Late last week, TVLine reported that, weeks after its cancellation, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist may be getting a fresh chance at life with a potential rescue from Roku for a two-hour TV movie that could lead to more episodes if it does well. This is surely good news for fans of the show, and it’s merely the latest example of a series being resurrected after all hope was seemingly lost. This was particularly true for Zoey’s since NBC had first pitched the show to its own streaming service, Peacock, which apparently wasn’t interested.
There are always shows that are “on the bubble” and end up coming close to a renewal and ultimately not making the cut. Two prominent examples are Forever, a 2014 ABC fantasy crime series starring Ioan Gruffudd, and Jericho, a 2006 post-apocalyptic CBS drama, that, despite fan enthusiasm and campaigns to get the shows saved, were still cancelled after just one season. A number of other series, including The Killing and Longmire, and Friday Night Lights and Damages, were ultimately brought back by Netflix and DirecTV, respectively, after their original networks cancelled them. Perhaps the most famous cult show of all, Firefly, ended up with a follow-up theatrical film to satiate fans.
Recent instances of series getting a second life on another network include Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which jumped from FOX to NBC after five seasons and debuts its eighth and final season this week. Last Man Standing was picked up by FOX after ABC cancelled it six seasons in. It finished its run with its ninth season this past May. Lucifer debuted on FOX and was canned after three seasons. Netflix breathed new life into it and carried it through its upcoming sixth and final season. The Expanse had three years on Syfy before Amazon Prime Video picked it up, running it all the way through its upcoming sixth and final season. For other shows, a switch meant just one final season. One Day at a Time was on Netflix for three years, and Pop stepped in to air the fourth season, which ended up being its last. Designated Survivor was picked up by Netflix for season three after ABC declined to order more, but that was all the show got.
Having a partner to begin with helps, especially if one network isn’t a good fit or doesn’t survive. A.P. Bio lives on via Peacock, with season four premiering next month after NBC say goodbye after two seasons. Stargirl aired episodes first on DC Universe and then on CW for its first season, and season two, which just began, will be exclusively on the CW, joining another transplanted superhero series, Supergirl, which made the move from CBS to the CW in between its first two seasons and endured through its sixth and final season, which is currently airing. Doom Patrol began on DC Universe, streamed simultaneously on HBO Max for season two, and will now be exclusively on HBO Max for season three following the end of the DC Universe streaming service, along with other programming like Titans and Harley Quinn. CBS opted to switch Evil and SEAL Team over to the company’s streaming service, Paramount+, for the latest seasons of those two shows.
What shows could be next to find a new audience on a new network? NBC viewers driven by the good news about Zoey’s feel like Manifest or Good Girls are most deserving of saving. There is a chance that Lovecraft Country could be resurrected by a platform other than HBO, especially considering its solid Emmy showing even after it was cancelled. Clarice has its adherents, and those who enjoyed Hannibal and kept it alive for three seasons on NBC might campaign for another network to pick up CBS’ Clarice Starling-led show.
What’s likeliest given TV trends is that many long-running shows will return again on their original networks or new partners. Some are being rebooted as limited series meant to run for a set period of time, like Dexter, coming back to Showtime, and Criminal Minds, launching on Paramount+. Those streaming services are great testing grounds to draw in new audiences to premium content, with the Friends reunion special and Gossip Girl bowing on HBO Max and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Clueless, and Battlestar Galactica all slated to come to Peacock, among many, many others.
What shows do you think should be saved, and which networks are in the best position to do so?
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