Thanks to fans and Kickstarter, Veronica Mars is coming back. But not every beloved show should.
A year ago, I paid $35 to see a movie. Not to watch a movie, mind you: to see it made. Whether I watched the movie was entirely up to me.
That movie, you may have guessed, is Veronica Mars, the Kickstarter-funded revival of the UPN/CW series that is released in theaters and for digital download on Friday. I saw a critics’ screening of the movie last week, and my column in the print TIME this week (subscription required) looks at what it means to be a TV fan in the age where nothing really dies for sure–when cult hits can come back in the movies, on another cable channel, on Netflix:
You can buy a sequel, but you can’t buy back time. Years have passed; a movie is not the same as a TV season. The Arrested Development revival was a fascinating narrative experiment, but different–darker, stranger, sadder–from the series that fans had come to love. Would giving the fans the power of resurrection become like the horror story “The Monkey’s Paw,” reanimating zombie shows that we should have let go, remembering them at their best?
With Veronica Mars, I felt my money was well spent: the series deliberately ended without real closure, and the movie does a smart job of working the can-you-go-home-again theme into its story. On the other hand, if this had been an option when, say, Freaks and Geeks went off the air, I’d have gladly paid–and might well have regretted it in the end. Judd Apatow and Paul Feig created such a lovely ending to the single season of their show that I’m not sure it would be worth messing with for the sake of two more hours.
For that same reason, though I loved HBO’s Enlightened, I don’t agree with the calls I’ve been hearing for it to be saved by Netflix, Amazon, cable, or the movies. Mike White had wanted to continue the series, but he also created such a luminous ending for Amy Jellicoe’s story, one that felt like a series ending, that it’s best for us to move on and the talent connected to do other great work.
I’m not going to do a full advance review of Veronica Mars; it works well for fans of the series–who most likely are going to see it anyway–and I wouldn’t in good conscience recommend it to someone who never watched. (The script makes the story perfectly accessible, but it really relies on having known the characters for three seasons to have any emotional pull. If you’re interested, watch the series first.) But I may do a follow-up post after the movie’s been out for a while, to discuss some points that would be spoilers in a review.
In the meantime, though: What other shows would you like to Kickstart back into life? And what ones do you feel it would be better to leave alone–dead too young, but leaving behind beautiful reruns?
To read the full column, subscribe to TIME.