Fox Kids was at a crossroads in 2001.
Power Rangers was still a strong brand, but the entire Fox Kids block was struggling behind Kids' WB's popular weekday afternoon and Saturday morning lineup. So, a challenge was made within the walls of Fox Kids Worldwide in the summer of 2001.
"Fix the block and the network within three years or else, it's over."
Never has such a jarring statement been made within the halls of the Burbank headquarters of Fox. The executives at Fox Kids had never felt such pressure to perform. The lineup was already in place for the 2001-02 season, but there weren't any plans in case any of those shows failed. They did, on the other hand, have shows they could air as backup.
One of those shows was Diabolik. Diabolik was an animated series about a notorious thief who scours the globe for the next big score. Think Lupin III gone solo with guts. They put the series on the backburner even though the series was completed. By November 2001, the series was on the Friday afternoon lineup right before Power Rangers as part of a Evil Vs. Good hour.
And it worked.
Ratings shot up 25% from the same period a year ago. However, the jobs weren't secure yet. Pokemon was still doing well in the ratings, but its grip on the viewership was slipping, as was Yu-Gi-Oh.
Fox Kids dramatically changed its morning and afternoon schedules that winter. Fox Kids moved reruns of Digimon and Ned's Newt to weekday mornings along with the returning E/I series Fox Cubhouse and Bobby's World while they begin to return classic Fox Kids reruns to the lineup. Eek! The Cat and X-Men joined the weekday afternoon lineup along with the Fox Family series Totally Spies airing right before Power Rangers. The Saturday morning lineup also had a bit of older shows and newer shows with Mon Colie Knights, Totally Spies, and Mad Jack joined by the new seasons of Power Rangers, Digimon, and Diabolik. Reruns of those shows aired the next day on Fox Family along with X-Men, The Tick, NASCAR Racers, and Spider-Man.
In the fall upfronts, Fox Kids announced that the block will remain on the air with new seasons of Power Rangers, Digimon, and Totally Spies as well as the premieres of Ultimate Muscle, Buffy: The Slayer Chronicles (an animated adaptation of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer), Kirby: Comin' At Ya!, and a new version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Fox Family announced that they picked up Fighting Foodons, Heavy Gear, and Transformers: Energon as well as reruns of the 80s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series to air on weekday and Sunday mornings while transforming the Saturday mornings on Fox Family into a teen zone, harkening back to the early YTV-esque atmosphere of the network, which was reintroduced in fall 2002. The Saturday lineup, called The Basement, has aired numerous shows over the years since then, including Canadian imports like Degrassi: The Next Generation, Edgemont, and 15/Love, cartoons like Delta State, Sixteen, and Oban: Star Racers, a new season of Saved By The Bell, a new season of Masked Rider, and a reintroduced American Bandstand co-produced by Dick Clark Productions and hosted by LA disc jockey Ryan Seacrest.
Fox Family transformed their post-700 Club timeslot into a block of sitcoms, game shows, and cartoons suitable for the entire family while The Basement took over the 3 PM to 6 PM lineup. Primetime has off-network dramas and original programming.
Today, Fox Kids execs look back at that afternoon back in 2001 with pride and laughter. The laughter comes from their memories of actually having fear for their jobs. The pride comes from the fact that they accomplished a job to create a new identity, a new persona, and a new attitude for both Fox Kids and Fox Family. They learned to work well with others to develop a stronger brand that will continue to be around for years to come.