Life on Mars

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Fans, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.

THE VERONICA MARS MOVIE IS A GO. In a remarkable display of loyalty, fans of the short-lived TV series came together and reached a target of $2m towards a follow-up film within a matter of hours. It’s impressive stuff considering the show’s relatively underwhelming ratings (2.5 million av.), but proves that you should never underestimate a small but devoted viewership.

I’ve actually never seen Veronica Mars. That doesn’t stop me being utterly thrilled about the success of the Kickstarter campaign. This is a potentially monumental step in the evolution of media production. The reaction on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook during the short duration of the project has been encouraging from all corners. For any fan whose show has ever fallen victim to the premature network cancellation, this is a joyous occasion. Networks no longer hold all the cards. Hope for all! In fact, Zachary Levi’s already tweeted some excitement-inducing tweets for Chuck fans.

I hope that the success of this particular Kickstarter will see to many more in the future. The idea that fans can be so in control of what’s in the cinema and on their TVs seems like a natural extension of the online media. I’m still reeling from the recently-blogged-about cancellation of The Hour, which prompted a fan-fuelled campaign of its own, so it’s rather good timing to hear of the big Kickstarter success story.

Before now, it has been the Chuck supporters who have been the poster fandom for this kind of activity. So incredibly vocal in their support of the show, fans helped the series through many near death experiences – eventually getting it to five seasons. As mentioned, it seems like Zachary Levi might not be done, and after today I wouldn’t bet against him. Arrested Development is another notable fan-driven success, with new episodes coming to Netflix in the near future. Never underestimate the power of the fans, especially not with casts and writers who are just as enthusiastic. And no one can say Kristen Bell didn’t want it enough, that’s for sure.

One small step for fans, a giant leap for fankind.

So it begs the question: what shows would you like to see return or be adapted for film?

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The Hour You Can’t Miss

thehourlead

Yesterday, for reasons passing understanding, the BBC announced they were axing The Hour. Heavens no, we all cried. Usually I’m pretty relaxed about TV shows I watch being cancelled. Not this time. Oh, no.

With a downturn in scripted television a result of the ascension of reality TV, it has become even tougher to come across original, quality programming. Of all the networks, the BBC has the greatest responsibility to provide quality. And maybe, every now and again, that doesn’t necessarily just mean bonnets.

The Hour was the standout show of 2012 for me. Anyone who’s talked TV with me since I discovered it will vouch that I persistently recommend The Hour at any opportunity. With none of the dried-up soapy-ness of Downton’s more recent episodes and a refreshed approach to period drama, every episode of The Hour was captivating. The costumes and sets were suitably seductive, showcasing iconic fifties fashion, and the actors proved an impressive ensemble. Along with the beautifully detailed aesthetics, though, came a depth of storytelling that filled the series with thrills. Not relying on its superficial strengths, The Hour consistently avoided shallow storytelling or melodrama. Nope. The writing, the visuals and the acting were a clean sweep of class.

What I loved was that it was not a procedural drama. Every week there were new twists to the plot that underpinned the series, tying the arc together and never allowing a storyline to turn stale. Characters were artfully defined, always distinct and always relevant. No one was surplus, and the audience’s perception of every character was always evolving. Oh, Hector, you’ve come so far.

The number one reason why I’m so troubled by its premature cancellation is that it was so very undeserved. The quality was steadily improving. In fact, while I love the show as a whole, the second series was about twenty times as good as the first. Just think of the possibilities for the third series! I have every confidence that the storylines would have divulged whole new facets to these now beloved characters. In Year 2, characters I wasn’t mad keen on at the beginning suddenly became far more complex than I had anticipated and we were introduced to Randall Brown, maybe the best of all. It is a true tragedy that we’ll only ever get one series of Peter Capaldi’s turn as the quietly brilliant but melancholic head of news. Toby Ziegler-esque, no?

Not only was Series Two a triumph, the finale was one of the best I’ve ever seen. Ben Whishaw was un-bloody-believable. How dare he shatter my heart like that. Oh, the tears I’ve cried. The two most moving scenes must be singled out: Randall’s breakdown upon learning that his daughter had long since died and Freddie’s bloody, teary final moments. Final moments of the episode, that is. Not his life. He’s not dead. No way. Nope. Don’t you dare.

When I watched the series two finale with my best friend, she foolishly commented, “Oh, they won’t kill off Freddie” about halfway through. I gave her my tempting-the-wrath-from-high-atop-the-thing glare but silently agreed. Things, for Freddie, went a little awry from there. And now we’ll never know…

“Moneypenny.”

I hope BBC Two can live with itself. That’s all I’m saying.

Note: you can sign the petition to #savethehour by clicking here.