Saturday, August 19, 2023

When a Show is Cancelled, You Get to Write the Rest of the Story

Scott D. Parker

Well, that sucks.

Whenever my wife and I start watching an older show on streaming, I don’t look the show up on the internet. I don’t want to be spoiled about things the world already knows. For example, when I started watching “Brothers and Sisters,” my wife did look up the show and discovered Rob Lowe departed the series before its end. I just like to keep the watching as pure as possible.

Which can make for a great viewing experience. It can also lead to heartbreak.

We recently watched the Hulu series, “Reboot.” It follows the cast and crew of a fictional 1990s TV show that was cancelled and their attempt to, um, reboot it for the 2020s.

The excellent cast featured three adults and a now grown-up co-star. Keegan-Michael Key is always funny. Judy Greer is stellar in everything she does. This counts as my first show where I watched Johnny Knoxville. Calum Worthy plays the former child actor with an earnestness that might be drawn from real life. And Paul Reiser! The dude is so good and there are moments in this show—especially the final episode—where you are reminded of just how well he can speak and command a scene. Made me want to go back and start a “Mad About You” rematch.

The writing on “Reboot” is spot on, especially as the writers—lead by Rachel Bloom playing Reiser’s daughter—riff on things that made old TV shows funny that would never fly nowadays. And the characters actually had interesting arcs as they came to terms with their life choices and how they live their lives now.

And it’s pretty darn hilarious.

We got to the eighth and final episode…and it ended on various cliffhangers. Each character faced a decision moment, and it left you wondering what path they’d take.

End of the Line

Moments after the credits rolled, I picked up my phone to see when season two would be premiering. Imagine my shock and dismay when I learned that Hulu had cancelled the show. There would not be a season two. That was it.

And it ended with unresolved issues? Seriously? I guess that’s the gamble you take as a writer of a new TV show. Do you ended the first season on a cliffhanger and dare the network to renew the show or do you just end on a happy note in case.

Use the Muppets for Inspiration

Remember the ending of 1979’s “The Muppet Movie”? As the gang was frantically trying to get all the sets prepared to tell the story *of the movie you just watched,* everything came tumbling down. They stare at the destruction and then Kermit breaks the fourth wall and tells us “Life’s like a movie. Write your own ending.”

That’s what we’ll have to do with Reboot. Write our own ending. And I know how I would steer the characters.

Still, despite how it ended, I thoroughly enjoyed Reboot. It’s only eight episode of about thirty minutes each. It’s certainly worth your time. If you do watch it, let me know how you’d keep the story going.

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