Cartoon Network unveiled its successful and long-lived Adult Swim programming block almost 15 years ago. That first night featured an experimental, three-hour late-night lineup, including Home Movies, The Brak Show, Space Ghost: Coast To Coast, Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law, and Cowboy Bebop. There must have been a great deal of skepticism over whether this scheduling gambit would work, but Adult Swim beat the odds and then some, changing the face of late-night TV and arguably the face of comedy itself in the process with its surrealist, stoner-friendly shows.
Adult Swim is now giving viewers the chance to recall what the good old days were like with a special feature on its site that is being billed as a “time rift.” Here are posted clips from all the shows on the channel’s first schedule (from September 2, 2001), complete with vintage advertisements. The images have been distorted to mimic the appearance of VHS tapes, which is appropriate to the original era. Cartoon Network knew that not everyone could stay up on Sunday nights due to work and school commitments, so many viewers would tape Adult Swim and watch it the next day. On the time-rift page, a flickering light that passes through the screen every few seconds simulates the experience of watching TV in the pre-flatscreen era. It really takes a person back. If nothing else, this is a great opportunity to hear that catchy “2001 Pools” music again and again.
Adult Swim’s time rift was brought to the attention of The A.V. Club by reader Joey Myers, who declares: “There’s a bunch of hidden Easter eggs on the schedule too. There’s a Samurai Jack thing that I think is from the new season. Pretty cool. I thought people who remember the old days at Adult Swim would want to know.” The site is an opportunity to get immersed in vintage animation and pop-cultural ephemera. A “channel clicker” feature below the main screen allows users to flip up and down to see what might have been on the air opposite these fine Adult Swim offerings. Like this muscleman competition:
Or even this Crazy Calls ad:
And that’s just a sampling. Dive in.