Hail, Brak! “Cartoon Planet” returns to Cartoon Network’s orbit

Cartoon Network is partying like it’s 1995-99 by bringing back one of its signature shows in a new setting. Cartoon Planet, which was an offshoot of the lovably bizarre Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, has been revived for Friday nights for an hourlong block during which it will introduce a selection of other Cartoon Network favorites.

“You could get a Dexter’s Laboratory, you could get a Powerpuff Girls, plus a Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, plus a Dial M for Monkey,” says Stacy Isenhower, senior vice president of programming and scheduling for Cartoon Network (a.k.a. the lady in charge of putting stuff on the air). She says many factors went into the decision to bring back Cartoon Planet, including the desire to pay homage to longtime fans on the occasion of the network’s 20th anniversary year, as well as the void on the schedule left by the Friday night action block of shows like Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Thundercats. Oh, and there’s also the fact that Stu Snyder — who heads up animation for Turner Broadcasting Systems Inc. (Cartoon Network’s parent company) — is a fan.

When the time came to get the old gang back together, Isenhower didn’t have to look too far. After all she’s married to Andy Merrill, who supplies the inimitable voice of Brak. “Brak is a character that’s very dear to his heart,” she says. “He’s done other things in the meantime, but he was really looking forward to this opportunity.”

Despite having been gone for more than a decade, Cartoon Planet fits right into today’s programming. Like many, Isenhower considers the show — which included many short, absurd sketches and songs — was ahead of its time. “It was pre-YouTube, but it was YouTube for television,” she says. “That was the mandate to bring it back this time was to create those little YouTube-able snippets of content, but put it on television and then we can send it out virally as opposed to doing it the other way around.”

Yes, little ditties like “Don’t Touch Me,” “Mashed Potatoes” and “Bologna Sandwich” were seemingly made to be passed around from laptop to laptop. It’s only fitting that the Cartoon Planet crew get a chance to play around now that the rest of the world has caught up.

“Each one of those videos is just a really funny little snack that’s so easy to share virally, and it’s so easy to just let yourself go for 30 seconds or a minute and laugh at something that’s just so completely ridiculous you can’t help yourself,” Isenhower says. “That’s what I think it is, the over-the-top silliness that makes them endearing.”

Photos: Courtesy of Cartoon Network