I’m not an expert when it comes to making television shows, even though I may act like it sometimes, but I’m pretty sure that one thing you should not do is to replace all your popular characters with new, less interesting characters. Imagine if Lost decided to replace Sawyer, Ben and Sayid out of nowhere. What if the writers of 24 decided they didn’t need Jack Bauer anymore. Unfortunately that is exactly what G. I. Joe: Real American Hero did for their second season, which made it the most disappointingly bad second season of all-time.
A lot of people my age love the Transformers but I’ve always been a G. I. Joe guy. The G. I. Joe squad, during the first season, had a great cast of colorful and different characters. There was the tough black guy, the tough Cajun marine, a ninja that wears all black, a wise cracking sailor, a Japanese martial artist and several others. There was always a few characters that I didn’t enjoy that much, like Lady Jaye and Spirit, but you can’t like them all. There were so many unique characters that anybody was sure to like several people.
But in the second season the writers of G. I. Joe decided to shake things up. Now on the villain side they didn’t do too bad. Even though they already had a great group of villains in Cobra Commander, Destro, Baroness, Storm Shadow, Firefly, Zartan, Major Bludd, Tomax and Xamot and the Dreadnoks Serpentor and Dr. Mindbender were not bad additions. But on the GI Joe side the new additions were awful.
The second season included Leatherneck, a marine that was supposed to be as tough as Gung-Ho and Roadblock but nobody bought it. Lowlight was supposed to be a cool dark character like Snake-Eyes but he didn’t have the mystique of Snake-Eyes and wasn’t a ninja. Then there was the holy trinity of suck: Dialtone, Mainframe and Lifeline. Dialtone and Mainframe were both computer geeks and Lifeline was a medic. None of these guys were fighters (or lovers for that matter.) I understand having a computer geek or a medic but they were now the focus of the second season. Somebody thought it was a good idea to replace Gung-Ho, Shipwreck, Dusty, Roadblock, Bazooka, Alpine, Spirit, Quick Kick, Snake-Eyes with these bozos? Whoever came up with that idea probably also thought up the Bridge Layer. Sure the second season still had Duke, Flint, Lady Jaye and Scarlett but they were all just generic soldiers other than the fact that Scarlett had red hair.
In a live action show sometimes cast changes are needed. Somebody might leave the cast or even pass away and you need somebody new. But this is a cartoon! I don’t think Snake-Eyes decided to leave to go star on Gobots. Gung-Ho didn’t get a better offer from Voltron.
There has been other shows that have changed characters. Transformers had quite a few character changes in Season 2. There have been disappointing second seasons like Heroes and Friday Night Lights to name a few. But in the history of television there has never been a second season as disappointing as GI Joe.