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Criticwire Survey: One More Season

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February 3, 2014 8:50 AM
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Every week, the Criticwire Survey asks film and TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday morning. (The answer to the second, "What is the best film in theaters right now?" can be found at the end of this post.) Send suggestions for future questions to sam at indiewire dot com.

Q: On Vulture, Joe Adalian ran down a list of TV shows that are "on the bubble," meaning its questionable they'll be renewed for another season.What TV show, new or old, would you green-light for one more season?

Scott Meslow, The Week

Is it too obvious to say Twin Peaks? There are few shows that have ended so abruptly, or with so many tantalizing cliffhangers left unresolved. I'm generally content to let my favorite shows go gentle into that good night, but Twin Peaks is the one I just can't let go -- so much so that I once wrote my own wishful pitch for the third season.

I've always argued that Twin Peaks' weird, looping timeline makes it the rare show that would actually be better after an extended hiatus. Twin Peaks is the kind of small town that people rarely leave anyway, and it would be fascinating to see the long-term effect that the nightmarish events of the finale would have had on the town's residents. How would Twin Peaks have changed in the 20-odd years after Agent Cooper's trip to the Black Lodge? Is Laura Palmer's murder, and the subsequent investigation, the kind of thing that the townsfolk would try to forget, or the kind of thing that would attract rubbernecking gawkers? How did characters like Sheriff Truman and Audrey Horne put their lives together after the things they experienced -- and what would they do if that fragile peace was broken again, by the reemergence of the real Agent Cooper, or by another murder? 

There are so many fascinating questions left to explore, and laugh if you want, but I'm holding out the tiniest sliver of hope for a third season (or at least a movie) in the next few years. Twin Peaks' cult is still growing, and David Lynch -- who has, admittedly, said he has no interest in continuing the series multiple times -- is nothing if not unpredictable. 

"I'll see you in 25 years," says Laura Palmer to Agent Cooper in the Twin Peaks finale. Yes, yes, I know -- time doesn't flow the same way in the Black Lodge, so it doesn't actually mean 25 years needs to pass for the story to continue. But isn't there something sort of perfect about the idea of Twin Peaks returning for a third season 25 years after the show originally went off the air? For the record, the 25th anniversary of that finale will be on June 10, 2016. Still plenty of time!

Kristy Puchko, Cinema Blend, Pop Crush 

You should all be watching Trophy Wife and The Neighbors. Yes, the both have terrible titles and their premises seem groan-inducing. One is about the third much younger wife of a lawyer and how she has to learn to a be a stepmom while dealing with his exes. The other focuses on a normal family who moves into a community they soon discover is all made up of aliens hiding on Earth. But the writing on both of the shows is excellent, bright and funny. And their casts are perfectly suited for the material, bringing it to life with enthusiasm and verve. 

Vulture's been writing about the virtues of Trophy Wife, which has characters that are warmly quirky and familiar. (My personal favorite is teen son Warren, who is beautifully oblivious of his own oddity happily dressing as Ellen for Halloween, down to her trademark dancing.) As for The Neighbors, it's actually evolved into a wonderful show about culture clashing and family. And Toks Olagundoye as the matriarch of the alien clan deserves an Emmy nod (at least) for the various colors she brings to her Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Yes, all the aliens have selected the names of famous athletes: Reggie Jackson, Dick Butkus, and Larry Bird. I know, I know. It's ridiculous. But The Neighbors has the kind of energy and whimsy that I haven't seen since Pushing Daisies was canceled. So, check them out before they go the way of Happy Endings. I'm just realizing now these are all ABC shows.

Alissa Wilkinson, Christianity Today

The answer is simple for me: I need Parks & Recreation, and I need it to stick around for not just one more season but two, because there's another presidential election season and Jon Stewart alone is not enough to get me through the madness. I need Ron Swanson to help navigate the coming storm of hard-right libertarians. I guess I'd take a spinoff, if necessary, but that's my final offer.

Sean Axmaker, Cinephiled, Parallax View

The obvious answer -- too obvious, I fear -- is Firefly, which in 14 episodes is still the most sure, nuanced, and rich work of Joss Whedon's career to date. Fox may not have deliberately sabotaged the show by running the episodes out of order, but sabotage it they did, as any viewing of the disc release (put back into the intended order) shows so clearly not just in the obvious narrative threads that pull the storylines of the arc together but in the evolution of relationships and the slow reveal of character.

So I'll pick another, more unexpected choice, a favorite that I still treasure with regular revisits: Middleman, a single-season sci-fi / supernatural lark created by Javier Grillo-Marxuach with Matt Keeslar as a Boy Scout of a special agent assigned to deal with extraordinary threats and Natalie Morales as his rookie assistant-in-training. Part X-Files spoof, part comic book goof, all heart and very funny and clever. It lasted a single short season on the ABC Family Channel, and that mismatch may have been its downfall. SyFy (or, as was called at the time, the Sci-Fi Channel) would have been a much better fit. At least it would have had a better shot at finding its natural audience. And along with the hipster humor, the goofy sight gags, dialogue that wound around itself, and perhaps the most likable cast on TV, it built an entire episode around a Budd Boetticher/Randolph Scott movie (playing at a rep theater), even quoting Burt Kennedy's dialogue as the Middleman's life philosophy. If I hadn't already fallen in love with the show's offbeat sensibility and affectionate way with its characters, that one episode would have won me over.

James Rocchi, Cinephiled, he Lunch Podcast

I'd give plenty for another 13 odd episodes of Clone High, a show so whackadoo funny it leaves me in stitches every time I pull out my only-in-Canada smuggled DVD copy.

Luke Y. Thompson, Topless Robot

How far back can I go? Because I'd love to greenlight another season of MTV's The Maxx. That was some groundbreaking stuff, both visually, storytelling-wise, and in terms of what could be done with comic-book adaptations. Even the new run of superhero movies has yet to catch up to it.

Piers Marchant, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Pop Matters

I honestly can't imagine anyone would choose a different answer because it's so beyond painfully obvious it should be Freaks and Geeks, Paul Feig's all-too-short-lived, brilliant series about high school-aged existence in the early '80s. It doesn't hurt that the time frame depicted is precisely my own experience, but what powered that show beyond the other foul slops the networks were collectively tossing into the nation's trough at the time was the scope and organic believability of its ensemble of characters. People were genuinely likable, or unlikable, or first kind of likable, then increasingly less so, or the reverse. It says something that so many of its then-young cast members have made it to the big time (James Franco, Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, Jason Segel, Martin Starr), but it says even more that its lone season, made some 15 years ago, still stands out as some of the best TV the networks ever deigned to produce. My wife diligently re-watches the entire run of the show about every three years. How much better would it be to add another 17-22 episodes to that rotation?

Matt Singer, The Dissolve

Freaks and Geeks. And it doesn't even have to be back a hypothetical one back in 2000. How about a new season in 2014, catching up with the characters as adults (in the far-flung future of 1995)? Tell me you don't want to see where Bill wound up. Go ahead. Tell me.

Richard Brody, the New Yorker

There I was, expecting to cap off the week with welcome contemplations of one of the pressing issues of the day -- maybe the death and afterlife of romantic comedies, or else the role of education in getting young people to watch good movies. But no; I find instead that the most urgent cinematic matter at hand is which TV series should be renewed. The answer is obvious: all of them! Glut the bandwidth with reams of audiovisual scriptification! (And not just "If music be the food of love,...") Put money in the pockets of the plethora of artists working there so that, when the time comes to make a good movie on a scant budget, they can afford to lend it their time, their talent, and their fame. Without television, the lucrative alternative would be a superhero's carapace -- as good a way as any to focus charisma (Robert Downey, Jr.'s work in Iron Man 3  is some of the year's best acting) but not nearly as plentiful, as reliable -- or as diverse. The movie industry -- the art business at large -- needs a large pool of activity in order to thrive at its higher reaches (in other words, there's hardly a genius who doesn't arise from a sea of the run-of-the-mill) and it runs on excess; so why not let the networks and cable channels incidentally subsidize the cinema's falling and rising stars alike?

Steve Dollar, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

C.S.I. is still on the air? Michael J. Fox is back? I really don't pay attention unless it's American Horror Story, and even then I have to play catch-up because I'm a) buried in screeners, b) usually at a film festival or on deadline, c) I equate spending an evening watching television akin to a kind of death. That said, my vote goes to Nashville, which I only saw once but seemed like awfully good trash. The world can never have too much Hayden Panettierre.

Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com, Film Threat

As much as I'd contribute to a Kickstarter for more Twin Peaks, the most screwed show of all time when it comes to abrupt conclusions is HBO's Deadwood. The only good that came from ending this show far-too-soon was that it allows for one of the best audio tracks as David Milch just vents on the final episode of the third season and a great special feature on the complete series in which he discusses what would have happened in season four with a deep tone of regret. I want to live in the alternate universe where not only did that fourth season happen but three or four more after it.

Adam Batty, Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second, Periodical

I suspect this will be an answer shared by many, but Deadwood gets my vote. That countless identikit T.V. crime dramas seemingly last forever only serves to further rub salt into the wound.

Danny Bowes, RogerEbert.com, Movies By Bowes

Deadwood. And if you want to make it one of those 25 episode network joints, feel fuckin free, cocksucker.

Josh Spiegel, Sound on Sight

I don't know how many other people will remember the show, but I dearly wish there had been a second season of Now and Again. This CBS sci-fi drama from 1999, from Moonlighting creator Glenn Gordon Caron, focused on a schlubby New York insurance man (John Goodman, in a cameo) who dies in a freak subway accident one night; however, his brain is revived by the U.S. government and placed inside of the body of a younger man (Eric Close) who's as fast as Michael Jordan, as strong as Superman, and as graceful as Fred Astaire, per a government handler's description. Even though he's warned not to interact with them, of course, even in a different body, the guy can't stop thinking about his wife and family. It's a fairly goofy premise -- as I type it, at least -- but I remember being captivated by the show's balance of serialization and case-of-the-week storytelling, as well as the fast-paced and witty humor and performances. (Heather Matarazzo! Dennis Haysbert! Margaret Colin!) The show was canceled after its first season, which ended on a huge cliffhanger, and oh, how I wish we could've seen the resolution. I don't believe the show's ever been close to a DVD release, so it might not hold up to scrutiny, but for now, Now and Again is my pick.

Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat, Film Racket

It would take some kind of time machine to make it viable, but I would love one more season of Gilmore Girls. It's pretty well known, at least among the fans, that creator Amy Sherman-Palladino left before the final season, taking her planned ending of the series with her. Allowing her to wrap everything up the way she intended would be a dream come true for those of us who adored this show. And while I'm at it, if you never bothered to watch Gilmore Girls, you missed out on one of the smartest, funniest, most sharply-written and beautifully-acted programs in the history of television. Go binge-watch the DVD box sets now. You can thank me later.

Joey Magidson, The Awards Circuit, First Showing

If I had the choice, I'd keep The Newsroom going beyond its impending final season. I know lots of folks hate watch the show, but I'm a renegade like that... I actually watch the show because I enjoy it. I always love Aaron Sorkin shows and this one is no exception.

John Keefer, 51 Deep

I've recently started watching the Retro channel, broadcasting out of Allentown, PA, delivering all the hits of at least 30 years ago. a From He-Man to Lassie, from Zorro to Bravestarr, from The Adventures of Robin Hood to repeats of local college basketball for some reason, Retro keeps me feeling young by broadcasting stuff that was old when I was a kid and which, now, is closer to the date of my birth than the present is. I'd like to see more Rick and Morty.

Marc V. Ciafardini, Go See Talk

Odd but I'm particularly more and more impressed with Mom and Sean Saves the World. Both have a decent amount of boundary pushing jokes and content and delivered unexpected laughs. I'll put my hand up and say I'd be happy to see them renewed.

Super Fun Night on the other hand just needs to be put out of its misery. A lot like the Broncos this Sunday it's awkward and you know there's talent behind the scenes but you just feel bad for them. Finally, despite constant disappointment and, well boredom, I was pulling for Low Winter Sun but that did not deserve to come back. 

Gary M. Kramer, Gay City News, Philadelphia Gay News

I don't watch much TV. I haven't since Arrested Development went off the air. I always wanted that show to continue, but then, when it did, I wished it had not. One of my favorite TV shows was Action, a short-lived sitcom on Fox with Jay Mohr as a ruthless Hollywood producer. I loved it, and it ended on such a perfect well, actually sour note, that I don't see how it could continue. I am hooked on White Collar right now and while the season finale just aired, I'm hoping this show will have at least another season.

Zac Oldenburg, Having Said That, Movie Mezzanine

Sons & Daughters. An ABC show that was way better than Modern Family and maybe a bit a head of the curve for network sitcoms. The large ensemble worked great off on another, I think it was largely improvised, and at the time it was airing nothing on TV was funnier. It seemed like an heir to Arrested Development when that show was fading away. Seek it out, if you can. It's a damn shame we only got 7 or 8 episodes of this great show. 

Peter Keough, Boston Globe, Critics a Go-Go.

The Prisoner.

John DeCarli, Film Capsule

Well, I don't watch any of those shows, so I'd have to advocate for Jeopardy! to be continued for at least another year.

Q: What is the best movie in theaters?

A: Her

Other movies receiving multiple votes: The Wolf of Wall StreetStranger by the Lake

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11 Comments

  • Gordon S. Miller | February 3, 2014 7:36 PMReply

    Fawlty Towers

  • Rex | February 3, 2014 5:25 PMReply

    Warehouse 13. It has a lot going for it. It's a show that went off course from what it was (a fun formula cheesy Sci-Fi show). I think another season could bring it back to the show's and the SyFy channel's roots.

  • fergmaster | February 3, 2014 4:52 PMReply

    Since we got a FIREFLY movie and we're getting a VERONICA MARS movie my vote goes to WONDERFALLS, what I wouldn't give for another 13 episodes or even a movie.

  • chuck | February 3, 2014 4:36 PMReply

    CW Nikita

  • Sean Price | February 3, 2014 11:56 AMReply

    Luck!!!

  • Why don't all of you nerds get a real job? | February 3, 2014 11:50 AMReply

    "I don't watch much TV. I haven't since Arrested Development went off the air."

    Wow, that's like the fourth time I've read or heard that line in three weeks. Must be the new thing amongst the hipsters.

  • Jeremy | February 3, 2014 11:48 AMReply

    Enlightened, Twin Peaks, United States of Tara. All three. Forever.

  • Jim Tushinski | February 3, 2014 11:10 AMReply

    Definitely Deadwood and Carnivale. And Enlightened. But the real crime is that there is only one season of the brilliant Lisa Kudrow in the equally brilliant The Comeback. It needed at least one more season. Imagine Valerie Cherish as the new reality TV star she was poised to become. Maybe she would win another People's Choice Award, which means so much moer than other awards because, you know...it's from the People.

  • Laurence | February 3, 2014 10:14 AMReply

    Plenty of good answers, but not one vote for Enlightened? C'mon, people. One for all-time.

  • S. | February 3, 2014 9:21 AMReply

    Carnivale.

  • luis | February 3, 2014 9:11 AMReply

    I just recently watched Pushing Daisies for the first time, and I would have really liked to see what Bryan Fuller's vision for how it ends would be. The third season be it a comic book, a tv season, a film, is caught up in development hell (what about webisodes?). I just need closure. Same with Dead Like Me (I'm going to pretend the movie never happened). They were the right combination of quirky and macabre and (mostly) great writing.

    Hannibal is off to a good start so I hope it doesn't suffer the same two season limit these previous shows did.

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