Back from the dead: cancelled TV shows returning to the small screen
- Murray Robertson
- 28 January 2016
With The X-Files about to make its UK return, we see what other shows are being resurrected
After disappearing from our screens in 2002 (excepting 2008 film I Want to Believe), FBI special agents Mulder and Scully are finally returning on 8 February for a six episode miniseries on Channel 5. And they're not alone, as a spate of cancelled, abandoned or otherwise seemingly-finished TV shows are set to return to our screens.
Over recent years there's been a surge of original TV series, particularly spurred by the enormous output of Netflix and Amazon. The unique way those two producers fund their programming, coupled with the enormous and detailed data they have on their viewership means they're able to take risks on new ideas. And that's having a knock-on effect on traditional TV channels who know they need to innovate more than ever to keep up.
So with so much original content in production, why are so many studios looking at their back catalogues?
Perhaps they're encouraged by recent big screen sequels/reboots to films from long ago. JJ Abrams has already brought back Star Wars and Star Trek to satisfy audiences new and old; the sequel to Blade Runner goes into production in July; its original director Ridley Scott is currently prepping another prequel to Alien; Sylvester Stallone recently (sort of) stepped back into the ring as an ageing Rocky Balboa in Creed and Ben Stiller will return to the catwalk next month in Zoolander 2. Add in forthcoming belated sequels Independence Day: Resurgence, Finding Dory and Bridget Jones's Baby , and a definite trend emerges.
There is one thing uniting most of the returning TV shows: they generally ran out of steam or jumped the shark towards the end of their original runs. Whether they'll be able to return to their past glories remains to be seen.
Originally aired: 1993–2002
Returning: Mon 8 Feb, Channel 5
When David Duchovny took a back seat over its final two seasons, interest in this cult favourite quickly waned. Co-star Gillian Anderson has gone onto huge success with a number of high-profile BBC series including The Fall, and NBC's recently-cancelled Hannibal. The new six-episode miniseries reunites its leads, with apparently mixed results.
Originally aired: 2006–2010
Returning: 2016, 5*
This drama, about a group of seemingly unconnected people who discover they have superpowers, started off very strongly before ending with a whimper at the end of its first season. Seasons 2–4 were critically panned before it was put out of its misery. The new 13 episode miniseries, titled Heroes Reborn, has been tepidly received.
Originally aired: 2005–2009
Returning: late 2016 or early 2017
A series which should really have stopped after its great first season (see also Homeland), Prison Break limped on for another three outings before it was recaptured and locked up. Actor Wentworth Miller will return, alongside other familiar faces, for a reported 10 episodes.
Originally aired: 1990–1991
Returning: 2017, Sky Atlantic
A quarter of a century ago, David Lynch and Mark Frost set the template for modern TV storytelling over 30 episodes, as a town slowly unravelled following the mysterious death of Homecoming Queen Laura Palmer. After finishing on arguably the most famous unresolved cliffhanger in TV history, Twin Peaks will return, with lead actor Kyle MacLachlan reprising his role as FBI special agent Dale Cooper. And for once the long gap makes narrative sense.
Originally aired: 2001–2014
In 2014, 24 returned after a four year hiatus with a truncated 12-episode runtime and a new location (London). The changes made a big difference and it looked like Jack Bauer had plenty of life in him yet. However, despite ending on (yet another) major cliffhanger, 24 will return as a spin-off series without Kiefer Sutherland. Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton, The Walking Dead) will play new lead Eric Carter in 24: Legacy, alongside Miranda Otto (Lord of the Rings, Homeland). The reboot sees Carter seeking help from CTU to help prevent one of the largest terrorist attacks on US soil (see also 24 seasons 1-8). The original series has a vociferous fanbase, and news that 24 will return without Kiefer Sutherland has been met with almost universal nerd rage.
Originally aired: 2004–2006
HBO's violent, sweary Western masterpiece was cancelled after three glorious seasons almost a decade ago. Although details are scant, a new series will go into pre-production once showrunner David Milch has found the time to write it.
We'll sign off with this, just cos …