Back in 2007, a TV show I stumbled upon a year or two early ended. Sure I could buy the season on DVD, but the knowledge that nothing new of Veronica Mars would be seen again, that I wouldn’t enjoy the wit, sarcasm, and characters again, bummed me out something fierce.
But unlike the decades before, when a show ended, you could only see it in repeats, Veronica Mars wouldn’t die. On March 14th, the feature film of Veronica Mars hit the big screen, after 90,000+ fans dished out a total of $5.7 million to bring their favourite female sleuth and her Neptune crew back to the screen.
Back in the old days of TV, like about 15 years ago and further back, if a TV show was canceled, that was it. Some shows that had potential never made it past season one, or only a few episodes. Two of the best examples shows that were on the bubble are Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Seinfeld. Although I was never a fan of Seinfeld, it was a huge show. It changed how sitcoms were done, and probably had a huge effect on many of the comedies that you see on cable and online. Buffy’s influence doesn’t just cover supernatural-themed series, but how women could be the focus of a show without being dress-up dolls. No Buffy, no Supernatural, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, etc.
These days, there are so many more opportunities for TV series. It isn’t just network TV, but cable, satellite, On-Demand, online, Netflix, and so on.
With all these new outlets and ways of making and showing TV shows, it makes me wish they were around when some of my other favourite TV shows were cut short.
If Kickstarter had been around when Firefly was canceled, maybe it would have broken records to fund a movie. But Universal Studios was smart enough to see a good thing when they had it. Although it wasn’t a big hit, it showed that this guy from TV, Joss Whedon, could direct as well as write.
If Vengeance Unlimited, a dark, mysterious action series starring Michael Madsen, had been on cable, maybe it could have been grittier, and with a smaller order of shows, it might have had a chance of returning instead of being canceled.
The same goes for shows like Drive, Parker Kane, and I’m sure many many more.
Although there are many new outlets for TV series, the majority are still made and showed on either network TV or cable/ satellite TV. In these mediums, there’s still those behind them that call the shots. No, I’m not talking about the producers or directors. I’m talking about the companies. Unless these shows are made on a shoe-string budget in a trailer park, they need a company to help finance and distribute them. Not much sense in making a show and have no one see it.
There’s only one problem with these bigger companies. They only see money. It makes sense, they didn’t get to the level of their success by giving their money away. With many hour-long shows costing $2 million or more to make on a weekly basis, it’s understandable they want to watch their pennies.
But here’s the thing; remember me mentioning Seinfeld and Buffy the Vampire Slayer? What if they had been canceled because those executives at those big companies decided it wasn’t worth it? The TV landscape might look very different without Seinfeld and Buffy. If there was no Seinfeld, any shows with unlikable characters, or any quickness and intelligence would be here. Arrested Development. The Office. 30 Rock. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Gone. Besides action shows with monsters, Buffy influenced strong women characters. No Buffy, no Gilmore Girls, or Veronica Mars! There are even colleges courses on the show, and professors use episodes as teaching tools.
Pretty interesting how the absence of two sows could change what we see on TV, and affect our pop culture.
And now, my point of this blog…
Yes, I know these studios and big-time executives could potentially lose millions of dollars on new TV series. That’s why there are so many doctor/ cop/ lawyer shows. They are like the meat and potatoes. Even with a few quirks thrown in (House, Saving Hope, Remedy, etc.) they are the same ol’ same ol’. Shows that are remembered, and eventually milked for all the product they can, are the ones that step outside the normal. Star Trek. The Twilight Zone. Quantum Leap. Battlestar Galactica. LOST. Alias. Dexter. The Walking Dead. They were, or are, well-loved series that didn’t play by the rules. They did things a little different and were remembered, or loved, because of their differences.
Veronica Mars has some serious fans, including Kevin Smith and that guy who directed Marvel’s The Avengers. I think it’s the rapid, die-hard fans, like myself, that are finally getting the studios attention. Although they won’t shill out for anything with a loyal following, but they may be realizing that it is the loyal fans that stick with the shows, buy the merchandise, and even give similar shows by the same producers a chance.
But thanks to Kickstarters and Veronica Mars, fans are now realizing that studios may be an after thought. Not all ideas will work with Kickstarter (IE:, sadly, Firefly/ Serenity), but at least now, there’s another option.
Now, maybe shows that would be on the cusp, might get a second chance to become the next Buffy or Seinfeld, or even the next Veronica Mars!