By Amanda Rossenrode
In the days of yore, when horses and buggies lined the unpaved streets and families gathered around their magic boxes to watch TGIF and Must See TV, when a show was over it was over. There were rare cases of a show getting a last gulp of air on a lesser network or cable channel, but for the most part, when your time came, whether planned or canceled, a show bid adieu.
Well, we aren’t our parents, docile sheep willing to accept the network or showrunners desire to deny us a lifetime's worth of seasons. We want the old shows back on the air! We can’t leave the characters from Friends where the show left them, a bunch of thirty-somethings starting the next chapter of adulthood! No, I want to see an episode where Joey hilariously learns that he never saved for retirement and has to move in with Monica and Chandler and their adult children! Sign my online petition if you want to see this happen.
Unfortunately, this will probably never happen unless I personally roam the country, picking up cast members as I go at shiv-point, because they have been most outspoken about wanting to leave the show be. Reporters have been at them about a reunion before the ink dried on their final paycheck. It is true, that in the past, reunion movies have been hokey disappointments, aged cast members going through the motions in a two hour episode of a show doomed to air during rained out baseball games. If you need proof, please see (or don’t) A Very Brady Christmas, Sex and the City 2 and that god-awful Leave it to Beaver show that I believe may just have been a fever dream I had in the early 90’s.
Netflix, the cunning wizard that it is, tilted its head to the side and said “…wait.” Could you bring back a show years after it had finished and still have watchable entertainment? Then promptly asked other networks to hold their beer. They had success with the fourth season of Arrested Development, a quirky cult show that never found the ratings on Fox but maintained an avid fan base. You can argue the quality of that season –opinion seems to vary depending on exactly why you are a fan of the show –but despite complaints about the breaking up of the characters, it retained the style of the original and was successful enough in its execution to warrant another season.
Thus, the wave of miniseries and new seasons commenced. In my humble opinion, a bit too much nostalgia was mixed into the batter and not enough common sense. I love the X-Files and it is one of my go to “background noise” shows to binge watch while going about my chores. It’s so quintessentially 90’s with its boxy suits and big hair, sexual tension and macabre quips among haunted cruise ships and mutant inbred families. When the 2016 miniseries came along, with the flat hair and the scruffy Duchovny, bogged down with complex government conspiracies and the sexual tension of an avocado, I quickly lost interest. Full House was always a terrible, saccharine sitcom about cute kids with catch phrases and family talks, but that was common in its era. An era that’s as dead as disco, or as dead as the phrase “dead as disco”. In the landscape of sitcoms like Modern Family, The Middle and The Goldbergs, Fuller House is cringe inducing. It is an alien android pretending to be human and doing it based off old episodes of Full House. If you need further evidence, check out the episode where Stephanie, now a DJ (her DJ name is D.J. Tanner. Get it! Oh, the belly laughs!) headlines at Coachella and Skypes her toddler nephew singing a nursery rhyme during her set. The Sahara tent should have dissolved into an understandable riot.
The former examples are ones where the nostalgia outweighed the need for a continuance of the show. In some recent revivals of shows, they ended before they had a chance to finish their story. Arrested Development was cut short and Gilmore Girls lost their showrunner in the last season. As a fan of both series, I can say that I was satisfied with both revivals. There’s not much you would put past any member of the Bluth clan so there’s always going to be a story to tell there. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, felt like reconnecting with an old friend on Facebook and being happy at how life has treated them. Now we’re seeing revivals of Roseanne, Twin Peaks, and Will and Grace coming up. Thankfully, Roseanne will be ignoring the odd events and revelations of the last season (they won the lottery, Dan died… Roseanne fought terrorists on a train… god that last season was bad…). In the case of Roseanne and Will and Grace (admittedly, I haven’t seen a lot of Will and Grace) if the writers can give the characters something to do, a purpose for us to still be interested in their lives twenty years later, I think they will be successful. If they resist the urge to cram in new, younger characters and leave the veteran actors as mere cameos in the background of a new show with the same brand, they should be entertaining. Both Roseanne and W&G had funny actors with good chemistry and timing. What concerns me is the possibility of tired actors, phoning it in for a television event only the fans wanted. Twin Peaks will probably be fine, because that show is weird as hell to begin with. Seriously, they could be investigating the murder of an elephant while speaking exclusively in un-subtitled Romanian and I don’t think that would turn away many fans.
So be careful, my loud internet friends. Think before you petition. While some shows deserve a part two, a second shot, some shows should lie in the attic of your mind, to be brought down on a rainy Sunday or a severely hungover Tuesday. Do you honestly care what Urkel is doing today? Are you going to make poor Jaleel White put on those high waters again just to see Laura and him in marriage counseling over infertility issues? How Carl is dealing with retirement? Eddie living in the attic after a divorce with all his precocious teens?
Because you will and when it happens, just ask yourself:
Did I do that?