The process of crowd funding has proven that viable projects that perhaps couldn’t have been made can now be done with public money. That isn’t to say that there’s also been some misconceptions about it, namely that just because some well-known names had some success, everybody else with a notable name will also. The “Veronica Mars” phenomenon of an old TV show being turned into a movie worked simply because it already had an established fan base that made the enthusiasm and money flow easily. It isn’t to say someone else doing the same thing might end up finding failure, no matter the nostalgia factor.
LeVar Burton of “Reading Rainbow” recently used the nostalgia of the original classic PBS series to get people to donate money to bring the show back into an online form. What wasn’t initially reported was that the online edition would require a small monthly subscription fee in order to gain any profit. Had donors who grew up with the show on TV known about there being a subscription plan in advance, it’s possible the funding wouldn’t have gone as well.
Regardless of that, everyone should be happy “Reading Rainbow” will be back in some form considering how much it’s helped kids learn how to read for a couple of generations. If the money coming in was based squarely on nostalgia, what does it say about other old shows that could potentially come back in online form? Would there be a chance to see reunion shows or even resumption of old shows online if the TV producer couldn’t sell the idea to a regular network?
We’ve already seen a hint of how this can work with “Arrested Development”, even if that was strictly Netflix putting up the money. But you have to wonder if Netflix would perhaps scour Kickstarter and other crowd funding sites for potential TV revivals if any showed up.
What Shows Would People Prefer Seeing Back?
More recent TV shows that went off too soon like “Veronica Mars” have the best chances of perhaps being revived online. For much older shows, one-time cast reunions might bring in a huge viewership on a website or on Netflix when funded independently. TV reunion specials are something most networks don’t bite on much any more out of thought they wouldn’t bring in significant enough viewership. Also, there might be a stigma attached to reunion specials since some in the past didn’t turn out the way fans wanted.
Shows that go back as far as the 1970s still have most of their casts alive and active. With some of the cast of “Happy Days”, for instance, saying in the media recently they’d be up for a reunion, producer Garry Marshall would likely have a financial winner on Kickstarter if broadcast online rather than their old network of ABC. Seeing where the characters are now 30 years after the show ended (essentially taking the show into the 1990s), would be proof positive of how more old shows could be using crowd funding to appease fans.
With the Baby Boomer generation being an underutilized force in this country for wanting nostalgia, you have to see the “Reading Rainbow” plan kicking off projects for much older people. Then again, plenty of shows over the last 10 to 15 years have had early exits and where young adults would gladly pay to see again in some other form. What about more recent canceled shows that have near cult status now like “Pushing Daisies”, HBO’s old western drama “Deadwood”, or the defunct ABC comedy “Happy Endings?”
All three of those above could easily come back in a different form through a Kickstarter campaign after fans initially wrote thousands of letters to the networks to keep them going. As networks continually refuse to listen to what the public really wants, you can see Kickstarter finally bring some faith back to those continually frustrated at creative new shows getting the network axe.
Eventually, when a network loses faith in a new, creative show, the next message fans hear may not be “goodbye” and instead “see you over on Kickstarter next week.”