This TV Geek Army Roundtable features a discussion of television series finales. Check out the previous parts here.
It's interesting to me that RevViews brought up both The 4400 and The Dead Zone – two solid USA shows from the past decade – in terms of movies that he'd love to see developed from now ended television series. I really enjoyed The Dead Zone in particular – Anthony Michael Hall was perfect in the lead role developed from the Stephen King novel, and the supporting cast including Nicole de Boer, John L. Adams, Chris Bruno, and David Ogden Stiers was also terrific. At its best it was a cool, quirky, spooky, and well written and produced show about a man both burdened and blessed by the ability to have visions of the past, present, and future. However, by Season Four or so the spark had clearly faded, and I had a strong feeling that a budget cut had removed some of the truly remarkable special effects that had marked the early seasons as well. I lost interest eventually and dropped out of viewing. Perhaps the magic was back by the end of its run, but I don't have a strong desire to see a movie developed out of this series.
As a total aside, I'd venture that The Dead Zone might be the best adaptation of a King printed work to a visual medium. However, it might only be eclipsed by the fantastic 1980s film version starring Christopher Walken. A debate for another time I suppose!
Now, a show that absolutely deserved a shot at a feature-length film and failed spectacularly is Dead Like Me. In only two seasons as an episodic show, DLM carved out a unique slot in television history as an exquisite mix of drama, comedy, and science fiction. Most of all it was embodied by great characters, led by Mandy Patinkin in as Rube Sofer, a manager of sorts to a team of reluctant and often disgruntled grim reapers. So the fact that the follow up made-for-TV movie, Dead Like Me: Life After Death did not include Patinkin was not a good sign. RevViews sketches out the details of why the movie sucks, quite frankly, so I'll just add that it seemed like a project that no one had any passion for. It doesn't quite take away from the legacy of the show, but fans are forced to work a bit to disassociate the final chapter that we see of this universe.
I haven't caught any of Homicide: Life on the Street but have long wanted to because of the connection with David Simon (see: The Wire, Treme). And RevViews' high praise only makes me want to see it all the more.
To round out this topic, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are connected to two shows that very successfully extended an original run of a show with a meaningful and entertaining follow up. I'm referring of course to the original UK version of The Office and Extras. With both shows, the follow up cannot be called a movie as much as a special that is essentially a longer episode that is much in line in terms of look and feel with the original series. And in both cases the follow up does provides closure to stories and characters that we had come to care about. On The Office, Dawn and Tim (played by Lucy Davis and Martin Freeman, respectively) finally getting together is a satisfying and well earned payoff. And in the case of Extras, the Extra Special Series Finale allowed Gervais to unleash an incisive broadside into our celebrity obsessed – and our celebrity-seeking obsessed – society.