Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ranting & Rambling: Cartoon Network vs. DC Nation

Ah, the DC Nation time slot on Cartoon Network. Many people love it, including myself. Unfortunately, it seems as though the list of DC Nation fans does not include Cartoon Network. Indeed, it seems as though Cartoon Network is doing everything they can to screw over their DC cartoons. Why is this happening? Who’s behind it? How do we know that it’s not just some bad luck?

There’s been a lot of speculation as to the reasoning, a lot of arguing, a lot of blind rage, but I’m going to try my best to figure out what’s going on. I may not be 100% accurate, but I have done my research; what I present here is as accurate as I can find, having searched for official interviews with show creators (like Greg Weisman of Young Justice), viewing figures, officially released statements, etc.

Join me, as we look into the ongoing battle between Cartoon Network and DC Nation.

Round 2... fight!
Part 1: Origins and Omens
Cartoon Network had been having trouble for a while. Their heyday was in the 90’s-00’s, when they had everybody tuning in to Dexter’s Laboratory, Ed, Edd, n’ Eddy, Powerpuff Girls, Toonami, etc. But after those runs ended, Cartoon Network floundered a bit.

To make a long story short, the after-hours, not-for-kids [adult swim] programming quickly became their most popular stuff. For a channel that was primarily aimed at kids, this was a bad sign; they could start losing advertising, or gain advertising of the wrong sort, or all sorts of business crap that’s really not important. Due to a change in network leadership, Cartoon Network began to add live-action shows to its lineup. This bombed spectacularly.

Action shows then became the go-to thing. Generator Rex, Batman: the Brave and the Bold, Secret Saturdays, etc. This began to bolster the ratings, but not as much as the network had hoped. Now, Cartoon Network seems to be trying to bring back the funny with shows like Uncle Grandpa, The Amazing World of Gumball, and other such shows. With this, the “action shows” started to be canceled left and right, despite some of them having very good ratings, for fear that they would lose viewers to Nickelodeon or Disney with their all-comedy lineup.

And after Cartoon Network decided to eliminate the action shows, DC Nation came in with a 95% action lineup. Hoo boy.

Part 2: End of an Era
Immediately before DC Nation, there was Batman: the Brave and the Bold as the sole DC show on Cartoon Network. Though some people despised it for its perceived disrespect to the source material, it quickly grew a fan following.

Season 1 of TBATB had 26 episodes, as did Season 2. But not only did Season 3 have half the number of episodes, the episodes didn’t air consistently, sometimes going up to a month between episodes. The show was on its last legs. It’s obvious that the creators behind the show didn’t want it to end, seeing as how one of the final episodes (Spoiler Alert) revealed that a villain thought to be dead at the end of Season 1 was actually shattered into multiple parts across time and space and had to be defeated once and for all! This plot point was never followed up on due to the cancellation.

But that’s not to say the show was cancelled unexpectedly. In the series finale, “Mitefall!”, the plot centered around Bat-Mite actively trying to get the show canceled to replace it with a new, darker Batman show. It was at the end of this episode that we got a trailer for Beware the Batman. Only not. Beware the Batman was still in the planning phase, so the only correct detail was that it was going to be in CGI. Heck, it was even shown to be about Batgirl, instead of Batman.

Pictured: Not Beware the Batman
But either way, TBATB was over. This was in 2011, a little less than a year before DC Nation appeared on our screens, so the most likely explanation is that TBATB was dropped to make room for the new shows on DC Nation, including what would eventually become Beware the Batman.

Unfortunately, the screwing-around-with and the canceling of TBATB would be indicative of things to come for the DC Nation.

Part 3: How has Cartoon Network screwed over DC Nation repeatedly? 

How haven't they?
First of all, the programming block is screwed over by only advertising during itself. DC Nation promos only play during DC Nation, which is completely useless at pulling in new viewers and only succeeds in letting you know what you’re already watching. But the individual shows have been messed with too.

Young Justice
Airing schedule was erratic; canceled despite critical acclaim due to “lack of toy sales.”
(This translates to “not enough boys were watching, and we think that girls will only buy Barbies,” sadly.)

Green Lantern: the Animated Series
See entry for Young Justice.

DC Nation Shorts
Despite excellent content, new shorts are added erratically.

Teen Titans Go!
Actually, Teen Titans Go! Is doing amazingly well, and is the only DC show that’s currently (as of April, 2014) aired outside the DC Nation slot, during primetime, no less. This is most likely because Teen Titans Go! Is actually a slapstick, self-aware, no-holds-barred comedy cartoon instead of an action one. Objectively speaking, Teen Titans Go! Has the least (or at least the least vocal) fans, but is still preferred by the network. Although, they may be accidentally doing the show a disservice by overexposing it until people get sick of it.

Beware the Batman
Not only was it screwed with in terms of scheduling, promotion, merchandising, and all the other ways previously mentioned, but Beware the Batman has had it worst of all.

26 episodes were ordered. 1-11 aired in 2013. 12-13 are only available in America on the official DVD. 14-17 have actually aired… in New Zealand, of all places.

To summarize, 11 episodes aired on TV, 2 premiered on DVD, 4 more are only available in New Zealand, and the other 9 episodes have yet to air anywhere. Not only that, but Cartoon Network said that episode 12 would air in October of 2013. Then it was rescheduled for February of 2014. As of this post (April of 2014) it has yet to air. No explanation has yet been given officially, but the implication is clear: it’s a second “DC Nation Screwjob.”

Part 4: The DC Nation Screwjob
The date was October 12, 2012. People had tuned in to Cartoon Network to watch the latest episode of Green Lantern: TAS. There were also supposed to be new Black Lightning and Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld shorts that night. But when people tuned in, even though the channel guide clearly said “Green Lantern,” they were watching an episode of the How to Train Your Dragon cartoon. No one was informed about this beforehand, not even the creators of the cartoons/shorts.Brianne Drouhard, creator of the Amethyst shorts, had this to say, later.

(Note that said animated shorts would not premiere until February of 2013 thanks to the hiatus.)

There was quite the Twitter outrage.

Eventually, they released a statement.

That’s right, from “New episodes this week!” to “You have to wait almost three months despite us previously telling you they’d be here this week!”

No explanation was ever given, but the shows were canceled after they completed their respective seasons and replaced with Teen Titans Go! and Beware the Batman.

In October of 2013, history repeated itself with a second Screwjob, despite a new Beware the Batman being scheduled. But this time, Teen Titans Go! managed to escape completely unharmed while Beware the Batman has yet to air its remaining episodes.

Clearly, this is intentional on the part of Cartoon Network. But WHY?

Part 5: Why has Cartoon Network screwed over DC Nation repeatedly?
It’s very simple. Cartoon Network and DC Nation are owned by the same company: Warner Entertainment.
Warner essentially demanded that Cartoon Network air the DC Nation in order to compete with Disney’s then-growing repertoire of Marvel cartoons, but gave Cartoon Network the ability to cancel the DC shows if they underperformed. Since Cartoon Network doesn’t want action cartoons (and was likely forced into a deal they didn’t want), they seem to be using any excuse to cancel the DC shows, despite any critical or commercial acclaim. That seems to be the most likely explanation: Cartoon Network never wanted the DC Nation, and is screwing it over out of spite.

The end result? I’m stuck recapping Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. week after week instead of watching Young Justice, Beware the Batman, Green Lantern: TAS…. Excellent programming down the drain just because Cartoon Network doesn’t want the DC Nation programming. And in the battle between DC Nation and Cartoon Network, CN was given final say regarding cancellation. I wouldn’t be surprised if we never see the DC Nation again.

And if you’ll excuse me, I need to go drown my sorrows.


  1. *insert "Komm, Susser Tod" here*

    - That One Anon

  2. And guess what? We never saw it again.

  3. It is 2016, still no sign of dc nation