Kicks

March 16, 2013

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Three years ago I ranked Veronica Mars as the best American television series of this century – partly as a provocation, but also with the sincere belief that Rob Thomas’s teen neo(n)-noir belongs in the same pantheon as The Sopranos, The Wire, and now Mad Men.  So I was as excited as anybody when Thomas and star Kristen Bell made a surprise announcement on Wednesday that, with the blessing of Warner Bros. (which owns the rights), the long-promised, long-in-doubt Veronica Mars movie would become a reality this summer if a $2 million crowdsourced fund was raised.  Fans coughed up the two mil in under twelve hours, and they still have nearly another month to add to the budget.  A torrent of think pieces have followed, probably far exceeding whatever press the series got when it was on the air (where were you when we needed you?).  Critics who kvetch that fans are paying for the movie twice – once to make it and again to see it – and that Warner Bros. is exploiting a grass-roots system not meant to benefit a multi-billion-dollar media conglomerate have a point.  But, as one guy on my Twitter feed said: “But me still want movie!”

The Neptune pledge drive was such an instant success that it didn’t take long for fans, critics, and still-sulking show-runners to wonder: what other shows can we bring back from the dead this way?  Ace TV-beat journo Alan Sepinwall noted that Veronica was something of a perfect Kickstarter storm; you need “a very particular set of circumstances to pull this magic trick off.”  Namely: a pre-existing property with a built-in cult; a creator and cast who care enough to come back, and also haven’t become megastars in the interim; and something that doesn’t cost a fortune.  ($2 million was by far the biggest movie-oriented Kickstarter ever initiated, but that figure is less, by as much as half, than the budget of a single episode of most hour-long TV dramas.)  Most of the other shows that have been eagerly advanced fail one or more of those tests.  Everyone from Deadwood is an A-lister with major commitments.  The effects-driven Firefly is too expensive.  Terriers and Party Down might be cheap enough to fit the bill, but their fan base is smaller than Veronica’s.

I have another idea.

Let’s bring back Coronet Blue.

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Think about it: This strange, existential mystery still casts a spell over some of the audience that saw it during its brief summer run in 1967.  (It was shot two years earlier; the network had no idea what to do with it.)  After The Fugitive, it was one of the first prime-time dramas to have an ongoing, underlying conflict (amnesiac Michael Alden searches for his identity, while being confounded by various sinister figures), but unlike The Fugitive, it didn’t last long enough to provide a resolution.

Coronet

Let’s go over the Kickstarter checklist, shall we?  The star, Frank Converse (above), and his sidekick, Brian Bedford, are both still alive and still active.  The show’s creator, Larry Cohen, seems to look back upon Coronet Blue with affection – and he says he knows how the show would have ended.  And as for costs, well, they made these for under $200K back in the sixties, and Cohen went on to become one of the great low-budget film directors of the seventies.  He could shoot it in his backyard, just like he made his first feature, the terrific Bone (1972).  One wonders how Paramount, which owns the show, would feel about all of this.  But, hey, they love me over there after I reamed ’em about the music replacement on the original Fugitive DVDs.  Just tell ’em I said this is cool and it’ll be all good.

Of course, there are only about twelve of us who still remember Coronet Blue, so we’d probably all have to kick in a hundred grand or so.  But, y’know, details, right?

Converse2

Update: Or….

We could start kicking up a Route 66 reunion movie for the 50th anniversary of the end of its road next year.  All you’d need are Maharis, Milner, and a vintage ‘Vette.

Let’s see: Buz comes out of the closet.  Tod has been incapacitated by a stroke, but still manages a tear when Buz tells him what he’s known all along.  Buz drives his old pal around to all the cities and towns they visited fifty-some years ago.  Now they’re all paved over with Targets and Starbucks, and they all look alike.  When they reach the Grand Canyon, the (old) boys end the movie by doing a Thelma and Louise….

Yeah, the coins are gonna come rollllllin’ in!!!

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11 Responses to “Kicks”

  1. Rochdalian Says:

    Speaking about Frank Converse, how about reviving NYPD, inasmuch as Robert Hooks is still around as well (alas, Jack Warden has passed on)?

  2. Griff Says:

    I can’t swing a hundred grand, but tell Larry that I recall CORONET BLUE with great fondness — I remember asking an disinterested record store clerk back in the day if the show’s catchy theme had been recorded! — and if he wants to go Kickstarter to make a CORONET feature, I’m in for a few bucks. Knowing the skills of the inventive Mr. Cohen, he could make TWO movies for whatever he takes in…

  3. Mark Speck Says:

    I believe the theme WAS recorded by Lenny Welch when he recorded for the Kapp label. He was the guy who had the big hit on “Since I Fell For You” a couple of years prior.


  4. Of all the possible programmes to bring back that I would gladly pay good money to see, “CORONET BLUE” definitely tops the list! It deserves a great ending as much as “BRANDED” did.

    Almost none of Larry Cohen’s creations lasted beyond 48 episodes, yet a couple still manage to be syndicated to this day! Ironically, the long-running series, “THE DOCTORS & THE NURSES”, from which “CORONET BLUE” was spun off has probably never been seen on TV or home video since.

  5. Arthur Tashiro Says:

    A 1985 episode of TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE called “Distant Signals” is relevant. An alien played by Lenny Von Dohlen seeks out Darren McGavin, playing the star of a old, abruptly-canceled show about an amnesiac detective named Max Paradise, who was searching for clues to his past. Dohlen’s race want to know how the story comes out, so they finance a new episode.

  6. Editor 52 Says:

    I am so glad to finally find someone else who not only remembers Coronet Blue, but gives it the love it deserves? I really enjoyed that show, but have spent the rest of my life wondering what the myserious phrase really meant. Where do II send a check so I can find out the ending.

  7. Stephen Bowie Says:

    …. and since nobody asked, that last image of Frank Converse comes from an episode of last year’s NYC 22 (“Block Party”), which also guest starred Leslie Uggams.

  8. James Elliot Says:

    Has Frank Converse ever been interviewed about Coronet Blue?

  9. Stephen Bowie Says:

    I have a vague memory that someone told me Converse would not do interviews, but I can’t recall the specifics.

  10. Lawrence Preston Says:

    The show was stuck on the schedule with no promotion or fanfare two years after it was made and became the hit show of the summer. CBS really dropped the ball with this one. Other than Whispering Smith, I can’t think of any other network shows that sat in the can for 2 years.

  11. James Elliot Says:

    There must be at least one interview with Frank Converse about the show.


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