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Before:

Rich Fogel on Season Two #1:  “We’re thrilled to be picked up for another season of Justice League.  It’s a daunting challenge to try to top what we did last year, but we’re excited and we’re already planning some big stories that I think will surprise and delight our fans.  Last season, we learned a lot about how to handle such a sprawling cast of characters.  Hopefully we’ll continue to build on that and do more stories that focus on individual Leaguers.  Although I know that some fans are frustrated by the two-parters, we’ll probably continue doing them—these stories are just too big and complex to be contained within a single half hour.  However, we’re going to try to avoid the three-parters because they just kill our production schedule (courtesy of Toon Zone).”

Bruce Timm on Season Two:  “We viewed the first season as a shakedown cruise.  We knew going in that this was going to be the most difficult show we'd ever done, since it had such complexity, both with the characters and the stories.  We knew it would have the most adventure and the most action, and that we had to work out how to get that all in.

“[Now,] we're so close to [it so] hard to be objective, but out of all the episodes we've gotten back so far, the shows are so much more improved over Season One, it's almost like a brand new show.  Don't get me wrong:  I think we did a lot of really good shows the first season, but there was an overall kind of blandness about it.  There was maybe a little too much reliance on ‘been there, done that’ clichés—particularly in terms of the dialog—so we just made a real concerted effort in the Second Season to not let any of the scripts go until they were as shiny and polished as they could be.  And I think it's really a big difference in the Second Season.

“There's a lot more character development, there's a lot more twists and turns in the plots, and the characters are used better in terms of the stories.  I think, all across the board, the second season is going to rock big time...right out of the gate the fans will notice with the show that it's definitely a different show from the first season.  The characters are edgier—even the way they react to each other is different.  The action scenes are bigger and more intense.  There's some surprising plot twists.  It rocks (courtesy of The Pulse).”

Bruce Timm on Season One:  “We made a conscious effort in the first year to see if we could make the show entertaining and maybe not as dark as some shows we've done in the past.  The only problem is when we took out the dark edge we didn't really replace it with anything comparable.  Again, we were trying to make the show…a little bit more family-friendly, but it just got a little bit bland.  It was a good show, but there were some things that kept it from being great (courtesy of The Pulse).”

Bruce Timm on influences:  “One of the interesting things about the Second Season is that, after the first season was done and we started developing the second season, I really started reading a lot more current comics.  I fell heavily under the sway of these British guys who were writing comics:  Pete Milligan, Warren Ellis, and Grant Morrison.  Specifically—I had managed to miss it before—but I read the collection of The Authority.  I was reading that and Grant Morrison's New X-Men and Pete Milligan's X-Force.  Now, those are really extreme comics—the kind of stuff we could never get away with on our show—but there were certain elements that they all had in common:  they had really, really, good dialog and real surprising, shocking plot developments.  So, without going quite as adult as those comics, we wanted to try to apply some of those same principles to our show in the second season (courtesy of The Pulse).”

Rich Fogel on Season Two #2:  "We always try to strike a good balance between areas we'd like to revisit and new stuff.  It's a question of trying to keep the series fresh and not feeling like we're repeating ourselves.  At the same time, there are areas where we'd like to explore some aspect of a character or a setting and we've only scratched the surface the first time around.  When we revisit these, it gives us a chance to add depth to our understanding of a character or situation.

"For Season Two, we will get to see Aquaman again, and we will also see the return of the Green Lantern Corps.  There will also be some returning villains, like Solomon Grundy and Vandal Savage.  And, of course, the long-awaited return of Darkseid.  But the majority of the stories will feature new villains and new situations.  This definitely won't feel like a 'been there, done that' season.

"In Season One, we took our time establishing our heroes and gave them each a turn in the spotlight.  It's not exactly continuity, but over the course of the whole season, there's a nice balance, and loyal viewers will see the team dynamic developing.  In Season Two, we're hoping to go a little deeper into the individual characters now that the heavy-lifting of establishing their world has been done.  The stories featuring Dr. Destiny and Eclipso are indeed creepier and moodier than some of our flat-out action stories.  In fact, certain sequences border on the down-right scary.  Again, our goal is to strive for variety and to tell the most interesting stories that we possibly can...The bottom line is we want to be fun and entertaining (courtesy of Toon Zone).”

Brett Breeding on Season Two:  “They improved on the character designs and gave us a lot richer story material.  They kept chiseling in the personalities of the characters (courtesy of [website name removed]).”

Bruce Timm on the Justice League’s “roll call”:  “It's really hard…to the point where don't often use all seven of them in any given episode—we usually break it down into smaller teams.  We've had some shows that had only three of them in it, [while] a few shows—by the nature of the story—required us to have all seven in it.  [For example,] there's an episode where we [have] the Justice League versus the Secret Society—which is the new, revamped Injustice Gang—and it was really important for that story to have all seven of them in it.  [On the other hand], when we were talking before about balancing which characters [would] go in which show, sometimes we have all seven characters in the show, but we can't have all of them at once, so we split them off into smaller groups and have them do different parts of the mission.

“In [the original script for] 'Twilight' (the episode that's going to air in July 2003), the way the groups were paired off, we had Wonder Woman teaming up with J’onn J’onzz in part of the story.  For a number of logistical reasons it wasn't quite working; on a character level I realized [that] those two characters don't really play off each other well…they're like brother and sister.  When you get them together they get bland, but going back to Batman and Wonder Woman, when you get the homecoming queen and the bad boy together…then, suddenly, you've got something.  So we made that switch…and it really improved the story.  So it's just a matter of finding the right mix of chemicals to get a reaction.

“As we're developing storylines we'll look at it.  Sometimes so many things are happening already—an ‘A’ plot, a ‘B’ plot and [sometimes] even a ‘C’ plot—so there's all these interesting things that have to happen, and to make time for it to happen we have to get rid of something.  That's actually happened in the development of stories.  [In] some of the stories we realized [that] Green Lantern had nothing to contribute to the story, so we just left him out of it.  That's something we have to do with every story:  figure out how to focus on something we really need to tell (courtesy of The Pulse).”

Dan Riba on the team’s alter-egos:  It had kinda been our intention that it would be 'what if these people really did exist?  They would be gods—they would be distant from us—and they wouldn't deal with all that secret identity stuff.’  As far as [I was] concerned, Flash sleeps in that outfit.  […] In the First Season we wanted to focus on super-heroic stuff, but this season, there's a lot more of it—a lot more of them outside their costumes.  We felt we could loosen up—now that we know them and we know how they operate as super heroes we can take a breather and deal with them and their normal lives a little more (courtesy of Comics2Film).

Bruce Timm on the team’s alter-egos:  “Without giving too much away (because there are some interesting plot twists), in the first season we made a conscious effort to say, ‘We've got so much going on in the show [that] we don't have time to spend with the characters in their off hours’…and we still really don't.  We're squeezing a two-hour movie into an hour block, but we are going to have a little bit more of their secret identity lives and definitely explore more of their interpersonal dynamics [in Season Two] (courtesy of The Pulse)."

Bruce Timm on the Internet and feedback:  “It's just interesting to get feedback from the audience; it's really the only way to get feedback other than just talking to people I meet in daily life.  [However], the Internet is not exactly a realistic barometer for how well we're doing because the people who post on these Internet sites [are] pretty hardcore.  The general audience—the majority of people who watch the show—aren't really comic book fans, they'll watch it because it's on and it's an entertaining show, but they don't know all the back story and history of the characters.  They're a little bit easier to please than the fans on the Internet.  Fans on the Internet have so many preconceived notions living with these characters their whole lives.

“The Internet crowd is a tough audience—the range of opinions is so widely varied [that] there is no ‘Internet consensus.’  We try to read into it what we want to, we use it as a focus group.  When their opinion coincides with ours, we say, ‘Now we've got it;’ while some of the criticism we just let roll off our back because some people you just can't please.  For the most part, they've pointed stuff out to us we may not have thought up before, but sometimes we'll just agree to disagree with them.

“Joss Whedon [creator and executive producer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer] had an interesting quote in an interview I read:  you can't really give the fans what they want because, sometimes, what they want is not going to be a good show; you kind of have to give them what they think they're gonna want.  If you give them exactly what they want, a) it's going to be really predictable; and b) if you made a show strictly for comic book fans it would be so alienating to the rest of America.  What happens in the comics is stuff we could never get away with on TV.  Even in Comics Code-approved comics, they're so out there and intense and adult.  What works in a comic book, when you read it in a flat two-dimensional page, it doesn't quite hit you with the same impact as if you saw it in live-action in a filmed medium.

“[The criticism] is not just from the Internet fans—I've got to point this out.  It's also from people I just talk to; people I know in the industry.  A lot of people were saying, ‘Yeah, Justice League is a good show, but it's not quite as good as the shows you've done before.’  I heard that from a number of people—Alex Ross read me the riot act for almost an hour (courtesy of The Pulse).”

Rich Fogel on the Season Two premiere #1:  “Yeah, we were more than a little surprised when Cartoon Network announced that Season Two of Justice League won't premiere until October.  Of course, I suppose, nothing in this business should surprise me at this point.  They have been nothing but supportive and enthusiastic about the show, and I know they are trying to position it for maximum success.

“They said that they didn’t want to premiere until they had a complete run of finished episodes.  This way, they can build some momentum by having an uninterrupted run of new shows every week.  By avoiding the frustrating stops and starts that we had in the first season, they hope to build a bigger audience.

“For our part, we've been working hard to make Season Two even better than Season One, and from what I've seen, the results are nothing short of spectacular.  So far, we've got eight half hours totally completed, and four more have animation back from overseas and are in post-production here.  We've got great returning villains like Darkseid, Brainiac, Lex Luthor, and Vandal Savage; plus exciting new ones like AMAZO and Despero.  I don't mean to be torturing you guys, but these shows are awesome (courtesy of Toon Zone)!”

Rich Fogel on the Season Two premiere #2:  “We’ve got some powerful and surprising stories lined up, and I’m hoping that our fans will think it was worth the wait.  I think the main reason that Cartoon Network held off for so long was that they wanted to premiere the new episodes as full hour-long stories instead of torturing the audience with ‘to be continued’ at the end of each half hour.  So now that all of the shows are in the can, fans can enjoy an uninterrupted run of new and exciting episodes (courtesy of [website name removed]).”

Bruce Timm on the Season Two premiere:  “I don't really understand the whole 'waiting until October' thing myself—their scheduling theories are always a bit puzzling to me.  But—and this is a mammoth but—to be sure, I'll gladly accept the odd scheduling quirks in exchange for the almost unprecedented creative freedom they've given us.  Really, they're spoiling me rotten, it's gonna be incredibly hard to work for any other network after this!

“The results of their 'hands-off' policy are gonna thrill and amaze you come October or sooner.  Remember, this is Cartoon Network we're talking about here; they could conceivably start airing them before fall.  We've got ten episodes completely in the can at the moment, and they all rock big-time.  And, based on the scripts and storyboards for the others, I can safely say that the entire season is incredibly strong—not a single 'War World' in the bunch!

“Obviously, I'm too close to it to be objective, but I swear to god this is gonna be one of the most consistently high-quality seasons of any show that I've ever done.  Everybody's been going that extra mile to make sure the show lives up to its potential, from the writers to the directors, from the artists to the composers.  Every single aspect of the show is a major improvement over Season One.

“(I know it sounds like I'm laying it on a bit thick, but I'm jazzed about Season Two.  I'm telling ya, positively jazzed!)

“I'm not about to give [any spoilers] away, especially if, in fact, we don't start airing until October.  But here's a few things to look forward to:  more character development, more secret identities, more continuity with our previous series'—including the return of some of their supporting cast members—surprising villains (old and new), bigger, better, more intense action sequences; noticeably dramatic, slightly ‘edgier’ storylines; crisp, cliché-free dialogue; and even a [Green Lantern] construct or two.  All in all well worth waiting for, believe me (courtesy of Toon Zone).”

Bruce Timm on fears that Justice League will be cancelled following the Second Season:  “This is all I can say on the subject:  Justice League is not in any danger of being cancelled.  We’ve been contracted to produce 26 1/2-hours for next season and beyond that…who knows?  I hope our ratings stay strong, as I would love to do a Third Season…but it’s way too early to start worrying about that (courtesy of Toon Zone).”

 

After:

Bruce Timm on Season Two (circa 2004):  "One of the things we felt we may have dropped the ball on in the first season was that we were probably too beholden to our childhood memories of what Justice League should be.  I think I mentioned this before, but we made a conscious decision to try to do a show that was a little brighter and more optimistic than some of our previous shows.  Some of the shows we've done in the past were a little on the dark side and definitely edgy—Batman Beyond and Batman and even some of the episodes of Superman—so we decided to try to do a more upbeat, daylight-type show.  The problem was it came off a little bland.  When we went into Season Two we said, 'Well that's something we definitely need to address.'  We want to make the show more ballsy—not contemporary necessarily, but more sophisticated, a little edgy, but without getting dark, dark, dark.  We don't want to make the show depressing and still have to keep in mind that six year-olds are watching the show, so it's a bit of a balancing act.

"[In terms of scheduling], 'Twilight' they ran early as a 'summer bonus' thing, but the rest of the season didn't air until much later—they were waiting for a window in their schedule and wanted to give it a big relaunch push.  Also, at that point they were inspired by the way HBO runs their original programming—shows like The Sopranos.  They wait until they have basically every episode in the can before they start running them so they can run them back-to-back-to-back-to-back without any repeats in the middle.  That did well for them, so that's what Cartoon Network wanted to do with [Season Two] (courtesy of Modern Masters, Volume Three:  Bruce Timm).”

Bruce Timm on Season Two Superman:  "We felt we needed to draw a line in the sand and say, 'This is our mission statement for Season Two, which is "Goodbye Superwimp."'  We may have overcompensated in ['Twilight,' where the Man of Steel told Darkseid, 'I'm not stopping until you're a greasy smear on my fist']; some of his dialogue is a little out there.  Still, I think it's definitely in context of him dealing with Darkseid.  He'd never say it to Luthor, but he could to Darkseid.  In any case, it represented a major change from Season One (courtesy of RetroVision CD-ROM Magazine).”

 

Commentary

Commentary coming soon!

(Season Two's spoilers, which teased us for months but have expired in terms of usefulness, have been archived here for your convenience.)

 

Image courtesy of Toon Zone and The World's Finest.

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