Bringing shows back from the dead has been discussed here on the blog in the past. It’s a common scenario that often brings great expectations to legions of fans only for them to be inevitably dashed when they fail. Although shows have been brought back (most famously after fans mailed nuts to producers), the vast majority are not receiving of a Lazarus-like new lease of life and are left for history to claim. This time around, it is the DC shows, Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series that are attempting a comeback. Unfortunately, it’s over before it even really began.
Both shows ran on Cartoon Network on Saturday mornings. Young Justice beginning in 2010 and Green Lantern following in 2012. Early in 2013, both shows were absent from the Cartoon Network upfront presentation leading to rampant speculation that the shows have been cancelled.
Although the network remained silent, various animators who’d worked on the show or were familiar with the crew tweeted the obvious (sorry, I can’t find them now); the crews had already disbanded and had been for almost a year. While this fact did not get the attention it needed, Cartoon Network eventually responded and confirmed that both shows were indeed finished.
Young Justice & Green Lantern Since Cancellation
Since this announcement, there has been various efforts to get the network to change their mind, including the inevitable internet petition (with not even a please in it). None of them have had any success but that hasn’t stopped a new kid on the block from trying their hand.
The SMGO Effort
Such empty results hasn’t dissuaded internet upstart SMGO.tv (or my Show Must Go On) from attempting to collate fan support for a new series into a single effort aimed straight at Cartoon Network and Warner Bros.
Unfortunately for SMGO, Warners has already slammed the door on the attempt without saying much specifically beyond that they aren’t holding out hope for success. Even that hasn’t deterred SMGO and they’re having another crack at the whip with a ‘let’s prove them wrong’ attitude.
That, in and of itself, isn’t that big of a deal, what should be a concern is that they’re asking for funding, and they’re asking for all of $10 million for the trouble. Now I’m not sure about yourself, but even the largest Kickstarter campaign barely scraped $10 million and that was for a piece of technology that could be used by millions of people. YJ/Green Lantern pulled in just under 2 and 1.2 million viewers respectively in their highest rated episodes. If you ask me, someone has a lot of work cut out for themselves.
So SMGO is noble in their effort, but completely oblivious to reality. Their plan is to garner support, talk to the studio/network, sign a contract (yes, really), fund the production, actually produce the show and then offer rewards a la Kickstarter.
While I’m not one to rain on a parade, this model is regrettably flawed. While Hollywood does indeed like to see the money, they generally like it to be their money, i.e. for them to keep. SMGO also doesn’t exactly specify how the funds are handled beyond ‘funding production’.
This is what the Veronica Mars Kickstarter has produced and it’s ugly. Major studios absolutely do not want to be involved with fan efforts for lots of reasons (mostly legal), hence their often tone deaf and arms reach approach to the fan communities. The PR disasters that could happen are another reason. Say an SMGO-funded show did make it to production, and the results were dire. Who’s to blame then? Fan’s won’t want to hear the truth and it could destroy their loyalty. If you were Warners and you had to choose between letting your shows die a death or attempt a potentially disastrous comeback, the former is always much more appealing.
We haven’t even gotten as far as the real money issue: profit. Hollywood doesn’t like to make small profits (they’re too mundane.) They like to make BIG profits, especially on films, but also on TV shows. The latter aren’t publicised near as much, but a show has to make money otherwise it get’s canned.
Young Justice and Green Lantern apparently didn’t bring in as much dough as the network and studio would have liked, so they were sidelined in favour of some proven money spinners; Batman and Teen Titans.
The Truth To Saving A Beloved Show
So what’s to be done? SMGO is right in highlighting the need to factor in money into the fan revival equation, but it’s a half-effort. As I highlighted in this post, reviving a show is as much an art as it as a science. Networks need to know that:
- Their shows (and therefore advertisements) are being watched
- Any and all merchandise is selling (regardless of how good it actually is)
- People will continue to do both of the above in the future.
Doing all three is hard enough, but proving to the network that they are being done is the impossible task. I wrote about this a long time ago, and surprisingly enough, letter-writing still works, if done correctly.
While online petitions and services like SMGO are very efficient at gathering support, they fall down in the personal department. Individual letters still work wonders, but unfortunately they still require a herculean effort to pull off successfully.
The depressing aspect to the entire saga is that it is no different than all the campaigns that have gone before. Yes, it’s nice to appease fans, but any show that gets cancelled is bound to upset someone. It’s reasonable to attempt to save a show, but at some point you have to call it quits, and implying that you can (and should) never give up is a false illusion.