Whatever happened to Danny Phantom
A credit due to Nickelodeon’s animation programming in the 2000s was the variety. Sponge Bob SquarePants achieved his superstar status at the time, but alongside him were airing the various Klasky-Csupo series of a completely different design sensibility, and with content ranging from silly baby antics (Rugrats) to the teenage comedy drama (As said by Ginger). Also in the lineup was Hi Arnold!, from another school of design and storytelling. ChalkZone looked like nothing else on the network, Cat dog was just weird, and the 2000s were when Avatar: The Last Airbender – a world apart from the rest of the Nicktoons – was created for the first time.
Among the rest of this mix were the performances of Butch hartman. My sponsors are magic, with its jazzy score and classic, cartoonish sense of humor, caught on in the early 2000s. A spin-off, Crash nebula, went to a pilot which was then incorporated into an episode of season 4 of the parent show. But Hartman landed a second streak at Nick with Danny Phantom. Designed in 2001, created in 2004, Danny Phantom did not stand out because of a radical new direction in design; the color palette was less cartoonish than My sponsors are magic, and the characters were interpreted by the artist Etienne Argent (and given a five full fingers compared to standard cartoon practice), but the show fits comfortably into the same aesthetic that Hartman established with his first series. Corn Danny Phantom stood out in other ways: tone, intrigue and character.
While nearly all of the Nicktoons still featured episodes of two 11-minute shorts, Danny Phantom was a half hour show. And it was consciously developed to be more “real” than My sponsors are magic: the impetus for the series was Nick’s desire for a “boys action show», Not another comedy. The premise – Danny Fenton, teenage son of parapsychologists, acquires ghostly superpowers via a lab accident he must use (as superhero Danny Phantom) to defeat the many ghosts escaping his town – needed more to comics than to cartoons. There was a lot of humor in Danny Phantom, at times quite broad, but a mix of superhero action and teenage issues featured prominently in the episodes. And it didn’t matter which order you watched those episodes. Anticipating subsequent programs, Danny Phantom has kept a certain continuity throughout its career. The extent of Danny’s powers, whether his sister knew her secret identity, where arch-nemesis Vlad Plasmius lived and his plans, the state of Danny’s relationship with various classmates: these threads of the plot and more have become ongoing storylines with clear progression. Serialization enabled Danny Phantom has never been as complex (or as careful) as it would be in Avatar, but it was something new for Nickelodeon at the time and contributed to the comic book vibes of the series.
While the overall tone of the series was light, airy, and comfortable in its TV-Y7 FV rating, Danny Phantom was also ahead of his time by going to dark places for a Nicktoon. Its many nocturnal scenes and frequent excursions into the ghost dimension give it a slightly darker visual quality. Although rare, the episodes sometimes ended on a bittersweet note; Danny’s first girlfriend might end their relationship, or Plasmius might turn out to have another trick up his sleeve. A ghost and ghost hunting show almost has to recognize the concept of death, and while Hartman insisted that the “ghosts” of Danny Phantom are truly interdimensional beings, the first episodes set the backstory for at least two evil ghosts and several peripheral characters as spirits of the deceased. The show’s more realistic setting also meant that the characters couldn’t survive the kind of spectacular falls, crashes, and injuries that many cartoons stray from. While the show rarely put Danny and his friends in serious danger, the stakes in his ghost battles were consequently higher. These stakes peaked in the two-part film “The Ultimate Enemy,” which gave Danny a glimpse of a future where he became a purely spectral being of evil after the deaths of his friends, his teacher and all his family.
It took a long time to reach that level of intensity. Danny phantom the first season developed in stages, Nickelodeon’s initial order for six episodes grow and grow until it hit 20. The show premiered while the season was still in production, but even with the resulting gap in airing dates, it found enough audiences for Nickelodeon to order. a second season of 20 episodes. Its ratings have never reached the peaks of a Spongebob Where Enough Oddparents, but the audience it captured was passionate and the reviews were generally positive. As the second season began airing, the show’s reputation continued to grow. “The Ultimate Enemy” was just one of three two-part “movies” in Season 2, expanding the scope of the series and pushing the darker elements and serialization a step further. “The Ultimate Enemy” was also the inspiration for a Game Boy Advance video game, one of the Danny phantom relatively few merchandising links. At the end of the second season, Danny Phantom “was quickly becoming a hit,” trumpeted Nick’s public relations as “the third ranked property on all kids TVs. “But it was in 2006, when the second season was airing that Hartman announced on his personal website (no longer available on the web) that the third season of Danny Phantom – an order of only 13 – would be the last.
He wasn’t the only Nicktoon to receive the ax around this time. My sponsors are magic was also canceled (not for the first or the last time), in the same way The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron. Hartman claimed to have received more than 20,000 emails regarding the end of Danny Phantom, and a small group of fans staged protests outside Nickelodeon’s New York City offices. Alas for them, it was in vain; Not only was the show not relaunched, but the final season saw a scattered, sometimes unceremonious, release in 2006 and 2007.
Little information on the reasons for the cancellation was released at the time, and Danny Phantom being a cult show with a strong fan base in the digital age, internet rumors have started to swirl. Google “why was that Danny Phantom canceled ”and you’ll find gossip about budget overruns and management interference. Some of these rumors are fueled by the fact that between seasons 2 and 3, Hartman’s long-standing partnership with the writer Steve marmel It’s over. Marmel had worked with Hartman since their Hanna-Barbara days in the early 1990s, he was a leading writer on My sponsors are magic, and he was the chief writer and editor of Danny Phantom in its first two seasons. His only credit on the third season is a “story of” for one episode, and he and Hartman haven’t worked together since. Season 3 of Danny Phantom was less serialized than its predecessors and showed less of the darker side of the series. It was received less well than the others by some fans, and the perceived drop in quality was blamed on Marmel’s absence. Rumors of creative tensions began to swirl, although Marmel and Hartman have not made any public statements on the matter.
If this sounds like a lot of vague hearsay, that’s because it is. Many websites that have discussed Danny Phantom and its cancellation in the 2000s is gone, and even researching those fan rumors results in a lot of dead links and fourth-hand accounts. But Butch Hartman commented on the show’s cancellation on his YouTube channel in 2018. He claims that Danny Phantom was a victim of the cleaning of the Nickelodeon management house. In 2006, the president of Nickelodeon Scannell Grass resigned, to be replaced by Cyma Zarghami. Like a true Hollywood executive, the new team at the head of the network overturned many of their predecessor’s decisions, including the end of several series approved by the old management – Danny Phantom included. (Hartman also claims that Nick decided to put their merchandising eggs in the Avatar basket before such a campaign for Danny can actually take off.)
Since its cancellation, Danny Phantom was largely left alone by Nickelodeon. He quietly left the network a long time ago, relegated to the spinoff channel Nicktoons. It’s available to stream on Paramount Plus, but its appearance there (and on Hulu before) hasn’t generated any wave of excitement online. The rallies outside Nick’s offices are long gone, but fans are still bustling for a revival. Butch Hartman himself has been open to wanting to go back and do more with Danny and his friends. Nickelodeon has relaunched a few of its older titles in recent years, from CG Rugrats to a new version of All that. But despite all the enthusiasm of its cult audience, Danny Phantom doesn’t appear to be back in production anytime soon.
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