bad ideas

Stop Talking About Turning TV Shows Into Movies, Everyone

Entourage, Veronica Mars.

When doing press for this season of Entourage, creator Doug Ellin followed the lead of other TV showrunners whose shows were either about to end or just have: He said he’s working on a script for an Entourage movie, and the cast members say they’d do it in a heartbeat. Just like Peter Berg wants to do another Friday Night Lights movie, Rob Thomas wants to do a Party Down movie (and a Veronica Mars movie), Joss Whedon wants to do another Firefly movie, and every time Jason Bateman speaks, someone is legally required to ask him about an Arrested Development movie. At best, these movies are extremely unlikely to be made. And at worst, the constant chatter about them only serves as a time-delayed disappointment depth charge for the show’s base.

As a fan, it’s hard enough to let go of a series, especially when that show is a cult treasure. It’s like being in a special club of awesome people with good taste, and the secret signal is saying, “Are we having fun yet?” with the right inflection. The looming promises of films trap fans in the denial phase of their post-show mourning process. How can we ever move on to acceptance when there are periodic morsels of hope that the show is not in fact done? Magical thinking is no fun, and getting strung along may give short-term happiness, but will lead to long-term heartbreak. “Maybe we’ll get back together someday; just keep waiting for me, for no credible reason, except that sometimes when I play with your emotions, there’s money and fame in it for me,” says the worst person you ever dated.

These creators aren’t necessarily lying about their desires to make a movie; they’re probably having the same trouble letting go as viewers are and want to believe that they will reunite with their beloved cast on another project. But they work in show business, they should know better: Studios are motivated by money, and it’s damn near impossible to build a blockbuster on a show that got canceled for underperforming. And these movies aren’t just financially unlikely, they’re creatively perplexing, too. Friday Night Lights already had a perfect ending, and Arrested Development works specifically in the context of subverting television conventions.

TV is finite. Shows end. That’s the natural order of things, and as disappointing as it is to think we’ll never hear a new “Hey, brother!” that’s the price of having deeply loved a show.

Stop Talking About Turning TV Shows Into Movies, Everyone