a kiss, which almost happened but it did not. Even if it did, it would still have been clean. This is the thriller element.

    Very briefly the other elements which make this a good show is just a small miniscule touch of drama so we can fall in love with the characters that were created by Dini. Forrest being connected to Guapo. Forrest needing and wanting attention. Suki wanting to get connected with her family. CJ having a personal conflict with her inner feelings between headmaster, her father, and her friends. So called “bad guy Kal” trying to proclaim he is not really a bad guy even though he acts liked a total jerk to the crew–mistrust, misplaced trust. Most shows that just focus on drama only can cause the male audience to stop watching sometimes, but if is perfectly balanced like Tower Prep, the male audience will keep on watching! Beautifully executed.

    And of course, Pinkston, Van Acker, and the other actors do a superb job and charcters subplots, or as males would say, personal drama. But you need to be connected with your characters personal drama in order to make your character real. If you did not show–fear, mistrust, love, being confused, feeling of being harassed and helpless (cj stuck in the middle), the you would not have a show. Yes, background makes a show. Yes, a storyline makes the show. But the most important element out of any show–is the execution of the actors. A lot of teen shows can be seen as “force dialogue.” Not this one. All the actors are perfect and they all deserve an Emmy.

    In fact not only do the ACTORS deserve an Emmy but the CREATIVE TEAM including Paul Dimi need to awarded for a beautifully crafted show. Let’s give them an around of applause and say “here here” to Tower Prep. Let the true “Whisperers” of this crowd be heard so that the crew, the actors, and everyone else do not have to be “scared” of loosing Tower Prep.

    That is my opinion.

  8. I really enjoyed tower prep!!!!!!! It was my favorite tv show and I really want cartoon network to bring it back for a second season. It was so interesting and like no other show!!! Please Cartoon Network Bring It Back!!!!
    I am 14 and my sister is 11 and brother is 8 and we all LOVE tower prep! We also really enjoyed unatural history!
    These two series were amazing and I really hope to see them back!!!!!!!

  9. Great show! I’m a 19 year old Screen and Media major and I love it, completely addicted! It is clever and engrossing and extremely well made, both technically and plot wise. Fantastic young cast as well. Everyone should write and email to CN supporting the show! Heres the link for you guys! http://www.cartoonnetwork.com/feedback/index.html
    just click programming, then Tower Prep! Hopefully they will listen!

Leave a Reply