The pros and cons of endless TV revivals

Then HBO broadcast the long-awaited one firewood film on 31 May, almost 13 years after the network had canceled the series without mercy, this was the highlight of a long journey. The most stubborn fans had bullying HBO managers for a decade and firewood Cast members to return to their much-loved but sparsely looked mature Western, and give it a good final. Many people were waiting for this moment, hoping that the film would be just as good as the original.


And while they were spared a crushing disappointment, the first half of 2019 was still bittersweet for nostalgic TV viewers. After Fox canceled the beloved but low-rated sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine NBC picked it up last year and from January 2019 the network started broadcasting new episodes that are just as sincere and funny as the show's. That's great news for anyone who ever fired an outraged tweet after a good quality TV series was killed.

On the other hand, in mid-March, Netflix finally came out in the second half Arrested developmentThe fifth season, and that once-groundbreaking comedy doesn't look so good anymore. An excellent new take on Project Runway arrived at Bravo in March, followed by the miss of Jordan Peele Twilight Zone generation in April, and a new update on Armistead Maupin & # 39; s Tales of the City in June. We can look forward to a return visit later this year Veronica Mars, Blue & # 39; s Clues, Are you afraid of the dark?and many more trusted series that have been redesigned and updated.

For telephones, hope is perpetual. Years of successful grassroots campaigns have convinced fan bases that if they are passionate and loud enough, they can bring the dead back to life. In March, social media exploded with outrage over Netflix's cancellation of One day at a time, with the makers of the show and their followers screaming for someone – everybody – to step in and "#saveODAAT". In May, more than one million fans signed a petition for the final season of Game of Thrones with different writers. No one is eager to say goodbye to their TV friends and the success of fan campaigns to bring back shows like Futurama fans have encouraged to the point where they expect to be heard – especially when the people behind a canceled series are also actively pushing to continue their planned story.

But while revivals and reboots tend to come with much joyful fanfare, they are not all ultimately successful, neither commercially nor creatively. They fail for various reasons: sometimes so much time has passed since the original era of the show that the dynamics or characters looked strange and out of place. Sometimes the makers have different agendas than the fans. Sometimes a show like that Arrested development returns, and the alchemy that made it work is no longer there in the first place, and everything feels … out.

But sometimes everything falls into place, exactly as fans hoped – or at least enough in their place that they don't feel cheated. That's why fans keep pushing, even though they rarely get exactly what they want. Here are some general advantages and disadvantages of returning a canceled series.

Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham in Netflix & # 39; s Gilmore Girls revival
Photo: Saeed Adyani / Netflix

PRO: It's great to see famous characters again.

For fans of a certain show, this is often the main reason to row for a revival, whether it's a direct continuation, a spin-off sequel or a reunion film. Gilmore Girls fans like Lorelai and Rory. X-Files obsessives are excited to see Mulder and Scully again. Futurama lovers are happy to see more from Leela and Fry.


Television networks and writer / producers have fed this nostalgic warmth for decades. Back in the late 20th century, they used to exploit it in more roundabout ways – usually through retrospective specials and TV movies, where characters such as Perry Mason or the Brady family returned to action for a night. Sometimes these one-off things led to more than enough. NBC kept on walking new Perry Mason films by the late 1980s and early 1990s, until star Raymond Burr died. ABC was broadcast new between 1989 and 2003 columbo films, some of which were just as good as the classic episodes from the seventies.

TV makers also kept fans' favorite characters alive through spin-offs such as Frasier, which remained powerful a decade later cheers. Two of the best drama & # 39; s on today's television are apparently revivals through spinoff. The Breaking Bad precursor You better call Saul and The good woman continuation The Good Fight share only a few key figures with their parent shows, but tell the same types of stories with similar themes. The public that has closely followed the originals is very happy that they are there.

David Cross, Alia Shawkat and Kyle Mooney in Netflix & # 39; s Arrested development revival
Photo: Saeed Adyani / Netflix

CON: Sometimes it's hard to see the actors in the same way.

Arrested development writer / producer Mitchell Hurwitz made many mistakes with the Netflix version of his show, but one of the biggest problems was beyond his control. Some of his most important cast members, including Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Tony Hale and Michael Cera, built a flourishing career from the base of their Arrested development work. That makes it harder to see their faces and hear their voices now without thinking of all the similar characters they've played since, from Bateman & # 39; s confident dorks in movies such as Game Night to Hale's nebbish assistant Veep.

And then there is the case of Jeffrey Tambor who, between cancellations Arrested development and the Netflix return, went on what looked like it would become his career-defining role as Maura in the award-winning Amazon drama demonstration Transparent. But just before that Arrested development came back, Tambor was shot Transparent on issues of sexual harassment and general courage. The behind-the-scenes information made it harder to enjoy Tambor's work for the same reasons that Roseanne Barr's inflammatory, racist Twitter activity made her sour Roseanne comeback in 2018.

Steve Coogan and Susannah Fielding This time with Alan Partridge
Photo: BBC

PRO: Revivals can update the content of the old shows to reflect the modern age.

British television tends to properly process the generation puzzle by keeping the individual seasons of TV series short and autonomous and by producing new ones when inspiration strikes. It is not uncommon in the UK to go between seasons for years and for the later iterations to take advantage of this leisure time, by updating the material to reflect a changing world. Steve Coogan & # 39; s various Alan Partridge shows over the course of almost 30 years are a good example. His pompous character remains a piece of cake with every new episode, but Partridge's career is a little different every time, depending on whether his brand of windsock is fashionable in the real world.

The teams behind Twin Peaks and The X files took different approaches to update their respective universes. David Lynch introduced more modern technology into the retro world of Twin Peaks, but just kept going, tilting to the realm of science fiction with its super-advanced crime labs and stealth communication devices. He and Mark Frost made little effort to accurately reflect current reality for their 2017 show revival, but they made a distinction between the 2010 and 1990s when the original show first aired. The X files Writers, meanwhile, took episodes in the most recent season that deal with the likes of AI, algorithms and "fake news" in ways that were terrifying at the time.

Kyle MacLachlan in Showtime & # 39; s Twin Peaks revival
Photo: Suzanne Tenner / Showtime

CON: Sometimes those changes unintentionally lose something special.

One concession to modernity, both The X files and Twin Peaks was made to use the newest cameras & lighting devices, which in both cases gave the shows a visual style that clearly differed from the way they appeared on TV in the 1990s. Their images during the day looked clearer and flatter; their images at night looked darker and more economical. Neither show has suffered dramatically from the changes, but some adjustment was needed to get used to the new look.


The same was true for the Firefly movie, Serenity, making the world of that show more expensive and cinematic, to a certain extent against the annoying charm of the TV version. Netflix & # 39; s revival of Gilmore Girls disappointed a number of fans with his film-like narrative structure and frequent trips outside the enchanting tourist town of Stars Hollow. CBS All Access & # 39; The twilight zone reboot takes a more TV-MA approach to Rod Serling & # 39; s original, which sometimes makes the science fiction / horror anthology new relevant, but sometimes it just makes it vulgar.

Even with the old Perry Mason TV movies, the appearance of those new episodes (recorded in color instead of in black and white and usually in Colorado instead of Los Angeles) and the changes in tone (with storylines that are often a little racier or more violent than the original ) makes those later adventures more a curiosity than a must-see.

Jonah Ray in Netflix & # 39; s Mystery Science Theater 3000 revival
Photo: Darren Michaels / SMPSP

PRO: They make fans happy!

The sitcom from ABC Cougar Town it never became a sensation during his three years on network TV, and after moving to TBS for three seasons, his viewers dropped to around 2 million per episode. But those 2 million were delighted that one of the most amiable, light-hearted meeting place comedies of his time had existed for a few more years. It was like a small unexpected gift, every week that Cougar TownThe cast of goofy Floridians was still in the air.

This is how it would work when fans push for a canceled show to come back. When the people who make the series are just as enthusiastic and inspired as their viewers, it is difficult for both parties to complain that they come more from the good. See also: the latest version of Mystery Science Theater 3000, or the Veronica Mars film, both of which happened to a large extent because fans contributed to crowdfunding campaigns.

The remaining cast of Community in the season 6 Yahoo revival
Photo: Yahoo

CON: Fans don't always agree what they want.

On the other hand, not every one MST3K buff is fully on board with the new Netflix version of the show, which includes a different host and a pinched concept. A number of Veronica Mars fans were disappointed by the film, disagreeing with how the life and relationships of the heroine had changed since her college years. The eccentric sitcom Community had a strong final season after it moved to Yahoo! Screen, but not enough of the people who followed the series religiously at NBC, followed it to his new home – partly because of the unfamiliarity of the platform and partly because not all the original cast made the transition.


The immediate bustle to see old favorites The Mindy project or Gilmore Girls back on the big screen often makes way for a return of all old online arguments about what these characters should do and with whom they should date. Sometimes it might be better to let the fanatic crowd always tell the version of the story that is in their mind, instead of disappointing them by going in a different direction.

Kylie Bunbury in Pitch
Photo: Fox

PRO: Some of these shows have been canceled before their time.

Some of the most successful revivals – from a creative perspective – are those where production hardly skipped a beat. Cab moved seamlessly from ABC to NBC for the last season in 1982. Buffy the vampire killer moved from The WB to UPN for the last two years. Super girl jumped from CBS to The CW immediately after his last season. Brooklyn Nine-Nine this year passed right from Fox to NBC.

Not much has been lost in one of those cases. Super girl had to move production from California to Canada and said goodbye to Calista Flockhart, whose contract stipulated that she had to be based in Los Angeles. But for the most part, a machine that was already rolling just kept chugging.

And in April, in a story about the most powerful TV producers, The Hollywood Reporter mentioned that This is us maker Dan Fogelman can use his new influence to breathe new life into his famous baseball drama pitch, canceled in 2017 after one short season. When a series has such a talented creative team and dedicated fans (however few in number), it is heartbreaking to see that it is pulled out of the air because of non-line network balances. Even from a business point of view, there are reasons to come out for a few more seasons for a show on a new network. How much more money do the people who own pieces have Buffy, Cab, Super girl, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine earned through the years to sell thanks to more episodes?

Rachel Bloom Crazy ex girlfriend
Photo: The CW

CON: There is something to be said to stop while standing in front of you.

The CW & # 39; s Crazy ex girlfriend ended this spring, and Jane the Virgin will be completed in July. In both cases, their makers decided it was time to close them, although the fact that no show was ever a huge hit may have been a factor. And that's okay! So many fans of both shows may want them to run indefinitely, it is good that both can complete their runs on conditions that meet their networks and their producers. That is quite rare for the TV industry.


Even shows drawn after one or two seasons of poor reviews are sometimes better off as monuments to their own potential. Pushing daisies, Better off Ted, Happy endings, Great news, The Middleman, even Firefly (film notwithstanding) … These series never had a chance to drop their devotees, because they were pulled out of the sky while they were still great.

This does not mean that people have missed that expensive firewood should not have insisted on the film, or should not be grateful that they finally have it. But imagine how honored Arrested development would still be if Netflix had never "saved" it. Maybe some wishes were not meant to come true.

- Advertisement -