This past Saturday marked the end of the line for two shows: Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series. As several sites have pointed out, the rational being given for the cancellation of the show is the fact that the toys are not selling very well. Given that this is a children’s show, the idea that toys are important makes some sense historically. In the case of Green Lantern: TAS, the stigma of being associated with the train wreck that was the Green Lantern movie harmed it; but there is no related issue for Young Justice.
However, while I am not one to actively look for toys; not once when I was in a Target, or a Wal-Mart, or an independent toy store did I see any of those toys for these shows available for sale. Were none being sold to these stores to be sold to the populace? You’d think DC would be making sure there would be barrels of Young Justice stuff, next to the barrels of monkeys (too close for Superboy’s comfort).
Is this the only reason they cancelled the show? As a media major, I doubt it. First off, there is a GLUT of Saturday Morning Cartoons, and there always has been since I was a kid. Both shows, however, were popular across numerous age groups and demographics; and Young Justice was critically acclaimed for its storylines and character development. The enormous fan outcry at the cancellation of these shows and the attempts to keep them alive via petition only shows how quickly these shows became fan favorites (Young Justice, to me, is one of the best superhero cartoons since Batman: TAS and Superman: TAS).
In my opinion and my knowledge of the field of media, I can say the blame can be placed a bit more firmly on the shoulders of Cartoon Network than on the lack of toy sales. Promotion outside just the network seemed to slack off once the show got into high gear. Promotion is key to help building up interest in a show and keeping it. Marvel cartoons have an inherent boost due to the numerous films; DC cartoons have the pedigree stemming from the DC Animated Universe of the 90s and early 2000s, but not many films to grab the attention of children who have seen way more Marvel films. Green Lantern: TAS, of course, has the stigma attached to the film; Cartoon Network made no noticeable attempt to say that it wasn’t connected to the film.
Another issue has to deal with the fact that both shows were often put on hiatus by Cartoon Network. It started mainly with the usual seasonal breaks; but in October they were unexpectedly pulled until this January. The initial excuse was that Cartoon Network was celebrating its 20th anniversary that month and wanted to celebrate its past shows (including Teen Titans, which is about to appear in chibi form in their new show Teen Titans Go!, based off the DC Nation shorts). But to postpone it until January? It seemed to be a certain plan of execution.
It also seemed that even on Cartoon Network itself the network did not promote either show outside of its own block. It didn’t have any ads to attract kids to the shows during the school week or even ads for toys or DVDs. What did they have ads for? It seemed that Cartoon Network was constantly promoting two shows produced in-house: Adventure Time and Regular Show. These increasingly gonzo shows, which aren’t exactly quality children’s television, are advertised regularly and are on almost every single day. They could have done similar things for Green Lantern or Young Justice; but they did not. This lack of promotion on the network broadcasting the shows, the constant hiatuses, and the over-promotion of their own shows places the blame for the cancellations not on toys, but Cartoon Network’s lack of promoting these shows to the point they were promoting their own gonzo in-house programs at the expense of quality animation.
What are we getting now as these shows are gone? First, is the Chibi Titans…I mean the aforementioned Teen Titans Go!, which people have pointed out makes humor the most important part of the show at the expense of actual heroics. The other is Enter the Batman, which seems to be by the same team as Green Lantern: TAS. I may be an avid Bat-fan, but do we really need another Batman cartoon (even if its better than Batman: The Brave and The Bold)?
Cartoon Network could have easily expanded their DC Nation block to two hours, with repeats scattered throughout the week, and kept the other shows. But they didn’t
Don’t blame the toys, Cartoon Network; blame yourself.