10 Canceled-Too-Soon TV Shows That Need a Kickstarter Reboot
We’ve all experienced it — as soon as you get hooked on a great show that ISN’T a procedural crime drama or hackneyed sitcom, it suddenly gets canceled by the network, leaving a TV-shaped hole in your heart. (Watch out ‘Enlightened.’ We fear you’re next.) Certainly our favorite shows deserve better, right?
Still, if this ‘Veronica Mars’ movie Kickstarter thing has taught us anything, it is that people are willing to pay $500 for an outgoing voicemail message by Kristen Bell. It also taught us that we should never underestimate the power of a rabid fanbase hungry for one last season, or at least a movie. Here are ten shows we think could use a Kickstarter reboot. Clearly the point of Kickstarter has always been to bring ‘Firefly’ back.
Despite critical acclaim, David Lynch and Mark Frost’s drama ‘Twin Peaks’ only ran for two seasons from 1990-91. It was hailed for its offbeat style, wacky characters and unorthodox approach to crime drama, but it was perhaps too bizarre for audiences and viewership dropped sharply in season two.
It did, however, generate a cult following during its run and a letter-writing campaign by a group known as Citizens Opposed to the Offing of Peaks inspired ABC to let it finish the season. Still, this wasn’t enough to bring it back for a third outing.
Late last year, internet rumors began spreading that the show could potentially return on NBC. Speculation was fueled by an anonymous post on 4chan by a supposed industry insider and by a report on Moviehole.com, in which Frost said a third season is something that’s talked about “from time to time.” But alas, it was untrue. “Dear Internet: You are very good at spreading rumors. Truth is more valuable and much harder to come by,” Frost tweeted in January. But we all know that David Lynch loves engaging fans on the internet. So maybe a Kickstarter revival could bring Agent Cooper — and that gum he likes — back in style.
Consider us among those who mourned the loss of Joss Whedon’s sci-fi western ‘Firefly’ after it was canceled in 2002 three-quarters of the way through its first season. Fortunately, strong DVD sales and a groundswell by enthusiastic fans, who called themselves “Browncoats” after the show’s Independent Faction freedom fighters, inspired a 2005 movie followup called ‘Serenity.’
In 2011, rabid fans took their love of the show to a whole new level by organizing a movement called “Help Nathan Buy Firefly,” which sought to purchase the rights to the series and give them to star Nathan Fillion. (Fillion inadvertently inspired the whole thing after an off-the-cuff comment where he said he was open to making ‘Firefly’ on his own and distributing it on the internet.) Whedon, however, made it clear that he didn’t support the movement and it crashed and burned along with hopes of more ‘Firefly.’ But maybe a Kickstarter groundswell could reignite interest.
‘Pushing Daisies,’ which ran for two seasons from 2007-2009, was an adult fairy tale involving a pie-maker who could revive the dead with a touch. It received a large amount of buzz for its hyper-saturated visuals, storybook sets and snappy dialogue, but the Writers Guild of America strike from 2007-2008 meant that only nine episodes were created for the first season. When the show returned for season two, the public had largely lost interest and it met an untimely end.
Creator Bryan Fuller was undeterred, however, and began work on a “third season” comic book series on DC Comics’ WildStorm imprint, but the brand was shut down in 2010 and the comics were postponed. Fuller hasn’t given up, though, and recently began stumping for a ‘Pushing Daises’ mini-series on Starz and potentially even a stage adaptation. “We’re working on something that is definitely a ‘Pushing Daisies’ revival, and the idea would be to have as many cast [members] as we can to participate in it,” he said. Certainly ‘Pushing Daisies’ has the same kind of passionate fan base as ‘Veronica Mars.’ So get a Kickstarter going, folks!
HBO’s ‘Carnivale,’ which ran for two seasons from 2003-2005, was a tough sell from the start. It was a highly complicated allegorical tale of good vs. evil set during the Great Depression and was deeply steeped in mythology. It was also very, very dark and unremittingly strange. Despite early praise and record-setting ratings, it was unable to maintain buzz and was canceled four seasons short of its intended six-season run.
To matters worse, it ended with a violent cliffhanger that left the fate of many major characters uncertain. As a result, outraged fans beseiged HBO with more then 50,000 emails in a single weekend. Over time, details emerged explaining what happened to characters after season two, but even juicy plot tidbits like this are a poor substitute for additional episodes.
‘Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles’
When ‘Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles’ premiered in 2008, it was the highest-rated new series that season and immediately earned itself a renewal. But despite having the rich ‘Terminator’ universe as source material and killer performances by Lena Headey, Summer Glau and Brian Austin Greene, ratings for season two took a nose dive and the show petered out.
At the end of the second season, the show climaxed in a twisty cliffhanger where young John Connor was transported into the post-apocalyptic future. It was a compelling swan song, yes, but left many things unresolved. Fans created websites, Facebook and MySpace communities, and uploaded videos to YouTube in an attempt to keep the show on the air, but the rise of the machines had ended. A Web series funded by Kickstarter could tie up some loose ends.
‘Freaks and Geeks’
Judd Apatow may be a big-time movie writer, producer and director, but his first forays into TV weren’t nearly as successful. The Paul Feig created ‘Freaks and Geeks,’ a teen comedy-drama which aired for less than one season from 1999-2000 and which Apatow executive produced, launched the careers of James Franco, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, Rashida Jones, Busy Philipps, Martin Starr and Linda Cardellini, but it failed to capture an audience and was canceled after only 12 episodes.
While it had an actual final episode, the show ended on a bit of a cliffhanger with Lindsay Weir ditching an academic summit to follow the Grateful Dead on tour with her friend Kim Kelly. We all know the ‘Freaks and Geeks’ gang likes to hang out considering they all keep making movies together. So how about a Kickstarter funded movie or Web series reuniting the characters at their 10-year high school reunion?
‘Deadwood,’ HBO’s profanity-laced western which ran from 2004-2006, is a prime example of a good show succumbing to economics and competing priorities. The rising cost of episodes and creator David Milch’s desire to focus his attention on ‘John From Cincinnati’ instead ultimately sealed the show’s fate after its third season.
Plans to finish the series with two movies never came to fruition, but Milch remains cautiously optimistic that ‘Deadwood’ may return someday. “I don’t know that the last word has been said on the subject,” he told Esquire in 2011. “I still nourish the hope that we’re going to get to do a little more work in that area.” Considering the debacle Milch had with his last HBO series ‘Luck,’ maybe the big screen is the place to continue ‘Deadwood.’ And a Kickstarter funded production outside the Hollywood studio system could ensure that Milch gets to bring back Al Swearengen and the rest on his terms.
Rob Thomas has already proven with ‘Veronica Mars’ that he creates the kind of fanbase that will fund a Kickstarter to revive one of his shows. So let’s bring ‘Party Down’ back, already!
It only aired for 20 episodes, and there are talks that a movie is maybe in the works, but let’s aim for the stars here. In hindsight, this show’s got Jane Lynch, Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Judd Apatow favorites Lizzy Caplan and Martin Starr AND Megan Mullally — people are probably kicking themselves for not watching it when it was on the air. More, please.
Aaron Sorkin’s comedy-drama ‘Sports Night,’ which told the story of a sports news program similar to ESPN’s ‘SportsCenter,’ had all the classic hallmarks of a Sorkin production, including rapid-fire banter and copious use of the “walk-and-talk.” But these things failed to make the program a hit and it was canceled after running for two seasons from 1998 to 2000. It did, however, help launch the careers of Felicity Huffman, Peter Krause and Josh Charles, who went on to star in ‘Desperate Housewives,’ ‘Parenthood’ and ‘The Good Wife,’ respectively.
Since absolutely no one likes Sorkin’s HBO series ‘The Newsroom,’ how about bringing back the ‘Sports Night’ gang for another go around?
MTV’s beloved ‘Beavis and Butthead’ spin-off is far and away one of the best shows ever made about high school. So why didn’t MTV bring their snarky heroine back when Beavis and Butthead returned last year?
Since a TV comeback is unlikely what with MTV’s fondness for reality programming involving teenage moms, a downloadable, direct-to-DVD movie funded by Kickstarter could be the answer. The last time we saw Daria was in the feature-length TV movie ‘Is It College Yet?,’ so there’s precedent for this. Also, look how well direct-to-DVD movies worked out for ‘Futurama’ and ‘Family Guy.’