The internet was positively abuzz last week about the surprise return of Veronica Mars. Fans were shocked when they found out that Kristen Bell and Rob Thomas had created a Kickstarter to fund a 'Mars' movie, and were absolutely blown away when the project rocketed past its two million dollar funding goal in less than a day. In fact, the total currently sits at $3,636,087, with 25 days left to go.
In the days since, I've found myself wondering what show would take this route next, and which shows that I myself would be willing to help create via my hard-earned dollars. So, in that spirit, I present the following list of 10 shows that I would gladly pay to see come back to life again. I'd love to see your own lists as well in the comments.
Note: For the purposes of this piece, I am ignoring the obvious choices that have already been discussed ad nauseum since last week. Thus the lack of Firefly, Deadwood, Angel, Buffy, Jericho etc. The shows listed below are presented in no particular order. With that said, let's begin.
#10 - Pushing Daisies, Aired 2007-2009 on ABC, 22 Episodes, Created by Bryan Fuller
Starring: Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Kristin Chenoweth
Plot: A shy pie-maker named Ned can bring the dead back to life with a single touch, with the catch being that if he touches them again they die permanently. He and his private detective business partner Emerson Cod use this "gift" to solve murders and claim a hefty profit on the side. Further complicating things is the fact that he can't touch his formerly deceased girlfriend Chuck, lest she return to the grave. His employee Olive is also in love with him. What can I say, it's a complex show.
This wonderfully amusing black comedy was not, as a lot of people seem to believe, screwed over by its network. ABC brass loved the show, and the marketing campaign for season one was everywhere. What really cut 'Daisies' off at the knees was the fabled writers strike of late 2007-early 2008. Only 9 of 13 ordered episodes were written and produced before the strike, leading to an extremely short inaugural season.
By the time the show came back the following fall, it had been about 10 months since an episode aired. As has been demonstrated several times now by shows like V, The Event, FlashForward, etc., long breaks for network shows never seem to work. The ratings for season two took a huge dive, and ABC canceled the series. The final episode was hastily re-written to try and provide some sort of "closure" for fans, but it's epilogue basically amounted to an extended hand-wave.
#9 - Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Aired 2008-2009 on FOX, 31 Episodes, Created by Josh Friedman
Starring: Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, Summer Glau, Brian Austin Green, Richard T. Jones
Plot: A few years after the events of Terminator 2, an older John Connor and his mother Sarah are forced to escape a Terminator attack via a time portal. This transports them to the present day, where the two are forced to adjust to life in a world full of new technology, all while running from the constant threat of Terminators on the hunt for John. Helping the Connors survive is Cameron, a "female" Terminator reprogrammed and sent to protect them. The events of Terminator 3 are effectively ret-conned, not that most fans cared.
I went into the first episode of 'Chronicles' with very low expectations. TV shows based off of films rarely live up to the original work, and I just wasn't sure if I could accept someone other than Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor. It turns out that I was wrong on both counts, as the show quickly grew in to a fine addition to the Terminator franchise, and Lena Headey filled Hamilton's shoes admirably. Sadly, T:TSCC was yet another victim of the 2007 writers strike. Just as with PD, the first season was cut from 13 episodes to 9, although they chose to air them in mid-season instead of the fall.
Despite the lack of an extended break between seasons, season two still saw a large drop from season one's average ratings. To FOX's credit, they aired the full 22 episode season before ultimately pulling the plug, but that doesn't change the fact that the show ended on a gigantic cliffhanger. 'Terminator's' producers weren't informed of the cancellation until after the season finale had been shot, leaving fans to wonder just where things were set to go in a hypothetical season three.
#8 - The 4400, Aired 2004-2007 on USA, 44 Episodes, Created by Rene Echevarria &
Starring: Joel Grestch, Jacqueline McKenzie, Billy Campbell, Patrick Flueger, Chad Faust
Plot: The world is forever changed when a large ball of light "drops off" 4400 previously missing people near Mount Rainier, Washington. Two FBI agents named Tom Baldwin and Diana Skouris are tasked with keeping tabs on these "returnees", managing the supernatural powers they all seem to be developing, and finding out who or what sent them back.
This under-appreciated little sci-fi gem was one of the USA network's first successful original series, along with fellow genre series The Dead Zone. The ensemble cast was a large one, but not one actor ever hit a false note. Joel Grestch was especially terrific as Agent Baldwin, who has to find a way to deal with the fact that his own son is one of the "returnees". The man played every conceivable emotion during the course of the series (including being "possessed" by an evil being), and did so with both earnestness, and sincerity. Somebody give this guy a job, stat.
Anyway, the final season ended on a incredibly intriguing cliffhanger, that seemed to be pointing the way towards an all-out apocalyptic war between the "changed" and the normals. Rumors swirled for several years after the cancellation that the story would be completed in the form of a made for TV movie, but those plans never came to fruition. The time to make this happen is now.
#7 - Terra Nova, Aired 2011 on FOX, 13 Episodes, Created by Kelly Marcel &
Starring: Jason O'Mara, Shelley Conn, Stephen Lang, Christine Adams, Rod Hallett
Plot: Faced with a ruined planet and dwindling natural resources, the inhabitants of 2149 Earth decide to send "pilgrimages" of people to an alternate universe where nature is still beautiful and dinosaurs roam. Making life difficult for the peaceful colonists are the "Sixers", mercenaries sent by a future corporation to plunder the natural resources of this lush new world.
Terra Nova was a bit of an odd case. The premiere drew great numbers, and while the remaining episodes did drop somewhat, the show was still doing good enough to earn a second season. In this instance, the problem wasn't the ratings, it was the exorbitant cost of such a special effects driven show. CGI dinos and landscapes were plentiful, and the sets were gorgeously detailed pieces of Hollywood architecture.
Unfortunately, when each episode of a show costs millions to make, it damn well better be pulling in ratings high enough to make it worth the network's while. FOX evidently wasn't happy with the numbers 'Nova' posted, and canceled the series after (what else) a huge cliffhanger ending. Did the colonists ever make it home? I still want to find out.
#6 - Awake, Aired 2012 on NBC, 13 Episodes, Created by Kyle Killen
(I covered this show pretty extensively in my list of best one season shows. Instead of coming up with a new way to state the same information, I'll just include a slightly edited version of that write-up.)
Starring: Jason Isaacs, Laura Allen, Dylan Minnette, Wilmer Valderrama, Steve Harris
Plot: Ever since his family was involved in a horrific car accident, Detective Michael Britten finds himself trapped between two different realities. In one universe, he lost his wife in the crash; in the other, his son perished. Britten must now figure out which world is real, all while struggling to remain sane.
Much like the next entry on this list, a big factor in the failure of Awake was an epic case of network mismanagement. From its first press screening, the pilot episode received critical raves, with most citing the show's innovative plot structure as a breath of fresh air amidst all the formulaic programs currently occupying prime-time broadcast schedules. Unfortunately, NBC executives seemed mystified by the show's inability to comfortably fit in any one genre, and repeatedly delayed the premiere broadcast. As a result, Awake went from one of the hottest prospects of the 2011-2012 pilot season to an afterthought. The show was finally dumped on the air in March, barely advertised, and died a quick death due to low ratings.
While Awake certainly has many standard crime procedural elements, and features a "case of the week" for Britten to solve in each episode, the overarching story is an expertly woven tapestry of science fiction, fantasy, and drama that combines to always keep the audience guessing. Every case Britten solved got him closer to the truth in some way, and nothing that occurred was without some greater meaning. Tying it all together is an excellent lead performance by Jason Isaacs, who conveys all the necessary pathos and emotion required to get the audience firmly invested in his character. Awake deserved so much better. It's now been almost a year since it ended, and I still can't shake the events of the finale from my mind. I don't just want to know which world was real, I need to. Come on Kyle Killen, create a Kickstarter progject and lead us back down the rabbit hole.