Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Power Rankings: Movies/TV Series Deserving of a Sequel

---Sorry if there are any spoilers. I will try not to ruin any endings…---
This list is less about movies that would become typical franchises (Drag Me to Hell, Serenity) or sequels that would essentially be remaking the first one with a different setting (Inside Man, Groundhog Day). Instead, it is more about characters that could be revisited, an interesting idea that could be expanded upon, or looming questions that need to be answered with another film. The TV series mentioned are ones that got just one season and deserved many more. First seasons usually end with the audience wanting to see more, or with a cliffhanger that will bring the audience back. Not all deserve a second shot, but several undoubtedly got shafted.

For the sake of objectivity, I am going to ignore my favorite films for this list. Obviously I would like to revisit Michael, Stan, Axel, Steve, and Linda some 30 years later. I would like to see if William Miller ever gets together with Penny, and if not, how closely he resembles Lester Bangs as his career goes along. I would like to see Maya, Jack, and Miles a decade later. I would love to see what happened when Will found Skylar and if they ever move back to Southie. However, I am not sure if any of those would make particularly great movies, which makes me want those to just be left alone (and why I am endlessly skeptical of a Kill Bill Vol. 3). Anyway, without further ado, here are movies that actually deserve to be revisited at some point:

Others receiving votes: The 40 Year Old Virgin, Hot Fuzz, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Streetwise, This Is Spinal Tap, Unbreakable, Watchmen

10. Boiler Room (2000). This may be somewhat of a personal choice, but if Wall Street (an inferior film) warranted a sequel, then this certainly does. The film has one of my favorite groups of characters of the 2000s. The competitive banter and rivalry between them is just a perfect image of spoiled “Wall Street” yuppies. I would love to spend another couple hours with these characters, mainly because I want to know what they are up to now. Can they sustain real jobs? Did Chris get out in time? Does Seth reopen his casino? I will never understand how such an appealing movie can be so underrated, especially with that cast. It needs to be revisited at some point. Come on Ben Younger! You have only made one movie since! Get on it!
9. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (TV Series, 2006). This is another case where I will never understand the lack of popularity it has. Not only is Aaron Sorkin one of the most brilliant television minds ever, but the series had solid ratings. They ruined the show by chopping its single season into three different parts. The show was so in-the-moment that it would have been fascinating to see how it developed over multiple years. It is exhilarating to watch what goes on behind the scenes of sketch comedy shows and how dark and serious the people are about being funny. The season is sort of wrapped up with a bow, knowing that it wasn’t going any further, but there is so much more story to tell here. Does the off-again on-again relationship of Matt and Harriet last? How does Danny deal with his newfound responsibilities? So many of the storylines have so much room for expansion, and the writing is so biting and sharp that I can’t help but think that this would have been a classic. If it had been released today, it would have been much more popular.

8. Inception (2010). If there was ever a movie or a concept that created enough room to make a dozen movies, it is Inception. Seeing how insanely popular it was, I cannot fathom Christopher Nolan not taking it even deeper at some point. Everyone has their own theory as to what it all means. It took several viewings for me to really understand it, which is why it is so fascinating. I would almost want to see a prequel about the inception of Inception. What if they implanted an idea in the wrong person and had to go back in to take it out? What if Cobb was the one being incepted in Inception? There are so many layers to this story, and there are no limits to how penetrating the story can be. It is bound to happen, and even though I am not the biggest fan of the film, I would there in a heartbeat for another.

7. The Departed (2006). Now, the film that The Departed is based on, Infernal Affairs, had both a sequel and a prequel. Both are warranted for what is arguably the best American film of the last ten years. Dignam is the best character in the film and it would be amazing to watch an entire film about his character. A prequel based on any of the characters or stories would be awesome. William Monaghan wrote the script with so much passion and with so many layers that there is so much potential for expansion. What happens to Dignam? What happens to Madolyn? How was Sullivan’s early career as a cop under the rule of Costello? How did Costello rise to power? These characters are so intriguing and well-rounded that following any of them would be a pleasure to watch. The storylines from the Infernal Affairs series are already there, so even copying those would be fine. I just want more!
6. Tropic Thunder (2008). Sequel may not be the best word to use for what I want here. Spin-off is much more appropriate. I have long been talking about how hilarious a Les Grossman spin-off would be (watch this clip and its related videos), which would be pure gold and a comeback of sorts for the much-maligned Tom Cruise. Kirk Lazarus and Tugg Speedman would be interesting to see a movie about, or a movie about the making of Simple Jack or Satan’s Alley. What exactly was Four Leaf’s experience in the war? How does Les Grossman conduct daily business in Hollywood? What exactly was shown in Tropic Blunder that warranted Speedman getting an Oscar? What does Lazarus do next after what was probably perceived the most offensive character in modern film? Movies about movies are a personal favorite of mine, and there has not been a funnier one in decades. With all of these stars and all of these hilarious characters, making a spin-off should not be a problem. At least the Grossman one is planned…

5. Rounders (1998). If there is never a sequel made for Rounders, then it would be a huge wasted opportunity. Several movies since have tried to tap into the market for poker films, but none have ever come close to eclipsing it. It changed the game for movies about poker, and it is now considered somewhat of a classic in its own right. There are tons of storylines that could be expanded upon after the film ends. An immediate sequel would have been most beneficial, showing what happens when Mike gets to Vegas. What happens with Worm? Does KGB send Grama after him? Do KGB and Mike ever meet again on the felt? All great niche films like this deserve a sequel at some point, and I am not sure that there is a deserving one than this modern groundbreaker.
4. No Country for Old Men (2007). A sequel to No Country for Old Men would be interesting, since there are no more books following the characters. However, a spin-off would not be out of the question. Javier Bardem would probably want to reprise his career role at some point. Imagine an entire movie dedicated to one of the most chilling villains of all time. Where does he go? Does he get caught? What is the significance of that car wreck? There are tons of storylines that could be created for this character. He is so haunting, because we have no idea what is going on inside his head. He kills every person who lays eyes on him. He is like the Terminator. This would be the perfect source for the Coen Brothers first ever sequel.

3. District 9 (2009). This is probably the most obvious choice on this list. The original was shockingly popular without any great marketing or anyone famous involved in the actual production of the film. It changed the game for what is expected from sci-fi films, and it ends with a cliffhanger. What happens when Christopher gets home? Is he going to come back? What exactly ended up happening to Wikus? Neill Blomkamp obviously left the door open for a sequel, which he has not created a story for yet. He is busy with his second feature, but he said that if everyone wants to revisit this story then he would love to do it. I think we can all agree that he should just go ahead and start writing it now.
2. Hoop Dreams (1994). This may be a bit of a copout, but we need a follow-up to this movie. Obviously, this is the best documentary ever made. Every moment of it is crucial, and it always rings so true and leaves the audience wondering how the filmmakers got so lucky with the story. It chronicles two young teenagers who are chasing their dream of playing in the NBA through different routes. When the film ends, all the audience wants is more. We are here 18 years after the release of the film, and so much more has happened with the two subjects of the film. Do they end up playing college ball? Do they ever sniff the NBA? How did the success of the film impact their chances and livelihoods? It is such a unique case, and while the basketball questions are about the least interesting issues in their stories, they are still the backbone. This should turn into something like the Up documentary series, giving us an update on what they are doing periodically. Steve James is a genius and one of our best storytellers, so I trust that he would make it with the same passion that he did Hoop Dreams. I don’t think that he knows any other way.

1. Playmakers (TV Series, 2003). When I first thought about this list, it was a no-brainer what would eventually wind up topping it. The one season we got of Playmakers was one of the 5-10 greatest television seasons I have ever seen. The show was about a professional football team that was brutally honest in its portrayal of how they live off the field. It was an ESPN original series, and the NFL was so worried about how accurate and grim they made the league look that it negotiated with ESPN to take the show off the air. It is most frustrating because the show was so popular, ESPN’s most watched program other than their live football games. I used to watch every episode 3 times on the first day it aired. The season ends with such a shock, and we are left breathless and wanting more. How does the team rebound? Can Taylor stay retired? How does Luther Hawkins eventually change the league? Ok, we may already know that one. Each character had so many skeletons and so much drama. This was one of the finest ensemble pieces I have seen on TV, and looking back on it, it was visionary in the themes and issues it raised. How did HBO or some other cable network not buy the show and keep it going? A second season now would be completely ridiculous, but there has never been a show that got screwed out of future seasons more than this one.
Any others? This topic is fairly wide-open, so feel free to comment, criticize, or give your own.


  1. I think as far as television shows deserving sequels/follow-ups/spin-offs/what have you, one that stands above the rest is "Arrested Development". This, however, would be moot to add do the list at this point due to the planned fourth season and eventual film.

    A sequel/follow-up to "Hoop Dreams" would be fantastic, but I think at this point a little too much is known about the subjects' post-film lives and careers to really warrant something as involved as a sequel.

    As far as the list you've posted goes, the only other one I'd have to argue against (only lightly, of course, because the film was brilliant) would be "No Country for Old Men". While I would love to see Javier Bardem really do anything as Anton Chigurh, I think the nature of both the novel and film would almost be violated if a follow-up were made. The abrupt and maddeningly unresolved plot is what makes the story linger so powerfully for me.

    "Playmakers" is a really interesting #1 pick. I remember it being a huge topic of conversation while it was on then suddenly disappearing. I think a full rewatching is in order, but I could definitely see them picking it up. Since so much time has passed, I don't think they could get away with a picks-up-where-we-left-ff kind of sequel, but something even tangentially involving the team and the events that followed would be awesome.

    A series that absolutely warrants another season (at the very least) is "Jericho". I was pleasantly surprised at how thoughtful and interesting the show turned out to be, given that "post-apocalyptic" material started to get very monotonous.

    And because I couldn't not say it: "Deadwood". Good heavens, this turned into one of my favorite television shows of all time in about two episodes. Ian McShane is the best and most well-acted villain I've seen in a television series (John Hannah's Batiatus from "Spartacus" is a not-too-distant second, though). The remaining cast members all turn in a perfectly subdued performance: Tim Olyphant, Anna Gunn, Molly Parker, Keith Carradine, Garrett Dillahunt, John Fawkes. Each and every one of them plays naturally and believably well off one another; the chemistry is lovely. The writing is top-notch and the production quality was second only to "Rome" where time period productions are concerned. This could easily (even now) be transitioned into a film (which I'd heard had been planned and scrapped several times) or a subsequent season, as the nature of the show is about the string of selfish characters that pass through Deadwood.

    Interesting list overall, though, Todd. I'm surprised anyone other than me has actually seen "Studio 60". If it found a way to seem less "30 Rock"-ish to the general public, I think that one could legitimately be something really cool.

  2. Thanks for the comments, Josh. As far as TV goes, my scope is not nearly as large as movies, but Arrested Development's future film/episodes are long-deserved. I have not seen Deadwood, Spartacus, or Jericho, so I cannot really comment on those. Deadwood has been on my list of things to see for quite some time though. The two series I went with were only around for one season, but I know those series were short-lived as well.

    I basically agree with what you said about No Country (I have not read the book, though). That feeling at the end is what makes the movie so haunting, but that didn't necessarily hurt something like The Silence of the Lambs with its similar unresolved ending and future films. Wherever Chigurh goes next, I would follow. As long as the Coens are behind it, that is.

    Playmakers was one of the main reasons I wrote the article. It did indeed need an immediate second season. I don't even know how something could be constructed now, but it was just such an interesting ensemble piece that checking in on the team 10 years later would still be amazing television.

    I hadn't really though about it before, but the fact that 30 Rock came out at the same time as Studio 60 probably did it in. I personally prefer Studio 60, but I am sure that not many agree with me.

  3. "Studio 60" was just caught in an unfortunate position. "30 Rock" is a smash hit and a media darling, so I think they made the right choice there, but it's still sad to see an otherwise great show fall by the wayside like that.

    Also, stop what you're doing now and go watch "Deadwood". It's more important than whatever you're doing; it's amazing.