This week, teen detective Veronica Mars heads to the big screen, making a surprise comeback after a Kickstarter campaign helped to resurrect the character. “Veronica Mars” is a cult favorite TV series that continued to have a fan base following its cancellation in 2007 after just three seasons. A Kickstarter campaign raised a surprising $5.7 million from fans for a film featuring the title character, played by Kristen Bell.
While I’ve never watched the original “Veronica Mars” TV show, I’m excited for fans of the series, and I hope the film will be satisfying. Early reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are mostly positive, and I’m curious to see how the film performs at the box office. If the film is a hit, it may offer hope to fans of other well-loved TV shows canceled before their time.
There isn’t always justice in the world of television, and sometimes really good shows slip under the radar or aren’t given enough time to grow before studios give them the axe. If fans are lucky, show runners are given a head’s up about the impending cancellation, and they can at least try to give fans some closure. Other times, a show is canceled mid-season, and we’re left to ponder what might have been.
However, whether a canceled show can be revived and whether it should be revived are two different questions. Sometimes it’s not easy to recapture the magic a cult hit had during its first run. For example, reviews were mixed when the comedy “Arrested Development” returned to Netflix for a 15 episode season last year.
So, why are successful TV revivals challenging, even if most of the original cast and crew return? It may depend, in part, on how much time has passed between the cancelation and the revival. In between those times, all the actors, writers and directors have (presumably) participated in different projects, and they’ve changed as people and evolved as performers. It’s tough to capture the exact same feeling as the show’s original run. Also, fan expectations increase the longer viewers have to wait for a revival, and it is perhaps inevitable that when the revival does happen, the content — no matter how good it is — often feels like a little bit of a letdown. That’s why I’m hesitant to see some of my favorite canceled TV shows revived, especially if it has been several years (or more) since they were canceled.
Perhaps no other canceled-before-its-time show is more beloved than Joss Whedon’s sci-fi Western “Firefly.” The show may have lasted a mere 14 episodes, but it’s one of my all-time favorite TV series. It has (at least in my opinion) 🙂 one of the best ensemble casts ever put together for a TV show; every single one of the characters is a complex, multi-layered person who challenges stereotypes. And yet, as much as it breaks my heart to say it, I don’t know if I want a “Firefly” revival.
Yes, it was canceled far too soon, and despite a 2005 movie, “Serenity,” that tied up some loose ends, fans will always have to wonder about unexplored possibilities. Would hired gun Jayne Cobb have ever reached a point where the money was good enough for him to actually betray Captain Malcolm Reynolds and the rest of the crew? Was Shepherd Book really a traveling preacher, and what secrets remain hidden in his past? Why did licensed companion Inara really decide to join up with a gang of smugglers and criminals — was she running from something, or looking for something?
Although “Firefly” fans would like to know the answers to these questions, it has now been more than a decade since “Firefly” went off the air. I guess I’d rather have the show ride off into the sunset, leaving us satisfied but wanting more, than come back and have the revival not quite live up to the hopes we had for it. The “Serenity” movie also complicates matters because it limits what show runners could do plot-wise in a series revival. If they set the revival after the movie, the show would be missing several key characters, who died in the film. Would the show still be a success without these characters?
There are other shows I loved but ended too soon: quirky crime drama “The Unusuals” and Edgar Wright’s hilarious but too brief British sitcom, “Spaced,” which lasted just 14 episodes. However, like “Firefly,” sometimes it’s hard to go back to what happened before.
So, what do you think? Are there canceled TV shows you’d like to see revived? Or do you think a revival is too risky? What are some of your favorite canceled shows?