Like so many other people, I was thrilled to learn about the Kickstarter campaign to fund a "Veronica Mars" movie. My Twitter feed blew up this morning as soon as word of the campaign by creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell came out.
The giddiness among TV fans is understandable: The show was a wonderful gem that remains close to its fans' hearts all these years later. The idea of a return to Neptune is very exciting.
But mixed in with all the whooping and hollering is some anxiety, negativity and cynicism. I've seen some comments along the lines of, "Oh no, this will open the floodgates" to more Kickstarter/fan/grassroots campaigns for more seasons of old shows.
I don't see this as a bad thing. For one, I don't necessarily think the gates of Hell will be opened to revivals that should never have otherwise seen the light of day. If the "Mars" campaign works and these types of ventures proliferate, it'll probably be harder for other creators to collect as much coin. One of the reasons "The Guild" did so well with crowdfunding in its early seasons is because there weren't that many web series out there (certainly not many good ones). And though the "Mars" effort is well on its way -- it's almost halfway to its $2 million goal as I write this -- it may not be successful.
Even if it does works and the floodgates do open, there's no need for anxiety if we acknowledge one core truth: Some of these revivals will suck.
Let me be clear: I don't think the "Veronica Mars" movie will be bad. I have a great deal of faith in writer/producer Rob Thomas, based on his record in creating "Party Down" and Veronica's Neptune adventures. No TV show is perfect, but those two productions and their terrific casts have brought me as much pleasure as anything I've ever seen. Thomas and the cast are putting a good bit of their creative capital on the line, and they'll be using their fans' hard-earned dough, and those are two big reasons I'm sure they'll try really hard not to screw up.
Having said that, could the "Veronica Mars" movie be terrible? Yes, it could be. Even if it isn't, some revival or fan-funded production down the line will be awful, boring or lame. One day, some much-desired revival will piss off a large number of that show's fans.
And this is a good thing. Such a turn of events will mean that our ideas about TV revivals will mature.
One of these days, the TV-revival honeymoon will end -- and that's a good analogy, because when a couple's honeymoon ends, they often find out what commitment really means. We may have more arenas than ever in which to show our love for great shows and more ways to bring them back to life, but we're not the ones making these shows. The people making them are artists, and we're not always going agree with their choices. We could get mad about how they spend the money we ponied up (via a Kickstarter donation, a Netflix subscription or some other investment), but, well, in Chicago we say: You pays your money and you takes your chances.
It's great that we have new ways in which to show our devotion to our favorite properties. But the more revivals there are, the more chances there will be for some to fail. And that's okay. As a fan of shows that were canceled too soon, it's impossible not to be glad that this route is available. ("Terriers" fans, to Kickstarter with you!)
If "Veronica Mars" puts a superhighway on the road that "The Guild" and "Dr. Horrible" and countless other online pioneers helped carve out, we'll all learn a lot more about where to put our resources and what we'll get in return. Fans will think harder about what they will and won't get out of the deal. Creators will learn what kinds of project work and what kinds of things will get them a whole lot of "never again" comments. Netflix might be thrilled with what new episodes of "Arrested Development" can do for its brand, or it might learn, as so many networks have, that it's not always easy to translate the loyalty of a cult audience into viewership numbers.
When some of these ventures fail or disappoint the faithful or their funders, whoever they are, the floodgates some people are so worried about may start to close. But Veronica Mars herself would be the first to acknowledge that learning about how life works can be painful. Regret and recriminations are part of growing up -- but so are shared joy and unexpected good fortune.
I'm fine with the floodgates getting kicked open by the girl detective. As this revival and off-the-beaten-path renewal process comes into its own, let the debate rage about who owes what to whom and who's to blame when things go awry. From where I'm sitting, it's hard to be cynical about a whole new creative space that is being born right before our eyes.
To paraphrase Chairman Mao, let 100 TV-related Kickstarters bloom. Let's hope for the best and know that the worst is bound to happen some time or other -- and that'll be okay.
Now let's all go back to watching the numbers rise on the "Veronica Mars" Kickstarter page.