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Before Netflix, entertainment could be a rough business. If a show did not perform exceptionally well, it was canceled, even if it had a loyal fanbase. We feel ripple effects of this today, many of us pining for shows we loved but weren’t mainstream enough for TV. Some shows simply never had large-scale appeal, only speaking to a select few of us.
Network Television is limited to a certain number of hours in a day, their “airspace.” Not burdened by limited airspace, Netflix has become a savior. Resurrecting shows that were too niche on network television, but just perfect for streaming. Below you will find the best of the resurrected shows that Netflix has brought back for your enjoyment.
Mystery Science Theater 3000
On the top of niches, it probably does not get more “niche” than Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (MST3K). Initially running eleven years with nearly 200 episodes, the show was a cult favorite. It aired on two different networks, before ultimately ending in 1999. Last year, however, Netflix decided to bring it back with comedian Jonah Ray as the host. But what is Mystery Science Theatre 3000?
MST3K is a comedy series. The central premise of the show is that the host of the show, a janitor, gets trapped against his will by two mad scientists. Together with a cast of robots, he is forced to watch terrible B-movies. To keep his sanity, he makes sarcastic and witty comments about the films he is forced to watch, with each episode covering a different movie.
The show was hugely influential. As it was basically an ironic commentary show, it paved the way for similar videos on YouTube where users watch shows live and comment on the plot. However, the original in this case is simply the best.
Some shows have an almost ironic lifecycle. “The Killing” is the remake of a Danish television show and did not get canceled just once. Unlike most television shows, “The Killing” was canceled and renewed two times, by two different networks. First with the help of Fox, and the second time around due to Netflix.
The Killing has a simple set-up following the day-to-day murder investigation of detectives Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman). More than that, however, the show delves into the effects murder has on the people involved. With each episode covering roughly 24-hours of the investigation, each season takes place over the course of about two weeks. It’s a great show for fans of the crime genre.
“The Killing” is also a great example of the boon that Netflix is to storytelling. Never a rating hit, but always a critical darling, “The Killing” would not have been able to tell its full story otherwise. All four seasons are ready to be binged.
“Arrested Development” is the quintessential underrated and under-watched cult show. Listed as one of the all-time best television shows by the New York Times, it only ever got mild audience attention. Furthermore, its original run of three seasons started way back in 2003. In the early 2000s, the internet did not yet have the same importance it does today. Streaming a short video took you hours and Netflix itself was still a mail-in video rental company. All this makes Arrested Development the poster child for the kind of revival possible due to streaming having nearly no airtime limits.
“Arrested Development” is centered around the exploits of a wealthy, dysfunctional family going bankrupt. It is up to the second oldest son, Micheal Bluth (Jason Bateman), the only relatively sane person of the Bluth clan, to keep his family from falling apart.
Netflix brought the show back in 2013 for a fourth season, with the fifth season coming this year. “Arrested Development” is officially the show with the most significant gap between seasons, but it’s well worth everyone’s attention is looking for something different.
Originally airing under its full title,”Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” the show features a group of five gay men who make over a straight guy. If this sounds silly or offensive to you, rest assured: “Queer Eye” is far more than a simple reality TV show cashing in on old tropes. What makes the show so great is how it takes the central cast of stereotypical gay guys to enhance and expand the scope of identity the candidates possess. Everyone can be what they want to be, and being yourself is beautiful.
While the original show was a huge success, it eventually ran its course. The Netflix revival, however, is an excellent example of how a great concept can and should survive.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
“Gilmore Girls” is another one of those shows that was too beloved to just end. Its original run from 2000 until 2007 was a cultural landmark for American television. The show focuses on the lives of mother-daughter duo Lorelei (Lauren Graham) and Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel), “Gilmore Girls.” Set in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, the two have to deal with love, family, disappointment, friendships, romance, and the colorful citizens of their sleepy home-town.
“Gilmore Girls” did not come back because it was a niche show lacking a large audience. It came back because the audience was too large, and still growing even ten years after its end. So naturally, it would be easy for a company to produce a lucrative continuation. Luckily, however, the mini-revival was a heartfelt bookend for audiences, actors and creator Amy Sherman-Palladino alike.
The Western is an exciting genre. Once uber popular, now Western is merely a niche in the grand scheme of entertainment. Unlike any other genre, however, westerns can be described as America’s version of mythological storytelling.
Based on a series of novels written by Craig Johnson, the show focuses on Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor). Working in the fictional Wyoming county of Absaroka, he’s assisted by his daughter, a Cheyenne man, and a lawyer to investigate crimes in his jurisdiction. Widowed only a year before, he carries his problems close to the chest. When a new female deputy comes to his department, Longmire has to rearrange both his personal and professional life.
Not a period western, but taking place in modern day, the show was a huge success when it first aired. And when the network decided to cancel it, Netflix was ready to step up to the plate and ensure continuous service. With now six seasons, Longmire is a behemoth of a show, well worth your attention.
A resurrection of the oldest show on this list, “Full(er) House” has a special place. With “Full House’s” original run spanning eight years between 1987 and 1995, its existence on Netflix is a full-on sequel. The original was a huge success, with its nearly 200 episodes picked up for syndication after it ended and entertaining new audiences way past the 1990s.
After the unexpected death of her husband, D.J. Tanner (Candace Cameron Bure) finds herself a widowed mother of three. Now all grown up and returning home, the Tanner kids reunite. With the help of family and friends, they make sure that the next generation has a happy place to call home.
With regular appearances of the original cast, “Full(er) House” is more than a nostalgia cash-in. With three seasons already, and the fourth season on its way, the show has found its place in Netflix’s comedy line-up.
Netflix: The Home for Cult Favorites
The Netflix business model is indeed the ideal vehicle to deliver what traditional TV can not. No longer bound by the restrictions of limited airtime, the streaming service can provide shows directly to fans. Even though not every favorite lives on, it does not stop fans of canceled TV shows from lobbying Netflix. So, if one of your favorites is canceled, try that.