Four weeks from tomorrow, Disney's great experiment begins. As in: If you build a cable television network for boys 6-14, will they actually show up and watch ?
The Mouse certainly hopes so. Which is why Mickey is using all of his marketing might right now to help get the word out about "Aaron Stone." The new series that Disney XD officials hope will be the break-out show for the Company's newest brand. Which -- as the ads says -- hopes to be " ... On TV ... Online ... Everywhere." Starting on February 13th.
"And what exactly is an 'Aaron Stone?,' " you ask. Well, it's a live action-adventure that takes the very best bits of "Hannah Montana" & "Kim Possible" and then folds in lots of teen angst, humor and just a dash of testosterone.
Disney's "Aaron Stone" tells the story of Charlie Landers (Kelly Blatz), your average teenage guy who lives with his single mom, Amanda (Shauna MacDonald). Charlie's one claim to fame is that he's good at the popular online game, 'Hero Rising.' Really good. Really, really good. So good that Landers is actually the world champion when it comes to 'Hero Rising.' And his crime-fighting avatar -- Aaron Stone -- has achieved legendary status on the Web.
Which is pretty cool all by itself. But then Charlie's life takes an unexpected turn when this teen is contacted by T. Abner Hall, the reclusive billionaire who actually created 'Hero Rising.' Hall then proceeds to blow Landers' mind by revealing that 'Hero Rising' isn't just an online game. It's actually a training tool for secret agents. And given that Charlie is now the world champion at 'Hero Rising' ... Well, T. Abner wants to recruit this shy teenager to come fight crime. To become the real-life Aaron Stone.
Landers initially rejects the idea. Just staying on top of his school work & sports schedule is already enough of a challenge. Not to mention doing all of his chores at home as well as watching over his younger brother, Jason (David Lambert). Charlie doesn't have time right now to save the world.
That's when Hall drops the bombshell: The Omega Defiance, those seven cyber-villains that Landers battles against whenever he plays 'Hero Rising' ? They're real. What's more, the Omega Defiance has sworn to enslave mankind. So -- in order to keep his mom & brother (and the world) safe -- Landers must now become the real-life Aaron Stone.
Not to worry, though. T. Abner is willing to open his wallet and provide Charlie with a few superhero essentials. He presents the teen with a Super Sonic Jet that will fly him anywhere in the world. Not to mention a protective suit and special shoes that will make it possible for Landers to jump high & stick to walls. And did I mention S.T.A.N. (J.P. Manoux), that sentient tactical assisting neo-human who mentors Charlie and then accompanies him on all of his missions?
Can Landers handle his new assignment as the real-life Aaron Stone? Saving the world on a regular basis while still keeping his identity secret from his mother, brother and Emma Lau (Tania Gunadi), that cute girl who just moved in next door. Who -- FYI -- may be more than she seems.
Created by Bruce Kalish (who executive-produced that earlier Disney Channel hit, "The Famous Jett Jackson"), Mouse House execs believe that "Aaron Stone" has so much promise & potential that Mickey is doing something truly special with this show. It's taking a multi-platformed approach to the launch of this new television series. With the hope that this stunt will then raise Disney XD's profile and help the Company's newest brand get off to a strong start.
"So what's this stunt going to entail?," you query. Well, with the hope that they'll get "Aaron Stone" off on the right foot by first making the cool kids aware of this new cable show, Disney XD will have a huge presence next week at Winter X Games Thirteen in Aspen. And each time that ESPN cuts away to cover events that are being staged on the sledding hill at Buttermilk Mountain ... Well, those announcers will then have to work in a mention of Disney XD's official launch on February 13th as well as talking up "Aaron Stone." Given that Disney XD is actually sponsoring the sledding hill at this year's Winter X Games.
After the Games wrap up on January 25th, the next "Aaron Stone" promotional milestone comes on January 29th. When the pilot of this new Disney XD series becomes available for free downloading on iTunes. And once "Aaron" has won over all of the early adopters, it's time then to go after the gamers. Which is why -- on Friday, February 6th -- "Aaron Stone" will air for free on the Xbox 360.
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And once the gamers are aware of this new cable series, it's time to target the geeks. Which is why the cast & creative team behind "Aaron Stone" will be traveling to the Big Apple that weekend. Where -- as part of the third annual New York Comic Con (which is being held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center February 6 - 8) -- they'll be screening the "Aaron Stone" pilot on Sunday afternoon and then doing a meet-and-greet session with conventioneers afterwards.
All of this promotional effort will hopefully pay off on Friday, February 13th. When the first episode of "Aaron Stone" be simulcast on Disney XD, the Disney Channel, Sprint TV and MobiTV at 7 p.m., while the second episode of this series will only air on Disney XD & DisneyXD.com at 7:30 p.m.
And did I mention that the first episode of "Aaron Stone" will also be available for viewing via Video-on-Demand on Version Fios and Comcast ? Or that -- if you wanted to check out the real-life equivalent of that online game that Charlie Landers plays on this television series, then you should go check out HeroRising.com ?
All in all, you have to admit that this is an incredibly ambitious launch for a brand-new cable series. With "Aaron Stone" moving across multiple platforms in just three weeks time. Millions being spent on promotion. All with the hope that -- if this one series hits -- "Aaron" will then help get the word out about Disney XD.
So what do you folks think? Please forgive my ham-handed attempt at a wittism here ... But will a roaming "Stone" really gather new audience members for Disney XD ?
Your thoughts ?
If Disney can capture this demographic, then more power too them. I watch my son's class at school (5th grade), and they want nothing to do with the Disney Channel (or at least that's what they tell each other). Aaron Stone has garnered some attention through the classrooms, though, and looks like it at leats has the demographic's curiosity piqued.
This is a audience that needs something to watch, since it is primarily served by a handful of Nick products (Spongebob, and that ilk) and SportsCenter. And any time SportsCenter is turned on, younger sister gets upset. Hopefully the Disney XD shows will have enough to them so that both genders can watch them, and not argue quite so much.
It might be good. This has already been the exact plot of at least two movies, so I don't know how anyone could claim with a straight face to be the show's creator. But that doesn't mean the show itself won't be good. The concept is fine. I think the show's success ultimately lies with the lead actor: The target demographic is either going to think he's cool or think he's a geek, and the fate of the show will follow from there.
I agree with the above. This plot has been tried and re-tried in animated form, an underperforming movie (I do like The Last Starfighter but it doesn't have the audience of the Star Wars genre) and several tv shows backed by some pretty big-name producers.
Then again, Hannah Montana writers keep recycling plots from Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley to a decent degree of success. Promotion plus star power equals an audience that sustains an interest through "the magic 60."
I must be out of the loop a bit... this is the first time that I have even heard of Disney XD outside of the video player on the website. So, the fact that Toon Disney is shutting down is news to me.
But, that's not surprising. Disney XD seems to be mostly rebranding of the channel, so nothing major. They're only losing a couple of minor shows since Jetix is 85% of the programming.
However, that tells me that probably most of those that are going to watch it are the same boys that have been watching Toon Disney anyway.
I think my preference would've been to do something like what they are doing to Toon Disney in Europe: Ditching the tired Jetix and Toon Disney programming and turn it into Disney Cinemagic -- which seems to actually have 95% Disney. And always a big selection of classic.
Or, the long wishedfor Vault Disney Channel would've been nice. Oh well.
As much as I'd love a Vault Disney channel, I don't think the major shareholders give a rats a$$ about classic programming. They want to bring in the tweens and all their $$$$.
Now That is the way to market something! DISNEY has got the power!
Oops, dolt! I hit 'submit' to soon. I wanted to say I would prefer a VAULT DISNEY channel as well. No kids in this house to worry about the fact that my DISH line-up doesn't include ToonDisney...I mean DISNEY XD. But, they do have that marketing strategy down.
Guess we know where the real money is at if they push a TV plot ripped from a Batman Beyond episode and The Last Starfighter and not Bolt. Can't wait to see all the merchandise I guess.
It's really a shame that with all the networks and channels Disney own, there is such a limited amount of of their classic programming available. While they go after the male tween market here, those of us with toddlers are left looking for other programming options, and unless I go pop in a DVD, they tend to be non-Disney related. Playhouse Disney is okay, but what about the rest of the day?
Guess Disney doesn't care about the children. ;)
I'm shocked that a "Hero Rising" video game isn't part of this marketing push. It seems like the perfect complement -- get the kids involved in a game, then see someone who plays that game battling the game's antagonists on TV.