This week, I look at some shows that mostly got unexpected second lives, whether from rebooting, lasting longer than expected, or coming back in a different form.
Thewb.com, first two seasons streaming for free
You won't be able to watch the biggest news in online video of the past two weeks until early next year, when the team behind Veronica Mars (UPN, CW 2003--2007) releases the feature film continuation of this teen private eye show. Since the Veronica Mars Kickstarter project raised its required $2 million in the first 24 hours, I've had several friends ask me why they should care. It's easy to understand why crowdfunding as a way to continue your favorite shows is making a splash in general, but unless you've actually seen Veronica Mars you may not get the fan excitement. Since the show can't be streamed on any major service (Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon) most people haven't caught up online. Luckily thewb.com has the show's first (and best) two seasons available online for free, which follows teen sleuth Mars (Kristen Bell) as she solves mysteries at Neptune High. While the teen detective set-up may evoke images of Nancy Drew, Mars the show has a distinctly darker noir influence. For the first season, Veronica is trying to find the real killer of her best friend Lily Kane, and the show deals with issues like social class and even rape with an intelligent and adult sensibility. For the third and final season, the show moved over to the CW, which resulted in some studio interference and a general drop in quality. But if you're a fan of the first two seasons, it's worth tracking down to make sure you're caught up in time for the movie.
Netflix, season eight recently added
Weeds (Showtime 2005--2012) was an odd show. It started off with a strong first season, featuring a fantastic cast headed up by Mary Louise Parker and a strong central premise--Parker's character Nancy Botwin had to sell drugs to keep her family in a comfortable suburban lifestyle after her husband died. Starting with the second season, however, the show seemed to run away from all of those strengths as fast as it possibly could. It discarded cast members and moved Nancy and her family out of their suburban neighborhood and into increasingly odd locations. It seemed like the show felt the only things that were actually important were Mary Louise Parker and weed. The show's eighth and final season was the strongest since fairly early in the run, returning the Botwin family to their original suburban setting after a few seasons on the lamb, in prison, and then in parole in New York. The show tried to give the family a sense of coming full circle that seemed to be straining a bit too hard for a clean ending at points, but at least returned to some of the commentary on suburban life that had made the show so much fun to watch in the first place.
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