30 Nov 2016

The Rise of TV Revivals



If there's anything you can say about television, it's that great things can come and go in an instant. Shows can have an incredible beginner season and still be dropped by networks due to low ratings or other controversy. Joss Whedon's Firefly is often regarded as a fallen hero, a martyr to all those that followed in its wake. Had fan backlash and dedication not been so strong, we probably would never have gotten the Serenity (2005) movie which saw the return of all beloved Firefly characters. Before the internet usurped the main role of communication, fan campaigns for the return of a treasured show were uphill battles, and often yielded disappointing results. It worked for shows like Family Guy and Doctor Who due to the impressively large culture that surrounded them, but the revival of a more obscure show would have been difficult to justify to a network without hearing voices on social media.

A television revival refers to the attempt to bring back a series that has been off-air for many years by producing new episodes, simply because a network feels a new market for it exists. While this may include spin-offs and cast reunion specials, the most popular method has been to take the familiar characters and surround them with a new story. This isn't the same as a remake, where the same story is told using new material, or a reboot, where a large amount of continuity is disregarded and begins again from scratch. It instead feels like a continuation of the original story. The most recent example of a revival is Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life which premiered on Netflix last week.

I watched many episodes of Gilmore Girls during a study break from college a few years after its cancellation. It was a fun series, featuring distinct fast-paced dialogue and strong familial themes. But the ending left much to be desired, hence why now was the perfect time to revive the series and end the story on its own terms.


This is one of several reasons why a network or creator may choose to revive their show. At the end of the original The X-Files run, an alien invasion was predicted to occur in 2012. This ultimately led to interest in more stories featuring Mulder and Scully down the line that could have coincided with that revelation. A movie was released in 2008, and a miniseries earlier this year. David Lynch's crime show Twin Peaks will also be getting revived for a similar prophecy next year. However, there are also television shows that ended terribly and would have been better off without a revival. The comic-book inspired sci-fi show Heroes briefly came back under then name Heroes: Reborn. Many fans had blamed the downfall of the original on the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike - where many shows faced cancellation and low ratings. Reborn proved the strike was not to blame, it was just a weak story. Coming soon, we will be seeing revivals of Prison Break, Star Trek and Xena: Warrior Princess which are expected to be dropping within the next year or two.

The growth of the internet and our communications being able to reach further and faster means fans worldwide have been able to voice their thoughts and opinions even louder than before. A vocal minority can make a difference. While in the past networks have relied on ratings and critic reviews to decide on the fate of a show, the future holds audience reception up to the same standards.

Now, it's only a matter of time until we can get The Cape back on the air...

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