I could make the argument that television is currently in a better state than film. With the BBC recently putting out some great series in the last 12 months including Bodyguard, Line of Duty and the adaption of A Christmas Carol, more and more acclaimed writers, directors and actors are choosing the small screen over the silver one.
But here is an interesting thought. Is there a perfect television series? Some would argue The Office (UK), others might say Breaking Bad. The totality of this series is what sets them apart, along with the consistency of each episode and the genre defining moments in each.
Some series have really strong starts but just like your dad, end up letting you down. [Editor’s Note: our dad is great, thank you.] Lost had an incredible start but petered out, How I Met Your Mother over-complicated it’s great premise to leave you feeling cheated and the less said about the last series of Game of Thrones the better.
But recently, while watching the second series of the absolutely stunning teen drama Sex Education on Netflix, a thought occurred to me. What series have I watched, that if they ended after one series they would still be incredible and viewed exactly the same as they are now?
That’s not to diminish their later series, but to take a page out of the Good Omens TV Series, maybe one and done would be better?
Let me give you some examples and explain my thinking.
The programme that gave me inspiration for this theory. If you haven’t seen the series, stop reading here and go and dedicate the next 813 minutes of your life to watching it. I’ll wait……….. Brilliant, right?! Isn’t Eric great? Yeah, Isaac should go fuck himself!
The series, set somewhere and in some time period, is a fantastic portrayal of the trials and tribulations surrounding being a teenager and your first experience of sex. The series handles topic such as Asexuality, Sexual Assault, Consent, Abortion and Slut Shaming in such a deft and gentle way, while also not feeling like a liberal circle jerk.
And while series two is full of stunning moments and expands bit part characters into fully formed incredible players in the drama, I am led to wonder about its existence. And if the first series had changed it’s ending to put a big bow on proceedings, would the series be perfect? We of course won’t know, but spending time with these characters is always a joy.
Now this one has legs: as the first series of Fleabag is based on the one woman show by creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, there isn’t any precedent for a second series. Fleabag’s first series reminded me of your Dad hitting the Buffet Bar at Pizza Hut: funny, upsetting and not big on dignity. [Editor’s Note: how did Dad upset you this week?]
So when the second series was announced with a few more guest stars including Andrew Scott’s now iconic Hot Priest. It was met with trepidation but later huge praise. And while the first series had a far more theatrical feel to it, the second series was far more televisual. What if PWB had just left us with the first series? And ended the whole thing with the Bank Manager giving her another chance?
The first series of the Netflix and Marvel collaboration hit our screens in 2015 and for a time was, in my opinion, the best comic to tv series adaptation of all time. It was brilliant. A superhero story fronted by the toughest most badass woman put to screen since Pat Butcher. A tragic character whose recovery from sexual abuse at the hands of David Tennant’s Kilgrave was the motivation for her becoming a hero. Tennant’s villain is still the best villain Marvel has put to screen and the whole series, with its noir tone, was outstanding. Due to its success, a series 2 and 3 followed and do you know what? They are pretty excellent. The character development of supporting characters and Jessica’s ever changing relationship with her adoptive sister are some of the high points. But if all we had was series one, Jessica vs Kilgrave, I’d be ok with that.
The little watched Channel 4 programme was cancelled after two series, but is set for a big American remake in the next year. The first series dealt with conspiracy and secret government agencies, as it followed a group of young adults obsessed with a graphic novel, alongside a government scientist investigating mysterious deaths. Could the two things be linked? SPOILER ALERT!!!!! Yes they could.
The first series of Utopia was stylish and intense and a real shot in the arm for Channel 4 which had been coasting on reruns of old American comedies for too long. The end of the second series of Utopia opened up a whole new idea, on where it would take the series. But the axe was swung and we never got to see it.
If the series had just been finished at the end of Series 1, we would have a complete perfect series, rather than one cut down in its prime.
Once Upon a Time
The plot of Once Upon a Time is pretty simple. A child given up for adoption travels from his home in Storybooke to New York to convince the woman he believes is his mother to return to his home with him, and help break the curse that has trapped all of their family in our world. Oh and by the way, all of the characters are Disney characters. You see, simple.
Now while it seems like a terrible episode of The Twilight Zone, the first series of OUAT is actually great and has a real sense of Twin Peaks and some horror and Sci-Fi thrown in as well.
The entire series as a whole is great, if a little bit soapy in parts, and the characters talk about ‘true love’ more than your ex when they broke up with you because your relationship lacked it.
But the later series never quite captured the mystery of the first series which is an incredibly re-watchable run.
Now now now. Before you shout at me and tell me you don’t love me, just like my dad did this morning [Editor’s Note: Oh, there it is.]. Hear me out.
The first series of Stranger Things was a cultural phenomenon. The homage to 80’s films like the Goonies or ET, the killer soundtrack, the fantastic performances from adults and children alike and the downright excellent story, Stranger Things became arguably Netflix’s biggest success.
Series 2 and 3 are excellent, especially 3, especially the ending of 3, but I do wonder if Stranger Things had just been a one off series, it still would’ve made the same cultural impact and been regarded in exactly the same light.
So there we have it, a few examples of series that could’ve ended after just one, but went on to be brilliant series that you should check out. Did I miss any? Let me know.
This post was authored by Flicks.