Thursday, October 24, 2013

Halloween comes early for Cartoon Network viewers: CN plays a cruel trick by pulling Beware the Batman

I am not going to waste my time quoting Santayana again to open this post, but his words need to be relayed to the morons in charge of Cartoon Network.

One year ago, CN suits pulled Young Justice & Green Lantern out of the DC Nation Saturday block, holding them off until the early part of this year before cancelling them outright. Now, the same fate may befall Beware The Batman, as it was reported yesterday that the series will not air this Saturday, and will return in January. As was the case last year, CN refused to offer a tangible explanation for the change, which means that DC Nation, aside from the quickies in between shows, will be a full hour of the inferior Teen Titans Go!, a comedy series that seems to appeal more to the target audience than the high impact drama of Beware.

Those of us who learned about CN's lame practices from the last few years can speculate on the two likely reasons for Beware being pulled.

1. Ratings apparently aren't strong enough. Well, if that was the case, why not flip the two series over and let Beware air at 10:30 (ET)? Because CN honchos Stuart Snyder & Rob Sorcher, who don't know a good idea when they see one, see little or no value in action cartoons these days.

2. Merchandising. DC just launched a comics version of Beware yesterday. I cannot state any sales figures on the action figures because I haven't been at Toys 'R' Us or checked the toy department at Walmart. One must imagine that the figures ain't moving because of a 3rd, even more likely reason among even long time Bat-fans:

3. Bat-fatigue. WB Animation has produced Batman cartoons on a steady basis for 21 years. Even Scooby-Doo needed a break every now and again, which is why it took 4 years between Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue and Mystery, Incorporated. Mitch Watson is one of the show runners on Beware, and so that leads to a 4th reason:

4. Backlash on Watson. A lot of people were turned off by Watson's reimagining of the Scooby-Doo franchise, but CN turned their backs on Watson by burning off Season 2 of Mystery Incorporated in 2 chunks of daily episodes and refusing to air repeats. Still, WBA gave Watson the assignment on Beware to see if he could handle another icon. The low ratings would suggest that there is little patience with another gradually developing storyline. Add to this the fact that Watson and his staff chose to avoid using the traditional Batman Rogues Gallery (Joker, Riddler, et al) right away and giving some shine to lesser known characters. If Beware The Batman ends up getting the hook for good from CN, I'd say Watson would be well served to follow fellow creators Craig McCracken and the Man of Action studio out of CN and move elsewhere.

Make no mistake, I think Watson did the right thing in this case by opting for more obscure characters and getting people to care about them. He knew, just like we all did, that Joker, Catwoman, etc., had been in need of a break from being in every Bat-series, so he sent them on vacation for now. If he can convince the suits at DC that, say, Magpie would be worth resurrecting in the New 52 Universe, well, more power to him.

Because of the severe disconnect between WB & CN, I'd say also that WB would be well served to shop around their properties to other cablers going forward, given CN's lack of respect under Snyder & Sorcher. You know Nickelodeon, the Hub, and maybe even Disney Channel would take a shot in a heartbeat to pick up a fresh take on the Justice League.

What do you think?

7 comments:

Damon, aka Silverstar said...

Yeah, action cartoons in general are having a tough time of things right now, especially on CN. Action cartoons not based on toy lines and which don't contain the words 'Ben' and '10' in their titles don't seem to stand a snowball's chance on CN nowadays. Perhaps it would suit WB and DC's needs better if they were to shop their services around to another network whose house is a tad more stable.

As for Beware the Batman, I hope that WB doesn't give up on making toons based on their properties, but at the same time, it may be a good idea to give Batman a break for a while. Maybe Superman could get a show now, seeing as how it's Big Blue's 75th anniversary this year. I've been wanting to see a DC Comics Presents series, i.e., a Brave and the Bold type show starring Supes, for some time now. Maybe after the commemorative 75th birthday short, we can finally get a new toon for the Man of Steel.

hobbyfan said...

I wholeheartedly agree. Superman is way overdue for a new series, as it's been 13 years since his last solo series ended on Kids' WB!.

My own personal feeling, even though I didn't watch Batman: Brave & the Bold all that much, was that WBA & CN ended it too soon.

I also agree that it'd be in WB & DC's best interests to shop future WBA properties to other networks such as The Hub or Nickelodeon (Disney? Doubtful.), especially if CN suits are going to act like a bunch of selfish children. The mindset of the suits seems to suggest they got their training at the same place that former football player & wrestler Otis Sistrunk claimed to go to college---The University of Mars. Not a good thing.

Sooner or later, I'll get to that Superman 75th anniversary short and post it here. Next year is Batman's 75th anniversary, so cancelling Beware would be very embarrassing, don't you think?

magicdog said...

I'm getting so tired of this!

If CN was willing to pull the rug out from a BATMAN series of all things, something is definitely up.

I'm not crazy about BTB, but it wasn't the worst thing out there. I really enjoyed SDMI, so I don't think Mitch Watson is incapable of doing a good series. While I do not begrudge TPTB for wanting to make money in merchandising via a toyline, I think it's a bit of an outdated gauge for success - not unlike Neilsen ratings. Today a show can downloaded, bought or rented on DVD/Blu Ray, as well as watched in real time. The same outdated thinking that only comedy is the way to go is a dangerous and shortsighted one. People will go elsewhere to get their fix if CN won't acknowledge them.

I do agree Bats should get a rest. There is a level of Batman fatigue and it wouldn't hurt if they'd give a brand new character (or a rebooted HB/WB character) a shot.


I wouldn't be surprised if CN is trying to clean house by driving away the studios they don't like or are arguing with their vision of things.

magicdog said...

Addendum:

If anything, I'd like to see a Wonder Woman series (DCAU or otherwise) or perhaps an Impossibles reboot - though that one could be too risky for them to consider at the moment.

hobbyfan said...

The chances of Wonder Woman---or any DC hero, for that matter---landing a dramatic animated series on CN are getting slimmer by the minute.

The suits are skewing to a younger demographic whose parents are affluent enough to afford the toys. Older viewers more familiar with the DCU heroes are not on CN's radar, and rarely have been. The way CN's current administration sees it, as Silverstar points out, unless it's Ben 10, an action cartoon ain't gonna fly.

Take note of what action cartoons CN has developed and dumped the last 2-3 years alone. Sym-Bionic Titan. The Thundercats reboot. Young Justice. Need I go on? Not even Generator Rex has been able to be sustained, though a crossover with Ben 10 could've saved that series.

To describe the attitude of Snyder, Sorcher, and that other jackass in charge Jeffrey Bewkes (or whatever his name is spelled), I consider a line Jayna often used to tease brother Zan: Spacey, real spacey.

magicdog said...

Then why would CN develop those action show in the first place? They could have just chosen not to (assuming they were merely honoring some lingering contracts with certain studios or animators). Especially since several of those shows have had strong followings - and not just the kids either!

hobbyfan said...

The simple answer is that they don't acknowledge the older fans who are tuning in. They are more concerned in the younger demographics, kids 12 and under especially. They don't give a rat's backside about us.