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GREEN LANTERN Animated Series Producer Details the Hell of Focus Groups

Conceptually, I have no problem with focus groups. When a studio dumps millions of dollars into a mass market project, they want to make sure that the target audience is responding to what they’ve created. In the case of the late, lamented Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Cartoon Network showed it to separate groups of boys and girls, gauging their reaction to the CG half-hour show.

And according to the marketing critters in charge of the tests, the kids didn’t care for it.

But in a comic published on his Tumblr, series producer Giancarlo Volpe says that the focus testing asked the wrong questions when it came to the show.

“They claimed the kids were confused,” comic Volpe says. “But that’s not what Jim and I saw. They were laughing and cheering. The asked tons of great questions, because they genuinely wanted to know more.”

In just a few panels, Volpe hits on the challenge of focus testing, which is very metrics-driven (what kind of numerical response is our audience giving us?) vs. process-driven (how is this thing letting us engage our viewers?). The bit at the end with Batman: The Animated Series producer Bruce Timm, explaining how he and his team avoided focus grouping themselves out of one of the best animated series in TV history, is the other side of that coin: no one ever really knows anything.

HT: Giancarlo Volpe via Comics Alliance

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11 comments

  • I actually hate Cartoon Network these days. I mean I love them for Adventure Time, but I hate them MUCH more because they canceled JL:Unlimited, Legion of Super-Heroes and specially for cancelling Young Justice!

  • Cartoon Network has been dropping the ball alot recent memory includes the 2007 reboot of He-Man , Thunder Cats, Young Justice, and the Passed on Futurama for God sakes and JuST When Ben 10 was kinda of getting interesting the went from him being a teen back to 10 or something Oh Yeah I almost forgot Clone wars

  • It seems like the same jackanapes that program Sci-fi have extended their audience perception to CN. I cannot imagine why these direct outlets to genre fans evade procuring and producing really creative content. Quit pandering to morons, guys.

  • I’m not sure what they were thinking. I have three kids, an 8 yr old girl and 5 yr old boy/girl twins, and they LOVED Green
    Lantern. We watched it as a family, and they would make sure we had all eaten breakfast before the new episodes came on on Sunday mornings. My kids would talk about the show throughout the week, and ask all kinds of questions and play Hal Jordan, Kiliwog, and the Star sapphires. It’s a shame that execs don’t ow the difference between confused and interested kids.

  • The problem is they’re too concerned with toy sales. They have good shows on their hands, that speak to a broader audience than just kids. While that audience certainly will buy merchandise and DVD’s, most won’t buy the cheap toys that KIND of look like the characters. All they look at are the toy sales, and if they’re not selling, the cartoon goes.

  • GLTAS had the misfortune of not only airing after the release of the Green Lantern film, its chances for a toy line depended on the film’s success. Upon the film’s release and public discovery that it was terrible, the animated series was screwed. Cartoon Network makes the bulk of its money back on the shows’ toy lines, and for a show as expensive as GLTAS when it was in production, coupled with the lack of a toy line and perceived demographics issues, I’m glad that it got to finish its season at all. On the bright side, the season itself does a great job of wrapping up its plotlines for the most part (but manages to leave THE MOST HEARTBREAKING THING IN THE DAMN SHOW to the imagination), but at the same time, based upon the first season’s quality it damn deserves a second – and third – season. On the bright side, it’s on Netflix, and its DVD/Blu-Ray sales are promising, though I really don’t know if they’ll be able to pull a Futurama and come back with the same creative team just on their sales.

  • ALSO if anyone is interested in hearing more about the show, its development, where it was going to go in its second season, and the showrunners’ relation with their bosses in Cartoon Network, I highly recommend that you listen to the Podcast of Oa’s interview with Giancarlo Volpe and Jim Kreig (http://www.blogofoa.com/2014/03/podcast-of-oa-episode-64-gltas.html). I should indicate that there are most definitely SPOILERS! for those who haven’t seen the show, but for someone who watched the entirety of the first season and wanted more information, this was very enlightening for me.

  • Speaking of Netflix. They have an animated show Turbo? Could Netflix take over Young Justice or GL animated? I know netflix is planning on more original programming. They are doing a Daredevil series!! So why not!!

  • My son told me about this show and I enjoyed this and was thoroughly disappointed that this was cancelled. Now that its on Netflix, I still can’t get enough. #StupidNetworkJerks