Boomerang, the recently launched streaming service from Turner and Warner Bros, offers a host of classic cartoons from the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, and '00s that I loved as a kid. I have fond memories of watching Boomerang (the cable channel) as it always had old episodes of Scooby Doo and The Smurfs and without commercials to boot. It was the sister network of Cartoon Network, which had some cartoons I liked, but many that I didn't. But the cable channel known as Boomerang today carries primarily modern cartoons and is advertiser-supported, meaning the classics have been bumped to graveyard time slots or off the schedule completely. The first time I realized that the Boomerang channel of today does not resemble the Boomerang of my childhood is the first time I ever felt old. I mean, it's been less than a decade since I was obsessively collecting everything Scooby Doo I could find. But the past is past us now. I start college next week and no longer have the time to devote to a Scooby Doo obsession. I will always associate the Hanna-Barbera rerun aesthetic with my childhood, like wallpaper for my memories.
It seems fitting that around the same time I graduated high school and am preparing for the next chapter in my life, the old cartoons of my youth are revived on such a uniquely modern platform: a streaming website. It's as if we're both moving onto the next phase of our existence. To celebrate the occasion, I thought I would test out Boomerang (which is $4.99 a month, no ads, available as a website and an app) and see if it's any good.
The design of the site is sleek and pretty easy to navigate. I haven't had any problems streaming the videos or anything like that. One thing I found annoying is that when Chromecasting the app, at the end of each episode I had to select a new video to cast on my phone, whereas I would have liked to see it automatically go to the next episode. I'll admit perhaps there could be a way to fix this that I haven't discovered, but it's an inconvenience nonetheless. Also, while I'm talking about negatives, there are no episode descriptions or original air dates, only episode titles. Sure I can just go to Wikipedia and look those things up, but it's nice to have it all in one place.
Because streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have learned that they need exclusive content in order to survive, Boomerang has original content as well. Be Cool, Scooby Doo, Wabbit, and The Tom & Jerry Show, all reboots of classic cartoons that premiered on Cartoon Network (but were originally intended to air on the Boomerang cable network) within the past couple of years have been dumped by that network and their remaining episodes will air only on the streaming site. It is unknown whether these episodes are simply being burned off or if new seasons of these shows will be produced for the platform. The first true exclusive Boomerang original is called Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, and it is as stupid as it sounds. There's also something called Bunnicula, but I haven't been compelled to click on that one yet.
Some of the shows in their selection include The Flintstones (which apparently doesn't hold up that well, I found the episodes that I watched to be more irritating than funny), Yogi Bear, Barney Bear, Tex Avery's Droopy, Huckleberry Hound, The Jetsons , Popeye, Richie Rich, Magilla Gorilla, The Smurfs, and more. They have a couple (not many) more recent titles, like Camp Lazlo and My Gym Partner is a Monkey, both of which were airing new episodes when I was a kid but I never watched them so I don't care about them.
Under the Scooby Doo folder, there is (currently) the original Scooby Doo: Where Are You?, the fantastic reboot What's New Scooby Doo?, the abysmal reboot Be Cool, Scooby Doo, and the 1979 series Scooby Doo and Scrappy Doo. I had fun watching that last one because many of the episodes I had never seen before. Noticeably absent is Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated, the recent dark, mythologized take on the franchise that middle school Tim LOVED. They also carry several of the direct-to-DVD movies starring the Scooby Doo gang, such as the excellent Scooby Doo and the Witch's Ghost. Curiously, these movies can't be found under the Scooby Doo folder, you have to go to the Movies folder to even see that they are there, which is confusing.
Wacky Races was perhaps the show I was most excited to revisit. It was also the one I was disappointed by when I did rewatch it. I guess my memories of it built it into something that it's not. It's actually pretty boring - slapstick comedy married to only the wispiest of plots about the actual races. I think kids would probably still get a kick out of it, though. When the Boomerang streaming service was announced, it was also announced that it would be the exclusive home to a reboot of Wacky Races. The streaming service has been around for almost five months now and only a free preview episode has been released (And it was just released. I had to rewrite this post after it dropped). It recently premiered on Boomerang in Australia, but to not time the premiere of the reboot with the launch of the service was an extremely poor idea. The free episode that is only 10 minutes long, and it's not great. It only features Penelope Pitstop, Peter Perfect, Dastardly and Muttley, the Gruesome Twosome, and a new character, a nerdy child called I.Q. Ickly, as opposed to the eleven racers from the original. Why drop a bunch of classic characters? I don't know. They don't even race cars in this episode, they race on sleds, skis, and snowboards. Presumably, each episode will have different types of races, which is fine, but odd because the cars were such a big part of the original series. Perhaps because the new racer is a child, like an actual child, that is why they are avoiding racing cars? Even still, it's very odd. I think that the proper way to revive the Wacky Races franchise would be as a theatrically-released computer animated film. I think it could really work well as a movie.
While the selection on Boomerang is hardly small, there are some glaring omissions. Where's Top Cat? Is it really too much to ask that a streaming site that specializes in cartoons carries Top Cat? They have Wacky Races, but its two spinoffs, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop and Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines are nowhere to be found. There are plenty more titles from the Hanna-Barbera catalog that I would like to see included on Boomerang, even if it was just for a limited time. For example, Laff-a-Lympics. Where is it? I would very much like to see Laff-a-Lympics. Their movie page has some great stuff, but there have been a lot of movies featuring these characters. They currently only offer a fraction of them to stream. In addition to the recent movie adaptations such as the live-action Scooby Doo movies, Yogi Bear, The Smurfs, there are plenty of bizarre TV movies like The Flintstones Meet the Jetsons from the '80s that (probably) deserve to see the light of day.
The way the service is designed, it seems like it was created solely with parents getting it for their kids in mind. It apparently did not occur to them that people nostalgic for their youth and/or cartoon aficionados would be interested. They were wrong about that. If Boomerang ever decides to expand its target audience beyond kids (and it really should because it's missing whole sectors of potential customers) then it would be the perfect streaming home for shows like Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, and Sealab 2021. There's a page entitled 'Grownups' that makes you confirm your age before entering it that I thought might be the page for more adult cartoons, but no, that's their name for the account page. As if kids needed to be shielded from their parent's email addresses.
I'm not exactly sure what they thought the appeal of such a niche streaming site would be, perhaps as an alternative for people who don't have cable? Turner recently launched another niche streaming service, FilmStruck, which streams classic, foreign, and hard-to-find movies. That's one I would also like to try, but I just don't see it being worth the money for such a narrow selection. What I would like to see in the future is content providers with multiple streaming sites offering bundles or packaging more than one site (or an option of which sites) together at a lower price than it would be to subscribe independently to both. That would be more enticing.
Ultimately, if nostalgia is your main interest in Boomerang, I would say save your money. You will just end up being disappointed. If you have kids and want your kids to have good taste in cartoons, then I say it might be worth it.
Have YOU tried Boomerang? Give me your thoughts in the comments below! Thanks for reading!