Maybe it’s because TV shows are run by writers. Maybe it’s because there’s less money at stake. Maybe it’s because movie executives are exactly as stupid as I think they are. The result is that, with a few exceptions, all the truly creative work in that medium moved from movies to television. Sure, many of the best shows are strangled in their infancy like an unwanted girl-child, but I’d rather get thirteen episodes of greatness than two hours of audience insulting stupidity that costs nearly as much as the down payment on a used Jetta. Still, the end result of creativity colliding with sudden cancellation sometimes robs me of a character I love. I’m not done with them yet. I want more of their wacky adventures. What I’m proposing is this: active shows add favorite characters from the past (along with the showrunner or choice writer, of course). That way shows I like get a shot in the arm and I can avoid letting go of fictional people past the point of clinical psychosis.
The first season of Veronica Mars is the best full season of television ever made. No other show was as consistently clever, interesting and watchable for a solid twenty-two weekly episodes. It had no right to be that good, since it was basically just hard boiled Nancy Drew, but it somehow managed to surpass its genre the same way the space shuttle surpasses Florida. A big part of that hinged on its eponymous heroine. Veronica could have easily been a Joss Whedon spank-fantasy. You know, the tough chick that kicks everyone’s ass until she has to get naked and have a good cry in the shower, usually while the camera leers at her feet. Veronica was a problem solver: feeling sorry for herself was never part of the plan. She’s a girl and though that was an important part of her character, it was never the sum of it. Due to being roughly the side of half a Christmas elf, she couldn’t go toe to toe with the bad guys, so she resorted to a razor wit, an intimidating brain, and when that wasn’t enough, a pit bull and a stun gun. When the show was cancelled at the end of its disappointing third season (well, disappointing for Veronica Mars), there were persistent rumors that it would jump forward several years and find the former teenage private investigator as a member of the FBI. Let’s say Veronica becomes the newest Clarice Starling. She’s going to need to track a killer, like, say whoever stuffed Rosie Larsen in that trunk. After all, there’s a proven track record of an FBI agent with unusual methods helping out local law enforcement in the Pacific Northwest on the murder of a beautiful young girl. Now all we need is a midget and a whole lot of donuts.
Timothy Olyphant is good at two things: playing a sheriff and making Mrs. Supermarket’s heart grow three sizes. It’s why Justified remains a favorite in the Supermarket household. Olyphant does his skinny cowboy strut, mutters through clenched teeth and shoots people with the temerity to throw down. He broke the role in on David Milch’s masterpiece Deadwood, a show that can only be described as Shakespeare with Tourette’s set in the Old West. Olyphant spent his time squaring off with saloon-owner and ersatz mafia boss Al Swearengen, played by human-monkfish hybrid Ian McShane. Al was the heart and soul of that show, alternating between vicious pimp and wise father figure believably and sometimes within the same scene. Sometimes he was Olyphant’s enemy, sometimes his ally, but he was always dangerous. Maybe the character can’t be moved over to Justified, seeing as there’s over a century and a half difference between the timelines. But give him a different name and suddenly it’s a new guy that looks and sounds exactly like Al.
Ever put on Europe’s “Final Countdown” and skip around your apartment pumping your fists? Um… me neither. The reason we don’t do this – other than “Final Countdown” being one of the best terrible songs in existence – is probably due to George Oscar Bluth. GOB, eldest son of the OC (don’t call it that) Bluths, Segway enthusiast, mastermind behind Fuck Mountain and featured magician on the Girls With Low Self-Esteem series, somehow managed to be the funniest character on Arrested Development, a show full of them. GOB barely edges out analrapist Tobias Funke, mostly because GOB is an idea man and you can only do so many Blue Man Group jokes. GOB’s possible home would be over on fellow sitcom luminary Ron Fucking Swanson’s show, Parks and Recreation. Will Arnett has already guest starred, but who’s to say GOB doesn’t have a doppelganger? He’s even married to the show’s star, so we know he can get a meeting with them.
I miss Oz. Not the magical land (unless of course you think forced sodomy is magical), but the prison show that was HBO’s original hour long drama. Mostly forgotten today, there was a time when it was a terrifying portrait of what could happen if you took a cavalier attitude about drunk driving (hint – it involves that very specific kind of magic). One of the great joys of Oz was Simon Adebisi, a super criminal who was in prison for – no shit – beheading a cop. I miss Adebisi’s alpha male strutting, the ridiculous cap perched on the corner of his head, and of course the beheading. Ah, the beheading. The only problem with Oz was that there were checks on his behavior. He could never be as insane as he clearly wanted to be. He needs to be in a post apocalyptic landscape where his skill with a machete will be appreciated. Putting him on Walking Dead is a no brainer. Pun intended.
This one is related, and in fact I’d first put him in Walking Dead with Adebisi as kind of a prison rape twofer. Back when Prison Break was on the air, I used to watch it over at my mother’s house. In the early going, they introduced the predator that would be attempting to anally snuggle up to our hero. Here’s the thing: they named him T-Bag. This was back in 2005, before a bunch of illiterate right-wingers thought it would be a fantastic idea name their never-ending Klan rally after a gay sex act. My cousin and I nearly died laughing at Prison Break’s audacity. Would T-Bag get a sidekick named Dirty Sanchez? The laughter forced me to explain teabagging to my mother. I imagine this got a lot more common after we got a black guy in office and all of a sudden white people were concerned about big government spending, but at the time it was a novel experience. In a bit of irony, T-Bag had the kind of inbred Southern Gothic upbringing that one imagines most teabaggers to have. He’s also a white supremacist and since I’ve already hit my quota of racist right wing references, I’ll leave that alone. He’d fit in well with the white power assholes that are always bothering SAMCRO over on Sons of Anarchy.
About ten years ago, a dear friend of mine admitted to a group of us that his favorite show was Popular, the short-lived teen show parody by Glee and Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy. We mocked him, of course. Then we agreed to go to his place and watch an episode. We took it as an excuse to drink. In fairness, that’s what my life was at the time: a series of excuses to drink punctuated by brief moments of clarity. We settled in and were immediately hooked. The character that we gravitated to and still stands as the primary reason I love this show was Mary Cherry, deranged and possibly mentally-challenged Texas oil heiress, kind of the bastard child of George W. Bush and Paris Hilton. Assuming Mary Cherry ever learned to read, she would find a welcoming home at Community as a new member of the study group.
And now, this is the reason I wrote this in the first place. This might seem a weird thing to say, but I miss the Devil. I miss the holy, everloving fuck out of him. When I say the Devil, I mean Ray Wise from Reaper. Wise elevated that show. Every scene of his was pure magic. He was the kind of Devil we want to believe in. Evil, certainly, but possessed of a slimy charisma that made you want to hang out with him. Putting him in a new show is almost too easy. He’d be great almost anywhere, but one place has made a habit of adding super-powerful supernatural creatures to bother the frequently naked characters. Put Ray Wise’s Satan on True Blood and tell me that wouldn’t be the best thing ever.
It’s not a big request, is it? Just pull a Lazarus on a couple old favorites and keep some new ones fresh? If nothing else, I feel I should be rewarded for my optimism.