It’s been a whirlwind year for Netflix, as it attempts to stay well ahead of the curve. Unfortunately, most of CEO Reed Hastings’ attempts have backfired, from raising the subscription cost to his attempt to spin off the mail-in DVD service. He also revealed that Netflix’s ultimate goal is to become more like HBO, and that the service would like to be 60 percent original content at some point in the future. The first step toward that goal was smart: They made a deal to make 10 new episodes of “Arrested Development,” paving the way toward a feature film. Since then? One boneheaded idea after another.
First they tossed around the idea of picking up the little seen, not very good series, “The River” after its cancellation, and this week it was reported that Netflix has approached CBS about reviving “Jericho,” a series that has gained a decent following post-cancellation on CBS, but that wasn’t that great to begin with (at least after a solid opening season).
The question is: Why are they messing about with series few people care about that much, like “The River” or “Jericho,” when they could be exploring the possibility of reviving these 10 series, each of which would fare far better on the online subscription service.
1. Better Off Ted — An obvious choice, the ABC comedy from Victor Fresco (“Andy Richter Controls the Universe”) lasted only 26 blissful episodes. The show, which probably gained much of its audience on Netflix after it went off the air, was a cross between “Arrested Development” and a brilliant skewering of corporate America starring Portia de Rossi, Jay Harington, and Andrea Anders. Netflix obviously doesn’t need time-slot partners, but “Better Off Ted” would be a perfect companion series to its “Arrested Development” revival.
2. Party Down — The supremely low-rated Starz series (it was watched by fewer than 1 million people during its initial run) gained a huge cult following thanks to Netflix. Now that “Arrested Development” has signed up for its comeback, “Party Down” is probably the one series that is the subject of the most feature film rumors. It’s a largely improvised, low budget series, and Rob Thomas could probably knock out 10 episodes during Adam Scott’s “Parks and Recreation” hiatus. Also, Lizzy Caplan:
3. Terriers — It’s been off the air for a little over a year, it was beloved by a small but very enthusiastic audience, it could be done on a small budget, and it would give a lot of the “Justified” writers something to do during that show’s hiatus. Donal Logue has yet to land elsewhere and Michael Raymond James doesn’t have much going for him, either. If Netflix put it into development quickly, the show could pick up right where it left off: At the traffic sign, trying to decide which way to turn. The Internet would go crazy.
4. Awake — It’s not yet officially been cancelled by NBC, but it will be. Netflix would be smart to swoop in and pick it up, put the first season out during production, and then pick up where the first season left off six months from now. Better still, without the need to hew to the procedural formula friendly to network television, “Awake” would be able to play around with its format further, develop the conspiracy, and really get into the show’s conceit. The only catch? Laura Allen may not be available if Netflix also picks up “Terriers.”
5. Lone Star — From one Kyle Killen series to another, the “Lone Star” pilot was probably the best pilot of the last two years, but it was little seen and Fox canceled the ambitious show about one man’s double life after the second episode. There are probably quite a few more episodes already completed, and Netflix could build on that. Plus, without network restrictions, perhaps Adrianne Palicki could liven up the sex scenes by removing her clothes.
6. Men of a Certain Age — The critically beloved but ratings starved drama on TNT simply wasn’t a good fit for the station in part because there was no procedural component. It was a magnificent, brilliantly written, thoughtful and languid show about aging that demonstrated that Ray Romano could actually act. Better still, Andre Braugher would give Netflix its first legitimate shot at an Emmy.
7. Lost — It sounds far-fetched, but Damon Lindelof has already suggested that the show will likely be rebooted without his involvement. Why not do it on Netflix? This time, they could do it right.
8. Dead Like Me — The show was canceled after two seasons in 2004, but it’s not as though there’s an expiration date on grim reapers. In fact, there was a (terrible) direct-to-DVD movie in 2009 that was meant to reboot the series, but it gained no traction. Netflix could afford the talent it takes to get it right, and hopefully Ellen Muth has maintained her cuteness over the years.
9. Lights Out — “Lights Out” had a pretty great, underrated opening season on FX, and while part of me is happy to leave well enough alone, before its cancelation, the showrunner claimed to have some solid ideas for subsequent seasons. I don’t know how long I’d stick with it, but Holt McCallany was great in the show, and I’d definitely give it a few episodes. Plus, it’s another one of those shows that has been so recently canceled, it’d be possible to bring it back with a shorter hiatus than the one between the fourth and fifth season of “Mad Men.”
10. Deadwood — Look, I’m not going to be greedy. I don’t expect Netflix to pick up the show to series. But you know, it was one of the best shows of the last decade, and it never got a proper ending. It’d be really nice, and I would reward Netflix with an automatic year-long subscription, if they’d just film the “Deadwood” movie that David Milch had in mind to wrap up the series. Is that too much to ask? And I’m sure the principal cast, especially Timothy Olyphant, would be game to return to make the movie. Plus, think about all the people who would go back and re-watch — or watch for the first time — all of “Deadwood” to prepare themselves for the movie. It’s a win win for everyone: Netflix, HBO, and “Deadwoods” fans, old and new alike.