There’s been lots of controversy over the past few weeks about the Cartoon Network’s abrupt decision to pull the DC Nation programming block from Saturday mornings until January without any prior notice to the fans or the creators of the shows.
Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice had both ended their second week of new episodes on cliffhangers. When fans tuned in to CB on October 13th to catch the next episodes they found a full hour of the animated How To Train Your Dragon series Dragons: Riders of Berk instead. The pull seemed sudden and unplanned to many fans – especially the ones who noticed that both new episodes of the DC Nation shows were available on iTunes early on the 13th, only to be taken down later that afternoon.
Even the DC Nation creators were surprised by the news. Green Lantern producer Giancarlo Volpe tweeted:
while Brandon Vietti, Producer/Writer/Director at Warner Animation for Young Justice simply stated:
Green Lantern director Sam Liu also responded with,
While he later clarified that he meant that all action-adventure animated TV series are having a difficult time at the moment, if Liu did hear from Cartoon Network that the pull was ratings-related, it would be incredibly frustrating. Young Justice reached the #2 position on the iTunes TV downloads chart – not just for animated or children’s series, but for all TV series. If that’s not enough to be considered popular television, then it seems pretty hopeless for a lot of other genre shows on the market today.
After a day filled with angry Tweets, Cartoon Network responded by tweeting:
As of now, it’s still their only official comment on the hiatus.
Volpe responded later that night with:
The internet is doing what it does best, exploding with speculation about what caused the rapid hiatus:
- People are speculating that the pull may have something to do with reports that DC Comics may have lost the rights to Milestone Comics characters, including Static.
- Volpe has suggested that Cartoon Network is pre-empting the show for their 20th Anniversary nostalgia programming.
- Some fans are assuming that CN is delaying the shows to air them simultaneously with their new DC shows premiering in the spring, Beware the Batman and Teen Titans Go!
- The presence of Stephanie Brown, a character that doesn’t appear anywhere else in the DC Comics universe, has caused a legal or editorial issue.
If I can be perfectly honest about my thoughts on the matter, I don’t really buy any of these explanations. If there were a serious legal matter regarding either of the shows’ content, the creators would almost certainly be made aware of the issue. This feels like a decision made by programming at Warner for any number of reasons: trying to drive ratings to Dragons; assuming that DC Nation might get higher ratings if aired in a larger, consecutive block in the new year; or, wanting to program Saturday mornings with shows that they imagine would guarantee them higher ratings during the Christmas season for better ad sales.
Cartoon Network programming execs, as envisioned by DC Nation fans
Given how poorly CN has programmed the DC Nation block in the past (seriously, it’s as bad as FOX with Firefly) it seems like Cartoon Network really doesn’t know what to do with the DC Nation shows; or, at the very least, isn’t certain about how they want to market them most effectively. It’s perplexing, considering how huge comics are right now for both kids and adults alike. At the risk of angering a lot of DC Nation fans, these programming changes happen for reasons that only the marketing and finance executives will ever truly understand, and are rarely made public.
If you’re passionate about DC Nation, you can add your signature to the petition to bring back the block here – they already have over 15,000 signatures. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens next!