'Community' and 5 Other Beloved TV Shows That the Internet Saved
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The Fiscal Times
July 3, 2014

Even if you’re not a fan of the delightfully odd 'Community' (you probably should be, though), you’ve almost certainly seen on the web or heard via a frothy-mouthed fanboy that the series was saved from cancellation by Marissa Mayer's Yahoo.

It's a great move on Yahoo's part as the web giant looks to build up its Yahoo Screen video platform, but it’s not the first time a cult hit has gotten an Internet-assisted reprieve.

Even before the Internet became the entertainment center it is today, struggling shows jumped from network to network for survival. "Futurama" jumped from Fox to Comedy Central five years after its initial cancellation. "Family Guy" was rescued from cancellation when reruns, bought by Cartoon Network’s "Adult Swim" for next to nothing, started performing exceedingly well in its late-night timeslot.

Related: King of the Streamers? HBO and Amazon Team Up to Challenge Netflix

Now though, the ever expanding Internet marketplace and rise of different streaming services — big players like Hulu and Netflix, niche services like CrunchyRoll, small up-and-comers like Crackle, plus, yes, Yahoo — make it much easier for a show to be revived after the big networks have sucked them dry and tossed them aside like a useless husk. That’s not even counting the limitless opportunities for fans to fund their own revivals via crowdfunding campaigns through Kickstarter and the like.

Here are just a few shows that have been saved through the power of the Internet:

"Arrested Development"
This was almost certainly the most prominent initial example of a web “streamer” buying out a former network show. Another under-watched, but fantastically dry and funny show, Arrested Development developed a firm following in the years after its cancellation on Fox. Protests from fans fell on deaf ears and it seemed that all was lost for the Bluth family until Netflix swooped in, bringing the show back from the dead almost seven years after its cancellation. Now if only the revival wasn’t so sub-par…

The show still has a chance to prove itself, though. In a radio interview late last year, “Arrested Development” creator Mitch Hurwitz announced that he was looking to make the much-rumored movie based on the show, as well as continuing the Netflix series with a fifth season. And funding shouldn’t be an issue: Netflix’s Reed Hastings has made it clear that for “AD,” there’s always money in the Banana Stand.

"Veronica Mars"
This groundbreaking CW show, featuring a young Kristen Bell as an amateur private detective-slash-high-schooler, raked in over 20 awards during its three short seasons, making its way onto plenty of top-ten lists. Though ostensibly a young-adult series, the show also gained a fair amount of adult fans. All seemed to be going well until the show was put on a mid-season hiatus in 2007 for a reality show called Pussycat Dolls Present (seriously). The show did come back to finish the rest of it season, but it just couldn’t regain its momentum and was canceled near the end of that year.

Related: Crowdfunding Clash: How Indiegogo Wants to Kick Kickstarter’s @$$

Then, in 2013, the show’s creators took to KickStarter to solicit donations for a feature film based on the series. The campaign blew past its $2 million goal, ending the campaign at almost $6 million. The released movie earned solid reviews, with a 77 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and there’s talk of both a sequel and a spin-off television series in the works.

"Reading Rainbow"
Take a look, it’s a book…. Yes, the adored LeVar Burton educational series is looking to make a comeback. The long-running PBS show that encouraged child literacy garnered over 200 broadcast awards during its 15-year tenure on the air.

Realizing that television is an antiquated medium through which to talk to this generation of children, Burton sought to use Kickstarter to fund access to Reading Rainbow material through the show’s iPad and Android apps, as well as hoping to expand the vault of Reading Rainbow material across a wide variety of devices and platforms.

Related: House of Cards, The New Media Crack for Netflix Addicts

Though the Kickstarter campaign was initially set with a goal of a relatively paltry $1 million. But with some concerted fundraising efforts from Burton and incredibly generous contributions from Family Guy creator Seth Macfarlane, donations quickly reached a record-breaking level. At the time of writing, the campaign is pushing $5 million, with 19 hours of fundraising still to go.

"Blue Mountain State"
As much as some may vehemently dislike this juvenile, low-brow college comedy series, it’s hard to deny that it has a dedicated fanbase, which consisting mainly of twenty-something frat boys. That college fanbase cobbled together almost $2 million in Kickstarter funding for a “Blue Mountain State” movie, giving fans some closure after the show was abruptly canceled by Spike TV in early 2012. “BMS: The Movie” is due to start filming in August this year.

"The Killing"
AMC’s Danish transplant, which followed a single murder over the course of two seasons, faced its fair share of tribulations. It was canceled after two seasons, then brought back to AMC. While the third season ended up airing on AMC, the network also announced that it wouldn't continue carrying the show. Netflix once again swooped into the picture and ordered a fourth season of the slow-burning mystery, in the form of six miniseries-length installments. According to Netflix, the show’s episodic, binge-watchable nature was a large factor in the decision. As Netflix’s VP of original programming, Cindy Holland, said to ScreenRant:

“The rich, serialized storytelling in ‘The Killing’ thrives on Netflix […] We are looking forward to offering fans — both existing and new — a series that we know is perfectly suited for on-demand viewing.”

Fans are very grateful.

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Born and raised in South Africa, Andrew Lumby is The Fiscal Times' Technical Producer. He also writes about gaming, entertainment and technology.