Thursday, March 14, 2013

Kickstarter, Veronica Mars, and The Future

So as I sit here typing, this is happening:


At the moment, they’ve raised 1.3 million dollars out of 2 million dollars needed.  (Note: I started writing this yesterday.  It’s actually around 2.6 million dollars now, which means it’s fully funded and THERE WILL BE MORE VERONICA MARS I AM SO HAPPY.)


If you didn’t click the link, then maybe you don’t know that I’m talking about Veronica Mars.


Look.  There aren’t many things I’ll support.  When my internet friend who happens to be one of my favorite authors, Brendan Halpin, did a Kickstarter to fund his next book, I kicked in.


I will kick in for him.  I know his book is going to be worth it.  I am dying to read it.


And this… this is Veronica Mars. This is something that I finally really gave up on, because the whole cast of Veronica Mars wanted to come back, and when the show was cancelled it went out on a cliffhanger, and the fans sent a ton of Mars Bars to Warner Brothers demanding that it get another season.


This is one of those things that Could Change Everything, as the saying goes.


But let me back up.


How devoted to Veronica Mars was I?  When WB and UPN became CW, I swore that if they cancelled Veronica Mars I would never watch their channel again.


(This ended up being a filthy lie.  I blame Supernatural.  And The Vampire Diaries.  And almost 90210.  I’ll get back to that.)


Let’s back up further.


I kind of hate jumping on shows at the start.  This has a lot to do with Firefly, because I was there from day one, and no one else was, and then the next thing I knew the show was gone and nothing was resolved.


Eventually, of course, I got Serenity, but it wasn’t quite the same.  After all, it meant compressing several seasons of TV into two hours.  It would be like making The Lord of the Rings into a 1 hour and 45 minute film.  You can do it, but it would never be the same animal.


So when I heard a few good things about Veronica Mars (Buffy minus Vampires plus Nancy Drew!) I didn’t bother to check into it.


But then, as some shows do (The Wire, Spartacus Buffy) the hype kept growing.  The people watching it went from viewers to LOVERS, people who couldn’t wait for the next hour, who talked about minute details, who quoted the show at each other.


And of course, the first season has a big mystery, and there was no way to catch up.


And I thought it might be cancelled anyway… but then it wasn’t.


No.  It got a second season.  And a season-one box set.  Which was released by boneheads after the second season started. 


This was before Hulu.  Before iTunes and Amazon and the CW sticking everything they have online and monetizing it was a thing.  If you missed something, it was just gone, mostly.


I mean, really.  I was recording episodes of the show using a VCR.  That’s where we were at.


But record them I did.  And I bought the box set.  And my wife and I took it with us when we went on a little pre-child second-ish type honeymoon, and when we were hanging out in the room and otherwise unoccupied, we TORE through the set, and it was SO much fun.


We finished the first season in a week.  Then we started watching the tapes and loaning out the set.


The first season ends with a mystery: Who is at the door?  We’d loan people the show, and they’d call us when they finished the episode and ask us WHO WAS AT THE DOOR because they had to know NOW.


We had to loan out the videotapes.  And eventually we caught up and it was hard because now we had to wait a week, or many weeks, to find out what was happening next.


And man… that season two ending.  When everything you know turns out to be wrong.  Blew my mind.  Blew it.


People rag on season three, but that wasn’t the fault of those making it.  The people with the money (CW) said they wanted shorter mysteries, and a bit of a reboot, just to let new people on board.


Then they took away some of their episodes.


Then they cancelled the show.  On a cliffhanger.


If the show was on today, with the numbers it was cancelled with, it would be higher rated than any two shows on the CW combined.


But that was then.  And for the record, I liked season three.  It wasn’t as good as the previous two season, but it was a lot better than much of what was on the air at the time.


There was talk of the comic.  I started seeking out Rob Thomas’ young adult novels as a sort of Mars methadone.  I did not send Mars bars, because why bother?


No.  I sat, and I waited.  I bought the rest of the box set, and loaned them to people, and tried to comfort them when they got to the last episode and went, “That’s it?”


Because, yeah, that was it. 


But now it’s not going to be anymore.


There has been talk, some of it angry, that it is not the fans’ job to put money directly into the pockets of someone like Time Warner.  That we will pay for this thing, and then a major corporation will ultimately reap the benefits.


I can see that side of it.


But I also recognize that it’s short-sighted.


The fact is, Time Warner claims (and perhaps it’s a lie) that it did “studies” that indicated making a Veronica Mars movie/TV show/whatever was always going to be a financial error.  For better or worse, they are in the business of making money, not losing it on really great projects.


Without fan money, this was never going to happen.  It just wasn’t.  And everyone was going to age, and soon this idea was going to be less and less appealing, and then… well, then the reasons to make the movie would vanish.


Will Warner Brother make a profit on this, in the end?  Probably.  But the fans are getting something, too.  They’re getting the movie they want.  Some of them are getting DVDs, or character names, or cameos, or videos from actors and/or actresses they’ve long enjoyed.


If you want to argue that Time Warner wins, because they get to make more money, well okay.


But really, we all win, because: MORE VERONICA MARS.


What really excites me about this is that it truly has the chance to change everything.  If Veronica Mars can raise 2 million dollars in a single day…


What if fans decided to pay for Doctor Horrible 2?


What if fans decided to back a few lost Joss Whedon scripts? 


Could there be enough fans and money to make another Firefly movie?


What about Phantasm V?  What about Bubba Nosferatu? 


What about another George Romero Dead movie?


Could we finally see a conclusion to Gilmore Girls that gives us the last four lines the creator swears she already knows?


Could Community get six seasons and a movie?


Could Pushing Daisies finally get a conclusion?


Movies, TV shows, books, music.  Does it matter if some corporation gets the back end if we, the audience, get what we want?


I really have no idea.  But in the meantime, MORE VERONICA MARS.

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