Yesterday, Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas made Kickstarter history by setting the highest goal the crowd-funding site had ever seen: Raise $2 million for a feature film based on the beloved modern detective series by April 12. Star Kristen Bell was on board, and Thomas pledged that, if successful, the movie would go into production this summer, come out early next year, and “include as many of your favorite characters as possible.”
By Wednesday evening, Thomas had already well exceeded that goal, with one of the first incentives claimed being the top reward of a speaking role for $10,000.
The response from “marshmallows,” as VM fans call themselves, led Chuck star Zachary Levi, whose series concluded last year, to tweet his congrats to Thomas and Bell. He added, “to you Chucksters, believe that this news only bolsters my faith that I can help bring you a #ChuckMovie. Be patient. Stay tuned.”
So, what other discontinued cult TV shows deserve a Kickstarter-funded movie? We won’t count Firefly and The X-Files, which already had their moments on the big screen, nor Arrested Development, since the series has been resurrected by Netflix, which will debut 14 new episodes all on the same day this May. Not all of these could actually happen, but every one is a wish that fans would definitely help make come true, given the chance to kick in.
11. Pushing Daisies
It won Emmys and drew a sizable audience, but Bryan Fuller’s candy-colored tale of pie-maker Ned (Lee Pace), whose touch could bring dead things back to life (unless he touched them again, which killed them for good), only ran for two seasons before ABC pulled the plug. Many fans felt the finale left much unresolved, despite a coda that attempted to tie up loose ends with, as one viewer put it, “a massive amount of hand-waving to get to ‘and they all lived happily ever after.'”
Apparently, Fuller felt the show deserved a better conclusion too. A couple of years ago, he noted how Starz had joined forces with BBC Worldwide to produce another series of the BBC’s Torchwood, saying a Pushing Daisies miniseries would be a “great way to wrap up the show properly.” Or maybe, come to think of it, a feature film?
10. The Middleman
Short-lived but much-loved, Javier Grillo-Marxuach’s zany comic-book-based series starred Matt Keeslar as the Middleman, a former Navy SEAL turned go-to guy for solving “exotic problems.” You know, like an alien race that eats gemstones, a Mafia-movie-quoting super-intelligent ape, or a disease that turns people into fish-craving zombies? He meets struggling artist Wendy Watson (Natalie Morales), and her unflappability in the face of intense weirdness makes her the perfect candidate to be a Middleman too.
Packed with pop-culture references, screwball banter, and crazy-cool tech, the show was a critical hit but proved a poor match for the ABC Family network, which in the summer of 2008 was more focused on smarmy teen-pregnancy drama The Secret Life of the American Teenager. The Middleman ran for just 12 episodes before being yanked, leaving Grillo-Marxuach to present the unproduced 13th ep (“The Doomsday Armageddon Apocalypse”) in comic-book form. But a Kickstarter movie? Now that’s a plan that is sheer elegance in its simplicity. No?
Fans brought this post-apocalyptic drama back to life once, when CBS canceled the 2006 series due to low ratings. A forerunner to Revolution, the show gave us a United States splintered after a major nuclear attack, focusing on residents of the fictional Jericho, Kansas. Eventually it’s revealed that the attacks weren’t perpetrated by a foreign power but were orchestrated by conspirators inside the former U.S. government. The second season ended the show on a cliffhanger as protagonists Robert Hawkins and Jake Green (pictured) join forces with the newly re-risen Republic of Texas to stop the country from being taken over by a military dictatorship, sparking the second American Civil War.
That conflict is detailed in comic-book form in 2009’s Jericho Season 3: Civil War. Since then, rumors of a possible film have surfaced now and then. Considering how popular the first Civil War has been on the big screen of late, this might be the perfect moment to kickstart a Jericho movie.
8. Stargate Universe
The Stargate franchise started life as a 1994 feature film, spinning off into live-action TV series Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe, which followed the adventures of the crew of Destiny, a spaceship created by the advanced race known as the Ancients and populated by the survivors of a destroyed Stargate base, including leader Dr. Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle) and young recruit Eli Wallace (David Blue).
The show’s unexpected 2011 conclusion left viewers wondering about the ultimate fate of most of these characters. Though at first it looked like a movie would be produced to wrap things up, co-creator/writer/executive producer Brad Wright told fans at a convention that they couldn’t get the movie together in time, and it wasn’t going to happen after all. Hopes for an SG-1 or Atlantis movie were also dashed … but maybe Kickstarter could provide the series with a new portal to explore.
Zak Penn and Michael Karnow’s Heroes-esque Syfy series about a flawed group of people with special powers (“Alphas”) battling their more criminally minded counterparts took criticism for being derivative, but the show had some entertaining characters whose all-too-human interactions helped make it engaging, including the team’s leader, non-Alpha psychiatrist Dr. Lee Rosen (David Strathairn), high-functioning autistic Gary Bell (Ryan Cartwright), former FBI agent Bill Harken (Malik Yoba), and ex-CIA linguist Rachel Pirzad (Azita Ghanizada). The addition of the immortal Stanton Parish (John Piper-Ferguson) as the classic villain with a Big Plan to Change the World ratcheted up the angst and intrigue.
The second season had low ratings, but the story built to one of the most intense cliffhangers ever, with Parish committing mass murder and Gary, the apparent sole survivor, wandering through a corpse-strewn Grand Central Station to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy In New York,” eventually coming to stand over his fallen comrades on a deserted platform. And if that’s not a “finale” that begs for resolution, I don’t know what is.
Based on the 2001 Top Cow comic book series, Witchblade chronicled the adventures of tough-as-nails New York City police detective Sara Pezzini (Yancy Butler), who investigates crimes while delving into the secrets of the Witchblade, a supernatural gauntlet borne by one woman in a generation. Though a reluctant superhero, Sara has the proper sense of righteousness to eventually accept her destiny. But she’s thwarted by the villainous Kenneth Irons, whose own designs on the Witchblade are short-circuited when he discovers that only a woman can control it.
This TNT series aired for two seasons and was pretty popular, but it was reportedly derailed by the personal problems of star Yancy Butler. Now it’s ripe for a movie reboot, either with the same character or, since the Witchblade passes to a new owner every 30 years or so, an entirely new, er, chosen one.
5. Freaks and Geeks
It’s been almost 13 years since teenager Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini, pictured) wandered off with her Deadhead pals in the finale of Paul Feig’s much lauded Freaks and Geeks – and it’s about damn time we found out what happened next.
But let’s face it. A movie would have to involve some sort of flash forward, reunion plot or some other way of getting all the Freaks and Geeks back in the same place after so long. Not to mention (at least ideally) bring together a cast that includes James Franco, Jason Segel and Seth Rogen. On the other hand, such star power could provide all sorts of fun incentives – just the ticket to getting fans to kick in for a Freaks and Geeks movie.
In the third season finale, Deadwood rivals-turned-allies Seth Bullock and Al Swearengen (Timothy Olyphant and Ian McShane, pictured), along with Trixie (Paula Malcolmson), Sol Star (John Hawkes) and many other townfolk lived to see the back of murderous mogul George Hearst (Gerald McRaney), joining forces to defy him even as he lost interest in Deadwood for more tantalizing targets. Although David Milch’s beloved HBO western did resolve a fair amount of that storyline, there was plenty more tale to tell.
The cable network and Milch even initially agreed to make a pair of two-hour TV films to finish off the series, but they never happened. As late as 2011, Milch was apparently still hopeful that more Deadwood would be made, but now it’s a good bet it won’t. That doesn’t mean fans wouldn’t pony up the cash to help make a movie happen.
Yes, the end of Fringe was planned, and the story even gave viewers a (gasp!) happy, if bittersweet, ending. After four seasons of dealing with broken universes, evil doppelgangers, scary shapeshifters and mysterious visitors from the future known as the Observers, the fifth took intrepid Fringe-science investigators Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), his son Peter (Joshua Jackson) and FBI agents Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) to the future. The year 2036 is a grim time, where the emotionless Observers have taken over, and Olivia and Peter’s grown daughter, Etta, leads the human resistance. Those 13 episodes were packed with gut-wrenching sacrifices and bleak developments, but eventually the Fringe team put everything back in order. Except that Walter had to disappear from reality to make it happen.
It was still a pretty satisfying ending, but Fringe fans want more. A final sequence shows Peter receiving a message from his father — a man he should no longer remember. The look on his face is ambivalent enough to get us wondering: Peter was erased from the world once too, but then he was remembered. Could Walter come back? As they always say on the show, anything is possible. And the idea of a Fringe movie was floated just last year, by none other than John Noble himself at the San Diego Comic-Con.
Fans were stunned and heartbroken when the WB didn’t pick up this Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off for a sixth season, despite its good ratings. (Head writer David Fury later explained that the re-up fell victim to a “power play” involving co-creator Joss Whedon’s attempt to get the network to grant an early renewal.) The series ended on a cliffhanger, with good-guy vampire Angel (David Boreanaz) and his team gearing up for one last seemingly futile stand against the Senior Partners of the evil law firm Wolfram & Hart and their massive demon army.
Like its parent show, the Angel story continued in comics, published by IDW, where the gang emerges from the battle to find that W&H sent the entire city of Los Angeles to Hell. (Hahaha.) Also, Angel befriends a dragon. And we all know how hot dragons are right now … .
1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Joss Whedon’s iconic series about the little blonde girl who kicks demon ass ended after seven seasons with Buffy Summers’ hometown of Sunnydale sinking into the earth after one last massive dust-up. Whedon continued with Season 8 in comic books published by Dark Horse (which also put out Season 9), wherein Buffy and her loyal Scooby Gang go global with a worldwide network of Slayers and magic-wielders, are targeted by the U.S. government, face a powerful and mysterious villain named Twilight and suffer more of the life and love angst that only Joss can deliver. Definitely the stuff of which an epic movie could be made.
Buffy’s TV life ended in part because star Sarah Michelle Gellar quit when her contract ran out, but given how unremarkable her career has been since then, maybe she could be coaxed back for one more stab at it.