Have you ever seen someone on social media who you used to know a long time ago? Maybe you were best friends at primary school or just chatted on the bus each morning. Maybe you thought about reaching out, arranging a socially-distanced walk in the park. Well, don’t. The modern version of that individual probably bears no resemblance to your memories. The quirky kid who wore South Park shirts and bought The Strokes‘ ‘Is This It’ on the day it came out now doesn’t miss an episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys, gets lairy after a pint and a half, calls ITV phone-in competitions and voted leave.
That’s because memory is a funny thing and nostalgia should rarely be revisited. Which leads us to the recent spate of classic TV shows – like Spitting Image and Prison Break, the latter of which has just lost its star – returning for a new series years after they left the air. The most high-profile of these is Dexter. The serial killer show wrapped up in 2013 after a seven year run, disappearing without much fanfare. Last month, it was announced that Michael C. Hall would reprise his lead role for another season.
Dexter was never quite as revered as Mad Men, cherished as Breaking Bad or worshipped like The West Wing. But, due to unpopular demand, it is coming back. Some of the best ever TV shows have only had their mystique extended by lack of a conclusive ending, the magnificent cliff-hanger that left viewers screaming for ‘more’ that never came. Sure – it might not have been their decision at the time, but the outcry by fans, the twenty-or-so perfect episodes, and the longing for closure left only a bittersweet taste in everyone’s mouth. This is true of Freaks and Geeks, Pushing Daises, Firefly and… hell – I’ll say it – The Big Breakfast. Some even had open endings (yes, I’m talking about The Sopranos) that arguably made them even more interesting.
Sometimes the story doesn’t need to end, because, guys (picks up an acoustic guitar), life continues – the characters are free to live a life beyond their televised stories in our imaginations, such as they are. As Tim says in the final episode of The Office: “Come back, come back here in 10 years, see how I’m doing then. ‘Cause I could be married with kids, you don’t know. Life just goes on.”
Of course, the temptation to come back is just too great for some, and with that the nostalgia is ruined (yes, I am talking about the David Brent movie). There should be shows with a ‘do not resuscitate’ wristband on them. This rarely means that they were bad shows, merely that they should be left well alone. I have written before of TV’s ‘people like them, let’s make some more of them’ mentality, the temptation of a sure thing too hard to resist. Couple with this the human need for closure, and you have a perfect storm for bringing a well-rested show back. But look what happens when they do. Arrested Development gets ruined; Heroes left us on a low; The X Files… well, the less said about that the better.
So here is the danger. Dexter’s finale is often derided, maybe they’re trying to redeem themselves, but the risk is great. This is why, no matter how much I love them, and how much I need to see Alison Brie any time I can, GLOW should leave us mourning its untimely passing, and the ‘six seasons and a movie’ demand of Community fans should remain a hope and a dream.
Sometimes, things don’t need to be wrapped up with a neat little bow, which is why I’m not putting a full-stop here