By: Los Angeles Times, INFORUM

LOS ANGELES — It’s logged more than 1 billion views on YouTube and is a genuine Internet sensation, even though all the characters are bickering, crudely animated fruits. But will TV audiences find “Annoying Orange” as appealing?

Cartoon Network is about to find out this week with its latest series, adapted from the enormously popular three-minute animated Web clips about a talking citrus with a high-pitched voice and a grating penchant for laughing at his own jokes.

Annoyed critics have trashed “Orange” for humor that might not pass muster on a grade-school playground: Imagine “South Park” set in a kitchen, minus the ripped-from-the-headlines outrageousness.

Creator Dane Boedigheimer — a Fargo native and Minnesota State University Moorhead alumni whose official bio describes him as a “goofball extraordinaire” — agrees it’s all silly but says that’s not the only point.

“Everybody knows someone like this character,” he said in an interview last week.

But there’s more at stake than just one relatable fruit. With Internet video viewership soaring — and Americans increasingly bypassing TV for their tablets, smartphones and laptops — “Annoying Orange” offers the latest test of whether the Internet can help reenergize television, a conventional media format often criticized for creative infertility and too many lookalike programs.

“We’ve been looking at Internet properties for quite a long time,” said Rob Sorcher, chief content officer at Cartoon Network, explaining the decision to pick “Annoying Orange.” “We’re an obvious fit for what this show is.”

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