If you’re one of the many Legend of Korra fans who followed Korra through her ups and downs this season, you have good reason to celebrate: Nickelodeon’s troubled series is back on air.
The network unceremoniously yanked all remaining television episodes of the beloved cult show’s third season this July after ratings dipped, moving them to its online streaming channel instead. Then in September, it announced that it would release the entirety of the fourth season as a digital-only offering.
But today, after a sustained period of criticism from fans, the network unexpectedly announced on its Facebook that it was putting Book 4 of Korra back on the air—on subsidiary animated TV channel Nicktoons.
The fourth season premieres on air Friday at 9pm EST according to the new video. The show will also be appearing on the network’s website, Nick.com.
The decision comes just after the network received widespread criticism for eliminating a full episode’s worth of the budget for the final season. According to creators Bryan Konietzko and Mike DiMartino, the news forced them to do a dreaded “clips” episode in order to avoid sacking a round of animators before the full season was up. The clips episode aired Friday, and fans were still grumbling when the announcement that Korra was back aired this morning.
One popular Facebook comment is a snide, “now they wanna support the show?”
The comment refers to what many fans feel has been the network’s lack of support for Legend of Korra as well as its series predecessor, Avatar: the Last Airbender. Though Avatar gained a huge cult following, along with considerable critical acclaim and cultural renown, it has struggled to find a secure footing in the cultural mainstream, primarily because of what Forbes recently declared was Nickelodeon’s “abusive” attitude and “piss poor marketing” for both series. These include the critically panned recent tie-in video game and the racially whitewashed film adaptation of Airbender, which so offended fans that it led to massive fandom protests and boycotts that lasted from the film’s production to its release date. It also spawned an influential fan-created watchdog organization to broadcast information about whitewashed and other racially offensive forms of media, Racebending.com.
Korra is in many ways a more complex, critical, and beautifully animated series than Avatar, set a generation after its predecessor. It expands the first series’ themes of socioeconomic divides and injustice to become a powerful examination of the cultural impacts of industrialization and systemic prejudice—all while featuring a gorgeous steampunk aesthetic and a truly kick-ass, magic-wielding heroine.
But Nickelodeon’s flip-flopping about the series hasn’t done much to convince fans the network understands what a marvel it has on its hands. “You’re the person who left our girl, her team and franchise out on the field with no support,” wrote Korra fan Carrie Tupper on the Mary Sue. “You don’t get to step up to bat now and have people cheering you on.”
Screengrab via bryankonietzko/Tumblr