Appearing on Fridays, This Was Television Asked & Answered is a chance for the writers of TWTV to answer questions about TV history. Questions can range from the personal to the critical about historical television. Asked & Answered has been on hiatus for a while, but we thought we’d bring it back for the warm summer Fridays.
While we came up the question for this installment, we’d love for you, our readers, to submit questions for us to answer in the future. Feel free to leave them in the comments, tweet them to us, ask on Facebook, or email them to us.
This week’s question is: With Comic-Con beginning this week, including the much-ballyhooed X-Files reunion panel, we’re wondering: What older show would you also like to see get a reunion panel (at CC, Paley, TCA, your local Armory, etc.)?
Les: My pick is a fairly obvious one: Twin Peaks. It’s one of the original cult television shows, a show that’s still discussed constantly on- and offline, and a show where much of the cast who are still alive enjoy talking about the show and appearing at various events. There’s been a few reunions here and there—David Lynch, Mädchen Amick and Kyle MacLachlan did a discussion of the show over pie and coffee for the Gold Box DVD special features—but there’s yet to be an official near-complete gathering. I think if you could get Lynch and Mark Frost together with several of the cast (MacLachlan, Sherilyn Fenn, Ray Wise, Michael J. Anderson, and Lara Flynn Boyle are some of the more recognizable names who’d be interested but I’m sure you could get twice that), hang some red curtains over a stage and give a few cherry pies to the panel, it’d be a massive hit. Even with Lynch refusing to address the unanswered issues there’d be a legion of interesting questions asked, plenty of inside stories and speculation thrown around by a cast that I can imagine would be more than happy to get together.
And it’s timely as well, given that we’re only three years away from the 25th anniversary of the series finale—and Laura Palmer’s final cryptic message to Dale Cooper that she’d see him again in 25 years. I’d like to think this isn’t just wishful thinking and it’s an idea percolating in several minds. (And hopefully, there’s no fish in the percolator.)
Emma: My first choice would be the panel that inspired this question, but as that probably is a cheat of an answer I’m picking a show that I’ve never seen an episode of instead. So why pick a show I’ve never watched? While I’ve never seen an episode of Moonlighting I’ve definitely read a lot about it, particularly when it comes to the so-called Moonlighting curse. This of course refers to a show getting a will they/won’t they couple together and that in turn the ratings will suffer as a consequence. Moonlighting is cited as the start of this phenomena and is constantly referenced, but from everything I’ve read this is a misnomer and it has become an excuse to not get characters together. The reason I’d like to see a panel for this show is to hear the two leads – Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd – discuss this notion and to see if their real life feud is anything beyond gossip.
Myc: My pick is perhaps not so easy as Les’ Twin Peaks, but I would really want to see a panel that brings the cast of My So-Called Life back together and puts them up on stage (it’s 20-ish years old!). It was very well received critically and, while only lasting a year, the impact of So-Called was incredibly significant. Arguably, this was the show that made the sort-of-serious teen-centric offerings from the WB/CW possible in the late 90’s, and its impact can still be felt in our broadcasting today, noticeably on ABC Family. The show had an incredibly dedicated fan base, and they were arguably one of the first to use the Internet to mobilize their “Save Our Show” efforts. And then there’s the Claire Danes thing. Even while she actively supported her fellow actors and the fans’ SOS campaign, she was working behind the scenes to get out of her contract and leave the show. While people argue that Danes’ decision to leave should the show be picked-up had no impact on renewal, that had to be the final nail in the coffin. To me, seeing the producers and other actors on stage with Danes in front of an audience, particularly huge fans of the show, would be worth the price of admission.
Julie: I’m sitting here watching Friends right now, so that seems like an obvious answer. But the six leads seem guarded and above-it-all most of the time, so maybe they wouldn’t make for a great panel after all.
This is kind of a tough question. I think the key to a great panel is to bring together folks we haven’t seen together in a while. There has to be some kind of entertainment value beyond “we really liked this show, once upon a time.” That’s why I’m going to go with Alias. That show had several people who have gone on to do other, bigger things (Jennifer Garner, Bradley Cooper, J.J. Abrams). There are the ex-romances, real and rumored (Garner and Michael Vartan, Cooper and Victor Garber), that could cause tension on the panel. Plus there are the Abrams staples (Greg Grunberg, Kevin Weisman, Amanda Foreman), who are always welcome presences and who I always long to hear more from. Plus, I’d really like someone to explain the Rambaldi device to me in layman’s terms. Oh, and I need a public apology for having had to endure so much time with Sydney’s sister.
Cory: Come on guys, there’s only one real option here: It’s Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. The original cast was only together for a few years, but it was long enough to take youth pop culture by storm and to make one of the best terrible feature films ever. What would be so compelling about a Power Rangers reunion panel–you know, other than the awkward tension based on Blue Ranger David Yost’s assertions that he was treated poorly because of his sexuality–is that none of the cast ever got especially famous to really experience the typical meteoric rise and sad fall. Pink Ranger Amy Jo Johnson’s worked steady since leaving the show (and yes, she’s still a babe), but that’s about it. What exactly have they been doing? What do they have to say about the whirlwind experience just over 20 years later? And did they keep the costumes? I must know.
Andrew: Your choices are all baffling me with their complete lack of star power. What if I told you the panel I put together included one of the biggest movie stars in the world today, a legendary Oscar nominee, a nine-time Oscar host, an actress with Emmy awards for three different series, a Monday Night Football announcer, the longest tenured current band leader on a late night television show, a British Knight, and a United States Senator? Is that something you might be interest in? I speak, of course of the pre-1994 (I’m sticking to a 20 year rule to actually qualify as an “older show,” unlike most of my cohorts) cast of Saturday Night Live. Even sticking in the world of the living (and you could make a heck of a panel out of those who have passed), a funny, introspective, and informative panel could be filled many times over with the cast members of NBC’s Saturday night fixture. Forget a panel, I’m all in for SNLCon.
Whitney: I would definitely want to see the cast of something that never had the opportunity to do a ton of interviews or panels get the opportunity to get back together, a kind of oral history for something that didn’t have much fan fare like we have today the first time around. Which is why I’m going with Gilligan’s Island. Even though it was an immensely popular show, it is so old that there weren’t opportunities for a crazed fandom like there are now. Not that it was serialization heavy or there were any huge twists, but comedies can elicit fan excitement just the same. Could you imagine if there were Gilligan/Mary Ann ‘shippers? Plus I would love to hear how acting with only the same seven people for almost 100 episodes felt, and what (if anything) it taught each cast member about the trade. Unfortunately a full panel like this could never be since the only living cast members are Tina Louise (Ginger), Russell Johnson (The Professor), and Dawn Wells (Mary Ann). But even with only those three and whoever worked on the show available, an interesting and informative panel would be a treat for TV fans of all ages.