If you’ve been upset that a TV show you loved went off the air, either by cancellation or just by its own accord, don’t worry – there’s a good possibility it will come back for another season or two.
It seems that the new trend on flatscreens these days is the return of long-gone programs coming back from the dead. Brilliant-but-canceled shows “Arrested Development” and “The Comeback” have done reunion seasons. After 3 1/2 years off the air, that real-time espionage thriller “24” returned last year in the form of a 12-episode, “limited event series” called “24: Live Another Day.” “Heroes” will also be getting the limited-series treatment, re-entering the boob-tube stratosphere as “Heroes Reborn” later this year. And there is no doubt that fans of the memorably weird, David Lynch-created soap “Twin Peaks” are psyched that the show is coming back next year on Showtime after its cancellation a quarter-century ago.
News of TV shows climbing out of the graveyard keep coming. It was recently announced that “The X-Files” would return to Fox as a limited series. And, for some reason, somebody at NBC decided that ’90s sitcom “Coach” should return to prime time, as the network has ordered 13 episodes of the rebooted Craig T. Nelson sitcom.
Reviving TV shows isn’t a new thing. After shutting down his ’50s cop show “Dragnet,” Jack Webb brought it back during the turbulent late ’60s. And, of course, there have been oodles of “Star Trek” spinoffs. When I was a kid, I remember seeing canceled sitcoms like “Charles in Charge” and “Too Close for Comfort” find brand new homes a couple years later on syndication.
Not all TV revivals work. For every “Doctor Who,” which has become a pop-culture juggernaut since its 2005 comeback, there is a “Dallas,” which had an awkward, three-season run when the iconic soap showed up again in 2012. A “90210” reboot spent a good five seasons on the CW. The same can’t be said for its young-adult counterpart “Melrose Place,” whose revival, also on the CW, lasted only a season.
For a while there, it seemed like the only way to bring a TV show back into dedicated fans’ lives is if it moved over to the big screen. The solution still happens on occasion; folks are still gobsmacked that the people behind the short-lived teen drama “Veronica Mars” rounded up enough money on Kickstarter to drop a movie sequel in theaters last year.
Demanding, loyal fans are a major contributing factor in networks and streaming sites reviving shows, along with new, fresh audiences who were too young or weren’t even around when the shows first hit. In a Vice.com piece on the return of “Peaks,” Dave Schilling wrote, “This revival signals that TV audiences and studios are ready for anything, that no matter how much goodwill is wasted by a show, it can still come back if enough people truly care about it.”
“It makes sense to bring something like ‘Twin Peaks’ back, because that has a really devoted audience who wants to see where the story is going,” says William Fonvielle, a Raleigh entertainment blogger whose work can be read at Filmvielle.blogspot.com. While he wouldn’t mind seeing what’s been happening in that creepy, Pacific Northwest town since it got the heave-ho in 1991, he doesn’t think this revival is going to tarnish or enrich the original.
“Whether you go out on your own terms or you get canceled early, then the show you had is the show you had,” he says. “And I think if it even has a very open-ended ending, it can still survive and stand on its own. Like, a show like ‘Deadwood’ or ‘Freaks and Geeks’ had very abrupt endings. But it still works as a work of art, I believe. I don’t think that coming back to create your own goodbye devalues maybe what came before. But I don’t think it adds anything either.”
While I wouldn’t mind seeing some acclaimed, abruptly canceled shows get back together for another season, (Fonvielle and I are both waiting for the inevitable “Freaks and Geeks” revival), some shows deserve to rest in peace. All I’m saying is, if I hear of a “Two and a Half Men” reboot years from now, I think we should all get together and set CBS ablaze!