Sunday, April 12, 2015

Night of the Living Cancellation, Part II

"Twin Peaks" is coming back in a limited Showtime series!  Yes!  With David Lynch and Mark Frost onboard!  Well, okay, there seem to be some squabbles going on behind the scenes, and Lynch probably won't be directing, but still - the return of one of the early touchstones of auteur-driven television is something to celebrate.  And "The X-Files" is coming back too!  With David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson!  The series didn't end well and that last movie was a bust, but Chris Carter's got to know this is his last shot, right?  Oh, and NBC's bringing back "Coach"?  Er, I never watched much of "Coach," but it was a consistent performer back in the day, so it must have had a pretty good fan base, right? How many of them are still around, though?  I mean, that audience skewed older to begin with so twenty years later -  And now Netflix wants to bring back "Full House"?  Huh.  Well.  Um.  I have no idea why anyone would want to see that.
Welcome to the hot new TV trend of 2015 - the revival.  I knew that the '90s were inevitably going to come back, but this is ridiculous.  It seems like every day someone has dusted off another old show or star in hopes of engineering a comeback.  These aren't reboots, mind you, though there have been plenty of those.  The new "Beverley Hills 90210" and "Melrose Place" have come and gone.  Revivals are trying to effectively create new seasons of old programs to the extent that they can, bringing back familiar stars, showrunners, writers, and other creative talent.  This has already been done with some success in TNT's "Dallas," which was designed to feel as if the original show had simply returned from a very long hiatus.  And honestly, that's not as farfetched as it used to be in an era where Netflix gave "Arrested Development" a third season seven years after FOX cancelled it.
Then again, revivals aren't new.  After reruns of the '70s black family sitcom "What's Happening!" did well in syndication, a sequel series, "What's Happening Now!!" came six years after cancellation and effectively doubled the number of episodes.  "Bevis and Butthead" returned to MTV briefly, after a fourteen year absence.  And of course there's "Doctor Who," which has had a lot of fun untangling the snarls in its continuity caused by a fifteen year break.  And when you move away from serialized television, you find people have tried to bring back just about everything from "The Mickey Mouse Club" to "The Twilight Zone" to "The Electric Company."  Reboots and reinventions are preferable when it comes to more well-known sitcoms and dramas because they're usually much easier to pull off.
So why this recent spate of high profile resurrections?  The "X-Files" revival is the result of a fan campaign that was actively encouraged by Gillian Anderson and others connected with the show.   The enthusiastic reaction it received seems to have been what prompted most of th others.  Note that all of these projects made a point of emphasizing that key original actors would be returning, which is their biggest selling point.  I suspect there would be more revivals if the talent involved were more receptive, but a lot of the time the successful stars of hit TV shows have no desire to sign on for a long television gig again.  However, these days a regular television season can be as short as seven or eight episodes, so the commitment isn't as great.  And Gillian Anderson can feasibly juggle her commitments to "The Fall" and "Hannibal" with shooting six new episodes of "X-Files."  
It's a lot of fun to think about what other beloved '90s shows might be candidates for revivals, but we should also keep in mind that these shows all went off the air for a reason.  Audiences lost interest, premises and formulas ran out of steam, and some just outstayed their welcome.  Frankly, there aren't many that I think would actually benefit from another season, except a couple that ended on cliffhangers.  The "Twin Peaks" series sounds the most promising because it's the most likely to actually be a quality piece of television on par with all the good shows that it'll be competing against.  Though it certainly helps, you need more than nostalgia to get ahead on TV these days,

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