A TV Reprieve and One Revival

Surprising news this week as two TV series are making a comeback after being previously cancelled. One is an old stalwart while the other is proving to be the show that just won’t die. Cancellation may not be the permanent terminal sentence for shows anymore, even years later in some cases. Here are the latest two series to be brought back from permanent hiatus.

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Proving to be the Highlander of Television, “Unforgettable” has gotten a second eleventh hour reprieve thanks to a new network. Originally premiering in 2011, this crime drama starring Poppy Montgomery was first cancelled following its freshman season. Soon after, its parent network, CBS, reversed its decision and aired it as a summer series for a second season and then renewed it for a third. Last fall the network decided to once again cancel the show, seemingly closing the book for good. However, that all changed last Friday.

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A & E announced that they would be giving the show a new home and a thirteen episode season four. As the cast and crew contracts had already lapsed, it is reported that new contracts were signed with the series’ creators and executive producers as well as Montgomery and her co-star Dylan Walsh. Taking that into account and the open tone of the press release, it would appear that this may not be the only season planned on the cable network. What makes this even more bizarre is that A & E had recently cancelled one of its highest rated series, “Longmire,” only to see that show snatched up by Netflix for a string of new episodes.

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Friday also saw the news of a reported return of the flagship “Law & Order” series, which ended in 2010. Many sources are saying that NBC is keen to bring back the franchise’s mother ship for a ten episode limited run and is reaching out to some of the most popular actors from the show’s twenty year run to star in it. Spawning four spinoff series and at least four remakes in other countries, the once monolithic franchise has only one show currently airing in the US, “Law & Order: SVU.” But it’s very possible that this new limited run of the original could spark renewed interest in even more spinoffs.

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A show getting picked up by another network is certainly not unprecedented, but one returning five or more years after airing its finale is pretty extraordinary, at least on US Television. When “Family Guy” returned to FOX two years after its own cancellation thanks to DVD sales, it seemed to be the exception. But is that more and more becoming the rule? “24” returned for a limited run last year. “Heroes” also ended in 2010 and is slated for a thirteen episode mini-series later this year. “The X-Files,” ending its original broadcast TV run in 2002 is in early talks to come back in some capacity. And, extraordinarily, “Twin Peaks” is returning twenty-five years later on Showtime next year.
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As places like Amazon, Netflix, Yahoo, Hulu and even XBOX Live commit to more and more hours of original programming it’s quite possible that more and more cancellations may just be extended hiatuses for programs with strong fan bases. Is it possible that something like Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” could make a return to episodic Television in some way? I would have thought no until very recently. The internet is not only an instant forum for those wishing to voice their loyal support of a show either cancelled or about to be, but may also prove to be an afterlife to series recently or long-ago cancelled. It’s all fair game now with the ultimate winners being the viewers.

joseph Dilworth Jr.

Joseph Dilworth Jr. has been writing ever since he could hold a pencil. Back then it was one of those big, red pencils, the Faber-Castell Goliath.  Remember those? Now, that was a pencil! He has been writing for the Internet for nearly ten years and for six years he served as founder, editor and lead writer for Pop Culture Zoo. He is currently co-host of the weekly The Flickcast podcast, is contributing two essays to the upcoming book The Sacred Scrolls: Comics on the Planet of the Apes and is writing a reference book about the TV series Fringe for Hasslein Books.