All in the Family
Concept: The show had no shortage of sequels (Archie Bunker’s Place) or spin-offs (Maude, The Jeffersons, etc.), but as far as we know, there was never an All in the Family prequel. Seeing as Archie Bunker is so well-known for his hatred of hippie youth culture — as evidenced by his relationship with his daughter’s husband, Michael, who he famously calls “Meathead” — we’re interested to see what he would have been like as a teenager and young adult. Imagine the possibilities for M.A.S.H.-style humor in the seasons where Archie’s in the army.
Concept: If her stories are to be trusted (and that’s debatable), Constance Carmell had some crazy times as an actress/party girl in the ’70s. We would like to see it all go down — but only if someone figures out a way to send Jane Lynch back in time and make her young enough to believably play the part, because we don’t trust anyone else to take it over.
Concept: When we meet conflicted mob boss Tony Soprano in the first episode of the series, he’s still ascending the upper echelons of the mafia. But we’d like to see him before he was a made man, while he was balancing a half-hearted attempt at college with a side gig in small-time crime. Tony is a fantastic, complex character, and it would be fascinating to see him become the person he is in The Sopranos. The huge amount of background the show provides about his earlier life would provide the perfect starting point.
The Golden Girls
Concept: With Betty White mania still in full swing, why not capitalize on her popularity with a prequel that takes advantage of how much life The Golden Girls characters had behind them? Although any of the show’s characters could carry a series of her own, we’d travel with White’s Rose Nylund back to the apparently profoundly bizarre Minnesota town where she grew up in the ’30s and ’40s. We imagine the show as an ensemble comedy, featuring tons of outlandish rural characters, with the Great Depression and World War II as a backdrop.
Concept: Forget Jerry, George, and even Elaine. We want to know what combination of mental illness and deeply scarring formative experiences coalesced to create Kramer.
Friday Night Lights
Concept: Maybe we harbor an unreasonable amount of love for period dramas — or the world of Friday Night Lights — but we have always been curious about what Dillon, Texas was like back when Buddy Garrity led its football team to the state championship. Many of the families would be the same, teenagers would still be hanging out at the Alamo Freeze, and we imagine the class and racial politics of the small town would be even more absorbing and depressing.
Concept: Sure, Edina and Patsy are pretty bonkers as Ab Fab‘s duo of aging hippies. But the show’s frequent flashbacks to the ’60s suggest that their debauched youth makes the present look pretty tame. We would love to see a whole show that revolves around the days when Eddy was still sneaking out of Gran’s house and Pats was shacking up with the Rolling Stones. And, of course, there are the years Patsy spent living as a man in Morocco…
Parks and Recreation
Concept: As last season made clear, by far the most wonderful character on Parks and Rec is Ron Swanson. And now we know that Season 4 will delve deeper into Ron’s back story, with the introduction of both his icy first wife (Tammy 1) and his tough, backwoods mother (Tammy 0). This sounds promising, but what we really crave is a prequel that follows his life with Tammy 1 — because this would mean not only more Ron Swanson, but also a permanent role for the fantastic Patricia Clarkson.
Concept: True Blood provides us with frequent glimpses of its vampire characters’ long, strange pasts — and any of them would make for an entertaining prequel. If we had to choose just one to follow, though, we’d go with Alexander Skarsgård’s amoral (but somehow also endearing) Eric Northman. From his viking youth to his current gigs as Fangtasia proprietor and local vamp sheriff, Eric’s story would literally provide hundreds of years’ worth of material.
Concept: One of Twin Peaks‘ greatest quirks was that its most mysterious character, Laura Palmer, was dead for the entire run. So it made sense for David Lynch to make Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, a feature film that served as both prequel and a sequel to the TV series. Unfortunately, the movie was a notorious flop — Lara Flynn Boyle didn’t reprise her role as Donna Hayward, Kyle MacLachlan only agreed to a small role, Cannes audiences booed it, and the film only made back half its budget at the box office. To do the prequel right, we’d follow Laura through at least a year of her sordid high-school double (triple? quadruple?) life, and resist the entirely understandable urge to flash forward as an excuse to keep Agent Cooper around.