Ink and Paint: On CN, Amethyst, and Action Comedy

There's a lot of stuff I want to write about: resuming the Omnicommentaries, some X-Nonsense stuff including an epic takedown of my personal least favorite X-run, and God knows what else.  But for now, I wanna do something immediate.

I wanna talk about the Amethyst shorts that became the only thing worth watching most mornings on DC Nation (lone exception being the Thunder & Lightning shorts).

These shorts were perfect - they told a set story, they managed to have likable characters with realistic growth, they made excellent use of their game theme, and they had an ending that doesn't preclude visiting this world again.  The designs were lovely, the writing sharp, the acting as well.  I watched each one and wished it was a series so I could see more of Amethyst & her world.

But then I remembered this was Cartoon Network we're talking about and got mad again.

Unless I hear that (a) this will have a sequel or (b) some of the other shorts will continue or show up, I am pretty much done with DC Nation.  The shorts were literally the only things I liked, and even then, they spent more energy hyping the painfully puntastic "Farm League" shorts than the ones with actual skill & care in them.  The shorts series that actually were funny, like the Plastic Man & Animal Man ones, have been reruns only.  The other ongoing story, "The Sword of the Atom", has vanished mid-plot (although I might have been one of maybe five people who liked it & its old-school adventure vibe).  The one main series I sort-of like is ending, and the two replacing it... well, here's some thoughts.

I might give Beware the Batman a shot, but overall it looks sort of bland.  And while the "Teen Titans Go!" shorts were frequently very funny & clever (I have a lot of nerd love for the Mad Mod one), they appear to have outsourced the animation to a kid just learning how to do Flash instead of whatever more fluid & professional studio the shorts used.  It looks dreadful.  I haven't heard about any new shorts except for that "Farm League" crap, nor has anything said for short series that were previewed a while back (like that "Doom Patrol" one).  I know CN doesn't really like action shows anymore, and that they've made it clear that DC Nation was foisted on them by the Home Office & wasn't something they wanted to air, but if that's the case, just cancel it instead of letting it deteriorate.

The fundamental problem with DC Nation and CN in general is that whoever is in charge right now cannot fathom the concept of "action comedy".  Action comedies work for Nick (TMNT, Power Rangers) and the Hub (Aquabats), and they fill a niche that isn't terribly well served.  Their attempts to appease action fans are either stuff they're contractually obliged to air (like the newest Pokemon series) or stuff they're trying to mutate away from being action-y at all (looking at you again, Ben 10, and your sad slow decline).  They fail to realize that you can have an action comedy that doesn't skew too hard toward either end & can be satisfyingly in the middle.

CN is trying to farm some of their old concepts like PPG for revivals, but that one has me worried - no one from the original has been tapped to come back & I have a feeling it'll skew too hard towards dumb comedy as a result.  They take new, viable stuff like Amethyst and let it slide off the pier.  They brag about being "Number One Network for Boys 6-11!!!" while their competitors happily snatch up every market by having more variety and rewarding quality instead of nerfing it.  They squander their licenses and back catalog, letting their newest competitor instead buy them & use them to get higher & higher ratings.  Outside of their cult comedies, I don't hear people talk happily about CN that much anymore.

Cartoon Network decided to celebrate their tenth birthday by being worse & worse.  DC Nation was just the latest victim, and I'm sure that their decline will pull down the revivals as well.  It depresses me endlessly to see a channel & name that once stood for unlimited possibility & appreciation  of all aspects of a genre - from 70s SatAm to 40s shorts to modern action to anime - shoot itself repeatedly and proudly in the head and not make any attempt to stop.  They have their one single gender, five-year-niche audience (which the suits probably further narrow down by race, even though they'd never say so publically - that is how demographics in TV are done, sadly), and even though that audience will want more sooner than they think, they're fine with that.  And that will hurt them, sooner than they think.  But sadly, they'll never realize it.


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