J A Garrett

Curiously nerdy posts.

Show Assassins.

This news is kind of old, but I felt like writing about it anyway.

A couple of weeks ago, Cartoon Network announced that it was cancelling two shows in its saturday morning lineup: Young Justice, and Green Lantern: The Animated Series. I wish I and other fans could say that this was a shock, but it wasn’t. Not really. While that hour block featured glossy presentations of cool, trendy animated shorts with truly creative animation*, professional stuntmen proving or disproving whether or not you really could flip around like Nightwing does, and of course, actual quality programming, the writing was on the wall. The whole time I watched and enjoyed these shows, I knew all along that the network was doing all it could to assassinate them.

*In case you’re curious, here are two of my favorites.

A channel intentionally trying to make a show fail isn’t a new thing, of course. There are plenty of examples littered through the years since TV came to exist. From notables like Firefly, Family Guy, and even the original Star Trek, to less notable cult classics, some shows are just marked for death for reasons often lost on people who just enjoy watching them.

How does a channel kill shows? There’s a pretty simple trend to follow.

1) They’re not advertised at any time at all.

2) They’re preempted (sporting events are good for this) , bumped, or just shown as reruns for a while with no hint of when new episodes are coming.

3) It gets moved around in timeslots, so loyal viewers have no clue when it’s actually coming on anymore.

All this was especially bad up until a few years ago, before Tivos and DVRs became pretty common in most TV watching households. I remember my dad ranting to me about how they shuffled around The Flash to different nights and times, until he was totally clueless on when it was on. But that was the early 90s. Not now.

Nowadays, loyal fans can just make sure that their show will record, regardless of whatever shuffling shenanigans network suits try to pull. Right?

Wrong.

On Young Justice in particular, Cartoon Network constantly found a way to fool my Tivo. The first few episodes, it was simply known as Young Justice. But then it became Young Justice: Invasion, for no real reason, and of course my Tivo considered that to be a completely different show. But I kept an eye out, and changed my season pass accordingly to make sure I still got episodes. But then, they decided to show only reruns for half a year. Seemingly every move they made was trying to shake off people who wanted to see it.

The show itself is outstanding. It started out on the premise of 5 sidekicks forming their own team to take on lesser threats, ones the big name heroes couldn’t be bothered to take on. Naturally, they ran into villains and plots much bigger than they were ever expected to handle. If it had simply stuck to that formula, it would have been an outstandingly entertaining show.

But it didn’t. Somehow, it got even better.

How did it do that? By shrugging off any creative constraints it made upon itself, and expanding its scope to the entire DC universe. It’s not exactly an original move – Justice League did the exact same thing when it turned into Justice League: Unlimited-, but I didn’t care. It gave us even more heroes, even more action, and a spider web of plotlines to follow at the writers’ leisure. Every episode, you had no idea who you’d be following next, but it didn’t matter, because every character got the proper treatment. The people making this show genuinely love the characters from the comics, I think, and it shows easily.

So why did it get cancelled, if it was so good? Simple: it didn’t sell toys. There was no licensing money to be made, and that’s how cartoons make money. You need only look at the golden age of saturday morning cartoons, like GI Joe, the original TMNT, and Transformers to realize that most uber-successful cartoons also double as giant ads for new toys to sell to children. There’s nothing wrong with this, really. As a kid who owned tons of these toys back in the day, I understand how that is. Heck, I might have bought some of the new ones if it meant keeping the show on the air.

What is a problem is simple: if there were kids out there who liked this show, it was extremely hard to find toys to buy of this show. And the ones you could find weren’t all that good. So it was pretty much doomed to fail.

Green Lantern had an even bigger problem, despite being as true to the comics as you could possibly get. It was tied to the launch of the Green Lantern movie, which was a dud by most any standard you can imagine. That’s the problem with shows that are made to cash in on movie releases; if the movie turns out to suck, then well, people are less likely to give the show that follows a chance. It pains me to say that, since I’m a bit of a Ryan Reynolds fan when he isn’t doing a romantic comedy or something.

It’s a great plan if it works, don’t get me wrong. The stellar Batman: The Animated Series was made to cash in on the success of the 1989 Batman movie, and in part it turned out to somehow be even more of a success than the movie was. But that’s just it: that movie was a success, and this one wasn’t. So it was an underdog from the start. Sorry, Hal. You deserved better.

And what do we get to replace these shows, that deserved to live longer?

A new Batman show (I love Batman as much or more than anyone, but come on. Give him a rest for a while!), and a Teen Titans show that is almost too kawaii for me to even look at without my head exploding.

Who is that pig guy, anyway? And why is Alfred using guns? And who is the girl with the katana? Ugh.

I loved the original Teen Titans, but that show already got a fair run. Not like the shows it replaced.

But yeah… basically, count this as two more shows that got assassinated. RIP. You deserved better.

 

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This entry was posted on February 18, 2013 by in TV shows and tagged , , , , , , .
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