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Weekend Roundtable: Kickstarting Canceled TV Shows

We learned this week that the beloved but short-lived TV series ‘Veronica Mars’ will be resurrected as a new movie financed by fans thanks to the power of social fundraising site Kickstarter. In today’s Roundtable, we discuss other famously canceled-before-their-time TV shows that we’d gladly chip in to bring back from the dead.

Shannon Nutt

In the famous Red Room/Black Lodge dream sequence, the Little Man from Another Place told Special Agent Dale Cooper, “I’ll see you again in 25 years.” That scene took place in 1990, meaning now is a perfect time to bring back ‘Twin Peaks‘ with a brand-new movie that would both relaunch and resolve the classic cult hit. Creator David Lynch has always been a fan of experimental projects, so a reunion movie financed solely by the fan base and without the possibility of any studio tinkering seems like something he’d be agreeable to. Granted, actors like Jack Nance, Don Davis and Frank Silva are no longer with us, but plenty of cast members are still around, and many (including Kyle MacLachlan himself) have recently voiced an interest in revisiting the town “where the birds sing a pretty song, and there’s always music in the air.”

Daniel Hirshleifer

HBO has long tempted fans with the promise of a pair of TV movies to wrap up the series, but if any TV show was made to be seen on the big screen, ‘Deadwood‘ is it. The very things that made it so difficult for HBO to keep financing – the through-the-roof period production pieces, the quality actors – all would make for an absolutely stellar Western that could be the standard-bearer of the genre for a decade. And since the show ended, many of its actors have seen success with other properties, so the marketability of a feature film would be higher now than when the show originally ended. Come on, HBO, you gave us TWO awful ‘Sex and the City’ movies. The least you can do is give us one great ‘Deadwood’ film.

Luke Hickman

Unlike many ‘Terminator’ fans, I actually enjoyed ‘The Sarah Conner Chronicles‘. Just like most new series, it didn’t start off too strong, but it didn’t take too long to make me a weekly watcher. Season 2 brought a story arc too large to contain in a single season, so I was pretty bummed when the show was canceled. The cliffhanger ending that left John and Sarah Conner in two completely different times would never be wrapped up. Instead, just after the series was canceled, we got ‘Terminator Salvation’. While the mediocre ‘Salvation’ was better than ‘Rise of the Machines’, ‘The Sarah Conner Chronicles’ was better than both. Several years have passed since the show was canceled, so my desire to see a conclusion has faded, but I’d still like to know how the writers planned to get the mother / son duo back into the same time and how the series would lead up and tie into the third and fourth ‘Terminator’ flicks.

Mike Attebery

I’d like to see the series Denis Leary did before ‘Rescue Me’ get a movie treatment, If done right, it could be a lot of fun. In many ways, ‘The Job‘ was ‘Rescue Me’ for cops. When it debuted in 2001, the show was booted all around the schedule, aired out of order, and generally given the standard ABC “disrespect the good stuff” treatment. Then 9/11 came along and ‘The Job’, a humorous look at NYC cops, was basically doomed. If it had come out about three years later and on cable, like, well, ‘Rescue Me’, I think the show would have done pretty well. A movie could be pretty interesting to see.

Aaron Peck

My vote would be for ‘Pushing Daisies‘. Canceled way before its time, Bryan Fuller’s show never got the audience it deserved. Its quirky, lovable story about a pie maker who could bring dead people back to life with a simple touch was one of the most original shows I’d seen in quite some time. It’s perfectly poised to be a fantastic little movie. Throw a few million dollars at it and upgrade some of the chintzy CGI, and you’d have a full-fledged feature. Executive producer Barry Sonnenfeld could take the directorial reigns and easily put out a quality product with as much charm as the show had. Would anyone go see it? Probably not. That was the problem with the show the first time around. But I don’t care; this is my dream and I want more ‘Pushing Daisies’!

Bryan Kluger

I would donate as much as I could to a ‘Freaks and Geeks‘ movie. The show only lasted one season and was the career starter for Judd Apatow, Paul Feig, Seth Rogen, James Franco, John Francis Daley and Jason Segel, to a name a few of the people involved. The last episode of the show left room for many great storylines in a second season. Unfortunately, that never came to be, due to NBC canceling the series after one season over 13 years ago. This would be one hell of a Kickstarter campaign, as it would reunite some of the biggest names in Hollywood. That being the case, tons of money would have to be raised to secure this talent. However, I think the show has a big enough fan base that we could potentially see a ‘Freaks and Geeks’ movie that took place several years after the show ended. I would be the first in line to donate to this.

M. Enois Duarte

I don’t think I have loved a TV series before or since as much as I loved ‘Deadwood‘. I even ordered for cable to be installed in my house at the time just so that I could watch it on HBO. Each season revolved around the idea of seeing modern civilization slowly grow out of chaos, anarchy and ruthless greed. Al Swearengen was a great character, a vicious business owner who liked the idea of taming the Wild West but also rejected it because that taming also meant certain stipulations upon his business practices. Others were great as well as, but next to Swearengen, Trixie was the most fascinating, a tough and rugged individual who genuinely wanted to escape the filth, only to be dragged back down into it.

The third season wasn’t exactly the show’s strongest, but it finished on an awesome note. What should have happened next, we’ll likely never know. Rumored plans for a two-part TV movie wrap-up never came to fruition, and as the years continue to pass, it doesn’t seem likely to ever happen. If one show is definitely deserving of a movie to complete its story, that’s ‘Deadwood’.

Josh Zyber

A lot of my picks were taken above, and I feel like it’s just too late to recapture the magic of some really old shows that were canceled too soon (such as the memorable Fox drama ‘Profit’, which only aired five of its nine produced episodes back in 1996). However, one recent series that deserves a second shot and could actually make a viable movie is the HBO comedy ‘Bored to Death‘, starring Jason Schwartzman as a neurotic hipster who fancied himself a film noir private eye. The show really seemed to be hitting its artistic stride in its second season, before HBO unceremoniously pulled the plug, despite the fact that it still got better ratings than ‘Enlightened’ (which HBO renewed at the same time). I’m sure that the cast would still be game to continue the adventures of Jonathan, Ray and George.

I’ll also toss out an Honorable Mention to FX’s ‘Terriers’, and Mrs. Z wants me to put in a plug for Bryan Fuller’s quirky ‘Wonderfalls’.

If you had the chance to revive one of your favorite TV shows, what would you donate some money to?

52 comments

  1. Dennis

    I like Pushing Daisies as a, choice, but I would also include Dead Like Me. Showtime’s supernatural comedy/drama was a wonderful series dumped way before it’s time also. Granted, there was a TV movie done to wrap it up, but it was sloppy and not very well done. Plus, not all of the original cast came back to it.

    • i was a fan of both dead like me and pushing daises, but both of them became formulaic and therefore boreing over time. someone dies solve the case, with alittle bit of the main characters backstory sprinkled throughout.

      good shows, but both rightly canceled.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      The only reason none of us chose this one is because Firefly already got a wrap-up movie. However, I certainly understand the desire for more.

      • William Henley

        Truthfully, I would love to see Firefly actually brought back as a show, not a movie. Topic for another weekend round-table.

    • As a full-fledged Whedon-geek, I of course would love more Firefly, but honestly I think they should continue the series as a video game. It would work so well I honestly can’t believe they haven’t already. You zip around in Serenity taking odd jobs on different worlds avoiding the alliance, get into bar fights as Jayne, level up River as you progress. You also could easily set it at an unspecific time in chronology to ignore character deaths. Obviously, this would be more realistic considering the schedules of the people involved, Joss isn’t likely to return anytime soon, and Nathan is busy with Castle, but I can’t imagine he wouldn’t be able to do voice work. I just think they could squeeze so much more out of it this way, and considering how many of the rabid fans of this series are the same people who caused an uproar about the ending of Mass Effect 3 it’s just so damn obvious! Why won’t they just take my money?!

  2. Hands down #1 choice for me would be Carnivale. This series was amazing and given the cliffhanger the second season ended on, it was even more cruel when the news came of its cancellation. It’s making me kinda sad just thinking about it even now.

  3. JM

    If David Fincher kickstarted his ‘Heavy Metal’ anthology as an netflix tv project, with Cameron and del Toro et al, to bypass the NC-17 bottleneck… I would totally do things for that.

    ‘Rome’ could be kickstarted by HBO to subsidize the budget.

    ‘Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog 2-200!’ Joss could shoot between hulking out.

    I would pay money to hire Tommy Schlamme to direct Aaron Sorkin to finesse ‘The Newsroom’ into its full potential.

    ‘The Dark Tower’ would require a new writer and showrunner…

    Lake Bell’s ‘In A World…’ rebooted as a tv series might be a good fit for her.

    & I would sell all my babies to finance more ‘Coupling.’

  4. Eric

    I came to throw Pushing Daisies into the discussion, but was pleasantly surprised to see that Aaron already had. It is honestly one of my favorite shows of all time, and I need more.

  5. I couldn’t see it as a movie, but I would definitely pony up some cash to bring Better Off Ted back to air. Ignored by most, it was a better workplace comedy than The Office, and gave Vic Fresco one of his few second season orders.

  6. Mine would be Jericho, cancelled after the first season and then brought back for a few more episodes by the fans who overloaded the producers with Nuts (a line said in the show) as a protest only to finish with a whimper. Absolutely loved the crap out of that show, suspenseful, great characters, and it had a lot it could have done story wise. I really miss that one.

    Miracles was another one (both shows had Skeet Ulrich as the star) and it was kind of like an X-Files but mixed with religion and skepticism on that religion, really liked this one too and it had the formula to last but the producers pulled a Firefly and didnt give it a chance and then threw it around on different nights and didnt even finish airing all the episodes….such a shame

      • William Henley

        I didn’t care for Stargate Universe at all, so don’t care to see a movie from it. Stargate Atlantis wrapped up pretty well, so a spinoff movie from that would be beating a dead horse with a stick. I mean, where can you really go with Atlantis after the series finallie?

        SG1 already had followup movies.

        • Brad Wright said he had a movie planned that would unite all three stories. Stargate Atlantis did not end well. There was more that could have been done with that.

        • Dennis Easley

          Honestly, I thought Universe had great potential, though the musical direction gave it a “feel” it was almost like a music video interlude\montage and the characters needed to breathe… they were so wrapped up in the image they wanted for the show they sort of breezed over the drama a bit…

          I also thought the end of atlantis was too rushed and convenient… anyway the stargate universe has infinite places it could go… and i even heard rumors of a sequel to the movie being worked on.. that would ignore the series… that’d be welcome too.

          • William Henley

            My issue with Universe is that it had potential, but it turned into a soap opera in space. You took a ton of people who shouldn’t even be in the military or a civilian off-world mission in the first place because of huge personality disorders, and then throw them together a million lightyears from home in a ship that is falling apart. Now if the characters were not so flat, and had of actually have passed a psych test before they went offworld, I probably would have liked it.

            As for Atlantis – if you want to redo the ending, that is one thing. If you want to pick up where the ending left off, then I am not sure what you can do with that story. May be worth an hour-long wrap-up show, though.

  7. Ryan

    It’s got to be Deadwood. It would have been nice to get a few more seasons of Rome as well.

    Funny you should mention Trixie in such an endearing light, though. I hated her character, more than just about everyone else on that show (except Hearst, of course).

  8. Charles M.

    I would’ve liked to have seen a revival of American Gothic. That was great show that had an unsatisfactory ending. Problem I guess is that Lucas Black ain’t a kid anymore, so I have no idea how they’d solve that other than bringing in a new kid.

  9. I’ll go with Brimstone. It’s been canceled too long, but that show was ahead of its time and maybe a remake could work because the premise was interesting.

  10. As I ranted above, a Firefly video game series would be pretty much tops for me, beyond that I agree totally on Sarah Connor Chronicles. The way that ended pissed me off no end. The same happened to me to a lesser extent with Tru Calling, not a great show, but decent enough that ending on a cliffhanger was inexcusable. I’d also love to see Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmonson back together, some kind of “Bottom” spin-off. Last but not least, once The End of the World and Ant-Man are done, bring back SPACED!

  11. Mark B

    I’ll also add Firefly to the list even though it already got a movie made to wrap things up. Hell, I’d even take another movie just to see what the Mal and the crew are doing years later.

  12. I love “Freaks and Geeks”, but that ship has sailed. It’s just been too long. If the story picked up with the actors the age they are now, we’re talking about a show set in the nineties with thirty year olds. That’s not what the show was about. It’s literally impossible to pick up that story again.

    • Jonathan C

      I enjoyed most of the first season of Freaks and Geeks, but by the time they got to the hermaphrodite girlfriend storyline it was pretty clear they had run out of ideas. Much better that they shut it down and cleared the schedule for the talented performers to move on.

  13. Josh Zyber
    Author

    I didn’t realize until today that Syfy has canceled Alphas. If I’d known that earlier, that would have been my pick. Dammit, Syfy.

  14. Jman

    Stargate Universe, can’t leave those poor people in stasis forever, can we?

    Seriously thou, the show had become quite good in its last season, just like ‘Enterprise’.

  15. i’d have to say LIFE with damian lewis. one of the best TV shows that hardly anybody watched. next is the obvious; firefly, veronica mars, star trek enterprise, flash forward

  16. CK

    As a first choice I would go with Firefly. As a second, I would go for a new Star Trek show. With all of the good shows on these days, it is surprising there isn’t one on already. More of Better off Ted would be nice as well.

  17. Davril Chorster

    Josh Zyber mentions that Bored to Death was cancelled while a show called Enlightened (which I’ve never heard of) was renewed but Bored to Death had a third season. And it’s as good as the rest of them.

    That said, I’d also vote for Deadwood and Carnivale. The two best shows that I’ve ever seen.

  18. William Henley

    Gotta go with “Enterprise”. That show just really needed about another season. Show getting good, show getting better, show getting great…. WTH, they are killing the network? Gotta wrap this thing up in three episodes.

    Am I the only one pissed at how the show ended?

    In the 80s and 90s, there were tons of made for TV movies and reunion shows based on 60s and 70s TV shows. How about a reunion show / movie for some of those 80s and 90s shows.

    Er, maybe not. Just thinking of Full House – DJ and her cousin Steve are missionaries and come home for the summer for rest, Stephanie is recovering from drug addiction and her second marriage, and Michelle is battling anerexia but has a booming clothing and makeup business. Uncle Jessie had his one hit “Forever”, then was never heard from again. His obsession of living in the past finally lead to his divorce from Becky. Joey was big comedian in the 90s and early 2000s, but his humor grew old quickly, and now makes ends meet performing at comedy clubs. And to everyone’s surprise, Danny finally got married – to Kimmy Gibbler!

    I was thinking Lost In Space, but that was already done, badly.

    A few years ago, there were a few shows that I thought could use movies, but these shows ended up being brought back years after their cancelations.

    You know, you got me stumped. I thought this was going to be an easy topic, but its not. The only show I can really think of is, as I said up at the top, “Enterprise”.

  19. Scott

    The show that I would want is “Nothing Sacred,” a Peabody-award-winning show starring Kevin Anderson about a liberal-minded Roman Catholic priest in Chicago trying to balance his own ideas with the doctrines of the church. It was announced as renewed for season two; however, it never even aired the final 4-7 episodes (although the descriptions made it into the TV Guide. Because of outside pressure, K Mart (the show’s main sponsor) dropped its support. Unfortunately, it has never even been released on dvd.

  20. kano

    If we’re mentioning Joss Whedon, how about Angel?
    I also quite liked ‘The Finder’ and Harry’s law but not sure they’ll have the fanbase to be resurrected.

    • I would have loved more at the time, but it’s way too late now. It was already difficult to ignore how different this supposedly ageless vampire looked since the first season of Buffy, now it would be impossible. Not too mention David having much more success with Bones. Besides, I don’t know if you followed the graphic novels at all, but good lord, if that’s what they would have done it’s a good thing it ended there. Look up Angel Season 6 on Wikipedia if you don’t believe me.

      I liked Finder as well, at least I thought it was finally getting interesting, but it failed to grab an audience and now Michael Clark Duncan is gone. I get why they tried to piggyback the show on Bones, but I think they kind of screwed it over with that, it was way too shoehorned in.

      • Josh Zyber
        Author

        The Buffy Season 8 comics were also pretty bad. I gave up on those partway through. I believe they’re doing Season 9 now, but I can’t bring myself to read them.

        • Yeah, those were abysmal as well. I was really excited for them and kept with it as long as I could, but Spike on a spaceship, the ever-changing Dawn, and ultimately the reveal of Twilight’s (groan) identity, I just couldn’t bear it anymore.

  21. I would pick My Name is Earl considering Earl never finished his list and they left the show on a cliffhanger. Everyone was so good in that cast that I would love to see them again. Although they did mention the show on Raising Hope once and there are a few characters that reprise their roles.

    • nagara

      At least we got a “reunion” show for My Name is Earl on Raising Hope a couple of weeks ago.

      I would rally like to see more episodes of No Ordinary Family. It started off really cheesy and horrible, but towards the end it came into its own.

      I also really liked Don’t Trust the B* in Apt 23. One of the few shows in the last few years that made me laugh on a constant basis.

      Gonna use my crystal ball and select Community now. 4th season is not the best, but still up there.

      • Markus

        +1 for Don’t Trust the B. I don’t understand how a show like that can be cancelled why abominable dross like Whitney gets renewed.

  22. Markus

    Wonderfalls. And TSCC. Look at that. Two great shows both of which were horribly mistreated by Fox and ended way before their time. Firefly would be an interesting revival given the need to incorporate the events of Serenity.

  23. silentbob

    Already mentioned Firefly, Deadwood, Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me. For the cliff hanger ending and where they could of gone with the story I would love to see more Carnivale Again an HBO series canceled before it should of been.