Friday, May 3, 2013

What WB & Cartoon Network need to do to save DC Nation

If you have frequented the Animation Revelation & ToonZone message boards, you're probably familiar with the divisive debates surrounding Cartoon Network's newest entries for their DC Nation block, Teen Titans GO!  (already reviewed) and Beware the Batman (due next month, depending on who you talk to). What is lost in the arguments is the fact that DC Nation's 1 hour format doesn't lend itself to long-term growth, and that was already made evident with the cancellations of Young Justice & Green Lantern, which still roils some folks to this day.

Job 1 for Cartoon Network is to finally do right by their corporate sibling and expand the block. Titans is airing twice a week to maximize exposure and interest, and the same may hold true for Beware the Batman when that series debuts. However, one hour on Saturday mornings ain't cutting ice with some people. CN has, in fact, engendered distrust with viewers because of their mistreatment of certain shows, not just DC Nation.

Since CN is more interested in comedy programming nowadays---it's supposedly cheaper to produce, but I'll believe it when I see it----that opens the door for DC to dust off some of their dormant comedy properties. To wit:

Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew: Introduced as a funny animal sendup of the Justice League of America in the early 80's, the Captain (a rabbit, don't ya know) and his team would be a perfect fit for the block.

Sugar & Spike: I firmly believe Nickelodeon's wildly popular 90's series, Rugrats, wouldn't have made it to air if its creators hadn't read Sheldon Mayer's series about a pair of toddlers, which lasted into the early 70's before being cancelled.

Angel & The Ape: Detective Angel O'Day and her partner, Sam Simeon, recently returned to active duty in DC's recently concluded Joe Kubert Presents miniseries. The late artist didn't create the characters, but they must've been favorites of his, and writer-artist Brian Buniak captured the manic spirit of the original 60's series perfectly.

The Inferior Five: The late Edward Nelson Bridwell created this comic super-team in the 60's, with Dumb Bunny later ret-conned into being Angel's sister in a 1990's Angel & The Ape miniseries. The 60's were rife with bumbling, campy heroes as it was (Mighty Heroes, Super Six), and it would be a fitting tribute to those halcyon days to have the I-5 finally appear on TV.

Failing that, well, there's always a certain franchise marking its 40th anniversary this year.......

Super Friends: Yeah, you read that right, effendi. DC revived the series a few years back, much, much lighter in tone than the original TV series, and it led, in turn, to a series of children's storybooks and coloring books, something the original series didn't have. CN had a series of Super Best Friends Forever last year, but that featured Supergirl and Batgirl, among others. We'll eventually review that, of course, but a revival of the classic Super Friends, but done more along the lines of what Keith Giffen, J. Marc DeMatteis, & Kevin Maguire accomplished with their late 80's Justice League reboot (heavy on comedy, which is what CN wants) would be a real attention grabber.

Lest we forget, fans are clamoring for a new Superman animated series, cognizant of the fact that it's predicated on the success of "Man of Steel", opening next month. If it's a huge hit, a new Supertoon is virtually a lock. Since CN would be reluctant to go all the way in restarting their Justice League cartoon, reviving Super Friends would be an absolute option, maintaining the spirit of the original 1973 series, which now would deserve the FCC's E/I designation, in this writer's opinion.

There's also a persistent call for Wonder Woman to finally get her own solo series, but considering all the trouble that's precluded a feature film and reviving the Amazing Amazon's 1970's live-action series, this is a tough one just to get on the drawing board. It'll happen someday, but in this writer's opinion, it ain't gonna be on CN. This is one WB property that would likely land elsewhere, unless CN gets rid of its current administration.

If CN insists on keeping DC Nation confined to 1 hour----a stupid idea if there ever was one----then the block is doomed. It's that simple. DC has the source material at hand. All WB & CN need to do is utilize it to the best of their capability. In terms of marketing their product, DC is behind Marvel by a country mile. Now's the time to catch up.


Jennifer Schillig said...

Funny you should mention Sugar and Spike in connection with Nickelodeon.

In the VERY ancient days of Nickelodeon (the days when they still had the interstitials with the mime on the black background), there was a show called Video Comics. It focused on DC Comics and moved the camera to each panel, as actors read aloud the dialogue.

There were two "editions"--the daytime one with kiddie comics like Sugar and Spike, and the evening one with superhero comics. (They did Flash, Green Lantern, and Swamp thing, but none of the Big Three--Supes, Bats, Wonder Woman--that I can remember.)

There were also some neat one-shots...the one I remember most clearly is a guy putting himself into suspended animation so the compound interest on his one dollar savings account would make him rich. He ended up fabulously rich...but he invested in gold and did it again so he'd be even RICHER. When he woke up, he was in a future where gold had become plentiful and was therefore worthless. The total of his assets now? One dollar!

I miss those ancient days of Nick. I also loved Hocus Focus, a cute show about a medieval wizard who'd traveled to modern times and lived in a film library, where he showed all sorts of live-action and animated shorts.

hobbyfan said...

I never got to see either Hocus Focus or Video Comics, Jen, but thanks for bringing those shows back to my attention. They may be in the Archives sooner than you think.