TV and Movie Series That Refused to Die, but Should Have.
Sometimes when I make a list for one of these blog posts, I start to struggle as I reach the end. Sometimes I might make it a list of five because I know I don’t have enough items to get to ten.
But a list of TV and film series that refused to die and staggered on for far too long?
I was spoilt for choice.
I got to thinking about this because I was mulling over the problem of how far to take the Joe Coffin books. We’re up to Season Four so far, and there will definitely be a Five and a Six, but after that? I’m not sure.
I’d love to carry on and write more. But I don’t want the Joe Coffin books to fade away into a tepid quagmire of stupid plots and boring characters.
I’d rather finish with a bang.
Or even a fang.
Anyway, those are thoughts for another day.
Here are my own personal list of top ten TV and film series that should have quit while they were ahead, in reverse order. (Ooh, the excitement!)
10. The Amityville Horror
I haven’t seen any of the sequels. Not one. But I decided to put this film series on the list after learning that there are twenty-three films in the Amityville franchise.
I suppose there must be money in there somewhere, and at least one of them gave poor Eric Roberts a job for a day or two, but really?
Let’s move on.
9. Star Wars
Something else that got me thinking about franchises that go on for too long was a conversation with a friend the other day about Star Wars, and he said, “It’s a shame that there are more Star Wars films that I don’t like than ones that I do.”
Oh dear, Star Wars.
How many of us who were devoted fans of the original trilogy suffered that light sabre through the chest upon seeing The Phantom Menace? I remember ranting in the back of my friend’s car as we drove home, and I remember still ranting sitting in bed next to my wife.
Poor Mrs Preston. She puts up with a lot, you know.
It was as though George Lucas had made some sort of perverse decision to alienate all his fanbase. And then, to make sure we got the message, he brought out two more spiteful hate letters to the original trilogy. Films whose titles I can’t even remember right now, and certainly can’t be bothered to look up on Google.
Damn it, I’ve started ranting again.
I feel like I’m stuck in an episode of Spaced.
The first Robocop movie is perfect. A great cast, Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Ronny Cox and Kurtwood Smith in particular, a grungy, violent story along with comic book visuals and one truly awful scene of violence which actually matters for once, Robocop should have finished with that grin from Peter Weller as he rediscovers his identity.
But no. There were two sequels, a live action TV series and an animated one, and a remake. And now there are plans for a sequel to the original film. Wouldn’t it be great if they got Peter Weller and Nancy Allen back? An older, even more battle scarred Robocop.
Anyway, they should have finished with the first one.
7. The Terminator.
Again, another perfect first film. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, and of course (yes!) Dick Miller. The Terminator is one of those films I was able to watch over and over, and never grow bored. Even the the time travel plot seemed to make sense, for once. My experience was slightly spoilt at one viewing, in Amsterdam where the audience laughed their heads off when Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese make love.
Fantastic pacing, brilliant visual effects, amazing action and what about some of those lines of dialogue? My favourite is Kyle Reese’s line: ‘It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.’
But then Arnie had to go and say, ‘I’ll be back.’
And it was funny.
We just didn’t realise how literal he was being.
Five sequels and two TV series later, isn’t it time to just give up? To be fair, Judgement Day was good, although I could have done without the thumbs up from Arnie at the end.
But I haven’t seen any of the others.
Life’s too short.
6. The Hobbit
Three huge movies to tell the story of one not particularly long or complicated book?
I loved Dexter. You probably did too.
I loved the man, I loved the TV series, I loved his sister and his girlfriend and his dad.
And then they went and ruined everything with that final series.
It had started to go downhill before then of course, and I started losing interest after the Season Four finale. But I kept going, enjoying seeing Peter Weller turn up in Season Five in particular. Season Eight was a form of torture to be honest, but I’d gone too far to stop without seeing it through to the end.
I shouldn’t have. That final episode, that final shot. What a cop out.
4. Indiana Jones
I struggled with the idea of putting the Indiana Jones films in this list.
Obviously the first three films are great. Even The Temple of Doom.
Classics, each and every one of them.
And then we arrive at The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Like its title, this fourth instalment in the series is a little awkward. A little, oh I don’t know, unsure of itself? And it’s the one with the biggest identity crisis. Harrison Ford is obviously growing a little too old for these shenanigans, so we get his son to tag along for the adventure too. Which is a good idea, and another riff on the idea of father/son relationships played out so well in The Last Crusade with Sean Connery as Indie’s father.
But then they had to go and spoil it all by having Shia LaBeouf play Indie’s son.
Also, the film doesn’t know whether it wants to be a modern CGI fest or a hark back to the original trilogy with physical effects. You can kind of feel the tension throughout between producer George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg.
But I have an admission to make here.
I kind of like The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
And I’m looking forward to number five.
But still, there’s a strong case to be made that they should have finished the series with The Last Crusade.
3. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
If I had to choose one film on this list that should have been left alone, left to stand by itself, it may well be this one. A no budget shocker that exploded out of nowhere in a shower of guts and gore, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre had a raw, edgy, violent quality that had no equal at the time. This film presented a particular problem to the BBFC of the 1970s as much of its violence was implied, and so proved difficult to trim down to an acceptable version.
In the end it was banned.
Tobe Hooper, Hollywood, you should have left Leatherface and his family alone. But no, first up was Tobe Hooper’s 1986 comedy sequel with Dennis Hopper. I tried watching it once. I didn’t get very far. I skipped ahead to the end.
So far we are up to seven sequels and remakes. One of them in 3D.
Hollywood, you just don’t know when to leave well enough alone.
2. The Walking Dead
What a zombie gut punch that first series was. And then that zombie pulled your guts out and ate them in front of you. Wow, that first season. Amazing.
And then came the second season where they camped out on a farm for the entire running time.
Actually, I know Season Two gets a bad rap, but I enjoyed it.
Then we got the fourth season in the prison and the introduction of the Governor. I don’t now, maybe I get bored easily, but I started going off the Walking Dead at this point. Everyone raved about the Governor but I really didn’t think much of him.
We’re about up to Season Ten now, and there are three films scheduled for production.
Perhaps I’m just being grumpy, but it all seems a bit much to me.
You knew we were going to finish here, didn’t you?
My all-time favourite film, the best film ever made, and what did they do?
Ruined it with three sequels.
At least they stopped at film number four, Jaws the Revenge. As dreadful as that film is, I’m guessing it still could have got a lot worse.
Roy Scheider (for contractual reasons only) returned for the first sequel, which isn’t too bad. Thankfully he was able to avoid the embarrassment of Jaws 3D, but features in edited footage from Jaws in the final film. I hope he got paid.
I suppose it might still be possible that there will be more sequels, or even (NOOOOOO!!!!) a remake.
Let’s hope not.
There you go, my list of films and TV series that should not have gone on for as long as they did.
And what about Joe Coffin? How many books do you think there should be?
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